I've been meaning to write up a review for Vegan Diner by Julie Hasson for quite a while now, but I keep making more and more things from it - and wanting to include those in my post too. In case you're in a hurry, here's my review in a nutshell: This book is amazing and I love it and you should go buy it!! Now, for the more complete review...
The first thing I made was the Smoky Spinach and Tomato Salad (with Smoky Curls). First, let's talk about those Smoky Curls. This recipe calls for Butler Soy Curls, which most of us have to get via mail order - but they are worth it. They're made of non-GMO soy protein with a totally neutral flavor that can be tweaked in countless ways, and they have a great texture. These Smoky Curls are just amazing. Soooooo good - salty and smoky with a touch of sweetness... they come together in 20 minutes and make a delicious little snack, addition to a salad, or an evening protein blast with an otherwise light dinner. I have made them many times already. In fact, Mr Vegan Eats and Treats is totally nutso for them and requests them all the time. Looks like I'll have to order some more soy curls soon!
Here's the completed Smoky Spinach and Tomato Salad - topped with the lovely Creamy Tomato Dressing. What a delicious meal! So full of flavors and textures and nutrients... rich and light all at once. Protein! Greens! Veggies! Flavor! So good!
Next up, I tried my hand at Julie's cheeze recipes. First I made the Great Smoky Mountain Cheeze, which I really, really loved, but somehow it escaped photo-documentation. Pictured here is the Garlic Dill Cheeze - also amazing! Both recipes are made with a base of silken tofu, so they're packed with protein, and then all the added spices give great flavor so that you don't at all feel like you're eating a big hunk of tofu. Also, the texture is absolutely perfect - you can slice it or spread it - and it's creamy, creamy, creamy. I made a big batch of bagels recently for a friend (Pesto Bagels from 500 Vegan Recipes - such a perfect recipe, by the way!!) - and I made a couple extra for myself. I loved the Garlic Dill Cheeze on a pesto bagel with some cucumber and tomato slices... heaven! This temptation alone has me planning another batch of Garlic Dill Cheeze for this weekend.
My friend who needed bagels also needed some muffins. So, I looked through Vegan Diner and picked out the Cherry Almond Poppyseed Muffins - bonanza! The whole "What's the difference between a muffin and a cupcake?" issue can be complicated and confusing sometimes, but not here. These muffins are what I would consider a True Muffin, and I was super stoked about that. They're just pleasantly sweet, but not at all overbearing - and definitely not "a sweetie." I love that Julie's recipe called for oil and applesauce, to not go overboard on the fat and calories, but to keep the moisture of the muffins. Also, I loved the overall flavor combo - cherries, almond extract, and poppyseeds! I plan on making more of these again soon. Possibly tomorrow. :)
Next up: Quinoa Burgers! One batch makes 6 burgers, which was great for me, because we each had one for dinner, and then the rest went straight to the freezer (precooked) where they were available for quick lunches or dinners. Notice my use of the past-tense... they didn't last long! I really loved these burgers a lot. They were not too crumbly, which can be an issue for some homemade burgers. Great flavor - a little smoky, rich, with a surprising depth of flavor. Also - special bonus - they are gluten free so I can make them for my GF loved ones too! You can see that I used red quinoa, since that's what I had in the fridge, which gave them a pretty look.
Finally, just last night I made the Pastrami-Style Seitan Loaf. HOLY YUM, Batman!! Honestly, I don't think I've ever in my life tasted pastrami, so I can't vouch for that. But I have tasted YUM in my life and I can definitely vouch that this stuff is The Yumz. Big time. Plus, it took about 3 minutes of effort, and then 50 minutes of doing nothing. I love recipes like that. I've been needing some more protein in my life lately, what with all my new muscles (yeah!), and I really don't foresee that being a problem now that I've found this great recipe. I can't wait to try the other seitan recipes in Vegan Diner too. This loaf was quick, easy (almost effortless), has amazing flavor, and perfect texture. I am in love!
Lastly, but not leastly, I'd like to mention what a totally beautiful cookbook this is. I know it shouldn't matter, but we all know it does. Vegan Diner is just lovely - beautiful cover, excellent fonts (I'm nerdy like that), great layout and color scheme, high quality paper, embossed writing on the cover (fun to touch!), great pictures throughout the book, lovely little write-ups for the recipes... it's just a joy to flip through and read. I've made quite a few things now, and there are still many, many more that I can't wait to try out. Congratulations and big thanks to Miss Julie, for such a great cookbook!!