‘book reviews’ Category

  1. slow cooker French onion soup

    May 15, 2014 by Angie

    I love French onion soup but it’s usually made with beef (or chicken or both) stock. I have had excellent vegetarian French onion soup in the past, however, so I know it’s possible. The most heavenly soup of all time was eaten by us at Le Potager du Marais, a vegetarian restaurant in Paris, on our honeymoon.

    Le Potager du Marais

     At Le Potager du Marais. Mmm, I want to live in Paris and eat this everyday.

    The slow cooker version I made today is really good but I am open to trying different recipes and techniques in my quest to make the perfect French onion soup.

    slow cooker French onion soup

    Tonight’s dinner: slow cooker French onion soup

    Slightly adapted from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson

    Ingredients

    about 2 tbsp olive oil
    4 medium yellow onions, sliced thinly
    5 cups of vegetable broth
    1/3 cup of red wine (I used Finca Copete Malbec/Tempranillo blend.)

    Finca Copete
    1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 tsp thyme
    a healthy sprinkle of garlic powder
    a healthy sprinkle of dried parsley
    1 bay leaf
    salt and pepper to taste
    a fresh loaf of French bread (Thank you, Publix Bakery!)
    shredded Gruyere or (vegan) cheese of your choice

    Directions

    1. Pour some olive oil in the bottom of your slow cooker and turn it to low while you thinly slice four or five onions. Add the onions to the slow cooker. Cook them for about eight hours, stirring occasionally if you’re home and have that luxury.

    2. When the eight hours have passed, the onions will be caramelized and delicious-smelling. Add the vegetable broth, red wine, vegan Worcestershire sauce, thyme, garlic powder, parsley, bay leaf, and some salt and pepper. Continue to cook on low for about 45 minutes.

    3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Shred some Gruyere and cut enough 3/4 inch slices of bread to cover the tops of the soup for the number of servings you’re preparing. We each fit two in our bowls but could have done three if we were feeling ambitious/gluttonous.

    4. I baked the bread slices for a few minutes alone then took them out, placed the shredded Gruyere on top, and put them back in until the cheese was melted.

    5. Remove the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with cheesy bread slices and some extra shredded Gruyere. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    a bowl of soup


  2. cracklin’ cauliflower

    May 15, 2014 by Angie

    To go with our baked tofu on Tuesday night, I made another great side from More Peas, Thank You by Sarah Matheny. This cracklin’ cauliflower has a very Indian flavor to it with the curry powder and garam masala. Robbie and I both loved it. We ate it all. This will definitely be a regularly occurring side dish in our house.

    cracklin' cauliflower closeup

    Adapted from More Peas, Thank You by Sarah Matheny

    Ingredients

    1 medium sized head cauliflower
    2 tsp olive oil
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tsp curry powder
    1/2 tsp garam masala
    1/4 tsp onion powder
    1 to 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
    1 tsp minced fresh ginger
    1/2 c frozen peas
    salt & pepper to taste

    Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Wash the cauliflower and chop it into florets of a similar size. Place the florets in a biggish bowl.

    3. Drizzle the cauliflower florets with some olive oil. I didn’t actually measure this but you don’t need much to get the job done.

    4. Sprinkle the salt, curry powder, garam masala, and onion powder over the cauliflower and stir it around to coat evenly.

    5. Add the minced garlic and ginger and frozen peas to the bowl. Stir again.

    6. Spray a pan with olive oil. I used a 9 x 9 glass pan I call “the brownie pan” and it was the perfect size. Transfer the entire contents of the biggish bowl to the pan and bake for thirty minutes. Stir every ten minutes to make sure everything is getting proper oven attention and not sticking.

    7. Serve it up, add salt and pepper to your liking, and eat it all!

    baked tofu and cracklin' cauliflower


  3. balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts

    May 14, 2014 by Angie

    I’ve got quite a few tofu, tempeh, bean, and Gardein protein mains in the repertoire but I realized I am severely lacking in sides. I almost always douse some asparagus in olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake it in the toaster oven. It’s delicious and easy but I feel like we should have some more variety. I got the cookbook More Peas, Thank You by Sarah Matheny from my public library. It turns out it’s kind of a sequel to her very popular first book. I’ll have to check that one out next. I cooked her Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts as our side the other night. It was my first time cooking Brussels sprouts and my second time ever eating them. I was really happy with how they turned out. This recipe is healthy, so tasty, and wasn’t too labor intensive. I now have another go-to side!

    Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

    Slightly adapted from More Peas, Thank You by Sarah Matheny

    Ingredients

    2 8 oz bags of Brussels sprouts (about 2.5 cups, you could make even more because I had leftover sauce on our plate)
    olive oil
    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    1 tsp brown sugar
    salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    1. Heat olive oil in a large-ish pan.

    2. While the olive oil is heating, preheat the oven to 400 degrees for the next step. Wash and cut the Brussels sprouts in half.

    3. Arrange the Brussels sprouts in the pan with the cut side down. Cook, without bothering them, until the underside is brown.

    4. While the Brussels sprouts are cooking, combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a bowl.

    5. If your pan is oven-safe, move it to the oven. If not, and none of mine are, move the Brussels sprouts to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Keep them cut side down and bake for about 8-10 minutes.

    6. If you’re still working with the pan, pour the balsamic vinegar mixture over the top and stir it around. If you’ve moved to the cookie sheet, bring the Brussels sprouts back to the pan, cover with the mixture, and stir around.

    7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy your quick, healthy side!


  4. red bean gumbo with field roast “sausage”

    April 24, 2014 by Angie

    Last night we had a small dinner party for Wine Wednesday. We pretty much call any Wednesday “Wine Wednesday” in our house these days. I tested a new recipe on our friends and it was well-received – everyone got seconds! I made this gumbo as authentic as I possibly could with two (kinda major) exceptions: 1) I didn’t start out with a roux because I made it in the slow cooker and 2) there’s no meat! However, it is made with Zatarain’s Filé Powder and Tabasco sauce and the chef was born in New Orleans so I think it’s pretty legit. This is adapted from Robin Robertson’s red bean gumbo from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cookerwhich I understand to be an updated, totally vegan version of my favorite slow cooker cookbook that she published eight years earlier.

    red bean gumbo with field roast "sausage"

    Ingredients

    olive oil
    yellow onion, chopped
    4 celery ribs, chopped
    big spoonful of minced garlic
    1 quart vegetable broth
    2 cans of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
    1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
    3/4 cup okra, sliced
    2 bay leaves
    1 tsp dried thyme
    1 tsp file powder
    2 tsp paprika
    1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp onion powder
    a pinch of cayenne pepper
    5 drops of liquid smoke
    1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
    salt and pepper to taste
    vegetable oil
    2 Field Roast Italian Sausages, sliced and browned
    cooked rice for serving (I cooked up 2 cups uncooked rice and that was enough to feed 4 people and cover the leftover gumbo.)

    Tabasco sauce and File powder

    Directions

    1. Chop the onion and celery. Heat olive oil in a pan. Sauté the onion for a few minutes then add the celery and garlic and cook a few minutes more.

    2. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker and set it to low.

    3. Pour the vegetable broth, fire-roasted tomatoes (with the juice), and the listed seasonings from bay leaves to cayenne pepper into the slow cooker. Stir and put the lid back on.

    4. Wash and chop the bell pepper and okra. Add them to the slow cooker.

    5. Drain and rinse the two cans of beans in a colander. Add them to the slow cooker. Stir everything together and cook on low for six hours.

    6. About thirty minutes prior to serving, make the rice according to the package directions. Keep the rice separate until it’s time to serve up the gumbo.

    7. About ten minutes prior to serving, heat some vegetable oil in a pan. Cut the two Field Roast “sausages” into thin slices. Add the liquid smoke and tabasco sauce to the slow cooker and stir. Brown the sausage slices on both sides then stir them into the slow cooker.

    8. Spoon some rice into the serving bowls. Discard the bay leaves then use a ladle to spoon gumbo over the rice in each bowl. Make sure to get enough broth and delicious sausage in every serving.


  5. 2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma

    July 31, 2013 by Angie

    This is one of many great recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. For some silly reason, I’d only made this once before (in my pre-blog days). Other than the time it takes to wash and chop the vegetables, it cooks up really quickly, makes a lot of food, and is so tasty.

    big pot of vegetable korma

    I followed her directions pretty closely. My changes: skimped on the carrots, skipped the agave nectar, and added browned tempeh for some protein.

    2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma

    I can’t wait to have another bowl for lunch!


  6. tortilla soup

    April 2, 2013 by Angie

    For dinner last night I made tortilla soup for the first time. I used a recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester to start and made some of my own changes and additions.

    tortilla soup

    Ingredients
    olive oil
    vegetable oil (my addition)
    1 medium-size yellow onion, minced
    2-3 tsp minced garlic
    1 box of Pomo Chopped Tomatoes (instead of crushed tomatoes)
    3 tbsp tomato paste
    1 can of El Ebro black beans, rinsed (my addition)
    4 cups low sodium vegetable broth (instead of the suggested water)
    juice of 1/2 lime
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp chili powder (increased from the original recipe)
    1/4 tsp garlic powder (my addition)
    salt and pepper to taste
    1/4 c tequila (optional, I included it though because why would you ever skip tequila?)
    (original calls for 1 tsp of agave nectar or maple syrup but I skipped this)
    1 package of West Soy Chicken-Style Seitan (1 lbs 2oz)
    fried corn tortilla strips (my addition)
    1 avocado
    handful of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped (original recipe says to add 2 tbsp fresh cilantro in the slow cooker but I only used it for garnish)

    Instructions
    1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onion and minced garlic until translucent.
    2. In the slow cooker, combine the onion and garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, vegetable stock, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and tequila. Cook on low for 6 hours. The original recipe says to puree the soup with a hand blender after six hours. I didn’t do this because there were no giant chunks in this soup and it’s not the kind of thing that will become creamy (like a potato soup) so I thought it would be better left whole.
    3. About half an hour before you’re ready to eat, brown the seitan in vegetable oil. Add the browned seitan to the slow cooker and turn it up to high.
    4. While the seitan is warming, fry corn tortillas in olive oil. Cut the fried tortillas into strips to use as a garnish.
    5. Slice the avocado into pretty wedges and wash and mince the fresh cilantro.
    6. Serve the soup into bowls and top with avocado wedges, fried tortilla strips, and cilantro.

    Verdict: This soup is soooo good! Robbie and I have only ever had tortilla soup at Mellow Mushroom because it seems to have chicken in it everywhere else. Their vegetarian version is pretty awesome but Robbie said he liked mine better 🙂 I will definitely make it again – probably soon before my second container of seitan expires. If you decide to make it I strongly suggest going all out with the garnishes. It takes some time but the fried tortilla strips and avocado wedges are what make this soup so special.


  7. buttery chick’n

    March 22, 2013 by Angie

    We’ve been taking Sookie to puppy kindergarten classes at 7:30 on Thursdays which means dinnertime is all crazy for seven weeks. I made sloppy lentils in the slow cooker last week and that worked out really well. I wanted to try something new for the slow cooker this week so I made buttery chick’n from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester. It’s an Indian/Middle Eastern flavored tofu dish with a tomato sauce seasoned with garam masala, cumin, and turmeric.

    Buttery Chick'n

    It’s a lot like another recipe I used to make often in college in a wok called spiced tofu from Bobbi Hinman’s totally fantastic cookbook The Vegetarian Gourmet’s Easy International Recipes. Both recipes are delicious. I want to make and blog the spiced tofu soon to compare since it’s been a long time.

    Buttery Chick'n Closeup

    We ate it with saltines because we’re not big rice people. Robbie is kinda picky about “weird” spices but he got seconds. Definitely a keeper!


  8. black bean soup

    January 14, 2013 by Angie

    We’ve been so busy with packing for our big move to our very first house! We’re renting, not buying, but it’s still a big deal because neither of us have lived in any house other than our parents’. Knowing we’d be hungry and covered in dust and other dormant apartment nastiness from packing, I made this black bean soup yesterday morning and kept it cooking in the slow cooker all day so we could enjoy it for dinner last night.

    Black Bean Soup

    I followed a recipe from my favorite slow cooker book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. If you like soup, I definitely recommend this cookbook. I got to use my fabulous immersion blender for this recipe. Here’s a photo of the cooked soup before blending.

    before pureeing

    And here’s one after blending about half of the chunky ingredients to make a thicker soup. So good! A+ leftovers too.

    after pureeing


  9. tofu & cashew stir fry

    January 11, 2013 by Angie

    For dinner tonight I made a very tasty Asian dish from Vegan Junk Food:225 Sinful Snacks that are Good for the Soul, a book by Lane Gold that I got for free for my Kindle app. You can see a copy of the recipe here. I made the following changes: skipped the noodles and cut the brown sugar in half in an attempt to be healthy, used a small sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes instead of a red chili pepper because we can’t handle spicy stuff, skimped a little on the grated ginger since Robbie isn’t a big fan, and added two zucchini because zucchini is awesome.

    tofu and cashew stir fry

    Robbie and I both really enjoyed it. The sauce tastes a lot like the sauce on the stir-fry veggies we get as a side with the gigantic vegetarian hummus wrap at Prime Bar, but better because there’s tofu and it’s not make-your-nose-run spicy. 10/10 would make again!

    two bowls of tofu

     


  10. “Chloe’s Kitchen” Cookbook Review

    December 12, 2012 by Angie

    Book: Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way
    Author: Chloe Coscarelli
    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    I recently checked out Chloe Coscarelli’s new book Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way from my public library. I’m a fan of her blog and heard good things about this cookbook so I dove in and made several recipes over two weeks. Here’s a rundown of the recipes I tested.

    Penne alla Vodka with the Best Garlic Bread in the World: This was my favorite. I made the garlic bread twice – once for our omnivorous friends to go with a stew I made. Everybody loved it. The Penne alla Vodka was so good too. I made it with Dreamfields penne for fewer carbs. The sauce was excellent and was possibly even better the next day. It’s fast so it could be a weeknight meal. Using the hand blender to blend the cashews and water together made it really easy and the cleanup was pretty painless that way too.

    The Christmas Kitty salt shaker presides over the delicious garlic bread.

    Mongolian BBQ Seitan: This one was kind of a miss. It wasn’t bad but I wouldn’t make the seitan part again. The sauce was good although I’d made something very similar on my own before out of ingredients in my fridge so it was nothing revolutionary. Her seitan recipe from the back of the book wasn’t great. I had never made seitan before but I followed the directions perfectly. The only thing that might be user error is how I sliced it. I tried to slice it thin but it was still kinda chunky. If I had used a vegetable peeler to shave the seitan that might have resulted in a better texture. It was on the rubbery side but it also didn’t taste like much even though it cooked in a tasty soy sauce/vegetable broth for over an hour.

    Tomato-Basil Bisque: Robbie said it was the best tomato soup he’s ever had and he’s a tomato soup connoisseur. I have to agree with him. I’m kinda picky about tomato soup and sometimes find it a bit gross but this one was excellent. The recipe is easy – roughly chop the vegetables, roast them, then combine everything in a stock pot and use the hand blender to get it to the right, smooth consistency. I think this would be a much bigger hassle if you had to pour it in batches into a blender as the recipe suggests. Hand blender is the way to go!

    Fettuccine Alfredo: Another very easy weeknight recipe. I sauteed some zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, baby carrots, and cauliflower in vegan margarine to go with it. I also used Dreamfields linguine instead of real fettuccine to make it healthier/low carb. It’s creamy and delicious like real Fettuccine Alfredo but I didn’t feel like I needed to take cholesterol medication after I ate it. I have leftovers I’m looking forward to for lunch.

    Best-Ever Baked Macaroni and Cheese: I made the stovetop version of this recipe from her blog. It’s identical up until the point where you sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake it. It’s fast and tasty but definitely not my favorite vegan macaroni and cheese recipe.

    I’ve made and enjoyed at least two other recipes from her blog in the past, as well: panang curry and chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. It’s no doubt she has some great ones.

    Overall, I give the book four out of five stars. I deducted a star mostly because it’s light on the photos. There are no photos at all of several of the recipes which is kinda lame, in my opinion. I read a lot of blogs and love that I can see photos of every finished dish and often step by step photos for the recipes I make. She clearly hired a food photographer for this book and has included several photos of herself so I don’t see why there can’t be at least one color photo for each recipe. We need to know how the finished product is supposed to look! Also, the index is not great.

    Everything I tried was a great success except for the Mongolian BBQ Seitan. Now that I’m the proud owner of a bag of vital wheat gluten, I’ll be trying out other seitan recipes and would happily use her Mongolian BBQ sauce/stir fry idea to go with it once I find one we like. She explains everything clearly so it’s not difficult to follow the directions and get the same results in your kitchen. She also uses fairly “normal” ingredients that I’m able to get at my grocery store. The only thing she called for that I’ve never seen before is canned lentils. Only dried lentils ’round these parts. Another thing I like is how she names her recipes so arrogantly – “Best-Ever Baked Macaroni and Cheese” and “Best Garlic Bread in the World”. She’s the cocky rapper of vegan chefs.