2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma

Okay, clearly I've reached the point of only cooking Isa recipes, this one is from Appetite for Reduction (p226)- and, I feel I don't even have to say it at this point- it's f*ing fantastic.

This really seems more like a curry to me, the korma's that I have had at restaurants taste not as coconut-y/ curryish. However, that is not a bad thing, this one is flipping delicious. I did a small amount of changes to the recipe, I at least doubled the curry powder, as I thought it didn't pack enough of a punch (I have come to realize that I like things pretty intensely flavorful). Also, I thought it was odd that the garam masala was listed as going in with the rest of the spices early in cooking. I once was making Creamed Lentils and really didn't get the importance of spice timing. I put the garam masala in at the start and the dish was nearly inedible. The same amount of the spice that- usually, when added at the end of cooking, subtly compliments the other flavors- became a big, fat, bossy, pushy, a-hole- bowling over all the flavors to the point that it tasted like you were eating a spoonful of the stuff with some lentils on top. Not a good thing at all. So, in the spirit of live and learn, I did the exceptional act of disobeying Isa and held the garam masala to the end (which worked out great)

This will become a go-to Indian night staple, me thinks, as it whipped up far faster than Aloo Ghobi. We also ended up skipping any rice with this since it was on the thick side and didn't really need it.

Fusilli Roasted Veggie Primavera

This is the Fusilli Roasted Veggie Primavera from (of course) Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction. Losing weight can never hurt (especially since I gained about 15 lbs the past few years), and all of the recipes in this book are lower in calories and nastiness than your average meal. This one made me feel good about my life choices, for sure.

I was a bit surprised that there was no sauce to speak of with this, I expected it to be a bit on the dry or dull side. Turns out that the freshly roasted veg is so flavorful and juicy that it doesn't lack anything in the sauce department.

The recipe calls for a pile of roasted vegetables, which were damn pretty in all stages of cooking this (see photo). I also swapped butternut squash for yellow, since it's oddly what the store had (yellow is more in season). There was zucchini, asparagus (which I held on putting in till the last 10-15 min b/c it was so spindly), Red bell, red onioin, cherry tomatoes and garlic. Other than that, it was pretty simple (oregano, thyme, olive oil, salt, black pepper and balsamic).

Keeping it pretty simple really accentuates the flavor of the veg. The cherry tomatoes were fantastic, hitting one of those was like having a really fresh Italian sauce since it was combo'd with the aforementioned spices.

This will be a staple for sure, probably more when fall comes around though, as it needs a hot, hot oven and my apartment is 88 degrees in the shade today (though there's always the grill!)

Braised Cabbage and Seitan

Man, why have I waited until I was 36 to learn how to braise food?! It is my new favorite thing- the flavor that braising adds to veg is just over the moon. This was a delicious dish! I also really don't use cabbage in much of anything besides spring rolls or stir fries- but this was fantastic and made me wonder why we don't eat it more often.

I used RFD's "chicken style" seitan for this (just realized that "seitan" is an e before i word- like "weird"). Anyway, it's a really simple dish and since it was from Appetite for Reduction, was super low calorie too- which made me feel better about overeating because it tasted so great.

The seitan was cooked first to establish a crust that would keep the braising later from making it soggy. I have to say, though, I'd probably sautée the seitan next time and remove it from the pan before braising the cabbage- then add it back in at the last minute. The recipe has the seitan in the pan when the cabbage is braising, which adds a good flavor to the seitan, but does make it a bit floppy. Anyway, the whole thing was super delicious, very weeknight simple (other than making the seitan), and it also held up the next day, which I found shocking. I fully expected the cabbage to be too wilty, but it was still great. Also, the night that I made it (this is a left over pic), I baked potatoes as she recommends in the book. The braising broth poured over the potato was amazing! Also, it's great that we didn't need a load of vegan butter because of the broth as well (since the aim was a low-cal meal). Four stars- I highly recommend it.

Yam and Black Bean Stew with Orange and Cilantro

This recipe was great for me because it was a lesson in learning to trust my gut. We had a bag of yams left over from a dinner party last weekend, and with the price of food being out of control (plus the moral issues with wasting food), I wanted to do something with them. The recipe is from Appetite for Reduction- kind of. I say "kind of" because all along the way, I was switching things up to my taste. Which is the beauty of this. I am finally getting to the point with cooking where I can anticipate how things will work together and what I like and how I can alter things to my taste. There's definitely still something to be said for following recipes to the letter to experience new flavors and ways of doing things, but I think that this is a big step for me.

I changed the water that it called for (3 cups) to broth because I thought water was going to make it too bland (it may also have been water in the recipe b/c it's a low-cal book. Adding broth adds calories that she may have been trying to shave out of the soup). It called for a cup of orange juice at the end too. I tasted it and it was really sweet as-is, so I was inclined to skip it all together. But, because "orange" was in the title and she said that it jazzed up the yam flavor, I added 1/4 c. anyway. I was right, I didn't like it. The orange was sweetness that this soup sure didn't need. Really, I wasn't fond of it at all. I think that I like far more savory soups, and the yams really overpowered it. The taste and the texture weren't my thing at all. Which isn't to say that it wouldn't be the bees knees for someone else. And, another up side is that had I not tried this soup, I just would have made piles of sweet potato fries, which sure aren't all about 'reduction!

Pasta Con Broccoli

This is the Pasta Con Broccoli from Appetite for Reduction. Again, I was trying to mimic something that I love from a restaurant. The restaurant is Joey's on Jackson that was in Milwaukee (it has since closed, a fact that I am devistated by because it was a darling family place and also we had our amazing wedding reception dinner there where we fed most of the restaurant with my mom and aunt Pat's amazing Martha stewart espresso chocolate cake). Anyway, I always got the Pasta Con Broccoli there, and it was always mind-blowingly amazing. Generally, it was kind of greasy but loaded with garlic, it had cheese and probably cream and butter to really gunk it up in a gooey delicious way, and it was just over the moon fantastic. Now all I have left of our relationship together is a wedding photo of me and the dish at our reception (see 2nd and 3rd photos).

This was good too. Not Joey's good. Probably far healthier good, though. There's a great undercurrent of sizzle to this because you sautée crushed red pepper in the oil with the onion (my addition, there's no onion in the recipe, but Joey's had onion). This uses 1/4 cup of garlic which is more than I have ever used ever in a recipe- except bruscetta (and I love garlic). Still, I think Joey's had more. Because this didn't have all the dairy to congeal, it was way waterier than my beloved Joey's, so although it was really very tasty, it wasn't what I was going for. It's a nice, light pasta dish though that, like I said- is really the thin, fit cousin of what I was looking to make.

I also added cauliflower and the recommended pine nuts. Joey's was great with cauliflower, but this probably would have been better without it. The pine nuts were great in it though.

Still, I miss Joey's.

Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes with Polenta Stuffing

These two recipes are from Appetite for Reduction, and though I've only tried three or four from this book, these are the best so far. I picked this dish solely b/c I wanted to use my Tamarind Concentrate that I bought at Indian Sweets and Spice. The tempeh/ sweet taters get marinaded and baked in a high heat oven similarly to RFD's tempeh treatment for the Sweet and Sour Tempeh, which is amazing. Tempeh is so nutty anyway, that marinading it and roasting or baking it like this really makes it hearty and flavorful. I could make these types of tempeh and pretty much throw it in a bowl and eat it like popcorn. But, the other flavors help too. The marinade was smoky, sweet and tart all at once. The sweet potatoes balanced the nutty, hearty tempeh, and the polenta (a separate recipe) was a lighter, delicious compliment to the BBQ dish.

Also, the "Appetite..." book lists calories and nutritional info, so it's nice to see that the BBQ dish has 530% of the daily required Vitamin A, 17 g of protein, and only 380 cals per serving. Coupled with the polenta, it was still around 600 cals or so each for dinner, which is great when a dish is this delicious and filling. Davey put in a request that we make this once a week- which I'll add to the list of 20 or so other recipes that he'd like to have weekly! (It's great to cook for such a fellow foodie!)

Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach

New Cookbook! I just got Appetite for Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new book (awesome title and cover), which features low cal vegan recipes (it is the new year and time for that sort of thing- especially after the 3 dozen batch of sugar cookies that Davey and I ate in a week). This is the Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach on pg 185. We had never had pasta with beans, and both loved it. I thought that on the whole, the tomatoes made it a bit acidic and that it could have used some deeper tones. The spinach and beans were great in it though, maybe I'll add more beans next time to round it out a bit more. All in all, very good, though. Davey loved it and had seconds, which is always a good sign. Also, since it cooks up rather fast (about 30 minutes total), it may be a recipe that tastes better the next day after everything has steeped overnight. And, it's good to know that you're only eating 440 calories of pasta too!