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The Vegetarian Flavor Bible…and more

veg flavor bible

Because my day job is writing cookbooks, you’d think I’d want to relax by reading something non-food related, right?  Wrong!  My nightstand usually holds a stack of food magazines and cookbooks, that I read like novels.

The latest page-turner I’ve been enjoying is The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, a labor of love written by Karen Page with gorgeous photos by Andrew Dornenburg.  Since I was already an avid fan of The Flavor Bible, I knew I’d love this new book dedicated to all flavors vegetarian!  Like its predecessor, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is not a cookbook — it’s all about FLAVOR — specifically flavor pairings of virtually every vegetarian ingredient under the sun.  (note: dairy products are also in this book.)

If you’re a “foodie” person, you’ll love The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.  It’s an indispensable resource for chefs, food writers, and cookbook authors, but even if you just like to cook, and want a better understanding of flavor dynamics — what combines well and why — you’ll find the information in this book extremely interesting and helpful.

In other news:

There’s been a lot of great buzz for my newest book, Vegan Without Borders.

Here are some highlights:

  • Named one of the best vegan cookbooks of 2014 on Vegan.com
  • Great reviews on GoodReads
  • Reviews, recipes, and more in a variety of print newspapers
  • Featured on lots of great food blogs including:

Veggie Girl

Zsu’s Vegan Pantry

Food Republic


Hungry Vegan (there’s a cookbook giveaway going on there now!)



Appetite for Books

…. and lots more.

In other, other news…..

I had the pleasure of attending a multi-course dinner event at Eatonville in DC last week to celebrate The Lusty Vegan by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg.  The recipes were from the book and the meal was out of this world.  The place was packed!

The night before, however, was even better.  Ayinde cooked a fantastic meal for us at a friend’s home including his insanely delicious crab cakes made with hearts of palm:


He also made his Devil’s Pot Pie (with a hint of habanero), roasted winter vegetables, and a refreshing kale salad.  (I brought the appetizer and dessert!)  Here’s a pic of Ayinde in action:






Balt Crab Cake IMG_8043

I’m excited to be the first stop on The Lusty Vegan Blog Tour, not just because it’s such a fun (and well-written) book to read; not even because Jon’s company published it; and certainly not because I need dating advice (!). The reason I’m especially excited is because I get to share one of my favorite recipes from the book (and believe me, there are SEVERAL favorites!) – but I especially love the Hearts of Baltimore Crab Cakes, made with hearts of palm. The recipe is easy to make and absolutely captures the texture and flavor of crab cakes. Served with a simple but delicious garlicky dill aioli and lemon wedges, this is definitely a recipe to lust after.

Which bringTLVs me conveniently back to the book: With a subtitle of “A Cookbook and Relationship Manifesto for Vegans and the People Who Love Them,” you may think The Lusty Vegan is just for those in the dating game. Think again. The book contains great advice from co-authors Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg that I found to be applicable to most any relationship dynamic involving vegans and nonvegans, be it friends, family, or colleagues, and of course spouses.

I enjoyed the stories, tips, and anecdotes in the chapters, but I have to say that my favorite part of the book is the recipes. Each chapter closes with a group of recipes (80 in all) that relate to the topic of the specific chapter. Created by chef Ayinde Howell, these fabulous recipes can be savored harmoniously by both vegans and omnivores. Among my favorites are: Cajun Tofu with Dirty Quinoa, Cauliflower Steak with Miso-Rooster Sauce, Polenta Cakes with Chili-Garlic Sauce, Cranberry-Walnut Cinnamon Rolls, North African Lentil Stew with Roasted Yams, and, of course, the Hearts of Baltimore Crab Cakes:

Hearts of Baltimore Crab Cakes
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Serves 2

Maryland crab cakes are traditionally oversized, and I wanted to recreate them using hearts of palm and traditional seasonings. I make them gluten-free and pair them with a garlicky dill aïoli. I don’t know if it’s spot on, but from what I hear, it’s pretty darn close.
(From The Lusty Vegan © 2014 by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.)

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons grapeseed or safflower oil, divided, plus more for frying
1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, (not packed in sugar), roughly chopped to the consistency of crab meat
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs, or more
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
Lemon wedges, to serve

1. Garlicky Dill Aïoli: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. Set in the fridge to keep cool.

2. Crab Cakes: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hearts of palm and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Set aside to cool. Add the celery and peppers and mix well.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium-heat heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

4. Remove from the heat, add to the hearts of palm, and mix well. Add the Old Bay seasoning, cornstarch, and mayo.

5. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and mix well. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then shape the mixture into four round patties.

6. Breading: In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Old Bay seasoning, stirring to mix. Coat the patties with the breadcrumb mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

7. Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Carefully place the patties in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side, approximately 2 minutes per side. Watch closely to prevent burning. Transfer the cooked patties to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil. Serve hot, topped with the aïoli, with lemon wedges on the side.


Bottom line: Whether you want the guilty pleasure of the frank and irreverent relationships talk or Ayinde’s fabulous recipes, you’ll want your own copy of The Lusty Vegan.  (Be sure to keep up with the rest of The Lusty Vegan Blog Tour for more recipes,as well as guest posts, interviews, and giveaways.)


Savory Pumpkin Bites with Green Chile Aioli

pumpkin bites 1000

After spending a fun Saturday afternoon at a “pick your own” pumpkin patch, I couldn’t resist doing a pumpkin-related post. Today’s recipe is for Savory Pumpkin Bites with Green Chile Aioli (shown above) from the new edition of Vegan Planet.  I’ll share the recipe in the minute, but first I thought you might like to see where all the pumpkin picking took place:

Field Mtn IMG_0499a

Here’s what we (and our friends) picked — $35 for the whole wheelbarrow load!

wbarrow full IMG_0507

And here’s our front porch after festooning it with pumpkins, gourds, and mums:

Front Porch IMG_0522

I love the change of seasons — and I especially love cool autumn weather!

Now here’s that recipe I promised.  Hope you enjoy!

Savory Pumpkin Bites with Green Chile Aioli
Pumpkin, walnuts, and sage combine to give these tasty bites a rich depth of flavor. But it’s the accompanying green chile aioli that sends them over the top. From Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson (c) 2014.

1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup finely ground walnuts
2/3 cup canned solid-pack or pure pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Green Chile Aioli (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. Heat the oil or water in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Uncover, stir in the garlic and sage, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute longer. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, process the oats to a powder. Add the ground walnuts, pumpkin, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Add the reserved onion mixture and process until well combined.  Add additional oat flour or ground walnuts if the mixture is too wet to hold together. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm and the bottoms are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve with the aioli.


Green Chile Aioli
This easy and flavorful aioli is fabulous with the pumpkin bites, but can also be slathered onto sandwiches or used as a dipping sauce for vegetables or baked tofu. From Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson (c) 2014.

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons finely minced mild canned green chiles
1 teaspoon green Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve with the pumpkin bites.


Here’s one more shot of the gourds we picked — they’re so pretty, aren’t they?


gourds and hay IMG_0518



Chickpea and Kale Wat from Vegan Without Borders


Thanks to all who participated in my spontaneous online poll yesterday in helping me decide which part of the world to visit for today’s recipe from Vegan Without Borders. The majority of votes went to various regions of Africa, and there were a lot of great recipes to choose from, including the Vegetable Tagine shown above (photo by Sara Remington). Here’s a list of the recipes from Africa in Vegan Without Borders:

Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup
Harissa Sauce
Spicy Lemon Chickpeas (Fasting Eggs)
Chickpea and Kale Wat
Vegetable Tagine
Black-Eyed Pea Fritters
Berbere-Spiced Crackers
Falafel Pie
Spicy Couscous with Carrots and Chickpeas
Caakiri Pudding with Pineapple

I chose to share Chickpea and Kale Wat (photo by Zsu Dever) for a number of reasons. The recipe for this Ethiopian stew is super quick and easy and a great way to get a lot of flavor out of your basic “beans and greens.” The recipe is also versatile, in that you can swap out different beans or legumes for the chickpeas, or use other vegetables to replace the kale. The recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, and low in oil (you can make it “no oil” if you water-saute the veggies).

Chickpea Wat 2a
Chickpea and Kale Wat
Serve the wat with injera (shown in the photo with the Vegetable Tagine – a recipe for injera is also in the book) or on a bed of cooked rice or couscous. This is a spicy dish, so I’ve made the cayenne optional if you prefer less heat. You can also use less red pepper flakes, if you wish. This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups chopped kale (tough stems removed)
3 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger, then add the garam masala, paprika, thyme, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne, if using. Stir in the tomato paste and 1/2 cup of the water. Add the kale and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to wilt the kale. Add the chickpeas and the remaining 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender and the flavor is developed, about 20 minutes, adding a little more water, if needed, so the stew doesn’t dry out or burn.
Serves 4


If you are already loving Vegan Without Borders, please help spread the word and post a review on Amazon.  If you don’t have your copy yet, here’s the link.


Mango-Rice Verrines


I love the mango and coconut rice dessert served at Thai restaurants, as I was reminded when I saw an order of it being served at the next table during a recent Thai meal out with friends.  I rarely prepare it at home, either, since I only make dessert when company’s coming and I haven’t served a Thai-themed dinner in awhile.

That may change soon as I really want to make a Thai dinner for friends using  some of the recipes from Vegan Without Borders.  Among the recipes I’ll choose from are: Tom Yum Soup and possibly Miang Kam or Eggplant Satays for starters.  For an entree, it will either be Thai Hangover Noodles with Tofu and Thai Basil or Panang Vegetable Curry, although Pineapple Fried Rice with Edamame and Bangkok Street Cart Noodles sound like good choices as well. There’s one thing I am sure of though, and that’s dessert!  I’ll be making Mango and Rice Verrines, inspired by the mango and rice dessert that started this whole craving to begin with!

As you know, this dessert is traditionally served on a plate. My new spin opts for a more unusual presentation, by layering the ingredients. The term verrine indicates that the ingredients will be layered in clear glass dessert or parfait bowls or wine glasses. A verrine originally referred to a small glass container with no base that could hold a layered appetizer or dessert, which allows for a vertical and visually appealing presentation. Wine glasses work especially well for this dessert.


Mango Rice Verrines
This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing; photo by Sara Remington.

1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup natural sugar (try organic coconut sugar)
2 1/2 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 ripe fresh mangos, peeled pitted, and finely chopped
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews, crushed

In a large saucepan, combine the coconut milk and sugar, and bring almost to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cooked rice, vanilla, and salt, and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. Spoon a small amount of the rice into the bottom of 4 clear dessert or parfait glasses (wine glasses are good for this). Top each with a layer of chopped mango, followed by another layer of rice, until the ingredients are used up (or the glasses are nearly full). Sprinkle the tops with the crushed nuts. Refrigerate until serving time. Serve chilled.

Serves 4


Vegan Without Borders – Today’s the Day!


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
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

VWB new 72dpi 6x7