Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For - From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes
Vegan = tofu = dreadlocks = body odor = weird. This review is not about debunking the vegan stereotype equation, and all its variations, but rather about introducing the equal opportunity indulgence: brunch.
In a first read through, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbook Vegan Brunch is nearly perfect. There are large color pictures for almost every recipe, which is an amateur chef must. There are clear and accessible ingredients, measurements, and instructions. Moskowitz even includes a shopping list for your vegan pantry and tips for serving a fabulous and delicious brunch. I would make the clichéd request for a spiral bound copy, so I’m not propping it open with a can of corn.
Do not be mistaken; this is not a raw, whole food, health cookbook. This is a cookbook to provide all the staples of a fantastic, 11am on a Sunday with a Bloody Mary (or Bloody Moskowitz, as the cookbook offers), just as one craves after a Sunday morning run, or Saturday night bender.
But, as they say, the proof is in the soy pudding. I had to try the recipes to really give this cookbook a critical review. The perfect opportunity presented itself when my New Yorker husband and mother-in-law met my Texan family in the Lone Star State. Without a vegan in the audience, I chose three recipes that I thought offered a fair scope of the recipes within.
On the first morning, I prepared the Polenta Rancheros. It was a resounding success, and nobody even asked where the meat products were. A variation of Huevos Rancheros, the creamy polenta replaces the eggs, creating a spicy, filling meal in one bowl. Approved by all the Tex-Mex fans at the table, the only glitch was that the coriander seeds didn't quite blend, but I think that was user error.
Second morning, I baked the Tomato Rosemary Scones. Relatively simple and quite pretty when finished, the scones were devoured. The sweetness of the tomato was nicely balanced with the fresh rosemary. The only mild criticism was that they didn't have the consistency of scones, but rather bread. This is true—the crumbly texture of a traditional scone was missing—but I didn't miss it one bit.
Finally, to lure my twenty-one year old brother to my parents' home, I prepared the Chocolate Beer Waffles. The batter is quick and simple to make, and the end product is dessert-like. I prepared them with the recommended Cashew Cream with cinnamon and Chocolate Syrup. A minor quip: even though the recipe says to follow manufacturer’s instructions for the waffle iron, I ended up cooking them twice as long as traditional waffles and they stuck a bit. Also, plan ahead for the cashew cream. You have to soak the cashews for at least an hour, and then it needs about an hour to thicken up. But overall, this was delicious and goes well with leftover beer—if you don’t mind drinking beer at brunch.
I think the real success of this cookbook is that it is not overrun with substitutes or faux-meat products. There are quite a few mouth-watering tofu scrambles, vegan sausage recipes that call for wheat gluten, and several uses of tempeh (fermented soybeans). These are all easily acquirable products, and relatively unprocessed. I didn’t notice any instances of processed, faux animal products, which can be good, but can also taste like a salted rubber band. This cookbook makes being vegan easy—perhaps too easy, as I drool over the Caramelized Vidalia Onion Quiche recipe, and try to think of an excuse to make another brunch.