Tag Archives: veganomicon

The Veganomicon, a review

This post is part of the ppk’s 2011 cookbook challenge.

It seems silly to even review The Veganomicon because I feel like most people already have it. That probably tells you more about my circle than anything else. Or that I spend a lot of time in the vegan blogosphere. Or that everyone I know is awesome.

I have seen posts about this book where people try and cook from it for a week, or even a year. I have seen people debate if it is really the ultimate vegan cookbook. (My answer, yes) I think a big part of the reason for all the chatter is that it really did usher in the change. The Veganomicon took vegan food from a health food or animal rights niche to a full on cuisine which in turn helped both those causes. When the Veganomicon came out just a couple years ago it mingled with the vegetarian cookbooks on a shelf at Book People. Now vegans have a whole case in the store and there are so many titles coming out every month that us vegan food bloggers and food enthusiasts can’t keep up with them.

I have read that the Veganomicon is difficult for beginners and I have to disagree. I have personally recommended the book to so many folks who don’t know their soft tofu from their silken tofu and they have all seemed pretty happy with it. It is my boyfriend’s favorite cookbook and before he read the Veganomicon he only made pasta. He tells his friends & family about it and then they get it and wander off to whole foods looking for porcini mushrooms and unground nutmeg. It is true some of the recipes are involved but when you sink your teeth into the Moussaka or the Caluliflower and Mushroom Pot Pie with olive biscuit topping it will all be worth it I promise.

a piece of amazing pot pie

I recommend the book to beginners all the time because if you actually read it you will learn everything you need to know about vegan cooking and if you still can’t figure something out it is the only book in the world (well that I know of) that has a whole forum of friendly people who have tried every recipe and will tell you what to do and give you advice if you are confused.

There are a lot of simple recipes that have blown my mind like the olivey roasted red pepper and eggplant goodness of the Muffulatta Sandwich

or the SmokeyGrilled Tempeh that you can use the same marinade for your greens for easy cooking.

There are recipes for breakfast (or brunch or dinner) like the Asparagus Tarragon Quiche 

There are instructions for how to marinate and grill portobellos and any other vegetable you would ever want to grill and  recipes for simple summer eating like the best barbecued tofu ever 

There are holiday standards like cranberry sauce and new and amazing holiday recipes like carmelized onion & butternut roast chestnut casserole. 

There are dishes for things I never in my life would have thought of like Gazborsht (a cold soup that is a cross between gazpacho and borsht that is fabulous on a hot day with just picked tomatoes) or Lemongrass Asparagus risotto

and there are recipes for things that we make so regularly we hardly have to look at the recipe like Mac Daddy and Chickpea Cutlets (which you can make with lentils if you are short on time and money)

There are even recipes that you can serve people who really do not want anything to do with vegan food but end up enjoying anyway like fried eggplant rollatini

and recipes for things you can stack up like broccoli polenta and Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale and sun-dried tomatoes

There are side dishes, sauces, dips, appetizers, basic recipes like seitan, desserts, bread, muffins, breakfast and even ice cream. Almost any occasion you could ever  think of you can find a recipe in the Veganomicon which makes in invaluable for everyone having a party or a family.

Now I realize this review is starting to sound like a goddamn commercial so I will tell you what I don’t like too. For one, I wish the recipes were each on their own page, preferably with a picture like Vegan Brunch. I hate having to flip back and forth when my hands a million times to read the ingredients. I also think the estimated preparation times are completely inaccurate and vary so widely that I try to not even look at them. But maybe that is because sometimes I cook like lightning and sometimes I can’t find my food processor. My version has a couple of serious typos and things that we omitted but I bet later versions have corrected this. And there are some recipes I haven’t liked but I still always have complete faith in trying new ones because I am constantly amazed by the Veganomicon.

If you haven’t picked up a copy I recommend you check it out. If nothing else you’ll probably laugh a lot and be inspired to make some really good food even if you don’t  usually cook. If you aren’t vegan or vegetarian you can still get a lot out of this book, there are recipes in here for almost every vegetable and tons of easy soups and side dishes. If you like food and you are curious to see what vegan cuisine can be this is the one to read.

one long dog

I wish this picture had turned out better because it is one of the funniest ways I ever saw the dogs sleep. I had plans to make all sorts of fabulous food over the weekend but instead, Mr. Smurf ended up cooking for me. He said he would make whatever I wanted and for some reason I really wanted comfort food. Chickpea cutlets and mac daddy from the Veganomicon and broccoli were the name of the game with Oreos for dessert. It was very TV dinnerish which is exactly what I dreamed. I really want to find some TV dinner style trays that have the little compartments for when we eat like this. I love mac daddy, it is funny how there are so many different recipes for vegan mac and cheese and everyone has there favorite. I have tried so many and this one is my favorite!Hope ya’ll had a fabulous weekend!

Thanksgiving Dumplings

We had the best Thanksgiving Dinner ever! I have been working on a recipe for seitan dumplings all week but they didn’t come together perfectly until the actual meal, they were awesome and everyone really liked them more than I thought possible! Here is a picture of one of the earlier versions before I realized that I should wrap them in cheesecloth.The version on thanksgiving was stuffed with a cornbread chorizo dressing that I just loved. I made the stock the day before I made the dumplings so that I would have more time and also because I learned that it is really important to use COLD stock when making seitan. If you want to make this recipe, you could use powdered broth cubes mixed with water but the roasted vegetable stock made a big difference in the final taste of the seitan. I made the dressing while I made the stock and refrigerated overnight. It is easy to make the dressing while stock is simmering because than you can easily add the liquid whatever amount of liquid you need.I didn’t put specific quantities of everything for the stock because I didn’t measure. It will work out regardless, you don’t need to add everything on this list if you don’t have it.
Roasted Vegetable Stock
2 leeks, edges cut off and split in half
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, halved
3 parsnips, halved
4 stalks celery
bay leaves
thyme sprigs
sage leaves
peppercorns
white wine
soy sauce
water
parsley
vegetable odds and ends (onion skins, garlic tops etc)

Lay the vegetables on a greased cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil and top with thyme sprigs, salt, and sage leaves and place in the oven at 350 degrees for about a half hour until starting to brown. Put the vegetables in a pot along with the other ingredients and cover with water and add the other ingredients. Simmer for an hour and refrigerate over night.

If the cornbread isn’t a day old you can put the cubes in the oven and toast them for a half hour while roasting the vegetables

Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing
1 recipe of day old cornbread, cubed (I used a recipe from “The Dirty South” it was great!)
1 cup of vegan chorizo
1 TBSP oil
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 TBSP garlic
1 roasted skinned and seeded poblano, chopped
1 TBSP fresh cuban oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 TBSP ground flaxseed mixed with 3 TBSP water
~1/2 cup of vegetable stock

Saute the chorizo in a large saute pan and cook about five minutes, until it changes color. Add the oil, onion, and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and poblano and stir for about a minute and then add the cornbread, tossing the mixture to get it covered. Add stock if necessary to stop the cornbread from sticking and keep the whole thing from drying out. Once the mixture looks softened and like dressing add the herbs, salt if necessary, and the flax-egg.

Thanksgiving Dumplings
Yields 12 dumplings

3 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup almond meal
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
6 Cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 Cup olive oil
2 cups stock + 4 cups for baking
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the oil and 2 cups of stock and mix with your hands and knead until the gluten becomes activated and stringy. Separate into 12 small balls. Using either a tortilla press or two pieces of parchment paper and a rolling pin, squash the ball of gluten flat. This can be kind of difficult because the gluten isn’t going to want to stretch out. The best way I have found is to press it flat for a minute, and then put something heavy on top of it while you prepare the cheesecloth and the stuffing. Cut a square of cheesecloth that has at least two or three layers folded and is about 6X6 inches and lay it flat. Grab a handful of stuffing and roll it into a ball, about the size of a golf ball, and keep it in one hand when you remove the weight or tortilla press off the flattened gluten. Quickly place the stuffing in the middle of the round and grab the edges surrounding the stuffing with the gluten. Form a ball with your hand, part of the stuffing will probably be uncovered where the edges meet, but that is just fine. You don’t want overlap because than you will have a really thick piece of gluten. Put the opening side down on the square of cheesecloth grab the four corners and twist them together and tie off tightly with a piece of string. Place all 12 balls in a roasting pan, I squeezed them into an 9X9 pan, and cover them completely with stock. Cover with foil or a lid and bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours. Unwrap the dumplings and enjoy!

For the rest of the meal, we made jalapeno gravy with roasted poblanos, holiday cranberry sauce, and the mac daddy from the Veganomicon, roasted garlic mashed potatoes,  pumpernickle apple-sage dressing, agave-miso glazed brussels sprouts with red onions,

and my friend Andrea brought a Sri Lankan Sweet Potatoe casserole that was so good.

When we finally got everything to the table it seemed like more food than we could possibly eat, like a cartoon!

The dogs took their places under the table, ready to get any food that dropped to the floor.

and then I put way too much food on my plate

this is where I realized that I would never have to eat again

But then Giovanni busted out the garam masala pumpkin cupcakes while we were playing trivial pursuit and I spent the rest of the night laying around drinking cider. It was the perfect day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pignoli & Portobello Pasta

This pasta is a beautiful combination of recipes that Mr. Smurf made for us. The spinach pasta had a simple dressing of toasted pignoli nuts, parsely, lemon, and garlic and is a recipe from Dreena Burton‘s Eat Drink and Be Vegan. The balsamic marinated mushrooms from the Veganomicon added a special note of sweetness to the dish. It was fabulous, I love big spinach noodles.

Chickpea Soup for the Vegan Soul

I caught this stupid virus that my sister brought from the freezing cold Windy City. Yuk! I haven’t been able to enjoy the spring weather at all, instead, I have been laying around watching Star Trek and unfortunately an entire season of America’s Next Top Model, I could actually feel my brain deteriorating as this was happening. Top Model is like a train wreck that you can’t look away from, you just feel so sorry for the people involved and the world that we live in where a tragedy like this can happen over and over.

Today I am almost fully recovered! Yay! The only real difference is my sultry voice from non stop coughing. I owe my quick recovery to a combination of Kombucha, Grape Seed Extract, and soup… oh the power of soup. Whenever cold season strikes it seems like magazines and newspapers bust out their “Chicken Soup actually does have healing powers article” but if you look at the research it is the onions that are mostly doing the trick, the chicken can(should) be replaced quite easily. In the Veganomicon the recipe uses chickpeas for the protein and adds miso both for the added flavor and for its amazing healing powers. Its a combination that can’t be beat!I changed the recipe a bit, omitting the mushrooms (they don’t belong in chickpea soup!), adding leeks because they are great and I had some, and adding Better Than Bouillon, No Chicken Base, vegeta, and I used less miso. It was terrific. Exactly what you would expect for this kind of soup!

VeganMoFo Pumpkin Sage Pasta- the ultimate fall comfort food

I have never owned a real casserole dish, in the past I have always used a very old 8X8 glass baking dish for nearly all of my baking needs. Since I started preparing recipes from the VEGANOMICON I bake  things in the oven and make a lot more casseroles than any other time in my life so I really need a new dish. I saw this beauty and I had to have it and now I have been using it left and right, forcing items into is sleek oblong shape.

I have wanted to make this recipe for Pumpkin Sage Crusted pasta since I first read about it; pasta with cashew ricotta mixed with caramelized onions and pumpkin combing for the sauce and then a crusty top of bread crumbs, walnuts and sage. Somehow I managed to hold off until the dish was weather appropriate. In my case in Austin TX that means the time when we get to where pants and turn off the AC because *gasp* it is only 85 degrees outside. My partner’s parents are coming in a couple weeks and I thought I  would give this one a dry run to see if it would meet the not-in-laws approval.

This dish was fantastic! It is everything that I ever wanted but never find in Vegan Mac and Cheese. The problem with Mac and Cheese is that it is trying to be mac and cheese (which I used to love to make) and it will never be the same as its dairy counterpart. The Pumpkin Pasta, on the other hand, isn’t trying to be anything but a yummy, gooey, noodley casserole with a crispy top and so it succeeds by not having to compare to its non-vegan version. I usually find that the key to good vegan food is to

  • not try to be something else
  • utilize the wonder that is vegetables

and here the vegetables really shined. There are few things better in this world than caramelized onions and I realized I should really cook with pumpkin more. The cans are cheap and easy to work with and don’t seem to contain a lot of strange preservatives like some processed canned things and you don’t have to peel anything with is what is usually annoying about winter squashes. I served this dish with roasted asparagus and it made 6 meals. Six actual meals, not 6 “servings” which isn’t usually very correct for us. I think I will make it again for the family or at least the next time I am feeling sorry for myself. I think it would be a great recipe to southwesternize too, using cumin instead of sage for the topping and mixing jalapenos, sauteed peppers and maybe a can of tomatoes into the sauce. Me Gusta calabaza!