Those following the Herbivoracious blog have seen the progress Michael's made in creating the recipes compiled in his new cookbook. You can also see a few recipes from the cookbook and get started there. Some highlights of Herbivoracious are:
- the amount of 4-color photos available for a majority of the recipes giving you insight into what your dish may look like (not all cookbooks are this plentiful with imagery),
- notes for ingredients & cooking equipment - where to find them items like broth and what butter to use and how important knives are in the kitchen,
- inserts of what Michael's blog readers thought of some recipes and how this helped him further develop the recipe and inserts about how to find alternatives to items in recipes,
- and while all recipes are vegetarian there are also icons for noting if they are vegan-friendly and/or gluten-free.
I am always on the hunt for recipes where vegetables are the star. My rearing was as a meat and potatoes gal and then turned to meat, starch, and a veggie (often canned). I have tried to translate more proteins (of the good kind) and less carbs into my regular eating but too often I've found that vegetable dishes aren't as exciting as you would like them to be or as hearty to make at home. So I was very eager when Jackie Gordon informed some of us food bloggers about Michael's book and Harvard Common Press' celebration.
I was able to make five recipes in the past two weeks. Admittedly I chose the easiest ones because of work and other commitments. And I think many of my friends who have families and day jobs it'd be essential to them to know that a cookbook not only has recipes that may require some time but also contains a balance of dishes that are easy peasy and can be prepped and/or cooked in less than an hour.
First up were the chickpea fritters. I needed an item that was savory for my friends' upcoming baby shower. And since I love hummus I figured these were something that would be tasty to tackle.
Get canned garbanzo (chickpeas) beans and a bunch of other items handy and mix those badboys together in your heavy duty food processor. I used the KitchenAid I won at Pie Party Live last year. Such a great thing!
Pat the mush into patties and then deep fry for several minutes on each side. I have to admit I went a bit heavy on the lemon juice & zest on these as I am a lemon enthusiast so they were lemon-tastic. I also did not make any of the suggested/accompanying sauces (there's a whole section in Herbivoracious dedicated to sauces and such!) so I'm getting only the fritter in taste. The fritter was a nice, crunchy, citrusy treat. Right out of the frying pan still warm these are wonderful! Even at the baby shower the next day when they were more mushy than crunchy attendees ransacked the twenty or so I brought with me. Many enjoyed it as is, but I highly recommend these hot off the grill and perhaps with an accompany tangy sauce that will mix well with the citrus flavor.
After seeing the recipe for brown butter cornbread I knew I had to make it. No ifs, ands, or buts. The most time goes to making sure to brown the butter until you get the nutty smell to it. Unfortunately I couldn't find milk powder which is a trick Michael adds during the browning of the butter phase, so I look forward to trying this again with said powder. The overall cornbread is not too sweet but super moist out of the oven and a great addition to savory items like chili or with sweet butter as Michael suggests in the book. Co-workers enjoyed this thoroughly as lighter fare after having so many sweets from all my baking with Truvia.
Next were the caramelized apple and blue cheese crostini. I substituted goat cheese for the blue cheese because I am not a fan of blue. I enjoyed the balance of flavors, but found I am also not a huge fan of tarragon. Tarragon has a specific flavor and it's kind of minty with a more earthy flavor to it. Not bad, just not for me. What's good about this recipe is that if you're not as into the tarragon flavor it is subtle due to the additional saltiness from the soft cheese and the sweetness of the caramelized apple. So I was not deterred from eating a whole baguette's worth of crostini's. :-) It's a great easy recipe that was done in less than 30 minutes.
Since I had many apple slices left I made the Dutch Baby with sauteed apples. I had had something similar to the Dutch baby when at the Jentel Arts Residency last spring and Rachel made hootnie for us as a nice Mother's Day brunch. Since I don't have a cast iron anymore I used Pyrex, which I remember Rachel using, and everything came out fine! (Though I should note if you use a 7x10" pyrex for this cut down a few tablespoons of butter for the recipe.) The Dutch baby puffed up perfectly and the lightly sweetened apples are a great addition since the Dutch baby is just batter (no sugar) in butter. Add some maple syrup on this and you will love it! I gave this to some of my co-workers and they really enjoyed it. It's going to be a few people's new go-to brunch item when hanging out with friends on weekends. I am glad we helped bring more brunches to NYC.
Last up was the chocolate chunk bread pudding. I was toggling between this and expresso brownies since I had many of the ingredients for both recipes but in the end the bread pudding won out because I just love it so and had a lot of milk.
Challah bread is great for bread pudding. It's thick, it's buttery, and has a slight sweetness to it. Breaking up 70% dark chocolate chunks and adding into the mix was so simple I was done within 20 minutes or so. I decided to bake this over the humid Memorial Day weekend as well which was probably not a smart move. And I have no regrets. I gave this to one of my co-workers as a belated birthday present and she and her husband and her department were thankful to me for days. It was a huge batch and the chocolate oozed into every crevice even though there are too many chunks involved. It's enough to dip pieces into the pools of chocolate and just enjoy it warm in a well ventilated space with milk. (Trust me, you should have milk on-hand for this dessert.)
All in all I enjoyed every recipe I tried and I can't wait to tackle more, particularly the bahn mi bites and more desserts!
So, here's the deal. Harvard Common Press is being super generous in helping me host a giveaway of Herbivoracious. And it's super simple how you can enter and possibly win. Simply leave a comment on this post saying how much you like the recipes or if you have any questions and such or have tried recipes from the Herbivoracious website and a winner will be picked at random.
I'll be closing off comments at 11:59pm on Saturday, June 23rd. So that's two weeks to get your comments in! I'll post the winner on Monday, June 25th.
Feel free to check out the Herbivoracious website and let me know what you think. I guarantee you'll find something you like.