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The Tropical Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein

I hadn't even heard of this and was playing around in Borders and decided on a whim to buy it.  I made the Spicy Tawainese-Style Black Sesame Noodles and it tasted great. I used 6 oz. of rice noodles instead of the Chinese noodles and added a little chili sauce to give it a bit more heat, but it was great. Here's a picture of it. I didn't have black sesame seeds, so I used the regular ones so it doesn't look as fancy as it might have.

The second picture is of malaysian hot and sour noodles with tofu and baby bok choy. My husband gave it 4.5 stars.

Ooh they look good!  Hey bellybellygood (good name, btw!) am interested in this collection by Donna Klein as I have her Mediterranean book, so keep your piccies and comments coming, info much appreciated.

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I didn't know she had another cookbook out.  How are you finding the prep time for the recipes?  I will have to check this out.

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I really like Donna Klein's cookbooks and when I saw on this board she had a new one I went out and bought it.  The recipes look great and I can't wait to try them.  I was also excited to see the book includes the nutritional information for each recipe.

However, tonight while flipping through the book I noticed the protein counts for some of the soups seemed oddly high.  For example, the Caribbean Pumpkin Soup supposedly makes four servings with 11 grams per serving, but I can't figure that out.  The only thing of substance in it is a pound of butternut squash, which can't have more than 15 grams max protein. Everything else is vegetable broth or seasonings or oil.  There's a plaintain soup that supposedly makes four servings at 13 grams protein per serving, but all that's in it are 2 plaintains, which my nutrition book says have a protein content of 2.5 grams each.  The other ingredients in the soup are oil, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, cilantro, cumin, veggie broth, and some other seasonings.  There are a whole bunch of other recipes that when I was initially flipping through I was surprised to see the protein so high and now I'm just suspicious.  Of course, if the protein is wrong, perhaps the fat and calories are too, in which case I just don't want to know.

I'm still excited about the recipes and I'm still going to cook from this book and use my own sense of whether or not a recipe could serve as a complete meal for my family.  Just thought I would mention this.

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Tonight for dinner we had the Thai Coconut-Noodle Soup with Lemongrass and Fried Tofu Nuggets with Thai Peanut Sauce. Actually, we didn't have the peanut sauce but that is the name of the dish.

The Thai Coconut Noodle Soup was easy to prepare once you got the mountain of chopping out of the way.  This is something that you could put together for a quick weeknight dinner if you cut up the vegetables the night before.  I thought the soup was good, although I do think it was missing something. I'm not sure what, though, since I don't really cook Thai-inspired foods often (although I do like to eat them!) I added some cubed tofu to the soup before adding it to the noodles.  I am, perhaps unfairly, measuring the soup against some of the excellent Thai food available where I live . . . but I am definitely giving her high marks for appreciating the time constraints of the busy chef. Grade: B

The Fried Tofu Nuggets were definitely fried.  The recipe called for 1/4 cup of oil to pan fry 1 lb of tofu, which is more than I usually use when panfrying.  I was excited to try these because the tofu is coated in a sesame seed coating which was unusual in that the sesame seeds and breading mixture were mixed together.  Usually when I've made sesame coated tofu the tofu is coated in some kind of viscous glop and then coated with sesame seeds.  However, I had a hard time getting the sesame seeds to stick to the the tofu.  Also, cubes are a pain to cook.  I had better luck with the cooking and sticking when I sliced some tofu and breaded it with the leftover coating mixture.  Final analysis:  tasty and quick offset by the high fat content.

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Seems to be a great cookbook.  I haven't made many things from it yet, but the Pomegranite-Lentil Stew with Spinach and Raisens was excellent.  It was very unique. 

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Hawaiian-Style Pineapple-Teriyaki Baked Tofu--very good and one of the better baked tofu recipes I have tried.  I made a double batch of this one for my family's dinner last night since it was cool enough to turn the oven on. Comes together pretty quickly and even the way she suggests cutting the tofu is extra-easy since there aren't as many strips to turn. I searched high and low for pineapple preserves with no luck--I don't think I've ever even seen pinapple preserves in my whole life--so I substituted half orange marmalade and half Saucy Susan (peach/apricot) for the preserves.  I also couldn't find pineapple-orange juice, so I used the juice from a can of crushed pineapple and added a spoonful or two of the fruit to the sauce.  I'm sure her version is more pineappley but I think you must need to live in Hawaii to make it as written.  Even with the substitutions it was very good and not at all oily like some baked tofus can be.  I will definitely make this one again.

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Last week I made the Thai Corn Chowder.  It was very tasty.  However, it was my first time cooking with kaffir lime leaves, which are big double leaves, and I think I unintentionally used double the amount called for and it overpowered the soup. So I added more coconut milk and corn and wound up pureeing the whole thing before adding the basil.  My children didn't care for it, so I ate their three bowls of soup plus my own and my husband ate the rest of the pot when he got home.  As an added bonus, it was pretty easy and quick to prepare, especially using frozen corn. I served it with a Szechuan green bean and tofu stir fry and rice.

Another night I  made the Caribbean Potato Salad.  It was definitely good, and a nice change of pace with the mango and lime juice.  The only reason I was a little disappointed was because she said in her intro that it was "awesome" and I didn't think it rose to the awesome level. But it was good and made a nice contribution to a west-indian type meal. If I ever make it again I will be less shy about using the jalepenos and just go for broke.

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Last night I made the Hawaiian-Style Vegetable Stir-Fry with Green Mango.  I made the recipe pretty much exactly as written except sans onions and I subbed OJ for the 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice.  I've made recipes similar to this in the past, but I thought the unripe mango and the absence of any ginger were a welcome twist.  The unripe mango cooks up and becomes softer and gets an interesting flavor that I enjoyed.

I served it over udon noodles with some tofu pan-fried in coconut oil on the side.

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Island burgers with a Creole sauce  was very good.  THe burgers were black beans and rice based and spiced just right.  The creole sauce was very very good.  This recipe was very easy to make as well.  In the long run they didn't hold together all too well, but did hold together well while cooking. 

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Eggplant in Cuban-style mojo sauce  not bad but a bit too strong of a lime taste, so I'll cut back or sweeten it next time.  The mojo went well with marinated baked tofu as well. 

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Bengali Black Eyed Peas and Mushrooms was very good......I used plain saltfree diced canned tomatoes instead of the canned tomatoes with jalepeno that was in the recipe.  I added a lot of Thai chiles for spice.  I'm not a fan of black eyed peas but this had so much spicy taste to it I liked it.  I used a variety pack of fresh mushrooms that included shitake, oyster, etc.  instead of plain old button mushrooms.

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Tonight we had the Pad Thai Vegetarian Noodles.  They were very "eh."  To be fair, I did not use the scallions and substituted some of the veggies (broccoli and carrots instead of snow pea pods and mung beans) and no red pepper flakes.  The good thing is that because it was so bland my kids didn't object that much.  There are other recipes out there I like better so I probably won't be making this again.

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Grilled tofu with mango slaw - was one of those "OMG this is so good" recipes.  I broiled the tofu instead of grilling it.  I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so followed the recipoe to the tea and love it.

http://photos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs297.ash1/22435_1248960382955_1197836956_30593021_6932177_n.jpg

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Grilled tofu with mango slaw - was one of those "OMG this is so good" recipes.  I broiled the tofu instead of grilling it.  I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so followed the recipoe to the tea and love it.

Tweety, thanks so much for your review. It prompted me to make this even though I had passed by the recipe in the book.  I saw "slaw" and I assumed (incorrectly) that it had something to do with cabbage, which is not a welcome vegetable in my house.

My mom called to tell me she was stopping by for dinner. I warned her we were having tofu. She loathes tofu. She thought about bringing something to eat, but decided that would be rude.  I gave her a plate of the tofu, mango slaw, rice and some raw sunflower micro greens.  She kept commenting on how delicious it was and cleaned her plate.  My children ate their tofu with plain mango (I didn't rub the pepper on it in the marinating stage).  I broiled the tofu, but if I had a backyard grill I would make this all the time.

This is a good recipe to serve to dinner guests as well as a weeknight meal since it is easy to prepare and a lot can be done ahead.  The hardest part is getting nice mangoes.

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African beans and potatoes - quick and easy to make and quite tasty.  Enjoyed it a lot.  I used plenty of crushed red pepper and didn't use hot sauce at the end.  The blend of potatoes and beans was not something I would have thought of, but is good.

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Black Bean and Tropical Fruit Salsa- delicious. I used 2 jalepenos and it made for a nice sweet and spicy combination with the chips. Very refreshing.

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Hawaiian-Style Pineapple-Teriyaki Baked Tofu and Rice
I didn't bake it, instead I cooked the tofu on the stove with the marinade. The flavor was just what you'd expect with a fruity and salty taste combination. This is great if you are in the mood for something a little refreshing on a hot Summer day. You may want to double the sauce since it all cooked off, or cook the tofu before you cook the sauce. 4/5 stars and I'd definitely make it again.

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Thai-Style Stir-Fry with Crispy Tofu and Hoisin Sauce --  Very nice flavor and not that difficult to prepare. I omitted the green chilies because I was making it for my family but the dish cries out for some heat so I wound up adding some sambal olek to mine and it made a big difference.  I would make this again except that pan frying the marinated tofu made  a huge mess in my kitchen with oil splattered everywhere.

Coconut Tofu with Spicy Pineapple Chutney over Rice -- Thin strips of tofu are marinated and then dredged in shredded coconut and pan fried and served over rice with a spicy chutney on top.  The tofu by itself is only okay but combined with the rice and chutney it is very good.  A lot of coconut falls off during the frying process, but that is okay because it is more of an accent than a coating.  For some of my kids I cooked the marinated tofu without the coating because they didn't like the texture. Even though I thought this was a nice change of pace, I'm not sure I would serve it to company.

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African Groundnut Stew with Fufu: The choice of vegetables is very good (green bell pepper, sweet potato, eggplant, zucchini). The taste is good but not that good. I didn't have fufu flour so I ate it with pan-fried gnocchis.

Lentil-Pomegranate Stew with Spinach and Raisins: Yuum.. sugar taste very interesting with the pomegranate juice. The color of the stew isn't very appetizing, but it's not representative of its taste!

Curried Spinach and Peas in Coconut Milk over Basmati Rice: Very good! I add some chickpeas for the proteins. Well spiced.

Hawaiian Sweet-and-Sour Vegetables over Rice:  It's good, but there's certainly a better recipe

African-Style Caramelized Ripe Plantains: Ok. Nothing more.

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Tropical Pasta Salad - most excellent.  Very quick and easy to make.  I little jalapeno might be good if I had some.  It's a dish I could bring to a covered-dish occasion.

Beside it, I made the African Beans and Pototoes that I reviewed above.  Still give it two thumps up.  Not a lot of herbs and spices but the onions, celery and broth take care of that.  I used veggie boulline cubes (Maggi) instead of low sodium vegetable broth and left out the extra salt.  I'm finding more and more I like this better than the broth which is too strong (unless I make my own, but I'm way to lazy for that).  I used the optional suggestion for peanuts and just threw some whole raw peanuts on it and that was a good idea. This time I used fresh red hot chili instead of crushed red peppers.  Yummy.

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs025.ash2/34625_1364713676715_1197836956_30844994_7864450_n.jpg

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