Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Marlowe & Company, 2005
Enter the game changer. Imagine, if you will, the opening chords of Eye Of The Tiger (with Dean Winchester playing thigh guitar optional, but enjoyable) as this book swaggered onto my bookshelf. I didn't even know what I had come into possession of. I was in a pretty awesome bookstore in Newtown called Better Read Than Dead perusing their vegan cookery section when I saw this book, it looked OK so I bought it. I was chatting with a vegan friend later about how I got this book, but didn't know what it would be like. When she found out what it was, she said that she had been waiting to try and find this book but they hadn't had it in stock. I had also recently moved house, from a tiny kitchen with zero bench space to a newer, larger kitchen with much more bench space. The stage was set for VWAV to up the ante.
It's not like I was suffering in a wasteland of bland food options, you have seen the photos of some of my earlier cookbooks. But VWAV was different. It was special. The food was unique, it seemed to kick it all up a level. The writing style was witty and entertaining, plus there were tips included from Fizzle, Isa's cat. I like cats! There are lots of technique tips, but it is never confusing or condescending. VWAV also introduced me to the PPK, and there it was. I found my community. A community of amazing and awesome vegans. Many with excellent taste in kitties and geekery. Sure, I wander on and off the PPK these days, but it kick started something that I will be forever grateful for.
So, what is VWAV like as a book? Well, I'm sure the majority of us already own well worn and splattered copies, but in case you don't here's the run down. It is paperback, and there is a middle section of beautiful colour photos. If you want to see what more recipes look like, just hit up Flickr, there are bazillions. Chapters include the Introduction (including How To Use This book, Tools and Kitchen Stuff, and The Post Punk Pantry), Brunch, Muffins and Scones, Soups, Little Meals, Sammiches, and Finger Foods, Sides, Pizzas and Pastas, Entrees, Cookies and Bars, and Desserts. There is no salad section (a fact later referred to in the opening to the salads chapter in Veganomicon). There is one recipe to a page (or two if it is a longer recipe). The book is also peppered with little snippets of wisdom and stories and advice. It's like being invited in to your cool big sister's awesome vegan world, and then you find out it is where you were meant to be all along!
So... food pictures, then?? This is a very picture heavy post. I can't help it, Isa writes amazing recipes!
Asian-Style Scrambled Tofu
There is a 'basic' scrambled tofu recipe in the book, which is yummy, but my favourite is the Asian-Style variation. Probably because it has shiitake mushrooms in it, which I love! I haven't made the Sweet Potato Hash with Five-Spice and Watercress yet, but when I do I will make it with this!
I love potatoes, and I think every meal is improved by them. But especially brunch. This is a very simple recipe, but the results are amazingly delicious. They make a great side to pretty much any brunch dish.
Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes
I made brinner one night, and these were for dessert. These are amazing, chocolatey and rich. They are also great as a snack cold from the fridge. These are in the brunch chapter, but for me these are definitely a decadent dessert!
Potato-Edamame Samosas with Coconut-Mint Chutney
These were the first samosas I ever made, and I am entranced by how adorable they are. Even now, looking back on the photos! They are also delicious. I found I had a bit of filling left over, but it is super yummy to eat all on its own. The coconut-mint chutney is also a unique and yummy dressing for them. I also love that these are baked and not fried.
Chickpea Broccoli Casserole
You know some meals are a little bit bland, but in just the most perfect kind of way. This one of those meals (it even says so in the introduction). A big dish of mashed up chickpeas with loads of little bits of veggies. Served here with some herby vegan sausages and a salad.
Spicy Indian Rice with Toasted Almonds
This is an amazing rice dish, the flavours are superb. Isa is right, a quick fry up of some almonds takes it to a whole new fancy-schmancy level. I made this alongside the Braised Cauliflower with 3-Seed Sauce, and the are great together.
Mashed Potatoes with Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy
Remember how I said I love potatoes? Well, I also love potatoes smothered in one of the best gravies ever. Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy will have you drinking it out of the saucepan, so desperate will you be for it.
Maple-Mustard-Glazed Potatoes and String Beans
This is a fantastic dish. The sauce is awesome, and will take your vegetables to a whole new level. Use the largest pan you have, my veggies were a little crowded and it took a bit longer to cook as a result.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Garlic
A simple, delicious side dish. I have never not liked Brussels sprouts, so I can't imagine not wanting to eat them, however I'm pretty sure roasting them will change even a Brussels sprouts sceptics mind. But seriously, what's up with not liking Brussels sprouts anyway? I needed to toast my garlic for a little longer than the five minutes in the recipe.
Stewed Tofu and Potatoes in Miso Gravy
So, I think this might be one of my favourite recipes ever in the whole wide world. I make it at least once or twice a year (which is a lot for me considering I am on a quest to make every recipe in every cookbook so I don't do many repeats), and even just thinking about it makes me crave it. The amazing miso gravy, the potatoes, the tofu... oh, heaven. I cannot make this without serving it on some mashed sweet potatoes (carbs on cards, yay!) and some steamed broccoli. If you haven't made this yet, do it. Do it now!
This is my favourite seitan recipe that I have tried so far. I will make seitan recipes from other books once, then come back to this one as my base.
Brooklyn Pad Thai
It may not be authentic, but it is delicious. The sauce is amazing and tangy - use tamarind concentrate if you can get it, rather than the lime juice option, as it is definitely the best. The tofu is fried at the beginning to be golden and crisp, lending great texture to the dish. The recipe calls for one pound of rice noodle. I used 200g of dried rice noodles, which fed 3-4 people easy.
Sparkled Ginger Cookies
I like to make these cookies every christmas. They are yummy, chewy and spicy, plus they always turnout just perfect and look adorable. Excellent for taking to any sort of function where you need to bring food.
Big Gigantoid Crunchy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies
These are really, really big. Seriously. Also they are really, really delicious.
Macadamia Blondies with Caramel-Maple Topping
While these will cost you a small fortune in macadamia nuts, they are totally delicious and well worth the expense!
This is the carrot cake to end all carrot cakes. I actually find this cake quite filling. Also quite delicious.
Raspberry Blackout Cake with Ganache-y Frosting
This cake will blow everyone's mind, and leave omnis gasping in amazement. This is the cake you make for a birthday party. This is the cake you make if you are bringing dessert for a dinner party. The ganache makes a heap, and I always end up with some left over, even after decorating. It has just occurred to me that the only thing that would make this cake better would be replacing the raspberry jam with cherries... Oh my goodness, I am going to do this! I shall report back down the track.
Chocolate-Rum Pudding Cake
Who wouldn't love a cake that tastes like a giant rum ball? I love the flavours in this cake, but I am yet to master the execution. I have found that when baking it in my springiform cake tin, the sauce will always leak out (thankfully I always have it on a cookie sheet), but it makes a huge mess. It also sinks in the middle slightly. Next time I make it I am going to bake it in a deep pie plate and then just serve it out in big scoops warm from the oven.
Coconut Heaven Cupcakes
This is a crappy photo. It was right when I was starting to take photos of food, and I knew nothing (I still know not much, but at least I am a little bit better!). However, these cupcakes are amazing. The frosting is so rich and coconutty, all piled on top of a delicious coconutty cupcake. If you like coconut, this is your cupcake!
These are fantastic. First you take the Scone recipe from earlier in the book (which is a five-star recipe all on its own), then you make a very simple strawberry sauce (mix sliced strawberries with sugar and syrup and chill) and you crown it all with macadamia creme - which is amazing and should be made often and used frequently in all sorts of things!
Phew! Well, that was longer than I thought. But I wanted to share it all with you. Obviously I have made much more than these, though these were my favourites so far. I still have much to make from this book though, and I am sure I will love every delicious step of it. So, if you don't have it, should you get it? Yes! But you probably have it!
What cookbook was your 'game changer'?
Cute Kitty Photo of the Post
My second cat of childhood was Max. He was pretty punk. Here he is kicking my young butt at table soccer, that is how cool he was. Poor little Max was only with us for about six weeks before he left for the great kitty heaven in the sky.