Jul 5, 2016

"peace and parsnips" + giveaway

Obviously, a labor of much love, Lee Watson (Blog, Twitter) brings us a classic-in-the-works in the form of Peace and Parsnips (Amazon, B&N), Adventurous Vegan Cooking for Everyone.

The title really says it all: ADVENTUROUS vegan cooking, is right. Lee covers everything in this book, from making vegan milks to condiments and everything in between: small plates, smoothies, salads, soups, sides, curries, big plates, baked & stuffed, sweet treats, burgers & more, and even breakfast - all with his unique spin and authenticity.

This is a gorgeous hardcover book filled with wonderful photography and delectable recipes. Along with the creative and inspirational recipes, Lee voraciously regales us with witty and endearing lore of his travels. Uniquely, he is one who has traveled the path he tales about.

What about the food, tho? Indeed, he delivers big on flavor and his enthusiasm for the dishes is nothing short of spot-on.

Since I have been doing very little besides finishing up Aquafaba (Amazon, B&N), it should come as little surprise that I was only able to make a few recipes from P&P, but worry not, folks, for these are just the tip of my adventurous cooking from this book. It really is worth it. There are few books that actually pique my interest with their content, and this is definitely one of the jewels in the bunch.

The first recipe I made was from the Big Plates chapter, Persian Fava Bean, Seitan & Green Herb Stew.

I was not a bit thrown when I saw that among the ingredients was methi leaves, which are dried fenugreek leaves, very common in Indian grocers, and Iranian limes. Of course, even though I was non-pulsed by the unusual ingredients, I also came up short regarding the limes. I knew what it was but (gasp) I didn't actually have it.

Ingredients for Persian Stew: (from top left) dill, cinnamon, turmeric root, radish, cinnamon, dried lime, lemon peel, dried fenugreek in the middle.

A quick search on Amazon came up with a few expensive options. Since I had fresh limes and a dehydrator (or even the sun) I decided to dry my own limes. I'm happy to report that after a few preliminary preparations for the limes, they dried out beautifully and tasted exactly as they should after about five days in the dehydrator at 110-degrees.

As Lee says, the herbs make this dish sing. He's right. I cooked up the rice with a few grates of fresh turmeric root. This dish made a lot and we were all the better for it.

My second dish from the adventurous cookbook turned out to be Smoked Tofu Sausage Sandwiches with Red Onion Marmalade & Kale Chips, from the Burgers & More chapter. Which sounds like it's easy, peasy, right? Almost. It turns out that even my Whole Foods doesn't carry smoked tofu. But since I started making homemade ingredients why stop now, right? Have smoker, will smoke.

My stove-top smoker is actually very easy to use and does a wonderful job smoking using hot smoke, so that's how I got my smoked tofu, but Lee actually has an easier alternative than smoking tofu, but far be it by me to take the easy route.

The sandwiches are made using the baked sausages and homemade red onion marmalade. They are accompanied by baked kale chips. This was one serious sandwich, folks!

I bet you want to make something from Lee's creative mind, too! You're in for a treat with his Asparagus Club Sandwich with Rainbow Chard and Pine Nut Cream. Make it, eat it and then enter the giveaway to have your chance to win this book.

Of course, if you can't wait until the 19th to hear the result or another few weeks to get the book if you are lucky enough to win it, (and who can blame you?!?) then do yourself a favor and grab your own copy. Don't wait! Besides, the contest is open to US and Canada residents only, but the book is actually available everywhere that books are sold and read. Good luck!

Image credit to Alistair Richardson

                   PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE

Asparagus Club Sandwiches with Rainbow Chard & Pine Nut Cream
The Trump Tower of sandwich construction, the Empire State Building of munch, the Shard of…you get the idea. This one is quite tall. Incredibly green and healthy, with a touch of chard technicolor among the layers, it’s a light and quick sandwich to whip up and stack. Three tiers of tofu and panfried asparagus goodness here, with a smooth pine nut cream. Delicious served with homemade vegetable chips. And try it with tomato, ginger and orange chutney. The trick here is to try to slice your bread as thinly as possible.

Makes 2 sandwiches (enough for 4 to share)


·        11½ ounces (325g) firm tofu, pressed, or tempeh, cut widthwise into 3 x ¾-inch (8 x 2cm) slices
·        1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
·        sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
·        2 tablespoons olive oil
·        6 scallions, trimmed and halved lengthwise
·        6 asparagus spears, halved lengthwise
·        1 teaspoon fennel seeds
·        2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
·        6 large leaves of rainbow chard, cut into ¾-inch (2cm) ribbons
·        ¼ cup (50ml) dry vermouth or dry sherry
·        a handful of basil leaves

For the pine nut cream
·        ¾ cup (100g) toasted pine nuts (hazelnuts would also be delicious)
·        4½ ounces (125g) silken tofu
·        1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
·        ½ tablespoon lemon juice
·        a large pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve
·        6 thin slices of sourdough bread
·        olive oil, for brushing
·        1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced


To make the pine nut cream, put the pine nuts into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and blitz until smooth and creamy. Check the seasoning and set aside.

Pat the pressed tofu dry. Season the flour with sea salt and cracked pepper and place on a plate. Dust the tofu slices with the seasoned flour – they have to be very dry to crisp up nicely.

Heat 1½ tablespoons of oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan on medium heat. Add the scallions and sear for 5 minutes, until tender. Remove and keep warm, then add the tofu slices in the center of the pan, arranging the asparagus around the edges. Fry the tofu and asparagus until nicely golden – this will only take 2 minutes on each side for both. The asparagus may need turning more than the tofu, but see how they get on. Remove everything from the pan and keep warm.

Add ½ tablespoon of oil to the same pan on medium heat and add the fennel seeds and garlic. Heat through for a minute, then drop in the chard. Stir and sauté for 3 minutes. Drizzle in the vermouth and let it steam for a moment, then add the basil leaves, season, and cover tightly with a lid. Turn the heat down to low and allow to steam for 5 minutes.

Brush your sourdough bread with olive oil and lightly toast on both sides. Time to build your triple-decker! Grab two pieces of toasted bread, spread them with a thick layer of the pine nut cream, then top each one with a couple of slices of tomato and two pieces each of tofu, asparagus and scallion. 

Top with a second slice of bread and repeat for the next layer, but this time spoon some of the chard and basil on top instead of the asparagus and onion. Press down firmly, then cut the sandwiches in half.

Credit line: Recipe from Peace & Parsnips: Adventurous Vegan Cooking For Everyone © Lee Watson, 2016. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.  theexperimentpublishing.com

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May 16, 2016

"baconish" + giveaway

Because I've been so busy with my upcoming book, Aquafaba (Amazon, B&N), it seems I've only had time to write reviews! It just seems to be the only break I've been allowing myself to get -- and as much as the kids like sweets, even they are getting a bit inundated with aquafaba creations since I've been done with the savory part of the book. 

Luckily, Leinana Two Moons offers just such a needed break with her Baconish (Amazon, B&N) cookbook, published by Vegan Heritage Press

As you might expect, the book is all about vegan bacon, in the form of tofu, seitan, coconut, tempeh, eggplant, carrot, etc. After introducing you to her bacon recipes, Leinana makes use of those bacon creations to include them in sweet and savory dishes of all kinds: beakfast, salad, soup, lunch, mains, sweets, ice cream, yeah, pretty much everything.

I make a really great bacon myself, so I had to see how Leinana stacks up in the bacon department, and naturally, if you have a bacon book, well, you should make bacon.

I chose the Seitan Bacon since that is one I haven't actually ever made, and, I think, have only had seitan bacon from Upton's company (really delicious, too, so Leinana had some big boots to fill.)

I made the seitan bacon as directed, but my bacon wasn't cooked by the designated time. So, if you make it, touch the gluten and if it is still very soft (raw) toss it back in for another 30 minutes or so. 
Once it was cooked, it was very tasty and my kid is still asking for it...of course, it is long gone.

We collectively decided to go for the Croque Monsieur sandwich, mostly because it looked like an interesting version, with a bechamel sauce on top, instead of more melted cheese.

The sandwich was very tasty, but a word of advice: don't add all the sauce to the sandwiches as it made them soggy and voided the hard work of toasting the sandwich in the first place. Also, place the sandwiches on a cooling rack on the baking sheet so the bottom doesn't steam up and get soggy, either.

With these few suggestions, the sandwich is really great. Oh! and if you have vegan brioche, that is the traditional bread to serve it on. (Hint: recipe in my upcoming Aquafaba!)

And then, I made my biggest mistake: I gave the book to my kids to pick something. Naturally, they chose the most time-consuming recipe in the book, Potato, Bacon and Onion Pierogi.

As Leinana point out, they are a lot of work, but they are worth it. Since the pierogies have onions in them, I decided to caramelize a little more as some topping. Very decadent and delicious.

Finally, I couldn't let you go without letting you have at the Famous Coconut Bacon BLT! Once you check out the recipe, I have more good news...giveaway! Comment below to enter to win a copy of Leinana's Baconish cookbook. Contest is open to US residents only and ends May 30, midnight. Good luck!

The Famous Coconut BLT
Makes 4 sandwiches

This recipe will make any vegan-bacon skeptic a true believer. Because Coconut Bacon will become less crisp the longer you store it, I recommend making it just ahead of preparing your sandwiches. (From Baconish © 2016 by Leinana Two Moons. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.)

8 slices sandwich bread
Vegan mayonnaise
2 cups Coconut Bacon (recipe follows)
1 large ripe tomato, sliced
Lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry

Spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of mayonnaise. Top the mayonnaise with about 1/2 cup of the Coconut Bacon per sandwich, followed by slices of tomato and lettuce leaves. Top each sandwich with the remaining bread slices. Cut each sandwich with a serrated bread knife and serve immediately.

Coconut Bacon
Makes 2 1/2 cups

This recipe will make any vegan-bacon skeptic a true believer. It is my absolute favorite bacon to use for the best BLTs ever. (From Baconish © 2016 by Leinana Two Moons. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.)

3 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 cups unsweetened large-flake coconut

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the tamari, liquid smoke, water, and maple syrup together in a large bowl. Stir in the coconut and mix well to ensure that the flakes are evenly coated.

Spread the coconut in an even layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes, then stir. Bake another 8 minutes, keeping a very close eye on the coconut in the last few minutes. The coconut will go from almost done to completely burned very quickly. Remove from the oven when the coconut flakes on the outer edges of the pan are becoming a deep, dark brown, but not black.

Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack. The coconut will continue to crisp as it cools. Coconut bacon will keep 1 to 2 weeks in an airtight plastic container, but will become less crisp the longer you store it.