Finally. A cookbook that answers the question: What’s for brunch? If there is any meal that can strike fear into the heart of a vegan, it’s brunch. The usual mix we encounter out in the world includes eggs of all kinds, pastries, fruit (we can eat that), meats, cheeses, and maybe bagels if we’re lucky. Vegans don’t get much of a break in the brunch department. But now there’s hope. It’s called Vegan Brunch, by that friendly authority on vegan entertainment, Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
It’s not only for brunch, though. When I was asked recently what I eat for breakfast, I answered for myself: “Oatmeal. Steamed vegetables. Leftovers. Whatever I like.” It was not a satisfactory answer, even though it was the truth. Perhaps I should have said that I personally just eat oatmeal and a few other things but that vegans in general eat a wide variety, including some of the suggestions in Elaine’s excellent post on the subject.
Now I can offer some more surprising answers. In addition to cereal, vegan pancakes, scrambled tofu, we can have:
* Maybe crepes.
* Or omelettes.
* Even a lovely version of eggs benedict (“tofu benny”)
Of course there are muffins, waffles, french toast, and potatoes. And there are some truly decadent dishes (what’s brunch for but decadence, I say) like beer-battered tofu, coffee cake, and diner home fries. There are wonderful surprise dishes like burnt broccoli (??), scrambled tortillas, and pierogi (yay!). It’s all here. And it’s all do-able. With some caveats:
If you want to make some of these dishes for a party, it is important to try them out ahead of time. Especially the crepes and omelettes. You want those to come out right the first time so you want to be sure that you’ve got the practice down. I found it wasn’t actually difficult to get into crepe-making, for example, but you have to get the pan temperature and thinness of batter down right so you aren’t experimenting on your guests. Just do a practice run at home first, get the feel of it. I found that making them is very similar to making regular pancakes: the first crepe or two is going to come out bad, then it starts to get easier.
my very own vegan crepes
Isa notes that you can make crepes ahead of time and save them in the fridge to reheat at the brunch. This takes a lot of the stress out of it.
Omelettes also take a little practice, and in my case meant holding off until I’d received an order from an Indian grocery. You see, Isa has added an interesting ingredient here: black salt. This salt is sulfurish in flavor, similar to an egg taste. The omelettes can be made without it, of course, but I had to try it and the resemblance to egg flavor is almost a little freakish. The omelettes, on the other hand, are lighter than egg omelettes, which to me was a plus.
my very own omelettes
As you can see from the picture, the omelettes are not simply smashed tofu colored up and flattened out. They are made from silken tofu blended with other ingredients and cooked up much like an egg omelette. It takes a little practice, again, to get them so you can turn them neatly. Isa suggests, in her book, that you look at some videos on youtube, including her own, to get the technique for the crepes. I did not locate any videos on the omelette technique, however. The directions in the book, though, should suffice.
The sausages need to be made ahead of time in any case. I have it on good authority that these sausages are good. I have not these particular ones. However, a relative has tasted them and I have found some references (and a pic!) :
not my very own vegan sausages
Vegan Dad made the ones in the pic and raved about them.
So is the book all about re-creating standard animal-product-based foods? Well, no, but there certainly is a focus there, with popular vegan foods – tofu, tempeh, nutritional yeast – making many appearances. In addition there is a range of baked goods and some lovely toppings (brown sugar peach coulis, anyone?), many potato dishes, brunch risotto, and of course drinks! Where would we be without the mimosas? In other words, the book runs the gamut of what you might possibly consider for brunch.
The book introduces the subject with “the vegan brunch pantry”, which is a list of ingredients that may not be familiar, each with a description and some ideas for where you can find it. There is a special section on how to set up for brunch – planning the menu, laying the table, setting up coffee service and more.
Each recipe begins at the top of a page, in bold letters. Some recipes go on for a few pages, especially if there are variations and large pictures.
Frankly, you can pull off an elegant, beautiful and delicious brunch with this book alone.