Tag Archives: cookbook

GIVEAWAY and review for Vegan Finger Foods

Recently I was contacted by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen about receiving a review copy of their new book Vegan Finger Foods and doing a giveaway as well. I excitedly agreed. I love the recipes I’ve tried from their earlier Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day and Tami’s American Vegan Kitchen. With a bakesale and baby shower coming up I knew that I’d get a lot of opportunities to try out recipes.

Upon cracking the book open the first thing I noticed was all the lovely photos take by Celine and the very modern ideas. I had a hard time deciding what I would try because so many different recipes were appealing. I think the recipes in this book would appeal to all the different kinds of vegan diets out there. There are recipes that feature whole foods, are soy free, soy heavy, gluten free, bread based, raw, baked, complicated, easy, cupcake heavy, sugar free, comfort food, or chocolate based.

The first chapter is a short primer on finger foods and any types of special ingredients they use. Then it goes into “Veggie-Centric Finger Feasts” with recipes like “Kale Cucumber Cups” and “Snacking Chickpeas” these were all vegetable heavy and on the easier side. Next was “Stuffed and Dipped” with recipes like “Sauerkraut Stuffed Seitan Rounds” and “Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites” which I think most excited me. Then “Bread-Based Bites with recipes like “Pull Apart Pesto Bread” and “Spinach Swirls with Quicky Marinara” and finally “Sweet Little Somethings which includes recipes like “Creamsicle Ice Lollies” and “Goji Berry Cacao Bites”.

The first recipe I tried was the Tahini Caramel Popcorn. The first batch came together like magic. The second batch went awry when I dropped my fork into the caramel and then tried to retrieve it with my fingers. I learned that you NEVER put your fingers in hot caramel, it sticks right to your skin and burns burns burns. So, while I  was dealing with that, I wasn’t stirring and  the caramel cooked too long. Also, I think because of the humidity here I had trouble with the caramel really solidifying because the popcorn never became rock hard until I tried putting it in the fridge. So, I ended up selling them as Tahini Caramel Popcorn Balls at the bakesale. They were a hit! The tahini really added an interesting element. My friends that tried them loved them and they are GF so a perfect bakesale treat.

The one recipe that kept calling my name every time I flipped through the book was the Nacho Potato Skins. I found this recipe a bit overly complicated for me, like instead of calling for a small chopped onion they call for something like a half a cup of finely chopped onion. I know most folks prefer this kind of precision but for me, in something like a black bean salad, I just want it to be super simple. But then, I also thought the step of coating the potatoes with adobo and then crisping them again seemed like an unnecessary step but I am so glad I didn’t skip it. Just that little bit of flavor and crispness made the recipe for me. We used big russet potatoes and had one each for dinner. Dan couldn’t believe I ate mine with my hands but I told him it was a Vegan Finger Food! They were totally delicious and hit that junk food note even though they were, dare I say, healthy nacho potato skins using fresh vegetables, beans, and homemade vegan queso. They were very fresh tasting and had lots of flavor, I loved them.

Next, I had to decide which recipes to use for a taco themed baby shower. I wanted things I could mostly make ahead of time but that would go with the overall menu. I knew that my guest of honor is way into jalapeno poppers so these were definitely in from the start. Actually, this recipe probably turned out to be my favorite from the book and I would definitely make it again. I even used their tip of using gloves when dealing with the jalapenos (whenever I’m doing a cookbook review I try to actually follow all the directions). Somehow, I had never used gloves before. As an incredibly lazy person I always thought it was easier to be super careful when de-seeding hot peppers than to find some gloves. Boy, was I wrong. With gloves you can go a thousand times faster. And you are probably a lot less likely to touch your eyes (or other sensitive areas) with gloves on accidentally. For this recipe you hollow out the jalapenos, make a cashew cheese, plop a tablespoon of it in each jalapeno half, and then invert it onto a plate of panko and cornflakes, and bake them in the oven. They had all the crunchy cheesiness of traditional poppers without having to deep fry or use cheese. And they were super easy. A total win.

Finally, I decided to also make the Baked Lenteja Taquitos instead of the Pulled Jackfruit Mini Tacos because I figured that growing baby would need some extra protein. These seemed super easy; you cook up french lentils and then mix them with some mashed potatoes and spices, roll the filling in tortillas, and then bake them in the oven. When shopping at Fiesta I came across their homemade corn tortillas that were nopale flavored so I kind of had to try them. They did not work well at all in this recipe, however. I think fresh flour tortillas or even store-bought corn tortillas would have held up much better in the rolling process. They tasted good though! And they were crowd-pleasers as well.

There are still many recipes I want to try! The Brewpub Cauliflower Dip, Tiny Tomato Pies, and the Portobello BLTs are all going to be coming out of my kitchen sooner rather than later. And if you are worried about getting the book because you don’t entertain, never fear! Many of the recipes can easily be scaled up for dinner (like those BLTs) or used as side dishes like the Green Beans Jalfrezi. It also seems like a GREAT book for coming up with things to bring to a potluck, and God knows, if you’re vegan you have to go to potlucks all the time. They back section of the book has sample menus like “Hot Summer Nights” and “Extra Easy Entertaining”. You can check them all out on the Amazon Preivew. I really do think this book has something for everyone. I think some vegan millionaire should buy a ton of copies and send this book to every bar because bars here never have interesting vegan options. 

Giveaway Closed!

If you would like to win a copy please comment below and answer this question: If someone was throwing a party for you, what would you want on the menu? Make sure you add your email when you leave the comment in the form so that I can contact you if you are the winner!

Win a copy of “Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day”

Vegan sandwiches from shitty restaurants can really make you kind of disappointed by sandwiches. If you are lucky, they will have the standard hummus sandwich or veggie burger, otherwise you can sometimes order a PB&J off the kids menu. If not that, you are stuck with the worst sandwich in the world; the condiment sandwich aka the “veggie sandwich”. Sorry but lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ketchup, and mustard does not a sandwich make. If you grew up eating tons of sandwiches, like I did in the old USA this can be very disappointing. Don’t you wish someone would come and solve this nightmare problem? And that there was someone who could restore their former glory? This book is called “Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day” but really I think Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes are the ones who deserve the superhero status. They sent me a copy of their new cookbook for their book tour and I am so happy they did! My boyfriend is even happier since he was begging me to get a copy of the book the week that it came out. And he couldn’t care less about cookbooks usually. (yeah I don’t get that either) He loves sandwiches so much that I recently smuggled him one from Illinois across four state lines so he was very excited about this one.

This book has all the old favorites like, the Dagwood, the BLT, and the Fishwich. It has veganized American classics like the Country Sausage & Biscuit or the a KFC knockoff. It has international sandwiches like a Shwarma, a Bahn Mi, the Welsh Rarebit, Bierocks, or From Russia with Love, They have breakfast sandwiches like Mexican Chick-Un and Waffles and Berry Stuffed French Toast Pockets. They even have dessert sandwiches like an open-face Bananas Foster cake sandwich or a chocolate panini. They have also come up with all sorts of combinations that only a couple of awesome vegans could create like, Tofu Pomegranate Pockets, Onion Ring Ranchocado, or the Mac-Shroom. And if you have no idea what any of these should actually look, never fear, like there are tons of glorious pictures throughout. Nearly every sandwich has a mouthwatering shot.

The last chapter contains everything you need to really get down with making homemade sandwiches with several different amazing sounding seitan recipes to make your own cold cuts from, recipes for rolls and even a brioche, and then tons of spreads and condiments that you could use to enhance any old sandwich. There is also a great index and little symbols telling you if a sandwich is potentially gluten free, if it’s quick to make, or keeps well to bring to work. And speaking of preparing ahead, there is a whole section on how to pack up sandwiches so that you won’t have soggy bread and tips on each sandwich throughout.

I have a sandwich that I brought to work today and I’m so excited to eat it. I had a really hard time deciding which one to make, but in the end I went for the one that sounded really easy, the Peanut Butter Bacon Banana Sandwich. Filling in for the pig so he could live another day is a really well put together recipe for broiled smoky chickpeas that I absolutely loved and feel I will be making all the time. 

When I was assembling the sandwich I thought those chickpeas would be flying everywhere but we just had a few men overboard, most of them clung to the chunky peanut butter and just ripened bananas. I did make one mistake since the recipe called for soft rolls. I didn’t want to make anything and thought that these dinner rolls I found at Whole Foods would work fine, but they didn’t squish down at all when I fried them up. They were, in fact, hard rolls. A better sub would have been hamburger rolls. They were delicious though, even though we had a hearty soup on the side Dan was already fixing his second sandwich before I had even sat down to eat mine. All the flavors came together beautifully.

This is the perfect book for vegans that like really exciting food and recreations of old favorites. It does call for some ingredients that you wouldn’t find at any old store but it definitely doesn’t rely on grocery store vegan meats and cheeses, there are recipes included for those to make your own. And although their are some great sounding healthy options, some recipes call for a good old fashioned deep fat fry. There is definitely something for everyone.

CONTEST CLOSED KZ Cakes is the winner! Her comment was “Okay this is really gross, and un-vegan but when I was little I used to make what was called “Special Sandwiches” which were white bread, both halves slathered in Miracle Whip and filled with cheeze puffs. Ew right? I don’t even remotely want to veganize it.” eww indeed. And hilarious.

Do you want to make glorious sandwiches too? Just comment below and let me know what your favorite sandwich was growing up. Bonus points if it is a concoction you came up with yourself or if it’s a regional favorite. And if you can’t think of one tell me the worst vegan sandwich you ever had at a restaurant. I know you can do that. You have until 11-2-12 to leave a comment.

 

The Veganomicon, a review

This post is part of the ppk’s 2011 cookbook challenge.

It seems silly to even review The Veganomicon because I feel like most people already have it. That probably tells you more about my circle than anything else. Or that I spend a lot of time in the vegan blogosphere. Or that everyone I know is awesome.

I have seen posts about this book where people try and cook from it for a week, or even a year. I have seen people debate if it is really the ultimate vegan cookbook. (My answer, yes) I think a big part of the reason for all the chatter is that it really did usher in the change. The Veganomicon took vegan food from a health food or animal rights niche to a full on cuisine which in turn helped both those causes. When the Veganomicon came out just a couple years ago it mingled with the vegetarian cookbooks on a shelf at Book People. Now vegans have a whole case in the store and there are so many titles coming out every month that us vegan food bloggers and food enthusiasts can’t keep up with them.

I have read that the Veganomicon is difficult for beginners and I have to disagree. I have personally recommended the book to so many folks who don’t know their soft tofu from their silken tofu and they have all seemed pretty happy with it. It is my boyfriend’s favorite cookbook and before he read the Veganomicon he only made pasta. He tells his friends & family about it and then they get it and wander off to whole foods looking for porcini mushrooms and unground nutmeg. It is true some of the recipes are involved but when you sink your teeth into the Moussaka or the Caluliflower and Mushroom Pot Pie with olive biscuit topping it will all be worth it I promise.

a piece of amazing pot pie

I recommend the book to beginners all the time because if you actually read it you will learn everything you need to know about vegan cooking and if you still can’t figure something out it is the only book in the world (well that I know of) that has a whole forum of friendly people who have tried every recipe and will tell you what to do and give you advice if you are confused.

There are a lot of simple recipes that have blown my mind like the olivey roasted red pepper and eggplant goodness of the Muffulatta Sandwich

or the SmokeyGrilled Tempeh that you can use the same marinade for your greens for easy cooking.

There are recipes for breakfast (or brunch or dinner) like the Asparagus Tarragon Quiche 

There are instructions for how to marinate and grill portobellos and any other vegetable you would ever want to grill and  recipes for simple summer eating like the best barbecued tofu ever 

There are holiday standards like cranberry sauce and new and amazing holiday recipes like carmelized onion & butternut roast chestnut casserole. 

There are dishes for things I never in my life would have thought of like Gazborsht (a cold soup that is a cross between gazpacho and borsht that is fabulous on a hot day with just picked tomatoes) or Lemongrass Asparagus risotto

and there are recipes for things that we make so regularly we hardly have to look at the recipe like Mac Daddy and Chickpea Cutlets (which you can make with lentils if you are short on time and money)

There are even recipes that you can serve people who really do not want anything to do with vegan food but end up enjoying anyway like fried eggplant rollatini

and recipes for things you can stack up like broccoli polenta and Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale and sun-dried tomatoes

There are side dishes, sauces, dips, appetizers, basic recipes like seitan, desserts, bread, muffins, breakfast and even ice cream. Almost any occasion you could ever  think of you can find a recipe in the Veganomicon which makes in invaluable for everyone having a party or a family.

Now I realize this review is starting to sound like a goddamn commercial so I will tell you what I don’t like too. For one, I wish the recipes were each on their own page, preferably with a picture like Vegan Brunch. I hate having to flip back and forth when my hands a million times to read the ingredients. I also think the estimated preparation times are completely inaccurate and vary so widely that I try to not even look at them. But maybe that is because sometimes I cook like lightning and sometimes I can’t find my food processor. My version has a couple of serious typos and things that we omitted but I bet later versions have corrected this. And there are some recipes I haven’t liked but I still always have complete faith in trying new ones because I am constantly amazed by the Veganomicon.

If you haven’t picked up a copy I recommend you check it out. If nothing else you’ll probably laugh a lot and be inspired to make some really good food even if you don’t  usually cook. If you aren’t vegan or vegetarian you can still get a lot out of this book, there are recipes in here for almost every vegetable and tons of easy soups and side dishes. If you like food and you are curious to see what vegan cuisine can be this is the one to read.

Appetite For Reduction, a review

This post is part of the ppk’s 2011 cookbook challenge.

I’ll admit it there are a few things I am a fangirl about.  I realized books by Isa Chandra Moskowitz got added to the list when I knew the date that her new book was coming out and ran over to Book People to buy it rather than getting it cheaper from Amazon. I am sorry to say that this time it wasn’t because I was trying to shop local or save money. I got the book at Book People because I knew I could get it there quicker than if I ordered it. And yes, I have a million cookbooks.


Honestly, besides my fandom I was especially excited for the this cookbook because I have had a lot of trouble losing weight, even as a vegan. For one thing I eat too many fillers (rice, pasta, beer, and bagels) which all have a lot of calories. This has been hard to accept because I feel like I eat really healthy. I mean I eat kale several times a week and I am not a big sweets person or a baker. And I make almost everything from scratch. But for some people I guess it just isn’t that easy. We feed our dogs the same amount and one is perfect size and the other is always putting on pounds. Sure, some of this is because he gets into the trash, but mostly it is that they are different dogs. 

Being vegan and loving to cook different things every day also makes calorie counting so much more difficult for me. It is really easy to look up the calorie info in ready made foods and chain restaurants and enter it. Easy enough, anyway, until you die of a heart attack. It is not so easy to enter in a vegan pot pie that has a crust, a sauce, 10 vegetables that you don’t know the weight of, and random ingredients that are never in the databases like nutritional yeast and soy cream. When everything in your meal is homeade, like seitan sausages, you have to add them all too, bit by bit. Someone needs to make a vegan calorie counting site. Someone a lot smarter than me. Anyway enough complaining, I can figure it out it just takes some motivation and now Appetite for Reduction has made things so much easier because all the nutritional info is right there. It inspired me to start keeping track again and I have been very successful, losing a pound a week since I got the book. Even during Christmas! I have been using this phone app called LoseIt that is super easy to use and log things,  it is the first thing that has worked well for me since going vegan .

The book starts with a nutritional primer that was co-written with a vegan nutritionist and athlete who not only knows his stuff, but also seems to have all the most up to date info and makes it really easy to understand. I think this would be a great book for anyone starting out on a vegan diet, even if they are doing it solely for animal rights reasons or because they want to eat healthier but not necessarily lose weight.

The book is divided into sections after the nutrition bit; salads, sides, veggies, beans, tofu & tempeh, pasta, soups, curries, chilies & stews and then guides for sandwiches and bowls.  So far I have tried many of the recipes and most of them have been very successful and very filling.  Usually when a recipe says 4-6 servings I hope that it will be enough to feed my partner and I but these have actually worked well for my appetite, partially because I make a side as well. Note that my partner eats a lot and he has been having two servings of everything and I take the 4th with me for lunch the next day so your results may vary.

One of my favorite really quick and easy meals has been the buffalo tempeh with mac & trees. Although it isn’t the most photogenic recipe it was so good that I have already made it twice. Mixing broccoli made the macaroni healthier and the tempeh was just fabulous, the creamy mac & trees went just perfect with the spicy tempeh. The whole meal took less than 20 minutes start to finish.

The Arabian Lentil Soup was also really easy and made out of pantry stapels. The comforting lemon and rice mix was perfect for the dreary winter days we have been having.

The Lentil and Eggplant Chile Mole made with fresh cornbread  was very hearty my partner is a big mole fan and he really liked it. I loved the cornbread which had scallions and fresh corn inside.

I also loved the mushroom sauce in the creamy mushroom pasta. I want to put it on everything. It would be really good on the caulipots (mashed potatoes with cauliflower) recipe.

We also tried the black-eyed peas with plantains where the plantains are steamed instead of fried. They were suprisingly good!

Overall I don’t think the recipes are as omg brilliant as the ones in the Veganomicon, BUT (and this is a huge but) they are healthier, use less fat, use more vegetables, don’t have as many ingredients, and can almost all be actually prepared in 30 minutes, although some need to cook after that none of them take longer than an hour from start to finish. It is healthy, easy, tasty weeknight food. If you have the Veganomicon it is kind of like the mix and match segment turned into a whole book.

I also really like that there is information on how to steam vegetables, how to make quick bowls with your leftover dressing, and make sandwiches.

Plus it is named after a guns and roses album.

Honestly, if you were going to get just one vegan cookbook, I would say this is the one to get.

Dinger VS the cold

It got really cold the other night so I had to cover up a just planted fig tree in preparation for a freeze. Later while I was making dinner. I heard Dinger barking. I finally went outside to see what he was freaking out about and saw he was barking at the blanket, from across the yard. I love my dog.

I haven’t been leaving the house very much due to the chilly weather. I have been staying in, sewing and doing cross stitch, cuddling with beagles, drinking hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, and rewatching Battlestar Galactica. If only we had a fireplace life would be perfect. I have also been doing a cookbook challenge since I recently got so many new cookbooks. My plan is too cook from each cookbook for a week and then write a review for the blog, Library Thing and Amazon. I also want to start working on my garden the second it starts getting warmer, hopefully next weekend.