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The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of book lovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)
Last November -that’s almost a year ago indeed- Annemieke from Rozemarijn kookt asked on Twitter who would like to receive her copy of A Vegan Taste of Greece, by Linda Majzlik. Of course I was interested and she kindly sent me the book. Shame on me that I didn’t cook from it until a couple of weeks back!
Now why did I finally pick it up?
Well.. There’s a PPK Cookbook Challenge on the Post Punk Kitchen forum. A vegan cookbook is chosen each week, and if you don’t have that particular book you can choose another from your shelves. This event coincides with Uniflame’s Cookbook Challenge on She Likes Bento. The difference between the two?
- PPK: any (vegan) book will do if you don’t have the designated title but you’ll need make at least three recipes from it.
- She Likes Bento: there’s no set amount of recipes to try (just one will do) but you have to choose an unused or hardly touched cookery book.
Conclusion: I’m making it harder on myself by combining the two. What else is new? ;)
A Vegan Taste of Greece by Linda Majzlik
A Vegan Taste of Greece was the only vegan cookbook I own from which I hadn’t tried a single recipe — so there really was no other first choice possible.
After a short introduction on the origin of Greek food and its place in society, A Vegan Taste of Greece starts with an alphabetical list of a regular pantry, often including nutritional info. Nice! The rest of the book is divided into chapters focussing on different courses: mezedes, soups, main courses, vegetables, grain accompaniments, salads, sauces and dressings, breads, desserts and baking.
I’ve made 4 recipes from 3 different sections: a main course, grain accompaniment and two salads, one green and one legume (bean). Each recipe indicates the amount of servings; mostly four but since it’s just the two of us here at Graasland, I usually made half of it.
Main course: Briami
Briami is a vegetable casserole containing potatoes, courgette, red pepper, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes and a selection of herbs & spices like fennel seeds, rosemary and thyme. Wine and lemon juice provide additional liquid. The dish is finished off with olives and vegan cheese, for which I used a combination of faux parmezan and ‘rawmezan’ (a mix of ground nuts & ‘nooch‘, aka nutritional yeast). Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Despite of all the flavourful ingredients I found the briami rather bland. :( It could have used more sauce and even then I’m not sure it would be really good. Maybe my expectations were too high? Mr Gnoe thought it was okay.
It’s an easy recipe to make but it does take some time preparing because of all the ingredients required. And then it has to go into the oven for about an hour. Oven dishes that can be prepared in advance are great when having guests for dinner, but I don’t think I would dare serve this. Don’t want to confirm a possible prejudice that vegan food is tasteless! ;)
Grain accompaniment: Minted bulgar with leeks
The bulghur was… nice, but once more a bit dull. Admittedly I forgot to garnish with fresh mint. But I could hardly taste the dried peppermint that was also in it, and the leeks were so overcooked that they’d lost most of their flavour. I like leek, so it was another disappointment. I would consider making this again though: as an idea it’s more exciting than just wheat, it’s easy to make and a great way to add more vegetables to a meal. Next time I’d bake the veg separately until just done and combine everything at the end. It was a good combo with the seitan stroganoff though!
Green salad: fennel and avocado
I’ve got this surprisingly good fennel-tomato salad recipe and avocado is one of my favourite fruits, so I was eager to try a Greek recipe combining them. The biggest differences between the two are that the fennel is cooked first in the new recipe and it doesn’t have basil & black olives but watercress (and avocado) instead.
You can probably guess by now… Another flavourless dish. I expect Mediterranean food to be tasty! Furthermore, all ingredients were soft (not to say mushy) and I rather like a crunchy salad. My ideas for improvement? Keep the fennel raw, add olives & basil and maybe a little ouzo or other anise-flavoured drink. Of course having alcohol with your meal decreases the body’s ability to absorb vitamins, but sometimes there’s something to say for taste too. ;) But to be honest, I think I’ll stick with my regular fennel salad recipe.
Bean salad: chickpea
The last recipe, chickpea salad, was a small hit — the best of the bunch anyway. Especially considering it’s rather basic: a mix of cooked garbanzos, cucumber, a variety of peppers, red onion, black olives and a dressing made of skinned and finely chopped tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic, fresh thyme and black pepper. I added a little salt as a flavour enhancer too. Yes, I will make this salad again when I have an open can of chickpeas!
It will come as no surprise that I’m not really enthusiastic about A Vegan Taste of Greece. I’m considering discarding it, but first I’d like to try some recipes from other sections, like…
- A mezé ~ walnut-stuffed mushrooms? Yellow split-pea spread fava? Courgette critters? Or jumping into the deep end with gyros made from scratch, finally using that bag of seitan starter I purchased?
- Dessert ~ baked nectarines or orange glazed peach slices, almond & apricot pastries… They make my mouth water. :) But all require the purchase of a new ingredient: orange flower water.
- Baked goods ~ sesame cookies, almond cakes, semolina & lemon slices… No? ;)
- And the baked beetroot in the vegetable chapter sounds like good too.
So there’s more to explore before the curtain falls. I’d like to try one each from the categories above before my final judgement. Still, there’s a whole series of A Vegan Taste of… (France, India, East Africa, et cetera) by Linda Majzlik. Getting me to try another would require a copy to literally fall into my hands again.
I hardly dare finish with one more flaw of the book.. :\ I think it’s partly a regional problem and doesn’t apply to Americans. MANY of the recipes use vegan cheese or yoghurt. I haven’t been able to find a good cheese substitute and feel reluctant to buy and use the varieties available here. In the US there’s Dayia… Reviews are raving so I’d love to get my hands on that!
And soygurt… It lacks the sour freshness of its animal equivalent, which cannot be fully compensated by adding (extra) lemon. I just purchased a tub though, so I do plan on trying one of the recipes containing yofu too.
To be continued?
If you’ve got one of Majzlik’s books I’d love to hear you think!
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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!
As I was planning on baking a chocolate-beetroot cake this weekend (!), I was hoping immensily for red beets among Wednesday’s CSA vegetable loot. And YAY — a wish come true!
Other nice veggies too, like fennel which I needed for a fennel-bean dish I meant to make that evening for my visiting brother: a surprisingly good recipe from the new Puur Plantaardig (‘Purely Plant-based‘) cookbook that I mentioned in my Cookbook Sunday Salon.
Here’s the complete list of this week’s greens.
- Silver-stalked Swiss chard
- Bundel of young beetroot
- Lollo Rosso lettuce
- Goudreinette apples
I’ll leave you with a preview of my unfinished beetroot pie: only the chocolate couverture topping left to do. That’ll have to wait till morning — so you must have patience as well. I hope you can handle the suspense..? I know I’m finding it difficult! ;P
This food-related post is also submitted to Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking!
This week’s organic vegetable packet did not bring us one, not two, but THREE heads of endive!
Wow. I guess it’s obvious what we’ll be eating this week… ;)
- lollo rossa lettuce
- Elstar apples
I considered changing plans and serve yesterday’s guests potato mash with endive for dinner instead of the planned hutspot but decided against it: the idea of cooking the dish I hated so much as a child was way more exciting! Up until this week I have never, ever made it myself. So it felt like a real challenge to try this new recipe.
I won’t keep you in suspense any longer: I liked it! We caramelized some onions and toasted some pecan nuts for topping, and had vegetarian ‘meatballs’ and fennel-tomato salad as side dishes. (*) There’s just one BUT.. If I’m completely honest I wouldn’t really call this dish hotchpotch: the carrot and potatoes aren’t mashed together — it’s just a mix of cut up parsnip, potatoes and carrot, like my oven-roasted root vegetable dish with honey. I even used honey instead of the required maple syrup since my cupboard lacked the latter. So I’ll need to re-challenge myself another time ;)
Do you have a dish you hated when you were young and still won’t eat today?
(*) Side note for Dutch readers wanting to make the hutspot recipe: it took the vegetables 45 minutes at 200 °C (gas oven: 5) instead of 30 to get done.
Some people have asked me why on earth I make a menu plan.
Well, here’s what happens when I don’t.
We got this nice batch of veggies last week.
- bok choy
- curly red leaf lettuce
- pears (Conférence)
- choggia beets
But after picking up our new vegetables yesterday, we still had to use most of previous week! Yep, even the fresh basil. Beetroot. Lettuce. Pak-choi cabbage. Some pears. And except for the fruit it all has to fit together in our refrigerator — which is not an American-sized model ;)
- red Batavia lettuce
- green beans
Menu plan for October 21st – 26th
- Stir-fried bok-choy, greens bean salad with sesame dressing, noodles & egg [today]
- Fennel soup with green bean tortilla and eggplant-lentil salad [weekend]
- Indian potatoes, Indian takeaway leftovers and spicy beet salad [weekend]
- Eastern beet soup, toemis andijvie (Indonesian stir-fried endive), nasi goreng (fried rice with leek)
- Veggie burger, sweet ’n sour beets with dill, endive-couscous rolls with goat’s cheese
- Friday: eating at my mother-in-law’s (so no need to plan anything :)
- Lunch today: my favourite tomato-fennel salad with fresh basil & olives, with some added lettuce for the occasion (although it’s better without)
Recipes are coming from several of my vegetarian cookbooks and 1 or 2 websites.
Fennel-tomato salad with fresh basil & olives
This may sound weird to you but I’m not really a fan of fennel. Still, this salad with tomato, fresh basil & olives is awesome! And darn easy. Just throw together the following ingredients:
- some cleaned and chopped up fennel,
- sweet tomatoes (the original recipe calls for cherry tomatoes but any ripe sweet tomato will do),
- fresh basil,
- black olives,
- ground pepper,
- and (white) wine vinegar.
You may choose to add some salt, depending on how salty your olives are. You can also sprinkle on a bit of extra virgin olive oil but there’s really no need.
Just a note on the side: eat this salad right away, do not let it sit for too long.
I’ve submitted this post to Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Mondays!
Lately it seems to be dark & rainy when I need to collect our bag of local organic produce on Wednesday afternoons. I don’t mind getting (a little!) wet that much — the Amelis’Hof vegetable garden needs its fair share of water for us to get a nice loot — but I hate how gloomy my pictures turn out!
Luckily the sun broke through shortly after I had returned — just in time to make a picture! Hey, if the weather gets better once I’ve stashed everything neatly away I’m not crazy enough to unpack the fridge again for a make-over ;)
- sweetheart cabbage
- red berries
- zucchinis (at this small size they’re at their best!)
- Tokyo turnips (or navet)
I haven’t planned my menu yet, but a dish I do want to cook is polenta ‘pizza’ with homemade pesto and courgettes. And I’ll probably make some more kinpira of the turnips because it’s a nice and easy bento stash.
Some good news from the Amelisbode, a leaflet accompanying the veggies: they’ve started a blog too! On preceding Mondays the contents of Wednesday’s packet will be ‘virtually’ unveiled. I admit it’ll be less fun checking out our ‘surprise package’, but it provides me with a more relaxing timespan for menu planning!
* The picture on Flickr has English notes about the veggies! *
De groentetas van week 32 daagt ons weer uit om nieuwe recepten te zoeken. In plaats van Christmas in July kregen wij meiknolletjes in augustus.
- groene bataviasla
- bosje tijm
Met de tempeh die we nog in huis hebben wordt dat in ieder geval een keertje nasi goring (prei) met sambal goreng boontjes eten. Jawel, ook dat is een all-time favourite die regelmatig op tafel verschijnt. En dan kunnen we meteen dat restje kool uit de koelkast opmaken. Met de boontjes die overblijven maak ik dan boontjessalade met tomatensaus, yummy! De rest van het weekplan moet nog worden uitgedacht, dus suggesties zijn welkom!