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An Interview with Isa Chandra Moskowitz! PLUS: Grapefruit Ice Box Cookie Recipe!

An Interview with Isa Chandra Moskowitz! PLUS: Grapefruit Ice Box Cookie Recipe!

We are deeply obsessed with the Veganomicon cookbook, and have handed out copies to nearly everyone in our crew, vegan or not.   It’s that gourmet, that tasty, that divine… and it celebrates people who love to EAT.   We ain’t talkin’ dressing-free salads and celery stick gals, but full-blown noshers who can throw down like a champion professional eater.   Here at GirlieGirl Army HQ, where the food never ends and the cravings never stop, we can respect a girl-after-our-own-rotten-hungry-hearts like Isa Chandra Moskowitz.   We got a chance to chit chat with this wonderful author, Chef, and overall   green goddess about her newest exciting projects and shower her with some Jewish sister praise.

GIRLIEGIRL ARMY: Hola Isa! Our kitchen shelf is overrun with your cookbooks.   You really filled a void with your book for the Gourmand who truly loves good food.. not just vegan junk food (Mac n’ Vegan Cheese et all.)   What are your favorite compliments about your books that you have gotten over the years?

ISA: Well, thanks! I’ll add that to my list of favorite compliments. It’s hard to think of specific things people say, but I am always happy to hear that people like the recipes. Whether it’s someone who was making something simple, like lentil soup, for the first time or someone getting all ambitious and making crepes, I am just honored to be part of the process. Oh, actually, just this past weekend a girl told me that her dad, who is from India and not vegan, liked to cook from my books because I cook real Indian food. So that is probably the best kind of compliment. If an old Jewish lady told me my matzoh ball soup was was bad, I would be mortified. It’s nice to know that a dish passes! It’s also cool when high highfalutin foodies come around to vegan food via our books, like Saveur or The NY Times. And I do google my books 20 times a day so sometimes the best compliments come from small unexpected places in the middle of Nebraska. It’s like “Holy crap, there is TOFU in Nebraska!” The revolution is here.

Which of your books feels most like your baby?   What makes each tome special?

Well Vegan with a Vengeance was my first so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I kind of can’t believe I did it with as little experience as I had. Now I feel so much more professional but I admire the chutzpah of V.w.a.v. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World really got us noticed, plus it’s just so friggin’ cute! I want to squeeze its cheeks. Veganomicon made us legit. I guess it’s like the child that takes care of you in your old age, I’m just so proud of it! Vegan Brunch is probably my favorite so far. Brunch is my favorite meal and it seems like people are having so much fun with the cookbook and that’s really what I wanted.

What is your favorite cookie recipe from your upcoming cookie cook book?

What kind of monster could pick a favorite cookie! Just at random, let me say the grapefruit ice box cookies. Because grapefruit doesn’t get enough love in the dessert world!

MAKE ‘EM: Grapefruit Ice Box Cookies

No longer the red-fruited stepchild, grapefruit shines front and center in these buttery square babies. You should be able to get enough zest and juice from one grapefruit, but pick up two just in case. Makes 24 cookies.

For cookies:

  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenate margarine
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup fresh red grapefruit juice
  • 1 tablespoon red grapefruit zest
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For glaze:

  • 2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons red grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons red grapefruit zest for sprinkling

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the margarine and shortening. Beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit zest. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and beat until a soft dough forms. On a piece of parchment paper from the dough into a log about 14 inches long. Roll up in parchment paper and fashion the log into a rectangle by rotating and pressing the dough to square off the sides. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and slice rectangle into ¼ inch thick slices and place on cookie sheets. The end slices are going to be wack, that’s ok, just discard them or make 2 weird looking cookies. Bake 15 minutes, edges should be lightly browned. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

Make the glaze and assemble: In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together sugar, juice, and vanilla. It should fall from the fork in thick ribbons, if it seems to thin add a little extra sugar. Too thick, add more juice by the teaspoon. Spoon onto cooled cookies and spread a bit. Sprinkle with a little zest. Let set for at least half an hour. If it’s warm in the kitchen, place cookies in the fridge to set. Store in a container until ready to use.

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyones Favorite Treats will be out in November! Hang on to your knickers!
“Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Treats” will be out in November!

What’s your ideal brunch – what are you eating, who is there, what kinda weather is it, what music are you listening to…?

Let’s see, Joaquin Phoenix and I have just finished an evening long fuckfest and…just kidding. Sort of. Did that image ruin your brunch for all eternity? I actually love a rainy day brunch. Brunch food smells so good on rainy days. We can import some of my Brooklyn friends and invite some of my favorite Portlanders,   start off with some indie rock that everyone but me hates, and of course, end with some booty base. If there was pumpkin french toast and swiss chard fritattas, I wouldn’t complain.

I think food is the ultimate converter.   Why do you think so many veggies just placate their meat eating friends and hit the steak house and order baked potatoes, rather than push them to try the fantastic veg restaurant in their town?

I actually don’t see that! But I suppose people gotta work with the tools that they got. Sometimes you have to go out to that strip mall with your fam. But I think vegans are learning to cook more and more, especially when I am nagging them to.

See Also

What’s your least favorite stereotype about vegans?

As I said before, I hate that it’s thought of as a white upper class thing. There are definitely things that white upper class vegans to do perpetuate this, but people of all backgrounds go vegan. And as far as class, going vegan is one of the most economical things a person can do. Let’s say a cheap pound of meat is six bucks, you know how much beans that can get you?

What are the top 10 staples you must have in your fridge?

Let me just give you the top 10 staples in general, refrigerated and non. Also – they’re subject to change! Right now I am down with yellow split peas, cashews, tempeh, almond milk, spelt flour, quinoa, edamame, chickpeas, white wine aaaaaaaand, oh, let’s say agave.

What do you – besides being vegan – to live a green goddess vida?

Well, all the basics. I don’t drive, instead I walk take public transit or ride my bike (ok sometimes I hitch a ride, too!), I bring my own shopping bags cause god knows I do a lot of shopping, and I smoke only local, sustainable, shade grown, fairly traded, biodynamic crack cocaine.

Do you miss NYC?   How does Portland compare to NY life?

I do miss NYC but I feel pretty bicoastal. I get back home often. Portland life, in a word, is easy. Life in NYC can be really hard and stressful, it’s especially hard for me because being from there I can’t really deal with all the change. But you know, instead of just being upset about it I moved to a place where I could be happy. Done deal. I would never have been able to get the cooking school in NY. But yeah, I feel more normal in NYC. Portland just isn’t Jewy at all. I need to go back to NYC often to retain my sanity, which is kind of an ironic turn of events.

Isa Moskowitz, Brooklyn born and bred, has been punking around New York City since the ’80’s.. now Portland. She’s been a waitress, jewelry designer, co-op manager, web designer, ‘zine editor, baker, and much more. Now she’s an author, finally. She started the PPK website in 2003. The rest, as they say, is herstory.   Go, go, go play around on the site.   You won’t be sorry:   Oh, and it goes without saying that you should order ALL her books online today.   They are that good, not one dissapoints.