Monthly Archives: September 2012

30 Minutes Vegan’s Taste of Europe | Mark Reinfeld


Can meatless versions of European classics measure up?

The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and Beyond

TITLE: The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
AUTHOR: Mark Reinfeld
PUBLISHER: Da Capo Lifelong

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Featured Ingredient: Tempeh
Tempeh (/ˈtɛmpeɪ/; Javanese: témpé, IPA: [tempe]), is a traditional soy product originallySliced tempeh - By FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands (Tempe) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in the Sinosphere. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
If you’re looking for a nice well rounded assortment of vegan dishes this cookbook will satisfy that. Like the covers says, it contains “Plant based makeovers of classics”. There is a center insert of color images by Fawne Frailey and Sebastian Romero Sea Light Studios. The paper stock is a nice, soft off white that is easy on the eyes and great to page through. This is a nice everyday vegan cookbook. It has dishes you could make for dinner seven nights a week.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Spain and Portugal
United Kingdom and Ireland
Europe Fusion

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Roam around the world…

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Pommes Frites French Onion Soup
Quiche Monet Empanadas
Irish Stew Yorkshire Pudding
Currant Scones Beer Soup
Potato Pierogi Swiss Chocolate Fondue


I love Greek food, so the Tzatzaki (p.162) and the Spanikopita Triangles (p.173) were both big hits with me. You can use that Tzatzaki sauce on just about everything from salad to corn flakes as far as I’m concerned. The Spaetzle Noodles (p.195) is another winner. I have a spaetzle maker (two actually) and I’m always looking for a reason to break it out. Also, the Chickpeas and Roasted Garlic (p.110) is a mouthwatering side dish. It has 15 to 20 cloves of garlic in it, so it has to be amazing!

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Special Features
The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and BeyondMany of the recipes are annotated with special symbols to help you make cooking decisions. These symbols indicate cooking times and ease of preparation. It’s a nice touch. In the table of contents, the recipe names and page numbers are listed under the chapter names. I LOVE this type of formatting. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know that feature always rates high with me. Making cookbooks easy to use, there’s a novel idea! Also, as you would expect with any vegan/vegetarian cookbook, there is an extensive section on preparation basics contained in the appendix. As is a metric conversion chart. Hey, it’s taste of EUROPE here, so I guess it makes sense. There is also a great list of additional reading and some super helpful online resources. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of vegan cuisine there is a lot to keep you busy.

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Mark Reinfeld does a nice job on his “plant based makeover”. These are recipes that you could use again and again. They are relatively easy to make, so it would be a fairly good cookbook for the vegan beginner. The once sparse space of vegan cookbooks is starting to fill up fast. The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe fills the vegan international cuisine void nicely. If you’ve been hunting for that meatless version of your favorite French dish, you can stop looking. The Seitan Bourguignon (p.84) is now at your fingertips.

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Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and Beyond

How would you like to be a cookbook insider? Of course you would. Included with every cookbook that a publisher sends out for review are publicity notes. Click below to view the notes from The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe. Have fun being on the inside for a change.

The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe – Publicity Notes

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Resources, Links and Press
Vegan Fusion Website
Video: Eating Live: An Introduction to Live Food Cuisine
Mark Reinfeld on
Follow Mark Reinfeld on Twitter

Monday Books | National Pancake Day


Pancake breakfast. Enough said.

Pancake Breakfast - South Haven MI

I love them! And, it doesn’t really matter who is hosting. Although, I will admit that from my personal experience firemen are damn good pancake chefs. I’m talking pancake breakfast here, of course. Here is the typical menu. Pancakes (buckwheat preferred), eggs, brown n’ serve sausage and/or bacon and of course a room temperature stryo cup of Tang. Regular 100% OJ doesn’t cut it. That’s my all-star pancake lineup.

September 26th is National Pancake Day. I couldn’t possibly think of a better Monday Books feature than the humble pancake. Oh, thought you should know – Glenn Michigan throws a top notch pancake breakfast. They’re known as the “Pancake Town”.

Anyway, pancakes come in all kinds of different shapes, sizes and flavors. In order to give you a little pancake day inspiration, I’ve recommended some fantastic cookbooks to get you in a flapjack lovin’ mood.

FYI – I’ve thrown in a few awesome non-cookbooks for any pancake crazed kids (and parents).


The Pancake Handbook: Specialties from Bette's Oceanview Diner Pancakes, Pancakes! Pancakes for Breakfast The Best of Waffles & Pancakes
Curious George Makes Pancakes OMG Pancakes!: 75 Cool Creations Your Kids Will Love to Eat Pancakes: From Morning to Midnight CakeLove in the Morning: Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Pancakes, Waffles, Biscuits, Frittatas, and Other Breakfast Treats
The Ultimate Pancake Pancakes and Waffles Celebrating Pancakes, Waffles, Crepes (Leisure Arts #5569) (Celebrating Cookbooks) 101 Things to do With Pancake Mix


Good Greens. Super Good Superfood


It’s true. Good things come in small packages.

Good Greens

“Creamy”, “Tastes like a Girl Scout cookie”, “It stays on your palate”, “As you’re eating it, you’re enjoying it” and finally “Now you’ve got me hooked”. What in the world could we be talking about? Let me bring you up to speed.

A couple of weeks back the folks Good Greens sent me a box of their new product to check out. They’re nutrition bars. It was a pretty big box. I’ll eat these kinds of bars from time to time. But, the box had more bars than I could handle. So, why not share?

Restaurant people are open to trying just about anything. That’s what I like that about them. Just try bringing any edible product from the outside into a restaurant kitchen or dining room. The scene quickly deteriorates from an inquisitive, “what’s that?” to servers, bartenders and bussers diving for pieces of unknown treasure.

I thought this would be the perfect setup for a taste test. And, I was right. Before we get around to the results, let’s talk for a minute about Good Greens. Sure, they are nutrition bars. But, they’re not like any you’ve had before. Just look at all of the great healthy stuff that they have crammed into every bar.

Good Greens

That’s a whole lot of goodness. And, since we’re going over some of the facts… Are they vegan? YES. Are they gluten free? YES. Do they contain Probiotics? YES. And do they contain 100% of all the vitamins you need for the day? YES. Talk about superfood!

All of this good for you talk is great. But, if eating these bars is like eating a fist full of dirt or something equally as appetizing then who really cares. So, how do they taste? Let’s ask our panel of “experts”. The words, “creamy and moist” were used a lot. Tasters asked if it was a candy bar. Some thought they tasted like fudge brownies. “Soft”, “delicious” and “are these really good for you?”, are a sampling of the other comments.

Good Greens

Here are your flavor choices: Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Coconut, Wildberry, and Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chunk. If you like your nutrition bars chocolaty then you’re set. I loved the peanut butter version.

Good Greens

A nice plate of Good Greens and milk. Santa treats? Probably not. But, that shouldn’t stop you from indulging in a healthy snack.

OK, here’s the bottom line. If you’re looking for a delicious nutrition bar option, Good Greens delivers. The bars are packed with “goodness” as the name would indicate. They’ll make your body and your taste buds happy at the same time. That’s a pretty great result. And, one final observation. If you bring a box of Good Greens into a restaurant and say, “hey, who wants to give these a try?” Be prepared to lose a finger in the melee that is sure to ensue.

Would you like to know where to buy your Good Greens? Click here for a store locator.

Good Greens provided the product for our tasting at no cost to us. We were not compensated in any way to write this review. Thought you should know.

Soup of the Day | Kate McMillan


“Soup is the song of the hearth…  and the home.” – Chef Louis P. De Gouy

Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

TITLE: Soup of the Day
AUTHOR: Kate McMillan
PUBLISHER: Weldon Owen

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Featured Ingredient: Stock or Broth?
The difference between broth and stock is one of both cultural and colloquial terminologytomatillo soup by little blue hen but certain definitions prevail. Stock is the thin liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients: solids are removed, leaving a thin, highly-flavored liquid. This gives classic stock as made from beef, veal, chicken, fish and vegetable stock. Broth differs in that it is a basic soup where the solid pieces of flavoring meat or fish, along with some vegetables, remain. It is often made more substantial by adding starches such as rice, barley or pulses. Traditionally, broth contains some form of meat or fish: nowadays it is acceptable to refer to a strictly vegetable soup as a broth [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
I’m a soup fanatic. So, you almost have to stop me from shaking as I turn the pages. 365 soup recipes! Really? Yes, really. It’s printed on a nice premium white gloss stock. It has great page feel. Vibrant color images by Erin Kunkel add to the allure of the recipes. It’s all soup, so you need to keep it entertaining. The way in which the cookbook is divided into days and months does that. They have found a perfect way to keep a single subject cookbook interesting from start to finish.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)

• • • • •

Duck, duck, soup…

• • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Cioppino Stone Soup
Celery, Leek & Oyster Bisque Three-Bean Soup with Linguica
Artichoke Soup with Morel Butter Creamy Spinach-Leek Soup
Red Bean & Andouille Soup Cool Honeydew-Mint Soup
Brazilian Fish Stew Tom Yum with Shrimp
Pork Pho Garlicky Pork & Chili Soup
Minestrone with Pesto Soup Cream of Parsnip Soup
Wedding Soup Weeknight Hungarian Beef Stew


Paring this list down was unbelievably hard for me. There was a new favorite with the turn of every page. But, were there some soups that rose to the top? Of course,

I make a Tortellini and Spinach soup in the winter that both my wife and I both love. The Tortellini & Escarole (p.27), is a nice variation on that theme. The Crab & Avocado Soup (p.173) is a great warm weather soup. Light, fresh and delicious. I was never a huge fan of chilled soups. But, over the years I’ve “warmed” up to them. I love pumpkin soup. So, the Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (p.267), makes my mouth water. I especially loved the pumpkin roasting technique. For me, fall would not be the same without it. And finally, Ribollita (p.207), need I say more? I think not.

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Special Features
Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the YearThere aren’t any special features to speak of. At least in the traditional cookbook sense. The special features of this book come down to its formatting. I love the fact that each month starts with a calendar. Inside each of the days of the month is the soup title and the page number. It is almost like twelve separate tables of contents. That format makes it very easy to browse the recipes. There are 365 soups in this book. That’s a lot. The user friendly formatting aids navigation. The fact that each month contains soups that are appropriate for the weather and the ingredients available was thoughtful way to arrange the content. No matter what time of year it is, you can find a soup to fit the season.

• • • • •

Again, I cannot overstate this, I LOVE SOUP. So, this book is a serious home run for me. Now, maybe you’re not as possessed by soup as I am. You will still love the variety and diversity of the recipes. All different styles and types are covered. For fun, you could just randomly open to a page and let the soup making begin. Oh, in case you were wondering, today’s special is, Minestrone with Pesto (p.214), yummm!

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

Resources, Links and Press
Kate McMillan’s Website
Kate Talks About Soup – Interview
Kate McMillan – TV Interview
Recipe – Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Monday Books | National Breakfast Month


It’s the most important meal of the day.

The EggStravaganza - The Village Cafe, Siesta Key FL

On a consistent basis, breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day. It’s not only because I enjoy breakfast foods. But, there is no hassle with breakfast. It just kind of happens without a lot of debate, prep time or hand wringing.

Two eggs over easy? No sweat. Pancakes, waffles or French toast? I’ll have that for you in a snap. A bowl of oatmeal? Even easier. See what I mean. No worrying about dressings, sauces, rubs or roasting times. You probably won’t even have to bust out that metric conversion chart you’ve been dying to use. Bummer.

September is National Breakfast Month. I’m not sure who made that designation, but, I fully support it. If, you’re looking to celebrate the occasion in a big way we can help. I’ve put together a Monday Book collection that will elevate your breakfast from ho-hum to glorious.

Bring on the bacon!

The Big Book of Breakfast: Serious Comfort Food for Any Time of the Day Breakfasts & Brunches (Culinary Institute of America) Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast & Brunch101 Breakfast & Brunch Recipes (101 Cookbook Collection)
Stonewall Kitchen Breakfast Sunday Brunch: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Leisurely Mornings Easy Breakfast & Brunch: Simple Recipes for Morning Treats Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For--From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes
New Orleans Classic Brunches (Classics Series) 500 Breakfast and Brunch Dishes Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast and Brunch Breakfast of Champions: A Novel

The Cookbook MANifesto

Yellow Rice, That’s Mighty Nice


A recipe journey ends in an unexpected place.

Basmati Rice

I have a friend who owns a great Indian restaurant in Sarasota Florida. It’s the kind of place that locals like to hang out. It’s a place where the food says a lot about the people who own it. Warm, comforting, welcoming. It’s an easy place to love.

They have a rice dish on their menu, Cranberry Cashew Pilaf. It’s described as “a rice concoction of sautéed onions, dried cranberries and cashew nuts.” What the description fails to mention is the addictive nature of the dish. At least for my wife. She’s wild about it.

Unfortunately for her, the recipe is a highly guarded secret. It seems a little silly. It’s not as if my non-cooking wife is going to attempt to turn our house into an Indian restaurant. Although, I’ll admit, I wouldn’t mind having that food around all the time.

These days you can find just about any recipe you want on the internet. From Thomas Keller’s famous Oysters and Pearls to a thousand world class meatloaf recipes that any grandmother would be proud of. It’s all there. Well, almost all of it.

A few weeks back we reviewed Bryant Terry’s new cookbook, The Inspired Vegan. Little did I know that contained in the pages would be the rice dish that I had been searching for. Bryant calls it, Yellow Basmati Rice. But, that title didn’t tell the whole story.

I made Bryant’s recipe as part of my cookbook review. One taste told me that I was one step (and two ingredients) away from a breakthrough. So, without further adieu…

Yellow Basmati Rice with Cranberries and Cashews

1 cup basmati rice (soaked overnight in water)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onions, diced finely
1/2 tsp. coarse ground sea salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup cashew pieces

Drain soaked rice into a colander. NOTE: I have made this dish twice. The first time through I didn’t have time to soak the rice overnight. So, I just rinsed it well in a fine mesh strainer. This method produced a finished product closer to what I was looking for. Soaking the rice gave it a distinct barley-like texture and feel when cooked. If you like that, then soak away.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and the salt. Sauté until well caramelized. About 10 to 15 minutes. I actually had to turn the heat up to medium to get the onions to caramelize in that amount of time. When the onions are browned add the turmeric. Stir for about 30 seconds to fully incorporate. Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes stirring often. The mixture should start to smell nutty and all of the water should be absorbed.

Add 2 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook for 50 minutes.

When rice is cooked. Remove from heat, add cranberries and cashews. Cover and set aside for about 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Serves 4
Recipe adapted Yellow Rice, Bryant Terry, The Inspired Vegan. Da Capo Lifelong Books © 2012.

Here’s what you’ll end up with. Looks amazing, right?


Here’s the thing. Having the recipe is great. Make no mistake about it. Does it replace the experience you get dining at the restaurant? Not even close. So, I’m pretty certain that I’ll continue to take advantage of the fantastic food and hospitality that only the REAL thing can offer.

FYI – The restaurant that makes that delicious Cranberry Cashew Pilaf is Chutney’s, Etc. If you click here, you can drool over their menu online. If you’re in the area, be sure and stop on by and say hello. You’ll be happy you did.

Looking for a copy of Bryant Terry’s The Inspired Vegan? You can grab your very own by clicking the book cover below.

The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus

The Cookbook MANifesto | Buying, Using, Writing


When it comes to cookbooks, everyone could use a few handy tips.

The Cookbook MANifesto

During the past couple of years I have read through a small mountain of cookbooks. Some were great, the bulk were good and a few missed the mark. The range of publication quality ran the gamut from cookbooks as art to basic photocopied pages held together by a plastic comb binding. But, the thing that ties all of them together is what is contained on the inside. Specific directions on how to turn a sometimes disparate collection of common or obscure ingredients into a plate of food that will hopefully delight your palate.

The distinction between exceptional and poor is pretty obvious. The difference between great and good is far more subtle. And, it is influenced to a great extent by ones personal likes and dislikes. After all, if you don’t care for Paraguayan cuisine, even the definitive cookbook on the subject will be a difficult sell.

All this leads us to the Cookbook MANifesto. It’s hopefully, a thought provoking list of cookbook buying, using and writing suggestions. It is my personal cookbook observations distilled into one convenient place.

It’s also a living document. So, do be surprised if you find an addition from time to time. Hey, we all grow and learn. You can check it out be clicking below. Or HERE.

The Cookbook MANifesto

Monday Books | Corn



Last call for a sweet summer staple.

Summer Sweet Corn

It’s the time of year when the crop of sweet corn starts to wane. This has been an unbelievably tough summer for farmers. So supplies in some parts of the country have been gone for weeks. It seems this season your search for the perfect cob may be a little more challenging than in the past.

Usually, when I get an ear of fresh sweet corn the recipe is simple. A pot of boiling water, add a little sugar. Add ears. Boil for seven minutes. Enjoy!

I know that there are probably some of you out there who might be looking to get a little more out of your farm stand purchase. If that’s the case, I’m here to assist. I’ve rounded up a few titles that can help you put a new twist on a summer standard. Enjoy the last of the ears for summer 2012.


The Story of CornTotally Corn CookbookI Love Corn Corn Lovers Cookbook (Cooking Across America Cook Book Series)
Corn Recipes: The 10 Greatest Corn Recipes EverCorn: Roasted, Creamed, Simmered and More50 Chowders: One Pot Meals - Clam, Corn, & Beyond The Book of Corn Cookery
American CornThe Corn Cook BookThe Cornbread GospelsCorn: A Country Garden Cookbook (Country Garden Cookbooks)

Cookbook Man’s Cookbook CalendarThis Month’s Best Selling Cookbooks

Jam On | Laena McCarthy


“Happiness is like jam, you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself” – Unknown


TITLE: Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit
AUTHOR: Laena McCarthy
PUBLISHER: Viking Studio (Penguin)
CUISINE: Canning/Preserving

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Blood Orange or ClementineBy Eric Hill from Boston, MA, USA (Blood Orange) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The blood orange is a variety of orange (Citrus sinensis) with crimson, almost-blood-colored flesh. The fruit is smaller than an average orange; its skin is usually pitted, but can be smooth. The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. The flesh develops its characteristic maroon color when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.Sometimes there is dark coloring on the exterior of the rind as well, depending on the variety of blood orange. The skin can also be more tough and harder to peel than other oranges. [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
If you’re interested in making some homemade jam but know nothing about it, you’re in luck. This is a great beginner cookbook. The images are by Michael Harlan Turkell. There aren’t tons of them. But, the ones that are included are nice. Laena McCarthy is the Founder of Anarchy in a Jar. A great name! Easy step by step instructions that almost anyone could master. It will give you a good base of knowledge to really do your own thing. The topic seems hard. But, it is made easy by Laena.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Laena’s Story
The Basics
Get Your Jam on: The Step-By-Step Guide
Jam and Jelly
Preserves, Marmalade and Chutney
Sugar-Free Jam and Fruit Butter
Pickled Fruit, Syrups and Shrubs
Laena’s Library
Laena’s Favorite Fruit Farms
Seasons of Fruit in the Northeast
Conversion Charts (more than one!)

• • • • •

I hope you like jammin’, too…

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Really Rosie Jam Wild Blueberry Jam
Clementine Marmalade Mango and Lime Chutney
Peachy Keen Preserves Apricot Butter
Sun-Gold Tomato Jam Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Homemade Ricotta Cheese Grilled Rainbow Trout


I’ll admit it jam isn’t really my thing. But, there were a lot of recipes that had me thinking “hhmmm, I could really like that”. One of those was the Spiced Beer Jelly (p.76). It has beer in the title. That’s a good jam starting point for me.

• • • • •

Jam On: The Craft of Canning FruitSpecial Features
There is a super useful paring chart (p.84). It’s Laena’s Jam & Cheese Party. Cheeses paired with preserved fruit, meat, crackers, toast, nuts and fresh vegetables. This chart will take most of the guesswork out what to serve with your delicious jam. That is an area in which I would certainly be at a loss. There are two conversion charts. I guess for this topic I’ll let it slide. It seems to work out just fine.

• • • • •

Jam On can take you from novice to knowledged pretty quickly. I like that the recipes can easily be modified to suit your taste and personality. This would actually be great to do with your son/daughter to get them interested in the process. It would also make for a pretty fun party activity for all of the jam lovers on your friends list. If you have any interest in this topic at all, Jam On should be the first building block in your jammy library.

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit

Resources, Links and Press
Anarchy in a Jar Website
Tasting Table Post – Anarchy in a Jar
Anarchy in a Jar Facebook Page
Listen To Laena on Let’s Eat In