Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The HappyCow Cookbook
Review and Giveaway

With vegan eateries springing up everywhere (hello Omaha!), living and traveling as a vegan has gotten so much easier and lots more fun. A quick visit to the HappyCow website will point the way to veg restaurants from Milan to Minsk—complete with reviews from diners. And with the release of The HappyCow Cookbook, now you can take your vegan palate around the world right from the comfort of your very own kitchen! I was excited to find recipes from some of my most favorite vegan eateries like Café Blossom and Hangawi in New York City and Real Food Daily in Los Angeles. Even more exciting was the opportunity to sample fare from restaurants I have always wanted to visit but haven't had the chance to, like Vertical Diner in Salt Lake City and Ain. Soph Ginza in Tokyo.

Here in Eugene, OR, we've got our very own famous vegan restaurant, the Cornbread Cafe, which has the distinction of being the very first vegan restaurant to be featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives! I've been a fan of Cornbread Cafe's down-home, delectable vegan comfort food since it first opened as a food cart downtown on Oak Street.

It wasn't very long before Cornbread Cafe evolved from its humble beginnings as a food cart to a colorful, full-service restaurant complete with comfy diner-style booths and lunch counter. When friends visit from out of town, I can't wait to take them to Cornbread Cafe to experience the decadently delicious Eugenewich. Take a peek at my very own personal Cornbread Cafe photo gallery. Look closely—you may even see someone you know!

Cornbread Cafe is renowned for its incredible Eugenewich, pictured below. Also shown are several of its fabulous side dishes: (clockwise from top left to right) Mac Uncheese, Uncle Todd's Greens, Sassy Slaw, and just visible all the way over on the left is a hunk of my favorite side— Cornbread Cafe's scrumptious namesake cornbread.

To put it mildly, I'm cuckoo for Cornbread Cafe's signature cornbread. So when I flipped through the pages of  The HappyCow Cookbook and found the recipe for Skillet Cornbread along with recipes for the cafe's crispy-good Chicken Fried Tempeh and impossibly thin and delicious Tofu Omelet Sheets, I just about flipped! (I also just about kicked myself in the pants for recently getting rid of my cast-iron skillet.) But I made the cornbread in a muffin pan instead of a skillet, and it came out gorgeously golden and tasted every bit as delicious as the cornbread I've enjoyed so many times at the restaurant. With just a schmear of strawberry jam on my cornbread muffin...WOW! What a treat!

Following is the recipe for Cornbread Cafe's Skillet Cornbread reprinted with the kind permission of BenBella Books. A couple of notes: I avoid products containing palm oil, so I used vegetable oil instead of EB to grease the pan. And because I used a muffin pan instead of a cast-iron skillet, the cornbread was fully baked in only 17 minutes. (Be sure to use a toothpick to test your batch.)

Cornbread Cafe Skillet Cornbread
Serves 6–10

1 to 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute (I used vegetable oil)
1 cup cornmeal (medium ground)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup soy or rice milk
1⁄3 cup oil
Egg replacer for 2 eggs (follow directions on box)

For the topping (optional):
Earth Balance butter substitute (I opted for strawberry jam)
Agave syrup 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put 1 or 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute (or other vegan margarine) into a 9" cast-iron skillet and put in the heated oven for about 10 minutes.

Add together the dry ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl and whisk together, combining thoroughly.

Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients (soy or rice milk through egg
replacer). Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well, just until all of the dry mixture is incorporated with the wet. Some small lumps are okay.

Remove skillet from oven and coat bottom and sides with the melted Earth Balance. Pour (or scrape)
batter into skillet, spreading evenly with rubber spatula. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes in
the middle of the center rack. Test the center of corn bread with a toothpick after 20 minutes. When the toothpick comes out clean without crumbs sticking to it, the corn bread is done. Let it cool for a few minutes and, if desired, serve with Earth Balance and agave syrup.

If you'd like to take your taste buds on a tasty trip around the world, get yourself a copy of The HappyCow Cookbook. You'll soon be enjoying dishes like the Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleons from Millenium in San Francisco and Red Curry Tempeh Tempura from Veggies on Fire in the Netherlands. And now you can win a copy of The HappyCow Cookbook just by leaving a comment below and following the prompt in the Rafflecopter box! (This step is required for entry.) After you leave a comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random.* Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, I receive a modest commission.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Salad Samurai
Review and Giveaway

We eat lots of salads at our house, especially in the summertime. And while most people think of salad as a rather uninspired dish to be served "on the side," (or worse, as a chilled vehicle for consuming tuna, chicken, shrimp, or eggs), the artfully crafted plant-based culinary creations you'll find in Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-To-Make Salads You Don't Have To Be Vegan To Love will lay any such notions to rest. Made with a variety of vibrantly delicious whole-food ingredients, sumptuous dressings, and a cornucopia of tasty toppings, award-winning chef Terry Hope Romero elevates the art of salad making to soaring heights of satiety and yum. No longer will salads be relegated to the lowly side dish. Within the pages of Salad Samurai you'll find entrée-sized salads that will satisfy your hunger for a meal that is healthy, hearty, and delicious.

When you get the book into your hot little hands, do take the time to savor the spectacular, full-color photos. Because I flipped through all 180 pages just before bedtime one night, I found myself dreaming about Terry's Tempeh Reubenesque Salad and her Bacon, Kale, Tomato Bowl. And while my photos may not do justice to the recipes, here is my rendition of the BKT. This luscious concoction of kale, avocado, red onions, tomatoes, Tempeh Bacon Bites, and Coconut Bacony Bits (recipes included in the book!) in a tangy maple-Dijon vinaigrette was extremely filling and made my taste buds very happy.

Tip: It doesn't hurt to make friends with the nice people working in the produce department at your local store. Case in point: I was asking one of the produce managers at my neighborhood supermarket if he would be willing to mark down some organic bananas that had brown spots on them, which he was happy to do. Just then, a co-worker walked by, overheard our conversation, and asked me if I would like some super sweet organic corn he was about to mark down to 3 for $1. (Yes, please! I'll take them all!) That was not only lucky, but serendipitous, because I was planning to make the recipe for Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (aka Esquites) from Salad Samurai that very evening and just hadn't gotten around to picking out the corn yet!

I am crazy for super sweet, organic, fresh corn, and I could eat this twist on the classic Mexican dish, every day. (Given my fondness for Mexican food, art, and culture, I swear I must have lived in Mexico in a previous life.) A medley of avocados, cilantro, tomatoes, chilé pepper, and corn (still warm from roasting!), are bathed in a creamy, cashew-lime dressing. I'm pretty sure this must be what paradise tastes like. Make sure to scroll down, and grab the recipe, because it is that sensational!

The following recipe for Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (Esquites) is from Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero ©2014. Reprinted with the kind permission of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

Serves: 3 to 4

Creamy Lime Dressing
½ cup unroasted cashews 
½ cup hot water 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 
1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil 
1 clove garlic, peeled 
2 teaspoons white (shiro) miso

Corn Salad
4 ears of corn, husks and corn silk removed 
Olive oil 
½ cup lightly packed, chopped fresh cilantro 
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced 
1 green or red jalapeño pepper, roasted or fresh, seeded and minced 
1 ripe avocado, diced 
1 big red ripe tomato, cored and diced 
2 teaspoons chili powder (preferably Mexican, such as ancho or chipotle) 
Lime wedges, for garnish
Make the dressing first. Soak the cashews in the hot water for 30 minutes, then pulse the cashews and soaking water in a blender until smooth. Add the remaining dressing ingredients, pulse until silky, then chill until ready to use.

Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub the ears of corn with olive oil and grill each ear until the kernels are lightly charred, turning the cobs occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them from the pan to a cutting board and cool just enough to handle. Use a sharp knife with a thin blade to slice the corn kernels from the cob; for best results (and to prevent kernels from taking flight), slice a few rows off an ear, lay it flat on the cutting board, then slice off the remaining corn. Always keep one side of the ear flat on the cutting board.

Transfer the corn to a big mixing bowl. Add the cilantro, scallions, and jalapeño. Drizzle on the dressing and toss to combine. Transfer the salad to serving dishes. Top each serving with diced avocado and tomato and sprinkle each serving with chili powder. Serve immediately with lime wedges for squeezing over the salad while the corn is still warm!

Want to be the master or mistress of your salad-making domain? Get your hands on a copy of Salad Samurai! Want to win your very own copy? Simply leave a comment below, and then follow the prompt in the Rafflecopter box.* After you leave your comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Sorry international friends. The giveaway is open only to readers with US postal addresses.
 Note: This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, I receive a modest commission.