Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review of How To Be Vegan, by Elizabeth Castoria

When I first went vegan almost 10 years ago, I was angry. Not just about things like factory farming and cosmetic testing, but also about how no one around me seemed to be even remotely outraged as I was about it. So although I was vegan, I didn't quite know how to be vegan

What I learned over the years is that veganism isn't just about eschewing all animal products (although that's a big part of it) ... it's also about doing it with a spirit of kindness and grace (which is and should be the driving force behind veganism in the first place). How To Be Vegan (released today by Artisan Books*) by Elizabeth Castoria, former editorial director of VegNews Magazine, is the kind of guide that embodies and embraces the notion that veganism is not only about the choices we make as consumers, but also the choices we make in our behavior and attitudes. 

With an entire chapter devoted to manners, aptly titled, "Don't Be a Jerk," Castoria guides us on ways to handle vegans who judge other vegans for not being vegan enough, how to be a good vegan host and guest and how to respond to the ubiquitous question, "where do you get your protein?" Castoria's guide provides answers to all of these and more with remarkably simple logic, offering something valuable to both seasoned and new vegans.

How To Be Vegan is brightly colored, packed with infographics, charts and lists that make things like travelling, dating, fashion, decorating your home and cleaning it simple to navigate and understand. So whether you are considering going vegan, want to understand more about why others go vegan, are struggling with being a new vegan or have been vegan for years, How To Be Vegan is an excellent guide and reminder that veganism isn't extreme or limiting—it's quite the opposite with the right attitude and information, which Castoria deftly provides with humor, savvy and grace.

*Many thanks to Artisan Books for kindly sharing a copy of Elizabeth's book with me! 

For more about Elizabeth, visit elizabethcastoria.com.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Miso-Scented Portobello with Garlic Cauliflower Mash

Serves 2
Passive Time: 1-2 hours, for marinating the portobello
Active Time: 40 minutes

This. Is. It. Rich and meaty portobello slices, drenched in a miso-kissed marinade, paired with a garlic-scented cauliflower mash on the side and crispy shallots over the top. It's meaty without the meat and carby without the carbs. 

This is not only an easy dish for a weeknight dinner, but also a perfectly portable one to take with you to your next cookout: just bring the portobello in its marinade to throw on the grill or in a pan and zap the cauliflower mash before serving. Serve with red wine or your favorite beer for a decadent and pretty dish.

for the portobello
2 large portobello mushrooms
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp dark miso (I used hearty brown rice miso)
1-2 tsp olive oil (for sauteing)

for the cauliflower mash 
(I recommend making this beforehand and chilling for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.)
1 head of cauliflower
1 TB olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, halved and smashed

to garnish
3-4 shallots, sliced into thin rings, plus a little olive oil for sauteing

To marinate the portobello, destem and slice thinly at a 45-degree angle. Place the broth, vegan Worcestershire and dark miso into a shallow glass pyrex and toss the sliced mushrooms into it until well coated, taking care not to break them. Cover and place into the refrigerator to marinate for 1-2 hours.

To make the cauliflower mash, place a steamer basket into a medium-sized pot and place a few inches of water into the bottom. Chop the florets off the tough stem. Rinse well, then place the florets into the steamer basket. Cover and steam over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is soft and breaks easily when pierced with a fork.

While your cauliflower is steaming, place one tablespoon of olive oil into a small pan, add in the smashed garlic, and saute over low heat for a few minutes to soften, flipping as needed, and taking care not to let the garlic brown.

Once your cauliflower is done, transfer the florets to a food processor or blender. Allow to cool to room temperature before processing. Scrape in the softened garlic and oil, and add in the Earth Balance. Process until smooth and place into the refrigerator or set aside if serving immediately.

To saute the portobello, remove from the refrigerator. Heat a teaspoon or two of olive oil in a large, flat-bottomed pan over medium heat. Remove the sliced portobello from the marinade (reserve the marinade), then place in the pan and allow to saute and deepen in color for a few minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate to cool. 

In the same pan, add another drizzle of olive oil. Throw in the shallots and allow to soften and slightly crisp for a few minutes, breaking up the rings and stirring often to avoid burning. Transfer to another plate to cool.

Pour the reserved marinade into the same pan, and allow to sizzle and reduce for a few minutes. Stir occasionally as needed.

To serve the dish, fan out the portobello and drizzle with the reduced marinade. Top with the crispy shallots and microgreens, if desired. Reheat the cauliflower mash if chilled and serve immediately.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Beignets

Makes 20-24 beignets
Time: 25 minutes

In January, Bon App├ętit posted a method for making sweet potato caramel that I couldn't wait to try out myself. After baking the potatoes, squeezing them and warming the liquid, I was rewarded with a very sweet and beautifully colored amber caramel which I added a bit of vegan butter and salt into, then drizzled over some Tofutti vanilla ice cream. It was heavenly! Afterwards, I was left with about three cups of leftover mashed sweet potato, so I made Red Quinoa and Sweet Potato Croquettes with a cup of it, ate some of it plain, then threw the rest into a beignet mix to see what would happen. After a quick fry, fluffy, light, airy and magical beignets were created, and they smelled fantastic. To make them more savory rather than sweet, I added some fresh chopped rosemary, salt and coarse black pepper into the batter and sprinkled them liberally with it once they were fried. These blissfully indulgent beignets are easy to make and perfect for serving at breakfast or brunch.   

dry ingredients
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup AP flour
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper

wet ingredients

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Ener-G, whisked with 2 TB water
2/3 cup mashed sweet potato (needs to be at room temperature)
1 1/2 cup room temperature fizzy water, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed

canola oil, for frying
extra pepper, salt and minced rosemary, for sprinkling onto the freshly fried beignets 

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Place the baking soda, salt and Ener-G slurry into a separate bowl. Whisk until smooth, then add in the sweet potato and whisk again. Add in the 1 1/2 cups fizzy water. Stir again until the mixture is very smooth.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. Gently stir to combine, taking care not to overmix. Add a little extra fizzy water if the batter is too stiff. (You want it to have a consistency of a thick pancake batter.)

  • TIP: To prevent your beignets from being raw in the middle, you want to ensure your batter is at room temperature. You can let it sit out for up to 30 minutes to ensure it's not too cold.

Place several inches of canola oil into a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over medium to medium-high heat until the oil reaches and maintains a heat level of 325 degrees.

Drop tablespoon-sized amounts of batter into the hot oil, only 2 or 3 at a time. (It's important that the batter you drop is no more than one or one-and-a-half tablespoons; otherwise, they won't fry correctly.) Move them around with heat-resistant tongs to ensure even frying. Once they are deeply golden brown, after 2-3 minutes of frying, transfer them to paper towels and sprinkle immediately with a few pinches of salt, pepper and minced rosemary, if desired. Serve immediately.

  • TIP: To additionally prevent your beignets from being raw in the middle, do a test beignet first. Once it comes out of the oil and has had a chance to cool after a few minutes, break it open. If it's still raw, your oil is too hot. Reduce the heat a bit before frying the rest of the batch.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review and Giveaway of The Oh She Glows Cookbook ! [closed]

Oh She Glows, created by Angela Liddon, is one of the biggest and most well-known vegan blogs out there, for good reasons: her writing style is warm and relatable, her recipes are simple but well-designed and her photography is breathtaking. After being a regular reader of OSG for a couple of years, I was lucky to meet Angela at Vida Vegan Con last May and she was just as lovely in person as she is online. So when the kind folks over at Penguin mailed me a copy of Angela's new cookbook to review, I couldn't wait to crack open this new title that's already made it onto The New York Times Best Seller list.

When I first flipped through The Oh She Glows Cookbook, the most prominent feature was Angela's trademark photos, which accompany almost every recipe (100+) inside. While reading through each recipe and headnote, I couldn't help but smile while looking at each carefully crafted page that is packed with dishes that joyfully embrace real, whole-food ingredients and celebrate freshness, color and creativity.

Although there are easily 20 recipes I bookmarked while initially reading through it, I started off with making Angela's Walnut, Avocado & Pear Salad with Marinated Portobello Caps & Red Onion. Simple in approach and ingredients, but well thought out in its combinations of flavors and textures, this salad is a breeze to put together, tastes fantastic and looks beautiful on a plate. After the shoot, Jeff and I ate every last bite, swirling around the last bits of avocado and walnuts with Angela's homemade balsamic vinaigrette recipe.

Because I loved this recipe so much, I'm excited that Penguin has not only allowed me to share it here, but is also offering one free copy of Angela's book to one lucky reader through this post!

To enter, just leave a comment below sharing the name of one of your favorite recipes from Oh She Glows or your favorite whole food ingredient, including your email or some way to contact you in your comment. I'll randomly choose and announce the winner on April 8. (Shipping is limited to US/Canada only.) Good luck!

Congrats to Ashley, the winner of this giveaway!

walnut, avocado & pear salad with marinated portobello caps & red onion

2 large portobello mushrooms
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 recipe Effortless Anytime Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below)
1 (5-ounce/142-g) box mixed greens
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup (75 mL) walnuts, toasted

This salad was inspired by a dish at a local restaurant where my girlfriends and I meet for lunch once a month. With buttery pear slices, grilled marinated red onion, and portobello mushrooms, toasted walnuts, and creamy avocado, it’s a delicious mix of my favorite flavors and textures, and it’s filling, too. Each portobello mushroom packs in around 6 to 8 grams protein, so add one or two and you have yourself a protein-packed salad that will go the distance.

Serves 2
PREP TIME: 15 to 20 minutes • COOK TIME: 8 to 10 minutes
gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar–free, grain-free
1. Gently rub the outside of the mushrooms with a damp towel to remove any debris. Remove the stems by twisting the stem until it pops off; discard it or freeze for another use, such as a stirfry. With a small spoon, scrape out and discard the black gills.
2. In a large bowl, combine the mushroom caps, onion, and half of the balsamic vinaigrette and toss until fully coated. Marinate the mushrooms and onion for 20 to 30 minutes, tossing every 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Place the mushroom caps and onion on the pan and grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until grill marks appear and the vegetables are tender. Reduce the heat if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the mushroom caps are cool enough to handle, then slice the mushroom caps into long strips.
4. For each salad, place a few handfuls of mixed greens in a large bowl and top with half of the chopped pear, avocado, walnuts, and grilled mushrooms and onion. Drizzles with some of the remaining balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy!

effortless anytime balsamic vinaigrette

1/4 cup (60 mL) apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons (45 mL) flaxseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons (30 mL) unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure maple syrup
1 1⁄2 teaspoons (7 mL) Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) fine-grain sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Salad dressing doesn't get much quicker than this! This dressing stores well in the fridge and is a great alternative to store-bought salad dressing. I just toss everything into a mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake it up! My favorite way to enjoy it is mixed with zucchini pasta; I've been known to spiralize an entire zucchini, cover it with this dressing, and devour it in minutes. 

Makes 3/4 cup (175 mL)
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
gluten-free, nut-free, raw/no bake,
soy-free, refined sugar–free, grain-free
1. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients or simply combine them in a jar, screw on the lid, and shake. This dressing will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.
Tip: Feel free to adjust this dressing to suit your own taste preferences. I tend to like an acidic bite to my salad dressing, but if you prefer less acidity, simply decrease the vinegar or increase the sweetener. Have fun and play around with the amounts!

Reprinted by arrangement with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © GLO BAKERY CORPORATION, 2014.