Book Report: Vegan with a Vengeance (+ Bonus Recipe!)

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As you know, I am a big fan of Isa Moskowitz and I talk about her a lot on my blog. I posted this report about her book Isa Does It!. I participated in all three of her Vegan/Chopped Challenges and when I entered Fresh Mango Coconut Ice Cream with Strawberry Red Beet Sauce & Toasted Maple Coconut Rice Crunch she wrote “WANT!” on my post. I went to her live cooking demo at the City Winery this year and I even got to talk to her one on one at an event at MooShoes.

IMG_4979I have followed her since the day I became vegan. She is my culinary idol and I basically do whatever she says. I bought Vegan with a Vengeance – which is now officially 10 years old – and read it cover to cover. It is like a memoir meets how-to-be-an-activist meets awesome recipes that are easy to make and not intimidating at all. I loved the book because I got to know Isa through the callouts like “no apology necessary” for your food, how to make your own public access show (which would be like YouTube today), how to have a vegan brunch cafe, the cute little taming your tofu drawings, and stories from her childhood and her punk/post punk life.

I made my first tofu scramble from this book, my first “fronch” toast, and what I like to call the famous banana split pudding brownies which were the first vegan dessert I ever made. And I made a lot more recipes in between.

The new version of the book is gorgeous. It is printed on glossy paper and there are beautiful photographs throughout the entire book although I have to say that I miss the photo of the green thai curry on an old school stovetop! Some recipes have been streamlined and some new ones have been added. It is amazing how a book can be outdated in only 10 years though. The references to the web and the original websites seem quaint. They are outdated and have been omitted from the new book. Also, there is a little less vengeance than the original. Her personal stories are condensed into a couple of paragraphs and what were called “Punk Points,” little extras that offer technique and other info are now “Fizzle says.”

If you don’t have the original, get the new one. You will not be disappointed by the quality of this book. It is easy, delicious vegan cooking from the one and only Isa.

unnamed“FRONCH” TOAST

This recipe is still the Fronchiest and toastiest, even though I made a few adjustments. I couldn’t tell you what it is about chickpea flour but this French toast looks and tastes just like the “real” thing. These days, I prefer to use a soft Italian bread as my toast. In the original recipe I used vegetable oil for cooking, but now I always use refined coconut oil. It has such a buttery and rich taste, it takes this already favorite recipe to even new heights. I also ditched the soy creamer in the recipe, opting for more streamlined almond milk. Serve with fresh berries, sliced bananas, and pure maple syrup.

Loaf of day-old Italian bread (enough for 12 [1-inch] slices)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or preferred nondairy milk)
2 tablespoons organic cornstarch
1⁄4 cup chickpea flour
Several tablespoons of refined coconut oil

Slice the bread into 1-inch rounds. Pour the milk into a wide, shallow bowl. Mix in the cornstarch and stir until dissolved. Add the chickpea flour and mix until it is mostly absorbed; some lumps are okay.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to create a thin layer on the bottom (a tablespoon or two).

Soak the bread slices (as many as will fit into your pan) in the mixture and transfer to the skillet. Cook each side for about 2 minutes; if they are not browned enough when you flip them, heat for 1 or 2 more minutes on each side. They should be golden brown with flecks of dark brown. Serve immediately.

Fizzle says: Really, this works with any bread. It works best if it’s day old, but if you’re using sliced bread from a package, lightly toast it first to prevent sogginess, and you’re all set!

Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Press.

Ice Cream Shmice Cream #21: Maple Candied Walnut

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This is my husband’s latest ice cream request. Every time he busts out with a great idea like this I think he is a secret chef. But if he is, he did not reveal his recipe. I made this one up myself! And it is delicious!

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Candied Walnuts
2 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut sugar

Line a baking sheet. I used my Silpat. Chop the walnuts. Toast for 10 minutes in a 300 oven until fragrant. Let cool.

Place the walnuts and sugar together in a small pot and turn the heat to medium. Use a wooden spoon to coat the walnuts with the sugar. Be sure to stand there and mix as the sugar is melting. Don’t walk away because sugar burns easily. It should only take a few minutes. (It will kind of look more coated then melted.)

Turn the walnuts back out onto the baking sheet, spread them out and let them cool completely. Break up the big clumps and store in an airtight container until ready to make the ice cream. This can be done up to a week in advance.

2 cans organic coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups candied walnuts

Combine the coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla in a bowl and whisk together. Refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Pour the coconut milk mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 10 minutes. With two minutes left, add the walnuts. Turn out into a Tovolo container or a freezer safe container with a piece of wax paper on top. Enjoy!

Farmer’s Market Lemon Risotto with Summer Squash

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I saw this recipe in the New York Times Cooking section for a summer squash risotto. Off I went to the farmer’s market looking for summer squash. I found 2 beautiful Zephyr squash and fragrant and fresh summer garlic.

To veganize the original recipe meant to simply leave out the parmesan cheese. I added a touch of miso at the end for that salty touch which works wonders. Plus, my homemade vegetable stock adds richness of both flavor and color.

I made this for lunch today and we all agreed the lemony flavor was a great twist on traditional risotto.

1/2 red onion
1 clove of garlic
2 Zephyr squash (or any summer squash)
1 cup Arborio rice
4 to 5 cups vegetable stock
The zest of 1 lemon
The juice of 1 lemon
Salt, a few pinches
1 tablespoon sweet white or chickpea miso
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish

Dice the onion and press the garlic. Cut the squash in half, each half in half again and then dice into bite sized pieces. Zest the lemon and chop the parsley. Set aside.

Heat the stock in pot with a spout.

Sauté the onion and garlic in water or oil in a large skillet with sides. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and squash. Sauté for a few minutes until the squash is softening. Season with a pinch of salt.

Add the rice to the pan and stir around until coated and translucent, about a minute. Bring the heat up to medium high, add a cup of stock and stir often until it is absorbed. Then add another cup of stock and stir until that is absorbed. Keep adding stock by the cup and stir often until it is all absorbed.

As the risotto starts to look creamy and fluffy, add the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Mix well. Taste the risotto to make sure it is cooked through. If not, add more stock and go through the process again.

When it is done, add the miso and mix it well. Place into a serving dish and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Farmer’s Market Carrots & Scallions

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I am always inspired by the beautiful and colorful produce at the farmer’s market especially the carrots – purple, bright orange, pale orange and yellow. The purples are my favorite because the skin peels off to reveal a bright orange outside and a yellow inside. What is so interesting about these carrots is that they each pack a different flavor profile – they are all carroty in their own way, sweet and earthy at the same time. These fresh from the ground carrots are so different from the generic orange carrots I get at Whole Foods. I am always sad at the end of the summer when these babies are no longer available. To highlight the different flavors, I simply paired them with fresh scallions, a little vegan butter and a pinch of salt to brighten the whole dish up. Create a simple blue plate special with tofu or tempeh and rice or potatoes for an easy summer meal.

4 colorful carrots
2 scallions
1 tablespoon vegan butter *
Salt, a pinch

* Make your own homemade butter. You can find a great recipe in The Homemade Vegan Pantry or use Earth Balance. If you want to keep the dish oil free, simply water sauté the scallions before tossing with the carrots.

Peel and slice the carrots into thin rounds, about the same thickness. Steam until just starting to soften.

Slice the scallions and drop them into a skillet. Add the vegan butter and a pinch of salt.

When the carrots are done, pour them over the scallions and turn on low heat. Toss until the carrots are coated and the butter is melted.

Serve and enjoy!

Book Report: Plant Powered Families (+ Bonus Recipe!)

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One of the things I love about this blog is the opportunity to connect with chefs, cookbook authors, and bloggers all over the world. I am a big fan of Dreena Burton of Plant Powered Kitchen and she recently released this great new book “Plant Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes.”  I got a copy and wow, I am really impressed!

This book is full of creative recipes that are geared toward families – Dreena has three girls. She takes the time to explain her personal story which is inspiring and then discusses how to involve kids in everything from shopping to recipe prep to discussions about food. This is super helpful since I find myself having these very same conversations not just with my husband and son but with people who ask about our lifestyle.

Dreena also outlines her pantry primer which is really basic – nothing crazy or surprising. In fact, when I started flipping through I noticed I had many of the ingredients on hand so that either means the book is super easy to follow or I have gotten really good at stocking up on basic ingredients. Both probably.

In addition to about 100 recipes, there is a whole section on challenges and solutions that plant based families have to deal with (well, all families, actually) including picky eaters, what to pack for lunch, and party ideas. It is nice to see some of the issues I have faced in print and Dreena offers some really great solutions. There is also a section on meal planning and batch cooking. This book is just as educational as it is delicious.

And finally, Dreena offers a list of FAQs which answer questions like, “What about protein, iron, and calcium?” and “What about soy?” because people still ask these questions.

As for the recipes, there are so many good ideas but I had to start somewhere. Here is how my day looked yesterday: chickpea omelet for breakfast, potato meets egg salad for lunch, a big salad with topped with seasoned polenta croutons and artichoke sunflower burgers for dinner, and peanut butter pudding and dreamy baked bananas for dessert. All delicious and all will become staples in my house for sure.

I have a whole stack of cookbooks and this one is staying at the top. I love the ease and clarity of the recipes, the color coded sections, and Dreena’s great ideas. Now just to tempt you to go out and buy it right away, I got permission from the publisher to reprint the artichoke sunflower burgers. They are super delicious! I love love love artichokes and never once thought about making burgers out of them. The combo of flavors is outstanding – the tang of the artichokes with the Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. I used cooked potatoes and oats to hold the burgers together. Make them today!

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Artichoke Sunflower Burgers
Makes 5 patties

2 cups artichoke hearts (see note)
1 ½ loosely packed cups cooked and cooled brown rice or potatoes (see note)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ loosely packed cup fresh Italian parsley (see note)
1 tablespoon mild miso (ex: chickpea or brown rice)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ rounded teaspoon sea salt
1 medium clove garlic (see note)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup rolled oats

In a food processor, add and the artichoke hearts, rice, nutritional yeast, sunflower seeds, parsley, miso, Dijon mustard, sea salt, garlic, black pepper, and vinegar and puree. Once the mixture is coming together and a little sticky, add the oats and pulse through several times. Refrigerate for an hour if possible (it will make it easier to shape the patties).

After chilling, take out scoops of the mixture and form burgers in your hands. I scoop generously with an ice cream scoop, roughly 1/3- ½ cup for each.

To cook, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties for 5–7 minutes on the first side, and then another 3–5 minutes on the second side until a little golden. Serve with the fixings of your choice.

Artichokes Note: I use frozen artichokes from Trader Joe’s. I find the flavor and texture much better than canned, and they are more affordable as well. If using frozen, just allow the artichokes to thaw before pureeing.

Potato Note: Instead of leftover rice, you can use prebaked, leftover red or Yukon gold potatoes—but the technique is a little different than if you’re making the recipe with rice. Potatoes can become sticky and glutinous when pureed in a food processor. So, if using potatoes, first peel and roughly cube or chop 1 1/2 –1 ¾ cups. Then, follow the recipe directions but add the potatoes last, after pureeing in the oats. Simply pulse the potatoes until they are worked through the mixture and you can take a small amount and form into a ball in your hand. Do not over process.

Garlic Note: I’m conservative with the garlic for the kiddos, but you can use more if you like.

Fresh Herbs Note: Fresh parsley adds a nice flavor element to these burgers. If you don’t have it, you can substitute fresh basil. I wouldn’t substitute many other herbs, or use dried, though.

Reprinted with permission from Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton (BenBella Books, 2015). Photo by Nicole Axworthy.

Pineapple Salsa

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Pineapples are superfood. I am always trying to come up with different ways to incorporate pineapple in my food project and this is one I absolutely love. Now, I am not sure if this really qualifies as salsa. But really, who says that tomatoes are the only official salsa ingredient? This is a great way to get that sweet and onion-y combo that works so well together.

Best served the same day. We love it on gilled tofu!

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These measurements make about 1 1/2 cups, enough for 4 plates, but you can estimate

1/2 of a regular size fresh pineapple (or probably about an overflowing cup of already cut up pineapple)
1/2 small red onion (more or less)
Handful fresh cilantro
The juice of 1 lime (more or less, start with 1/2)
Salt, a pinch, to taste

Dice up the pineapple. Dice the red onion. Mince the cilantro. Squeeze the lime juice. Add a pinch of salt. Mix together and adjust to taste. Enjoy!

Ice Cream Shmice Cream #20: Creamsicle

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This ice cream reminds me of those creamsicle pushups in the little tube with the big red, yellow and blue polka dots that I used to get from the ice cream man when I was little. I am afraid to look at the ingredients now but back in the day we didn’t care about ingredients! Of course, now I do and so I recreated what I think is one of the best flavors I have ever made.

I used 4 big navel oranges that were super juicy and ripe which is the key to the flavor and the texture. When navels are at their ripest, peel and drop into a freezer safe vessel and make this ice cream any time of year!

Note: I used Florida Crystals for the sugar to keep the ice cream color bright.

4 navel oranges
2 cans organic coconut milk
3/4 cup vegan cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Peel the oranges and place them (juice and all) in to the Vitamix. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. Let it rip until smooth. Place a strainer over a big bowl and pour the mixture through using the back of a spoon or spoonula to press it out. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Pour the coconut milk mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 10 minutes.Turn out into a Tovolo container or a freezer safe container with a piece of wax paper on top. Enjoy!

3-2-1 Salad Dressing: Balsamic Vinaigrette

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I love my creamy dressings made with cashews or tahini but sometimes I crave a good old balsamic vinaigrette or we have an allergic person visiting. This recipe is courtesy of Jane Esselstyn – the proportions work great, it’s super easy to make and is a delightful addition to any salad.

I usually triple the recipe and use my little dressing shakers. I make it using both white balsamic and regular balsamic. I like both on any given salad but I particularly love the regular balsamic version in my three bean salad.

3-2-1 Dressing Ratio
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Whisk or shake together until smooth. Enjoy!

Joey’s Avocado Toast with Tahini & Black Sesame Seeds

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We spent the day poolside at my friend Joey’s in Woodstock. He made fantastic sunflower bread (his first loaf of bread ever) and then served this deliciousness to us! He cut the bread up into small pieces, appetizer size, and topped them with smashed avocado, tahini and black sesame seeds. Apparently black sesame seeds are really good for us!

One avocado can serve 1 to 2 people.

1 avocado
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Fresh tahini, room temperature (I love Soom tahini) *
Black sesame seeds
Sea salt, a pinch, to taste
Bread, your favorite

* The tahini should be very liquidy. If it isn’t you can always whisk it together with a little water and/or lemon juice.

Mash the avocado with the lemon juice. Spread on toast and drizzle with tahini. Top with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds and a pinch of sea salt. Enjoy!

Adobo Black Beans

IMG_8578In my house, there is nothing better than rice and beans. To top that, there is nothing better than really flavorful rice and beans. Cue the adobo seasoning: sea salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, oregano, bay,and turmeric. I love this stuff and my kitchen smells great every time I open that spice mix.

A great way to have have coconut milk on hand for cooking is to buy these eco friendly resealable containers of culinary coconut milk by So Delicious. Use as much or as little as you want and save the rest in the container for up to a week.

Makes 2 heaping bowls

1 cup cooked black beans *
1 cup cooked brown rice *
1/2 onion
1/2 cup diced red, orange and yellow peppers
1 carrot
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon adobo seasoning
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 scallion, for garnish

* Cook the black beans and rice right before or way before and store.

Dice the onion, peppers and carrot. Press the garlic. Slice the scallion.

Sauté the onion in a big nonstick pan until just softening. Add the garlic, peppers and carrots. Spring with adobo seasoning. Toss to coat the vegetables. Add the coconut milk and deglaze the pan. When the vegetables are soft, add the black beans and heat through.

Serve over rice topped with scallions. Enjoy!