Adventures in Ethiopian Cooking

Over the holidays, I got a vegan Ethiopian cookbook, Teff Love, by Kittee Berns, for a present.

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I have loved Ethiopian cuisine since I lived in the Boston area, where I used to go to a restaurant in Cambridge, MA called Addi’s Red Sea. It is a very vegan friendly cuisine. Vegnews recently shared a story that has more about Ethiopian culture and their food and why it’s so vegan-friendly. Check it out here.

At first I only had the time and energy to try the Ethiopian style tofu scramble recipe. I’m pretty sure I could eat that almost every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it. What really makes it is the berbere spice, the signature spice mix for the cuisine…although I’m a baby when it comes to spice and so I reduce it by quite a bit.

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You can get it in the international section of Whole Foods, among other places, I am sure.

One of the best parts of the food is the Injera, the spongy, crepe-like sourdough bread that you eat everything with. It can be used instead of utensils. It’s naturally gluten free (made from teff flour–which inspired the name of Bern’s cookbook). However, it takes up to a week to fully make, which is a bit complicated…but worth it if you can figure it out. If you are pressed for time though, the book has a teff crepe recipe which is really awesome as well.

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Another great aspect of Ethiopian food is that it makes a lot of food, and it lends itself to making multiple dishes and feeding lots of people.

For example, the first time I made it, I gave some to my friend who had just had a baby as part of a meal train.

Here’s a picture she took of her plate:

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And here is one of my favorite pictures of my own plate (one of many):

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Also, my dad happens to work with someone from Ethiopia, who ended up giving me a huge jar of Teff flour! It was very exciting as it’s like hitting the teff jackpot!

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After making a large batch of food for myself and my friend and her family, I made a dish by itself. It is called ye’zelbo gomen be’karot, which is kale with carrots, onions and mild spices. It’s seriously the best kale dish I’ve ever eaten, and that is saying a lot (I love kale) and my whole family loves it.

Speaking of which: yesterday (Wednesday April 7), after spending the weekend in my kitchen making a big feast for Monday, only to have snow (!!!) cancel the class, I served the small college program, College Unbound, who helped me get my bachelor’s degree, the feast as well! I kept raving about the kale dish to everyone, and one student said she doesn’t like kale, but I got her to try it anyways, and she really liked it! Her cousin who was also there, was claiming she might need to contact the local news channel because I had her trying foods she’d never tried before, and she’s usually so picky…which was a big compliment for myself and the author of the cookbook! Here are a few pictures of some of the other students posing with their plates:

Also, the majority of the students had never had Ethiopian food before when we asked. Most people who tried it were not put off by the fact that there wasn’t meat in the dishes, which can happen sometimes when I am feeding large groups (or at least they didn’t say it to my face! haha). I had one person comment to me that the split peas in mild sauce (called ye’ater kik alicha in the book) had a meatlike texture. My friend Domingo, who is pictured in the first picture above, was excited also that I made the vegan Ethiopian style mac and cheesie, because he’s lactose intolerant.

It was a really positive experience for myself and all involved. Especially because I could effortlessly share my love of another culture’s food and share that vegan food doesn’t have to be bland, boring, or leave you craving protein (in fact, the red lentils in spicy sauce, in a dish called ye’misser wot, have 15g of protein per serving, according to Teff Love!). I hope to do it again soon.

And I can’t recommend the cookbook Teff Love, enough!

Vegan Mofo Day 12: Post #9. Betty’s Sandwiches Destroy the Kitchenicon

Okay, so I have a vegan cookbook problem.

As evidenced by:

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Some of my friends have long been asking me to share my cookbook library’s contents here, with reviews and stuff. As you can see, that’s a bit of an overwhelming task. Maybe after MoFo I will continue to write posts about a cookbook from the collection on a semi regular routine. Many of these books are somewhat irrelevant to me now that I’ve gone gluten free, although I will try to adapt them at some point once I find a good gluten free flour blend and figure out my idea for gluten free seitan…

Anyways, today’s MoFo prompt is to write about our favorite vegan cookbook. As you can see, it is a bit hard for me to pick just one. So, I’ve decided to highlight 5 of them.

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They are:

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes

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I used to love sandwiches before I went gluten free (now I can’t seem to enjoy bread without gluten in it really), so this was the perfect fit for me at the time. To me, sandwiches were a specific food group. Even now that I don’t eat sandwiches (sobs!) there are still some favorite recipes in here that I can make without needing bread. These include the Chickpea Bacon from the Peanut Butter Banana Bacon Sandwiches and the Shh-ocolate Spread (part of a panini), that is basically a healthier, nut free nutella. There are also symbols in the book that signify when something is “potentially gluten free,” among other things. In my mind though they mostly require bread, which makes it a bit of a challenge. Before going gluten free, I made the Sushi Soy Wraps, Retro KFC-Style sandwiches (their recipe for no cluck cutlets are amazing!), From Russia with Love, Chazwhich, and brioche bread. It has a great beef-style seitan recipe, and two recipes for making alternatives to Tofurky slices at home! This cookbook contains all the vegan sandwiches of your dreams, basically.

Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater

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I have to say, that when I got this cookbook, I was on a big health kick, and was groaning when I saw some of these recipes. However, Natalie Slater is a girl after my own heart, having created some of them most ridiculously amazing and inventive recipes which include a falafel waffle (which I didn’t have luck with unfortunately in my waffle maker, bummer!), nacho cupcakes (sounds gross but was soooo good),  and a green bean casserole pizza (my favorite, and her green bean casserole alone is the best vegan version of this holiday staple food I have tried). It’s a beautifully designed, colorful, fun cookbook. Natalie also puts the dessert recipes first, which I think we can all appreciate in some way or another. Without this book I wouldn’t have found out that Chick-o-Sticks are basically vegan Butterfingers that you can find at Dollar stores. I also bought a twinkie pan because of this, which was a worthy investment. Not sure what to do with your cans of green jackfruit? There are two really amazing recipes that use this versatile vegan ingredient: You Don’t Know Jack Hash, and Cannibal Corpse Crockpot (which is basically pulled jackfruit tangy bbq), which is used in the BBQ salad, which is the perfect combination of health foods and tasty stuff like ranch dressing. If you’re looking for fun, kid friendly recipes with names that make you chuckle, get this book!

Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli

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Chef Chloe is my favorite vegan celebrity chef, hands down. I always say she can do no wrong, although I do disagree with the amount of salt most of her recipes call for. In her first cookbook of three (she’s also written a dessert book and Chloe’s Vegan Italian–which I have and is also amazing and packed with even more recipes than you’d expect in a book of that size), there is something for everyone. I especially loved the Jalapeno Cornbread Poppers with Whipped Maple Butter, Easy Peasy Pasta Salad, Double Drive Through Burgers, LA-Style Chimichurri Tacos, Moo Shu Vegetables with Homemade Chinese Pancakes, Avocado Pesto Pasta, Indian Buffet Trio, Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice, Southern Skillet Black-eyed Peas with Quick Buttery Biscuits, and Tempeh Piccata. Many of these recipes are easily adapted to a gluten free vegan diet. I have to remember to try making the Chinese Takeout Chow Mein very soon, as I’ve been craving a dish like this for awhile! I love the section on The Basics, which includes an amazing homemade version of Sour Cream which I once taught a group of non vegan kids at a camp how to make and they enjoyed it! I can’t wait until I can make the trek to NYC to eat at her newly opened restaurant!

Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon

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This is probably the most ultimate vegan cookbook I own (Sorry Veganomicon! I’ll get to the reasons why I love you after I talk about this one). There are 500 recipes in it! The categories cover every kind of food you may ever crave to be veganized. The dinners have the most comprehensive section, which include meaty dishes ranging from chicken wings, Vegan Venison, Jalapeno Corn Dogs, and more. My favorite casserole is the Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie, which I think I can improvise and make gluten free still (I don’t really recommend this book if you are strictly gluten free, but since I recently went gluten free, I still have a great appreciation for it as a vegan in general.) The section for Baked Treats could be its own cookbook in itself! They include both savory and sweet items. I haven’t tried many of them at all, but they sound amazing. I always forget there is an appetizer and snack chapter, because it’s in the back of the book, but this section includes two different recipes for Faux Fondue! It even has a Kale Chip Party Mix and instructions on how to make your own potato chips. I love the holiday section, which includes some unique gourmet ways to spice up that Tofurky instead of eating it as is from the box. The recipe I have made the most of any recipe is the Baked Chicken and Easy Waffles. It was often my big reward for surviving hectic exam periods at school.  My only gripe with this book is that so many of the recipes require (and no good substitutes have yet to be found on my end) a Gardein Product that I can no longer find in stores anywhere near me, which is the Chick’n Scallopini. Overall, this book is like the bible of delicious, easy and fun vegan recipes.

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

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Though this book is known as the “Ultimate Vegan Cookbook” I would slightly disagree. It’s definitely the first really comprehensive and large vegan cookbook of it’s kind, so credit is deserved there. But in terms of cookbooks that have been released afterwards, I find this one a bit more catered to people who are experienced vegan cooks or who want to challenge themselves and make really nice, fancy, refined dishes. Thankfully, I really like this aspect of the book! My all time favorite recipe, Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream, is housed here. I also love the Lemony Roasted Potatoes, Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Soup, and Smlove Pie. Looking at this cookbook, I am reminded that although I tout it as one of my favorites, I haven’t gotten too adventurous with it as of late. This book was also one of my first vegan cookbooks I ever owned when I first went vegan 7 years ago. It led me to do what I now realize was some pretty brave things as a baby chef who didn’t know how to cook for herself and suddenly needed to now that it was harder and more expensive to find prepared vegan foods to eat. I tried making seitan from scratch without even really knowing what it was at the time because of this book. It’s great for someone who wants a lot of really nice, quality recipes that will impress people all in one book!

So check out these cookbooks if you haven’t already!

And don’t forget to like my facebook page for updates and follow me on Instagram over @laurahasheart. My twitter is also @laurahasheart. 

My Xmas Menu

Happy holidays everyone!

Just a quick post to share my menu I have planned out for Christmas. I hope to post a bit more later on in the week.

Christmas eve dinner:

  • Greek Diner Salad from Isa Does It
  • Spinach pot pie (own recipe)
  • Eggplant Parmesan from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen
  • Dessert: Mississippi Mud Pie (own recipe)

Christmas day breakfast:

My pretzel bread pudding casserole

Christmas day appetizer:

Hummus Pomodoro with Warm Pizza Crust from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen

Christmas day meal:

  • Gardein Holiday Roast
  • Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes from Vegan Table
  • Creamed Spinach from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen
  • Glazed carrots (my mom’s recipe)
  • Dessert: Peppermint stick ice cream (my own recipe) and chocolate peppermint roll cake (my own recipe as well)

I’m so excited for all this! haha. Yum.

Have a delicious holiday season! 🙂

Happy Birthday to me! Banana costumes and a birthday-worthy waffle recipe!

For my 30th birthday, which happens to be today, I had a bunch of fun stuff planned. The biggest thing was my run last weekend, in which I lived up to my blog’s name, and ran in a banana suit in the Providence (RI) Monster Dash 5k. I made a PR by about 2 minutes and it was soooo fun running in this costume:

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10435985_10100231982422689_6184586216801925680_nIt was a big hit with kids, especially. When I ran through the large crowd of people cheering us on, so many kids along the way would exclaim “there goes the banana!” And many of them put their little hands out to catch a high five from me as I ran past them…it was so cute. I waved to several of them, and even had a trifecta of 3 little kids put their hands out all at once that made me feel like I was a celebrity working the crowd. Haha. So that was cool, and I also plan to use this banana suit for more things for this blog, to make it funnier. You’ll see what is in store for it soon!

This morning, I made birthday cake waffles. I had some left over chocolate sauce from my candy apples and some strawberry syrup left from the strawberry frosted donut recipe that I put on top. Yum.

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BIRTHDAY Cake Vegan Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Immaculate yellow cake mix (found in my local Target in the baking section)
  • 1 cup vegan bisquick mix (read labels)
  • 1-2 scoops vanilla vegan protein powder (optional)
  • 2 tbsp melted Earth Balance
  • 1 tbsp applesauce
  • 1 ½ cup vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ cup vegan non-pareille sprinkles (read label, I was able to find one without the confectioner’s glaze that’s in most sprinkles at my regular local grocery store, and instead has carnauba wax.

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and follow waffle iron’s directions to cook them. Makes about 5 waffles depending on your maker.

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The batter

Tonight my family is making me a vegan vanilla cake, with raspberry filling and chocolate buttercream. I am making vegan crockpot buffalo ranch lasagna from this recipe for my dinner. I will share pictures later in a new post, maybe.

Also, I got three new cookbooks for my birthday present:

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So far I have looked in Chloe’s book the most, and I was seriously drooling after that. I will be cooking out of these for awhile in the next few weeks I think, so get ready for me sharing some reviews and pictures! 🙂