Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen (Plus a Giveaway!)

Squash Blossom Pizza from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking (page 63)
by Celine Steen. Photograph by: Celine Steen

I have never been so excited to do a cookbook review then I am to do this one. Celine Steen of Have Cake Will Travel fame is a long time dear friend and co-conspirator in the vegan cookbook scene. Her and I go way back to when we penned 500 Vegan Recipes together in 2008, and then went on to write several more cookbooks together. Even when we weren't partnering up to write, I still made sure to have her gorgeous food photography grace the pages of a few of my solo efforts. It's fair to say I had VERY high hopes for this tome.

Nothing could make my heart swoon more than flipping through the pages of Celine's solo debut, Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking! From the cover, to the font, to the photos, and, of course, the recipes...just everything about this cookbook makes me squee!

Make sure to read all the way to the bottom of this post to enter for a chance to win a copy of Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking for yourself!

Let's break it down a bit...first let's just talk about the book in it's physical form. Just shy of square, the book is 8-inches wide x 9-inches tall and 208 pages. The pages are a semi-gloss and almost every recipe is accompanied by a full color, drop dead gorgeous photos. The binding is strong and sturdy, and lays flat when opened, which is helpful considering how much use it's gonna get in the kitchen!  I love them. The recipes are well laid out and easy to read. The fonts are, dare I say, even a little punk rock?

Now let's get to the vegan meat of the book: Broken down into 4 chapters, Savory, Spicy, Sweet, and Staples, I really love the idea of grouping the foods together this way instead of breakfast..lunch...dinner...dessert. It makes the book so much more interesting to thumb through. Besides, who's to say we can't have Piri Piri Pizza for breakfast anyways? (It's on page 73 in the Spicy chapter if you were wondering.)

The book kicks it off with a sweet dedication, "For the Animals, Always." Which, gawdamm, brought a tear to my eye. Then a quick introduction and guide to the recipe icons in the book (recipes are labeled if they are gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, or in a hurry) and then she' starts right in on the recipes.

The recipes in this book are elevated vegetable based dishes that are packed with a depth of flavor, layers of depth, really. Respectfully inspired by world cuisines, the recipes combine spices and texture in a way I haven't seen done before in a vegan cookbook. Celine isn't veganizing here. She is creating some really beautiful and flavorful dishes. Harissa, miso, sesame, chilies, ginger, homemade pomegranate molasses, and maca are just a few of the bold flavor components you will find here.

I highly recommend this book to any flavor lover. Vegan or not. I also recommend this book to seasoned, experienced vegans, who are looking to take their flavor game up a notch. Seriously! This is all new stuff here. Some excellent techniques, and really great recipes that will impress anyone you cook them for.

But you don't have to take my word for it...Celine was kind enough to share one of the recipes with you so you can taste it for yourself!

Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen.

Squash Blossom Pizza
from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen 
(reprinted with permission from the publisher)

This is a deliciously savory pizza made gorgeous with the use of squash blossoms. If you cannot find any at the market, replace them with any zucchini or summer squash of choice, thinly sliced into rounds. You will need approximately 1 large squash or 2 smaller to cover the surface; have extra handy just in case. I could see adding minced fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano or parsley on top of this. The sturdier herbs can be baked, while parsley would be best added only upon serving.

¼ cup (60 ml) grapeseed oil or olive oil
1 small white onion, trimmed and peeled, sliced to about ¼ -inch (6-mm) thick
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tsp (2 g) Aleppo pepper flakes or
½ tsp red pepper flakes (to taste), plus extra for serving
Pinch saffron threads (optional)
1 cup (120 g) raw cashew pieces, soaked in filtered water at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened canned coconut milk or coconut cream
4 oz (113 g) extra-firm silken tofu or unsweetened plain vegan yogurt
Juice from ½ lemon (1 tbsp [15 ml])
¾ tsp coarse kosher salt (if using regular salt, use half the amount)
1 tbsp (5 g) nutritional yeast
1 tbsp (12 g) white chia seeds
Cornmeal, for crust
1 pound (454 g) vegan pizza dough of choice
10 squash blossoms, washed and drained, stamen removed, halved lengthwise
Freshly ground peppercorn
Maldon sea salt

Place the oil, onion, garlic and pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-low heat, then lower the heat once the bulky ingredients start to sizzle slightly. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes until fragrant and the onion becomes translucent. Remove from the heat, add the saffron threads (if using) and infuse for 1 hour. Mince the garlic and set aside.

Drain and rinse the cashews. Place the coconut milk, tofu, cashews, lemon juice, salt and nutritional yeast in a food processor or high-speed blender. Process until smooth. Add the chia seeds and process a few times until slightly thicker. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C, or gas mark 8). Place a thin layer of cornmeal on a large baking sheet. Roll out the pizza dough as thin as you can into a rectangle, approximately 11 x 14 inches (28 x 36 cm). Lightly brush the whole surface with infused oil, including the edges. There will be leftovers of the oil, which can be used to stir-fry veggies or to flavor pasta or other grains. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Top with a layer (not too thick) of cashew preparation. There will be leftovers, which can be used on a future pizza within a week. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Evenly place the halved squash blossoms on the surface. Top with the minced garlic and with onion slices scooped out from the infused oil with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 16 minutes. Top with ground pepper, salt and extra Aleppo pepper flakes to taste. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

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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