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.
This week, I created a cupcake challenge for my Advanced and AP Art Students.
Entitled, “Hey Cupcake! What’s Up?,” it started on Thursday with them making beautiful sketches of 3 different kinds of vegan cupcakes: 2 from Whole Foods (an Oreo flavored and a peanut butter flavored), and 1 that I made: Red Velvet from the recipe for “Crimson Velvet” cupcakes in the fabulous cookbook: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa (who needs no last name, like Cher or Madonna…or Prince).
My students pronounced my cupcakes absolutely divine as opposed to Whole Foods’ pricey ones that had flavorless, dry cake and grainy frosting. They looked pretty but mine were delicious AND pretty…don’t you think?
So, I just want to put in a plug for the book. I have made and adapted SO many from that book and they never fail! Thanks Isa (Chandra Moskowitz)!
P.S. I’ll post images of my students’ finished artwork soon! But, in the meantime, here is a detail of my teacher sample entitled “She Wore Red Velvet.” Mine is about body image/eating disorder/food obsession. (Topics with which I am only too familiar from my teens/20s…and the residual.) Part of the piece is painted with coffee! I was up working on it after my husband and I went to dinner until 12:30 this morning. Did I earn an A? (Sorry about the image quality…it was taken this morning at 6:20 with my not-so-great ‘Droid camera phone on the kitchen counter!)
What an honor and a thrill!
Last Thursday, Faye Levy, author of the award-winning International Vegetable Cookbook, along with Yakir, featured The Blooming Platter Cookbook in their Jerusalem Post article on salads made with summer’s gold: corn!
The Jerusalem Post is Israel’s best-selling English daily and most read English website. Wow! Thank you, Faye and Yakir.
An excerpt from their article:
“Small oval tomatoes and a chili-seasoned citrus-cumin dressing flavor the roasted corn and black bean salad made by Betsy DiJulio, author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook. She serves this main-course salad on a bed of baby spinach and tops it with spiced toasted pecans. In another summertime salad, she combines corn with diced tomatoes, blackberries, onion and fresh basil, and dresses the salad with lime juice mixed with pomegranate molasses.
To cook the corn for her salads, DiJulio rubs the husked ears with olive oil, sprinkles them with sea salt and roasts them in a 200°C (400°F) oven until just a few brown spots appear; it takes about 15 minutes.”
Vegan Heritage Press, publisher of The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, among other fine vegan cookbooks, is ushering in spring with a giveaway of my book!
Just follow THIS LINK to the Vegan Heritage Press blog where spring has sprung! You are sure to be seduced by the beautiful colors and fresh ideas for spring meals all from The Blooming Platter Cookbook!
Hurry! The contest ends Friday, March 8, at midnight. And, as of right now, there are already over 60 entrants…Good Luck!
What I thought was surely a once-in-a-lifetime honor has happened for a second time: Cookstr–”The World’s #1 Collection of Cookbook Recipes Online”– bestowed upon me the honor of “Author of the Day” today! What a beautiful way to start the new year. I am so grateful and humbled!
Please visit their home page where, as they told me, “…your name and photo will be the first thing our visitors see when they click onto the site.” On a continual loop inside the box are features like “Top Picks,” “Recipe of the Day,” and “Author of the Day.” If you don’t see it right away and have time to wait just a minute, me and my recipe for Angel Hair Pasta with Chard and Bell Peppers will come back around!
Cookstr was founded in New York City in 2008 by Will Schwalbe, together with Katie Workman, Art Chang and the Tipping Point Partners team. The Author of Send,Will left his job as SVP and Editor in Chief of Hyperion Books to found Cookstr.
The organization’s stated mission is to:
“…organize the world‘s best cookbooks and recipes and make them universally accessible.
We are setting the standard for innovation in the delivery of 100% trusted, tested, recipes to home cooks around the world. Our online recipe library offers thousands of recipes by hundreds of the top chefs and cookbook authors, that are free for everyone on Cookstr.com. This year alone, Cookstr.com powered recipe searches in over 20,000 cities and 200 countries!”
Here are a few additional reasons to visit Cookstr besides sharing in my 15 minutes, or rather 24 hours, of fame:
By signing up with Cookstr, for free of course, you will receive a free, handpicked selection of recipes in your inbox weekly; be able to save, share and comment on your favorite recipes in My Cookstr; and get updates on new Cookstr features and tools.
Cookstr really is creating “meaningful experiences around food, and support(ing) healthy lifestyles.” Let’s all be a part!
The warmest of thanks to Cookstr and to all of you for your support!
Many thanks to the generous organizers and patrons of the Old Beach Farmers Market “Christmas Market” on December 15 at Croc’s Eco-Bistro in VA Beach. What a convivial and festive community event! I was honored to be invited to be a part, and gratified to have sold out of my Blooming Platter Cookbooks by 10:30 a.m (the market closed at noon)!
I even had to procure more books to fill my last orders, as I’d oversold–a nice problem to have.
And what fun to be given a tent to share with the inimitable Ann Callis, co-author of the beautiful Vintage North End, Virginia Beach: An Illustrated History. Everyone with ties to Hampton Roads needs a copy of this book and an opportunity to meet the engaging author.
Again, thanks to all for your generosity and hospitality!
Each year, about 20 or more (not 12) of my “peeps” gather at Joe’s and my home on the second Wednesday of December for some holiday cheer. For ten years, the format was a veg curry dinner–with lots of fun toppings–and gifts for all. Nobody was complaining…quite the opposite: it was a much-anticipated get-together.
But, last year, I decided to shake things up a bit by hosting the annual fete as a “swap” of new or gently used items no longer needed or wanted. It was such a hit–we all got so much holiday swapping done!–that I did it again this year and probably for the next ten! You can read all about last year’s party, including simple directions for hosting your own swap and the vegan menu with some dishes from The Blooming Platter Cookbook, HERE.
For this year, I changed all but one dish–the Indian Saag Dip–to create the following menu:
*From The Blooming Platter Cookbook (Note: I didn’t wrap the brie in pastry and bake it. Rather, I spread the chilled “cheese” on a serving platter and topped it with a different chutney than that in my cookbook. For a similar result, you could substitute red grapes in the recipe in the cookbook recipe.)
**This delicious and simple recipe is not yet posted–sorry!
Are you in need of accessible, but creative holiday recipes that you won’t find anywhere else? If so–and who isn’t!–look no further than The Blooming Platter Cookbook.
My12th Annual Christmas, Chanukah, Curry & Cakes party is this Wednesday and I plan to pull out my copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook, make my menu and shopping list this weekend, and begin the preparations for this beloved gathering.
I used to host the party as a vegan curry buffet dinner with gifts for about 20 dear friends. But last year, I changed it to a “Swap” with vegan curried hors d’oeuvres conducive to browsing. It was such a hit, that I decided to host a Swap again this year.
Click HERE for a fun look at last year’s party, including the menu and a description of my foolproof approach to hosting this type of event where guests bring unused or gently used home & garden items, clothing, accessories, and art to swap with each other. Ours even ended up benefiting charity, not only through the few leftover items I donated, but through cash that guests used to purchase items when their tokens ran out!
While they shopped, my guests enjoyed, among other things, these dishes all from The Blooming Platter Cookbook:
Bloomin’ Broccoli Dip
Indian Saag Dip
Lavender Shortbread Cookies
The Blooming Platter Cookbook also makes a great gift…but not just for vegans! Anyone who loves fresh, inventive food will find “4 Seasons of Yum!”
As always, while I encourage buyers to support their local booksellers, Amazon is offering some incredible deals right now.
Whether you are continuing your holiday shopping from Black Friday and Cyber Monday or just getting started, I would like to humbly suggest–with no pressure at all–that The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes might make a perfect gift for the plant-powered person in your life!
With “Four Seasons of YUM!” as someone once said, it really is the gift that will give all year… for many years. Each chapter of appetizers, sandwiches, soups and much more is sub-divided into the four seasons with beautiful icons in the top corner of the pages, so it is a cinch to find delicious and nutritious dishes for every meal of the day regardless of the month of the year.
Beautiful things can bloom on your platter even in the coldest winter months, say:
White Bean and Pesto Tart
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Pear, Walnut and “Blue Cheese” Sandwiches
Sage-Scented Fettuccine with Butternut Squash
Burgundy Poached Pears with Rosemary-Scented Onions
Pear-Rum Cupcakes with Tea-infused Buttercream Frosting
Grits and Greens with Mushroom Gravy
I would love to see you support your local bookseller, but Amazon is running sale…If you live in the local area, I am happy to meet up with you to personalize your book. But if you live far away, I am happy to personalize and sign a custom-designed bookplate and mail it to you or the book recipient.
Thank you for your support of The Blooming Platter; here’s wishing you and yours a lovely start to the holiday season!
Okay, I didn’t call my Flourless Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream the best. Someone else did…
When my new long-distance friend and fellow (amazing) Vegan Heritage Press cookbook author, Bryanna Clark Grogan (World Vegan Feast and others), was helping me test the recipes for this dessert, she served it to friends, one of whom said, “This is the best ——- cake I’ve ever eaten!” That’s good enough for me! And I trust it will be for you too.
The Back Story
Back in my pre-vegan years in Nashville, I did some moonlighting as a catering assistant for my dear friend Monica Holmes at her award winning Clean Plate Club. She made what can only be described as a transcendent Flourless Chocolate Cake. Since this type of cake contains no flour, the batter relies on eggs for structure and lift.
I knew there had to be a way to veganize it, but the recipes I’d researched, including from people I respect in the field, looked and sounded like vegan chocolate cheesecakes made with tofu or they contained beans and appeared a bit dry with a crackly top, or they actually included some flour. I’m sure all are delicious, but they aren’t what I wanted.
I wanted something as dense, moist, silky and rich as the original. And that’s what I got, but not until I had baked the cake about 5 times (and made the cream about 7)! At least. The first try was an unmitigated disaster. But it had potential, and that just spurred me on to redouble my efforts. Meanwhile, the generous Bryanna, in British Columbia, was doing the same with the recipe revisions I’d send her, and we were comparing notes. Bry, I love you for many reasons, including your help with this feat o’ chocolate and cream!
My version of the cake is, indeed, based on tofu, but it has some “secret” ingredients responsible for its fabulousness which you are sure not to confuse with cheesecake. It’s its own brand of wonderful.
And the cream, well, it is truly revolutionary. At least, I could find no similar recipes online. As you can see in the photo, it is a beautiful thing to behold. Plus, it is fat-free, cholesterol-free, soy-free, gluten-free (if your extracts are gluten-free), and low calorie! Not only that, but it is delicious and a breeze to make.
For a very long time, I had been thinking that there had to be a way to make homemade vegan whipped cream from one of the vegan creamers. I love both savory and sweet cashew cream, but it is a little heavy and thick, calorie laden, and distinctively flavored. Ditto coconut cream aerated in one of those n2o cartridge-powered whippers.
My cream is delicious with a creamy-fluffy, even billowy texture, and a more neutral flavor (but by neutral, I don’t mean bland!). You will love it on all of your desserts that call for a whipped topping. The base is coconut milk creamer. But can you guess the secret ingredient that makes the magic happen? Funny story about the coconut milk creamer: I purchased it, disappointed that my grocery store was out of soymilk creamer. But what a happy accident! It turns out that the recipe ONLY works with the coconut milk creamer. With soymilk creamer, you get something akin to pastry cream instead.
The Recipe and Thanks to VegNews
Many thanks to the brilliantly talented and generous food editors et al at VegNews for publishing these recipes in “What’s Cooking” online. Please click right HERE to be taken directly to their site for both. And while you’re there, if you haven’t already, enjoy all the good things VegNews offers its readers on a daily basis.
I’m posting this recipe now just in case you, like me, are offering chocolate for the first time for Thanksgiving. But, personally, I think the winter holidays are the dessert’s time to shine, dressed up with a little pomegranate seed bling, as in the photo, or a bit of crushed peppermint. In the summer, it has to be raspberries.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!