Dear Isa, I lurve you.

Okay, I would simply describe the recipe for the Skillet Stir Fry from Isa Does It. But, I feel that I have called out so many of her recipes, that this calls for something more... a love letter. Dear Isa, Where do I even start? Your recipes have convinced throngs of my friends and family that I'm an amazing wonder chef. You have taught me how to take a pile of mush with gluten flour and steam it to make f-ing sausages. Your Brooklyn Pad Thai is to die for. Because of Vegan Brunch, I am a master crepe chef. To say nothing of cupcakes that no one at any party believed were vegan. You gave us Appetite for Reduction- a calorie conscious book with the most amazing title ever. But then my life led me away from hour + long cooking endeavors and into 12+ hour days at work. Experimenting with recipes, weekend trips to the farmer's markets and veganism in general all fell by the wayside. I had nearly given up on cooking, my beliefs and this sad, old, neglected food blog. Until...Isa Does It came out- a massive tome dedicated to meals that could be prepared in about 30 minutes. I had become a firm believer in "good things take time" from my RFD book, but every thing I have tried from this book- the Summer Seitan Saute, Potato Leek Soup, Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry, etc- all are SO tasty and so flipping easy. I have had to revise my earlier stance on good food needing a long time to cook. And this- the wonders of the cast iron skillet and perfectly browned tofu. I mean, without you, Miss Isa, I could be out on the streets eating french fries from a fast food chain and pairing it with frozen pizza. You have elevated my cooking life. And for that, I am forever grateful and fatter. Yours truly, Nancy

Bistro Beet Burgers

Ohmehgawd! These are fantastic (apologies for the bad photo)! They are from Isa Chandra's Isa Does It book, and are the Bistro Beet Burgers (p82). They are flavorful, they do what few veg burgers do- coagulate nicely, and they aren't a boat load of work. I made "slider" size burgers to be sure that they cooked all the way through and made them on a cast iron skillet (which I am forever loyal to). These were also served up on pretzel buns (or a sliced pretzel baguette), which elevates any burger to amazing heights (ala Kumas Korner in Chicago <3 )

Beefy Asparagus Stir-Fry

Okay, if the last two posts didn't sell you on Isa Does It, this has to! This dish, like the others is nearly devoid of seasoning, but is so intensely flavorful, it tastes far more complex than it is. I used homemade seitan (RFD recipe), and followed the recipe to the letter with the exception of adding the bean sprouts that I forgot to get at the market. This has a lovely sauce with fresh mint and basil in it, there's a good amount of ginger in the stir fry along with garlic, asparagus, cashews and the seitan. All combine for a really delicious stir fry that lets a lot of the flavors come through (not overly saucy or gunky like some recipes are). My only change would be to either lessen what I call the high notes (the soy sauce, mint, ginger) and intensify some deeper ones- I think sesame seeds would work really well in here, a few tablespoons are gonna get added in next time. But on the whole, I loved it- especially how it whipped up so fast. Also, I served it over quinoa vs rice (a theme of mine lately), and loved the texture that added in. A+

Potato Leek Soup

Again with the Isa Does It! This is the Potato Leek soup from the book, and it's really good! It reminded me of broccoli cheese soup a bit, similar texture (very creamy), and almost flavor, even. I was happy to have the "Martha Stewart's Cooking School" book to refer to- it had been awhile since I cooked with leeks and I checked it about prepping them. She suggests cutting them and then rinsing them in a bowl of cold water since dirt gets trapped in between all of the layers of ... leekness in them. It's 1,000% right- my bowl had a pile of dirt at the bottom the first time they were washed. The soup was a huge hit, directions super straight forward, and like the other recipe from this book, it whipped up relatively quickly. I did wish I could think of a good complimentary food to serve with it, the flavors get a bit overwhelming/ tiring by the end of the bowl. I had a sun dried tomato olive oil dip for bread, but bread was too bland with the simple potato flavors. Dunno, but let me know if you have any ideas.

Summer Seitan Sauté (...in winter)

New year, new cookbook (yay!). This one was on my pre-order list (though I never pre-ordered it, got it for xmas this year) because it's by Isa Chandra Moskowitz who is probably my favorite cookbook author (Vegan Brunch, Vegan with a Vengeance, Appetite for Reduction, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, etc etc). Though her recipes aren't usually weeknight friendly (there's some for sure, but most are the longer labor and love over kind). Anyway, this is the inaugural run of this book, the "Summer Seitan Sauté". Selected not because of the season, but because of the ingredients in it and lack of spices since I wasn't cooking at home in the comfort of my spice cabinet. This is a really solid, good dish and whipped up in under an hour- totally doable on a weeknight. I used storebought seitan (I know, I know), and it was still really delicious. It was a weird almost stir fry but really southwest flavored meal with the jalpeño and corn and lime juice in it. The corn added sweetness and with just salt and pepper added to season, all of the ingredient's flavors really came through. I had it over quinoa with sliced avocado on top (which added a great creaminess to it), though she recommended rice and guac (maybe next time, as I'm sure I'll make this again). Stoked to try another recipe from the book soon!