You know how the old saying goes, that you can’t really tell a book by its cover. At first glance. I though Real Food, Really Fast by Hannah Kaminsky was just another basic cookbook with recipes that are quick to make. Boy was I wrong, the book wowed me in so many unexpected ways.
At first glance Real Food, Really Fast draws you in with its photographs by temping you to try the unique recipes that are stress free to make. Not to mention delicious, but more importantly it starts off with cooking fundamentals, essential equipment and an introduction to specialty ingredients which makes anyone who is new to vegan cooking or a seasoned professional feel at ease in the kitchen. None of the recipes are particularly difficult to make from start to finish and can be completed in no more than 30 minutes. The end result is something visually appealing that you can feel proud you made yourself.
Below is a recipe from the book that I like to make when I am busy and don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.
Chia Seed Congee
Makes 2–4 Servings
½ Cup White Chia Seeds*
2½ Cups Vegetable Stock
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Ginger
¼ Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
1 Fresh Shiitake Mushroom, Stemmed and Sliced
½ Cup Shelled Edamame
¼ Cup Toasted Cashews
½ Cup White Chia Seeds*
2½ Cups Plain Nondairy Milk
2 Tablespoons 100% Grade B Maple Syrup
½ Teaspoon Minced Fresh Ginger
½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2–4 Medjool Dates, Pitted and Sliced
½ Cup Cooked Adzuki Beans
¼ Cup Goji Berries or Golden Raisins
2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Seeds
* Black chia seeds taste and work just as well, but may not be quite as visually appealing.
The basic procedure for both sweet and savory congee is the same. Place the chia seeds in a small saucepan along with the liquid (either vegetable stock or non-dairy milk) and whisk vigorously to break up any clumps. The seeds will want to stick together, so make sure you keep whisking as the mixture cooks.
Add in the seasonings and aromatics—the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and white pepper in the case of the savory version, and the maple syrup, ginger, and cinnamon for the sweet. Cook over medium-high heat for 5–8 minutes, until thick and creamy. Either fold in the remaining goodies for your chosen flavor adventure or ladle the mixture into bowls first and sprinkle them artfully on top. Enjoy right away, while hot and steamy.
Courtesy Image: Hannah Kaminsky