In March I was cooking from Chloe’s Kitchen. Chloe, as many of you probably know, is Chloe Coscarelli, who shot to fame with her vegan cupcakes on an American cooking programme. This is the first of her three cookbooks, and she has also opened a restaurant in New York. Quite the vegan empire! This was my first real introduction to her, so let’s see the results.
Alas, there is no breakfast section in the book. This is devastating to me. However, there were pancakes for dinner listed amongst the main courses, so I immediately put them on the to-do list. Still buzzing from his pancake success with last month’s Thug Kitchen, Dr HH eagerly volunteered to make them one Sunday morning. We replaced the blueberries with chopped dried apricots, and used oat milk instead of water – we added a little more liquid than recommended as well, to get the batter the right consistency. They made good fat pancakes, though pancake-novice Dr HH said he’d found the Thug Kitchen recipe easier to work with. Still, they were tasty and looked pretty, and there were no complaints from me!
The tomato-basil bisque was a great introduction to the soup section. It was a smooth soup, but sufficiently thick that it wasn’t just a broth. The flavour from the roasted tomatoes and garlic was fantastic. It was fantastic! It took a little longer than most soups I make, due to the roasting time. This won’t deter me from making it again though.
I accidentally added a red pepper to the Tuscan bean and green soup after misreading the ingredients, but I don’t think it was detrimental to the dish. A pureed can of beans give the base a nice creaminess. Usually this is the kind of soup in American cookbooks that leaves me a little underwhelmed – those books are usually great for spices and exotic combinations, but fall a little flat on the more European fare for me. This one bucked that trend, I thought it had some really good flavour. (Not surprising when you consider that Chloe also has an Italian cookbook!)
The cheesy broccoli soup was quite simple to make, and I actually wish there had been a little more to it – even just partially blitzing it left it really thin. Maybe adding a potato would give it a thicker base next time. The flavour was really nice though. I couldn’t add the full requirement of nutritional yeast because I was at the end of my supply, but it still tasted nice and cheesy.
Also in the soup section, the curried lentil, squash and apple stew was really tasty and easy to make. In fact, my only complaint is that there is no way this alone could serve six people. Maybe add some chopped tomatoes to beef it up a bit?
I made the minted couscous with arugula, butternut squash and currants with a mixture of red and white quinoa instead, because that was what I had, and with spinach instead of rocket, because I hate rocket.
I love making sushi, so I had to try the avocado-shiitake sushi in the book. It’s difficult to go wrong with avocado, mushrooms, rice and seaweed, and sure enough, these were delicious.
The falafel sliders were really nicely flavoured, but I wasn’t bowled over by the texture. The mixture was pureed, so it held together well and it was nice and smooth, but I couldn’t get the outside crispy. Still, I’d recommend them.
The Mongolian BBQ Seitan was so good and flavoursome. The sauce had a great hint of sweetness, and the seitan and shiitake mushrooms were so good and meaty together. This is a great after-work meal, it’s so quick and easy.
The southern skillet black-eyed beans with quick buttery biscuits was the first dish I tried from the book, and it was quite the start! The biscuits are in fact scones, but you could easily just serve this with some good crusty bread if you were not inclined to bake. I would recommend making them though, if you can – they’re so light and delicious. The stew is fantastic too. I couldn’t get black-eyed beans, so I used a mix of kidney and cannelini. Maybe I would throw something green in next time too, but it was delicious as it was: lovely chunks of cauliflower and a thick, flavoursome sauce.
I had high hopes for the spaghetti bolognese, considering I’ve been using the same recipe for years. I’m used to it looking redder – the brown was a bit unappetising at first. It was really tasty though. The mushrooms gave it a really nice flavour, and I loved the crunch of the walnuts. Kidney beans were a strange addition. I don’t know, it was nice, but I don’t think it’ll replace my usual red lentil-based version.
The pineapple not-so-fried-rice was as exciting as it looked! Along with the rice there’s cashews, peas, raisins, baked tofu, onion, pineapple chunks and lots of good spices. It was really delicious, and serving it in the pineapple (a) was exotic, (b) brought some extra juicy sweetness to it, and (c) saved on washing up. Win-win-win.
The barley bliss casserole was a solid casserole, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “blissful”. I eat a lot of this kind of vegetable+grain stew, so it’s not exactly life changing. The thyme and chilli flakes give it a nice flavour, though alas I was out of nutritional yeast so couldn’t get any hint of creamy cheesiness to it. I’d like to try it with that to see how different it is – maybe the bliss is all in the nooch! (And fear not, I have replenished my nooch supplies now and am getting my B12 again.)
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Caribbean vegetables with coconut rice (I ditched the plantains, because I strongly suspect they would be impossible to find in Prague). I used kidney beans rather than black beans (again, impossible to find here) and forgot to get a lime to really add some zing (you can’t just pop to the supermarket for one thing where I live: my local has no self-service, no ’10 items’ line, and usually only one person serving while the whole of Prague queues. It’s the worst). Still, the beans were really nice and they had sufficient flavour from the garlic and cumin. The vegetables were a bit uninspiring – I think more jerk seasoning is necessary. The coconut rice was the highlight.
I only made the chana masala from the Indian buffet trio, and it was very tasty indeed – really nicely seasoned. However, I added two tins of chopped tomatoes rather than the two individual tomatoes the recipe called for, and Dr HH still complained that it wasn’t as saucy as it could be.
I liked everything I made from this book, but I don’t feel like I got as much use out of it as I usually do with my monthly cookbooks. This is largely due to personal preference: I always make good use of the breakfast and soup sections of a book, and Chloe’s Kitchen is sorely lacking in these departments. There’s a huge pasta section included, unsurprisingly given her Italian heritage, but I don’t cook pasta that often. So it was a good book, but not perfect for me, and I found it a bit of a struggle to find enough recipes from it. I wouldn’t buy her other books, but I would happily eat at her restaurant. Due to the pro-pasta, anti-breakfast stance, I’m going to continue to pledge my allegiance to Isa as the queen of the vegan cooking empires.