Giveaway Winner, Pizza, and Sexy Vegan Food

First up, a winner! Congratulations to Jordan Dunne for winning my giveaway for a box of 15 PureFit protein bars! Jordan's comment was selected by the Random Number Generator at random.org.


If you're wondering why I haven't been posting a ton of original recipes lately, there's a good reason. You see, we've been eating a LOT of pizza lately, as I test recipes for Julie Hasson's upcoming vegan pizza book. I think you all know how near and dear to my heart the art of vegan pizza is, and it's been really interesting to try out someone else's take on the whole pie thing. Here are a few of the test pies I've been noshing on:

Mushroom and Potato Pizza -  Mmmm, shroomy goodness.

Korean Pizza - a new favorite!

Pesto and Asparagus Pizza - a celebration of spring asparagus.
Pizzas are not the only new recipes I've been testing around here.

Last month, I received a review copy of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook, which has received stellar reviews across the web. The author, Brian L. Patton, is a bit of a web-celeb, mostly due to his YouTube videos. Patton's videos largely how-to recipes and cooking methods, with a few bad jokes and ukelele songs mixed in.

Now, back to that cookbook. Touted (via the book's subtitle) as "Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude," most of the recipes in the book are what I'd call, let's say, less than extraordinary. Relying heavily on soy products and meat analogs, Patton's dishes consist mostly of veganized versions of classic comfort foods, like spaghetti and meatballs, sliders, bacon, and nachos. Since I was never in love with those foods, I found it challenging to decide which recipes to try. I enlisted the help of my own resident "ordinary dude" and we decided to make the following:

My Balls (p. 26)
New England Blam Chowder (p. 62)
The Portly Fellow, a marinated portabello sandwich (p. 107) which also uses Sun-Dried Tomato and White Bean Spread (p. 108)

My Balls - These are baked tempeh and walnut balls, intended to go with spaghetti or in a faux meatball sandwich. They tasted good, but they were a huge mess and somewhat time consuming to make, and ended up being much more crumbly than I anticipated. My aforementioned ordinary dude liked them and requested that I make them again in the future, so I probably will, but with some modifications. I neglected to photograph mine, but you can see them on my friend Bianca's blog in her review.

The Sexy Vegan's New England Blam Chowder
New England Blam Chowder - This soup is a riff on clam chowder, which my omni dude loves. I prepared the recipe as written and ended up with a bland milky bowl of liquid. On its own, I wouldn't call this recipe "sexy" in the slightest. Luckily, I was able to doctor it up with the addition of some thickener, additional herbs, some acidity, and an additional 15 minutes of simmering. The result was completely edible, but unremarkable.

The Sexy Vegan's Portly Fellow portabello sandwich (shown with sweet potato fries)
The Portly Fellow - This is a recipe within a recipe, as it requires you to first make Sun-Dried Tomato and White Bean Spread. The spread is quite tasty, and the recipe makes more than you'll need for the sandwiches, so you'll have leftovers for other sandwiches, wraps and (my fave) pizza. I would absolutely make the spread again. However, the whole sandwich as assembled wasn't that exciting. I adore portabello mushrooms in sandwich form, but I didn't find anything special about this one. The white bean spread even gets lost in the sandwich and both I and my dude found it difficult to discern its flavor against the meaty mushroom, spicy arugula, and raw red onion.

Aside from being underwhelmed by the recipes, I found myself a bit frustrated by the instructions at times. The preparation instructions are often vague, especially where time and doneness come into play. Although it wasn't a problem for me, a veteran cook, to work my way through a recipe, I think that someone with less experience in the kitchenor who was new to vegan foodmight get into some trouble. That's a shame, because I think these vegan versions of comfort food classics are best targeted at new vegans with little cooking experience. For that reason, I think Patton missed the boat just slightly, and I hope to see more complex flavors, detailed instructions, and sharp wit in his next book, should he pen one.

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