Saturday, July 23, 2011

other people's cookbooks

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Dry-Fried Tofu
As a cookbook author and vegan food enthusiast, I spend a lot of time blogging about my own recipes, cookbooks, and experiences with food. So, once I turned in my final Celebrate Vegan manuscript [250+ original recipes], you'd think the last thing I wanted to do was cook, right? Actually, the first thing I wanted to do was cook – but using other people's recipes. I love "trying on" other chef's flavor and preparation sensibilities; it's like playing dress up using your big sister's wardrobe. I also devour with abandon the personal stories behind other author's recipes. Read as a whole, cookbooks double as autobiographies. Even though recipe headnotes are designed to "set up" recipes, they simultaneously paint portraits of the chefs who wrote them. 

Since the recent weather was as hot and sticky as Vietnam, I thought Vietnamese food was appropriate. This cuisine relies on simple, fresh ingredients and tends to be cooling; many dishes are served at room temperature. I veganized the spring roll recipe from The Little Saigon Cookbook, substituting dry-fried tofu for the shrimp and pork. For dipping, I fired up some store-bought satay sauce with plenty of sriracha. 

Cuppa' green, anyone?
My organic CSA share  has been supplying me with more leafy greens than I know what to do with. Enter "Miss Lill's Down Home Marinated Greens" from The Complete Book of Raw Food. I decided to try this recipe partly because I liked the name and partly because, unlike most raw recipes, it looked easy [It was]. Since I can't leave any recipe as is, I added some fresh sweet onions to contrast against the inherent bitterness of the collards and kale I used.

Pablo was keen to try Terry's Cilantro-Citrus Salad Dressing.
I practically live on salads in the summer; I have even been known to feast on fresh greens for breakfast. We all get into cooking ruts, though, and when it comes to salads, for some reason, I always gravitate toward my same, easy-to-whip-up French vinaigrette dressing. I ran across a vibrant bunch of cilantro in the Reading Terminal Market, and it inspired me to make the Cilantro-Citrus Salad Dressing from Terry Hope Romero's Vida Vegan. Once coated with this refreshing, celadon dressing, my former wallflower salad was ready to mambo.

Buttons (left) and Bossa Nova are finally friends.
Finally, a quick kitty update. Buttons has been with me for 2-and-a-half years now, and she's made tremendous much progress: from untrusting, psuedo-feral gutter dweller, braving the extreme heat and unforgiving cold, to affectionate loft lap cat. I thought Bossa Nova would never truly accept her; she had hissed, growled and chased Buttons any time she stepped within a foot of Bossa's personal space. But about a month ago, Bossa magically changed her tune. She started sleeping next to Buttons, and now even attempts to give her affectionate "head butts." It's comical to watch: since petite Buttons only weights about 5 pounds, Bossa's head butts just about knock her over. After all this time, it's nice to know that all 3 kittens love each other. Who says there's no such thing as happy endings?


Anne said...

Can't wait for the new cookbook! I've had it on pre-order for months!

Rika said...

Hi, I love your blog. I added you on Yummy Bloggers section on my blog. Hope we can exchange links! xxx from Vienna

LJ Ruth said...

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Lisa Ruth and Susan Carskadon

New Media,

Sophie's Kitchen, Inc.

Joy said...

Hey there,

just chanced upon your blog and i must say that i really enjoy reading it! brilliant post!
its fun readingnthe updates about your cats as well. They look so cute and adorable!

do visit my blog as well! Im a vegetarian, hoping to be a vagan some day!