Vegan Express

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Vegan Express One of my favorite cookbook authors and long-time friend of the Veg Blog, Nava Atlas has just released her newest collection of recipes titled Vegan Express. While I admit to being a little skeptical of another “quick vegan meals”-type book, I knew that Nava has experience in that realm with The 5-Ingredient Vegetarian Gourmet. Plus, her Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons is still one of my favorite cookbooks.

I’ve only had the book for a week, and I’ve gotta say, Vegan Express may unseat Vegetarian Soups… as my favorite Nava cookbook. We’ve made a few recipes with good luck, including Broccoli Salad with Yellow Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries (see below) with a simple homemade Sesame-Ginger dressing and just tonight we had a hearty pink bean, quinoa, and spinach soup. I’m looking forward to trying the Berry-Apple Skillet Crumble and the Very Green Veggie Pesto Pizza.

Another thing I enjoy about this cookbook: Nava has put together a list of her favorite recipes, two from each chapter. That helps those have trouble deciding where to start when getting a new cookbook.

Nava has given permission to share a recipe from the book, so here’s one we had a week or so ago that I really enjoyed:

Broccoli Salad with Yellow Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 2 large broccoli crowns, cut into bite-size florets (about 4 heaping cups)
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup Sesame-Ginger Salad Dressing (elsewhere in the book) or equivalent store-bought dressing

Instructions

  1. Steam the broccoli florets just until bright green. Drain and rinse under cool water until room temperature or slightly warm.
  2. Combine the broccoli and the remaining ingredients in a serving bowl, toss well, and serve.

Nutritional Breakdown:

Calories: 170, total fat: 11g, protein: 5g, carbohydrates: 15g, fiber: 4g, sodium: 55g.

I’ll be doing a more thorough review once we’ve tried a few more recipes, but for now, go make that salad!

A Double Dose of Dreena

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eat_drink_and_be_vegan Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
Dreena Burton
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007
http://vivelevegan.blogspot.com/

What I like most about Dreena’s books, in addition to the great food photography, is that she doesn’t rehash the same familiar recipes you find in a lot of other cookbooks.  Plus, while her recipes sometimes call for ingredients you may not have used before, they remain simple to prepare and even unfamiliar ingredients can be found in your local grocery store or co-op.  As with Dreena’s previous books, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan is a wonderful collection of unique recipes that home cooks of all skill levels will enjoy.

We’ve had a lot of success with ED&BV around our house.  Dreena’s always been known for her inventive hummus and this time around, she devoted an entire chapter to the creamy, beany vegan staple.  I loved the Black Bean & Orange Hummus — the orange adds a whole new dimension and combined with the black beans (rather than chickpeas), this one is sure to turn some heads at potlucks.  The Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Hummus is a little more familiar but is the tastiest red pepper hummus I’ve had.  Fresh parsley used for garnish tops it off perfectly.  Other hummuses include a white bean hummus, a peanut-sesame hummus (!), and one geared specifically for kids.

From her soups and stews section, the Mellow Lentil "Sniffle" Soup has already become a go-to dish for us and my wife and I agree that the Sweet Potato Lentil Chili may be the best homemade chili we’ve ever had.

The main dishes we’ve enjoyed include the Lemony Cashew-Basil Pesto on Pasta (we substituted cilantro with good results since basil was far out of season), the slightly lemony Quinoa Chickpea Confetti Casserole (which went over well over the Christmas holiday and is simply delicious when drizzled with the Balsamic Maple Sauce), and Sweet & Sour Chipotle Tempeh with Sweet Potatoes.  The Cran-Apple Quinoa recipe was another dish shared over the holiday ("Quinoa?  Is that how you say it?  This is good!").

This may be a first, but I haven’t made any of the desserts.  I am looking forward to trying the Pumpkin Cheese Pie and the Lime Sucker Coconut Pie.

So far, there have only been a couple of recipes that haven’t gone well for us, which isn’t bad considering how many we’ve made.  The Goddess Garbanzos didn’t sit well with me, but I’m also not a big fan of Annie’s Goddess Dressing, which probably explains it.  The Cinnamon-Lime Quinoa with Apricots & Almonds was alright tasting, but consistency was a bit squishy for my liking.

Dreena Burton’s third book, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, solidifies her as one of my favorite cookbook authors.  Her inventive recipes manage to balance innovation, accessibility, and health in a way few others can.  There’s no doubt you’ll want this one on your shelf if it’s not there already.

ED-DVD-cover175 Everyday Dish (DVD)
featuring Dreena Burton, Bryanna Clarke Grogan, and Julie Hasson
YaYa Productions
http://www.everydaydish.tv/Shopping%20Cart/vegan_vegetarian_dvd.html

When you flip through the channels while Wife Swap is on commercial, you won’t have a tough time finding cooking shows.  Unfortunately, they usually feature Rachael Ray and her damn yummers EVOO (wow, two sentences in and I’m already insulting Rachael Ray).  In fact, when it comes to vegan cooking shows, you’ll come up empty (regional shows excepted, of course).  There have been a few decent vegetarian-themed cooking shows through the years (Regina’s Vegetarian Table and Delicious TV come to mind), but vegans often have to suffer through visits to cheese stores and recipes topped off with feta.

Everyday Dish features three vegan cookbook authors sharing a handful of their favorite recipes in a cooking show format.  First up is Bryanna Clarke Grogan, author of Nonna’s Italian Kitchen and many other classic vegan collections.  I’ve always been a fan of Bryanna’s very open sharing of her creations.  Some cookbook authors are notoriously stingy with their recipes, hunting down anyone that posts one online.  But if you search for vegan recipes online, it’s a sure bet that one of Bryanna’s will show up in the top 10.  She’s the master of the homemade mock meat and that shows with her selections for the DVD.  She serves up gravy, neatballs, chicken cutlets, and an ambitious pork tenderloin.

Dreena Burton, who you may remember from a few paragraphs ago, shows us how to make Chickpea Sensation Patties, assorted hummuses, Lemon Herb Tofu, Sundried Tomato Pesto, and Chocolate Mint Melties.  I’m pretty sure that in a future life, I want to be reincarnated as a Chocolate Mint Meltie.  Dreena has a great blog that gives some real insight into what it’s like trying to put together a cookbook while managing a family.  I’m pretty sure she only sleeps three hours a week.

Julie Hasson, who I had the pleasure of meeting last year at the DVD’s release party in Portland, serves up a simple and tasty-looking Deli Noodle Soup, Diner Loaf, Tacos and Salsa, Chocolate Cake, and Triple Chocolate Pudding (triple!).

All three of the chefs have personalities that lend themselves well to this type of endeavor.  Bryanna has a quiet, understated way of demonstration that makes even complex recipes seem accessible.  Dreena is the person you hope you’d bump into at the grocery store, because she’s so open and willing to share what she knows.  And Julie seems to have boundless energy and enthusiasm, but it’s genuine enthusiasm, not forced Rachael Ray enthusiasm.

In addition to the nearly two hours of cooking footage, the DVD also includes bonus recipes, printable recipes from the demos, and some other extras.

It may seem a little strange to buy a DVD of a cooking show in this age of "hey, it’s on YouTube" and with food blogs-a-plenty everywhere you look, but there is something nice about having a DVD you can lend to friends or show family, particularly those that enjoy watching cooking shows on TV.  And this is a good one to use – the production values are quite good.  About the only constructive criticism that I’d offer for a second edition would be to try and incorporate the use of an overhead camera to provide a bird’s eye view of the food and give some variety to the camera angles.

Be sure to check out all the videos at everydaydish.tv to get a good idea of what you’ll get on the DVD (and then some).  Julie also has a blog for the site with some great food photos and commentary.

Everyday Dish joins Post-Punk Kitchen and Regina’s Vegetarian Table as my one of my favorite veg cooking shows and is definitely worth checking out on DVD.  I hope there’s a second volume in our future.

Catching Up on PR

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a number of e-mails from people or small companies looking to pimp their new vegan-friendly products. Rather than shill for each one individually, allow me to share a list of these products/sites that you may find interesting:

Veganomicon

  • Veganomicon by Isa and Terry. If this is the only veg blog that you read, you may have missed every other one on the planet discussing the long-awaited new vegan bible from the PPK’s Mighty Isa and Terry (yes, the “M” is capitalized). The book is out now in a beautiful hardback edition. I’ve got my copy and am having a tough time deciding which recipes to try first. I know you’re going to buy this, so I’m not going to say any more.
  • Swanky Veg. A new site for “fashion conscious veggies,” hosted by Ali Berman, a former fashion model in New York and Paris. I’m about the least fashionable dude you’ll ever meet, but I’m glad sites like this exist. It makes veganism seem a little less weird to people.
  • Nava Atlas’ Vegan Thanksgiving. Nava’s awesome. As the holiday that tortures vegan souls across the country approaches, Nava makes life a little easier by sharing a bunch of Thanksgiving resources. She’s also got a new ebook titled Nava’s Thanksgiving Favorites, available for a mere $8.50. A good portion of the proceeds go to an anti-hunger organization called Share Our Strength. Good stuff.
  • Jinga Shoes. A couple of folks have created the first lightweight Brazilian shoe which are suitable for vegans. Tessa, one of the co-creators wrote that, “We have had our jingas approved by the Vegan Society as no animals were involved in any way or at any time were in involved in the making of our shoes, not even in the glue we used.” Nice!
  • ABBA® Pure Performance Hair CareTM. “A comprehensive range of 100% vegan cleansers, conditioners, treatment and styling products formulated with natural plant ingredients specifically to enhance performance, not in spite of it.” Never tried them (see above, re: fashion), but hey, it sounds good to me.
  • Artivist. Damn! I meant to promote this before the Nov. 8-11 showings in Hollywood. Well, if you’re in Lisbon or London, it’s still not too late to catch this great event that combines art and activism.

Go ahead, eat off the sidewalk

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On Isa’s recommendation, I plunked down $2.50 for the new cookzine titled Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk. It’s slim, with a few pages of introduction and 13 recipes, but here’s the thing… cookzines tend to have a really high percentage of really good recipes. When someone puts a cookzine together, it’s usually because they think, “Hey, I’ve got a bunch of great recipes. I should write ’em down and share them.” I imagine published cookbook authors thinking, “Hey, I’ve got a cookbook deal… I better create some new recipes!” With cookzines, you tend to get really good, well tested, familiar recipes. With cookbooks, you get more innovation, but also the occasional dish that doesn’t hit the mark.

Maybe I’m making all that up. The point is, don’t hesitate to pay a couple bucks for baker’s dozen recipes.

Katie is the mind behind Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk (she turns 27 today — happy birthday, Katie!). She’s only been cooking for a few years, but it’s become her passion. Still, she likes to keep her recipes simple.

The three recipes we’ve tried so far have been resounding successes. We tried out the talked-up Tempeh Wingz when our friend Katherine came in town to visit a month or so ago. They were easy to make and combined with the simple sauce were just delicious. The spice was enough to provide a kick in the teeth, but not enough to actually knock any loose.

The Herbed Tomato Potato salad we served at two different birthday parties we had for our daughter. It’s a nice twist on the standard picnic staple and went over well with both crowds.

Last night we tried the Vegetable Fried Rice, a very simple and straightforward rendition of the classic take-out dish. It seriously hit the spot and is going to become a regular in our arsenal.

Other recipes I’m itching to try include a veganized Bob Evans Biscuit and a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. I plan to simply dive face first into the latter, manners be damned.

Katie’s finishing up the second issue as we speak. Can’t wait to see it.

Eat, Drink, and get this book

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I got my copy of Dreena Burton’s new Eat, Drink & Be Vegan in the mail last week and let me tell you, folks: this thing is great. I love the cover design and I love the layout even more. And if you’re a fan of Dreena’s food, this one will knock yer organic hemp socks off.

I’ve only made one recipe so far, the unbelievably good Black Bean and Orange Hummus, part of an entire chapter on our favorite vegan beany concoction. You can bet I’m looking forward to trying out the Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, too.

What I love about Dreena’s books is that they use ingredients that aren’t hard to find, but that you may not be accustomed to. I’ve learned more about using various grains (What?! There’s more than unbleached white flour?!) from Dreena than I ever imagined. Her recipes are inspired and unique, yet not “out there.” Think of them as the types of dishes you’d make for a dinner party and someone invariably says, “Wow, this is different! I’ve got to get the recipe for this.”

A more formal and thorough review is on the way, once I can make some more food, but I wanted to let you all know about the book now since I have a really rude tendency to be late with my cookbook reviews.