Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Julie Hasson's Vegan Casseroles: Book Review, a Recipe, and Two Giveaways!

Vegan Casseroles: Pasta Bakes, Gratins, Pot Pies, and More by Julie Hasson
There are so many vegan cookbooks out now.  I have a 3 foot tall stack next to my desk waiting for review.  No joke.  And I am sure they all have some amazing recipes in them.  I mean, I probably wouldn't have bought them otherwise, right?  (Well, actually, I think I may have a real problem.  I buy way too many vegan cookbooks.  I just can't help myself.  I need them.  I love them. I bring them into the bathtub with me for a romantic read. I whisper sweet nothings to them every night before I go to bed.)  In all seriousness, I love supporting other vegan cookbook authors, and I want them all to be successful.

But, every now and again, one comes out that is just knock your socks off unbelievable.  One that answers your dreams and prayers.  One full of comfort and goodness, and everything I love to eat.  Vegan Casseroles is one of these books.  

The beautiful and talented Julie Hasson

Starting with the cover, you know that you will be in for a treat.  I mean, come on, look at it! It's a Truffled Cauliflower Mac Casserole! (It appears on page 101 in case you need it, like, right now.) The cover just whets your appetite for what's to come.  A book full of cruelty free goodness that is sure to satisfy every craving for every one-dish-comfort-food you've ever had.

Moving passed the cover, because we never judge a book by it's cover, we find a very well organized and laid out book packed with stunning full color photography and nicely designed pages.  It starts out with the ever important sections on ingredients, special equipment, tips and tricks.  Then...the recipes.  The chapters are well thought out and organized in a matter that makes sense.  Appetizers, mains, desserts, and finally the sauces and staple recipes used within other recipes throughout the book (but that also stand up on their very own.)

So far, my favorite recipe is the Mac and Gravy Casserole on page 90. Because mac. And gravy. And it has a boozy beer variation.  I think that pretty much sums it up, no?

If I had to make a criticism of this book (because if I only say good things abut it, you guys might think I'm doing a little brown nosing) it would be that I miss having the metric equivalents in the ingredient measures.  So often, these days, I measure with my scale instead of my spoons and cups, because it saves time, uses less dishes, and tends to be more accurate.  Adding in the metric equivalents would have been a nice touch.

I had this book on preorder for ages, and when it finally came, I did my usual perusing to mark the recipes I wanted to try first.  But I had to stop because there were more pages marked, than those that weren't.  Then the publisher was nice enough to send one over for review, so now I have two!  That's lucky for you, because I am going to give one away to one lucky reader. (Yes, this giveaway is open to international readers.) Just go ahead and follow the prompts in the widget below.  

The publishers are also doing their own giveaway...of a Breville Smart Oven (!!!) which is open to US readers only.  Follow the prompts in that widget (at the bottom of the post) as well.  And even if you do not win either of the giveaways, you are still a winner because Julie was kind enough to let me share not one but two recipes from her new book.

Creamy Spinach Florentine from Julie Hasson's Vegan Casseroles (page 98)

Creamy Spinach Florentine
Serves 4
(Reprinted with permission from VEGAN CASSEROLES © 2014 by Julie Hasson, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.)
Ever since I was a child, I have adored creamed spinach. This casserole totally reminds me of the stuffed spinach crèpes I would order as a teenager at this little crèpe restaurant near our house. I could never get enough of them. This casserole doesn’t disappoint, with a luscious creamy sauce, spinach, and some dry sherry thrown in for good measure.

8 ounces dried shell pasta or macaroni
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed
1 recipe Almost Alfredo Sauce (see below)
3 to 4 tablespoons dry sherry, depending how strong of a sherry taste you like
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon granulated onion
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.
In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Don’t overcook the pasta, especially if you’re using one that is gluten-free. Drain the pasta well and transfer to a large bowl.
Drain most of the liquid out of the spinach by gently squeezing it, but don’t squeeze it completely dry. Add the spinach to the pasta, along with the sauce, mixing until the pasta is thickly coated. Add the sherry, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, granulated onion, and nutmeg, stirring well. Add salt and pepper, and adjust seasonings to taste. Scoop the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until hot and slightly bubbly around the edges. Remove from the oven and serve.

Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free oat flour in the sauce and gluten-free pasta (my favorite here is brown rice macaroni).

Almost Alfredo Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
Although this isn’t exactly a true alfredo sauce with loads of cream and butter, it is an all-purpose creamy white sauce, which works really well in so many recipes. There are a number of variations for it, from adding truffle oil to white wine. It’s so versatile, that it may just become your new secret sauce.

21/2 cups plain unsweetened soymilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
3 tablespoons oat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
11/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon granulated onion

In the jar of a blender, combine the soymilk, water, cashews, nutritional yeast, oat flour, cornstarch, salt, and granulated onion. Blend the mixture at high speed until completely smooth and no bits of nuts remain. If you don’t have a big blender, blend the mixture in two batches.
Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking continuously. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat slightly and cook, whisking continuously until thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Tip: Use a good-tasting unsweetened soymilk for this sauce, as the flavor really comes through. If you’re using a high-speed blender, you can skip the soaking step for the cashews and just use them dry. Add a little extra water to blend if needed.

To make a truffle sauce, to the blender jar add 1 to 3 tablespoons truffle oil to taste and reduce the granulated onion to 1/2 teaspoon. Add a few sprinkles of freshly grated nutmeg.
To make a white wine sauce, replace 3/4 cup of soymilk with an equal amount of white wine.
To make this sauce lower in fat, reduce the cashews to 1/3 cup.
Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free oat flour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Post a Comment
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni