This week the cookbook challenge took us to some new and pretty interesting places, via Bryanna Clark Grogan’s World Vegan Feast. I have a couple of Bryanna’s books and I’m a huge fan of them both- in fact, the lasagne al forno bolognese from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen is one of my favourite meals of all time. But both books also have a tendency to sit on the shelf, mostly unused, owing to the perception I had that a lot of Bryanna’s recipes were fairly time-intensive affairs (the aforementioned lasagne takes around three hours!).
So in tackling World Vegan Feast this week, I was on the lookout for some quicker, more weeknight-friendly recipes. As it turns out, I’ve clearly never read through the book closely enough because there are plenty of them!
I started out with these ANZAC biscuits- that’s right, ANZAC biscuits! I had to laugh when I saw this recipe in a world food book. ANZAC biscuits are such a simple, easy recipe here- in fact, they were the first thing we made in my first-ever home ec class. But seeing the recipe made me realise that I hadn’t made, or eaten, ANZAC biscuits in years. And I had all the ingredients, and no excuses. I added a pinch of salt to the recipe, since my favourite ANZAC biscuits are always the ones with a slight salty hit, and these were great! Chadwiko had much the same reaction as I did- ‘you made ANZAC biscuits? Why?’, before devouring half the batch. These were a comforting, homely pleasure, and using staple ingredients and less than 20 minutes of effort, these will definitely be made again.
For dinner that night, I made this Basque chickpea and chorizo stew, mainly to use up the seitan chorizo I had left over from last week’s flautas. I was worried that this would be a little bland, since the recipe doesn’t call for any spices and instead lets the flavours of the other ingredients come through. This ended up being great, mainly because the chorizo itself was so flavourful. So definitely use a great-tasting, good quality vegan sausage if you decide to make this! I can see myself making this again next winter.
The real star of that meal, though, was this crusty artisan bread. This is a no-knead recipe, which I love. I don’t have a stand mixer, so although I love baking bread, I don’t do it often enough because long kneading times by hand aren’t always my favourite way to spend my time. But with the long rising times for this dough, you can get great results with no kneading. The bread is also baked in a pre-heated casserole dish, with the intense heat allowing the loaf to develop a beautiful crust. The recipe makes four loaves, but I halved it- how would we get through four loaves of bread in a week? Well, I was wrong because I found myself throwing together another half-batch halfway through the week. We’ve now eaten three loaves and have the dough for another waiting in the fridge. This recipe has been a total game-changer in our house and will be made very regularly for sure.
One of the other misconceptions I’ve held about this book was its fairly heavy focus on European recipes. Although there are a lot, there are plenty of options closer to home too- like this Indonesian spread.
This tahu goreng (fried tofu) with edamame was a delicious and simple dish that uses mostly pantry (or freezer, in the case of the edamame) ingredients- in my house, anyway. We both really enjoyed it, and as it only takes about 15 minutes to throw together, I can see this becoming a go-to weeknight dish around these parts.
The Balinese green bean salad was the perfect accompaniment. Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t just a side salad, but a great dish in its own right! Bryanna gives a few options for the ‘meaty’ component here- I chose to go with some sliced Lamyong chicken that was sitting in the freezer. I always get so excited to buy this stuff, and then can never think of a new way to use it all- well, this was a very good choice! I was a little hesitant when the introduction to the recipe stated that Bryanna had reduced the spice from the original dish, so I chose to keep the amount of chilli the same while halving the rest of the recipe. It ended up being a good amount- not at all hot by our standards, but nice and flavourful. The coconut here (also a spur of the moment purchase from the freezer at my Asian supermarket) really brought it all together and added something special.
Finally, last night I made this Ugandan-style seitan peanut butter stew. If a recipe contains peanut butter, there’s a good chance that I’m going to make and love it, so I don’t know why it took me so long to try this one. I definitely remember it catching my eye when I first bought the book! Anyway, we absolutely loved this dish and I found myself very glad that I hadn’t halved the recipe (even though it’s supposed to serve four- oops!). This is creamy and rich and exactly the type of food I love. We have a few staple peanut curry recipes (namely, the Massaman curry from Terry’s upcoming Vegan Eats World- keep an eye out for it, it’s a good one!) and this one is definitely at the top end of the list. The recipe being much quicker than some of its more labour-intensive counterparts also means that this one will definitely become a weeknight staple.
Even though World Vegan Feast’s week in the spotlight is over for now, there are a few recipes that I wish I’d had time to make, and which I imagine will make an appearance in my kitchen sooner rather than later. If we can stop making that Ugandan stew, that is.