On September 13th this year I attended a divine dinner hosted by my friends Heather Bell and Jenny Engel, founders of Spork Foods at their kitchen in L.A to celebrate the launch of their amazing new book, Vegan 101. These lovely ladies are two of the nicest, most talented people I know in the world, and their night of celebration was magical.
They lovingly served the quesadillas with creamy chipotle bean dip and charred onion salsa; acorn squash fritters with spicy korean sauce; smoky shiitake bacon wedge salad; personal italian meatball sub sandwiches; white pie with shaved carrots and olive gremolata; and individual stout cakes with fresh berries from their book to a group of very hungry writers and bloggers. The food was sensational.
Spork Foods is a vegan institution in Los Angeles. This gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Heather and Jenny offers amazing vegan organic cooking classes (I'll be teaching there in February), chef trainings, recipe development, and private chef work to the lucky residents of Los Angeles and beyond.
I've been a huge fan of Heather and Jenny's work for many years, and was so excited to get my hands on their new cookbook. Their first book was enthusiastically endorsed with a foreword by fellow fans, actors and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel, and was hugely popular. This follow up is no less spectacular with amazing vegan comfort food dishes to warm your belly and your heart.
The concept of this book is so cute and fun. Chapter 1 opens with "School Is In Session. Vegan 101." I love that they just dive in and get to the "meat of the matter" and offer up all of the ways you can substitute animal flesh with tofu, seitan, tempeh, maitake mushrooms, lentils, nuts, and jackfruit to replicate the taste and texture of chicken, ground beef, sausage, bacon, pork, and fish. Then, they move onto ditching the dairy, and share tips for using almonds, cashews, coconut, oats, rice, and soy for rich creamy dishes, as well as making epic omelets and scrambles with tofu; and suggest eggsalent egg replacers for vegan baking. There's also answers to all of the popular questions about vegan living like protein, calcium, iron, B12, and eating too much soy.
Then, the recipes are broken up into breakfasts, salads, soups & stews, handheld bites, mains, and desserts. This is classic vegan comfort food at its best with recipes for almond butter & jelly stuffed french toast, blueberry tofu ricotta pancakes, the ultimate breakfast sandwich with secret sauce, tortilla soup with ancho cream topping, tempeh tuna salad wrap, buffalo tofu wraps, spicy kale caesar roll ups, tomato and basil pizzettes, cheesy and saucy meatball sub, tempeh reuben sandwich with Russian dressing, Chinese un-salad with crunchies, hearts of palm tofu crab cakes with spicy remoulade, salt and pepper tofu with glazed shiitake mushrooms, cuban coconut rice pudding, and toasted marshmallow-pecan milkshake.
It was difficult to choose which recipe to feature as I've tried so many of them and they're all so tasty, but I settled on this Bibb Lettuce and Radish Salad with Chive Buttermilk Dressing because it's super easy and will wow even the most devout cream dreamer among your social circle.
The girls say about this salad, "At first glance this salad seems simple, but don’t let her fool ya. She gets her delicate nature from the Bibb lettuce, spicy demeanor from the radishes, and a li’l spunk from the buttermilk dressing, made by curdling soy milk creamer with vinegar. This salad has a ton of personality."
I agree. This salad is a winner. Don't miss it.
Get your copy of Vegan 101, and learn more about Spork Foods.