Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cookbook Thursday: Vegan lovers rejoice!

            Life used to be hard for vegetarians, and harder still for vegans. Several beautiful new cookbooks have emerged on the market, giving hope to those who insist on a non-animal diet.
            Cookbook veteran Robin Robertson of Virginia looked to the world for inspiration and compiled a variety of recipes from 20 different countries in “Vegan Without Borders: Easy Everyday Meals from Around the World.” There’s Portobello mushrooms with béarnaise sauce from France, cucumber and white bean ceviche from South America and eggplant satays from Thailand, to name a few. This lovely hardback book is beautifully illustrated as well, so it makes a great gift for the vegan in the family.
            Other vegan books by Robertson include “More Quick-Fix Vegan” as a follow-up to her “Quick-Fix Vegan,” 150 easy-to-make recipes; “Hot Vegan: 200 Sultry and Full-Flavored Recipes from Around the World,” which should please Louisiana palates; and “The Nut Butter Cookbook” that offers 100 vegan recipes that are made from different kinds of nut butter. The latter book is timely due to the processed peanut butter recalls, since Robertson advocates creating at home alternatives such as almond and sunflower butter as well as cheeses, creams and sauces from every kind of nut and seed (check out the awesome recipe below).
            Is one of you a vegan and the other is not? Try “The Lusty Vegan: A Cookbook and Relationship Manifesto for Vegans and the People Who Love Them” by Chef Ayindé Howell and food writer Zoe Eisenberg. This fun cookbook offers humor and relationship tips in addition to its numerous recipes.
            Making life easier is “Everyday Vegan Eats: Family Favorites from My Kitchen to Yours” by Zsu Dever and “Vegan Tacos: Authentic and Inspired Recipes for Mexico’s Favorite Street Food” by Chef Jason Wyrick, both from Vegan Heritage Press. And one that’s sure to please all food lovers — great for parties with non-vegan eaters — is “Vegan Pizza: 50 Cheesy, Crispy, Healthy Recipes” by Julie Hasson.
            To whet your appetite, here is a recipe for vegetable cashew korma from “The Nut Butter Cookbook.”

Vegetable Cashew Korma
From “The Nut Butter Cookbook”
1 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked in water for 3 hours or overnight
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch dice
3 cups small broccoli or cauliflower florets
1 large sweet yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon garam masala
Salt and black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup coconut milk
8 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
            Directions: Drain the cashews and transfer them to a high-speed blender or food processor. Add 1 cup of the broth and process until very smooth. Set aside.
Steam the potatoes and broccoli over boiling water, either separately or together, depending on the size of your steamer, until just tender but not soft, 10 to 15 minutes. If steaming the vegetables together, start with the potatoes, then about 7 minutes later add the broccoli, in order for them to be done around the same time. Remove from the heat, uncover, and set aside.
            In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, jalapeños, and ginger and puree until smooth.
            Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the pureed onion mixture and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes to cook off any raw taste. Do not burn. Stir in the coriander, garam masala, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, chickpeas, and remaining 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the reserved cashew cream and the coconut milk. Cook uncovered over low heat for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the spinach, peas, cilantro, and reserved steamed vegetables, and heat until hot. Add the lime juice, then taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve hot.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at