Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Isa Does it by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week
Isa does it again, the title should read. This is simply delicious, filling vegan fare and Isa’s intent was to make the recipes quick enough to make on a weeknight. I have some favorites from this book that will go in my long-term memory.

The ingredients of the Puréed Split Pea Rutabaga Soup are unusual enough that one is glad Isa told us to add star anise. This is memorable, and hearty, and smells so good cooking. Everybody passes up their noses at those big, waxy rutabagas at the grocery, but when they come to my house, they invariably ask what the “secret ingredient” is in my vegetable soups. Sweet potato? Squash? No. That would be the fragrant and sweet rutabaga, slightly orange-fleshed when cooked.

The Briny Caesar Dressing needs to be tasted to be believed. It is laugh-out-loud and talk-loudly-at-a-high-register garlicky goodness. I insisted on salad for days, turning into a minor Caesar myself.

Regarding the Everyday Pad Thai, I’m kind of mad Isa told us about this. She admits she would make it for every meal if she could. That is a little like passing on an addiction, what? It’s is so good, I hid the leftovers and ate them myself after making something fishy or meaty for the others. Even the leftovers are great.

The Sticky Orange Chicky Stir Fry made with her very own Chickpea Cutlets I made with a small can of pineapple juice rather than oranges. It was lovely looking, and the Steamed Chicky Seitan need to be tasted to be believed. This is the creative mind at work, and Isa does it like no one else.

When I first saw this book, I will admit I was underwhelmed. I thought, okay, this looks like homemade family-style vegan creativity. But Isa has something special in her make-up and her food always is surprising, delicious, inventive, assertive, and somehow new. The splendid 2007 Veganomicon by Isa and Terri Hope Romero had been my go-to book for years, until overtaken by Terri Hope Romero's Vegan Eats World (2012). But Isa is an wunderkind in the kitchen and this new offering adds diversity, simplicity, and depth to one's repertoire. I am finding I need this book as well, to keep me healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Not everyday can be a big tangle in the kitchen. This food is simple(r), but fine enough to serve anyone and have everyone go to bed full and happy. My Island Black Bean Burgers with Jamaican Curry looked positively Photoshopped, so beautiful it was. And the Jamaican Jerk Sloppy Joes were divine. This collection is another great success for Isa. I admit to fantasizing about going to an Isa restaurant. Rumor has it she is opening a restaurant in Omaha this spring. A pilgrimage would have been necessary without this book.

P.S. I rarely follow recipes anymore for things like cookies. I note that she riffs, like I do, on the basic formats. When I am in the mood, I add oatmeal and peanuts and chocolate bits…and she has a recipe Kitchen Sink Chocolate Cookies. Try it. I guarantee it will be a favorite. And if you have never added rosemary to chocolate chip cookies, trust her. Her Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies have to be tasted. Or substitute raisins. I did that with bread recently and thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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