Sunday, September 20, 2009

Vegan Soul Kitchen

The Hugger Food kitchen turned into a veritable soul kitchen this week as I belatedly tested recipes from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen. You see, several months ago, the kind and generous people at Da Capo Press sent me a copy of VSK and, with the chaos of moving, I'm just now getting a chance to cook from it. That's not to say I hadn't read VSK yet; I read it cover-to-cover like a novel as soon as I received it and it was a great read! Terry has an obvious and deep appreciation for food, wanting his food to "appear bright, bold, and sexy" with "modern and chic" presentation. He writes passionately about the fact that this cookbook could just as well be his autobiography through food. Many recipes are preceded by stories and each is accompanied by a suggested playlist, film, or work of art. VSK is definitely a cookbook that lets the reader know more about its author and that makes it all the more enjoyable.

So many of the recipes looked interesting that it was difficult to choose what to make. I knew I would have to make some modifications because 1) many of the recipes were very complicated, requiring things to be prepared a day in advance or requiring time that I didn't have to spare and 2) Terry is a chef who loves to use oil (sometimes to the tune of 1 cup per recipe) and I'm a home chef who shies away from oil and added fat completely when possible. That meant I was looking for recipes that could be adapted to both save time and eliminate oil. Here's what I chose:

Rosemary-Roasted Tofu Cubes without the oil and cut into smaller cubes than called for in the directions. Terry appropriately describes these as "crispy on the outside and creamy within." I'm absolutely folding this easy and delicious way to prepare tofu into my repertoire. Not only was the tofu perfect right out of the oven, but right out of the fridge, as well.

The Creole Hoppin'-Jean called for soaking both beans and rice (separately) overnight. I had a can of black-eyed peas in my pantry, so I skipped the bean soaking. I did soak the rice overnight, as directed, but I only had short-grain brown rice, so I substituted that for the long-grain in the recipe. As usual, I omitted the oil completely. Shallots are on my "no thank you" list and I substituted a clove of garlic instead. I followed the rest of the recipe as written and it turned out really well. The dish was very creamy and had a nice kick of spice at the end. Although I would omit the salt next time because it was a little saltier than I'd like, overall, I enjoyed it.

Making Sauteed Jalapeno Corn was a no-brainer since I love corn and I love spicy food. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I omitted the oil. This recipe was quick, easy, and good.

The Spicy Smothered Green Cabbage (minus the oil and I used date sugar instead of raw cane sugar--next time I would omit the sweetener altogether) was fantastic. This would be a great dish to serve to people who don't think they care for cabbage.

I'm very grateful to Da Capo Press for sending me cookbook and for publishing so many wonderful vegan cookbooks! Of the 13 vegan cookbooks they currently have listed on their site, I own 9, making it pretty obvious that they know what they're doing. I'm sure we have a lot to look forward to in the future from their presses.


Tracy said...

YUM! That tofu looks exceptional.

The Voracious Vegan said...

That tofu really looks amazing! And I think this man must have peeked into my kitchen because I thought *I* created sauted jalapeno and corn! I call it fiesta corn salad. The combo of corn and jalapeno is PERFECT!

¡Yo Soy Liz! said...

agh! It's almost irresponsible to include so much oil (up to a cup!!!) in a recipe. That drives me crazy!!! I thought the Veganomicon girls were bad but I've never seen anything as Bryant Terry. Those recipes look good though, it's nice to know they can still be tasty without all the artery-clogging fat! Great review!

Jenn Shagrin said...

I just got a copy of VSF, too! It's so awesome.

You have to try this black garlic. I bought some at Cube (@Divine Pasta Co.), but I've also seen it at the Pavilions on Santa Monica Blvd. So worth it.

The little guy can't wait to meet you, either. Just fair warning...he'll try to gnaw your shoes off ;)

trina said...

I love that you shared how you adapted these recipes to your kitchen. It all looks great just as you made it, and I had really written off most of the recipes in this book. My favorite for comedy's sake is the black eyed pea fritters that call for 5 cups of coconut oil. I recognize that that's for deep frying - but still, Bryant Terry, do you know how much 5 cups of coconut oil costs? I totally agree though that this is really enjoyable read.

Ricki said...

All the recipes look great! I love that corn especially. And must try that tofu!

Liz Ranger (Bubble Tea for Dinner) said...

that Hoppin John adaptation looks like perfection - gimme short grain creaminess in a long grain dish any day! I'll probably have to try one of his recipes soon, I think!