Cookbook Challenge Week Four: Vegan With A Vengeance

For this weeks cookbook challenge I thought I’d take myself out of my comfort zone and try a couple recipes I’ve been avoiding due to the kind of weird combination of ingredients. I’ve already made lots of recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance, the pizza dough is my absolute fav and the raspberry black-out cake is all kinds of yum. On top of the good recipes, if you’re a weirdo like me who likes to read their new cookbooks from front to back, then you’ll realize how entertaining it is as well as informative. There’s something called ‘punk points’ scattered throughout the book that are little tidbits of information to help you along the way, and Isa’s cat Fizzle makes random appearances on different recipes to let you know things like, how grated horseradish develops a bitter flavour if left around for too long and that seaweeds are rich in iron, protein, calcium, zinc and iodine.  Isa adds in her own personal stories throughout the book and at the beginning of each recipe that are pretty funny, like how she used to organize anarcha-femininst potlucks or the brunch cafes that used to take place in her loft.

I had overly ambitious expectations when picking recipes, I really wanted to make more then I did but just didn’t have the time, or a big enough stomach (we would have had to eat everything too!). I’ll just have to return to the Jerk Seitan and Isa Pizza once the challenge is finally done and over with.

The other night P and I were discussing how when it comes to sandwiches, we never want to put any effort into making them. There are so many awesome, tasty sandwich recipes out there that I know we both would love but we just consider them to be one of those things that’s supposed to be quick, easy and requires as little brain power as possible. To get my sandwich mindset out of the box it’s been in I made the Chickpea-Hijiki Salad Sammiches.

I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when I picked this recipe, it’s supposed to be slightly reminiscent of tuna fish sandwiches and fish was never something I was a fan of. I had a lot of trouble hunting down hijiki, and after searching online and enquiring the PPK, I used a mixture of wakame and dulse. I really have no experience with playing around with seaweeds so I’m not sure if hijiki has a different flavour but I think what I came up with may have come close. Although I didn’t find the ‘fishy’ flavour to be very strong, I really was not a big fan of this sandwich spread, there just seemed to be something missing. The first night I ate the recipe as it was written, but when it came to the leftovers I added in some mustard, chopped tomato and nutritional yeast and thought it tasted much better…but then it could have been that I was just trying to mask the seaweed taste, so if you’re into that sort of thing then maybe you’d like it more then I did.

The following day I picked a recipe I new I would love, Cold Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan. I am seriously a peanut butter fanatic! Besides for those of you who suffer the horrendous peanut allergy, if you don’t like the taste of peanut butter, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t be friends with you,  you could slather almost anything in peanut sauce and I would probable eat it. I started off by making the seitan recipe from Veganomicon, the recipe calls for the seitan to be simmered in broth which made me a little nervous as some past experiences have resulted in brain-like scary looking stuff, but it turned out great! Although the list of ingredients seems long and there are multiple components, this meal came together relatively quickly, if you have some store-bought seitan or some pre-made stuff already in your fridge then this meal is perfect to make during a weeknight. I layered everything as was written, but when it came to leftovers I just dumped everything in a container and mixed it all together which I preferred. Isa also thinks that the temperatures of each component is very important, the udon noodles and veggies need to be cold, the sauce at room temp and the seitan warm, but personally I’d be fine eating the whole mess hot or cold. The only change of ingredients I made was adding in a little extra heat but the recipe was perfect as is, super peanuty and tasty.

I’ve heard of various chili recipes that use cocoa as an ingredient but have never bothered trying one before as it just seemed like it would taste kind of funky, but with an open mind I gave the Chili Sin Carne al Mole a shot. This one threw me for a loop, I’m used to eating your typical chili with its typical flavours, so when I tasted a spoonful as it was simmering I was kind of surprised by the different flavour combination. This is a nice meaty protein packed chili from all the seitan beans and the cocoa powder and molasses give it a deep rich flavour. It’s also a lot more soupy then your regular chili. After my first spoonful I really didn’t think I was gonna like it, but the more I ate the more it grew on me and by the end of the week when I was down to my last bowl I was sad to see it gone. The molasses was a bit strong for my liking as it gave the chili a strong iron flavour, so I would definitely decrease the amount called for next time, besides for that this turned out to be a fabulous meal. I did make some skillet cornbread to go with it but it turned out a bit crumbly, once I troubleshot I’ll be sure to post the recipe as the flavour was great!

I’m so excited about this weeks challenge as we’ll be doing one of my favourite cookbooks Eat, Drink & Be Vegan!

Curious what others thought of Urban Vegan? Check it out here.

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