If you don’t have time to read this review, I’ll cut to the chase: I would certainly purchase for myself or as a gift this colorful little book of diminutive treats baked and served in canning jars. But, lucky me, I received a complimentary review copy. Available as a paperback or on Kindle, it will delight all the bakers on your holiday list.
Perhaps known best for her blog, www.nomnomnomblog.com, Peters is also the author of four cookbooks, including Have Your Cake and Vegan Too. Her casual, peppy, and conversational writing style makes for a fun, quick read of Vegan Desserts in Jars front material and both its chapter and individual recipe introductions.
Don’t be surprised by how thin this little paperback is. At only 124 pages, it nonetheless serves up some 75 tempting recipes and lots of tantalizing color photos. I, for one, appreciate a small focused cookbook. Over my years of cooking, I have found that it is the rare cookbook from which I have made more than a handful of recipes. And, other than my Joy of Cooking, which fit the bill as an introductory cookbook covering all the basics when I was a kid, I tend to shy away from encyclopedic tomes.
With nine chapters, from no-bake treats to cakes, pies, pastry and much more, it was difficult to decide what to bake first for this review. Ultimately, I decided to go fairly basic with ingredients I had on hand and chose chocolate cakelettes. Many of the adorable sweets in this book are made with fresh summer ingredients like berries and peaches. Sure, they are available year-round in grocery stores, but as a seasonal cook, I will make myself wait until summer rolls around again.
I found the “Basic Chocolate Cake” recipe to be a keeper. *It makes 6 cakelettes in 4-ounce canning jars that rise up nice and high begging for a swirl of frosting on their perfect little domes. I had recently purchased a set of 12 canning jars for a few dollars at my local Kroger so I was ready to go when the mood struck. I plan on giving this first batch of festive little treats to the office staff at the high school where I teach. BUT I plan on asking for the jars back so that I can reuse them in the future.
If I were serving these individual cakes at home, I would make as is. However, if making them again to give as gifts, I would probably fill the jars half-full–and make a dozen instead of six–so that I could fit the lids on. They would still be ample desserts, but would be more easily transportable, staying fresh to boot.
Also, my oven seems to bake pretty true to temperature, but I found that I needed to cook the cakes just a couple of minutes longer than the longest baking time specified. The simple wooden pick test will make sure yours are perfect. Perhaps, though, I needed to bake mine a bit longer because I can’t leave any recipe alone, including my own! To this batter, I added 1/4 cup of the new PB2 (powdered, lower fat calorie peanut butter that you mix with water) to the batter and a glug of Creme de Cacao (maybe 1 to 2 tablespoons). Though the recipe was just lovely as published–I tasted the batter, of course–my additions were a delicious twist. So you might keep that in mind when you’re making this (or any) chocolate cake recipe!
Under “About the Author” in the back of the book, I read that Peters “practices lots of yoga.” She’d have to in order to “balance” the calorie damage done from testing the tantalizing treats in this book!
*Note that I just used the book cover as a photo to accompany this review because the lighting for photography is catch as catch can this weekend and my cakes baked up just as shown on the back left, only mine puffed up even higher.
I refrigerated it for a couple of days so that I could conduct a taste test, enjoying it as I would actually eat it. During that test, because I wasn’t mixing it with other food, I took TINY tastes, but I took quite a few in order to accurately compare these products to my standard Grapeseed Vegenaise. (Note: when I reference Vegenaise below, it is the Grapeseed variety.)
If, as a cookbook author (The Blooming Platter: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, 2011), I have learned anything, it is that people’s palates are as different as the people themselves. So, I would be very hesitant to suggest that one product tastes “better” than another. Rather, I prefer to share what I perceive as differences, and encourage you to taste and decide on a preference for yourself. Plus, I think where one was brought up has more than a little to do with one’s preference!
All three products have a list of benefits as long as your arm! So, please visit the Nasoya website for complete nutrition information on Nayonaise as well as recipes. One benefit on the Nayonaise scorecard worth mentioning here is that it contains 10% of the recommended daily allowance of B-12 and is a good source of Omega-3 ALA.
But, in general, I focused on color, taste and texture in my informal test. However, those of you counting calories might appreciate knowing that Nayonaise has less than half as many calories as Vegenaise: 40 vs. 90 per tablespoon.
In terms of color, Vegenaise is the whitest. So if pure color is important to your recipe, I would recommend it. Both Nayonaise varieties have a pale warmth to their color, with the Whipped version having the most. This is likely due to the inclusion of turmeric, paprika and garlic powder in the ingredients of both Nayonaise products.
In terms of taste, I found Vegenaise to be the most neutral. Again, the turmeric, paprika and garlic powder no doubt give the Nayonaise a more distinctive flavor. Distinctive is not necessarily better–or worse– just a little more pronounced, so I would make a decision based on how I planned to use it.
To my palate, Vegenaise has decidedly tangy-salty notes (though the lowest amount of sodium), while I found tanginess with just a hint of sweetness to be the most pronounced characteristic of Nayonaise and tangy-sweetness to be the most pronounced of Nayonaise–Whipped (which has just 5 more mg. of sodium than Vegenaise). The differences in “tang” can no doubt be explained, in part, by the fact that apple cider vinegar (a fairly mild vinegar, as vinegars go) is the 4th ingredient listed on the Vegenaise label, while plain vinegar is the third ingredient listed on the Nayonaise labels.
It has been many years since I tasted non-vegan mayo but, based on my best recollection, I would suggest that Vegenaise perhaps has more in common with Hellman’s mayonnaise while Nayonaise with a sandwich spread like Miracle Whip. I always felt that Miracle Whip tasted like it contained pickle relish, and I detected the same hints from, especially, the Nayonaise–Whipped. I love pickle relish, but not necessarily in every recipe that calls for mayonnaise, so I would choose accordingly.
And, finally, in terms of texture, while all were creamy, I would say that Vegenaise is fluffier than Nayonaise, including the Whipped variety, which I didn’t find appreciably different in texture than the non-whipped. Nayonaise contains Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum which probably accounts for what I can only describe as a consistency similar to a condensed canned soup before it is heated, a texture I didn’t perceive in Vegenaise.
So, that’s it: the results of my quickie taste test. Thanks, again, to Nasoya for sharing their new take on Nayonaise with me so that I could share it with you. We now have two new options for slathering on our fresh tomato sandwiches this summer!
I think I am obsessed with veganizing Cook’s Country/Cook’s Illustrated recipes!
My latest redux is their Classic Gingerbread Cake. And it is special!
It may well be the moistest and most deeply and complexly flavored cakes you will ever enjoy. I credit the Guinness Stout and the fresh grated ginger, among other things.
I am excited to direct your attention to this brand new feature in case it has escaped your attention. Just look for the green “Print Friendly” button at the bottom of every recipe.
It’s simple to use, looks great, prints great, and gives you some nifty options as you can see in the photo: creating a pdf, emailing it to a friend, choosing a point size for the text, and printing without the photos to save ink. Plus, “The Blooming Platter” name and the recipe’s url are both included at the top so you can remember where you found it.
I hope you’ll enjoy using this new convenience ad much as I enjoyed making it available.
Yesterday morning, a TV crew from WVEC Channel 13 came to our house to interview “Team Huff”: all of the good folks, including our Great Dane, Huff, responsible for “Man’s Best Friend” becoming a Top Five Finalist in the “Doritos Crash the Superbowl” commercial competition! (Click on the link to watch the commercial, the blooper ad reel, see the Huff Pics of the Day and VOTE to put them in a Top Two slot which will mean the commercial will be aired on the Superbowl!)
I wanted to serve everyone a little something, though I knew no one would want food stuck in their teeth on camera. My pal and vegan cookbook author extraordinaire, Bryanna Clark Grogran, recommended sugar cookies in the shape of dog bones. Perfect!
Since my Blooming Platter Cookbook focuses on seasonal ingredients, there are no plain sugar cookies in it. However, I have a vegan sugar cookie recipe that is very good, but calls for vegan cream cheese. That’s not a problem except that I had little time and wanted something as streamlined as possible. An online search turned up a recipe from The Decorated Cookie blog. It was terrific and I recommend it highly! Just click on the link for the easy and tasty recipe. I wanted my cookies to suggest dog treats so I didn’t ice them, but the frosting recipe looks like a winner too.
Here’s a quick helpful tip: I was completely out of powdered sugar. I knew a substitution could be made from granulated sugar and cornstarch so I searched on line for the proportions. Finding two different ones, I split the difference, using 1 cup natural sugar to 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. I simply blended the mixture it in the blender to make a find powder. (The directions I read said that a food processor wouldn’t work, so I didn’t experiment.) The result was just right. Be sure to scrape down the sides and blend a few times or granulated sugar will remain at the bottom of the blender.
As it turned out, everyone was too busy to eat while the taping transpired, but our guests were happy to take doggy bags of cookies with them.
Many thanks to The Decorated Cookie!
I hope this recommendation isn’t too late for those of you who, like us in Southeastern, VA, are staring down Hurricane Irene. However, this book is good to have on hand year-round for all kinds of disasters.
Vegan Unplugged is a manual/cookbook, written by Jon Robertson, with recipes by his wife, well-known vegan cookbook author, Robin. It is an indispensable resource for folks who want to eat well when the lights go out!
There are loads of indispensable general tips in addition to meat- and dairy-free gourmet “pantry cuisine” recipes based on the ingenious “Five Day Meal Box” complete with a shopping list and a photo of how to pack it all in.
With this handy, helpful and very readable guide, you can treat yourself to upscale dining when the power lines are down!
Using www.random.org, Babs’ number came up, literally.
I’ve mentioned this site in relation to other give-aways, but if you aren’t familiar with it, I’d love to tell you about it. You simply go to the site and on the right hand side is a “True Random Number Generator” where you enter the beginning and ending numbers, in this case 1 and 28. I simply assigned a number to each comment, beginning with the first received. Then you click “Generate,” and up pops your randomly generated number. In this case it happened to be #14, right in the middle.
Thanks to ALL of you who entered. You are certainly one healthy comfort food-eating group of folks! I didn’t reply to your comments individually, as that would have added comments and thrown off the random numbering, but I read and appreciate every one.
If you would be so kind, please share my website with all of your like-minded friends. I post new recipes weekly–sometimes daily, especially in the summer–and, of course, offer give-aways from time to time.
Oh, and please remember my cookbook, The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, as well. Of course, I’d be thrilled for you to purchase it. But times are tough. So, I’d love for you to request it at your local library as well.
Like so many of my recipes, this one was inspired by a visit to Stoney’s market, my go-to farm market, as it’s the closest to our home, the staff is very friendly and the atmosphere appealing, it’s open every day, and the produce, mostly grown across the street, is beautiful and delicious.
I purchased a bag of shelled Lima beans, but I just couldn’t get excited about eating them whole. So I thought of a puree, but the mild creaminess of the beans would need something to brighten them up in terms of color and flavor. For flavor, lemon zest and a little tarragon did the trick. For color–since red and green are complementary on the artist’s color wheel–a rustic heirloom tomato sauce seemed the perfect pairing. The end result is as pretty as a picture.
Lima Bean Puree:
1 1/4 pounds of shelled fresh beans (not dried), rinsed and drained
2 generous teaspoons powdered veggie base or bouillon cubes
Pinch sea salt
1/3-1/2 cup water in which beans were cooked
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon or 1 tablespoon fresh minced
Zest of 1 large lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Place beans in a 2-quart saucepan and barely cover with water. Add veggie base and salt. Loosely cover and place over medium-high heat. When simmering, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain beans reserving 1/2 cup liquid (and the remainder for another purpose). In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade process beans with 1/3-1/2 cup reserved liquid, salt, garlic, and olive oil until smooth. Add tarragon and lemon zest and pulse a few times. Check for seasoning and adjust with additional sea salt, if needed, and black pepper. Reheat in the microwave if necessary. Note: After the leftover puree sat in the refrigerator over night, it stiffened considerably. So, I incorporated some of the reserved bean liquid into the puree to restore its creaminess before reheating.
Tomato Sauce Rustica:
You can be very “approximate” with these measurements, as you can’t go wrong!
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium tomatoes (preferably heirloom), cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
Pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons snipped chives
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add tomatoes, garlic and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes are softened and garlic begins to turn golden. Reduce heat if necessary. Add wine and simmer 2-3 more minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in chives and remove from heat. Serve warm over warm Lima bean puree.
For 150+ additional seasonal recipes not on this website, I invite you to explore The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.
I “salute” Vivian Grant for choosing a vegan pound cake from The Blooming Platter to incorporate into her veganized Red, White, and Blue Trifle made with fresh berries.
Happy Independence Day to all, regardless of whether you are in America soon to be celebrating our July 4!
That title is a mouthful, but since you can’t inhale the intoxicating aroma in our kitchen, I wanted you to be able to imagine what this luscious and colorful amalgamation would smell and taste like just from the title.
The “southern” part has little to do with Southern Indian cuisine, but with my south’ren roots revealed in the inclusion of blackeyed peas instead of a more traditional Indian legume.
In the photo, I served the dish as a starter, ready to spoon into miniature puri (fried bread puffs) at right, and spooned into a puri and garnished–just break through the crisp top crust with your finger or a spoon–at bottom. But I created it to also be served over basmati rice as a main course or a welcome addition to an Indian-inspired buffet.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of yellow onion, cut into 1/4 x 1-inch pieces (about 1 medium)
sea salt to taste
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely diced
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1-15.5 ounce can blackeyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1-15 ounce can coconut milk (I don’t use the lite, but rather cut calories elsewhere!)
2 cups, semi-firmly packed fresh baby spinach, finely chopped (I use a food processor)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 Roma tomato, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
optional: 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
Accompaniments: miniature puri for appetizers (little spheres of puffed bread dough available in Indian markets) or over cooked basmati rice (I like to throw in a cinnamon stick and a few cardamom pods–avoid biting into either)
Optional garnishes: fresh cilantro, in sprigs or finely chopped, an/or a few roasted and lightly salted cashews
In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat the tablespoon of olive oil to shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and saute for abut 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly, until the onion develops a light brown caramelization. Adjust heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Add the bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes or until garlic and peppers are soft. Stir in the peas followed by the cardamom, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and black pepper. Add the coconut milk, stir well to combine all ingredients, and heat through. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, just until heated through. Add the cilantro and optional asafoetida, stir to combine, and cook just another minute to allow flavors to combine. Check for seasoning and add additional salt and black pepper if desired. Serve in miniature puri as an appetizer or over basmati rice for a main course. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.