Wednesday, April 27, 2011

World Kitchen

Andy and I are planning an exciting international trip later in the year.  We haven't booked flights yet, so I don't want to make any pronouncements here - because as soon as I do, something is bound to change.  But we did get some travel books out of the library to give us an idea of what we have to look forward to...
While we were there, I grabbed a few cookbooks.  The Townsville Library has a surprising range of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, but it has even more non-vegan cookbooks covering a range of cuisines.  I don't mind getting meaty cookbooks from the library.  I wouldn't buy them, but I'm happy to copy down recipes, subbing 'tofu' or 'seitan' for animal parts as I go.

When I saw How it all Vegan I was really excited.  When I was in uni, my advisor and friend, Bob Torres, said that me and my vegan friend Nicole were like Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard, and told us about their cookbook while eating some vegan cheese cake and cookies we had made.  But the cookbook didn't really live up to the hype.  Andy was annoyed with the title (I think it's clever), but I was just underwhelmed by a lot of the recipes.  I did like the Pumpkin and Tomato Soup, which I spiced up with some stovetop croutons & crunchy pumpkin seeds.

And the Scrambled Eggless Eggs were really good with some bubble & squeak.

The cookbook Arabesque gave me lots of ideas for Turkish, Moroccan, and Lebanese recipes.  It inspired me to grab a bottle of orange-blossom water from the Asian grocery store, but so far the only recipe we've made from this cookbook was Spinach with Caramelised Onions.  It wasn't very good - kind of mushy, and pretty flavourless.  Probably our fault, for some minor substitutions we made, but I've copied down lots of recipes for mezze that I'll definitely try out soon.

Jamaican Cooking was full of delicious sounding recipes using all kinds of tropical ingredients.  It made me long for a big, lush, tropical garden full of pawpaws, sweet potatoes, chokoes, and pineapples.  But since we live in a unit with a tiny courtyard, I'll have to settle for buying these things from the market.  I haven't actually made any direct recipes from this cookbook, but was so inspired by a recipe for stuffed chokoes (chayotes, mirlitons, etc) that I improvised one of my own.

While the chokoes lightly steamed on the stove, I made stuffing out of celery leaves, celery seed, grated carrot, wakame and nori seaweed, bread crumbs, and when it was ready, the insides of the chokoes.  I stuffed that all into the shells and baked for 25 minutes.

The result was really yummy - the chokoes had the texture of a cucumber, and the stuffing was a great complement to the flavours.

While we wait impatiently for our actual travel plans to come to fruition, I'm happy to let our kitchen wander the globe for us.


Millie said...

Its always exciting to decide where to go for vacation. Have fun choosing your future destination.

Vegan ninja said...

Congrats about your degree and trip!!! you must be uber existed, lots of nice things happening in your household. Chayote is the only vegetable I HATE, my mom is the culprit, she made me eat it as a child, cold and with cream, yuck!

Emma said...

Hooray for trips! We are also planning an overseas trip. So exciting!

My little local library has a surprising amount of vegan cookbooks too. I should go back again soon.

And that's a great idea with the chokoes - I love them. I've only ever chucked them in stir fries though.

Hannah said...

Love the word play :) And so exited for your trip (thank you for the lovely long email, by the by. If only I didn't also have another 47 unreplied-to emails to, well, reply to...) I've only cooked choko once, in a stirfry. Your idea is far more stellar!

Susan said...

Ooohh... chokos are chayotes... I hadn't made that connection yet. Hurrah! Thanks.

I agree with your assessment on HIAV, with all three of the books I find that some things are really good (usually in the baking section), but many things are just meh or don't quite work.

That is very exciting about your trip. :)

Lori said...

I've only bought chayotes once, and I thought they were so cool! I cut one up, and after it sat for a few minutes it started to get these dewey little sparkly drops on the flesh, it was so pretty! haha