Winter had us dealing with a lot of potatoes and squashes of all varieties. It was definitely an interesting challenge… I try to aim at recipes that are tasty on one hand, but can keep a while in the fridge, because I can’t handle a lot of sweet potatoes or pumpkin in one meal.
Seeing that most recipes in the book are pretty simple, I was excited about trying this more complex recipe out. It was fun to make! It’s basically blending everything for the sauce (we also make the coconut milk itself in the blender), half fry half steam the sweet potato filling, make the crepes and assemble. We swapped the cilantro with parsley because no one likes cilantro. Okay, might only be me, but as I constitute one half of the people eating this dish, I get to decide on that one.
Honestly, I wasn’t over the moon about this one. It was okay when we ate it right after making it, but I didn’t want seconds, and let SO have it all for his weekday lunches. Sweet potato is too sweet for me, and I like dosa better than wheat crepes. We’d gotten into a routine of making dosa lately and I’ve been eating it everyday for lunch, so I’ve grown to like its complex fermented legume-y taste. I’m still glad we tried it, though. You have to try a lot of recipes until you find a few that click.
I think this was the first recipe I ever tried from the book, and probably the first time I ever made cookies, so it has a special place in my heart. It also shows how much I’ve come since then, because the first time was somewhat of a failure, haha! I remember baking them much longer than what was indicated, because they hadn’t looked brown enough, and then after an hour or so they were hard as rock. I repeated the same error once or twice and then gave up on the recipe (mind you, I was 15. I totally forgive myself). Since then I’ve learned that cookies never look brown enough for me, but as you bake more, you start to develop a gut feeling whether or not they really need more time in the oven. Most of the times you can trust the time indicated in the recipe. Better to have slightly crumbly, soft cookies, than ones that are too hard.
This recipe was also the first time I’ve ever used molasses. It’s pretty rare here and considered a “health product” so mostly only available at health food stores. But man, molasses is so amazing! A great nutritional profile, and always adds a nice depth of flavor. Now we use it religiously for our weekly homemade bread.
Daniel (AKA my SO) was the one baking this time, and at some point he called for me to come and help. The batter was very crumbly and wouldn’t stick together. I asked him what changes he made from the original recipe, and he vehemently claimed “None!”. I advised adding some soy milk, and so he did. The batter was still kind of crumbly but he managed to make large cookies with it and it worked out. After everything was baked, he suddenly goes “oh, yeah, 1.25 cups of sugar seemed too much so I only put half a cup”. Oh, man… But! what could have been disastrous turned out to be amazing! The texture was soft and they had a kind of “melt in your mouth” feeling to them. And the taste was superb. I’m pretty sure that’s how we’re going to make them from now on… 10/10 for this one!
Where do you stand on the winter / summer veggie divide? Do you prefer the earthy flavor of beets and squashes or the freshness and vibrancy of freshly picked tomatoes and eggplants? I choose to abstain on this one. I love any and every vegetable (well, except for just a few. Looking at you, bell peppers), and do not discriminate on the basis of seasonality.
Ever since squash season started, we embraced it with open arms. Bring them on! We order at least one squash variety per week from our local farmer, and try to use it before we have too many of them sitting around, hehe… So far I’ve pureed them for other recipes in the book, made a lot of soups and just had them as an easy throw-it-in-the-oven-and-it’s-ready-in-an-hour side. Can’t say I’ve been very creative with them, so if you’ve got any creative ideas, feel free to throw them my way! Anyway, we’ve still been enjoying them greatly.
This recipe was kind of a miss for me. The SO liked it (though he filed a formal complaint regarding the amount of work it took him to grate this much ginger), but it was too sweet and ginger-y for my taste. I like my roasted veggies with a different set of spices, and this didn’t really work for me. I’ll stick to my smoked paprika and Italian herbs for now.
One thing I love in Vegan with a Vengeance is that Isa brings her Jewish heritage with her into it. This is a classic Passover dish, which, although being Jewish and celebrating Passover every year, I only got around to tasting a few years ago. Matzoh ball soup is the perfect comfort food. We only make them for Passover because it’s mostly carbs, but we make sure to eat our fill every Passover – we’ve got a whole week to do so hehe…
Most people make Matzoh balls from a packaged mix and an egg. My mom makes the damn best vegan ones with a mixture of flours – apart from the Matzoh meal she adds potato flour and rice flour. This recipe is the first one I’ve seen that calls for tofu. My curiosity was peaked and when Passover rolled around I hopped to the store to buy some Matzoh meal and went straight to work.
These were delicious, but some fell apart during the cooking, which is a known problem so I wan’t too shocked. We enjoyed them very much nonetheless. However, I think I’m going to leave Matzoh ball making to my mom in the coming years. She seems to have nailed it and who am I to refuse hassle-free Matzoh balls.
Let me tell you, boozy desserts are the best kind. Alcohol gives everything this depth of flavor it’s hard to get any other way. I don’t like any alcohol except sake (weird, right? it’s just the only one that tastes good to me…) so we rarely drink alcohol at home, but once in a while we venture into a liqueur store for cooking / baking purposes. Our latest buy was vodka for making vanilla extract. We ordered 10 vanilla pods from ebay, covered them with about 1.5 cups of vodka, and it’s going to sit a few months until it’s ready, while we finish off our current extract. It’s so much cheaper than buying these tiny bottles, less waste, and so ridiculously easy! Hardest part was walking around the store thinking everyone is judging me for buying the cheapest vodka, hehe…
This cake was amazing. Like, can’t-stop-eating-it amazing. Although I’m a chocolate girl through and through, I still very much appreciate orange cakes, and this one was soaked with syrupy goodness and topped with almonds, so it hit the spot perfectly. Simply irresistible.
This one is a definite keeper. It’s great for winter when oranges are in season, but there’s also something very fresh and summery about it, so I think it’ll work just as well for summer picnics.
Being a kind of health nut, I try to eat greens every day. Salads are not my jam, so I’m glad I discovered wilted greens a few years ago. Kale is pretty hard to get around here, and there’s no chance I’m going out of my way to find it (can you tell I’m not a fan?). Chard, on the other hand, is found just about anywhere, so I logically subbed the kale with chard for this one. I was actually surprised to find this recipe in the book, because I make pretty much the same thing (minus the tahini dressing) all. the. time.
The funny thing with chard is you always think you’re making a ton (side dish for a week!), but after wilting it it’s like half a cup (side dish… for this meal).
It was interesting to try the tahini dressing, because usually we make it pretty simple (tahini, water, lemon). I would definitely skip the olive oil next time because tahini has enough fat, and with the oil in the chard it was a bit too oily for me.
If you have leftover dressing after eating the chard, I recommend adding it to some oven baked cauliflower. Tahini and cauliflower are just made for each other.
Our usual curry is chana masala – an Indian dish of chickpeas and spinach in tomato sauce. Sometimes we add coconut cream to it. This curry is a completely different creature. It’s bright green, tofu is the star and it just tastes Thai. I don’t know if it’s any one ingredient or a combination of them. If I had to guess, I would point to the lemongrass. This was our first time using lemongrass (ever!), and it tastes great. Kind of hard to find around here, though, so we’ll have to find where to source it from going forward…
We did everything with one blender, including making the coconut milk and crushing/grinding the spices. Vitamix for the win!
The recipe says to fry the tofu, so we did, but I think another thing that might work is baking it in the oven with some cornflour. It’s much less hands-on than frying, and it turns out really good. Ever since I’d discovered this method I’ve been using it for all my tofu needs. The only problem is that I snack too much of it before it gets to the recipe!
Overall this recipe was incredibly successful and I really hope we make it again (just gotta find that sneaky lemongrass).
I’m sorry to report that I may have done some injustice to this recipe. You see, I wanted to make it on a weeknight, because Pad Thai is an awesome dinner, but the recipe calls for a whole lot of sugar, which I avoid during the week. I usually sub sugar out of recipes easily, and I don’t miss it one bit, but for this recipe is didn’t work out so well. It turned out pretty sour, with the vinegar and tamarind added to it. If I make it again, I’ll either put the sugar in, or leave out some of the sour ingredients.
We also subbed red onion for the scallions, and our own smallish homemade mung bean sprouts for the regular ones. One could say we made a completely different recipe… But I’m actually happy to be confident enough to do these subs. I used to have a lot of “paralysis by analysis” with cooking – reading cookbooks end to end but not trying the actual recipes because I don’t have this specific ingredient or that particular kitchen tool. I’d rather sub some things here and there and learn from mistakes than forever staying in my comfort zone. Mistakes are an important and essential part of learning, and I recognize it. It also helps that SO loves eating anything and everything, and is the complete opposite of a picky eater. I truly appreciate that about him, haha…
Other than the sourness it was nice, though. Rice noodles definitely go with tofu and chili peppers. Might try it again sometime.
Another wonderful sugar-less pancake recipe! We made this one using pecans left over from Thanksgiving pie making (wow, that was some time ago…). The pecan pie was also an Isa recipe, from Vegan Pie in the Sky, and it turned out absolutely amazing, so you should try it if you have the book.
As I mentioned before, I was surprised to discover that Isa’s basic pancake recipes don’t call for sugar, so I can eat them any day of the week (I avoid sugar on weekdays). We had these on a weeknight, and they were delicious and filling. Not a lot more to say about them haha. 10/10 will make again if we have some pecans on hand. I suggest doubling the recipe and inviting some friends over.
(Can you spot the burned pancake on the bottom? SO might have burnt it, and then insisted it wasn’t burnt and ate it anyway. Now that’s sacrifice…)