Sunday, March 20, 2016

V is for Vegan

Sometimes a cookbook is so beautiful that you just want to read it from front to back, just so you can admire every page of glossy, full-color food porn, perfectly placed type, and expert layout and design. Oh, and then maybe, when you're done admiring the book as a work of art, you might want to cook from it, too. But only if you're careful not to get splashes of olive oil and sprinkles of smoked paprika on the pages.

That's how I feel about V is for Vegan, the new hardcover cookbook by British underground supper club pioneer (and blogger at MsMarmiteLover) Kerstin Rodgers. It's as much work of art as it is cookbook. The book features a unique zine-style layout and a punk rock aesthetic. The recipes range from simple dishes, like a watermelon-veggie stir-fry or a homemade miso soup, to complex, gourmet meals that are equally impressive and intimidating. Think Artichoke, Potato, Spinach & Tofu B'stilla with Poppy Seeds and Rose Petals (b'stilla is described as "an exotic filled pastry pie" and is created with phyllo pastry). And some pages feature magazine-style photo spreads with various easy ideas for spreads and dips, ramen noodle hacks, or things to spread on toast.

As a toast lover, I was immediately drawn to the 13 Things on Toast spread. Just look at this gorgeous layout!

Of course, I had to try a few of these ideas first! I actually shared a picture of the first toast I tried — Marmite, Tahini, & Alfalfa Sprouts — in my St. Pat's Day post last Thursday. But here it is again. I went with a big chunk of whole-wheat bread (from the Whole Foods Bakery), and it's topped with creamy tahini, salty Marmite, and sprouts. The yeasty Marmite is such a good marriage with the tahini! 

I tried the Dark Chocolate Spread with Hazelnuts on Saturday morning before my long run. For this, I used the Endangered Species Cocoa Spread, chopped hazelnuts, and chunky sea salt. I would never have thought to add the sea salt on my own, but it really stepped this toast up a notch. Perfectly gourmet!

Today was the Vernal (or Spring) Equinox! Also known as Ostara. And on this day, it's common to eat eggs as symbols of the Earth's fertility. But since eggs are out of the question for me, I typically make some sort of vegan "eggy" dish to celebrate. I settled on the Scrambled Tofu on Truffled Sourdough Bruschetta. It looks like this would also be from the toast page, but it's actually listed in the breakfast chapter (though I had it for dinner!). 

This was unlike most tofu scrambles I've made in that it didn't really mimic eggs, and it was made with silken rather than firm tofu. But it was delicious nonetheless! The tofu was cooked on high for quite a while with mushrooms, scallions, and herbs until all the water cooked out of the tofu. Then, it was served on toast that was spread with garlic and truffle oil. Anything with truffle oil is alright by me. I actually added a little black salt at the end just to make it eggier, but it would also be good without that.

On the side, I made another one of the simple recipes from the book — Roast Potatoes in Coconut Oil. This is just what it sounds like! Potatoes are roasted in coconut oil. And she offers several flavor variations. I went with the Italian variation, which meant adding one can of tomatoes and some herbs. So amazing! I used expeller pressed oil, which has a heavy coconut flavor, and I really loved how that paired with the Yukon potatoes.

Here's my Spring Equinox celebration plate! The kale was just steamed and tossed with soy sauce and vinegar (not a recipe from the book).

There are far more complex recipes in this book as well. But I like to keep things simple (and I'm a little lazy sometimes), so I steered away from those. But dishes such as Beet Pelmeni with Herb & Walnut Filling (like little raviolis made with — gasp! — homemade pasta), Lettuce Cups with "Ceviche" & Sweet Potato (the ceviche is made with hearts of palm), or Wilted Day Lilies with Mustard Greens (who knew you could eat lilies?!) would certainly be impressive for guests. 

Thankfully, the book offers enough easier, more pedestrian dishes for lazy cooks like me! And even if I'll never make the Orange Flower Water, Cardamom, & Coconut Rice Pudding, a girl can dream.