Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Week of Isa, Day 1

I've definitely been in a January state of mind -- healthfulness, self-improvement, the undertaking of huge and unrealistic projects, you know -- and also have been buying myself a whole lot of Christmas gifts, since I'm finally being paid enough that my budget isn't a depressing and futile attempt at austere living. So, along with several other cookbooks, a couple weeks ago I picked up Isa Chandra Moskowitz's low-fat vegan cookbook, Appetite for Reduction.
I have probably said this before on this little blog, but I LOOOOVE Isa Chandra Moskowitz. She is a genius, seriously -- vegan cooking and baking can be tough, and in the past 10 years a billionty terrible vegan cookbooks have been published, some of which were purchased by or for me. It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between the good ones and the bad ones, but anything by Isa (and her frequent co-author, Terry Hope Romero) is reliably awesome. Clearly she actually puts in the time to research what makes her favorite foods taste as they do, and to testdrive the recipes before dumping them into a book.

And in the "undertaking huge projects" vein, I've set out this week to make something from AfR every night. In the past few months I have bought or received a lot of cookbooks, and I've spent hours and hours reading them and putting post-it flags all over the recipes that I want to try. This is a habit I've had for a while and as my cookbooks multiply, the flags start to look like hundreds and hundreds of unrealized intentions. Sigh. But really during and since my 2 months of "funemployment," I've made a lot of progress with the flags, and I've been marking it by little penciled checkmarks next to recipes I've actually made.

The week of Isa is already subject to one cancellation, since I made plans tomorrow night (to get tattooed, eek!). The recipes in this book are mostly for 4 servings, and usually for me I make half of the recipe so that I have leftovers to bring for lunch the next day. So, this time I'm making the whole recipe for FORTY CLOVE CHICKPEAS & BROCCOLI and I'm just going to be eating it all the time forever.

This is a super simple Sunday dinner that takes a long time and makes the house smell fantastic but doesn't require any real work. Especially if, like me, you have filled your freezer to capacity with frozen broccoli bought at the wholesale store. This has been my main solution to the long and unpredictable work hours -- I have lots and lots of frozen broccoli, which is easy to toss in with boiling pasta water or throw in the oven still frozen and roast along with potatoes or whatever.

The frozen broccoli goes into a 9x13 baking dish with A TON of smashed garlic cloves, a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, lemon zest, dried oregano, salt and pepper, and a little olive oil. Toss it around, then into the oven at 400*. Stir/flip everything after 15 mins, and again after a half hour, then add vegetable broth and cook for 15 more minutes. When it's done the broth will mostly be evaporated and the chickpeas and garlic will be soft and creamy. If you're not a garlic fiend like me, you probably want to remove the garlic cloves, but I just left them in and ate them, and since they're so thoroughly cooked I'm not breathing garlic-fire or anything.

To accompany this garlicky stuff, I cooked up a cup of whole wheat couscous (which turns into about 3 cups after it's done) and I added a few shakes of dried oregano and the juice of half a lemon to it.

The verdict? Isa delivers, as usual. I think if I make this again I'd serve up less couscous and more of the chickpea & broccoli stuff, or add another element, because the ratio of (boring) couscous to (awesome) other stuff could have been a lot better. Or maybe actually make a totally interesting rice pilaf instead of lazy couscous.

The whole spread: 2 dinners and 2 lunches
Today I went to Trader Joe's and got almost all of the stuff I need for the other 5 thrilling recipes I've got on deck for the week! Thankfully they share a lot of elements (vegetable broth, lemon juice, etc) so I won't end up tossing remainders of things, which is the problem a lot of times with buying things just to use in new recipes.
In the works for this week:
  • lettuce wraps with hoisin-mustard tofu (have done this one before and it's sooo delicious)
  • pasta con broccoli
  • herb roasted cauliflower over pasta
  • orange scented broccoli and fried rice
  • braised cabbage with seitan

I'm especially excited/nervous for braised cabbage. This is one veggie I really never, ever ate growing up, and I thought it was pretty unappealing until I started receiving it in my farm share haul this past summer. I fed a few of them to the rabbit, but I did actually attempt a few recipes, some of which were delicious. I think this one is going to be terrific, so we'll see! I managed to buy the seitan but not the cabbage today, so that's on the to-do list for Tuesday when I go stock up on a few things at the crappy local store.

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