Jan 16, 2015

"the vegetarian flavor bible" giveaway + karen page

I am very pleased to be a part of Karen Page's blog tour for "The Vegetarian Flavor Bible." I purchased this book based on Robin Robertson's recommendation and couldn't have been happier about its contents! 

The book contains a brief run-down of the history of food with special attention to vegetarian and vegan food, but the bulk of the book is of flavor profiles - which flavors go best together. These are tried and true flavor profiles that will make any cook into a chef!

You simply choose an ingredient, find it in the alphabetical listing and check out what other ingredients are best with it. Then you get in the kitchen and make some magic. Consider the book a road map to successful flavor combinations. 

Karen has offered to write a guest post for Zsu's Vegan Pantry and it really is the best way to show you what this book has to offer. Thank you, Karen, for such an amazing reference book for everyone!

Don't take my word for it, though. Enter to win a copy of your very own. The Rafflecopter giveaway, open to U.S. residents, is right below Karen's blog post. This is a huge, hardcover, full-color volume. Contest ends Monday, January 26. Good luck!

Around the World in 80 Dishes:
A Sampling of Flavors from Restaurants Featuring Plant-Strong Global Cuisines
by Karen Page

When I mentioned to friends who have known me as a lifelong omnivore that I had stopped eating meat and had embraced a plant-strong diet, their reactions often suggested that they felt badly for what I was missing out on.  I honestly feel no sense of deprivation whatsoever.  Instead, I’m thrilled about the new ingredients and flavor affinities I’ve been discovering through a wider range of cuisines than I ever imagined possible.

I’ve enjoyed Ethiopian cuisine since college, but I love it even more now as a fun way
of eating vegan. Because of the culture’s traditional periods of fasting and avoiding
meat, eggs, and dairy, every Ethiopian restaurant I know has a vegan combination option that includes the spongy pancakes called injera, which are used to scoop up bites of various braised legumes, greens, and other vegetables.  I love the all-vegan Bunna Café in Queens (pictured ahove), as well as the vegan combination platter at Injera restaurant in Manhattan.

Ethiopian Flavor Affinities:

berbere + garlic + onions
collard greens + garlic + ginger

Pastas and pizzas have long been vegetarian staples, but restaurants like Brooklyn’s
Paulie Gee’s (pictured, above) and Portland’s Portobello Vegan Trattoria are doing their part to make pizza a vegan staple, too. Paulie Gee’s, which is right around the corner from Kickstarter’s international headquarters is worth getting there right when it opens to avoid the otherwise ever-present lines out the door.

Paulie Gee’s Vegan Pizzas Flavor Affinities:

arugula + lemon juice + nutritional yeast + olive oil
arugula + cashew ricotta + olive oil + pickled red onions
chile + garlic + olive oiil + sea salt + spinach

Enthusiasts of Japanese cuisine welcomed Manhattan’s vegan Michelin-starred restaurant
Kajitsu, which specializes in dinnertime tasting menus showcasing seasonal ingredients
such as matsutake mushrooms (which are as prized in Japanese cuisine as white truffl es are
in Italian). Lunchtime is a great value; a composed tray might feature a main dish of ramen
noodles seasoned with three different kinds of miso, or rice topped with bamboo shoots,
alongside seasonal vegetable accents and perhaps a spring roll or yuba (tofu skin) filled with
seasoned rice. Manhattan’s popular Beyond Sushi (pictured above) creates vegan sushi from ingredients such as “mighty mushrooms” served on a six-grain blend.
Beyond Sushi Flavor Affinities:

barley + black rice + brown rice + pearl barley + red rice + rye berries  (six-grain blend)
cashews + enoki mushrooms + ginger + hot pepper paste + romaine

I’ve been a fan of Manhattan’s oldest Mexican restaurant, El Parador Café, for two
decades of its fifty-five years in business. (How can you not love a restaurant whose motto
is “The answer is yes. What’s your question?”) And I discovered a year or two ago that it
offers vegan salsa upon request (its standard warm salsa is not vegetarian), along with an excellent vegetarian / vegan menu. After two decades of loving one of America’s most renowned Mexican restaurants — Chicago’s Frontera Grill — and later its sister restaurant,
Topolobampo, I was surprised to discover that the latter, too, offers a veg menu. It
blew me away — especially chef Andres Padilla’s extraordinary chayote dish, the best I’ve
ever tasted.

Mexican Flavor Affinities:

acorn squash + chayote + mole verde + pumpkin seeds
avocado + cumin + lime
cilantro + corn + cumin + onions
chocolate + cinnamon + nuts + orange + vanilla

Once you know a few flavor affinities (featured at length in THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE), you can use them to inspire your own experimentation in the kitchen.  Enjoy the journey!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jan 15, 2015

"plant power" + giveaway

I have been such a huge fan of Nava Atlas for years and when I was asked to do a review of her new book, "Plant Power," I jumped at the chance!

Nava Atlas is the author of a long list of books ranging from "Vegan Holiday Kitchen," very apropos this time of year, to "Wild About Greens," a personal favorite. Nava is also the founder of VegKitchen.com, a place to seek out easy vegan recipes and cooking tips. 

Nava has been writing cookbooks for years, but she is also the author of nonfiction books, such as "The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life." She is truly a remarkably versatile woman. Get to know Nava through her cookbooks, books or website.

I got to know Nava a little bit better through her new cookbook, "Plant Power." Just as the name implies, recipes powered via plants are what you will discover in this cookbook. And just like the recipes on her website, you will find easy and simple recipes to feed your family and yourself.

The book itself is a gorgeous full-color hardcover book, one that will be able to withstand many years of loving use. The book is broken into two parts: Plant-Powered Living and Plant-Powered Recipes and Menus. 

The first part includes nutrition, tools, shopping and tips and tricks for the kitchen. The second part consists of the recipes! Yum! Main dishes, pastas, pizzas, tortillas, salads, breakfasts - everything to satisfy all your urges. In addition, all the recipes include nutritional information! 

I was offered the privilege of sharing a recipe from the book with you and I chose one of my favorite easy meals: tostadas. I made Nava's Black Bean Tostadas.

I was able to throw these tostadas together in less than 15 minutes and the family was happy with the tasty comfort food - I was happy with the speed and the healthfulness of the dish. 

I am giving away a copy of Nava's "Plant Power" for one lucky US winner! Contest ends Monday December 8!

Black Bean Tostadas

A tostada is a crisp tortilla piled generously with any variety of toppings, often including beans, crisp lettuce, and salsa. Good accompaniments include: baked potatoes or sweet potatoes; or fresh corn on the cob. Add a salad and/or a simple steamed veggies, you’ve got an easy weeknight meal or fun quick fare to serve company. Recipe from Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes by Nava Atlas. ©2014, published by HarperOne, reprinted by permission. Photos in the cookbook taken by Hannah Kaminsky. 

Serves: 4 (2 tostadas per serving)

      8 good-quality corn tortillas
      1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or 3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
      1 medium onion or two shallots, finely chopped
      2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
      Two 15-to 16-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed,
or 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked black beans
      Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon, or more, to taste
      1 to 2 small hot green chili peppers, seeded and sliced, optional
      Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
      2 teaspoons ground cumin
      Shredded lettuce, baby greens, or baby spinach
      Plenty of mild, medium, or hot chunky salsa, such as chipotle, peach or mango
      Store-bought or homemade Vegan Sour Cream or Cashew Cream

To toast the torillas in the oven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the tortillas on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp and dry and just starting to be touched with golden brown spots. Remove them from the oven and place on a serving platter.

To toast the tortillas on a stovetop: Heat a large skillet. Toast the tortillas over medium heat (two or three at a time, depending on the size of the skillet) for about 5 minutes or so on each side, until crisp and touched with golden brown spots. Don’t be afraid to let them get nice and crisp—that’s better than ending up with a soggy tostada.

Heat the oil, broth, or water in medium skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients (aside from the garnishes, of course) along with 1/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Using a potato masher, mash some of the beans so that the liquid becomes thick and saucy.

Place the shredded lettuce, sour cream, and salsa in separate serving bowls and let everyone assemble their tostadas as follows: A layer of shredded lettuce; the black bean mixture; salsa; and sour cream. Pick up the tostadas and eat out of hand (with plenty of napkins!).

Nutritional Information:
Per tostada: Calories: 140 with oil, 126 without oil; Total fat: 2g with oil, 1g without oil; Protein: 7g; Carbohydrates: 25g; Fiber: 4g; Sodium: 100mg