Vegan with a Vengeance
Vegan with a Vengeance was my very first vegan cookbook. And yet, I haven’t made that much out of it. I have my favorites (the seitan, tempeh reubens, alfreda), but most of the recipes always just seemed, well, out of my league. I don’t know why…maybe I found the recipe titles to be a little overwhelming, back in my early vegan days. Parsnips? What the hell are parsnips? Pomegranate molasses? (I still can’t find that.) Knishes and kugels? Come again?
But I know better now. I love parsnips. And I’ve made exactly one kugel (a couple of weeks ago), and it was awesome. I’m not afraid of making my own sauces (though it helps when you can find all of the ingredients). And while some of the recipes in this classic tome may seem complicated or downright intimidating, most of them really aren’t. They’re just fantastic recipes, full of flavor combinations that I would never think of myself and made with a wide range of ingredients and techniques that will expand your knowledge, prowess, and pantry. At least, that’s what I told myself when this cookbook came up for the challenge. I’m glad I did, because I came out of this week with some absolute home runs. Out of the park, I’m telling you. Or wait…it’s football time…some serious touchdowns, folks! What, that’s over, too? Just…they were really good, ok?
I’m dead. This white bean and roasted garlic soup killed me. It was too damned good. It just shouldn’t even exist. Why have I never roasted garlic before? It’s so easy! And it’s amazing! It’s, like, life-changing! This soup was light, yet robust. The flavor came out of my ears. It filled me up, but I kept going back to the kitchen to sop bits of brown bread in it, just to get one more taste of that crazy deliciousness. Lightly hinted with fennel and sage, it was perfect. Not as thick as I thought it would be, but I was surprised by how much I liked it this way. My only complaint was that it didn’t make enough. Really only 3 servings. I’m making this again ASAP.
Ok, so this Italian marinated tofu (which I baked) is a bit of a no-brainer, but I can’t let that stop me from singing its praises. It’s so stupidly easy, yet so mind numbingly tasty! I let it sit in the marinade for about 2 hours (honestly, I’ve got nothing else to do), then baked it a little longer than it says to, but mostly just because I baked it in a glass dish rather than on a baking sheet. I’ve got the leftover marinade in the fridge, ready to make into gravy later this week. I can’t wait! Also, this tofu was good leftover and cold on a bed of greens with a vinaigrette.
Hell yes, parsnips! Relative of carrot, friend of mine. So tasty and browned and sweet and delicious. It took my friend Julie and me a little while to figure out how exactly to shred parsnips (they’re too tough to do by hand, and I seem to be missing some vitally important part of my food processor [like the instructions] that makes the shredding bit connect to the whole deal), but then I noticed that my blender has a ‘shred’ option, and that worked fine enough. Even though they’re fried, these had a light flavor that I mightily enjoyed. And they were also good, cold, on a bed of greens in the following days.
Sometimes I wish I lived inside a jar of tahini. Wouldn’t life be so much simpler? And delicious? I mean, I know I like tahini. It doesn’t take much to get me to scarf it down, but the tahini sauce recipe from this book is just stellar. It’s good on kale and it’s good as a salad dressing. It’s also good eaten directly out of the container with a spoon. Don’t judge.
I like grains, and I like lots of stuff mixed in with grains. Give me a decent grain salad or pilaf recipe, and I’m set. The spicy Indian rice certainly hit the spot on a cold February night. I couldn’t find any serrano chiles, so I used a combination of habaneros and jalapenos. The toasted, whole spices really make this dish special. Isa says in the description that this is her fancy rice that she serves to guests, but I hoarded this all to myself. Yum.
This Ethiopian seitan might not be attractive, but it’s damn tasty. I used the seitan recipe from the book, as it’s my favorite, but instead of using my tried and true method of steaming, I was a dolt and decided to try simmering it. The last time I did that, it all fell apart and was a mushy, watery mess. Guess what happened this time? Yeah, the same thing. I think it’s really hard to do this method when you have an electric stove top because the burner heat is difficult to control. I’ve never quite figured out the burners in this place, and they always seem to just do whatever they want, which is rarely what I want them to do. Anyway, I managed to salvage some firm(ish) bits and put the rest of the mush in the freezer for future ground ‘beef’ type use. In chili or something. I guess.
Since I didn’t end up with enough seitan to make the Ethiopian recipe, I subbed in the rest of the amount with Soycurls. They did the job nicely, though they were not as flavorful as the seitan bits. The puree for this dish is spicy to the maximum, which I love. Again, I couldn’t get serranos, so I substituted the jalapenos and habaneros. I also didn’t realize until the last minute that I didn’t have any red wine, but a nice person on the PPK suggested that I use veggie broth with a nice splash of red wine vinegar. I couldn’t taste anything weird about that, but I don’t know how different it would be with the wine. Either way, I’ll totally make this again, with firmer seitan.
So, a successful week! I’m glad to have got re-aquainted with an old cookbook friend, and also to try, and love, some new recipes. Never again will I be afraid just because a recipe title or ingredient list seems a bit intimidating. I know better now.
This week I’m cooking out of my favorite cookbook, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, so look forward to my post on that in a week or so!