Cooking, says bestselling author Isa Chandra Moskowitz, is like learning a new language or exploring a new city.
The cook, restaurateur and author or co-author of Veganomicon, Isa Does It, Vegan with a Vengeance and Appetite for Reduction says on her website that “the world has been my cooking school”. She’s talking about all the cooks, and cookbooks, she learnt from since she started cooking as a teenager.
Her latest book, I Can Cook Vegan, just released in Australia, is for all those who would love to be in the kitchen learning from the vegan superstar.
The book, she writes in the introduction, is about making vegan home cooking easier for everyone from “the just-born, brand new cook” to experienced cooks who are tofu-curious through to long-term vegans. You'll cook these delicious meals, and quickly find yourself becoming a better cook: “Like … learning a new language and your vocabulary keeps improving. Or finding your way around a new city.”
“I want my meals to be fast and easy but still the best food ever,” she writes – which means that while a new cook could start with the first chapter and work through, building skills as they go, cooks of all kinds can jump in and make whatever takes their fancy. It’s a book filled with the flavours of the world, from a soba noodle salad with edamame and kimchi to Swedish-style tofu balls or eggplant curry. Sweets too, of course (she’s a keen baker): cupcakes, banana bread, cookies and brownies.
Here’s a taste of I Can Cook Vegan, including an easy cheesy sauce, flavour-packed tacos and dairy-free biscotti.
With marinara sauce, pesto and melty mozzy sauce, this pizza has flavour, flavour, flavour. Even better, it's weeknight-friendly: "Pizza is manageable on a weeknight as long as you’ve got your crust ready. So go ahead and purchase pizza dough and don’t even worry about it," Moskowitz says. Or if you do want to make your own, make the dough a day in advance so you can have this ready to rock for dinner the next day. [You can find several great recipes for pizza dough in SBS Food's pizza recipe collection, including Mauro's perfect pizza dough, no-knead pizza bases, Stefano's basic pizza dough and Roman-style pizza dough]. Her super easy Melty Mozzy recipe also makes an appearance in her stuffed pasta bake (see below).
The beauty of these tacos is that the filling cooks in its own sauce. Less separate toppings = less washing up! Of course, a dollop of guacamole never hurts, and the recipe includes Moskowitz's version.
"This manicotti has all the irresistible flavours that make for a stuff-your-face Sunday night dinner. Marinara, lots of garlic and a creamy mozzy topping," Moskowitz says.
The classic salad gets a kale twist. The roasted Brussels sprouts add crunch and the briny, lemony, creamy, garlicky dressing breaks down the kale’s toughness. The recipe includes how to make Moskowitz's tempeh bacon if you want to turn this into a heartier meal.
"Biscotti for the lemon lover in your life! This is a fun recipe where you get to drizzle icing all over everything, so have your inner child or your actual child at the ready," Moskowitz says.
Recipes and images from I Can Cook Vegan by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Abrams, hb, $45).
Get more meat-free and dairy-free recipes in SBS Food's vegan recipe collection.
Not only is this banana bread recipe gluten free, but it's vegan too.
Essentially this is a dhal, but I’ve put my own stamp on it by bulking it out with cauliflower. You can use this as a base for other vegetables, too. I love to add leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, or zucchini and broccoli. Make it your own and take the opportunity to use up any veggies in the crisper so they don’t go to waste.
Naan breads are traditionally baked in a clay oven, giving them their distinctive burnished exterior and fluffy interior. To get a similar result at home, I use a combination of baking in the oven and charring over an open flame.
Battered eggplant slices meet "cheese" in this vegan-friendly eggplant parmigiana. The Chefs' Line