Holy grail of pancakes. That is all.
Seriously, I think this pancake recipe itself has just made Isa Does It worth every penny I spent. These pancakes were perfectly fluffy and better than any other pancakes I’ve ever had, vegan or otherwise. Almost every pancake I made was photogenic, and I’m not a great pancake maker.
I made half a batch of the blueberry ginger sauce since my mom’s more of a maple syrup person, and I wish I added some more water and cooked them a bit longer so it would be closer to a sauce rather than a fruit compote. I loved, though, the subtle tang of ginger with every bite.
With Isa’s suggested serving size of 1/3 cup of batter, I got 6 small-medium pancakes (about 5 inches in diameter). However, 3 of them ended up being way too filling for me. I think next time I’ll up the batter scoop size to 1/2 cup, and just have one pancake at a time. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to test how well they freeze and reheat as we finished them all!
Luckily, for those who haven’t gotten a copy of Isa Does It, the recipes and video are available here.
I have this weird relationship with creamy pastas. I always want to like them, but almost every single time, I get disappointed. I’m so used to having saucy marinara and all its spices with my pasta that when I take a bite of a creamy pasta, I feel like it has no flavor other than fat. I end up feeling a bit cheated, as if I’m going to gain all these calories, my dish better taste good! It’s a vicious cycle, and I keep making sauces hoping to one day find my creamy, comfort food heaven.
But I think I’ve found my one.
Isa Does It uses a lot of cashew based cream sauces for not only pasta, but also salad dressings, bowl toppings, and as bases in other dishes. I usually skip over the cashew cream sauce based dishes because 1) I don’t always have access to a food processor/blender, 2) my cashew cream comes out gritty when I do, and 3) like I said before, these creamy dishes always sound so good, but end up tasting rather bland.
I heard good things about this Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Penne from Isa Does It and decided to try it out one night. It was so good! The sauce was far from bland – the sun-dried tomatoes definitely gives it the kick of taste that I need. My teeth were still recovering from my wisdom teeth surgery, so I skipped the broccoli and used spinach and cremini mushrooms instead. While my cashew cream wasn’t perfectly smooth (you could see some of the cashew grits even though you couldn’t taste it), I finally got it to a consistency I liked by whizzing it in my Magic Bullet multiple times rather than the straight 30 seconds I used to do. I forgot to add extra water in the last step of cooking so my sauce was on the thicker side. Next time, I would add that water or broth as the sauce in the leftovers was extremely thick.
The next day, I heated it up with some Tofurky sausages which paired really nicely with the creamy sauce. I’ll definitely make this again next time I’m craving something creamy and fatty, yet tasty.
This past semester, I treated myself to another cookbook, Isa Does It, after hearing so many good reviews about it. The book is so pretty: large, hardcover, and with so many high quality photographs that I think it could double as a coffee table book. The recipes come together faster than I expect, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks.
I recently made the Lemon Blueberry Loaf from Isa Does It as a treat after getting my wisdom teeth out. When I took the pan out of the oven, I couldn’t believe the contrast between the golden brown crust against the pale yellow interior. I don’t think I’ve ever had a vegan baked good come out with this nice of a pound cake-like finish. I’m a bit biased when it comes to lemon flavored desserts as they’re my favorite (likewise, cinnamon and lime always get a pass) and I’ve always like the lemon-blueberry flavor profile (see my first post), but these came out better than I expected. They were moist, stayed pretty good overnight, and were so pretty to look at!
On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed with how little the loaf rose. In the cookbook pictures, it looks as if the loaf rose above the edge of the pan, but mine only rose to about 2 inches. The loaf ended up being a bit dense, but I didn’t mind too much. It might’ve been because I used half a banana instead of applesauce, but that shouldn’t make too much of a difference.
A while ago when I was in California on vacation, I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up something for lunch. I knew that they had a hummus wrap, but I was surprised to see another vegan wrap on the shelves. And so, I was introduced to one of the best store-bought wraps I’ve had in a long time: the Spicy Lentil Wraps with Tahini Dipping Sauce.
Unfortunately, the Trader Joe’s near my house doesn’t carry these magical wraps, and so I searched online to figure out how I could recreate them. Luckily for me, I’m not the only one who loves these wraps, and The Kitchn already has a recipe.
Don’t let my photo fool you – these are great. They’re exactly how I remember them to be, except less spicy and a bit sweeter. The roasted red pepper sauce takes a long time to make and could use more cayenne pepper, but it really brings the wrap together. The lentil mixture came together really easily and was also very tasty. I think if I make it again, I want to try it in a hummus and baba ganoush sandwich.
It’s a lot of fun dipping the wrap in the sauce, but when I was really lazy, I would forgo the wrap and just heat up a bowl of the lentil mixture topped with both the tahini and red pepper sauce. Yum!
During the beginning of the school year, I was swamped with work but really adamant about making my own dinners instead of buying it from the falafel place down the street. However, there was no way I would be able to make something new every night, nor every two nights, and so I started looking for recipes that would a) make a ton of food, b) be easy to reheat as leftovers, and c) be tasty enough to beat out going to a cheap restaurant.
I had been eying this recipe for Thai Basil Eggplant for a while, and so I decided to make it one night. While my dish doesn’t photograph as prettily as the author’s, it came out just as good as I had hoped.
The pan-fried tofu was my favorite part, and I was surprised at how easy it was to make once you have the right frying pan. I actually forgot to put in the basil as I was too excited to take a bite, but the dish was great even without it. My only complaint was that the sauce was a bit too salty for my tastes, and so I think I’ll reduce the amount of soy sauce next time. However, it worked out for me as I just paired each serving with a lot of rice, making the dish last pretty long! This definitely satisfied my craving for take-out Asian food – I think I’ll add some straw mushrooms next time in order to mimic my favorite Chinese take-out dish!
Garden Corn Chowder with Chives
I’ve made this soup twice already – the first time was for my roommates, and they begged me for the recipe afterwards. This time, I just happened to have all the ingredients lying around, and wanted to make sure the soup was as good as I remembered.
It certainly was, but I had also made some changes my second time through. The first time I made this, I didn’t have my immersion blender, nor a food processor, and so I had cooked the soup a bit longer so I could manually mash all the potatoes and carrots in the pot. Although it took awhile, this led to a nice, thick soup with bright and crisp kernels of corn in every bite. This time, I had my immersion blender, and I only did a few whizzes here and there. This created a more blended soup with chunks of vegetables here and there. I personally prefer the first version as I liked biting into the corn kernels, but the immersion blender does give a much creamier soup.
Additionally, I used an Asian brand can of coconut milk this time, rather than the Trader Joe’s can I used last time. I think Asian brands of coconut milk have a much heavier coconut taste as it was a very strong flavor this time compared to when I used the Trader Joe’s brand. I think I prefer when the coconut flavor is more subtle, and so I think I’ll mix the coconut milk with some more broth next time.
The original recipe (found here) also suggests basil and radishes, but the soup was even great without any garnishes. Another winner from Isa!
My favorite theme night at the dining hall is “Caribbean Night”, and I gorge myself on a plateful of fried plantains with red beans and rice. I love the slightly sweet and starchy plantains mixed with the savory beans and rice, and so when I got my copy of Chloe’s Kitchen, one of the first recipes I wanted to try was Chloe’s Caribbean feast of Caribbean Vegetables with Coconut Rice.
Not surprisingly, my favorite part of the meal ended up being the coconut rice and cumin-lime black beans. Together, they were so creamy and savory, and were the perfect complement to the sweet fried plantains. My roommate ended up finishing the coconut rice and beans with me, as she also couldn’t stay away! I thought the vegetables were so-so, but I’m not a huge fan of steamed vegetables in general.
However, this took up four different pots/pans, and each component took up a separate tupperware container when storing leftovers, which is a bit annoying for me. I think in the future I’ll stick with just making the coconut rice with the cumin-lime beans and then frying up a plantain every time I eat it. Make sure to get the yellow kind that’s almost turning black for maximum sweetness!