As you know from reading this blog, there are a lot of new vegan cookbooks out there. I try to be as balanced and honest in my reporting as possible so that you can decide if that book is right for you. And today I’m talking about this new book Real Food, Really Fast: Delicious Plant-Based Recipes Ready in 10 Minutes or Less by Hannah Kaminsky.
The verdict? This is a great addition to any vegan bookshelf. Why? Because a few reasons. Hannah is speaking my language with the 10 minutes concept. I can’t vouch for whether or not all the recipes hit that target, but from the ones I have made so far, it’s close. Plus, the recipes are outside the box with lots of fun flavors and new ideas like the A+ Benedict, which might be my favorite, Hash Brown Waffles, Hasselback Zucchinis, Artichoke Barbacoa, Ropa Vieja, Grilled Bananas Foster Kebabs, and hello, Whole Fruit Whip! In addition, the photos are superb, Hannah is funny and I like reading the text in each recipe.
I could go on an on but I think I will let this interview with Hannah do the talking and then check out her recipe for Hash Brown Waffles. I had to go out and get a waffle maker just to make this recipe. Check out my creation below. I tried to recreate Hannah’s photo. Hers is prettier but you get the idea!
Lisa: Hello Hannah! I love your new book. How did you come up with the concept?
Hannah: Hi Lisa! I’m so touched by your enthusiasm because I’m truly just thrilled to share. The concept for this book came about when I started cooking more for myself after moving out of my childhood home. Suddenly tasked with balancing school work and numerous part-time jobs, I had less time than ever to spend in the kitchen, but the same hunger for bold flavors and healthy food, of course. After a few too many late-night dinners of cold cereal, I knew that something had to change. Real Food, Really Fast is the result of wanting it all: fast, high-quality, delicious homemade food that cuts no corners. It shouldn’t be a big production to eat well, no matter how much (or how little) time you have to cook!
L: I always read the introductions to new cookbooks to see if I can glean any new advice. Honestly, they are all usually the same with pantry staples and equipment. Yours if different. I learned lots of new things in the “Warp Speed Secrets and Fast Fundamentals”. Can you tell me your favorites in this section?
H: Ah yes, all my quick cooking secrets have been exposed here! The one that I rely on the most is prepping fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as you get them home from the grocery store and tossing them straight into the freezer. That way you’ll be set to hit the ground cooking with diced onions or herbs right away. Plus, it cuts down on spoilage and food waste, since you’re extending the shelf life of these perishables in the deep freeze.
L: The photos are also really wonderful, I especially like the old school oven. What is your best photo advice for budding food photogs?
H: Food photography is a real passion of mine, so I’m glad that comes across in these pages. The number one piece of advice I can offer for the beginner shutterbug is to pay attention to the light. Quality of light will make or break an image, no matter the subject. Try to use soft, even lighting, rather than something harsher and more direct that will cast heavy shadows over part of the frame. Window light is often a great choice! Turn off your flash and try to keep the main light source to the back or side of the dish. Frontal lighting tends to flatten the subject out, reducing textural detail, which is often what makes a food photo so luscious.
L: What is your favorite recipe?
H: Oh dear, now that’s a tough question. I have such trouble choosing favorites! I must say though, the Hash Brown Waffles and Buffalo Buttered Pecans have both been smash hits among recipe testers and tasters, so I’d have to give them the edge if you’re looking for a good place to start.
L: What is your recipe/cooking philosophy? I notice lots of spices and unfamiliar dishes.
H: I’ve always consider myself a “flavor-first” vegan. If it doesn’t taste good, I don’t care how healthy it is; I’m just not going to eat it. I find tons of inspiration in different cultures, unfamiliar ingredients, and unconventional sources. The new and unknown keeps me excited about food, because there’s just such an incredibly diverse range of edibles out in the world. My personal philosophy is that as long as it’s vegan, I’ll try absolutely anything at least once.
L: What is your best advice for new cooks and new vegans?
H: Don’t be afraid to experiment or make mistakes. Get in the kitchen, try new things, explore unfamiliar culinary territory, and most importantly, have fun! It’s just food; the worst that can happen is that you’ll have to resort to a frozen pizza for dinner, but hey, at least you’ll still get a good story out of the experience. I’ve always learned through doing, and my crazy concoctions only continue to improve throughout the years. There’s truly no end to the possibilities once you start playing with your food.
Hash Brown Waffles
Little more than piles of shredded potatoes, what separates superlative hash browns from the merely adequate hash browns all comes down to texture. Shatteringly crisp on the outside yet tender, even borderline creamy on the inside, it's a fine balance that's difficult to strike. Using a waffle iron instead of a standard frying pan maximizes the surface contact for a far more satisfying crunchy crust, while the enclosure allows the spuds to essentially steam from within, ensuring perfectly tender bites through and through.
- 1 Pound Frozen Shredded Potatoes* Thawed
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil Melted
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Before doing anything else, begin preheating your waffle iron. All models work differently so yours may take more or less time to reach a suitable temperature.
Squeeze any excess water out of the shredded potatoes if necessary before tossing them into a large bowl. Mix in the melted vegan butter or oil, salt, and pepper, stirring thoroughly to incorporate. Make sure that the shreds are all evenly coated before proceeding.
Lightly grease the waffle maker. Distribute the potato mixture equally between four waffle squares, covering the surface as evenly as possible while packing it in firmly. Close the lid and make sure that it locks to ensure full contact with the hash browns. Cook on medium-high for 5–8 minutes, until golden brown all over.
Serve right away, while still hot and crisp!
*You can also find ready-to-cook shredded potatoes in the refrigerated sections of some grocery stores, alongside prepared and packaged side dishes.
Quick Tip: When time is of the essence, don’t waffle around. Just toss the mixture into a large skillet and fry the mixture over medium-high heat to make more traditional hash brown potatoes.
Spice It Up! Honey-butter potato chips are a craze sweeping Asian nations and are slowly catching on overseas. Taking a page from that addictive sweet and salty combination, I love adding 1½ tablespoons dark amber agave and ¹∕8 teaspoon orange blossom water or rose water to mimic that ambrosial, subtly floral flavor.