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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarian Books

Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book or books that contribute to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we review a book that features popular recipes from a well-known vegan restaurant.

The Veganopolis Cookbook:
A Manual for Great Vegan Cooking

By David Stowell and George Black

Surrey Books, 2010
Paperback, $20.00

Though Chefs David Stowell and George Black, authors of The Veganopolis Cookbook, began their careers as rock musicians, they veered toward a different path that led them into the kitchen instead. That kitchen became the Veganopolis Cafeteria, where they developed bistro style dishes for informal dining.

A casual trip to Paris stirred David's interest in a course of study at the Ritz-Escoffier School of French Gastronomy. Watching him struggle with a dish, one instructor comforted him with the words, "No paneek, no paneek." That brief encounter made him aware the kitchen is really "a place of order, grace, and harmony … " and panic doesn't belong in that realm. Eventually becoming vegetarian, then vegan, the two began their food adventure in 2003 with a food delivery cart.

Ready for a more serious venture, they opened The Veganopolis Cafeteria in Portland, Oregon in 2005 and continued its operation until 2008. Along with creating a host of delicious dishes, they developed a loyal international following. Now they offer 70 of their most popular dishes in this volume that includes soups, salads, dressings, sauces, breakfast dishes, sandwiches, entrees, sides, and baked items.

Because he knows soup making is an art, Chef David stresses the importance of proper vegetable stock and offers his recipe for Rich Vegetable Stock, along with 26 other uniquely crafted soups like Bouillabaisse with Rouille, Fourth Avenue Chowder, and Madras-Style Sambar with Red Lentils and Vegetables. Each would make a hearty, delicious, and satisfying meal.

Veganopolis Cookbook Recognizing that many people find themselves at a loss for creative beet dishes, the chefs turn both red and golden beets into a delicious Bolshevik Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Toasted Hazelnuts. Their Cheitan Vegan Waldorf Salad transforms the classic Waldorf into a spectacular meal enhanced with diced, bean-based Cheitan Patties. Those unique patties are utilized to spice up several unique recipes.

George and David's highly favored sauce and dressing recipes evolved over time with the help of the discriminating palates of the kitchen staff. The chefs emphasize that different brands of the same vinegar can vary and can also vary with age and from bottle to bottle, making it important to taste a recipe each time it is prepared to achieve the right flavor balance.

The beloved, all-American sandwich is well represented with 18 treasured favorites, including classics like BLT, Chicken Caesar, and a Reuben sandwich in addition to original compositions like Veganopolis Democracy Burger and Walnut Tofu Ball Sandwich.

Vegan Proteins is a chapter that contains a host of delicious surprises for both vegans, vegetarians, and non-vegetarians. Featured is a banquet of exceptional temptations like Butter Bean and Walnut Chorizo or Vegan Bacon Loaf. Many recipes focus on a bean base, while others contain a foundation of tofu, seitan, or nuts.

Entrees and Sides is an extensive section of dishes rich with imaginative flavor twists and turns that brought patrons back to the restaurant for more of their winning creations. One recipe features Ecuadorian potato patties sauced with a peanut butter gravy while another turns to an American standard Classic Pot Pie. This section is abundantly infused with international favorites from Puerto Rico, France, Mexico, Hungary, Morocco, and Italy and returns to the American South with a unique version of Mac and Cheese.

Those who appreciate homemade breads, rolls, and crackers will relish innovative selections like Bavarian Rye Bread, Peter Pan Chocolate Roll, and Savory Autumn Squash Rolls in addition to Spelt English Muffins and Sunny O'Day Crackers. And for dessert lovers, there are Double Evil Brownies and a number of cookie treats.

Graphically attractive, the book is designed with division pages, recipe titles and ingredients in deep, brick red ink with directions in black ink. Titles are prominent, using a thick type style that brings attention to each recipe. An impressive 16-page section of full-color photos dominates the center of the book with dazzling, artfully presented dishes.

From cover to cover The Veganopolis Cookbook is a truly beautiful volume of recipes vegans will find compelling. Non-vegetarians can learn to love vegan cuisine with this cookbook as their guide to delicious and healthful meals made from scratch with wholesome ingredients. With a welcome balance of classic dishes and innovative originals, global influences and familiar American standards, and mostly easy to assemble recipes, this is one cookbook that will quickly gain favorite status on the home cookbook shelf.

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