Cookbook Review: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!

I was super excited to hear that Kristy Turner, author of the Keepin’ It Kind blog, was releasing this book. I only very recently acquired But I Could Never Go Vegan! and the first time I flipped through it (it was a library copy) I asked myself why I do not have it on my shelf. So I pre-ordered BMFWNEV! as soon as I heard about it.

The book is broken down in to chapters with funny-sad-but-true family scenarios, like “my kids think vegan food is weird”, “the in-laws will just add this to their list of my faults” and “Uncle John thinks his comfort food is better than mine… and won’t shut up about it”. The opening chapter covers staples and pantry ingredients and how to cook grains.

I’ve really enjoyed cooking from BMFWNEV! and there are loads more recipes I have bookmarked.

By far, my favourite so far has been the Tater Totchos. Made with Tater Tots (called potato gems or potato royals in Australia), these are topped with a fantastic beans recipe and a nacho cheese sauce that uses potato and tahini (no cashew, woohoo!). Now I don’t really like potato gems at all and prefer to steer clear of this oily processed delight. So the first time I made the Tater Totchos, I used plain boiled potatos. The second time I decided what the hell, let’s go with the potato gems. I’m glad I did, because I loved it:

I have been struggling for yeaaars to make a home made burger that the kids (or at least one of them) will like. My twelve year old really liked these Double-Double Cheeseburger patties and for that alone I am happy to have bought the book. Made with lentils, mushroom and oats (plus other stuff), these are a winner with the hint of smoked paprika. The second time I made these, I added in shredded kale. Next time I’ll include some finely grated carrot, just to sneak more veggies in.

The burger photo above was taken when my sister and her partner came over and they loved the burgers too. I made the Deviled Potato Salad to go along with it. I’ve never really been in to potato salad but this was tasty and simple to make, though I used silken tofu in place of vegan mayo. The use of black salt really takes these potatoes up a notch:

The Chickenless Salad Sandwich was made because I had to use up some tofu. Now I will confess that when I took the tofu out of the oven and tried it, I was a little disappointed. But you guys, once it was added to the mayo combination I couldn’t stop eating it. I made this to take to a BBQ picnic (I just chopped up some salad greens and tomatoes) and it disappeared straight away:

The Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi recipe was another winner, specifically for the tofu bit. I baked the tofu, which made the lemongrass marinade go a little crispy.

I did have it assembled properly in a baguette that looked very banh mi, but stumbled as I was going to take the photo, banging the plate and everything just fell all over the place. That was the last of the baguette too, so I had to make do with plain bread buns for my photo:

When you buy leeks to make a recipe but never get around to it, there’s always leek and potato soup. The recipe in the book has nice subtle flavours of garlic, rosemary, thyme and sage:

The Maple-Peanut Butter Pancakes were pretty good, though I did add a little peanut butter powder and some extra baking powder. The batter tasted far more peanutty than the pancakes! These were really good too, I wish I’d made a nice peanut caramel kind of sauce, but maple syrup was good enough:

The Mushroom Kale Skillet Hash was another winner. Always good to use up the Old Bay Seasoning!

The Mexican Pizza with 15-Minute Refired Beans was another favourite. WHY don’t my kids eat stuff like this? Oh well, more for me:

Finally, the Hidden Veggie Mac n Cheese. Arggghhhh if my kids ate meals like this, life would be so much easier around here. It was a no-go for the kids, which sucked really, because the sauce is made with beans, cauliflower and carrot– the sort of stuff I want them to be eating. I liked it, especially the Pepita Parmesan on top.  The recipe makes a huge amount of sauce:

Other recipes I tried (no photos):

PB&J Rollups: a peanut butter spread made with silken tofu, spread on wraps and topped with sliced strawberries or bananas. I soooo wanted the kids to like these as it makes for a quick easy snack, but nooooooooo. Argh.

Skillet Cornbread: another one I liked but not a winner for the kids. If I make it again, I’d add some more liquidy ingredient as it was a bit crumbly.

Blueberry Banana Muffins: the kids liked these so I’d make them again, though they were a little dry (this always happens when I cook with oat flour). I’ll just increase the banana next time.

Shiitake Stroganoff: nice, but whenever I use silken tofu as the base for a pasta sauce, I can taste tofu (not what I want in a pasta dish). Still, I prefer it over dishes that use cashews as the sauce base!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies: these were more pillowy cookies than crunchy and while I prefer my peanut butter cookies to be on the crunchy side, these were still a nice snack.

Artichoke Kale Hummus: definitely one for kale lovers! I’m not a huge kale fan, I eat it because It’s Good For You, so I found the kale after taste in this a little strong.

Maple-Miso Tempeh Cutlets: okay so I really don’t like tempeh, but the marinade on this is really nice. I have some in the fridge and I’m forcing myself to like tempeh– this recipe is helping!

Overall, I really love this book. The photos are gorgeous and the intros are funny. I have way more recipes bookmarked to try and will probably end up doing a part 2 review!


Cookbook Review: Chloe’s Kitchen

Chloe's Kitchen Sweet And Sour Party Meatballs

Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way is the first cookbook written by chef Chloe Coscarelli. Chloe was the first vegan to win a cookery competition on national (USA) TV, taking out the winning spot on Cupcake Wars. Since her big win, she has released three cookbooks and in 2014 opened her New York restaurant by CHLOE, to stellar reviews. More restaurants are being planned and a Los Angeles outlet has just opened.

Chloe’s Kitchen was published in 2012. In the introduction chapter, Chloe talks briefly about her experience on Cupcake Wars. Following is a section on a vegan pantry and suggestions for what to include in your kitchen. There’s a small section on gluten free and soy free cooking and then the book launches in to the recipes.

The first chapter is titled Small Bites and includes finger foods and things you’d serve at a party. From this chapter, I’ve made the Crispy Potato-Leek Patties with Lemon-Dill Dip. Shown here are the patties sitting on top of the Garlicky Greens from the Simply Vegetables chapter (though I had too many greens and didn’t adjust the recipe!). I don’t recall exactly how I cooked the patties, the recipe says fry but I try to avoid frying in oil. I think I used my air fryer. I enjoyed all the flavours here and used the dip on pretty much everything:

Chloe's Kitchen Potato Leek Fritters Garlicky Greens

Also from the Small Bites chapter are the Sweet-and-Sour Party Meatballs, shown in the topmost photo. I made the brown rice version instead of using the tempeh and I baked instead of fried. The meatballs themselves were great, being made up of (mostly) walnuts, the rice (or tempeh) and lentils. The sauce was a bit too sweet so if I was serving these at a party I’d cut back on the sweetener but still, they make a great party food.

Also from the Simply Vegetables chapter is the Miso-Glazed Eggplant. No photo, but this was really nice with cutting the sweetener by half.

From the Eat With Your Hands chapter, I made Chloe’s Award-Winning Mango Masala Panini. Loved this! There are three main components here: a chutney, chickpea masala and the roasted cauliflower curry but they can be made in advance. No photo sorry, I don’t know what happened to it!

The Double Double Drive-Thru Burgers were easy to make and thanks to my tempeh aversion, I again used the brown rice option. These were tasty though a little on the dry side with the rice, so next time I’ll make a minor modification. The Special Sauce was great though. No doubling for me, one layer was enough:

Chloe's Kitchen Double Drive Thru Burgers

From the Salads chapter is the Minted Couscous with Aragula, Butternut Squash and Currants salad. I’d make this if I was tasked with taking a salad to a party:Chloe's Kitchen couscous salad

From The Main Event chapter I loved the Orange You Glad I Made Crispy Tofu? recipe. On this day, I chose to have a really plain meal with brown rice and steamed veg, but the orange tofu was quite obviously the highlight:

Chloe's Kitchen Orange You Glad I Made Crispy Tofu

Pancakes for Dinner? Sure! These simple blueberry pancakes are in The Main Event chapter and made an easy special breakfast for the kids:

Chloe's Kitchen Blueberry Dinner Pancakes

I made the Banana Cupcakes with Lemon Icing from the Cupcakes and More chapter. I stuffed up with the icing, I decided to make half the amount because I don’t really go for icing much and the cupcakes are sugar enough, but I ended up halving the powdered sugar but not the liquid ingredients. Whoops. And I accidentally squished that thin wedge of lemon a bit and split the cupcake in half when I tore a chunk off:

Chloe's Kitchen Banana Lemon Icing Cupcakes

There are still a few recipes I want to try. The recipes are simple and family friendly too. The Cupcakes and More chapter recipes aren’t really on the healthy side, if that’s your preferred thing– but I don’t expect ‘healthy’ from any sweets chapter! My preference is to avoid using things like vegan butters, lots of oil or lots of sugar (like powdered sugar) in baking and this cookbook is kinda heavy on those things but again, it’s a desserty chapter and I don’t want to sound like those funnnn Amazon reviewers who leave a pissy one star “this cookbook is full of unhealthy recipes!” rating when they review a vegan cookbook because they think vegan means you shouldn’t be eating cakes made with vegan butter and sugar or fried stuff!

When I get my dream trip to New York, there’s no way I’m missing out on visiting Chloe’s restaurant a bazillion times. For now though, I’ll just sigh at the menu.

For more looks at meals from Chloe’s Kitchen, check out this review from fellow Australian vegan blogger Susan at Kittens Gone Lentil.


Cookbook Review: Isa Does It

This is kind of a big updated review. I’ve blogged about recipes from Isa Does It in the past, but as it’s a favourite book of mine and I’ve been using it again a fair bit lately, I figured a new review was in order (with better photos *cough*).

So even though I’ve had this book since it came out in 2013 (that seems aaaages in vegan years), I still enjoy leafing through it from start to finish. It’s also a book I buy for presents, along with a few of the ingredients as a sort of gift hamper. The full title is Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week, published by Little, Brown and Company. I’ve found the recipes easy and delicious and nothing in the book feels like there’s loads of prep.

The book begins with introductory sections that cover food prep advice, equipment, stocking your pantry, cutting up tofu and tempeh and a short section on a few common allergens (gluten, nuts and soy) with Isa’s suggested modifications.

The first chapter is Soups. Poor soups, these are the chapters I always leave until last because I’m not really in to making soups as a general thing. Every time I make a great soup from a cookbook, I feel I have to rethink the old soup chapters. This applies to Isa Does It, because I really like the Harira with Eggplant and Chickpeas. This soup is more like a big meal as it also includes angel hair pasta. This was really filling and thickened up over the next day or two (when I took this photo, it had thickened up a lot but I prefer it this way. Makes it less likely to slop everywhere while I’m carrying it to the tv to watch the latest X-Files):

Isa Does It harira

Wild rice is one of those things I always buy but then it kinda sits there sulkily until I can find a recipe I like. Most times I find a recipe and promptly forget about it. The Wild Rice Soup with Browned Seitan Strips looked perfect because as well as the wild rice, it contains red lentils and white beans. The soup is flavoured with dried thyme and tarragon. I left out the seitan strips and used some curried pumpkin bites instead (Syndian label). Like the Harira, this soup thickened up a fair bit the next day. Even though it’s summer here, I made this on a cooler day trying to pretend it was autumn:

Isa Does It wild rice stew

There’s a great pasta chapter and I decided to brave Brussels sprouts and make the Olive Angel Hair pasta with Seared Brussels Sprouts. I try hard to like sprouts but mehhh sprouts, you know? Still, when prepared well I don’t mind them, I just don’t go out of my way to try and like them because I know that relationship is doomed to be a bust in the end. And why waste time on that WHEN I CAN LOVE POTATOES. Anyway, I did go out and buy sprouts to make this recipe. It was quite nice and I’m glad I finally got to use the white balsamic vinegar that’s been sitting in the pantry for ages. I should have seared the sprouts more but I was hungry and wanted to eat. I would buy sprouts again to make this recipe, it had basic flavours of onion and garlic but the addition of toasted walnuts and the olives ramped it up a bit:

Isa Does It olive sprouts pasta

From the Stews, Chilis and Curries chapter I jumped all over the Red Sweet Potato Curry with Cauliflower and Adzuki Beans. Eeeexcept I didn’t have cauliflower (I used broccoli) and no adzuki beans either so I used tofu as the protein source. I added in some extra veg and had it on brown rice. Loved this and would make it again, the sweet potato is roasted them mashed and incorporated in to the sauce:

Isa Does It sweet potato red curry

There’s also a fab Stir-Fries and Sautes chapter. I’ve made the Cast-Iron Stir Fry with Avocado, Basil and Peanuts a few times though I always used Thai basil and no avocado. I was a bit sceptical about using regular basil (as the recipe states) because I just felt Thai basil was better suited. In the photo below I used regular basil as that’s all I could find at the market, but it worked well. Similarly, I was a bit iffy about avocado in the stir fry but it also worked well here too. Now let’s play spot the cat hair!

Isa Does It cast iron stir fry

The Omaha Yakisoba with Red Cabbage and Corn was another gamble because red cabbage and corn are things I don’t go out of my way to eat. Kinda like Brussels sprouts. I can take them or leave them, but mostly leave and I would take them as a sort of dragging them reluctantly behind me. Maybe accidentally deliberately leaving them at a bus stop or something. Anyway, moving on, I went out and bought some of the packaged precooked udon noodles specifically for this recipe. Then after I’d chopped everything up and got things cooking, I couldn’t find the noodles. I turned the place upside down and of course they were in the last place I looked. Obviously, because I wouldn’t keep on looking after I’d found them, but that’s what you get for not cleaning your kitchen and piling crap on top of the one shopping bag you neglected to unpack. So I was quite frazzled when putting this together as it was almost a noodleless version. I added some extra veg and I promise you, the noodles are under there. I really enjoyed this, red cabbage corn and all:

Isa Does It Omaha yakisoba

The Sticky Orange Chicky Stir-Fry has such a gorgeous photo in the book. I really really wanted to love this recipe but it kinda didn’t work for me in the end (bear in mind though that this recipe has received great reviews on lots of other blogs!). I made the steamed chicky seitan cutlets and they were okay but for me, the flavours in them (quite sage-y) didn’t quite go with the orange sauce. In a more Mediterranean style dish, I would happily use the seitan cutlets but for this recipe, next time I’ll use tofu as suggested by Isa for a variation. Separately, I like the cutlets and the sauce:

Isa Does It orange chicky seitan

This is the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu and Kale from the Bowls chapter. I make this with brown rice and always enjoy it:

Isa Does It curried peanut sauce bowl

For a breakfast, I made the family Sinfully Wholesome Waffles (I made the blueberry variation). These did have a slight health foody kind of taste to them but that’s cool, it wasn’t unpleasant. Just more ‘healthy’ tasting than the other waffle recipes I make. I made a batch to freeze and they reheated all crispy like in the toaster:

Isa Does It wholesome waffles

I love this book and flipping through the pages for this blog post, I realise I’ve cooked quite a bit from it. So from start to finish, looking through the chapters (titles written in caps), here’s what I’ve made before and my thoughts:


Roasted Yellow Beet Salad with Warm Maple-Mustard Dressing: easy to make and has a nice crunch with the pecans.

Dragon Noodle Salad: with a peanut butter based dressing and pad thai noodles, this was a winner before I made it.

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Lentils: my salad of choice if I have to entertain or take a dish somewhere.



Bistro Beet Burgers: I love love love these. Just love ’em. And I don’t really like beetroot.

Island Black Bean Burgers with Nectarine Salsa: I enjoyed these but used too much of the Jamaican curry powder I’d bought just for this recipe, so there was a slightly bitter aftertaste. The salsa is great and I’d definitely make these again, with much less of my curry powder.

Korean BBQ Portobello Burgers: I think this is when I first bought kimchi. I love the marinade for the mushrooms (liquid smoke!). I remember this being messy to eat, with juice running down my hands but daaamn it was good.

Shiitake Banh Mi: love the almond chili spread component. I made one version with tofu instead of shiitake.

Roasted Vegetable Romesco Sandwiches: I made these for myself when we went on a holiday and I knew I wouldn’t have anything to eat, so I decided to make this for the trip. Good choice, I really liked the Romesco spread.

Ancho-Lentil Tacos: my favourite go-to taco filling. The problem with this dish is I eat half of it from the pan before it gets to taco/burrito filling stage.



Sunflower Mac: I remember liking this overall but finding it a little on the sweet side.

Roasted Butternut Alfredo: I love butternut pumpkin but found this was too sweet (I’m not keen on sweetness in pasta sauces).

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Penne with Broccoli: I recall reducing the amount of cashews in the sauce and it worked well.

Tofu-Mushroom Stroganoff: really liked this. Perhaps slightly on the sweet side because of the cashew base but definitely a recipe I’d reach for if I was in a stroganoff mood.

Lentil-A-Roni: love this, pasta with lots of lentils and a little bit of cashews in the sauce, so not too sweet.



Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings: loved this, but made my dumplings too big so they were tennis ball size. Lovely flavours.

Smoky Incan Stew: another favourite, flavoured with chipotles in adobo sauce and full of black beans, quinoa and corn.



Beefy Asparagus Stir-Fry with Fresh Herbs: great flavours here. I use tofu instead of the seitan.



Roasty Soba Bowl with Miso-Tahini Dressing: this was the recipe that got me liking the miso-tahini combo. Before that, I used to feel a bit sick (seriously). I never believed miso and tahini should go together but this recipe changed my mind.

Citrus-Tahini Bowl with Bok Choy and Grilled Tofu: great tofu marinade here with orange, lime, ginger and sesame oil.

Pizza Bowl with Greens, Sausages and Olives: to make this section short I should just say I love all the Bowls recipes I’ve tried from this chapter. This recipe can be thrown together quickly if you have some sliced and cooked vegan sausages ready to go.



Chandra Malai Kofta: this was the dish a lot of reviewers were suggesting to make. It took me a while to get around to it but I loved it.

Nirvana Enchilada Casserole: I made this before the book was released (I think this recipe was put up early). It requires more prep work but wow, it’s a great recipe. The components are broken up in to the potato prep, enchilada sauce, filling and white sauce (based on cashews).



Scrambled Chickpeas: I much prefer chickpeas than scrambled tofu and this recipe is simple but flavourful. Probably my number one chickpea scramble recipe.

Puffy Pillow Pancakes: Puffy. Pillow. Pancakes. Need I say more?

Carrot Cake Pancakes: NEED I SAY MORE?

Coconut French Toast: Need I… okay I will say more, this version of French toast is also dipped in dried coconut before frying. Delicioussss.

Lemon-Blueberry Load: a favourite with the kids, and me. I don’t make the optional glaze as the cake is sweet enough on its own.

Marbled Banana Bread: another favourite, though I tend to only make this with one child at home because both want to do the marbling… fun times. Don’t overdo it with the marbling like I did on my first bake…



Rosemary-Chocolate Chip Cookies: yep, rosemary with chocolate chips in cookies. And it works brilliantly! I loved playing guess-that-taste when I gave these to people.

Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies: because the words jumbo, oatmeal, raisin, cookies go so well together. Love these!

Chai Spice Snickerdoodles: love chai spiced anything so these were great.

Norah’s Lemon-Lemon Cookies: lemon cookies rock, I made these as part of gift packs one Christmas.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake: tasted great but stay tuned for my 2016 Bloopers and Outtakes at the end of the year…

Strawberries & Cream Bread Pudding: oooooh this one is so rich, I have to be careful not to eat too much. It’s all mooshy coconut milk soaked in to bread and just beautiful. I’ve made a version with mixed berries. I leave off the optional glaze because the pudding is fine on its own.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake: I healthified this by using chickpea liquid (aquafaba) in place of the oil. This cake was okay, I don’t expect great things from a cake with zucchini because often chocolate zucchini cakes for me are just chocolate zucchini cake. I had it spread with a little tahini.


I have all of Isa’s books (some co-authored with Terry Hope Romero) and always refer to them frequently. When people ask for vegan cookbook recommendations, an Isa title is always recommended. There’s a good reason for that, she’s simply a rock star when it comes to vegan cooking!

Here’s a photo I took of Isa when she was in Melbourne a couple years back.



Review And US Giveaway: Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen

* This giveaway has now closed *

This review includes a giveaway for readers in the US. For details of how to enter, please read on!

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen recipe photos

I’ve been following Vegan Richa’s beautiful blog for quite a while now and am always bookmarking her recipes to try. The recipes I have made have always been simple to follow and incredibly delicious, so once I heard that Richa was releasing a cookbook I knew it was a must for my collection!

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen Cover

[Image above courtesy of Vegan Heritage Press]

I love love love Indian food but haven’t really eaten out as much since becoming vegan a few years ago. There are loads of places I could go to in Melbourne, but it’s not  much fun going on my own (and only ordering one dish) and so my visits are limited to when family and friends could get together (and I can sample many dishes!). I’ve always wanted to crack the code of cooking restaurant-like meals at home. But it seemed like there was always something missing– I was always saying “hnngggnnnnhhhhh this doesn’t taste like restaurant food!” when making recipes out of cookbooks. I do admit to being a bit of a perfectionist like that. If I make something, Indian meals in particular, I expect it to taste excellent like a favourite meal in a restaurant that you keep going back for.

Richa’s recipes have been the only ones I’ve tried where I’ve sat back and said now THAT’S what I’m talking about. It’s rare that I will cook something and say geez Veganopoulous you’ve really nailed this and woohoo we have leftovers for the next three days! But you guys, everything I’ve tried out of Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen has been fantastic. I emailed my mum and sister and said “I made restaurant food!” Seriously, I’m already planning a banquet using these recipes because they’re exactly what I’ve been looking for.

It’s hard to choose a favourite from what I’ve tried! I loved the Red Lentil Tomato Pulao and it helped me get over my reluctance to cook rice in anything other than my rice cooker. Beautifully flavoured, I made this pulao to eat with everything else below:

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen red lentil tomato pulao

I love spinach curries and went for the Tofu in Spinach Curry. I chose the chickpea version as I’m avoiding soy for the moment, so I replaced the tofu with two cans of chickpeas. The curry is blended and looks like a green smoothie, then you mix in those chickpeas and prepare to be delighted:

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen chickpeas in spinach curry

Isn’t it great when you’re reading a new cookbook and there are fabulous looking recipes where you get excited because you have all the ingredients handy? That’s what happened with the Butternut Coconut Red Lentil Curry. I love using fresh curry leaves, ditto for coconut, so this dish was a standout for me:

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen butternut coconut red lentil curry

I found a bag of yellow split peas in the pantry and had a bunch of spinach handy so I immediately went for the Yellow Peas and Spinach Curry. I also made the gluten free chia flatbread (I used the flaxseed option instead of the chia). The flatbreads were perfect for this dish. I used a tortilla press to make the flatbreads because I’m essentially too lazy to roll them out:

Vegan Richa Yellow Pea Spinach Curry

I love kidney bean curries so that was another obvious recipe to try. Except for this Kidney Bean Curry, I only had one can of kidney beans instead of two, so I used a can of brown lentils. Gosh this was good, and even better over the next few days:

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen Kidney Bean Curry

Eggplant dishes in Indian cuisine are another favourite of mine, more so than eggplants in any other cuisine. The Mashed Spiced Eggplant is Richa’s way of creating a quick baingan bharta when you don’t have time to roast your eggplant for ages. I made this first and meant to keep it until I made other dishes like the pulao. But I ate it all, before I could take a photo. The most excellent Peas in Coconut Curry is shown in the top photo in the upper left corner.

I loved the Spicy Baked Cauliflower Florets. Baked cauliflower is a favourite of mine so I I really enjoyed this. Thanks to Richa for providing me with this photo:

Spicy Baked Cauliflower - Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen

I’ve delayed publishing this review many times, only because I always say to myself “just one more dish! Make one more dish!” One of my favourite Indian meals has always been a Makhani dish, both vegan and pre-vegan. I absolutely loved Richa’s Makhani Vegetable Pot Pie, though I omitted the dumplings to keep the recipe gluten free and oil free, as suggested by Richa. Instead, I served it with the Cumin Scented Rice with Peas and Onion (I accidentally tipped in three times the peas called for). I liked this recipe so much that I had to eat it straight away. No setting up a space to take foodie pics, I just took this outside for lunch, snapped a photo and dug in:

Vegan Richa's Makhani Vegetable Pot Pie

Of course no new-cookbook cooking would be complete for me without sampling some of the sweets! Cardamom and pistachio is such a winning combination and these Pistachio Cardamom Cookies were both delicious and easy to prepare. And eat… I made these the night before I had to photograph them and it was so hard having to exercise restraint and leave them for the next day:

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen cardamom pistachio cookies

Finally, we have the Grain Flour Spoon Fudge. I used the semolina option and loved how similar these are to a halva recipe my grandmother used to make. Perhaps I was a bit too impatient and didn’t toast the semolina enough because I think they should be darker, but these were great regardless. I chose to make them with a little less sugar than the recipe, but I think the full amount would be fine. I’ve since made them a second time and will be making them many times more, I’m sure. Bring on that cardamom!

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen Grain Flour Spoon Fudge

I really enjoyed cooking from Richa’s book. I set aside one day in the kitchen because I wanted to try as much as possible and woohoo, I have leftovers for a few days! Plus the house smelled amazing. Richa’s recipes are honestly the first ones I’ve used where I am really satisfied with the result and feel confident enough to serve this up to guests (remember, I’m an anxious perfectionist like that!). It’s a fabulous cookbook and one I am going to give out as gifts for Christmas.


Giveaway time! This giveaway is for readers with a mailing address in the US only.

Vegan Heritage Press will send one lucky winner a copy of Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me what recipes by Richa you’ve made. And if you haven’t made anything yet, head on over to Vegan Richa’s recipes over at http://www.veganricha.com/recipes and tell me what you’d like to make!

You can find Vegan Richa on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter. Richa’s website is at http://www.veganricha.com/

You can also follow Vegan Heritage Press via their website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

This giveaway runs for two weeks and will end on Saturday November 21st at 23:59AEST.  Please feel free to share on social media! Good luck!


Review: Street Vegan By Adam Sobel

Street Vegan Cover

[image source: Penguin Random House]

The Cinnamon Snail Food Truck from New York has a well deserved reputation for superamazing food. The first all-vegan all-organic food truck in the US, they’ve won awards, been featured twice on the front page of the New York Times dining section, received super accolades and moooore. Here in Melbourne, I’d be reading blogs from North America and seeing people making a point of visiting The Cinnamon Snail on their holidays. I know people from Melbourne who have gone to NYC with a visit to Cinnamon Snail at the top of their list and came back raving about it. So when I heard that chef Adam Sobel was releasing a cookbook I figured this may be the only chance I have to get close to trying the food for myself, as an NYC trip isn’t something that will be happening for me any time soon!

This is one of those books where I was turning every page and loving what I saw followed by a quick thought process of just how soon I can get over to the US and try the food myself, then doing a desperate hand wringing wail that I’m you know, on the other side of the planet. Okay enough tales of woe, on to the food!

So seitan is one of those things I don’t like to make much because it always seems too mushy. Even if I reduce liquids, I feel it’s too soft inside which always makes me feel it’s not cooked. I also have a habit of incinerating overcooking it just to be sure it is properly cooked and reduce that mushiness. I loved the photo (crispy bits!) and the description of the Seitan with Maple Mustard Glaze. The recipe calls for tofu in the seitan but I used some canned butter beans instead as well as swapping the stated raw garlic for some I’d already roasted. I also did a bit of an experiment and cooked the seitan two ways: first, pan frying in oil as stated in the recipe and second with my air fryer. I wanted to try an oil free method of cooking too, though I did lightly spray the seitan strips with some coconut oil before putting them in the air fryer. Because the seitan strips were going to be tossed in the maple mustard glaze, I didn’t mind too much about the strips being too dry from the air fryer. I made these the night before breakfast and let them sit in the glaze overnight and although the air fried strips were a little on the dry side, they were still fine enough. The best bit was these didn’t have the too-soft-too-mushy factor my previous homemade efforts have suffered.

I loved these strips and they weren’t difficult or time consuming to make. I got up early and made some bread before breakfast, chopped up some spinach and grilled red peppers and wondered if refusing to share makes me a bad parent:

Street Vegan maple mustard seitan

Another recipe from the breakfast chapter is the Cashew Oat Waffles with Caramelised Apples. These involve making some oat flour (from rolled oats) and grinding up some raw cashews in a food processor. While the waffle batter was resting for the twenty minutes specified, I made the caramelised apples. I didn’t follow the recipe 100% here with the cooking of the apples (only because I’m, you know, lazy and impatient) but it was almost exactly the same. With the waffle batter, I used aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas) in place of the oil as I try to avoid using oil wherever possible. They turned out great and I loved the sweetness of the cashew in the waffles. Here the waffles are topped with the apples and I added a little coconut yoghurt. They toasted up fine the next day as well. Here are two days of waffles:

S treet Vegan Oat Cashew Waffles with Caramelised Apples

The Cranberry Brazil Nut granola was really easy to make. And eat. I love Brazil nuts but don’t often use them and I found a stash in the freezer looking all forgotten. This granola is flavoured with cinnamon and orange. I used quinoa flour in place of amaranth flour and I baked it much longer than the recipe stated because I wanted to get as much crunch as possible. This granola is great with coconut yoghurt or on top of a smoothie bowl. Best granola I’ve made:

Street Vegan Cranberry Brazil Nut Granola

I figured I cooked enough from the breakfast chapter and that it would only be fair to make something non-breakfasty. Hmm, nah. Strike that, reverse it and get your face in to the Almond Milk French Toast with Raspberry-Grapefruit Coulis and Smoky Roasted Almonds! I had to plan for this, like tell Husband the ruby red grapefruit I bought for him ages ago, that he failed to notice in the fruit bowl in the middle of the table where we eat every day, was not to be touched after all. I made the coulis the day before, ditto for the roasted almonds, though I did mostly pecans and a little of the almonds because as usual, when I go to make a recipe I am often out or almost out of something that features in the recipe’s title. Making the coulis and nuts in advance was a big time saver when it came to assembling everything. The nuts were soooo good (maple syrup! Liquid smoke! Nutmeg! And more!) that I’ll be making a huge batch around Christmas and giving them out as gifts. The only bread in the house was a little on the heavier side, and cut unevenly *cough* so next time I’d use a regular style loaf for pretty triangles:

Street Vegan Almond French Toast

Now I confess I always skip the Soups chapter and leave it for last. I’m just not a soup person. I won’t even order a laksa or a pho if there are other chewy things available. So ah, I left the soup chapter of Street Vegan til last. But when I read it, I was all FEED ME SOUP. I had all the ingredients for the Maple Butternut Squash Soup so I went off to the kitchen and made it on the spot. This soup is full of great flavours: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, star anise, maple and more. It was awesome the next day. Let’s take this outside, soup!

Street Vegan maple butternut soup

I had to try something from the sandwiches chapter. As soon as I saw the word ‘gomasio’ I was sold. Well, it is also truthful to point out I was extra sold on seeing ‘five-spice’. Do you ever have one spice you buy with the best of intentions, but you never use it? Then when you find it in the pantry it’s two years out of date so you bin it and buy another to replace it, but then don’t use that one either? That’s my relationship with Chinese five-spice powder. So the recipe for Miso Teriyaki Seitan with Grilled Onions and Five-Spice Fried Sunflower Gomasio had me all yeahhhhhhh time to rock out that five-spice from the back of the shelf. Party time, excellent! Okay so I did change the recipe a little but only a wee bit. It calls for seitan (whether you make it yourself or buy it) but I chose to use the Gardein chickenless tenders. I didn’t chop them up and mix them with the onions and miso teriyaki sauce like the recipe says, I just spooned the sauce over the tenders. I also didn’t have the wasabi mayo which I really think would ramp this sandwich right up. Still, I’m hard pressed to choose whether I liked the gomasio or the miso teriyaki sauce more. This sandwich is full of fabulous flavours. I’m in love, even though I served it on a cheapie bread roll and not a baguette. You can shove a round roll in your mouth more easily which is what I did with this sandwich. The intro for this recipe says “this sandwich has developed a cult following”, and yep I can sure see why:

Street Vegan miso teriyaki gomasio sandwich

And because that sandwich was so good, I had to try another one. But first, let me tell you about the time I was reading various articles along the lines of “things food bloggers do that piss people off”. One of those things was referring to food as amazeballs. But I’m a rebel at heart because I deliberately go in the opposite direction to the pointy arrows at Ikea and so I’m going to say, in an all-caps show of defiance, that the Thai Barbecue Seitan Ribs with Pickled Thai Basil and Onions and Smoked Chile-Roasted Peanuts was AMAZEBALLS. There are a few things to prepare but I saved some time by making the smoked chile roasted peanuts the day before. I’m not a big lover of roast peanuts but it was so, so hard you guys to resist eating all these before I made the sandwich. I did screw up a little with seitan and following the order in how it got cooked with the barbecue sauce but it all turned out alright. I knew I HAD to make this, I love Thai basil but of course I couldn’t find any in the shops. I had to go to Bunnings (one of those giant hardware and gardening stores) and buy some Thai basil in a pot. With teeny tiny leaves, but I was desperate. I didn’t use a baguette either but the bread was fancy enough. This sandwich is full of brilliantly combined flavours and textures. The crispiness of the seitan, the nice soft pickled onions and the crunch and sweetness of the roasted peanuts (not to mention the smokiness) equals AMAZEBALLS:


There are great sweet recipes in Street Vegan but I resisted them all but in the name of research, you understand, I did have to make at least one for the blog. I went for the Pine Nut Friendlies because I’ve always felt sorry for pine nuts. They seem to be relegated to being toasted and thrown on to pasta or put in pesto. At least in my house… anyway, pine nuts rule in these cookies and each bite is pine nutty deliciousness:

Street Vegan Pine Nut Friendlies

Sometimes when I review cookbook recipes, I kinda wince when I mention modifications I made in case the author reads it and is all objection! What has that criminal done to my recipe!?!? and shakes a fist at me. This is such a time. See, it was early morning, my head all stuffed up from a cold and me not learning that past experience dictates when I’m tired and sick and not thinking clearly, maaaaybe, just maybe, that’s not the best time to make substitutions. I did make a fair bit o’ subs for the Mint Matlock Takes All His Clothes Off mint chocolate cookies. Like using aquafaba in place of the coconut oil and egg replacer. And spelt flour instead of plain. Aaaand coconut sugar even when I know that’s taking a big risk. But hey! These turned out all lovely minty chocolately pillow like anyway! So while they deviate from the Matlock cookies, they’re still close enough to be in the same TV lawyer-detective category. Or maybe more along the lines of Remington Steele. No photos, as they probably look nothing like how the recipe should turn out, but we scoffed them down anyway.

Street Vegan is full of awesome. It’s rocketed straight in to my most fave cookbooks evahhhh list. IT HAS A DONUT CHAPTER. The recipes are brilliant but I especially love the stories Adam Sobel has included. He talks about starting out with the Cinnamon Snail food truck, community outreach, problems they experienced with law enforcement, challenges they faced with providing food to gazillions of people and more. I smiled and snort-laughed a lot reading this book, especially during the recipe intros (bwahaha at the intro for the granola recipe!). It’s one of those books I would be happy to leaf through over and over, even if I’m not looking for something to make.

At first glance, I can understand why some may find some of the recipes a bit too involved or a fair bit of work. However I learnt my lesson when I had written off other great cookbooks in the past, thinking they were a bit too fussy. Seriously, don’t let that deter you. If you think these recipes look great but take ‘too much time’, just give it a go when you do have that extra time (and really, sometimes it’s an extra fifteen minutes). When I read a cookbook I always make mental notes of how long I think something would take, could I make it when the kids are home (and always needing something as soon I start working!), should I make something at night and leave it for the next day, and so on. So while yes, there are recipes in this book where I feel I have to have some more free time and uninterrupted peace and quiet to blast an embarrassing CD while I cook, it’s nothing a bit of time management won’t fix. This book is definitely worth it.

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