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Archive for the ‘Cookbooks’ Category

Gallo Pinto
I live mainly of different combos of rice and beans; Viva Vegan has brought another 20, or so variations on that theme into my life. Also, this cookbook has given me a reason to buy the more obscure types of beans from the supermarket that I’ve previously passed over, not being sure what to do with them. (The beans used here are “Central American red beans.”
I’m currently training for a half marathon and starting to get up there in the mileage on my long runs. I’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer fake my way through by just eating whatever I feel like: I notice I get seriously wiped out after my long run if I don’t do some plan ahead and stock up on carbs before a long run and replenish my stores with plenty of high-quality food after.

I figured Gallo Pinto, a Nicaraguan/ Costa Rican takes on this classic combo would serve me well. And it did. I didn’t cook it quite as long as the recipe indicated, so not sure if it perhaps is less mushy than the traditional should be. I liked it this way though. I think the recipe said this would make 6 servings, I ate about 1/2 of the whole batch in one sitting. Hey, I was hungry.

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Spicy Tortilla Casserole with Roasted Poblanos; Classic Cabbage

I’ve had my eye on this recipe out of Viva Vegan for a while. Mostly due to the fact that I had a perfect amount of somewhat stale tortillas sitting in my fridge, left over from the time I made enchiladas, vast amounts of frozen tomatoes from this summer and a shitload of potatoes, thus having most of things on the ingredient list at my disposal. Things that needed to be used, to boot.

This turned out great. I will say that I made the sauce and pine nut crema, roasted the poblanos, as well as boiled the potatoes the night before, which greatly reduced the cooking time. Had I not done that it would have been early evening and I would have been starving by the time lunch was ready. Also, the recipe says 2-3 jalapeƱo peppers and cautions it can get hot. I used 2, de-seeded and for me, this was not at all spicy. The next time I’ll leave the seeds in at least on of the peppers, and probably use a grand total of 3. I found myself dousing this in hot sauce to up the spice.

Also, while the tortillas were pretty old, they’d lived in my fridge and where thus still kinda moist. I left them out under a kitchen towel over night to dry them out and achieve maximum staleness. I think this was a good thing as they held up well in the casserole, I’ve read that other people had problems with the tortillas disintegrating completely. I may also try making the casserole with beans and/or greens and mushrooms next time.

I paired the casserole with another Viva Vegan recipe. “Classic Cabbage” basically a coleslaw with a lime-cliantro vinaigrette. I made the “Cilantro-Citrus Vinaigrette” according to the directions in the book (I made the lime only variation). Next time I will up the proportion of citrus significantly as it wasn’t quite zesty enough for me. Still, I like to make a recipe according to instructions the first time I make it, to see if I might learn something new.

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Kabocha-Udon Winter Stew

Have cooked plenty and even taken photos of it, but lately I’ve been remiss with the blogging I’d promised myself to do. Mostly I’ve been too busy just living and cooking and eating and working and all those other things that comprise day-to-day existence. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not quite cut out for this blogging thing. Yet I keep trying. Oh well.

In my quest (which has been ongoing over more than two years) to cook every last recipe in Veganomicon I’m beginning to get to the recipes that come less naturally to me, for one reason or another. Perhaps they have ingredients I don’t have at home often, or stuff I’m less prone to eat/ like.

Anyway. A while back I decided it was time to make the Kabocha-Udon Winter Stew. Seemed to fit the season perfectly, I had some dried shiitakes collecting dust in my spice drawer, and finally freed from the fetters of a bi-weekly CSA haul I was free to shop at will at my local cheap-o Korean greengrocers. This also gave me an excuse to hit Sunrise Mart, a most excellent (and reasonably priced) Japanese grocery store in the East Village. Besides sundry Japanese speciality items, they’re also a great place to pick up tofu at about half the price of any other place I know of. Here’s my loot from there:

Sunrise Mart Loot
As for the stew, it turned out delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I ended up cooking it not once, not twice, but three times over the course of the past month. Keep in mind the recipe makes about 4 servings and I live alone. So that makes it uh… 12 times I’ve eaten Kabocha-Udon Stew in the past month. Ok, moving on…

I tend to get kind of obsessed with certain flavors and eat them like crazy for periods of time. The Kabocha-Udon adventure triggered a Japanese noodle obsession. I’m now running to Sunrise Mart every chance I get and plan to work my way through a few of the recipes in a long-ignored Japanese vegetarian cookbook someone gave me once.

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I’ve been craving a hearty black bean stew lately. I don’t know what it is about black beans, they just seem more lush and filling than any other bean.
Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan is full of recipes I want to cook, but the Portobello Feijoada was calling my name extra loud. I just got a new CSA load and it was one of those things where everything aligned and I happened to have all the necessary ingredients to make exactly what I was craving (minus the Portobellos, which I bought at the store today).

You guys, this dish is fucking delicious!

Portobello feijoada & friends

(more…)

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So… haven’t posted in a while, but I have been cooking. Mostly I have been working on just getting through some of the stuff that had piled up in my freezer, as pictured previously and making a dent in the immense amount of CSA veggies I had gotten.
One of my “empty out the freezer” meals was this:

Seared green beans, Mexican millet and raw butternut squash salad

I had a few more chickpea cutlets to eat, so I stuck that in here. I had some old millet in my pantry, I paired that with some of my fresh tomatoes for Veganomicon “Mexican Millet”, then there was an opened, half-full pack of frozen green beans far back in my freezer that I’d totally forgotten about. Must have come from my winter share last year. Ehh… yeah, I know.
I seared the green beans with garlic and olive oil, inspired by Terry Bryant’s Vegan Soul Kitchen recipe. To round it all out I grated a butternut squash and tossed it in salt, olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of red wine vinegar and a dash of cayenne pepper.

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But still a fairly “meat and potatoes” kinda lunch. At least I think so. I rarely eat this sort of very m.o.r. American/ British food, but I wanted to use up odds and ends before I get my new batch of CSA veggies tomorrow.

The chickpea cutlets are famously from Veganomicon. The green pea and leek puree is from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen. I made both exactly according to recipe. It was all very tasty, though my tastes required some lime and Tabasco all over this to kick it up a notch. Terry calls these a mashed potato alternative in his book, and I’d say that’s about right. He also says the recipe gives about 4-6 servings, I’d say 3 servings are more like it, but then I’m a total hungry beast so…

And yeah, please excuse the reappearance of yesterday’s kaleslaw, as I said, I wanted to finish off whatever odds and ends were hanging around my fridge.

I’m trying to get in to the habit of proper “mise en place” before cooking a.k.a. lining all your ingredients up first, to eliminate frantic digs through your cabinet to find the cumin while the onions are burning on the stove.
Mise en Place

Chickpea Cutlet with  Green Pea and Leek Puree

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I learned to cook from my mom as a kid, and by making dinner for my family starting when I was about 12 or so. I never used recipes. Then one day I realized that I was stuck in a rut, making the same foods over and over again, with the exact same spices. I decided to buy myself a few cookbooks and to teach myself new techniques and flavor combinations by systematically cooking my way through them. (Also, I was given a couple of great cookbooks by my mother and sister last year.) While I have other cookbooks, these are the ones that are on particularly heavy rotation right now. That might change, but I am trying to exercise restraint and not buy any new ones until I have cooked most of the recipes in these.

Veganomicon

Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero.












Olive Trees and Honey

Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World, by Gil Marks.

Both of these are large encyclopedic cookbooks that are great for the kind of large batches of simple everyday foods I mostly eat when alone. I’m a soup fiend and they both have a large number of great soup recipes. (I’m almost at my goal of having cooked every soup in Olive Trees and Honey.






Cranks

The Cranks Bible, by Nadine Abensur was my first cookbook. Cranks is a famous vegetarian restaurant in London where Abensur, who is a French-Moroccan Jew was food director for many years. The recipes are sort of a veggie fusion with a South-Mediterranean tilt. It’s peerless for spectacular dishes to impress guests and show them how great vegetarian cooking can be, but some are a bit too rich and involved for my daily needs. It is, however, my first love among cookbooks and a major influence on the way I cook.

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