Monday, May 30, 2016

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen: Review & Giveaway!

Vegan Eats and Treats, Thali, Pune
Me in Pune, with a giant platter of S.Indian Thali, my camera for documentation, 
a giant smile of anticipation, and a big appetite. What a perfect moment.

Let's talk about Indian food. I love Indian food so much. Lucky me, I've been to India three times, and each time for 5-6 weeks. During my travels I've been pretty far north and also way down south and also in the middle. It's kinda silly to even say "Indian food" because there is such a vast array of regional cuisines and dishes across India. Every time I've been to India, I have been delighted to eat Indian food for breakfast-lunch-dinner day after day and week after week, so I know I really do love Indian food. On my first trip to India, I went with Mr VE&T. At some point on the trip he got so tired of Indian food that he just ate packaged potato chips and cookies for a few days until he was ready to try again. On our last night we were in Delhi and he even ordered a pizza. Ha ha. Let's just say, I don't have this problem. As far as 5-6 weeks of non-stop Indian food goes, I am ALL IN.

Vegan Richa Indian Kitchen
Taking selfies at the Taj Mahal with my new BFF, Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen

So, a little while back, when my prolific internet pal Richa Hingle of the blog Vegan Richa wrote a cookbook called Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen, I ordered a copy right away! But, for whatever reason/s, I didn't dive into it right away. But then Richa asked me about doing a review and a giveaway on my blog and that was just the kick start I needed. Now I've already made so many recipes from this book and I have about 1 million more recipes bookmarked. Just try and stop me! 

Vegan Richa Cauliflower, Vegan Eats and Treats
Cauliflower and Peas with Cilantro Onion Sauce

The first recipe I made was this Cauliflower and Peas with Cilantro Onion Sauce. This whole dinner came together really quickly and easily. It's got great flavors and is chock full of pungent spices but isn't super spicy-hot. It's also loaded with veggies (I love dinners that are almost all veggies!), and with all the peas and cauliflower, it's also pretty high protein (did you know that peas and cauliflower both have lots of protein?).

The cilantro-onion sauce was really delicious, and was prepared differently than other sauces I've made: everything was pureed in the blender and then cooked down. It was an easy method with super-tasty results. This dinner was quick, super satisfying and tasty. It's definitely a meal I'd make again. Richa suggests a few ways of serving the curry - Mr Vegan Eats & Treats had his with a giant serving of white rice (his favorite!), and I opted to have mine as a filling in lettuce leaves which I loved! I actually had some ice berg lettuce left in my fridge and this was a yummy and fun use for it.

Vegan Richa Butternut Curry, Vegan Eats and Treats
Butternut Coconut Red Lentil Curry
Masoor Aur Kaddo Ki Dal

Oh wow, soooo good. Next time I'll have to make a double batch, because we polished this batch off in a jiffy. One thing that happened when I traveled to India was that I particularly fell in love with the flavor of curry leaves. I wish I could find fresh curry leaves around here, but I can't. I only have some dried ones, which I store in the freezer. That said, even my little ol' dried curry leaves imparted their wonderful flavor to this dish. The creamy lentils and coconut milk, the chewy dried coconut, and the perfectly cooked squash gave the whole dish a really excellent texture. I made this on a stormy night with a big pot of rice and it was gloriously perfect! Warm and warming. Ahhhh.

Curry leaves, Vegan Eats and Treats
On my last trip to India, my friend and I bought several bunches of fresh curry leaves and hung them to try in our apartment. By the end of our stay, we both had a nice baggie of dried curry leaves to bring home. Ahhh. Curry leaves are so magical. 

Vegan Richa Chard and Peas
So much Yum.

Rainbow Chard and Peas in Creamy Sauce (Chard Malai Mutter) sounded like something special and different from other Indian dishes I'd made, so it piqued my curiosity. I'm so glad I made it! We both totally loved this dish - it's so interesting when familiar ingredients are combined to create a new flavor sensation, and that's what happened here. This recipe makes a lovely combination of chard and peas covered in a creamy and delicately spiced sauce. I used half frozen peas and half frozen edamame since that's what I had in my freezer (gotta use what's there!), and I also reduced the cashews from 1/2 cup to a 1/3 cup and it was still super creamy and delicious! What a special and lovely dinner. 

Vegan Richa, Dal Makhani, Chickpea Tofu, Cauliflower
topCreamy Black Gram and Kidney Bean Curry
left: Chickpea Tofu in Spicy Madras Sauce
lower right: Cauliflower & Yellow Lentils in Mint Cilantro Sauce

One day I went all out and made three things - a culinary feat which ended up lasting us for two dinners and a few lunches for me too. Ahhh! I love that! It's so fun to make a proper effort in the kitchen and then reap the rewards for so many meals after that. The best thing was that none of these dishes were complicated or hard to make and the whole project didn't take more than about 2 hours... which is pretty good actually, because I'm pretty slow in the kitchen.

Creamy Black Gram and Kidney Bean Curry
Dal Makhani
I was excited to make this recipe because in restaurants Dal Makhani always has butter or ghee in it, so I don't think I'd ever had it before. When I went to India the first time, my wonderful Indian friend Geraldine told me which dishes I could safely order as a vegan, and which ones would always have dairy, and which ones I would have to ask about. It was very helpful! I also loved making this because I got to use up my special black gram lentils which I had purchased at an Indian Grocery store a while back - an impulse purchase based entirely on how cool I thought they looked. (though she does give variations/substitutes if you don't just happen to have some black urad dal sitting around in your cupboard) This was a wonderful, creamy dal that was a nice hearty balance to the other two dishes I made. 

I'm happy to report that even though poor Mr. VE&T got tired of Indian food on our trip to India, 
he didn't get tired of any of these dishes at all! 

Chickpea Tofu in Spicy Madras Sauce
(Tofu Madras Chile Masala)
For this recipe, I had to make chickpea tofu first, and let it chill for a little while. It was my first time making Burmese Tofu, but it was so quick and easy and delicious!! We both loved loved loved this dish, and it was the first one to be fully polished off.  Lots of spices and totally excellent flavors together. Most of the dishes I've made from this book call for pretty standard and easy-to-find spices. The only exceptions would be fenugreek leaves and curry leaves -- but you could just omit them or order some online if you wanted too. This recipe definitely had some heat, but I'm not a heat machista and I did just fine. All the spices come together into a thick, rich and robustly flavored sauce. We both really love peas, so I added extra. Peas, please! 

Cauliflower and Yellow Lentils in Mint Cilantro Sauce
We couldn't decide if this was our favorite, or the Chickpea Tofu, but man-o-man was this good. I loved the creaminess of this sauce, and it was different from any other Indian dish I've made before, which was really fun. The creaminess comes from cashews, sesame seeds, coconut, and coconut milk -- what a combo!! I had some mint that one of my farmers market friends had given me and I was determined to put it to use. This recipe has really lovely spices, more on the delicate side than the heavy-handed side of things. It's got some spicy heat from the green chiles, but the heat wasn't at all overbearing, and all the other spices still came through the heat. What a lovely dish!

cashew fruit

cashew trees
cashew trees and cashew fruits in South India

By the way, do you know about cashews?? Cashews always remind me of India. When we went to South India, we were so delighted and amazed to see how cashews grow. They grow on huge bushy trees, and each and every cashew nut is suspended from a piece of cashew fruit. As you can see, the fruits are pretty sizeable, but they are also extremely delicate. The skin is thin like a nectarine, but the flavor is more delicate than a nectarine. I feel so lucky that I got to try cashew fruits when I was in India! I often remember this horticultural moment of surprise and delight when I am eating cashews. 

cashew cuties
cashew cuties

Vegan Richa South Indian Tofu Scramble
one of the best tofu scrams ever

OMG!! SO good! This recipe for Spicy South Indian Tofu Scramble has all the flavors I love from my beloved S. Indian cuisine, thrown into one of the world's quickest and most satisfying creations: tofu scramble. I added a zucchini that one of my students brought me from his garden, which was actually a very nice addition. We ate the whole thing in one fell swoop, no leftovers! I guess this recipe was technically in the breakfast section of the cookbook, but we had it for dinner. It would definitely also make a great breakfast! This recipe has excellent spices, it's quick to come together, and was a totally new-to-me treatment of a tofu scram. I loved the curry leaves in the scramble and the lime juice and shredded coconut on top!! I am already in anticipation of making this again, soon.

Chewie (Richa's dog) and Snoopy

~ Overall thoughts on this cookbook ~ 

Well, first and foremost, I loved every single recipe I made, which is really the most important thing! But beyond that, the recipes were very well-written with clear and easy-to-follow instructions. I never came across any typos or confusing wording or recipes that behaved differently from how the instructions indicated. That's the kind of thing that really builds trust for me with a cookbook. I also appreciate that the recipes are not gratuitously heavy on salt or oil, but leave it up to you if you want to omit those ingredients entirely.

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen also has a really good index, which I always appreciate. There are nice color pics for many of the recipes (but not for all of them), but there are also nice write-ups for each recipe, which helps you get a sense for the recipe, how to serve it, and what to serve it with. Substitutions are given for harder-to-find ingredients (for most recipes this is not an issue), as well as all sorts of variations -- for using a pressure cooker, adding different ingredients, making a recipe lower-calorie, making it soy-free, making it nut-free, etc. SO many variations are offered! I love it! This book also includes a real diversity of recipes from many of the different types of cuisines in India. So, no matter what, you are likely to find some that appeal to you. 

I already have many, many more recipes bookmarked to try:
Sweet and Spicy Baked Cauliflower
Mango Curry Tofu
South Indian Chickpea Eggplant Stew
Nepali Potatoes
Potato Veggie Balls with Garlic Fenugreek Sauce
Vegetable Jalfreezi
and on and on and on...

Vegan Richa, Vegan Eats and Treats
walkin' our dogs together

~ Giveaway! ~ 
Thanks to Richa and her publisher Vegan Heritage Press, I am happy to offer a copy of Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen to a lucky reader (US only). To enter, just leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite recipe you've ever made from Richa's blog, or your favorite Indian dish, or anything else you feel like saying. Make sure I can track you down via your blogger profile or your email address, or else I will skip right over you and select another winner! Good luck! 

ps. Even if you don't win this giveaway, I really recommend this book and Richa's blog which is positively jam-packed with countless recipes (both Indian and otherwise). Such an amazing resource! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beany Bacon Bits by Cool Foods ~ a Review

Bean-Based Bacon Bits
avo-bacon-toast in the making

Have you seen these new Hickory Style Veggie Bacon Bits from Cool Foods? They are made of dried pinto beans and bacony seasonings!  I love bacon bits, so when they offered to send me some for review, I was quite enthusiastic. Well, I plowed straight through both baggies they sent me, and have already ordered a few more baggies to keep my pantry stocked. So... I guess you could infer that I really liked them! ha ha.

bacon bits on avocado toast

Recipe: one good piece of toast, lots of yummy avocado, squeeze of fresh lime juice, spoonful of bacon bits = happy times are here at last.

I really love the ingredients list on these bacon bits: "Pinto Beans, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Enzymes." So simple! I'm not a super snoot about "pure food" and stuff like that, but I am mindful of the times when I eat more-processed or less-processed foods. I really appreciate that these bacon bits deliver all the joy a bacon bit can deliver, but are also quite straightforward and even virtuous. Also, 4 teaspoons of bacon bits are just 27 calories, which is great.

Plus, they are perfectly crunchy. The package says that the beans are "air-dried," which must be how they get such a great crunchiness out of the beans. The flavor is smoky and delicious, and is more complex than just a bunch of liquid smoke. There is the tiniest bit of bean flavor, but not at all in a bad way. It adds to the overall flavor experience. They are also sugar-free, soy-free, and gluten-free

nom nom nom

Truth be told, I ate most most of these straight out of the bag whenever I wanted a little nibble. But once I discovered how good they were on avocado toast, then I really went nuts and ran out super quickly.

bacony bits on kale salad

These veggie bacon bits are also really great on salads - their smokiness and crunchiness both add a lot! I made a few kale salads with tomato and avocado and then liberally sprinkled on the bacon bits. Such a great combo!! Basically a super easy BLT-inspired salad. I think they'd probably make a pretty good BLT actually. Maybe I'll try that next, if I can stop myself from eating my latest installment all straight out of the bag.

On their website, these 3oz baggies are $3.99 each, which I think is a pretty good deal. I can definitely tell you that I liked these a lot because I was super sad when I ran out of the bags they sent me, and I've already bought 3 more for myself. It's one thing to rave about something that you recieved for review, but it's a whole 'nother thing to go running to Google to replace it when you run out. Ha ha.

Let me know if you try them, and tell me what you think!

i really love drawing animated beans.
they're just so funny

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Dinner Party with New Friends!

a new friend! 

Recently Mr VE&T made a new tennis friend. He's a pretty good tennis player, and there aren't bajillions of people who can play at that level with him. Someone gave him the name of a new player at the club, and she turned out to be a great player who he really enjoys hitting with. One day after practice, while chatting, he found out that she is also a vegan! So of course I got all excited and invited her and her family over -- even though I'd never met any of them! Well, to be fair, Mr VE&T thought she was pretty great and he was pretty sure we'd get along. 

It was so fun to welcome them into our home! It was a really lovely evening together with her and her husband and their two awesome kids. The kids were so cute - immediately running around the house, meeting all the pets, playing in the backyard, throwing the ball for the doggies, climbing in and out the doggie door over and over and over! ha ha. 

I always enjoy cooking for other people, but I especially love cooking for fellow vegans. When you're a vegan, people don't cook for you very often. Plus, it's just fun to make a special effort and know that it will really be appreciated. So, I had fun thinking of what to make for our new friend. But I also knew that she had two little kids, so I was conscious of trying to make kid-friendly choices in my menu planning. Nothing too unfamiliar or spicy or challenging. For example, I briefly considered pine nut cookies, but decided to go with chocolate chip. ha ha. 

vegan cheese platter

For appetizers, I had some sugar snap peas and a platter of little bread toasties and two vegan cheeses: Punk Rawk Original and the Kite Hill Ripened Cheese. I already know how much I love Punk Rawk cheeses (hint: A LOT), but I hadn't tried this cheese from Kite Hill before. The Punk Rawk cheese has a nice strong taste and is soft and spreadable, almost the texture of a thick cream cheese. The Kite Hill cheese really had a proper "rind" and creamy center like some dairy-based cheeses, but the flavor was much more mild. Between the four of us grown-ups, we had 3 who preferred the PR cheese and one who preferred the KH cheese. How cool is it that we have so many choices these days?? So cool.

salad with super good dressing

Our friends brought two nice bottles of wine and a huge, tasty salad. The dressing they made was really, really delicious - super flavorful but not heavy or overpowering. Over dinner, we were discussing cooking methods - and whereas I am a fairly devout recipe follower, our new pals are devout recipe free-stylers! So I can't tell you what recipe he used to make this dressing because I think he made it up! ha ha. I loved those big green olives in the salad. I usually buy black olives, but these were so delicious and plump and beautiful. 

we are unsophisticated people who don't even own wine glasses, so on the rare occasions that we do drink wine, we drink it out of juice glasses instead. Ha ha. be warned! 

It turns out that they really know a lot about wine (whereas I know next to nothing). They brought along two nice white wines that were really tasty. We had one with dinner, and then we had the Prosecco (fizzy white wine) with dessert. It was fun to have some nice wine with our meal! 

I was pretty sure I would like this soup because KZCakes liked it and she and I always seem to agree on foodie things. Except that she likes matcha and I just can't go there. 

We decided to be fancy and have each course one at a time, instead of putting everything on the table all at once. That was fun! So after our appetizers and salad, next up was the soup. I've heard good things about the Cauliflower Soup with Pesto and Pasta Shells from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen, so I thought I'd give that a go. Plus it seemed like it would be pretty kid-friendly: the cauliflower is hidden by pureeing it into the broth, the soup is full of little pasta shells, and it's got pesto! One of my special tricks is to make a previously untested recipe when company comes over. I love to live dangerously! 

I tweaked the recipe a little bit - I roasted half of the called-for cauliflower before hand, and I also used white miso and tamari instead of plain salt -- all for a little extra umami power blast! Happily, I really liked this soup and will definitely make it again. What did our guests think? 2 grown ups and 1 kiddo loved it too (he ate his whole bowl of soup!), but one littlest kiddo didn't even want to give it a try! ha ha. No hard feelings though. I know how important it is to keep putting food on the table even if they don't try it this time around. Someday! 

Sauces 'n Love Vegan Pesto

For the pesto in my soup, I used some of this *amazing* vegan pesto from a company called Sauces 'n Love. They actually sent it to me for a review quite a while ago and I've had it saved in my freezer for safe keeping. It is such delicious pesto - and by far the freshest and tastiest store-bought pesto I've ever had. It's super packed with basil and pine nut flavor, just the right amount of saltiness (it's pretty salty, but I like pesto that way), and super high quality olive oil. It looks like they don't have an official website, but this site has some good info about them and their products. They seem to make many sauces that are vegan (and many that aren't). Based on how much I enjoyed this pesto, I would definitely be jazzed to try more of their sauces in the future. 

the main course!!

For the main course, I made a big batch of the Italian Stuffed Peppers with Fennel from Vegan Casseroles. This was a great dish to make for company because I could do all the work ahead of time and then just pop 'em in the oven at the right time. Unlike my daring escapade of making a totally-new-to-me soup recipe for company, I had made this recipe several times before. I really love these peppers - the filling is made with rice and TVP and then loads of great spices and seasonings (including crushed fennel seeds!). For the pasta sauce on top, I used half homemade sauce that I had canned up last summer and half Victoria's Vegan Vodka sauce (I love that stuff!). Happily, we had tons of these left over (there were 4 more in another smaller baking dish) - so I gave some to my parents, we had some for dinner again the next night, and I had lunch for a few days too. I love that - make the most of a dinner party with leftovers!! 

rowing my pepper boat across the high seas

yummy dessert!

I was thinking of all sorts of fancy-pants desserts I could make, but I wasn't sure how that would go over with kiddos. I mean, sometimes it's okay to go out of your comfort zone for dinner, but dessert is kinda all about the comfort zone, if you know what I mean. So, I went with chocolate chip cookies and strawberries! For the cookies, I used Jess's recipe for The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies from her blog Cupcakes and Kale. I had this recipe bookmarked and was happy to finally give it a go. Holy bonkers!!! These cookies came out so great. I think they are now my favorite chocolate chip cookies ever. Definitely my new go-to. They were so easy and delicious. I even used my homemade vegan butter (recipe from Miyoko's book Homemade Vegan Pantry). I also left the salt flakes off my cookies since I wanted them to be kid-friendly! 

dessert buddies dancing out their joy together

And of course, they were indeed very kid-friendly! The littlest kiddo wasn't interested in her soup or stuffed pepper, but was very interested in the cookies and berries! ha ha. After dessert our new pals told us that they've actually totally cut back on sugar since their little one is a picky eater and has been pretty much waiting all day just to eat dessert. Ooops, I was part of the problem! Next time they come over, I'll make a fun dessert that's also naturally sweetened. Fortunately there are lots of great blogs and cookbooks with recipes like that! 

It was a really fun night. I really love meeting new people and making new friends. I look forward to getting to know them better and continuing our friendships together! 

ps! Congratulations to Anne Callery for winning my Baconish giveaway! I used the random number generator, which picked comment #27. This is pretty fun, because many moons ago, Anne and I worked together! It's fun when the random number generator picks someone who I know in real life. Congrats, Anne, I hope you like the book! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Baconish - Cookbook Review & Giveaway!

special breakfast was usually french toast or crepes
non-vegan bacon has been censored

When I was a little girl, my mom used to make us bacon sometimes. I always liked the smell of it, but actually I didn't really like to eat it that much. But indeed I did eat it, and do you know why? Because my brother loved bacon and I refused to allow him the joy of also eating my portion. Ha ha. I went vegetarian at age 14, so I guess he got the last laugh. 

All of this is to say that bacon isn't something I've been missing all my life. So discovering vegan varieties of bacon has been a lot of fun for me. I'm free from any burden of needing vegan bacon to resemble the "real thing" and I'm also free to enjoy vegan bacon in all of its own smoky glory. 

Baconish is a new vegan cookbook from Leinana Two Moons - who blogs over at Vegan Good Things. It is dedicated entirely to vegan bacon recipes! 

Carrot Bacon 

The whole first chapter of the book is comprised of vegan recipes for bacon, and there are 10 different varieties: carrot bacon, eggplant bacon, chickpea bacon, tempeh bacon, tofu bacon, mushroom bacon, and on and on! I tried two of the bacons for this review (carrot and seitan) and I am eager to try more -- next up I am hoping to try the tempeh and coconut bacons. 

The Carrot Bacon was soooo snackalicious. I made a big batch, and Leinana suggests keeping an eye on it in the oven because it might burn at the end. Indeed, I was busy doing other things in the kitchen, and lost about 2/3 of my batch due to burnage. Ooops! Next time I'll keep an eagle eye on it -- especially since now I know how yummy it is. I made this carrot bacon to go with the White Bean and Bacon Soup (below) - but Mr. VE&T had such a hard time controlling ourselves. We just wanted to eat it all off the cooking sheet. It's lightly sweet and smoky, and a little chewy. My pal Kittee also made the carrot bacon and she finished hers in the dehydrator which seems like a rad idea, if only I had a dehydrator. 

White Bean and Bacon Soup

After the first chapter full of various vegan bacon recipes, the rest of the chapters in the book are filled with recipes that incorporate the bacons. There are chapters on Breakfast, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Sides, Main Dishes, and even Sweets and Such. There are some pretty tempting-looking desserts that incorporate vegan bacon!  

This White Bean & Bacon Soup was the first dinner I made from Baconish. It calls for Seitan Bacon in the soup (you can see the chunks in the soup) and for Carrot Bacon as a garnish on top. We both really loved this soup. It was hearty and chock full of delicious spices, two cans worth of white beans,  and just the right amount of smokiness. I'll definitely make this soup again - it's especially perfect for cold nights when you need a real warmer-upper!

warm soup on a cold night
complete with snuggly pets, cozy socks, and the sofa

Seitan Bacon

Whoa. This biz is tasty! I made a batch of the Seitan Bacon for the White Bean Soup. But the soup only used up about 5 slices of bacon, so I used the rest for all sorts of yummy eats. It has actually been quite a while since I made any home made seitan. I wonder why? I really like seitan, and making this recipe reminded me that it's fun and easy to make at home. I hadn't ever tried seitan bacon before, and I really liked this recipe. Smoky and peppery (look at all that pepper on the outside!), and very nicely seasoned. I still have a little bit left in the freezer for some future enjoyment.

Seitan Bacon BLT

Well there's one thing that you just gotta do when you have a bunch of extra seitan bacon staring at you -- make a BLT, of course! I had some nice whole grain bread, lots of perfect avocado, lettuce and tomatoes, and some pan-fried slices of seitan bacon. It was so delicious! We've been having such volatile spring time weather this year - one day it will be so cold and wintry that you want something like that white bean soup, and then just a couple days later, it's hot and sunny and you're sitting out in the backyard enjoying your first BLT of the season. Ahhh. I like it all, so I'm happy either way.

blt on a hot day!
complete with glass of water and inquisitive kitty

Tofu Quiche with Broccoli, Seitan Bacon, and Chao Cheese

I also used some of the seitan bacon in a delicious tofu quiche - I used Somer's recipe and added in sundried tomatoes, seitan bacon, lots of chopped up broccoli florets, and a few slices of chao cheese. It was so rich and delicious! After I made this, I realized that Baconish actually has two quiche recipes of its own: Quiche Lorraine and Bacon-Spinach Quiche. I pretty much love tofu quiche, so I am eager to try these recipes soon! 

The More-to-Love Elvis Sandwich

The More-to-Love Elvis Sandwich was so fun! I've never really had anything like this before! It calls for peanut butter, bacon, banana slices, and an optional drizzle of sweetener. Such a delicious combination of flavors! I made mine into an open-faced sandwich for a fun breakfast treat, but in the book the recipe calls for two slices of bread, and then to cook it like you would cook a grilled cheese. I loved my open-faced creation, but I also love the idea of cooking it on the griddle (or in my beloved panino press!!) for extra toasty perfection.

Cauliflower Bacon Gratin 

This Cauliflower Bacon Gratin was a big hit! So good. It was warming and filling with lovely savory flavors. The cauliflower wasn't overcooked, so it still had just the right "al dente" crunch, which was perfect with the rich, creamy sauce and the crispy crumb topping. I wanted to make the gratin a little lighter, so when I made it I reduced the cashews in the sauce from 1 cup to 1/2 cup, and I reduced the bacon slices from 8 to 6. Even with those adaptations, the dish was super delicious and satisfying! 

Baconish is a fun and creative book, and we really enjoyed the meals we've made from it so far. There's still SO MUCH more for me to explore. This book is loaded with color photos, it's well-laid-out (you never need to turn the page to continue making a recipe), and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. Those are all traits that I really appreciate in a cookbook! 

Several of the recipes are a bit on the indulgent scale for my tastes - but obviously a vegan bacon book is going to have a lot of Southern flair and some really rich recipes. Even the recipes that I'm not likely to make gave me some good inspiration for lighter variations that I could make myself. And obviously, I still found plenty of amazing recipes to try, and many more to bookmark. I am super impressed with the creativity of this book - both in the variety of vegan bacon ideas, and with all the many ideas for what to do with vegan bacon. I got so many new ideas from this book!

Some of the recipes I have bookmarked to try include:
Butternut Squash Carbonara with Bacon and Sage
Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn
Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Bacon-Stuffed French Toast
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Shallots
Apple, Bacon, and Cheddar Grilled Cheese
....and more! 

Happily, you don't just have to read about this new book! The publishers of Baconish (Vegan Heritage Press) are letting me offer a giveaway to one lucky reader in the USofA. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite vegan bacon experience... or really just any comment will do!