Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last Minute Vegan Gifts: The Conscious Cook

I love finding new cook books that are able to give you something different. A lot of the time, you'll buy one, and get a lot of overlap in recipes, which isn't always bad, but it is uninteresting. But Tal Ronnen's "The Conscious Cook" gives a lot of variety and modernizes a lot of your old recipe books by incorporating things like Gardein and Field Roast.

This book is great for veteran vegans and newcomers. It contains high quality glossy pages full of amazing [[and sometimes not so simple]] recipes, plus information pages. It has interviews with the best vegan restaurants, with the creator of gardein, and "best of" pages with his favorites-- from his favorite types of mushrooms, to the best items to pickle. I especially love the utility recipes, like Ronnen's cashew cream. And if you get bored of Ronnen's style, he has guest chef recipes in there, too.

I've only made one recipe so far-- the Cajun Portobello Sandwich with Avocado and Remoulade. It has a lot of flavor-- the mushrooms hold a very meat-like savoriness, and the remoulade is a nice tangy accompaniment. It's easily one of my favorite sandwiches to make. And if you're really into cooking, you'll have a lot of fun making this. This recipce wound up only making two sandwichs for us-- mostly because I like a lot of portobello in my sandwich, so you may want to double up the portobello and marinade recipe. You get lots of remoulade left over, too, which is nice for other sandwiches you make throughout the week.

Anyway, try out this recipe, and buy the book. It's amazing. Get it for someone for Christmas. I don't think Ronnen ever mentions veganism in the book. He calls them "meat-free" recipes. Which is nice if you want to get this for someone who eats meat, and may want to incorporate some "meat-free" cooking into their lives. Either way, get it-- it's beautiful and the recipes are spectacular.

[[Cajun Portobello Sandwich with Avocado and Remoulade]]

Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons low-salt Cajun seasoning, divided use
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills removed, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch slices

About 1/4 cup rémoulade (recipe follows)
4 soft sandwich rolls, split
4 to 8 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed and sliced

1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons capers, minced
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced red bell pepper

For the mushrooms: Place a large pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 1 minute, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning, along with the wine, vinegar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Pour the mushrooms and liquid into a shallow container, cover and set aside to marinade for 1 hour.

Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and press between paper towels or in a cotton dish towel to remove the excess marinade, then sprinkle with the remaining Cajun seasoning, pressing the seasoning into both sides of the mushroom slices. Discard the marinade.

In a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat, cook the mushrooms in a single layer (you may have to do this in two batches) until blackened, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.

To assemble: Spread a spoonful of the rémoulade on one half of each roll. Top each with 1 or 2 lettuce leaves and a few slices of tomato and avocado. Divide the mushroom slices among the rolls. Close each sandwich, cut in half and serve.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

For the rémoulade: Place mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt, capers, shallot, parsley and pepper in a food processor or blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 1 1/4 cups.


Ashley said...

I just received this book as a graduation gift--the recipes look great but the pictures are spectacular!

Michal said...

This post makes me wish I would have put this on my christmas list!

Merry christmas from a fellow Ohio-an! :)