Monday, April 21, 2014

Oh She Glows Cookbook

It would seem that I am one of the few blog-reading vegans who is not intimately familiar with the Oh She Glows blog, so when I was contacted to review the new, companion cookbook- for which I'd been hearing rave reviews, I jumped at the chance.

 

Here it is moments after it arrived, already peppered with page markers.



I started with the crispy almond butter chocolate chip cookies because, well, hello; I'm me.  The recipe called for making your own almond and oat flour.  At first I thought that was crazy; you can just buy those things.  But when I realized how easy it was I felt pretty accomplished and found myself wondering why you'd buy something you could easily make at home.  I liked where this was going.

Here's the dough, which came together easily: exactly as outlined.


Here's the kitchen supervisor, 89.


She was openly judging me for using a scoop for the cookies instead of my hands and she was right. 


I rounded the next batch in my palms and they came out much better.


This is as close as she got.


You can get a bit closer.  I've never made a gluten-free cookie before; the texture of this one was definitely different: more crumbly than a typical cookie, yet still somehow moist.  My cookies looked and tasted a lot less crisp than those pictured in the book to accompany the recipe, but I didn't mind the soft texture.  The chips really delightfully punctuated the almond butter and flour.


They were packed up right away and brought to a large potluck where they were well appreciated- particularly by the gluten-free folks.


Since even I know that we can't survive on sweets alone (though I may try), I randomly decided to try the quick and easy chana masala next.  I do have a long history with chana masala: growing up, my best friend's mother used to make it for me by the quart.  Those days are long gone, yet I've never so much as attempted to make it myself...until now.


The recipe is written casually- as though it is from a friend.  It calls for a yellow onion: not a small, medium, or large yellow onion-  just a yellow onion.  At one point it instructs to "cook for a few minutes or so" (emphasis mine); there is no pretense or unnecessary pomp and circumstance.



It was superbly simple to bring together and it was done in no time. It had a very pleasant flavor on its own, but I couldn't help but to think that the flavors hadn't melded quite as well as I had hoped; even after sitting overnight it remained very much a chickpea and tomato dish as opposed to the chana masala I've grown accustomed to as a fan of Indian cuisine.


This was never more evident than alongside my aloo ghobi and bhindi masala takeout, where it stood out as an extremely mild (in both flavor and spice) version of the staple dish. 


Perhaps this recipe was not intended to be an authentic replica; I probably would have enjoyed it much more had I not expected it to be.  Maybe it would have been preferable for there to have been an Oh She Glows twist that would have better suited the dish to the audience and the tone of the book. 

The publisher has allowed me to share the recipe at the end of this post; try it for yourself to see what you think.

I'm not one for reading forewords; ever since I dodged a bullet by skipping the one in Lolita that would have ruined the whole book by basically spelling out the ending, I'm spoiler-shy.  Not sure how the same could possibly happen with a cookbook, but you never know.  However, after making these couple of recipes I decided it would be safe to peruse the book's introduction; I'm glad I did.  The author is a relatively new vegan (5 years), whose blog sparked something both in herself and her audience that has quickly allowed it to expand as far as this cookbook.  I offer her a heartfelt congratulations on her success and an especially respectful tip-of-the hat for acknowledging the animal rights component of veganism.

I have neither the capacity or inclination (or invitation!) to parlay my own blog into a book anytime soon, but I think Angela Liddon has quite a lot to share- particularly with new vegans.  This old vegan looks forward to exploring it a bit more as well.

quick & easy chana masala

1 tablespoon (15 mL) coconut oil or olive oil
1 1⁄2 teaspoons (7 mL) cumin seeds
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced peeled fresh ginger
1 green serrano chile pepper, seeded, if preferred, and minced
1 1⁄2 teaspoons (7 mL) garam masala
1 1⁄2 teaspoons (7 mL) ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric
3⁄4 teaspoon (4 mL) fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed
1⁄4 teaspoon (1 mL) cayenne pepper (optional)
1 (28-ounce/793-g) can whole peeled or diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 (28-ounce/793-g) can chickpeas, or 3 cups (750 mL) cooked chickpeas (see page 290), drained and rinsed
1 cup (250 mL) dry/uncooked basmati rice, for serving (see page 302 for cooking  instructions)
Fresh lemon juice, for serving
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving

I’m a huge fan of chana masala, a spicy Indian chickpea dish, but I always thought that it would be too time-consuming to make at home due to the long list of spices the recipe requires. Once I purchased a few spices to add to my collection, there was no excuse not to make this easy, budget-friendly dish, and as it turns out, throwing them into a skillet really isn’t very time-consuming after all! You’ll be wondering why you didn’t make it sooner. To streamline this recipe, be sure to prep all the ingredients before starting; the cooking process for this dish moves quickly and it helps to have everything ready to go.

Serves 4
PREP TIME: 15 to 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 20 minutes
gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free, grain-free option

1.    In a large wok or saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. When a drop of water sizzles upon hitting the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cumin seeds. Stir and toast the seeds for a minute or two until golden and fragrant, watching carefully to avoid burning.

2.    Raise the heat to medium and stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, and serrano. Cook for a few minutes or so, then stir in the garam masala, coriander, turmeric, salt, and cayenne (if using), and cook for 2 minutes more.

3.    Add the whole peeled tomatoes and their juices and break them apart with a wooden spoon (skip if using diced tomatoes). You can leave some chunks of tomato for texture.

4.    Raise the heat to medium-high and add the chickpeas. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or longer to allow the flavors to develop.
5.    Serve over cooked basmati rice, if desired, and garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some chopped cilantro just before serving.

Tips: To thicken the tomato gravy, add a ladle of the curry into a mini processor and process until almost smooth. Stir this back into the curry to thicken.

For a grain-free option, serve the chana masala atop a baked potato.

Reprinted by arrangement with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © GLO BAKERY CORPORATION, 2014.

14 comments:

  1. Too bad about the flavoring, it certainly looks nice. I was really pleased with the Isa masala spices, but maybe it would not have held its own alongside professionally made Indian food.
    Nice job on the cookies! I probably would have bought the oat and almond flour :/

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  2. How would you rate the book as far as health wise? Did most of the recipes seem healthy? Also are most of the recipes from easy to find and relatively inexpensive ingredients? Thanks for the review.

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  3. 89 is more than making up for the crumbly cookies and boring Chana Masala. She's glowing!

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  4. I definitely refer to Angela's site when I'm looking for creative and healthy recipes but not so much for international food but it's nice that she includes so much variation for anyone that wants it. The cooks look so yumful...I want to make a vegan ice cream sandwich with them! Thanks for the review and recipe! :)

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  5. Shame about the chana masala- it does indeed look good. At least the cookies more than made up for it! Are you planning on making some more from the book?

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  6. I bought it. I wish I would have looked at it first. I'm glad she is doing well but its a little generic for me.

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  7. foodfeud- Still have yet to crack that one... The Magic Bullet turned oats and almonds into flours in seconds; it was pretty amazing.

    BYOL- It's definitely not an S.O.S. book, but otherwise relatively healthy and simple with mainstream ingredients.

    The Shenandoah Vegan- You were missing her too much; she had to shine here!

    The Peace Patch- Yes, I got the feeling that maybe some of the recipes were added for variety. Ice cream sandwich? Now you're talking.

    Joey- I definitely want to make some more things soon and will probably focus on the recipes that make people love her so much- like the brownies and the infamous granola bars.

    susan- I can see how the book is definitely not a challenge for you. I think it's geared towards newer vegans who maybe aren't into intricate recipes, which I can certainly respect. Unfortunately, you don't fall into those categories! So glad she enumerates her reasons for being vegan...

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  8. This book is definitely geared towards newer vegans, or people who don't have much time/patience/room in their kitchens to make anything too involved. I bought it for Nina to cook out of, believe it or not! Her two favorite ingredients, chia and strawberries, are in a jam recipe. I hope it doesn't suck because as soon as our strawberries are ripe she's going to make this. I've also put her on smoothie duty, and this book has some solid smoothie recipes with ratios that don't need fiddling with. I tend to just throw a bunch of random stuff into my blender and season to taste, a habit I can't afford to let Nina get into right now or our freezer would be perpetually empty.

    I'm glad she speaks to why she's vegan, but I'm also glad it wasn't the only thing her introduction talked about. A nice balance (and easy to skim the anecdotal ED stuff).

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  9. windycityvegan- thanks for the tip about the smoothies! I tend to fall into a bit of a rut with them. I agree, a cookbook that waxes on animal rights could get tedious, but I'm very glad it's not another one of those "vegan for health" books- especially since it is so appealing to newer vegans or vegans newly trying to cook and/or eat more healthfully.

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  10. I haven't purchased the book (odds are i won't, i purchase very few cookbooks) but i have enjoyed several of her recipes on the blog - the avocado pasta sauce, chia fruit jams (great with frozen fruit too!) and cashew alfredo sauce are ones i've made a few times each.
    Indian food is hard to make at home! Stick to the most popular recipes first.
    Ttrockwood

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  11. I didn't mean to sound snarky. Simple books are ok but this has a lot of "trendy" foods.

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  12. Ttrockwood- that is sage advice and I'm hearing from friends that they're head over heals for the book, so I likely made choices that weren't ideal.

    Susan- I didn't think you sounded snarky! It's fair for something not to be your speed. I did get the sense that certain recipes may have been added to "round out" the cookbook.

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  13. Oh! It was the crunchy seed and oat flatbread that Jessica and I liked a lot. Jessica's made it several times since!

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  14. How exciting, a OSG Cookbook Review! I have her cookbook and I enjoy trying her recipes while some require some adjustments based on my personal taste. I want to try her GF “Crispy” Almond Butter chocolate chip cookies, but I made her raw pumpkin pie instead which was pretty good (a bit too sweet for me next time I’m cutting off the maple syrup and her crust wasn’t for me). And I don’t mind the soft texture so I would love to give the cookies a try. I haven’t tried her Channa Masala, I tend to avoid Asian/Indian recipes in a general vegan cookbook because I know VeganRicha makes the best Chana Masala and Asian recipes require a lot of condiments (mostly not GF) to make the flavors right.

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