There is a simple joy to be found in cooking food that makes us feel good; feeling grateful and appreciative of the foods that nourish us. While Abbie Cornish and Jacqueline King Schiller‘s new book Pescan outlines a dietary lifestyle with a plant-based focus (whole foods such as: vegetables, grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, etc.) using eggs or seafood sometimes (no poultry, dairy, or red meat), the main focus of their book is how to enjoy cooking and eating delicious food.
Pescan, born from the years Cornish and King Schiller spent in the kitchen cooking together as friends, looks to inspire home cooks to celebrate all the foods they enjoy that leave them feeling satisfied. The recipes are organized into 9 chapters: Cooking School: Basics and Batch Cooking, Breakfast, Eggs, Soups and Salads, Beans and Grains, Pizza and Pasta, Seafood, Party Food, and Dessert. What I really appreciate is how they’ve geared the cookbook to suit home cooks of any level! They take care explaining the tenants of a pescan lifestyle, for those who are unfamiliar with it, and, they also provide excellent information and guidance on stocking your pantry and how to cook / prep basic ingredients such as grains, beans, vegetables, and plant milks. Being able to master these simple, essential components will help you to be ready to cook wonderful dishes without feeling you’re stuck in the kitchen (as they point out, batch cooking is a real time-saver).
Pescan is a great cookbook even if you’re not following a pescan lifestyle — I found many recipes suited my vegetarian family and I enjoyed reading all about what lead them to develop their recipes. The recipe notes provide much insight into how their everyday lives informed and inspired their cooking. Ingredients are easy to source — I was able to buy what I needed at my local grocery store and farmer’s markets. I found that the recipes provide both prep times and cook times (I found both to be accurate), which is helpful when I only have a set amount of time to make a meal. Since having my daughter (who is now 5) I never want to get into a position where I start cooking dinner only to finish at 8 o’clock at night — so having this information really helps me to plan.
In the cookbook, King Schiller tells a story about her California Dream Burgers and how she spent years perfecting the recipe and knew it was perfect when her carnivorous friend was almost brought to tears when they realized the burgers at the Fourth of July BBQ had run out! Often times homemade veggie burgers lack in either flavour or texture (or both!) and, what I found with these burgers is that they are darn tasty and have a wonderfully moist texture. The main ingredients: mashed baked sweet potato, herbed quinoa, and black beans provide a satisfying base while the supporting ingredients onion, garlic, BBQ sauce, smoked salt, walnuts, and fresh herbs really create a flavour I haven’t found in any other veggie burger (I think the BBQ sauce and smoked salt really gives the burger such great taste, and they smell incredible while cooking!).
Sometimes home cooks shy away from multi-ingredient recipes because it seems like it might be too involved or take too much effort, but one of the strategies that King Schiller provides in the How to Cook Like a Pro section comes straight from her culinary school experiences: preparing your mise en place. A seemingly fancy French term for taking the elements of the recipe and organizing them on your cooking space — I found that getting the ingredients ready and then following through with the recipe a cinch! I also took King Schiller’s advice and made a double batch so that I could freeze some for later (this is a prime example of how batch cooking will save a weeknight dinner when you have no time to make anything from scratch). While I served my husband’s burger with his favourite topping — caramelized onions — I topped mine with the homemade Kale-Walnut Pesto from the book.
Sometimes tofu recipes can be a hard sell for people, especially when tofu is flavourless. To be honest, it’s one of my favourite ingredients and, I was excited to discover several new recipes to add to my tofu recipe repertoire. Since my daughter has grown up as a vegetarian, she doesn’t know what chicken fingers are like so I was happy to try out Cornish and King Schiller’s recipe for Crispy Turmeric Spiced Tofu w/ Cilantro-Mint Cream. In my mind this dish harkens back to my childhood love of chicken fingers and my daughter totally dug the crunchy texture and cool dipping sauce. Nostalgia always wins! Now I have a vegetarian-suitable version of one of my childhood favourite meals.
Another tofu recipe that I fell in love with is their Spicy Buffalo Tofu Fingers with Avocado Ranch Dressing. While this is a dish the authors serve for Super Bowl, I found it absolutely perfect for a Meatless Monday meal when served with some brown rice. This dish was a little too spicy for my daughter but luckily the cooling dressing really helped to temper the heat.
Tofu makes such a great plant-based protein substitute in so many dishes — it can even mimic the texture and mouthfeel of scrambled eggs! There are certain people in my life that I love to cook for. One of these people is the mom of my daughter’s bestie and, when they come over for a playdate, I always make sure to serve up something special for her. On their last visit the kids requested their die-hard fav (mac ‘n cheese) and I cooked up a skillet full of Cornish and King Schiller’s Curried Tofu Scramble. The turmeric imparts a lovely yellow colour — reminiscent of actual scrambled eggs. This scramble is also full of tasty extras like: onions, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, and spinach, but what makes this such a great egg-alternative are the seasonings/flavourings: turmeric, curry powder, nutritional yeast flakes, tamari, vegetable broth, and red pepper flakes. I was eager to know what my friend though (as she’d never had a tofu scramble before) — she really enjoyed it! She thought that it gave her great ideas on how to transform tofu into something more delicious and palatable.
I felt the euthusiasm of Cornish and King Schiller’s cooking and recipes fueling my own kitchen exploits. Offering tangible ways to enjoy cooking and feeling good is what Pescan does well. And, by showing how their pescan lifestyle works for them provides inspiration to those looking to incorporate aspects of a plant-based/pescan lifestyle into their own. More importantly, the recipes they offer allow any home cook to advance their kitchen skills while making delicious meals for their friends and family. If you checkout my dedicated Facebook post or my custom Instagram hashtag #pescaniseatworthy to see which recipes we really enjoyed!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Abrams Books for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.