Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cookbook Review - Isa Does It

I think I have all of her cookbooks.  If not all of them, definitely most.  I'm prepared to say that this is my favorite Isa cookbook, and that includes "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World"!  I liked it that much.  I tried at least one recipe from each chapter and there was only one recipe that I wouldn't make again.  Some of them became instant favorites.  Not only did they taste good (which is obviously the most important) but the recipes also lived up to the claim of quick and easy weeknight meals.  
Outside of the recipes, the book is organized well with a lot of beautiful pictures.  It is also enjoyable just to read.  The introduction includes lists of tools, pantry staples, plenty of tips and hints and even a few pages on various ways to cut up tofu.  This is a pretty large hardback book with 309 pages, and (I counted) 144 recipes.  I feel it was a really good value for the money.  I can't remember the last time I was so happy with a cookbook.

I actually remembered to take pictures of all the recipes except two.  I'm going to break them down by chapter.

Chapter 1 - Soups

Why not start with one I don't have a picture of!  The worst part is I just had the leftovers for lunch an hour ago and still didn't take a picture.  We had Cheddary Broccoli Soup during the week.  Kayleigh made it and said that it was easy except that our immersion blender broke a week ago so she had to use the regular blender which was not large enough to hold all the soup.  I missed all that drama though and just ate it.  It was very rich and creamy and delicious.

The other soup we had was Chickpea-Rice Soup. Here comes the recipe I would not make again.  First of all the name is misleading.  It is mostly cabbage and so un-soup-like we actually ate it as a side dish (see second picture at top).  It was bland and boring. 

Chapter 2 - Salads

The Kale Salad With Butternut Squash and Lentils was good the first day and held up really well as leftovers for the following two days. I roasted the butternut squash ahead of time and used canned lentils so this was really quick to throw together when it was time to eat.  Kayleigh also liked this.

Chapter 3 - Handheld

I was worried about these recipes because we are still in the dead of winter and buried under several feet of snow.  Not the best sandwich weather.  Luckily both of these were so good that we didn't mind.

Red Hot BLTs - tastes nothing like a BLT so we are going to call this Spicy Tempeh Sandwich from now on!  It was very good but if you are looking for a BLT, you will be disappointed.  

Roasted Vegetable Romesco Sandwiches - Kayleigh didn't care for these and ate the vegetables out of the sandwich.  She is never a big fan of spreads.  Bill and I both enjoyed it though.  We ate ours on sourdough bread which was probably not the best option since it fell apart.  Still, it was good.

Chapter 4 - Pasta and Risotto

We love pasta but hate risotto so several of the recipes in this section were immediately eliminated.  The very first recipe I made out of this book was Roasted Red Pepper Mac & Cheese.  Unfortunately I don't have a picture of this one either.  I threw this together at the last minute for a weekend lunch.  It was very easy and I thought it was fantastic.  It tasted like pizza to me.  Bill and Kayleigh didn't like it.  Their reasons were crazy.  Bill thought it tasted too much like pizza and Kayleigh said it was too creamy.  What??!  They are insane.  Take my word for it - delicious!

Bill is not home for dinner on Mondays and he doesn't like eggplant so that was when we tried Eggplant and Bread Crumb Fettuccine.  This was probably one of the fastest recipes in the book.  Bill started the pasta water for me before he left but I had to do everything else since Kayleigh was at track practice.  I got home at 4:50 and we were sitting down to eat at 5:10.  That makes it a winner right there but then it also tasted good.  The downside was that it doesn't warm up very well because the bread crumbs loose their crispiness.  
Chapter 5 - Stews, Chili's and Curries

Much better for winter time!  We had Red Lentil Thai Chili.  I expected it to be much spicier but it wasn't.  I've tried a lot of chili recipes but this is one of my favorites and it really filled me up thanks to the kidney beans and lentils.  The sweet potatoes add a nice twist to your typical chili.

Chapter 6 - Stir Fries and Sautes

Cast Iron Stir Fry.  Loved this.  We had it on quinoa which I made the night before.  The prep was a little irritating because you cook each of the vegetables separately and then combine them at the end.  It wasn't difficult though and went quickly.  Bill was worried about the hoisin because that isn't his favorite but it didn't really stand out.  Kayleigh really liked the tofu and sauce and already said she would like to have just those without the other vegetables!

Chapter 7 - Bowls

I wasn't feeling well mid-week so Kayleigh had to throw something together for me to eat.  We had Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu and Kale only without the kale.  We ate it over rice.  This was another big hit with Kayleigh.  The peanut sauce was so good I'm tempted to eat the leftovers with a spoon!

Chapter 8 - Sunday Night Suppers

Nirvana Enchilada Casserole is definitely not a weekday meal.  It took a long time to make.  I didn't really like her enchilada sauce, though, so in the future I'll use a canned version and that will save some time and mess.  The pumpkin seeds seemed like a weird topping but they were good.

Chapter 9 - Few Basic Proteins
This is the only chapter we didn't make anything out of.  I had planned to try the Sesame Tofu but we went through our tofu supply with the other recipes.

Chapter 10 - Breakfast, Brunch and Bakes

Originally I skipped over this section because I already have her Brunch cookbook.  But when I went back and looked through it I saw there are some really yummy looking recipes in there.  I'll definitely have to go back and try some of them.  This morning, I threw together Muffin Pan Mini Omelets.  I liked them even though I was really weird and ate them on top of raspberry jam toast!

Speaking as someone who still eats eggs from time to time I can say these do not taste like eggs but they were good in their own right and really easy.  I mean, really, does that even look remotely like an omelet?!  I'm interested to see how these hold up as leftovers.  This may be a great packed lunch idea.

Tasted better than it looks!

Chapter 11 - Desserts

Seriously, Isa has the best vegan dessert books out there so I doubt anyone is buying this one for the desserts.  Still we had to try one, just to be fair.  Of course these Lemon Lemon Cookies were fantastic.  All her desserts are!

So if you made it this far in the post, it should be clear that I highly recommend this book.  The tastes were often surprising (in a good way) and they really are easy to prepare.  The other thing I noticed is that they are relatively inexpensive recipes so that's a nice added bonus.  I feel like after only two weeks, I've already got my money's worth.