seitan is my motor



January 2015



Cookbook Review: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico

Whenever I go on vacation I try to learn something about the local cuisine. Often there is a lack of authentic vegan food though. Most of the time that means I impulse buy a cookbook, I write down ideas, I search the internet, I veganise one or two recipes. Then I move on because that vacation was only for a week and what could you possibly learn in a week? But what if it was possible to spend more time in a certain spot, what if there was a chance to really get to know both the people and their food? What if you have the time to create your own vegan versions of the food you see around you? That is exactly what Justin P. Moore did with his second book. “The Lotus and the Artichoke ¡Mexico!” is about a three month trip the author and his family made to Mexico. In the introduction he talks about how easy it was to find vegan food there. He also got to know chefs  and hosts who taught him a lot about the local cuisine. He then developed his own recipes inspired by the local cuisine and put them all together in his new book on Mexican cooking.

The book is small and light and every recipe goes with a picture. Some of them were familiar to  me because I already own Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Latina book, but that way I can get a better understanding of this kind of food and learn about alternative preparation methods. All of the recipes I tried were simple and delicious. Because of the appetising pictures it was very hard to decide what to make. For this review I had to stop somewhere but I am not putting this book down anytime soon. The recipes are flexible and the author offers many ingredient alternatives and substitutions. I also like Justin’s attitude towards cooking. He doesn’t see it as an exact science and encourages his readers to experiment. I often found the ingredient lists a bit confusing though. Ingredients are not always listed in the order they are used. That can sometimes be uncomfortable, you have to go back to the book and find the ingredient you need to use next.

book review: the lotus and the artichoke mexico by Justin P. Moore |

1. Mango-Limetten-Ceviche (Mango Lime Ceviche): I have to admit I was very sceptical about this recipe at first. I have never had ceviche before and had no idea what to expect. I liked the way the the tofu was prepared and that’s why I made it. You sauté it with onions, garlic, ginger, anc chili and that is one of my favourite ways to prepare tofu. But then there were other ingredients like mango and radicchio and I honestly couldn’t imagine I would like that. Sweet and bitter and savoury? No, thank you. I made it anyway and I am so glad I did. This was the first recipe I tried and that was the one that won me over. There’s only a little radicchio and the tofu mango combination worked really well for me.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

 2. Caldo Tlalpeño: This soup reminded me of Hungarian goulash soup. It’s made with TVP but the author suggests alternatives such as smoked tofu or seitan. I used the TVP and the soup came out very thick and chunky, which I liked a lot. It was a quick, tasty and comforting meal.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

3. Pizza de Papas: This pizza is made by frying the topping before placing it on the pizza and I think that’s what makes this  really special: crispy, aromatic, and spicy. We loved this a lot.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

4. Tacos de Lentejas: The original version of this calls both for lentils and potatoes. I was out of potatoes so I used the suggested cauliflower as a substitute. I think the potato version is probably amazing, but the cauliflower version was, too! Like everything else this was delicious and filling. I am fortunate to have access to great organic wheat tortillas which taste like actual food, but if you can’t find decent tortillas Justin also has recipes both for flour and corn tortillas.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

5. Mexican Magic Rice: Rice, seitan, and olives, for me the perfect comfort food. I’m repeating myself, I don’t know what else to say. This recipe was easy to make and delicious. It can be made ahead and then you can keep it in the fridge, take servings to work, eat its leftovers for lunch, etc.

Kochbuchrezension: The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico von Justin P. Moore |

 6. Chimichurri Tofu: This was the only recipe that didn’t work for me. First of all the instructions didn’t seem very clear. It says to preheat the oven but doesn’t mention where to put the tofu. I used a baking dish but maybe a baking sheet would have been better? I also didn’t have enough sauce. The recipe calls for a bunch of parsley, which is usually about 50 g where I live. Next time I’d double it because it simply didn’t make enough for me. You are supposed to brush the tofu before and while baking. That didn’t work out  because I had used up everything the first time around. And that was even though I had reduced the amount of tofu from 400 g to 300 g. I also didn’t like the preparation method because most of the hearbs looked pretty dark and wilted to me after baking. (But, mind you, that was only because I had already used up the sauce.) The sauce itself is good and I would probably make this again with a couple of changes. Either I would double the amount of sauce or I would  pre-bake the tofu and also brush it wish some soy sauce. I would only add the sauce at the end of the cooking time, maybe 10 minutes before the tofu is done baking.

Sometimes things go wrong and that shouldn’t reflect badly on this cookbook because I think it is an inspiring book full of interesting and delicious recipes. They call for fresh vegetables and herbs, are easy to prepare and don’t take super long to prepare. I am very happy that this book is now a part of my cookbook shelf and I am looking forward to making more amazing recipes from it.

Buchcover "The Lotus and the Artichoke Mexico" von Justin P. Moore, erschienen im Ventil Verlag.

The Lotus and the Artichoke ¡Mexico! is a new vegan cookbook by Justin P Moore. I reviewed the German version but the English version is available, too. Justin has another cookbook out, which you can check it out here. Don’t forget to browse through the recipe section on Justin’s page, where he features many of his awesome international recipes. I got my review copy for free from the publisher Ventil Verlag.




January 2015



Simple Buckwheat Fries & Einkorn Pancakes

einkorn oat pancakes |

Some more thoughts on the topic of inspiration: I think I do get a lot of it from cookbooks. But it’s not the recipes that inspire me, it’s the ingredients. I realised this when I started to test for the awesome new cookbook project by Tami Noyes and Celine Steen. The Great Vegan Whole Grains Cooking Book will be available in 2016 and it’s going to be full of unique and inspiring grain recipes. Cooking recipes for this book brought me back to a phase where I used to have all kinds of grains stuffed into my pantry. That was when I bought a grain mill and made my own bread. The grain mill gave me a lot of flexibilty when it came to baking. I made whole flours not only from wheat, rye, or spelt but also from farro, oats, buckwheat, einkorn and kamut. But having all those grains around also inspired me to use them in their whole form for everyday meals. Then I stopped baking bread because I let my starter die a couple of times. I used up all the grains and went back to eating expensive and far travelled quinoa instead of cheap and local buckwheat or einkorn.

Testing recipes for Celine and Tami has been very inspiring. I restocked my pantry with whole grains and have been using them a lot not only for test recipes. I use different flours for baking again, especially for those pancakes pictured above, which a certain person in our household demands several times a week.These were made with homemade einkorn flour. The recipe will be at the end of this post. If you don’t have farro flour, you can use another whole grain flour such as wheat or spelt. Pancakes are very hard to mess up and great for experimentation!

I also remembered how much I love oat flour! It can be a bit difficult to grind because it is so soft. But that is also an advantage because you can make it from oats using your food processor.  These cookies are adapted from the Chocolate Almond Bake or No-Bake Cookies from 500 Vegan Recipes.  The original recipe calls for only a handful of ingredients and is super easy to make. I had no chocolate on hand I used 1/4 cup of oil instead and it worked like a charm.

almond oat cookies |

Pancakes are not the only food F is obsessed with lately. She also likes to make pizza. I know I need to stop bragging about my child here, but I think it’s pretty great that a three year old makes her own pizza. We knead the dough together and then she gets a piece to roll out and top. She can do that with no help at all. I like that she’s so interested in cooking and making her own meals. We do not demonise frozen foods or convenience products but I still think that she’ll have a lot of alternatives to frozen pizza once she has to cook for herself. I think that no matter what, knowing how to cook is a great skill to have and I am glad F is starting so early with this. It also teaches her that every family member is responsible for food preparation and she can be part of it, too. Last weekend we were home alone and F decided we should make another pizza. When we were mixing the dough from freshly ground spelt kernels I realised that we had made way to much! I guess I got carried away a bit. It didn’t matter though because leftover pizza dough makes great bread. We made mini spelt breads tossed in poppy and sesame seeds and that way we were set both for dinner and our next breakfast.

mini spelt bread |

If you experiment and improvise a lot, you can sometimes find great new cooking techniques for foods you are not so wild about. For example, I was never a big fan of buckwheat. Many people like to eat it raw (for breakfast cereals) or cooked but I could never deal with its consistensy. Buckwheat doesn’t seem to absorb much liquid. If you mix it with water, it will get a texture similar to soaked flax and chia. And I am not a fan of slimey foods. So since all that didn’t work for me, I ground the raw buckwheat into a flour and tried to use it in baked goods. It’s is pretty popular with gluten-free folks and I thought I should give it another chance. But when I made my first waffles with buckwheat flour I realised that I had to combine it with many other ingredients to make its much to prominent earthy flavour go away. So after a bit of experimentation I went for a gluten-free flour mix instead, including buckwheat and other flours. The waffles I made based on that mixture were actually pretty good! But I still think that buckwheat flour is a much better ingredient for breads or other savoury baked goods than it is for sweet waffles or pancakes. And I still don’t like it cooked except for one recipe, which I really love. One time when I wanted polenta fries but was out of polenta, I cooked some buckwheat instead, processed it, and placed it in a baking dish. Once it was cooled it was very easy to slice and had exactly the consistency of cooked and cooled polenta. And it also tasted fantastic, especially when mixed with garlic. So after all that ranting here is a recipe for simple buckwheat fries that made me, the buckwheat hater, turn into a buckwheat fan. The fries are really easy to make and you can both fry and bake them. You can also store the prepared and processed buckwheat in the fridge and fry it whenever you want. The sticks make a wonderful snack but are a fantastic side dish, too. I like to combine them with stir fried bok choi and chickpeas. Oh, and don’t forget the hot sauce.

These buckwheat fries are so easy to make and they are the only buckwheat recipe you will ever need. Even if you are a buckwheat hater, you will love these! They are both crispy and moist and they are also gluten-free and vegan.

Simple Buckwheat Fries

100 g (3.5 oz) buckwheat
240 ml (1 cup) water or broth
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying or baking

Combine buckwheat and water. Cook buckwheat cook for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the buckwheat is soft. Also check your package for specific directions on cooking buckwheat.
Immediately place the hot grain in a food processor with garlic and salt and process until most of the buckwheat is finely ground. Transfer to a greased baking dish about the size of a loaf pan (Of course you can also use a greased loaf pan!) and use a spaltula to press the batter down evenly. Let cool completely.
Once cooled, cut into 1-2 cm (1/2-1 inch) thick strips.
Heat a pan and brush with oil. Fry the sticks on all sides until crispy. Add more oil if necessary. If you want to bake these, brush them with oil and bake until crispy.

Einkorn Oat Pancakes

120 g (1 cup) einkorn flour (use spelt or whole wheat as a substitute)
30 g (1/4 cup) oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
240 ml (1 cup) water or soy milk
60 g (1/4 cup) apple sauce
2 tablespoons agave nectar
oil for frying

Combine all pancake ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Heat a pan over medium heat and add oil. Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the pan and fry until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side. Einkorn flour browns very fast so check often and don’t burn the pancakes.
Serve with jam or sugar.