She’s one of the best and most prolific vegan cookbook authors, but with Isa Does It, Isa Chandra Moskowitz hits an undeniable, mouthwatering groove. Isa Does It features easy, everyday recipes that are satisfyingly delicious with ingredients you probably already have at home. I had the good fortune of meeting her at a book reading for this cookbook in Minneapolis last year, and it was obvious this was the cookbook of her dreams and for good reason. Brightly colored photos excite your imagination’s taste buds while the approachable recipes comfort your practical, time-conscious mind.
The cookbook features an introduction with tips for kitchen tools, pantry staples and modifications for allergies. The section on “Vegan Butchery” may seem tongue-in-cheek amusing, but you’ll probably learn something new like I did in prepping the tofu for her “Cast Iron Stir Fry with Avocado, Basil and Peanuts” (pg. 175.) The heart of the cookbook is the eleven sections of recipes; including soups, salads, handhelds, stir fries & sautés, Sunday night suppers, basic proteins, breakfasts, and desserts.
My favorite recipe was the “Cheddary Broccoli Soup” (p. 53) with its lick-the-bowl deliciousness from the mouthwatering umami of white miso, cheesy nutritional yeast and creamy cashews. It was the perfect thing to combat this Minnesota winter. A robust salad section satisfied with “Sesame Slaw w/ Warm Garlicky Seitan” (p. 58) that was a meal in itself with a feel good amount of fiber-rich red cabbage. After a long day at work, curl up with one of her meals in a bowl recipes like the “Good Gravy Bowl with Broccoli and Seitan” which creates a creamy, flavorful gravy with lentils which can be ladled over mashed potatoes, greens, sweet potatoes or whatever else you can imagine.
The recipes in Isa Does It seem solidly Midwestern to me. Not too fancy or pretentious, just solidly delicious, satisfying and accessible to most homes. The “Lentil-a-roni” (pg. 134) with its cashew creamy tomato sauce and meaty lentils nestled in the nooks of the curly fusilli noodles was reminiscent of childhood Chef Boyardee meals but more delicious, healthy and humane. Her “Puffy Pillow Pancakes” (pg. 253) grew like fluffy miniature skyscrapers on my cast iron griddle and the “Muffin Pan Mini Omelets” (pg. 247) were a quick grab protein for breakfast sandwiches throughout the week.
All in all, Isa Does It is a great staple cookbook for your bookshelf that you’ll return to time and time again to make easy, every day meals that appeal to a broad audience.
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
First Edition: October 2013
Little, Brown and Company