In the same way that I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ takes me back to my honeymoon or Tubthumping conjures memories of my early days as an actress working nights as a cater waiter, cookbooks have a transportive quality. They whisk me away to a space in time when I was cooking particular dishes, and those dishes were the background to my every day life.
One of the cookbooks that rockets me back to my early days learning the ropes of a vegan kitchen is Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Along with Veganomicon, they were my guides in discovering a whole new way of eating. After many years of heating frozen Trader Joe’s meals and “cooking from scratch” by adding a jar of curry sauce, when I went vegan I learned how to navigate the produce aisle and cook things like kale and collard greens. (Up until that point, kale was just what I used to decorate the catering buffet line.) I figured out what it meant to deglaze a pan and why that means more flavor in your dishes. I cooked tofu for the first time and fell in love with tempeh. (I have since fallen out of love with tempeh, but I still eat it on occasion.)
The scrambled tofu in VWAV was the first scramble I ever made. I remember long Saturday mornings making tofu tossed in nutritional yeast, which was a brand new ingredient to me. I’d have tempeh and white bean sausage patties on the side. The whole breakfast section of my tattered, 10 year old copy of VWAV is crinkled with signs of use. It was also in VWAV that I first learned how to make gnocchi from scratch, and I often turned to the tempeh reuben recipe to satisfy my sauerkraut desires.
Well, this month marks my 8th year being vegan, and it’s been 10 years since Vegan with a Vengeance came on the scene. Since then Isa Chandra Moskowitz has gone on to become the biggest name in vegan cookbooks and the owner of an awesome restaurant in Nebraska. (I visited Modern Love last year, and I also had the joy of returning last month. I’ll be sharing photos from that visit in a future post!)
To celebrate the book’s ten year anniversary, it has been updated with a fierce new cover and lots more pretty color photos by Kate Lewis. The directions have been simplified and the ingredients have been streamlined. There are also some new recipes in the book, many of which are taken from the Post Punk Kitchen blog or the dessert trilogy Isa co-wrote with Terry Hope Romero.
I was excited to see my favorite soup ever made the book – Chickpea and Rice Soup with a Little Kale. It’s probably the recipe of Isa’s that I’ve made more than any other. It’s so warming and homey, I eat it all winter long with crusty bread for dunking. Now that I have it in book form, I can jot all kinds of notes around it with my particular preferences – white beans instead of chickpeas and barley instead of rice.
Since I received the updated version from the publisher, here are some things I’ve made:
Asparagus season is winding down now, but while it was still going, I made Potato-Asparagus Soup. The soup is nice and springy with blended asparagus and potatoes and a generous handful of fresh dill. I served it with grilled garlic sourdough.
Like I mentioned earlier, when I first went vegan, kale was new to me, but now I eat it daily and often multiple times a day. Most of the time I massage it with garlicky cashew dressing for a raw salad, or I sauté it with garlic as a side. This Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing dresses up my usual with a creamy tahini and lemon sauce. It was a simple addition that added a lot. I served it with baked tofu and a baguette.
This Brussels Sprout Fried Rice recipe is packed with flavor and includes fresh cilantro, basil, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Unlike most fried rice recipes, it is dotted with pine nuts, which is a fun change of pace, and of course, lightly charred Brussels sprouts. To fill out the meal, I added baked lemon tofu and potstickers.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Da Capo Press have generously offered to share the Brussels Sprout Fried Rice recipe. You’re definitely going to want to make this one!