Friday, December 31, 2010

Viva Vegan!

I received several cooking- and/or blog-related gifts this year, but this book was my holiday gift to myself :)  Viva Vegan is a cookbook I have been dying to peep into ever since it was published, and now I have my very own copy.  I had a semi-enjoyable period this afternoon reading it on the couch with cats--only semi because it made me so hungry I couldn't wait to start cooking.  There are so many awesome-sounding recipes in this book!  These are the ones I made today:

Fruity chile slaw with creamy ancho chile dressing
Venezuelan-style black beans (Caraotas)
Homemade soft corn tortillas
Pan-grilled vegetables in chile-lime beer
Creamy avocado-tomato salsa

What a feast!  New Year's Eve is traditionally a time in my family when we don't get together.  We are close and we've had at least five events in the last week or so, which is one reason I haven't been posting over the holidays: I haven't had to cook.  Wah, in our family of mostly adults, even though I am old enough to be a grandma, I am still considered a child!  Mom does the cooking and I'm sometimes allowed to help with the side dishes.  So anyway, we're early-to-bed-early-to-risers, and we don't watch the apple drop or whatever.  We're all in bed by nine, up bright and early on January 1 to start the new year off right.  Which is to say, well-rested and sober.  The remainder of the year I can't vouch for, but January 1 is pretty predictable. 

So, Viva Vegan.  Maybe most of you already have copies, but I just got mine today so I'm all excited.  Terry Hope Romano has an enthusiastic and cheerful writing style that I quite enjoy, and the recipes are full of ingredients and techniques I haven't yet tried.  Here's one, sofrito.  There's a recipe for it over here if you want to try it (not Terry's, but similar).  Basically what this is is caramelized onions, with garlic and green peppers and sometimes other ingredients, that you cook ahead of time and can then store in the refrigerator or freezer for use in, for instance, bean dishes, like the Venezuelan-style black beans.  The picture at the top of this post is one-half of the recipe in Viva Vegan.  As you can see, it fills up a regular-sized cast iron skillet, so to make the whole recipe, either you would need a very large skillet, or more than one.  You cook it down until it turns into this:

The green peppers keep it from totally stinking up the kitchen as it cooks for about 40 minutes in total.  I made mine con Aji (with hot peppers).  I only needed half a cup of it for the recipe, but am trusting the remainder will come in handy very soon.  For the beans, the recipe only gives instructions for cooking them from dry, but I had cooked black beans in the freezer, so...

...add to the thawed black beans some sofrito, tomatoes (in this case the best tomato I had was a yellow one so I used that), cumin, salt, and pepper.  Add a little water to lubricate the dish and cook on low until done to your liking.  This was pretty quick for me, but it's okay to leave it on warm for a while.  So good!  I've been craving beans during this (for me) vegetables-only-with-a-little-tofu-on-the-side holiday season.

Same thing, stirred up and pretty:

Next up, the Pan-grilled vegetables in chile-lime beer.  In this case, the "vegetables" are mo qua, which isn't exactly Latin, though it could be; here it is, having marinated five minutes in its delectable beer sauce and now being pan-grilled:

Here's my second attempt at corn tortillas.  My first one, a long time ago, was such a dismal failure I didn't ever bother trying again until now and have had a bag of masa harina in my freezer for time out of mind as a result.  Not too bad...but I still think I prefer wheat tortillas, taste-wise, though these are certainly very easy.

And finally, the whole meal all together on one plate:

Yeah, so one of my resolutions is to try very hard to keep to one or two this case (it's not even the new year, I know, I know!) I wish I hadn't bothered and could have three or four helpings of this!

Happy new year, everyone!


  1. The food looks and sounds delicious! Happy New Year Zoa! Wishing you all the best in 2011.

    "...well-rested and sober. The remainder of the year I can't vouch for..." lol, nice one...:D

  2. The fruity chili slaw and the avocado salsa look interesting as well. Happy New Year!

  3. I got this cookbook for Christmas! That IS a feast you've prepared. I'm glad you're making things, trying it out before me. It's good to see pics of everything first. That's funny about your mom cooking. I still feel like quite a child (I'm 35) with my mom, as well.

  4. Your plate looks fantabulous! I love all the colors, and having cooked from "Viva Vegan" before, I just know it tasted as good as it looks. Make the green onion salsa.

  5. Everything you've made from Viva Vegan looks wonderful! I'm in the middle of a cookbook-crush with it, and I've been consistently impressed with the results. The only thing that hasn't worked out for me are the above corn tortillas. I don't know if the Quaker masa harina I bought just isn't right for the job or if I should have added more water, but the texture was really off. I'll have to try it again sometime.