This years Cookbook Challenge has been just that - a challenge. I decided not to participate officially in the last 3 or so weeks due in equal parts to not owning the designated cookbooks (Eat, Drink & be Vegan, 500 Vegan Recipes, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World - I actually have this one, but didn't have much time or money to make several batches of cupcakes), having too many leftovers from weeks past, traveling and hosting travelers and just good ol' fashioned laziness. The following dishes were actually from the challenge that took place two weeks ago, and I barely participated then. Yikes!
Anyway, last week I cooked from American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes, founder of Vegan Appetite. I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone remotely interested in comfort food (I know what you're thinking - there's food that isn't comforting?). Also interested in classic American foods of diners, delis, cafes or mom's kitchen? Then this is the cookbook for you! AVK is chock-full of rise-and-shine worthy breakfasts, hearty soups, filling salads, thick sandwiches, "meaty" blue plate specials and desserts right out of those classic glass cases seen in diners nationwide. It's a thoroughly enjoyable cookbook, full of nostalgia, colorful photos and promising recipes including donut bites, loaded potato skins, spinach dip, french onion soup, seitan po'boys, burgers, wheat-meat loaf, beer-battered onion rings, pies galore and SO SO SO much more - over 200 recipes! To be honest, I was a little intimated by this book. Everything looked absolutely amazing, and I had no idea where to start! I didn't make much (see aforementioned excuses), but what I did make was superb!
|Salisbury-Style Seitan with Mushrooms and Mashed Potatoes with Homestyle Gravy|
I started my week with a batch of Tami's Savory Seitan. It was one of the easiest seitan recipes I've ever attempted and the results couldn't have been better. There isn't anything unique about the recipe that I can pinpoint, but I don't think I've ever had such success with any cutlet-style seitan recipe. For anyone unfamiliar with seitan, it's basically a faux meat similar in taste and texture to chicken or thin steak (if you shape it accordingly) made primarily of vital wheat gluten, broth and various seasonings. This recipe is of the boiled variety and is simmered in a bubbling bath of vegetable broth for about an hour. It was firm yet chewy and oh-so flavorful. I used the majority of the batch to make Tami's Salisbury-Style Seitan - a dish very close to home for me. I grew up eating a boxed frozen variety and loved it with mashed potatoes and corn. Here it is severed with a silky mushroom gravy full of diced onions, thyme and sage. Another winner and a gravy I'll make on a regular basis. I actually liked it better than the gravy that went with the mashed potatoes - yeah, I made two gravies that night. The Mashed Potatoes and Homestyle Gravy were super simple - it's pretty hard to mess up mashed potatoes - and the recipe wasn't anything spectacular. Mashed potatoes have always been one of those dishes for which I've never used a recipe. These were really creamy and the gravy was just OK.
|All-American Incrediburgers with Cheezy Mayo|
There was no way I was going to cook from AVK and not make one of Tami's burgers. This is the All-American Incrediburger and it was incre-delicious!! A simple mix of textured vegetable protein and vital wheat gluten, these burgers definitely captured that crumbliness of that typical type of burger made from ground-up cow flesh, but it doesn't contain any of the harm, death or guilt! I found it a little difficult to get all of the TVP to mix in with the seitan, but the majority of it stuck, resulting in a really hearty burger. After a quick steam, I opted to bake mine (Tami has instructions for baking, grilling and pan-frying) and dressed them with lettuce, tomato, red onion and Tami's Cheezy Mayo all between two whole wheat burger buns - store bought, but Tami does have a burger bun recipe! The Cheezy Mayo was really simple - vegenaise, mustard, nutritional yeast and a spoonful of white miso. When I'm craving burgers but don't want one ladden with chopped veggies or a slew of mashed beans, this will definitely be my go-to burger recipe.
|Inside shot - All American Incrediburgers with Cheezy Mayo|
I wanted to make so much more - Deli Reubenettes, Sweet Garlicky Ribz, Sweet and Crunchy French Toast, soft Roasted Garlic Pretzels, for example - and I fully intend to! Just not consecutively. These recipes may be delicious but they are a little to heavy for me to eat on a daily basis and rely primarily of faux meats like seitan. Albeit easy and cheap to make, seitan sometimes gives me ridiculous gas, probably because I eat too much of it! Instead of several more savory dishes, I opted for a decadent dessert that I'm still enjoying a week later.
Oh, what's that you say? Only one of the greatest pies on earth! That right there is the Crispy Bottom Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Fudge Sauce. Want to see it again? Ok!
Remember those Hershey's Sundae pies that Burger King sold? This recipe reminded me a lot of that dessert (something else that popped up in my childhood pretty regularly), but was actually much healthier (albiet not very healthy in and of itself). Tami's peanut butter pie combines puffed rice cereal in a dark chocolate sauce which is then frozen in a pie pan. Meanwhile, peanut butter and vegan cream cheese are whipped together until thoroughly combined and spiced up with some agave nectar, fresh lemon juice and vanilla extract. It's essentially a less cheesy peanut butter cheesecake filling that is poured on a crispy chocolate crust. A chocolate fudge sauce ties everything together for one mouthwateringly scrumptious dessert that requires no baking - which makes it perfect for the upcoming summer months. Just stick it in the freezer for a few hours and you're ready to serve! I've stored mine in the icebox for over a week and it still tastes great.
Since we cooked traditional north American favorites last week, it only seems appropriate that we explore the vegan cuisine of our southern neighbors. Next week I'll be cooking from Viva Vegan! from best-selling author Terry Hope Romero. Anyone at all familiar with vegan cookbooks will recognize her name and adorable face from such works as Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (not to mention The PPK!). I can't wait for a week of empanadas, arepas, rice and beans and maybe even a successful vegan flan!