Thursday, September 7, 2017

Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking

When I was a kid, my mom would let me help her cook, and when she wasn't looking, I'd dig through the spice drawer and dump all manner of herbs and seasoning salts and powders into whatever dish she had simmering on the stove. Garlic powder, all-purpose seasoning salts, Mrs. Dash, Accent, onion powder, chili powder, you name it. I've always been big on flavor — sometimes a little TOO big on flavor.

I'm sure the dishes I was helping with were quickly rendered inedible after I added my "secret ingredients." Thankfully, I eventually learned how to use all of those flavor boosters in moderation. But still yet, I could always use some tips on how to really step up my flavor game. After all, it's not just spices that add depth; it's also things like miso, mushrooms, chili pastes, and the like. Those elements are the star in Celine Steen's new cookbook, Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking.

This book is all about increasing flavor in dishes by using a handful of umami or spicy ingredients. The chapters are divided into Savory (using sundried tomatoes, miso, matcha, nutritional yeast, mushrooms, and more), Spicy (think fiery peppers and curry pastes), Sweet (using traditional dessert ingredients like citrus and pomegranate, as well as not-so-traditional things like sumac and yeast extract), and Staples (for the homemade sauces and spice blends you'll be using in other recipes in the book).

I made a recipe from each chapter! Starting with Savory, I opted for the Summer Pinto Burritos because I've been craving a homemade bean and rice burrito for a good six months or more. No idea why I haven't done anything about this until now.

These were not your average bean and rice burritos though! Pinto beans were sauteed with bell pepper and onion (plus, I added mushrooms even though the recipe didn't call for them), cumin, coriander, maca, and beer! I love the depth of flavor beer adds to a dish.

Paul and I love spicy food, so we added a chopped habanero pepper as well. That's spooned over brown rice and topped with avocado and a spicy citrus aioli made using the recipes for Spicy Citrus Sauce (a garlicky orange sauce) and Simplest Nut-Free Cream (sour cream made with coconut cream) from the Staples chapter. These burritos were omni-approved by Paul.

From the Spicy chapter, I went with the Five-Spice Teriyaki Bowl.

Tofu is stir-fried with broccoli, bell pepper, onion, carrots, and garlic and seasoned with thick teriyaki sauce. That sauce has a base of Mushroom Dashi (basically just dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in hot water for hours) and Easy as 2,2,2, Broth Mix (a nooch-based, powdered veggie broth) from the Staples chapter. The dish is finished with Chinese five-spice powder and served atop noodles. We used a thick rice vermicelli, and this was soooooo good. Again, omni-approved by Paul.

Finally, from the Sweets chapter, I made the Miso Sweet Cookies.

Y'all MISO IN A COOKIE! Who would have thought, right? The recipe has 1/4 cup of miso, so it sounds like they'd be super-salty, but they're not at all. There's just a hint of salt that really brings out the sweetness. These are super-chewy oatmeal cookies with nuts and seeds (your choice — I used almonds, walnuts, pepitas, and sunflower seeds). They remind me of an energy bar in cookie form. I brought some of these to work, and the co-workers devoured them (and no one could guess the secret ingredient was miso!).

This gorgeous book is filled with recipes I want to try — Very Tahini Teffballs and Dressing, Indonesian Inspired Rice Pancakes, Citrusy Pepper Chili, Tikka Masala Popcorn, Gochujang Kimchi Sausages, Miso Caramel, and Triple C Truffles (made with coffee, chipotle, and cinnamon) to name a few. It's a must-have for any flavor addict! If only baby Bianca had owned this back in the day!


Sarah said...

What an amazing cookbook! Everything you've cooked looks so incredible. The miso cookies sound so interesting! I'm obsessed with tahini cookies ever since you sent me some in the amazing care package! I bet miso cookies are amazing too. The savory meals sound incredible too!

Susan said...

I tested for this book and it was such a delight!
Those cookies were definitely one of my favourite things.

Unknown said...

Chewy miso oat cookies with nuts and seeds???! Until this moment i didn't realize my life was so unfulfilled! That is totally genius.

I have a good friend of the family who is making a rapid transition to veganism due to health issues and a very smart doctor- would this be one of your top three vegan cookbooks? She's a good cook but kind of overwhelmed and limited options for specialty ingredients..... (i already recommended your book!!)

Jennifer said...

I love miso. It is best! When at Vedge they had miso ice cream. I dream about it all the time. *insert crying emoji* XD I guess I should dip my toes in the miso dessert territory at home.