This week was a choose your own book week so I was excited to finally get to try out The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen & Joni Marie Newman. I’ve been a big fan of Celine’s blog Have Cake Will Travel for a long time and have tried some great recipes that both her and Joni have created, so I had high hopes for this book from the start. When it finally hit store shelves I went to the store to take a look and liked it right off the bat, just look at the cute cover which is a lead in to a very colourful and fun layout with charts, pictures and colour coded chapters. This book is perfect for anyone who’s ever been curious about veganizing a recipe or making substitutes for ingredients whether it be due to allergies or health reasons. Eggs? Got it. Dairy? Of course. Gluten? You betcha. There’s a full chapter dedicated to each category with a list of different substitutions, samples, explanations and a whole lot of recipes. If you’re a fan of their blogs then you know how unbelievable creative Joni and Celine are when it comes to the kitchen and the creativity is bursting from the seams in their latest release, who else could come with things like Baked Macadamia Nut Brie (say what?) or Black Forest Bacon (oh hell yes!), this book is all kinds of good, so lets get to it.
Oh man was it hard to pick recipes from this book, everything sounded so interesting and good. I had some free time on the weekend and thought some kind of pizza would be pretty rad and Sesame Orange Tempeh with Caramelized Onions Pizza was something I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years, so of course I had to make it. The crust was pretty straight forward, it’s like most other pizza doughs but you have to make a marinade to add that’s gives it a slight orange ginger flavour, just mix all the ingredients together, knead for 8 to 10 minutes and then let rise for an hour or so. After the dough had been rising for a bit I started making the pizza topping, the recipe doesn’t call for any red pepper or mushrooms but I thought it needed something other then just the tempeh and onions, plus a little extra colour never hurts so I threw some in.
As you can tell from the picture, I burnt it a little, I kind of forgot how much faster things cook on the pizza stone, but it still turned out ok. I really liked the deep orange and ginger flavour the tempeh had, there was no bitter taste that tempeh tends to have and I didn’t even have to steam it beforehand! I really thought it needed some kind of sauce, the tempeh was good but it was a little dry and would fall off the pizza when I took a bite, I think saving some of the marinade and using that would be a good idea. P. wasn’t a huge fan as he likes the standard fare but I thought it was a nice change.
Is there anything better then a big bowl of delicious food? I don’t think so. I haven’t had a beef and broccoli takeout in a loooooong time and the “Beef” and Broccoli Bowls met all of my expectations. I hate store-bought seitan as most of it seems to taste like ass, so I whipped up some of my own the night before using an adapted V’con version that Tami posted, to make it more ‘beefy’ I left out the marmite and added in some vegan worcestershire sauce, HP sauce and used ‘No-Beef’ broth instead of veg. Once the seitan is out of the way this recipe comes together super quick, you make a marinade for the seitan and heat it, cook some rice, steam some broccoli and then mix it all together with some green onion and sesame seeds. If you’re not into seitan,I think using tofu or mushrooms or even nuts would work well. This was seriously an easy and satisfying meal, I’m gonna add this to my list of ‘I don’t feel like cooking’ weeknight meals.
In theory, these burgers would have made for a pretty great meal, but the reality of the Carrot Ginger Burgers was that they were a big chewy mess. I usually have good luck when it comes to recipes that use vital wheat gluten, but every now and then I’ll try something out (I’m looking’ at you chickpea cutlets) and the texture turns all stringy and chewy, kind of like chewing gum. I’m sure it’s probable me just doing something wrong, over kneading maybe? But I was really disappointed with the mouth feel of these burgers. Looking beyond that though, the flavour was very interesting, like a good kind of interesting, it was nice to try a burger that didn’t taste like a regular burger. It kind of had an Asian inspired flavour with hints of orange, ginger and carrot popping out at every bite and just a little bit of spice from the sriracha. If anyone else out there gives these a try I’d love to know how they turn out, maybe you could give me some tips.
To go with the burgers I made the Smokey Potato Wedges and holy crap are these things good! I had no idea that mixing a few different ingredients together could result in such a crispy, smokey potato, all other oven fries should bow down. Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I threw a little herbs de Provence on just for fun but it really wasn’t necessary as there was plenty of flavour without it. P. gave them a try and immediately said “whatever you do, don’t throw out this recipe!”, he thought they were amazing, he even whipped up a batch tonight!
Overall this is a really handy book, there seems to be a recipe for just about every type of substitute you can think of, olive oil butter, tofu sour cream, eggs benedict, you name it. Or if you’re not interested in any of the recipes provided there’s all kinds of information on how to veganize your own recipes. I’m really looking forward to delving deeper into this book and trying out some of the more tempting recipes like creme brulee or beer battered corndogs (oh my god there are beer battered corndogs!).