Thursday, 10 November 2016

Book Review: Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

One of the first vegan cookbooks I bought was Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  Isa had great recipes and a fun sense of humour.  In 2014 I was given a copy of her book Isa Does It.  It has to be one of the cookbooks I have used the most since I started blogging.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

If I was to be asked for a recommendation of a recipe book for a new vegan, this would be it.  The book has lots of gorgeous photos that draw you in.  The recipes are easy to make and always delicious and healthy.  Isa' writes in a friendly and funny style that makes you feel like you are just cooking along with a friend rather than following the strict instructions of your home economics teacher.  I own a few of her books and think this is definitely the best.

The book is divided into sections.  I have cooked from most of them and have arranged photos of recipes I have made in order of sections.  As I have been cooking from Isa Does It since I received it in 2014, I apologise that it is quite some time since I made many of these recipes.  Would I make them again?  Oh yeah!


This Morroccan noodle soup is really substantial and satisfying.  I used dried lentils instead of tinned and a added a bit less water.  The tomatoes, chickpeas, eggplant and lentils makes the noodles feel really healthy.  I love the sweet paprika and fresh mint flavours.

Pesto Soup with Gnocchi, Beans and Greens
This creamy green soup is full of comfort with packet gnocchi, cauliflower, basil, silverbeet (swiss chard), and white beans.  The pesto is in the flavours rather than in a spoonful of pesto and smells magnificent.


Ranch Salad with Red Potatoes and Smoky Chickpeas
Ranch salad is not a thing in Australia but if it is always this good I would embrace it.  The avocado ranch dressing and smoky chickpeas gave lots of flavour and interest to some potatoes and greens.


Bistro Beet Burgers
Finding a good vegan burger can be challenging.  This one is fun with the beetroot a little reminiscent of a bloody beef burger, but also substantial with rice, lentils and almond butter.  I went all out and served it with vegan cheese, fried onions, tomato, lettuce and tomato sauce in roasted buns.

Pasta and Risotto:

 Tofu and mushroom stroganoff
I really wanted to make a stroganoff but I am not really a mushroom person person so this wasn't such a hit with me as other dishes in the book.  However the creamy sauce was tasty and tempting.  I also wasn't so keen on the frozen and thawed tofu (blame my fridge for freezing the tofu when it was reset during an electrical blackout).  E on the other hand really liked it.

This is a bit like spag bol - a good basic pasta with tomato sauce and lentils.  It is quick and easy but don't be fooled into thinking it is dull.  It has a cashew sauce stirred through which make it rich and creamy and great comfort food.

Stews, Chilis and Curries:

Down-Home Curry
This is the sort of creamy student curry that is easy to make and nothing fancy, yet tastes great.  I really liked how it used some flavourings like maple syrup and tomato paste that I would not usually use in curries.  I really love tofu in a stew and this worked for me here.  I am not sure I used broccoli when I look at the photo.  I suspect it was zucchini instead.  It probably would have looked better with fresh coriander and sriracha but those aren't my sort of thing.  But I like that it is a curry where anything goes.

Coconut Chana Saag
I loved this coconut milk based stew with chickpeas, kale and tomatoes.  It has lost of spices that I have in my pantry (fennel, garam masala, cumin) and is finished with lime juice.  Great with rice.

Stir-fries and Sautes:

Omaha Yakisoba with Red Cabbage and Corn 
I so admired Isa's picture of plump noodles with beautiful strands of purple cabbage.  Mine looks nothing like it.  Actually I think mine is more of a riot of colour.  I used cabbage, corn, red pepper, broccoli, dried mushrooms (rehydrated) and snow peas.  The noodles are not ready to use udon so they are not as fat and slippery.  I added some of the Classic Baked Tofu you will see below.  It made a very tasty dinner.

Bowls (and a Few Plates):

Pizza bowl with greens, sausages and olives
I pretty much followed the recipe here and it was a winner.  Not too hard to put together if you used bought sausages like I did, and it has a brilliant cashew based sauce flavoured with tomato paste and roasted red peppers.  My sauce did not drizzle as thinly and prettily as Isa's but it is one I would make again.

Lentil-Miso Gravy
I just made the gravy from the Good Gravy Bowl.  It worked really well with nut roast, broccoli and rice.  I am not sure I loved it as much as a cashew-based sauce but it was a nice alternative sort of gravy.

Sunday Night Suppers:

Chandra Malai Kofta
Fried zucchini koftas served in a creamy cashew based curry sauce.  This is fantastic comfort food. I used tongs to turn the koftas because they were quite fragile.  I made this after seeing a recipe online in which I thought I saw rice noodles so that is what I used instead of the rice that Isa recommends.  I didn't have fresh coriander (as I don't like it) but did have some smoked almonds which worked well here.

A Few Basic Proteins:

Classic baked tofu
I made this tofu without reading the recipe very closely.  I only made half the tofu for 300g hard tofu and then I baked it in a dish with the marinade, though on re-reading Isa's recipe I am not sure the marinade was meant to be in it.  I baked it 30 minutes uncovered and then flipped it and baked another 10 minutes.  It is a nice tasty tofu that, as Isa says, can be put added to stirfries, stews and salads.  Next time I might cut it thinner (no thicker than 0.5cm).

Breakfast, Brunch and Bakes for the Morning:

Marbled banana bread
The magic of marbled cake is always fun.  I really loved the soft texture of this vegan cake with marbled chocolate swirls.  The only problem is that the second time I made it I forgot to divide the batter before adding the cocoa and there were no swirls.  I can tell you it works well as chocolate banana bread.  And am I the only one who can see a giraffe in the above photo?

Coconut French Toast
I have made this French toast a few times.  It has a pretty basic dipping mixture of milk and flours but is brought to another level with coconut on the outside.  We really love it.


Chocolate  and Gingerbread Cookies
 I have looked for a good chocolate and gingerbread bake and for a good vegan choc chip cookie recipe.  This recipe ticks both boxes.  The cookies are sturdier than a lot of vegan choc chip cookies I have tried and it tastes wonderful.  They are not as dark as Isa's photo but are plenty of chocolate flavour for me.

More recipes from Isa Does It that I would love to make:
  • New England Glam Chowder
  • Cheddary Broccoli Soup
  • Greek Diner Salad
  • Tempeh Meatballs and Spaghetti
  • Eggplant and Breadcrumb Fettucine
  • Olive Angel Hair Pasta with Seared Brussels Sprouts
  • Goddess Noodles with Tempeh and Broccoli
  • Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings
  • Tamale Shepherd's Pie
  • Scrambled Chickpeas
  • Carrot Cake Pancakes
  • Strawberry and Cream Bread Pudding

I love to browse through this book from time to time and think about what else I might cook.  It is always a joy to peruse and full of inspiration.  You can find many of the recipes online, especially as Isa hosted the Post Punk Kitchen vegan cooking community which has an online presence.  However the book is so beautiful that I highly recommend buying a copy if you don't already own it.

Have you cooked from Isa Does It?  What is your favourite recipe or the recipe you really want to make?

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in November 2016.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2016 Vegan MoFo posts. 

Week 2's theme is International.  Isa Does It has so many great international recipes, though filtered through an American lens.


  1. I really enjoyed this because I was playing culinary bingo in that I recognised all those dishes. The kofta were really good, I recall that it seemed like everyone had made them and I took ages but they were great.

    1. Thanks Faye - I loved those koftas - they were a bit of work or I would make them often! I feel like everyone has written about the book already but I have been taking photos and promising myself to write about it some day and glad it is posted now!

  2. Definitely make the glam chowder, it's one of my all time favourite soups! I'm also a huge fan of this book. I turned vegan at the start of 2014 and this was the first book I got. I've made so many things from it, it's just unbelievably good. Make the carrot cake pancakes, and the bread pudding too! Just make everything!

    1. Thanks HH - good to hear a recommendation for the glam chowder - what a great book to have when you turned veagn - every now and again I get back to it and there is always more good food to try and those I want to make again!

  3. You've managed to make so many of the recipes, I'm impressed! I can see the giraffe in the bread too :)
    I like the sound of the carrot cake pancakes.

    1. Thanks Chelsey - glad I am not the only one to see the giraffe! I must try those carrot cake pancakes

  4. Isn't it terrible that I don't know whether or not I have this book, I think i do - but not sure - will take a look this evening when i get back home. The fact that you have cooked so much from it is a wonderful recommendation. the pizza bowl and gnocchi soup especially appeal

    1. Thanks Shaheen - I'd recommend having a look for it and starting to cook the recipes - I think you would enjoy it (but I know what you mean about having too many cookbooks to keep track of)

  5. Wow, that is a comprehensive cookbook review. I have heaps of cookbooks that I haven't made anything out of. The dishes look good.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I have quite a few cookbooks I haven't cooked from which is why I love that I have used this a lot!

  6. Everything looks so yummy. Thanks for the comprehensive review. It's funny, I actually really like tofu that's been frozen and thawed. Seems to make it chewier and sponger so it absorbs more flavour :)

  7. Would you believe I've had this cookbook for awhile and haven't tried a single one of the recipes you've mentioned? And I feel like I've tried a lot of the recipes. I guess that's just how big the book is haha ;)


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