26 May 2014

Cookbook Review: Vegan Eats World

Terry Hope Romero's newest cookbook, Vegan Eats World is a guided tour of culinary locales East, West, North, and South. She provides handy spice blends for Indian, East Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Persian, and African dishes, then travels around the globe to provide a very wide variety of offerings to please not just vegan palates, but everyone who might be a bit adventurous in their dining habits. Because the book contains such a diverse selection of recipes, I think it would be a great book to use to plan parties and date nights, as well as everyday dishes.

For this review, I decided to try a quick and simple recipe that didn't require running out for any ingredients. The selection, as you can see in the photo to the left, is Savory Baked Tofu. I recently visited one of my favorite health food stores (Whole Earth Center in Princeton -- pricey indeed, but consistently the best organic produce around) and bought some fresh, super-firm tofu to try for this recipe. Romero recommends the super-firm tofu, and she's absolutely correct. There is no substitute for the texture in this recipe. The result was so tasty, I ate it cold by itself for breakfast one morning. I also enjoyed it with roasted mushrooms and onions. Suffice to say, it went very quickly.

I only made one ingredient substitution, and that was using low-sodium tamari for the soy sauce (GF). One note of caution: You'll need to pay attention toward the end of the cooking time because the marinade burns fairly quickly, especially if you use agave nectar. If you prefer a Mediterranean, African, or Eastern European flavor to your tofu, Romero includes marinades catering to those flavor profiles as well.

Here is the recipe as I made it, Savory Baked Tofu on page 50 of Vegan Eats World:

Savory Baked Tofu

1 pound super-firm tofu
3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1. Slice the tofu into 1/4 in. slices.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
3. Add the marinade to a large glass baking dish and wet the tofu with the marinade on both sides.
4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
5. Bake the tofu for about 20 minutes, then flip the slices. Cook another 15 minutes, until you see the tofu has turned golden brown with some caramelization on the edges. Take care to watch for the last 5 minutes so that the tofu doesn't begin to burn.
6. Enjoy!

The tofu will keep for 5 days, but it likely will be eaten way before that.

23 February 2014

Cookbook Review: I'm Loving Mayim's Muffins

Recently, I received a review copy of Mayim Bialik's brand new cookbook, Mayim's Vegan Table. Because I absolutely love her character Amy Farrah Fowler on "Big Bang Theory," I had to give it a read. The first 59 pages provide a good foundation on the vegan diet and its health benefits and philosophies. Even without the recipes, I'd recommend it for someone who is new to the practice or for parents of newly minted vegans.

Most of the recipes are straightforward and easy to produce. They don't require uncommon ingredients or a long time to make. Most (except the dessert section) also are easy to make gluten free. Now that I'm living in the GF sphere, that's a pretty important feature for me in a cookbook.

For my test recipe, I decided to take on a recipe that was already gluten free, but that I could tinker with a bit for this blog. That recipe was Fruity Oatmeal Muffins.

They turned out to be pretty tasty muffins. They are indeed oaty, which a cakey crumb -- an unexpected pleasure in a gluten-free muffin made without gums. The muffins also are much lighter than you would expect for such a healthy baked good. I can easily see these becoming my go-to muffins.

My alterations were relatively minor. First, I used my unsweetened, home-dried cranberries (thanks to the behemoth of a dehydrator I recently purchased via a mandate by my wonderful mother-in-law who gave us a check and said we couldn't save it, but had to spend the thing). Next, I added walnuts because what's a muffin without nuts? I also used pumpkin pie spice as the spice, flax meal and water as my egg substitute, olive oil for the fat, and agave nectar (and consequently, half the applesauce) as the sweetener. Finally, I dropped the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (to account for the agave), but baked it for the same amount of time.

Here's the recipe as I made it.

Fruity Oatmeal Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins


1 teaspoon flax meal
3 teaspoons filtered water
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup rolled oats run through the coffee grinder to make oat flour
2 tablespoons potato starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries (if you have to use sweetened, use fruit-sweetened ones)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup applesauce

1. In a very small bowl, mix together the flax meal and water until combined and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, potato starch, baking powder, spice, and salt.
3. Mix in the cranberries and walnuts.
4. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil and the flax mixture. Whisk in the agave and the applesauce.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir for about 2 minutes.
6. Heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Line your muffin tray with paper liners.
8. Scoop the batter into the liners so that they are filled about 3/4 of the way.
9. When your oven reaches temperature, bake the muffins for 20 minutes. They should have very small crumbs clinging to a wooden tester when done.
10. Let cool in the try for 5 minutes before taking the muffins out to cool completely on a wire rack.

They are best slightly warm, but wonderful when cooled as well. Enjoy!