Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January Recipe: Chloe's Kitchen

For this month's "new recipe from existing cookbook", I decided to start alphabetically and make something from Chloe's Kitchen

I'm pretty sure I received this cookbook gift, probably a couple years ago, but somehow hadn't really gotten to looking through it much. There are a lot of appealing things in here! Including a whole section of desserts, but my purpose here was to practice my skills (and train my tastebuds) on healthy dinner-type foods, so I selected the "Orange you glad I made crispy tofu" and "teriyaki wok vegetables", served with quinoa.

Orange you glad I made cripsy tofu

Difficulty: 4 of 5 - The frying tofu adds an extra step that I personally find difficult and slightly scary. One could probably do this by pan frying rather than deep frying, though, and it'd be a bit less intimidating.

Enjoyment: 3 of 5 - It is largely dependent on how the tofu frying turns out, in this case not completely great. The taste was still fine, but my expectation of the texture - while possibly set too high - was definitely not met.

Likelihood to make again: 3 of 5

A spin on Chinese orange chicken (the only Chinese food I had tried and liked before going vegetarian) - I can't say it tastes exactly like its muse (but, granted it's been about 17 years since I last had it), but it's pretty tasty! It's a definite change of pace from my usual tofu (usually go more herb-y), which is nice for mixing things up occasionally. 

We didn't follow the directions in the recipe for frying the tofu, as Abe already has a method for doing so (though I don't think this batch was the best he's ever made it - not nearly as crispy as usual, unfortunately); he thought the cornstarch coating would not only add an extra step but make the frying more difficult. To compensate for the salt in the coating, I added a little salt to the sauce.

I also wasn't clear on how the strips of orange peel (not zest, it says 1/4-inch strips of peel) worked with the sauce, so I skipped that, but let some of the pulp squeezing the orange juice into it, as I assumed it had to do with intensifying the flavor. The recipe doesn't say how long it should take for the sauce to boil down, but it turned to be about 10 minutes.

Teriyaki wok vegetables

Difficulty: 2 of 5 - Not a 1 really only because the sauce is cooked separately first, but otherwise it's a pretty simple stir-fry. 

Enjoyment: 4 of 5 - The teriyaki taste still has some room to grow on me, but I didn't dislike it.

Likelihood to make again: 5 of 5

This is dish is a pretty simple stir-fried vegetables, with a homemade teriyaki sauce. I'm not sure I've ever had non-homemade teriyaki sauce before, so I can't really compare it on that aspect, but it was good.

We made a few subs on the specific veggies included (ended up with: carrots, broccoli, cabbage, onion). Abe was in charge of the initial cooking of them, and found the 10 - 15 minutes (initially, plus a few more after adding the sauce) was absurd (even for the vegetables originally included in the recipe), bringing that down to about 5 minutes. 

The cookbook overall

There are large, pretty pictures for most (at least half?) of the recipes, which is something I definitely appreciate - I'm a picky eater, so having a visual concept of the finished product makes it that much easier to evaluate the texture and likelihood that I'll like something. Although, now I realized that these two recipes happen to be ones without pictures! It has a lot of pretty typical American or American-ized type dishes, all made vegan. Flipping through it, there are very few recipes I wouldn't mind eating if someone else cooked them (the bar to motivate me to really want to cook something is really high). 

There seemed to be some minor issues with instructions - e.g., there's no way the veggies needed to be cooked for 15 minutes, and there wasn't a time given for how long the orange sauce should take to thicken. But overall fairly easy to follow. 

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