From the PPK Test Kitchen: Isa Does It Tester Photos

Isa Does It cover

Mission, complete!  Weeknight dinners…all set. No excuses. Testing for Isa Does It, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s ode to weeknight wonders, has ended, which is sad news for me, but good news for you! This brand spankin’ new book is officially due out … Continue reading

and the pie goes on

Non-stop pie making continues with 2 more from the PPK test kitchen: Cashew Creme Apple Crumb and Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Cashew Creme Apple Crumb with golden raisins

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a swirl and spiced chocolate cookie crust

Back to the land of Vida Vegan Con and Vegan Iron Chef planning for me!

Rolling out pie crusts is way therapeutic.

Uwaijimaya, Veggie Buns & PPK Udon

Boring story short, I was out on the suburban west side yesterday for an appointment, and the redeeming factor follows:

Northwest baked Veggie Buns!

The brand is based in Seattle, WA and these buns are refrigerated, alleviating the mysterious and often gross frozen food factor.

I have been on the search for more-than-decent (and non-frozen) steamed buns for years in this city! Thank you, Uwajimaya – please come downtown, soon.

These seem near identical, if not a little smaller, than the faux pork buns served at Van Hanh, and formerly, Nhut Quang, RIP. Annual visits to Vegetarian Dim Sum in New York are always wonderful, but it’s nice to know I can have a little store-bought steamed bun action at home, too.  The filling is nothing remarkable, or very discernible, but they’re indeed, more-than-decent (and convenient!) with an accompaniment.

Paired with the super quick & flavorful PPK Broccoli Curry Udon, and served with a soy/chili garlic dipping sauce. This curry includes broccolini, kale, spinach, jalapeño and sliced, baked tofu.


The mini haul: Coconut Nectar juice (which I  picked up because it didn’t have added sugar – sadly, it’s still gross), udon noodles, Sencha green tea – which I’m on my 4th or 5th cup of the day of, the Veggie Buns, non-GMO Mellow White Miso, and the indulgent purchase of Taiwanese Peanut Mochi.

Please don’t suck.

Needless to say, I have acquired a new camera, and I am fairly content so far (despite these photos being taken in a half dark kitchen).

Appetite for Reduction: My Test Kitchen Photos

Although I’m currently sitting here, patiently waiting for my tester copy, (hint hint) the latest cookbook from my favorite vegan superhero & author, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Appetite for Reduction has hit the shelves – so it’s time for a fond look back.

This marks the fourth Post Punk Kitchen book I’ve been a recipe tester for – which is so.much.fun. While I didn’t have as much time on my hands or mouths to feed as I used to, and didn’t test every single recipe, I did made a bunch of satisfying dishes that I’ll round up below. Whether you’re looking for more responsible, vegetable dominated entrees, oil-cutting tips, healthy meal plan inspiration, or straight up, great and usually gourmet vegan cuisine, you should pick up this book! And try to do it from a vegan business, like Herbivore, Cosmo’s, Never Felt Better or Food Fight!, if possible. Is free shipping really that enticing? Does Amazon offer this shirt, or this one?

Some of my favorites:

  • 40 Clove Chickpea & Garlic – I’ve seriously made this countless times, and usually up the garlic even more (spoiler alert: there’s not actually 40 cloves in the recipe)
  • Surefire Seitan – This was my go-to seitan recipe this past year.
  • Braised Seitan & Cabbage – This one surprised me in how much I liked it. Plus, it’s super easy if you have the seitan already made, and cabbage contains fiber and vitamin c and you should probably be eating more of it!
  • Pasta con Broccoli – Simple and great – especially topped with one of the baked tofu options in the book. Like I’m not going to love a healthier version of a classic Italian dish full of more broccoli & garlic…
  • Thai Green Beans – Again – so easy, but so flavorful.
  • Jerk Asparagus – Ditto! You should have these spices in your house anyway, and await the countdown to one of spring’s first contenders.
  • Curried Tofu – One of those recipes you’ll find yourself making semi-weekly after trying it.
  • Apple Miso Tofu – because it’s another one casserole dish entree, and it’s just so unique!
  • Ginger Soba with Bok Choy – it’s literally ginger, soba, and bok choy, and that’s so, so right.
  • Black-Eyed Peas & Greens – purposely reminiscent of the Bye & Bye’s dish, and another I find myself making regularly. With the buzz about the book popping up over the last week, it was the first recipe that came to mind and that I just had to make this past weekend.

And these are just a few favorites. Crazy, but I don’t have photos for everything. Sometimes I forgot, or the lighting was awful, or the dish was being transported elsewhere, or I was just…really hungry. Off the top of my head, I know the Ethiopian Mushroom Tibs are missing, and probably a few others…

Without further adieu, my Appetite for Reduction photos:

40 Clove Chickpea & Garlic

Pasta con Broccoli (pictured with red wine roasted mushrooms)

Smokey Split Pea Soup

Pineapple Collards - oh, I really dug this, too!

Broiled Blackened Tofu

Curry Baked Tofu and Orange Scented Broccoli

Curried Chickpeas and Greens - hello, delicious lunch for the week!

Apple Miso Tofu (pictured with a chiffonade of miner’s lettuce and brown rice)

Curried Cabbage and Peas

Red Curry Tofu - how pretty is this?! bonus = it’s baked!

Thai Green Beans

Fussilli Roasted Veggie Primavera – okay, more and more favorites

Herb Roasted Cauliflower and Breadcrumbs

Cashew Miso Mayo - yeah, you read that right!

Surefire Seitan (pictured baked with chickpea breading)

Silky Chickpea Gravy (pictured with whole wheat biscuits)

Hoisin Tofu Lettuce Wrap (pictured with cabbage shells)

Red Wine & Kalamata Tempeh (pictured with mashed potatoes) – hello, classy!

Ginger Soba with Bok Choy

Vietnamese Salad with grilled tofu

Quicky BBQ Tofu

Curried Summer Loving Corn Chowder

Black Eyed Peas & Greens (pictured with cornmeal baked tofu)

PPK dinner.

Jerk Asparagus

Braised Seitan & Cabbage

Now, I’m sorry there are no before and after shots of my butt to show my own weightloss progress during this round of testing. Truthfully, some of these dishes were made over a year ago, I wasn’t focused on hiding my oil – because that can be crazy, and I make a point to be comfortable with my weight, my body, and myself, no matter what. Vegans come in all shapes and sizes, too!

That being said, I’m currently on week 12 of a new workout/activity plan, where there’s less beer, laziness, and more vegetables and whole grains in my diet lately, but I just hate using that word, so back to my point -

This book is not only full of wholesome, creative, special-diet-friendly recipes – it’s full of truth one can relate to, and a whole lot of healthy inspiration.

For sample recipes, check  out the PPK book page.

For prettier photos, check out the flickr photo set from the wonders behind What the Hell Does A Vegan Eat Anyway?

If you have the book already, I’d love to hear other recs. And while you’re at it, leave Isa a review on Amazon and Goodreads and spread the word!

Corn Chowder & The Epic Vegan MoFo Survey, with photos

First up, I would say that 75% of what I’ve eaten in the past two days has been this Corn Chowder from Vegan with a Vengeance. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s a pleasant color, offers the surprise bite of rosemary (and bonus roasted garlic from my fridge), and was made with local ingredients. Sorta funny story, while at the market last weekend, I learned that I must look like a tough sell for corn, or it’s simply become passé – because the farmer selling it told me, assuredly, “This is really good corn. You’ll like it.” That may have been a bit odd, and I almost wanted to consider it a threat because that’s more exciting of a story and I had no doubt about my purchase – but he was right. It was really good corn.

And now, The Epic Vegan MoFo Survey from The Post Punk Kitchen forums:

The original is here.

What’s your favorite spice or spice blend? Saigon Cinnamon. When I first visited Penzey’s a few years ago and learned that there were different varieties, my mind was blown.

You have $20 to spend on fresh groceries and produce for the whole week (with a fairly well stocked pantry of dry goods, legumes, grains, and spices). What do you buy? I hit the farmers market with $10, Foxfire or Limbo with $6 for loose leaf tea, bake some seitan, a block of bulk tofu from the coop or Ota, and make a huge pot of soup with beans.

What’s your favorite way to make tofu? As for cooking, tofu ricotta and straight up baked with BBQ sauce have been high on my list for years.

Vegan guilty pleasure? Tator tots with Vegenaise and Sriracha.

If you could make anyone vegan, who would it be? I would say Ronald McDonald, but I really don’t want to see the insane effect of that – so I’ll go with the Obama Family and hope they’re not criticized too much for this decision.

If you could only read one other vegan blog, what would it be? http://www.theppk.com/blog/ PPK cult, represent.

Were you always interested in cooking, or did veganism change the way you saw and interacted with food? I had a light interest growing up and remember entering kids’ bake offs at the local library with sloppy layer cakes. I never won, but I liked combing my mom’s baking books and making whipped cream and chocolate chip cookies . Years later, I worked at a bakery/café in high school where I didn’t do much more in the kitchen than fill cannolis and butter rolls, but I picked up names and flavor combinations. Fortunately, though it was a rocky road, I started living on my own at the same time I was going vegan, so I had to learn how to cook.

Excluding analogues, what new things have you tried that you probably wouldn’t have as an omni? A wide assortment of vegetables – especially since moving to Portland with the year round markets. I was very much a grilled cheese-and-little-else eating vegetarian for years.

What is the one vegan staple that everyone seems to love, but you can’t get behind? I appreciate it, scientifically, and have warmed to its impressive goo – but, Daiya. I’m not on the love train.

My biggest Daiya success: Mac & Cheese

What was your first “wow, I’m such a stereotypical vegan” moment? I don’t know what the very first was – maybe living on 123s & Chreese for a year during college?, but [insert creaking voice] back in my day, we’d smuggle Follow Your Heart in insulated bags from Lifethyme in NYC via  Fung Wah bus rides back to Boston.

First recipe you veganized? Lasagna or stuffed mushrooms.

What would you like to veganize, but haven’t yet? What wouldn’t I? I’ve yet to pull together a traditional, kickass white pizza. It’ll happen.

Favorite kitchen utensil/appliance? I really like my Vita-Mix and Magic Bullet blenders.

Most disastrous kitchen failure? Sometimes I really suck at crepes and pancakes. I’m about to place an order for a new pancake pan, so hopefully, that will help. I’m great one day, and then it’s awful, and I take a year off and forget these things exist.

First vegan cookbook? My best friend from high school gave me How it All Vegan as a gift when I first went vegan. I still have it.

What question about being vegan do you HATE answering? Anything that makes me roll my eyes. For example. I went vegetarian at a young age and grew up with family members teasing me about not eating turkey. It came as a shock when an omnivore asked me what I eat for Thanksgiving a few months ago. Like, what year is this? What bizarre world do you live in? Tofu turkey jokes are so last decade (in my life). However, I answered nicely, fully knowing that I live in the Portland bubble and hang out on the vegan internet. A lot.

If you could tell the world one thing about vegans, what would it be? That maybe we’re weird to you, but we’re really just making smart, ethical, healthy, compassionate decisions (and still weird)! To quote the Food Fight! button, “Being Vegan Means I’m trying to Suck Less”.

Funniest vegetable? When eggplants grow dongs.

What is a family recipe you have veganized? My mom’s Sweet Potato Pie Casserole (warning: old blog link) and my grandma’s Italian Struffoli. Unfortunately, the veganization of the second is MIA. I don’t recall what the egg replacer was, but I recall using light agave with orange zest in place of honey.

Vegan Struffoli for a Grandma's Recipe piece in Herbivore Magazine online, 2007

Weirdest food combination? I don’t think I pair anything too crazy, but I do have a soft spot for toasted tempeh bacon, peanut butter & tart apple sandwiches.

Is there something you wish you could veganize, but can’t/couldn’t? I have a strong Italian background, and I’ve never had vegan cheesecake or sweet ricotta-filled cannoli with quite the consistency I would have enjoyed in my earlier years. I’ve had excellent vegan versions of both, but nothing that’s quite what I want, and I feel like something the creators try too hard and shouldn’t go in that direction. Those, and the simple, meringe-coated wonder that is Baked Alaska. I do feel confident that I will try an amazing vegan version of that one day. There’s been a lot of progress in the field of vegan meringue.

Favorite ways to prepare tofu, seitan, tempeh, any other vegan proteins? I like breading seitan cutlets in even more savoury bread(crumbs) and baking. My go-to way for tempeh is either tempeh bacon, or marinated, baked, and served in a bowl with grains/sauce/greens or over pasta.

This was awesome: Jalapeno and Herb Roasted Tempeh

Are your pets vegan? if so, what do you feed them? My two cats are not vegan, but one does have an obsession with leafy greens and microbrews.

case in point: I lock up all my greens now

Favorite non-dairy milk? It was almond until an allergy arose recently – therefore, I’ll go with coconut. Besides packaged and fresh coconut milk, So Delicious Coconut Beverages & Creamers are so fantastic!!

What’s one “vegan myth” you’d like to squash? That vegan food is boring. Creative vegan dishes can be so impressive and artistic! And I don’t just mean plating style – I love that exploration that can happen in a kitchen – with new flavors, fresh ingredients, etc. It’s a big reason why I’m involved with with putting on Vegan Iron Chef events and wanting to show off Portland’s local chefs!

photo essay: potluck weekend

Why, I had quite a pepper, courgette, culinary productive & smiling vegan-filled weekend.  I’m allowing this stateside use of courgette, since I assembled a Gordon Ramsay recipe using said squashes on Saturday.  It’s a shame that I don’t have photos of my personal, colorful (finally!!) Saturday Farmers Market haul, or of the actual potlucks and smiling, socializing vegans, but I do have a few from the market and proof that my dishes happened.

Look! It’s tomatoes that likely have flavor!

The best deal on lovely, organic jalapeno at last Saturday’s market – 5 for $1 at Gathering Together Farm

If I hadn’t already been at the market with the mission of buying chili peppers, the sight and smell of these fire roasted chilies would have done me in.

A delight of freaky outy proportions: black jalapeños!

What I made with my hot peppers is coming, but first, let’s get to the dish I brought to my friends’ beautiful -and - all vegan – weddingcamp reception: Stuffed Courgette Rolls.

I veganized Gordon Ramsay’s (Inner Monologue: 1) holy moly, I watch a lot of his American shows and I adore him. 2) I have holds on 2 of his books at the library, which brings me to 3) how the hell have I never veganized/made one of his recipes before?) recipe from BBC Good Food. Instead of the dairy ricotta, I pureed a Vegan with a Vengeance-style ricotta of firm  tofu, fresh basil, red miso, minced garlic, roasted garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and soaked pine nuts. It’s topped with balsamic vinegar, marinated fresh, chopped tomatoes & basil, and toasted pine nuts.

I peeled! I rolled! I’m proud. And I only lost 1/4 a fingertip (and started over! and cleaned up! calm down)

With that, let’s get to the peppers.

Stuffed, open-faced jalapeno and cherry bomb peppers.

These open-faced peppers are stuffed with spicy, roasted vegetables and pinto beans. Baby potatoes, sweet corn, zucchini (of fucking course), bell peppers, jalapeno, shallots and other things I’m forgetting were chopped and roasted with a whole lot of minced garlic, olive oil, chipotle powder, chili powder, sage, oregano, black pepper, sea salt and hot paprika. I added sliced cherry tomatoes and pinto beans towards the end. I considered mixing everything together with the spicy tomato, tofu, garlic & smoked paprika cheese, but decided to go this route. All in all, one of the spiciest things I’ve ever made. I’ve never made anything like it before, and was trying to clean out the fridge of my produce before embarking on business trips the next 2 weeks, so it’s pretty mish mash. Next time I make something similar, I’d chop smaller and cut down on the spices a wee bit!

Baked:

Plated for Isa’s Vegan Chili Potluck, with lemon cucumbers.

Fun fact: Zucchini squashes are the swollen ovaries of female zucchini flowers. Thanks, Wikipedia entry on Zucchini! From, a girl who doesn’t have a garden.

Hey Portland! Come to Cruelty-Free Trivia with Isa 8/2

Putting a baby inside a piece of pizza may not be cruelty-free, but come next Monday, August 2nd, trivia totally is.

Are Skittles vegan? Who is the richest vegan in the world? What doesn’t belong in hummus? Which vegan cheese company had a tie to the television series Home Improvement? You know you know.

What’s Going On: A Vegan-Themed, Multi-Round Trivia Night, hosted by cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the Post Punk Kitchen and special guest Quiz Masters.

But Why? This event is a fundraiser for THE VEGAN PROM OF TOMORROW: The Try Vegan Week’s Third Annual Vegan Prom on 8/21 at Crush Bar, and House of Dreams Cat Shelter. Music by DJ Jet Boat Adventurer.

Vegan Prom tickets will be for sale at the event ($12 in advance, includes one complimentary raffle ticket).

Eat Pizza:

Mississippi Pizza will have vegan pizza & beverages for sale, including our special vegan pizza offerings. They offer Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, and all of their sauces are vegan.

Brains:

Show off your vegan knowledge, support great causes & events, and win PRIZES! (and eat pizza).

Sign Up & Pricing:

You are encouraged, but not required, to form small teams with amusing names in advance. The price is $5 per person.

Grand Prize!!

The winning team wins a prize basket with contributions, courtesy of Herbivore Clothing, Hopworks Urban Brewery (now has daiya for their vegan pizzas, for those who swing that way), Lion’s Share Industries, Blacksheep Bakery, Mighty-O Donuts, Post Punk Kitchen, Petunia’s Pastries, Southeast Grind, Wingnut Confections, free tickets to Vegan Prom, and more.


The Vegan Prom

is the finale celebration to Try Vegan Week, organized by Try Vegan PDX. Try Vegan PDX is a non-profit, volunteer run, vegan outreach program. It provides year long mentoring and special events.

Facebook Event for Vegan Prom

Facebook Event for Cruelty-Free Trivia – RSVP!

Mississippi Pizza - Pizza, beer and wine in Portland's Mississippi Neighborhood

checking in with the test kitchen

Recipe testing for Post Punk Kitchen books has been a mainstay in my kitchen during the past few years.  I learn new things, my palate expands, there’s always something to look forward to, and always an idea for dinner.

Most recently, I’ve been testing  for Isa’s upcoming Healthy/Weightloss cookbook.  How cool, right!?! I don’t know if there is an official title yet, but I will say that these lowfat meals are seriously wholesome, satisfying, and the ‘in progress’ name for the test kitchen is a great one…

Red Wine & Kalamata Tempeh, over pesto mashed potatoes

red wine and kalamata tempeh  (tester)

Apple Miso Tofu, with a chiffonade of miner’s lettuce

apple miso tofu

Red Thai Tofu

Red Curry Tofu

Curried Chickpeas & Greens

curried chickpeas and greens

Curry Baked Tofu and Orange Scented Broccoli

Curry Baked Tofu and Orange Scented Broccoli (testers)

Smokey Split Pea Soup

Isa Test Kitchen: Smokey Split Pea

Curried Cabbage and Peas

Curried Cabbage and Peas

Pineapple Collards

Pineapple Collards

Jerk Asparagus

Jerk Asparagus

Tonight’s menu includes Ethiopian Mushroom Tibs and Green Beans with Thai Basil !

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dinner is good: cornmeal crusted baked tempeh

Leigh and Ann’s Homemade Creole Sauce from the Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti spooned over thyme-y, cornmeal crusted, baked tempeh strips. Roasted broccoli with fresh lemon, coarse sea salt and pepper.  Steamed yam with sea salt.

creole sauce, cornmeal tempeh

I had been craving good ole tempeh. The tempeh strips were marinated overnight in tamari and the Creole sauce (so good! such a nice tangy flavor!), dipped into a water and cornstarch slurry, then pressed into fine cornmeal with thyme, garlic powder, sea salt, lots of freshly ground pepper, and crushed red pepper, and then baked at 375F for 20 minutes on one side, and then 15 minutes at 400F – for the crispin’.  Served with roasted broccoli, steamed yam, and more Creole sauce.

In my head, and mouth, this meal was channeling the great The Lone Ranger plate at Chaos Cafe.  Except without the quinoa and kale, since I didn’t have them on hand.  Out of quinoa, I know – not even an extra bag of red hiding in my cabinets.  What’s my life coming to?

creole sauce, cornmeal tempeh

In other news, I had no idea there was a tea store tucked behind SE 12th and Division.  My life has changed.  The intersection hosts the new Gorditos, a cute pet store, vegan-friendly Artemis Cafe, and The Beer Mongers (note to self – finally visit!)

Foxfire Teas: Passion Yerba Mate (drinking right now – lovely), Foxfire Herbal Chai and Charcoal Baked Dong Ding. All purchased by the ounce, loose leaf.

apparently, I live near a tea store.

Tea makes everything better.

Ode to Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar Testing

Behold, Irish Whiskey Cremes


I hope you can handle this oncoming sweet food porn extravaganza. I hope you like cookies.
It’s time to collect the photos and memories of the past two years’ worth of recipe testing for the latest Post Punk Kitchen authors classic: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowtiz and Terry Hope Romero.

Testing for this book happened along with testing for Vegan Brunch, and I’m currently testing for Isa’s current project, a weight loss cookbook! Go figure, after cupcakes and cookies.
I adored recipe testing once again for these ladies, and bombarding everyone I know with cookies during the process. Check out the cute tester photos in the back! Not mine, I totally missed the thread on this possibility, or you would have seen one of my cats sniffing a cookie…
~
White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Biscotti

~
Once again, the Irish Whiskey Cremes


Linzertorte Thumbprints
These are near and dear to me and Evan.
Also, a catalyst in my-possibly-being-allergic-to-hazelnuts-worries…
~
Key Lime Shortbread


Chocolate Chip Cookies (with vegan white chocolate chips)

Off on a journey!
City Girl Snickerdoodles, Sweet Wine Sesame Biscuits and
Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Cowboy Cookies

NYC Black and White

Milanos

More Milanos – just like the real thing, baby.

Sweet Wine Sesame Biscuits – unique as heck! and delicious!

Mintleaf Chocolate Icebox Cookies (admittedly kinda flat on my first go!)

Fucking Chick-O-Stick Cookies – based on VCIYCJ Chocolate Chip

City Girl Snickerdoodles, ready for the holidays
(this was probably taken in the spring, naturally)

Citrus Glitters

More biscotti

Deluxe Brownie Action

Chocolate Chip and Mocha Mamas

Citrus Glitters

Espresso Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

Roasted Almond Cookies with Fleur de Sel – swoon.

 

Sweet Potato Blondies

Bold

Lazy Samoans

Girl Scout induced heaven, but not creepy.

Irish Whiskey Cremes, unfrosted, and Citrus Glitters

Espresso Fudge Brownies

Citrus Glitters! They won’t stop. Clearly a favorite.

Plate of VCIYCJ cookies from a benefit dinner

Nutty Wedding Cookies, powdered sugar station

Cowboy Cookies

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Fudgey Oatmeal Cookies

And look, it’s Terry! With an adorable apron working on a cookie photo shoot for the book.

I don’t think I can pick a favorite. Or favorites.
The Citrus Glitters, Irish Whiskey Cremes, Milanos and Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti stick out in my mind – but then there’s the Black & White! I grew up with those cookies!
In short, if you like cookies of the vegan persuasion, you should get this book.

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