Praise for Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Veganomicon
"This is vegan cooking at its best."—Vegetarian Times
"Exuberant and unapologetic … Moskowitz and Romero's recipes don't skimp on fat or flavor, and the eclectic collection of dishes is a testament to the authors' sincere love of cooking and culinary exploration."—Saveur
"[T]his slam-bang effort from vegan chefs Moskowitz and Romero (Vegan with a Vengeance) is thorough and robust, making admirable use of every fruit and vegetable under the sun."—Publishers Weekly starred review
"Full of recipes for which even a carnivore would give up a night of meat." —San Francisco Chronicle
"The next revolution in neo-vegan cuisine."—Philadelphia City Paper
"Spending time with [Moskowitz's] cheerfully politicized book feels like hanging out with Grace Paley. She and her cooking partner, Terry Hope Romero, are as crude and funny when kibbitzing as they are subtle and intuitive when putting together vegan dishes that are full of non-soggy adult tastes."—New York Times Book Review
"For those of us whose definition of 'vegan' includes a love-of-cooking clause, this book is exactly what its subhead claims: the ultimate."—VegNews
"It's full of great food that anyone would love."—Baltimore Sun
"User-friendly, packed with tips and instructions for a wide range of cooking techniques."—New York Sun
"Veganomicon is perfect for the beginner vegan chef."—News & Observer
"Even carnivorous diners won't miss the meat."—Winston-Salem Journal
"I highly recommend this book to all cooks, but if you're shopping for a vegan or vegetarian friend, this book is a must."—Herald-Times
"The Betty Crocker's Cookbook of the vegan world."—Bitch
"[A] witty book that's great for cooks."—Fresno Bee
"Seriously good recipes with broad appeal."—Washington Post
ALSO BY ISA CHANDRA MOSKOWITZ
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Vegan with a Vengeance
vegan hash slingers
Welcome to Vegan Brunch! Put on your fluffiest slippers, slip on that thrift store apron, and pour yourself a hot cup of coffee. Let's get started.
Skeptics accuse brunch of being nothing but a glorified breakfast. Well, yeah, kinda. But breakfast in this day and age is just a muffin in one hand, a mad rush to work, and crumbs all over your shirt. Breakfast is whatever we eat first thing in the morning, but brunch is an event. More than any other meal, brunch seems to have a purpose in our lives that isn't just about the food being served. It's a time to catch up with friends. Time to slow down. Time to hatch great plans, to get all hyped up on coffee, and say dumb stuff that haunts you for the rest of your life.
Brunch is also hands down the best meal to host. You can serve seasonal creations for any occasion. From coffee to cinnamon, the aromas of brunch are always so warm and alluring, so downright cozy and homey, there is just no going wrong. Whether it's a crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder event with ten of your best friends, a way to tell your family that you love them more than instant oatmeal can say, or an intimate time to flip omelets with a pal (or a crush), brunch is the best time to break out the e-vites and warm up your oven mitts.
The typical cravings I get for brunch are usually smoky and earthy and herby: fennel, mushroom, sage, thyme, tempeh. But the biggest question is always, savory or sweet? My favorite way to decide is "both." As in a big plate of scrambled tofu, but also a plate of syrup-drenched pancakes for everyone to split. In the winter, you can top pancakes with cinnamon apples; in the summer, with blueberries and lemon.
Within these pages you'll find recipes to suit your every desire. Many of the recipes will be familiar to anyone who's ever stepped foot into an American diner, only veganized. There are omelets made with pureed tofu, French toast dipped in pumpkin, tempeh-based crab cakes. I love to replicate traditional
dishes for special occasions—first of all, because it's fun, and second of all, because it creates food choices that are better for the animals, better for the planet, and better for you. Other recipes were inspired by food from around the world, also known as anything you can eat for brunch in New York City. That includes spicy Indian dosas and Polish pierogi smothered in caramelized onions.
I wrote this book in hopes that it would inspire you to call up some friends and bond over a plate of potatoes. I've had so much fun making the recipes for my own loved ones and I hope that you will, too. Nothing is as delicious as a day off, good music playing, warm food for your belly, and the knowledge that you did it all without harming any of our fluffy friends.
With love from Portland,
The Vegan Brunch Pantry
This is not an exhaustive list of every pantry item you might need, just a list of ingredients that appear in many recipes. I did try to make the recipes as pantry-friendly as possible, but brunch is a great reason to pick up a few specialty items.
Sometimes called "nooch," sometimes called vegan fairy dust, nutritional yeast lends a cheesy flavor to sauces and scrambles. Available in flakes or powder form, nutritional yeast is usually found in the bulk bins of your health food store. It's also available in plastic jars, but make sure that the brand you choose is vegan, as some manufacturers list the inexplicable addition of whey. I store my nooch in the fridge. Nutritional yeast is nothing like brewer's yeast or any other kind of yeast, so don't go replacing it. A popular brand is Red Star.
I do so love the sunny, shiny taste and crunchy texture that cornmeal lends to baked goods, pancakes, and waffles. Purchase at most supermarkets in boxes or bags and often in bulk. The recipes in this book were developed with medium-ground cornmeal, but fine-ground will work, too, just a little less crunchy.
Chickpea flour is just what the name implies—ground up, lightly roasted chick-peas. It lends an eggy flavor to omelets and crepes as well as a pretty, pale
yellow color. To top it off, it provides a fluffy texture, so hey, thanks for everything, chickpea flour! Purchase at Indian markets, where it's called besan, or at Middle Eastern or Israeli markets. It's also available in bulk at your supermarket or health food store or in plastic bags from Bob's Red Mill. Store chickpea flour in your pantry in a tightly sealed container or in your fridge.
From sauces to quiche, this creamy nut seems to sneak its way into everything. To save money, purchase cashew pieces instead of whole cashews. The recipes were developed with unroasted and unsalted, but I've been known to wash the salt off a roasted cashew in my day. Buy them in the bulk section of your supermarket or in big bags at Trader Joe's. Store cashews in the freezer for maximum freshness.
VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN
Nothing beats VWG for making chewy scrumptious fake meats that hold together and don't have a health food-y taste. VWG is the pure protein of wheat, available in a convenient flour form for your purchasing pleasure. Two brands that I recommend are Arrowhead Mills and Bob's Red Mill. You may have to go to a health food store to find it, but sometimes it is available in everyday supermarkets in the baking section.
BLACK SALT (KALA NAMAK)
Black salt is actually pink, which can be a little confusing. Black salt has a distinctive sulfuric taste akin to egg yolks, so I use it in eggy recipes, like the omelets. There are other kinds of black salt so make sure that you are purchasing Indian black salt, also called kala namak. A little goes a long way, so purchase in small amounts if you can. It's available in Indian grocery stores at much more reasonable prices than at a specialty salt shop. The recipes in this book were developed with fine-ground.
While Tofu Benny is the only recipe that calls for smoked salt, I'm going to put it here anyway because you can sprinkle it over anything and everything—potatoes, scrambled tofu or tempeh ... maybe not pancakes, but who knows? There are many varieties of smoked salt, but my two favorites are applewood and hickory. That just refers to the kind of wood used to smoke it.
If you crave smokiness in the morning then this is the stuff for you. Liquid smoke is exactly that, smoke from smoldering wood that has been condensed into its liquid form. I'm not going to explain the entire science of it, as I would like you to stay awake to enjoy your brunch, but rest assured that it is vegan, it is natural, and it isn't anything you should be scared of. Embrace liquid smoke. It's available in the condiment section of your supermarket.
TOFU, ALL TYPES
Would you dream of having just one pair of legwarmers? No, you have a pair for a casual stroll down the beach, a pair for an elegant ballroom evening, a pair for high-powered business meetings, and so on. So should you have many types of tofu. Some situations call for silken, some for extra-firm, some for soft. Read through the recipes carefully and use the type of tofu suggested or don't come complaining to me.
When you call tempeh a fermented soybean cake it doesn't sound all that great. But when prepared correctly, tempeh is a succulent, toothsome addition to your brunch table. It's become increasingly available in supermarkets, but you may have to make a health food store trip for your 'peh.
Setting Up and Serving Up Brunch in Style
PLAN YOUR MENU
There are plenty of pairing suggestions for recipes throughout this book, but I have a few general thoughts for menu planning.
My main entertaining tip is this: don't overextend yourself. In all honesty, this book could just be scrambled tofu, roasted potatoes, and pancakes. You might feel ripped off, but your guests would be satisfied. Of course, that is not to say don't try out new things, just that brunch shouldn't be too stressful. You want to be able to enjoy yourself as well. If you are just joining the world of brunch hosting then build up your repertoire. Start with the easy recipes, like any of the scrambles or French toasts, and then move on to more ambitious dishes, like omelets and crepes. Rest assured that all of these recipes have been tested by our trusty team of recipe warriors and are guaranteed to be as foolproof as possible.
When entertaining, it's a good idea to cook at least one dish you are comfortable with and ideally have made before. If this is your first time with waffles or omelets, give them a test run for dinner sometime during the week. Make sure to read all of your recipes all the way through so that you don't miss any steps. If something needs to sit in the fridge for an hour or to marinate, you don't want to be surprised! Don't let that scare you, though—I will include a note in the recipe intro if that is the case.
There's nothing like the aroma of brewing coffee mingling with the steamy sounds of hair metal. But maybe hair metal isn't your thing. Even if you aren't into Faster Pussycat, play some music in your kitchen that gets you going. Turn it up loud before your guests arrive, have fun, do stupid dances, cook in a bra and panties—even if you're a guy.
MISE EN PLACE
There's a movie with this quote: "Mise en place—that's French for everything in its effing place!" Basically, it is. Before you start cooking, have not just all your ingredients, but any measuring cup, mixing bowl, and pot or pan you might need ready and waiting. It will save you so much time and heartache in the long run: take five minutes or so to set yourself up.
CREATE A COFFEE STATION
Brunch without coffee is like swimming with no water. Any apparatus will do; French press, percolator, Melitta filter, gigantic, someone-just-died coffee urn. You don't need anything fancy.
No matter the size of your pad, you can set up an easily accessible coffee station to keep your guests fueled throughout brunch. Find a nice, quiet corner. If there isn't already an uncluttered surface available, then move a side table on in. Set up your coffee maker and put out mugs, spoons, sugars and creamer, and anything else guests might want for coffee. A cinnamon sprinkler? Some raspberry coffee syrup? Sure, why not. You might want to pregrind some coffee, too—that way you're never far away from your next brew.
SERVING AND PLATING
Deciding whether to plate the food or have guests serve themselves is probably the biggest decision a brunch host will have to make, right above "Do I splurge on the soy creamer?" There are serving suggestions throughout the book for individual recipes, but I have a few rules of thumb.
If there are six or fewer guests, I plate for them. I do this because it's fun to feel like a real chef, garnishes and all, but also because I will have a clearer idea of what portion sizes should be than my guests will. One person might create a potato mountain, leaving only a tiny piece of onion for someone else to push back and forth across their plate.
If you aren't worried about potato misappropriation, then setting the food out family style is great, too, so long as you have enough serving plates. Don't have guests in the kitchen serving themselves off the stove. Have some class and transfer that scrambled tofu to a serving bowl. And don't forget the serving spoon! A big tablespoon works fine, just make sure there is a utensil for each dish so that people aren't using their own forks to serve themselves.
You can also mix and match serving styles, plating some dishes but leaving some out on the table as well. You can also ignore me completely and just do whatever makes the most sense for your menu.
Unless you have a banquet table in your maison, you may be short on seating. If your guests outnumber your seats at the table, then scrap the table, just use it to serve food. Move all the chairs out to a common area, ideally by the couch. If there still isn't enough seating, throw some pillows onto the floor and utilize whatever sturdy furniture you can—coffee tables, side tables, kitchen stools. You don't have to have an official chair for everyone, but make sure you create a few comfy spots for the seatless. I prefer this floor plan to the one where some people are sitting at the table and some are sitting in another room on a floor. That can be okay, and I suppose it's just personal preference, but I feel like it creates this disparity between table guests and non-table guests. The last thing you need is a floor guest uprising that leaves your brunch in shambles.
Put all the silverware in a container or cup in the middle of the table. Really, it's just forks. You don't usually need a knife with vegan food, we're just nonviolent like that.
Ideally you'll have a water glass and then another glass for juice or mimosas. But don't sweat it if guests need to alternate between a water and juice. Whatever prevents you from buying disposable cups is what you gotta do. Keep glasses on the table beside the plates.
If your table isn't large enough, then use a little side table to keep drinks within arm's reach. A folding tray would work great here. It's nice to have pitchers for juices, but it's often easier to slum it with a carton of OJ right there in plain sight. Save the pitchers for sangria.
Cloth napkins seem like an extravagance, but beautiful linen ones are often available in thrift stores for pennies. Not only are they better for the environment, but they're easier on the wallet, too. But what do I know? I don't even have a wallet.
Condiments: Jams, Jellies, Butters, Syrups, Sauces, etc.
Place jellies on the table with a spoon for each of them. Even if you aren't serving pancakes or sweet dishes, it's nice to serve jellies and jams for toast to satisfy that morning sugar craving. Keep spreads like vegan butter, cream cheese, and/or homemade spreads on the table with their own butter knives or spreaders. Serve maple syrup in a small gravy boat or pitcher. That stuff is expensive and a smaller container will make guests less eager to bathe their food in it. Since people like to ruin everything with ketchup, I suppose you can put some of that out, too. And don't forget the hot sauce!
Scrambles, Omelets, and Skillet Favorites You'll Devour
Makes 4 omelets
There's something about an omelet that says, It's the weekend, dig in! Get ready for a day that's all your own! But what to expect from a tofu omelet? Not an exact replica of an egg omelet, but delicious nonetheless. Chickpea flour gives the tofu fluffiness and an egglike taste. Nutritional yeast adds color as well as delectable savory flavor. Turmeric goes the rest of the way for that sunshine yellow hue. And then … black salt. If you haven't tried it before, and you love the taste of eggs, you are in for a real treat. This Indian salt, also called kala namak, has a sulfuric taste that is reminiscent of egg yolks. I like to add some to the omelet batter and also sprinkle it on at the end for an even stronger taste. However, if you are averse to the taste of eggs, you may skip this and just use ¾ teaspoon of regular sea salt in the omelet.
2 garlic cloves (optional)
1 pound silken tofu, lightly drained (not the vacuum-packed kind) or soft tofu (see tip on page 14); Nasoya brand is recommended
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon fine black salt, plus
extra for sprinkling (optional,
see note to the left)
½ cup chickpea flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot or
Chop up the garlic, if using, in a food processor. Add the tofu, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric, and salt. Puree until smooth. Add the chickpea flour and arrowroot and puree again for about 10 seconds, until combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that everything is well incorporated.
Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Well-seasoned cast iron works great or use a regular nonstick skillet. Lightly grease the pan with either cooking spray or a very thin layer of oil. (The less oil the better for the nice brown speckles we're going for.) Also, make sure that you use a large skillet, as you need room to spread out the omelet and to get your spatula under there to flip. Don't use an 8-inch omelet pan or anything like that. Here you'll need at least 12 inches (tee hee).
In ½-cup increments, pour the omelet batter into the skillet. Use the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to spread the batter out into about 6-inch circles. (It's okay if it isn't a perfect circle.) Be gentle—if there are any rips or holes, that is fine, just gently fill them in as you spread the batter.
Let the batter cook for about 3 to 5 minutes before flipping. The top of the omelet should dry and become a matte yellow when it's ready to be flipped. If you try and it seems like it might fall apart, give it a little more time. When the omelet is ready to be flipped, the underside should be flecked light to dark brown. Flip the omelet and cook for about a minute on the other side. Keep warm on a plate covered with tinfoil as you make the remaining omelets.
Fill omelet with the filling of your choice (page 15), then fold it. Once the omelet has been filled, sprinkle with a little extra black salt, since some of its flavor disappears when cooked.
TIP If using soft tofu, some trial and error may be required because the water content varies so drastically from brand to brand. Some of my recipe testers added up to ½ cup of water and it worked beautifully. But if you're going to experiment, and you should, do so in half batches and try to have fun with it. (For example, don't do it when you have company coming over and don't do it if you're PMS-ing and apt to throw a blenderful of pureed tofu at the wall.)
I find it's best to start by adding ¼ cup of water to the batter. Do a mini omelet test by pouring 2 tablespoons into the pan. If the batter spreads out on its own and firms up when cooking, then you are good to go. If it just sits there in a mound and doesn't move, then add up to ¼ cup more water to the batter.
Fillings: It's What's Inside That Counts
It's hard for me to imagine produce that wouldn't find its calling stuffed into an omelet. When it comes to omelet fillings, think fresh and you can't go wrong. Look deep within yourself that morning and find your spirit vegetable. If that doesn't do it for you, hit up your farmers' market and go with what's in season. Each of these fillings makes enough for four omelets. Mix and match them to your heart's content and come up with scrumptious fillings of your own.
MUSHROOMS AND SPINACH
Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Sauté 4 cups sliced cremini mushrooms in 2 tablespoons olive oil. After about 5 minutes, when mushrooms are soft, add 2 minced garlic cloves and about 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme.