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.