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Vegan Without Borders – Today’s the Day!

Ratatouille_VWB

Today is the day that my new book, Vegan Without Borders, officially hits the shelves and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I don’t like to play favorites, but this book is forcing me to do so.  For one thing, it’s a gorgeous hardcover filled with gorgeous photos by the super-talented Sara Remington. For another, it’s  beautifully designed and filled with some of my favorite recipes in the world — with an emphasis on world, since the book is like a culinary tour of the most flavorful cuisines on earth.  Each section gives you several recipes from each region — kind of like having several “mini cookbooks” from around the world, all in one book.  As an example, the French section of the book contains the following recipes:

Brandy-Laced Onion Soup
Pâté au Champignon
Pissadalière
Portobellos with Béarnaise Sauce
Potato Gratin Dauphinoise
Green Beans Provençal
Vegetable Pan Bagnat
Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pistou
Mousse au Chocolat

Because we’re still enjoying the last of the summer produce, I thought I’d share the recipe for Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pistou. Roasting the vegetables in this classic French mélange deliciously intensifies the flavor of the dish which is further enhanced by the addition of basil pistou. It’s delicious on its own or served with a warm crusty baguette. I hope you enjoy this recipe (and the rest of the book!) as much as I do.

Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pistou
from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons Basil Pistou (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a large baking dish or roasting pan.
In a large bowl combine the onion, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, and garlic. Sprinkle on the thyme, marjoram, and oregano and season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle on the oil and toss to combine. Spread the vegetable mixture into a large baking pan. Roast until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes, turning once or twice to cook evenly. To serve, transfer to a serving bowl, add the pistou and parsley and toss to combine. Serve hot.
Serves 4 to 6

Basil Pistou
Pistou is the French version of basil pesto. Made without cheese or pine nuts, pistou can be used in the same ways as pesto: as a pasta sauce, in salad dressings or soups, or to flavor vegetable dishes, as it does in the Roasted Ratatouille. Best of all, it freezes well, so portion it into 1- or 2-tablespoon amounts and freeze for later use.

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
A few grinds of freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process until thoroughly blended, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Makes about 2/3 cup

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Hominy and Seitan Tacos

Hominy and Setian Tacos

It gives me great pleasure to be the first stop on the Vegan Tacos Blog Tour.  Jason Wyrick’s amazing ode to all things taco is due to hit the shelves tomorrow — it’s already flying off the virtual shelves on Amazon: a quick check this morning shows it ranking in the top 10 of vegan cookbooks and #1 of Mexican cookbooks.

Because Jon’s publishing company, Vegan Heritage Press, published Vegan Tacos, it means I’ve had that much more time to drool over Jason’s fantastic recipes.  I admire Jason’s vast knowledge on the subject of Mexican food and his ability to share what he knows in a warm and friendly way so that it feels like he’s right in the kitchen with you as you cook.

Living in the South for over half my life, it’s no wonder the recipe for Hominy and Seitan Tacos in Roasted Garlic Cascalbel Sauce caught my eye immediately. Around here, hominy can be found on the shelf of every supermarket. If you don’t have access to hominy, I recommend using fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels.  If you’re not a fan of seitan, Jason has provided several alternatives in the recipe headnote below.

If you love Mexican food and want to learn how to make all kinds of authentic tacos (including dessert tacos!) as well as salsas and other toppings, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Vegan Tacos.  You’ll be glad you did!

Hominy and Seitan Tacos in Roasted Garlic Cascabel Sauce
(Tacos de Pozole y Seitan en Salsa de Chile Cascabel y Ajo Asado)

I love using cascabel chiles in this taco for their pure red chile flavor. They are a nice looking chile, so I always put a few on the plate for presentation. The contrasting flavor of the hominy (aka pozole), with the chewier seitan, all work together to make a very rustic-flavored taco. This is one of my favorite taco creations. Make them low-fat by simmering the seitan and hominy in the sauce instead of sautéing in oil. If you don’t want to use seitan, substitute potatoes, zucchini, chayote, mushrooms, or any vegetable that will provide a substantial texture. Just sauté the vegetables at a medium heat long enough to brown them before adding the sauce. You can even use pinto beans (but don’t sauté them).

Makes 8 Tacos
Heat Level: 3

Ingredients:
The Filling (choose either seitan strips or portobellos)
* 10 cascabel chiles or 4 guajillo chiles
* 1/2 cup rehydrating liquid (after rehydrating the chiles)
* 10 cloves garlic, pan-roasted
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 cups seitan strips or 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
* 1 cup cooked, rinsed hominy

The Tortillas
* 8 thick (5 to 6-inch) corn tortillas

The Toppings
* Rough salted chile powder
* A sprinkle of chopped roasted and salted peanuts per taco

Preparation:
1. Bring a small pot of water to a simmer, add the cascabels, and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid and remove the stems from the chiles. In a blender or food processor, puree the chiles, roasted garlic, reserved simmering liquid, oregano, and salt. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the seitan and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved sauce and hominy and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
3. Warm the tortillas. Fill them with the seitan hominy mixture and finish them off with a rough salted chile powder to taste and a sprinkle of chopped roasted salted peanuts.

From Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick. © 2014 Jason Wyrick. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press.

 

Vegan Tacos Cover

 

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Pesto Pasta with Green Beans and Potatoes

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Today is Jon’s birthday so naturally I’m making him a special birthday dinner.  This will actually be one of three special birthday dinners I’ll be making for him this week, but who’s counting!

Tonight’s dinner is from the pages of my upcoming cookbook, Vegan Without Borders. The recipe is for Trofie alla Presto with Green Beans and Potatoes — the photo is by Sara Remington who took all the gorgeous photos for the book.

This recipe is a classic Ligurian dish that I’ve made before — and which Jon loved — and since I happen to have a bag of imported trofie pasta on hand and loads of fresh basil, it’s the ideal choice for tonight’s dinner. Trofie pasta is a specialty of the region where it is rolled by hand and commonly served with Pesto Genovese.  Vegan Without Borders includes a recipe for making your own trofie, or you can simply substitute any type of bite-sized pasta — I recommend gemelli or cut fusilli.

It may seem odd to combine both pasta and potatoes in the same dish, but believe me, it works!

Happy Birthday Jon!

Trofie alla Pesto with Green Beans and Potatoes
from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing. Photo by Sara Remington

3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Salt
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
8 ounces small new potatoes, quartered or sliced
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound trofie pasta (or gemelli or cut fusilli)
Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, and salt to taste and process to a paste. Add the basil, drizzle in the oil, and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the pesto. Set aside.
Steam the potatoes over a pot of simmering water until tender, about 10 minutes. Set the potatoes aside, then steam the green beans over simmering water until tender, about 6 minutes. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
Gently stir in the steamed potatoes and green beans, reserved pesto, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the hot pasta water. Cook for a few minutes, until heated through and combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

 

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Watermelon Paletas from Vegan Without Borders

pelota 2a

In just three more weeks my new book, Vegan Without Borders, hits the shelves and I couldn’t be more excited. Vegan Without Borders is the culmination of my years of restaurant experience, family recipes, travels, and food writing. I feel like I’ve been doing research for this book for thirty years – ever since I first began working in professional kitchen and learning how to cook the food of different cuisines.  The book is organized by country or region of the world, each section provides a mini-immersion into each cuisine, so that you can enjoy complete meals from each cuisine. The recipes include family-style comfort foods, global ethnic favorites, and even some creative new dishes inspired by the classics. You can enjoy entire meals based on a particular region, or combine regions for cross-cultural fare.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite recipe tester photos (by Zsu Dever) along with the recipe for Watermelon Paletas from the Mexican section of the book.  These refreshing popsicles made with fresh watermelon are ideal for this time of year!

Watermelon Paletas
These watermelon popsicles make a refreshing end to a spicy meal or a cooling snack on a hot day. For best results use a set of plastic ice-pop molds. The paletas will keep well in the freezer for up to one week. From Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

1 medium seedless watermelon, halved
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup superfine sugar
Pinch salt

Cut or scoop the watermelon flesh from the rind. Discard the rind and cut the watermelon into chunks. You should have about 5 to 6 cups total.
Place the watermelon chunks, lime juice, sugar, and a small pinch of salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Fill a set of ice-pop molds with the pureed watermelon.
Place the molds in the freezer for 8 hours or overnight. To loosen the paleta, run the mold under warm water for a few seconds. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 12 paletas (depending on size of molds)

Here are some more recipe tester photos from Vegan Without Borders.  This is the Chickpea Wat:

Chickpea Wat 2a

Here’s the Paella:

paella2 2a

And this is a tester photo of the Tonkatsu:

gvk Tonkatsu z 2a

 

In the coming weeks, I’ll share a few more recipes from the book — I hope you’ll be as excited about it as I am!

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Cookbook News

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There’s a lot going on in the Robin Robertson world of cookbooks, so let’s start with an update on two updates! Several people have asked if the upcoming Hot Vegan and Nut Butter Cookbooks are the same as Vegan Fire and Spice and Nut Butter Universe. In a word, the answer is: YES!  In a few more words, here’s what’s happening….

The Nut Butter Cookbook, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing and available August 19th, is a new and updated edition of the book originally published as Nut Butter Universe by Vegan Heritage Press.

Hot Vegan, also published by Andrews McMeel Publishing and available on September 23rd, is a new and updated edition of Vegan Fire and Spice (originally published by Vegan Heritage Press).

 

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So….if you already have Vegan Fire and Spice and Nut Butter Universe, you probably don’t need these new additions (unless you spilled maple syrup and tamari sauce all over them, then it’s probably a good idea to replace them). However, if these titles have been on your wish list (or you want to buy copies for friends), then these sparkling new editions await!

In other cookbook news…. Just a few more weeks until my gorgeous new full-color hardcover book called Vegan Without Borders hits the shelves. It’s available now for preorder. I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about one of my books as I am about this one. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a few sample recipes and photos so you can see what all the excitement is about!

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Finally, just a reminder, (because I’ve been asked about this like a kajillion times)… All y’all do realize that there are three separate and distinct cookbooks in my “quick-fix” series, right? So, in other words, if you already have Quick Fix-Vegetarian (which is actually 100% vegan) or Quick-Fix Vegan, you would probably want to check out the third volume – and my personal favorite of the three: MORE Quick-Fix Vegan. Three separate books, 150 recipes each – that 450 recipes with less than 30 minutes active cooking time!  Collect the set!

RR 3 QF Covers

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Olive Leaf Pasta and Blueberry Pie

Olive Leaf Pasta IMG_0240

What is it about summer that makes it impossible to get things done?  The days are longer, but they go by lightening quick.  My to-do list continues to grow, yet every minute is packed with “busy-ness.”  Take this blog, for example.  Most of the year, I can manage to write a post at least once a week.  In the summer — this summer, at least — it’s more like once a month!  So here it is, four weeks after my last post about my birthday and I’m finally getting around to posting about two of my favorite birthday gifts this year.  No surprise, they both happen to be food!

Friends in Pennsylvania sent me a huge box filled with all kinds of Italian pasta — none of which I can find in my part of the universe.  One of the most intriguing to me was the pasta shaped like olive leaves, shown above with homemade tomato sauce and Gardein meatballs.  (Note: this was my first time trying the Gardein meatballs and it won’t be my last — they have a terrific flavor and great texture.  They bake up in the oven while you make the sauce and pasta.)  Below is a photo of the pasta label shown with 1 uncooked “olive leaf.”  I love the fun shapes and evocative names of Italian pasta.  I’m always intrigued by how the different shapes taste different, too, despite being made with the same ingredients.

Olive Leaf Pasta label IMG_0237

I also received a gift of several containers of fresh-picked local blueberries and black raspberries — making it a “berry”  happy birthday, indeed.  Here’s a picture of the blueberry pie I made with some of the berries.  I still have lots more berries waiting in the freezer!

Berry Pie IMG_0231

I love how summertime cooking revolves around fresh produce prepared in simple ways that let the vegetables themselves shine.  Lots of grilled vegetable skewers, roasted potatoes, beets, and corn on the cob.  Loads of delicious green beans.  And, of course, zucchini, zucchini, and more zucchini…

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