lemon jelly

Tempeh and other adventures in the Modern Vegetarian Kitchen
July 19, 2008, 11:01 am
Filed under: food, lists, nutrition | Tags: , ,

With my internship and a smattering of other things going on, I haven’t had much of a chance to do anything particularly experimental lately, but I have been cooking almost regularly out of Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. It’s a wonderfully instructive and far-ranging volume that I’ve really gotten to love over the past few weeks since I got hold of it. It explains basic cooking methods and equipment, provides helpful and descriptive background information on ingredients with which the reader may be unfamiliar, and presents something like 300 well-written and mouth-watering recipes. I especially like how the Vegetables section is organised by season. It’s handy for figuring out what to look for at the farmers’ market every week. All in all, I find that it’s a fairly accessible book for the inexperienced cook and vegetarian and not at all intimidating.

Last weekend, my friend Steve invited me over to cook with him, and we made the most amazing dinner out of MVK. Though I was basically relegated to the role of prep cook for the evening, we did use something I’d never had before – tempeh. Prima facie, it seems quite possibly like one of the most unappetizing but edible things one could put on a plate. Berley describes it as follows: “Tempeh results from a method of inoculating soybeans with certain spores to make them more digestible. Whole cooked soybeans are mixed with Rhizopus oligosporus, a mold culture, and allowed to incubate for 18 to 24 hours…The result is a white, chunky-textured, nutty-smelling slab of tempeh that is held together by a complex web of white mold.”

I was fairly sceptical about the stuff, but Steve insisted that everything would be okay, reminding me that tempeh isn’t really any worse than cheese in how it’s made. Of course, he was right and dinner turned out beautifully. We made Tempeh and Vegetables Braised in a Lemon-Coconut Broth and Cucumber, Watercress, and Red Onion Salad with Mint that night, just in case you’re curious. Our tempeh soaked up the lovely broth of coconut milk, lemon, and spices and became just fabulous.

For the nutritionally minded, tempeh also packs more protein and iron than tofu.

I have an odd penchant for lists. They impose a little order in my otherwise scattered life. So, this is probably the first of many and one that I will update from time to time.

Tried and True Recipes from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

  • tempeh and vegetables braised in a lemon-coconut broth, p. 282
  • cucumber, watercress and red onion salad with mint, p. 84
  • garlicky braised greens with toasted pumpkin seeds, p. 135
  • balsamic glazed beets and greens, p. 115
  • mess o’ peas, p. 98
  • basil-almond pesto, p. 377