If not, after reading this interview with the Jazzy Vegetarian herself and seeing her Creamy Broccoli Soup recipe, you’ll surely want to!
I introduced Laura, the Jazzy Vegetarian, in my last post, but I think the words directly from her
mouth typing-fingers show so much more of who she is. Besides being a tv-star, podcaster, jazz-singer and cookbook writer, this interview showed me what a genuinely warm and passionate person she is.
How did you become interested in cooking and what resources were most helpful to you in refining your cooking skills?
Standing on a stool in my maternal grandmother’s kitchen, at the age of three or four, stirring apples for her yearly batch of applesauce, gave me my first look into the joy of cooking. I always loved food and I remember being fascinated when my mom took beautifully cooked artichokes out of the pot, or when my great aunt came to visit and made homemade pasta noodles. On Sunday night, my Grandma often had a big pot of simmering spaghetti sauce on the stove. These were my first experiences relating to the delights of cooking at home.
When I became interested in honing my skills as a chef, I first looked to my family’s traditional recipes, taking on the challenge of veganizing them to make them taste like the “real deal.” Trial with some error has been my best friend in inventing new ways to make plant-based meals taste like their classic non-vegan counterpart.
As a Jazz Vocalist and a wizard in the kitchen, are there any similarities or differences between cooking and jazz?
Plant-based cooking is like singing jazz: making creative and spicy improvisations with a delicious twist! As a jazz singer, I love scatting a new phrase to enhance a classic song, so when I cook, I savor the process of improvising new versions of traditional recipes, depending on what’s in my kitchen or available at the local market—or on what it’s being paired with for a complete meal.
As you are in the process of working on your 3rd cookbook, 5th season of the Jazzy Vegetarian TV show, and 6th season of your podcast – how do you continue to come up with ideas for new recipes? And what is your creative process like?
As mentioned, I am inspired to create new dishes based on what is in my refrigerator, pantry or available at my local supermarket or farm stand. I sometimes start with the idea of a non-vegan recipe that I would like to veganize – let’s say spaghetti and meatballs. I think about the appropriate plant-based ingredients to substitute for the traditional tastes in the original dish. Or – more often than not – I just go into the kitchen – see what’s there, and start cooking’! The possibilities are endless!
With your busy schedule, what’s a typical day of meals look like for you? Do you have any tricks for eating well when short on time?
Smoothie, oatmeal, freshly baked muffins and/or whole grain toast in the morning. I like to add ground flaxseeds to my smoothies, my oatmeal and even to breakfast muffins. And yes, I do have a Cup of Joe, with soymilk.
Salad, sandwich and/or or soup for lunch.
For dinner I like to prepare a jazzy recipe. I often serve a new recipe that I am still testing. (I often test new recipes everyday). I usually do my first test on a new recipe for dinner – my husband is my best fan, but he is my strongest and best critic too!
Short on time? In that case, I might have canned, low-fat vegan soup ladled over a baked sweet potato. Jarred marinara heated up with canned white beans and baby spinach or kale, served over whole grain pasta is a quick to prepare choice too. Easy and delicious!
I often listen to music or podcasts (including yours!) while in the kitchen. As a jazz newbie, what songs or artists pair well with cooking in the kitchen?
Thank you so much for listening to the Jazzy Vegetarian podcast! In reality, any great music can pair with a delicious meal. My views on how to pair the right songs with the appropriate meals are as follows; Think about who will be dining with you.
For example, when serving a four-course dinner party, music from Metallica would not be your most likely choice. In contrast, when hosting a warm weather, outdoor bash, spinning Vivaldi is not going keep the party fun and upbeat. In general, when choosing the tunes to spin at a gathering, gala or family meal, think about who you are cooking for and why you are serving the meal. Elegant soirée? Choose your favorite classical choices or light jazz to keep the mood low-key and intimate. Kid’s birthday party? Spin the tracks that your child prefers, mixed in with something the parents will like too. New Year’s Eve festivities?
Keep it upbeat as your guests arrive with popular music choices, changing over to soft, instrumental jazz during dinner. And …a Jazzy Tip: As your party winds down, play slow classical tracks or relaxed jazz to subliminally hint that it’s time to head home. I have devoted an entire chapter in my cookbook to pairing menus with the best music, so, if you’re stuck for ideas…look in the cookbook!
Eat like Laura
When testing her cookbook for my review, Laura’s Creamy Broccoli Soup stood out as an amazingly fast and healthy recipe. We used defrosted frozen broccoli as a short-cut and for added protein selected Soy as our non-dairy milk of choice, and will surely be making this again.
Laura and her publisher, BenBella Books, were kind enough to let me share the recipe with my readers:
Creamy Broccoli Soup
[Makes 3 to 4 servings ] [Nut free, no oil ]
This delicate, tummy-warming soup makes a lovely light lunch or an ideal starter course for a formal soirée.
- 6 cups broccoli florets
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 cups cold nondairy milk, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon regular or reduced sodium tamari (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fit a steamer basket into a medium sauce pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 inches of cold water, then add the broccoli. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes.
Put the steamed broccoli, garlic, nondairy milk, tamari, all-purpose seasoning, salt, and cayenne pepper in a blender and process on low until smooth, making sure to leave air space at top of blender to allow steam to escape. If the soup is too thick, add more nondairy milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, to achieve the desired consistency, pulsing or blending briefly after each addition.
Put the soup in a medium soup pot and cook over medium-low heat, until heated through, stirring often. Season with pepper. If soup is too thick, add more nondairy milk.
Serve immediately in deep soup bowls with whole-grain crackers or crusty bread on the side.
I’d love to hear from you!
What music do you like to listen to while cooking or eating?
What’s your favorite short-on-time meal?
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