Categories
Recipes

Earl Grey Lollipops

Earl Grey Lollipops - Lollipop Love BookPicture this: a get-away car, a driver, and a passenger with two cookbooks in tow. Is this you headed on a grand summer adventure? Maybe. I hope you will be excited for a spate of book reviews I’ve got coming up. Think of it as a Summer Required Reading List of sorts that will be several parts cookery and several parts poetry with a dash of memoir stirred into our class-is-out cocktail. Sometimes on road trips, I am the passenger, and I’ve always had a proclivity for reading in the car. Our first book of summer came all dolled up in muscovado and turbinado from Shauna Sever. Today, I want to bring to you hard crack. Another way of saying that is here comes a sweet surprise in Lollipop Love by Anita Chu. Do candy-makers have a special sense of humor? I hope so.

It’s no mistake that I took Real Sweet and Lollipop Love on that 48 hour road trip. Several years ago, Anita, Shauna, Irvin Lin, and I all organized a food blogger bake sale for No Kid Hungry. For two fun years, the four of us banded like the Three Amigos (although, maybe that makes one of us D’Artagnan and the analogy is better suited to Musketeers?). Each of us figured out how we would contribute and it worked brilliantly, especially with the phenomenal addition of eager, passionate food blogger volunteers who baked and decorated some tempting treats. We had Celia to thank for letting us set up our pop-up bake shop outside of Omnivore Books and years later, we remain friends.

At one of those bake sales, I first schemed to make a granola with green tea and liked it so much that it got tucked into the pages of my cooking with tea book. Back then, the aspiration of writing a cookbook had not happened for me yet and so I saluted Anita and Shauna as they took to their kitchens publishing several books (Anita: Field Guide to Cookies and Field Guide to Candy) and (Shauna: Marshmallow Madness and Pure Vanilla). Call it fate, call it kismet, call it a lot of hard work and sinkfuls of dirty dishes or packed refrigerators with trials 1 through 8, but all of us are cookbook authors now with Irvin’s first book, Marbled, Swirled and Layered is coming out Spring 2016. Imagine, then, my delight that my first book’s launch date happened to coincide mere weeks from Shauna’s and Anita’s.  If life is sweet, it’s because of the company we keep.

Earl Grey Lollipops

This brings us to lollipops. Lollipop Love is a slender, small book of 96 pages. As a novice candy-maker, I appreciated that the basic sugar lollipop recipe accompanies the reader onto almost every page. A good book instructs and inspires opportunities for departure. While the basics of lollipop making remain largely the same, some flavor combinations exist that excite and make me want to pull out my heavy-bottomed saucepan and get busy boiling. I’m drawn to flavors like the mango-chili lollipops (page 49) and the pink hued rosewater-saffron lollipops (page 35). If those sound a bit exotic, she also includes recipes for boozy lollipops like the Beer Lollipops (page 44) and what would be a knock-out for New Year’s Eve, Champagne and Glitter Lollipops (page 42).

The book is divided into three sections, not counting the technique primer at the beginning. I like that she masterfully educates for any skill level and shows the process to make a batch of lollipops simply. Section one explores sugar lollipops and denotes the flavors mentioned above. If you tend to be sweet on caramel, section two is for you. I’ve been eyeing the Passion Fruit-Caramel Lollipops (page 67) or the Almond Butter Crunch Lollipops (page 73). Section three focuses on chocolate lollipops and has me thinking ahead to a fun form of evening entertainment. Who wouldn’t want to dip peanut butter lollipops into chocolate (page 90) as a do-it-yourself dessert?

You will need a few essential supplies to get started, namely, lollipop sticks, lollipop molds, and a candy thermometer. And, here’s a genius tip from the Kitchn on quick and easy clean-up. Once you’ve set up your candy-making station, in less than 30 minutes you will have freshly brewed lollipops.

I say brewed because, of course, I knew I needed to make her Peach Tea Lollipops (page 33). In the headnote, she recommends that you can use any tea, so I opted to use Earl Grey instead to give a bouquet full of bergamot scented suckers to a friend for her birthday. One thing she notes is that when brewing the tea you want more astringency from it, so plan on brewing black tea for around 6 to 8 minutes . Switch it out and brew your favorite green tea, or concoct Honey-Chamomile Lollipops (page 45) for an herbal infused throat soothing hard candy.  There’s a lot to love about lollipops.

Lollipop Love Book Review

Earl Grey Lollipops

adapted ever so slightly from Anita Chu’s “Peach Tea Lollipops” from Lollipop Love.
Reprinted with permission.

Store the lollipops in cellophane bags, tied off tightly and in a cool, dry place where they can be kept for 1 month. The recipe calls for light corn syrup, which isn’t high fructose corn syrup, but the kind used to make pecan pie. If you’re not keen on corn syrup, try her recipe for Sweet Agave Lollipops on page 52 instead.

YIELD: 24 small (1 1/2-inch/4-cm) or 10 big (2-in/5-cm)

1 cup / 200g sugar

1 cup / 240ml brewed Earl Grey tea

1/4 cup /60ml light corn syrup
Coat the lollipop molds lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Place lollipop sticks in the molds.

Combine the sugar, tea, and corn syrup in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 300F/149C (hard-crack stage). Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.

Pour the mixture into a heatproof measuring container with a spout, or a candy funnel. Divide the mixture among the prepared molds. Let the lollipops cool and harden, about 15 minutes, before removing them from the molds.

 

Categories
Cookery Bookshelf

Tea and Cookies: Cookbooks to Use for a Christmas Cookie Exchange at Teatime

A few years ago, I decided that what the holidays really needed was another party. I can’t remember if this was prompted by the desire to see people congregate under mistletoe or just eat, drink, and be merry, but we will go with the latter response. Happily what started out as a small food blogger cookie swap has continued for several years and looped in friends outside of the blogosphere too. This Christmas cookie exchange lets me try new cookie recipes to discover the right mix of flavors and options for an enticing collection. I have further amended the cookie swap, hosting it at teatime and dubbing it as Tea & Cookies. Who wouldn’t enjoy a spot of afternoon tea with their sweets, right? For this year’s cookie swap I focused on test driving new 2014 cookbooks and am sharing my findings. Include your favorite cookie and recipe link if you have it, in the comments section.

 

Chocolate Teff Brownies - Flavor Flours

Chocolate Teff Brownies from Flavor Flours
Tea Pairing: Mandarin Rose Petal Black Tea from ML Tea

When I heard Alice Medrich was penning a book on baking with whole grain flours from the perspective of flavor first, I became intrigued. My friend, Irvin and I cemented our friendship years ago on this very topic of thinking of flours as a flavor base upon which to build in baking. Teff works marvelously well with chocolate and is naturally gluten-free. How many people think of teff is griddled into injera flatbread used to scoop up delectable Ethiopian food. Teff flour is darkly hued and works so very well with 70% chocolate. What I liked about Flavor Flours is that each of the flours used also is naturally gluten-free, even if Medrich is leading with flavor first, making the entire book gluten-free. I’ve gotten to work with her before and she is meticulous about recipe testing. Her brownies are already a favorite of mine and these teff brownies were popular at the cookie swap. Plan on cutting small squares—they are quite rich. Friends with birthdays coming up can expect me to bake Chocolate Chestnut Souffle Cake (p. 206), Yogurt Tart (p. 110), and Buckwheat Cake with Rose Apples (p. 172), though I’m keeping an eye on these Buckwheat Linzer Cookies too. I’m quite convinced that roses and chocolate are meant to be along with other dynamic duos like basil and tomato or strawberry and vanilla. Mandarin Rose consists of a smooth black tea tinged with a floral high note of rose petals.

 

Norah's Lemon Lemon Cookies - Isa Does It

Norah’s Lemon Lemon Cookies from Isa Does It
Tea Pairing: Prince Wladimir from Kuzmi Tea 

Winter time in California means citrus in as many shades as you can imagine. I was given Isa Does It as a gift and let me tell you that it paid off in a friendship with a neighbor who saw it in my window and decided she liked the inhabitants of our apartment before meeting us. That is a win. These cookies are vegan and use coconut oil in two very interesting ways: the oil is used in the cookie batter and then again in the lemon glaze. Because I had a pomelo, I substituted it for the lemons called for in the recipe. I also had just picked up some citrus chef’s essences from Afterlier and was jonesing to try them out. So, a dash of bergamot oil and two dashes of blood orange oil later, I had morphed Norah’s Lemon Lemon Cookies into Citrus Cookies. They are screaming good and offer a chewiness with a bit of crunch in the glaze. Cookbook notables in Isa Does It iclude the Tofu Butchery section which shows the myriad ways to process a cube of tofu into edible bites. Dishes I’m looking forward to cooking up include Sunflower Mac (p.116), Sesame Slaw (p. 58), and Tamale Shepherd’s Pie (p. 231). Prince Wladimir tea reminds me a bit of an Earl Grey with sass. It has a bit of a smooth profile with a bit of vanilla playing off the citrus notes. It pairs perfectly with the Citrus cookies.

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes - A Kitchen in France

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes from A Kitchen in France
Tea Pairing: Breakfast Blend Tea from Fortnum & Mason

I sped read my way through this gorgeous book one evening after it appeared in my mailbox. A day later and I learned it was a gift—the best possible kind of gift. I had already marked these little Sarah Bernhardt Cakes as being ideal for a cookie swap given how unique they would be in contrast to more expected cookies. Mimi Thorisson writes in A Kitchen in France that she received this recipe from her Icelandic mother-in-law and serves them with coffee. The base of the cake is akin to a macaron cap, mine even developed feet (that little ridge that crops up around the edges of macaron caps). The caps are then frozen while the mocha frosting is made, which is then smeared on the caps. Lastly they are dipped in melted chocolate. Though they have a few steps involved, these cakes are not hard to make but are quite fancy. They are the kind of sweets for which you pull out the good porcelain dishes. A Kitchen in France is smattered with lush photography and seasonal menus. Other recipes I’m itching to make include her Mont Blanc (p. 281), Chestnut Velouté (p. 248), Roast Chicken with Herbs and Crème Fraîche (p.46), and Happy Valley Wonton Soup (p. 291) from a Chinese New Year section in this French cookbook—look for her Tea Eggs recipe (p.293) there too. The multicultural feel of this book won me over. Thorisson grew up in Hong Kong and describes visiting her French grandmother and learning from her too. It reminded me of my own multicultural roots and the ways that each of us brings all that is woven into our cultural DNA onto the table. These rich little mocha cakes pair well with a stout breakfast blend tea to cut some of the sweetness. This tea stands up well to the cookies.

 

…The One That Got Away

Buttered Popcorn Rice Crispy Treats from Joy the Baker: Homemade Decadence
Tea Pairing: Korean Sejak Green Tea from DAVIDsTEA

Because an entire table lined with chocolate chocked cookies might set my heart aflutter, but perhaps not appeal to those that don’t have a card in chocoholics-are-us, I had selected this Buttered Popcorn Rice Crispy Treat recipe for its fun flavorful approach to the well-known sticky, chewy sweet. My copy of Homemade Decadence sat on our kitchen table with such promise, decked out with the ingredients required as indication of how easy it would be to pop, melt and mix. As things go with party-hosting, I ran out of time before the cookie swap started to whip up a batch.  This lapse in time judgment will work well for our next movie night–can you imagine anything better for movie-watching that combines sweet and salty? I’m a regular reader of Joy the Baker partly because Joy Wilson has a way of writing that makes baking fun and approachable, much like Joy herself. So, now the real question is to ask,  what movie we should watch when it’s time to turn out these treats.

Categories
Cookery Bookshelf

Cookbooks to Help You Reach New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. Perhaps that stems from what starts one year as possibility and by year-end equals failure. I, however, do not fall into the camp that recycled resolutions denote some sort of inadequacy on the part of the goal-maker. Instead, I choose to consider that perhaps the lesson of that particular goal has not completed what it needs to, knowing some things take much longer to learn, even in our instant satisfaction society. So, this year, let a cookbook (or cookbook author) help you get one step closer to completing your goals. Selecting one tome to take you into a New Year sounds like a tradition I can get behind (and have selected the Bi-Rite Eat Good Food cookbook as the one feeding us this January).

Nom-Nom-Paleo-Cookbook

RESOLUTION: Eat Clean Foods.  

Written by the witty (and fun!) Michelle Tam with illustrations and photos by husband Henry Fong, “Nom Nom Paleo” is a book not just for the paleo population but all people.  Its real food recipes make weeknight assembly a cinch with fun comic book graphics and cheeky commentary along the way. Their real food approach (and her admission in what may seem a shockingly short Dessert section to being a sugar fiend), all point to why their blog of the same name is ridiculously popular. Make a batch of their Bone Broth (p. 105) for its healing properties when you’re feeling under the weather or bake up some Mushroom Chips (p. 75) when you get the urge for something crunchy. Their Coconut Pineapple “Rice” (p. 157), made of cauliflower is a great way to get more veggies into a meal and Fiona’s Green Chicken (p. 193) might just need to be what gets fired up once it’s grilling season.

Duck Duck Goose cookbook

RESOLUTION: Eat Less Meat, but Better Quality Meat.

If you’re anything like the Mister and I, we tend to be highly skeptical of factory-raised protein. The conditions, life span, antibiotics and potential GMO feed animals are fed is enough to make me want to go vegetarian full-time. In steps hunter and angler Hank Shaw to shed light on the possibilities of preparation of wild and domesticated waterfowl in “Duck, Duck, Goose.” This comprehensive guide gives technique and mouthwatering recipes help pave the way for novices to waterfowl. Hank is a cook with serious street credentials and I trust his insights and instruction. His website is called Honest Food and his foraging escapades for mushrooms are legendary (at least in my own mind). That he tries to find ways to use the whole bird is an important detail. Make a dinner of Duck Jagerschnitzel (p. 75) perfect for cold winter evenings or Italian Duck Meatballs (p. 100) for a familiar dish to entice picky eaters. Along those lines, the Confit of Duck with Pasta and Lemon (p. 149) or Duck Egg Pasta (p. 214) would also be easy entrees into waterfowl foods. To change things up a bit in the summer, make his Duck Fat Pie Dough (p. 208) paired with your favorite stone fruit. I’m partial to his Tea-Smoked Duck (p. 92) and think it might be the perfect dish for a Valentine’s Day feast.

Homemade with Love cookbook

RESOLUTION: Why Buy When You Can DIY – Stock Your Larder from Scratch.

If you still haven’t jumped onto the DIY larder locomotive train, there’s no time to start like the present. Would that we could all have a teacher as encouraging and full of heart like Jennifer Perillo. In her book “Homemade with Love,” she sets out to share her scratch cooking secrets to make you a DIY pro. Back when the food poet was a fledgling, she taught me how to make ricotta from scratch. If you’ve never had an interest in stocking your own pantry with housemade goods, you might be missing out on an incredibly empowering opportunity. You too can learn to make Homemade Ricotta (p. 32) – once you lick a spoonful of lush warm ricotta or smear a spoonful on toast with a smidge of marmalade, you’ll never want to buy the store-bought stuff. Instead of buying boxed vegetable stock, make Homemade Vegetable Bouillon (p. 24) to keep on hand and that will also help save money. Jennifer has a tradition in her house of pizza night and she teaches you how to make Homemade Pizza Dough (p. 127) so you can start your own tradition. Perhaps you’ve never made pie? Her Foolproof Pie Crust recipe (p. 178) is sure to set you on firm footing.

Tartine Book No 3 review

RESOLUTION: Eat More Whole Grains.

I’ve been a woman obsessed since at least 2009 with whole grains and even see the word “groats” easily assemble from bananagrams tiles. Whole grains (and by whole, “intact”) have their enthusiasts and absolvers. I fall into the first group and fan the fire of my geekery with growing appreciation of other ways to use them in food. Enter “Tartine Book No 3,” by Chad Robertson, the book that kept me company as I nursed a cold on my birthday. Chad shares his journeys around the world as he continues to deepen his understanding of how cultures incorporate whole grains into their food while sharing his master recipes for baking them into breads and pastries. It’s no secret I’m smitten with his Oat Porridge loaf (or the Rye Porridge loaf or…). Slicing a hunk of these crusty breads with a custard-like crumb made me the bread fan (and budding baker) that I am today. I owe a lot to those loaves. This is a seminal book and I expect it to make out with a Best Picture nod at the food equivalent of such accolades this year. He shows you his master recipe for making the starter and then variations using exotic grains like his Purple Barley Amazake loaf (p. 146) or Sprouted Emmer with Maple & Beer (p. 134). My beloved Porridge loaves are in there too (Oat, p. 178, and Rye, p. 172). I would consider strongly starting a Cook through the Book kind of challenge with others interested in this book (is that you?), but be advised this is a cookbook not for the faint of kitchen. Let the record also show that Chad also shot all of the photos in this book and they are beauties. Get your naturally leavened whole grain bread baking on.

(Bonus: For whole grain breakfasts, go with Megan Gordon’s “Whole Grain Mornings” or if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, pick up a box of her Marge Granola. I’m smitten with the Cacao Nib variety.)

the fresh 20 cookbook review

RESOLUTION: Make a Weekly Menu / Cook at Home More / Save Money.

Sometimes brilliant ideas are in plain sight. Melissa Lanz makes eating real food regularly easy in her book, “The Fresh 20.” Giving the reader 20 ingredients from which to build meals and menus, an economy of ingredients and resources. Melissa’s husband, Trent photographed the book’s bright colorful recipes. Broken up by season, this is an instructive book for knowing what produce is available when. Each section includes menus and a shopping list (which I wish could have been tear-out; good thing for the smart phone camera) to take with you when perusing the aisles at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. With recipes that are easy to prepare, she sets you up for cooking at home success. At our house, to simplify the weekly menu, we’ve implemented Taco Tuesdays and will be making the Greek-Style Lamb Tacos (p. 23) soon. If you’re trying to kick the fast food habit, try making her Fresh 20 Turkey Burgers with Carrot Slaw (p. 91) or swap out the take-out burrito for easy Fish Tacos (p. 108) or Chicken Tamale Spoon Bread (p. 179).

gluten-free-girl-every-day-cookbook-review

RESOLUTION: Go Gluten-Free.

What is it? Burritos? Beer? Pasta? Pizza? You’ve removed gluten from your diet and feel good. Really good. But, there is something that keeps bringing you back to gluten, in spite of the headaches or brain fog or itchy rash. I’m not a proponent of giving up gluten for weight loss or as a trend. In fact, nothing gets under my skin more. But, I’ve got history to show that for some people breaking up with gluten is the best thing they have done to take back their health and feel well again. In fact, many of my good friends are gluten-free because it makes them feel glorious! If you happen to be that person, “Gluten-Free Girl Every Day” is the book for you. Shauna Ahern’s love of life and of good food comes across in a book filled with stories and recipes that remove the gluten, focusing on enticing ingredients that make delectable dishes. Recipes like Chicken Teriyaki with Kale and Sweet Potato (p. 128) make for an easy replacement to questionable (is there gluten in that sauce?) take-out. Are you a sucker for soul food? Her Gluten-Free Biscuits and Sausage Gravy (p. 58) may help you stop singing the blues. Perhaps you bake and find gluten-free baking perplexing. Stir up her All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix (p. 31) and you’re on your way to making Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread (easy to make!, p. 48) or Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns (p. 242). Dog-eared pages in our book include Peanut Butter and Jam Bars (p. 304) and our favorite, Millet Waffles with Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraiche and Capers (p. 103). Working through this cookbook is like having a friend talking you through the recipes and helping make living gluten-free easier.

eat drink and weigh less review

RESOLUTION: Lose weight.

You knew this resolution couldn’t escape the list, right? Given the obesity epidemic in the U.S., I don’t know why it’s shameful to admit to wanting to lose weight, but somehow, this is the resolution that gets paraded around as the one to avoid, the one that is so cliché. If you happen to be someone (like me) who recycles this resolution with unerring regularity, can you pull up a chair? Instead of attempting some fad diet that is going to be more destructive than helpful, perhaps it’s time to consider a different path? In “Eat, Drink and Weigh Less,” one of my favorite cookbook authors, Mollie Katzen teams up with Walter Willett, M.D., head of Harvard University’s department of nutrition to explore how to eat for the long haul and not just quick results. If you’ve ever attempted recipes from Mollie’s seminal book, “The Moosewood Cookbook” or even her new book, “Heart of the Plate,” you know she advocates for fresh ingredients that don’t skimp on flavor. Here, she assembles recipes along with a meal plan (to get you started) that includes wine, dark chocolate and favorites like Broiled Eggplant Parmesan (p. 216). Coupled with Dr. Willett’s nutrition expertise, this is a book for foodies looking to whittle their waists without turning to bland food.

Categories
Cookery Bookshelf

The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry

the-inspired-vegan-cookbook-bryant-terry

If you think of what inspires you, perhaps a person comes to mind.  Maybe, you envision a painting, the lyrics of a poem or a dynamic speech that stir you to action.

What Bryant Terry uses as the catalyst for his incredibly interesting cookbook “The Inspired Vegan” are people who have made a difference in their community and the role of places that have left their inspiring marks upon him. This includes everyone from his parents to Detroit community activists Grace Lee Boggs and James Boggs, from New Orleans to Hong Kong.

This cookbook is described as an impromptu “jazz jam session” and is not far from the mark. Each chapter encompasses one single, thoughtful meal. He begins the chapter telling a story and engaging the reader to become part of the source of inspiration through cooking what comes next. Terry composes well-crafted menus with the skill of an artist bringing all the dishes and flavors into harmony.

To cook through this book, I considered how it would behoove me to actually cook an entire menu at once. In the spirit of brief moments logged at home during the past month and the ensuing airplane miles, I found myself taking an a la carte approach, while still appreciating all the components invested into his menus.  The book is broken up into three sections: Basics, Interlude and Menus.

In the Basics section, he offers simple preparations and techniques to amplify the flavors in everyday cooking such as making your own vegetable stock, oven-roasting your own tomatoes or quick-pickling mustard greens. He then later cross-references how to use these preparations in recipes that appear later on in the menu section.

If this was a musical album, Interlude would reveal the B side songs you’re about to encounter, listed as bites, salads, side dishes, main dishes, sweets and drinks. The simple categorization helps the cookbook reader use Interlude as a resource from which to easily assemble their own meal or pick and choose the components, if they don’t delve into an entire menu.

Menus run from spring to winter, highlighting fresh and seasonal ingredients available. The menus bring a playful artistic sensibility to the concoction of drinks intended to play off the mains, sides and sweets. I, for one, appreciate his clever drink suggestions that are not always alcoholic but created to complement the menu. You’ll find a spicy tea or limeade along with his version of a Bloody Mary.

Instead of wine pairings accompanying each recipe, he suggests a song, film or book. It’s a clever trope intended to expand the story started early on in the chapter, as if setting the table and knowing that meals shared together are the gathering places for ideas and the nourishment of community.

I met Bryant Terry in an elevator earlier this year. He had just finished being a panelist in a chat on “The Intersection of Great Food, Good Health, and Social Justice.” I appreciated a comment he made about the importance to draw up leadership from the community itself, believing that is essential to long term change. It’s hard to not yammer on about the need for kids to get in the kitchen early or the right for low-income neighborhoods to have access to fresh foods and not just boxed offerings, but after we sufficiently chatted about such topics off we went in our separate directions with some similar goals. Special thanks go out to Da Capo Publishers for sending a review copy my way.

Since I’d gotten a taste for his food justice passion, I knew I needed to check out his style of cooking – a plant-based approach to empower in good health and good flavor. “The Inspired Vegan” does seek to inspire understanding that “the food revolution will find its spark in home kitchens.” (p. xvii)

Cooking through the Book in Our Kitchen

asparagus-sweet-potato-curry-inspired-vegan-bryant-terry

I’m usually good in abiding by the seasonal mode of eating, but I broke one of the rules out of an incessant need to sample a spring menu item in late summer.  Let me tell you, the Aromatic Asparagus and Sweet Potato Curry with Cilantro, on page 67 was worth the in season rule-fudging. This “South Asian Supper” menu item featured the mellow sweetness of melted sweet potatoes paired with al dente asparagus in a curried coconut milk sauce. Think of this curry as more of a riff on an Indian curry than Thai. We looked forward to leftovers with much gusto.

red-beans-with-thick-gravy-inspired-vegan-bryant-terry

One weekend, we poked into the “Fete before Fast” menu dedicated to New Orleans and soaked red beans on a Saturday night to make the Red Beans with Thick Gravy and Roasted Garlic on page 181, the next day. Here’s a perfect example of Terry at work as he makes his “thick gravy” by pulsing some of the red beans with the roasted garlic. What results, is a pot of red beans that are so soft, they win me over to actually liking kidney beans. This recipe is easy to prepare for the week ahead and makes a fine hot breakfast served over rice or the beginnings of a simple dinner.

broad-beans-with-savory-grits-inspired-vegan-bryant-terry

His Savory Grits with Sauteed Broad Beans, Roasted Fennel and Thyme from the “Grits. Greens. Molasses.” menu on page 45, might have been my least favorite of the recipes we tried as it seemed a little flat in flavor. I intend to try this recipe again when favas are in season, since he suggests going fresh or frozen and I used dried. I would happily use his grits technique anytime. In a move akin to the kidney beans’ roasted garlic addition above, Terry adds cashew cream to the grits making them rich, supple and entirely unforgettable.

saag-tofu-inspired-vegan-bryant-terry

In keeping with the “South Asian Supper” menu theme, but on a different night, I prepared the Yellow Basmati Rice, (p. 71) and the Saag Tofu (p. 69). Stay tuned later this week for Terry’s Saag Tofu recipe. I’m of the mind that it might make a believer out of the harshest tofu critic. Instead of using paneer, the cheese for which Saag Paneer or Palak Paneer is originally named, this recipe introduces a zesty flavor in slow-roasted tofu cubes. Served over bright yellow rice, made vibrant by spicing it with turmeric, you’ve got one winning South Asian at-home meal better than take-out.

2-rice-congee-with-chili-roasted-tofu-inspired-vegan-bryant-terry

One cold summer evening in San Francisco, we dipped into the “Winter in Hong Kong” menu finding the 2 Rice Congee with Steamed Spinach on page 164 a welcome evening meal. If you’ve never had rice porridge before, it’s a cinch to put together provided you’ve got time. A bowl of this congee warmed us right up in spite of the bank of fog lodged outside our house. We took Terry up on his suggestion to serve the Congee  with Quick-Pickled Mustard Greens on page 19 and the Tofu with Peanuts Roasted in Chili Oil on page 166. The acidic greens complemented the roasted peanuts and slightly spicy tofu cubes, lending a nice kick of flavor to the rice porridge.

This winter, I long to try out the recipe for the Wet Jollof Rice with Carrots, Cabbage, and Parsley-Garlic Paste on page 94 and intend to make a big pot of Roasted Winter Vegetable Jambalaya on page 179 when our late summer turns back to fog. Also, while the cookbook notes Vegan in the title, it does not require that a person adhere to the vegan lifestyle to enjoy it. Greater emphasis for health reasons, environmental and accessibility quandaries are all reasons for folks to consider incorporating more vegetables and legumes into their everyday diets.

And Terry certainly makes a plant-based diet inviting and exotic. His use of spices denotes a love of culture and people and in concocting recipes and meals that hearken their place, shares their story. I have a hunch that you might find new sources of inspiration within the pages of “The Inspired Vegan.”