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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 two diverse cookbooks. One travels around the world to feature famous restaurants and their chefs who share their recipes. The other is the go-to book for making delicious vegan ice cream.

Click here for a review of Vegan Ice Cream

The Happy Cow Cookbook

Edited by Eric Brent and Glen Merzer

Benbella books 2014
Paperback $19.95

Eric Brent, founder and director of The Happy Cow website, learned how challenging it was to travel around the world as a vegetarian and even harder when he became vegan following his college years. Traveling on the Yangtze River in China many years ago left him no vegan options but white rice for the weeklong trip. The Happy Cow Cookbook is a testimonial to demonstrate how much friendlier the vegan world has become.

Happy Cow.net was born in 1999 while Eric was traveling in Asia and recognized there was not a single guidebook to help vegetarians and vegans find veg-friendly restaurants. At that time, the internet was still in its infancy, and Eric was an internet neophyte with much to learn. Fortunately for today's Happy Cow millions of visitors, his strong will is what led him to persevere and create this successful compendium.

Co-author and editor Glen Merzer worked closely with Eric to bring this cookbook to fruition. He is a playwright and screenwriter and has co-authored several well-known vegan books including Mad Cowboy and No More Bull with Howard Lyman and Joanna Samorrow-Merzer, Unprocessed with Chef AJ, Food Over Medicine with Pamela Popper, and Better Than Vegan with Chef Del Stroufe.

Happy Cow Cookbook Today the Happy Cow website is a highly valued resource for vegan and vegetarian dining and shopping throughout the U.S. and all across the globe and is even accessible with a mobile app. Part of the site's success is its user-generated-content, allowing people to contribute reviews and listings of restaurants, veg shops, bakeries, B&Bs, veg catering companies, organizations, and farmer' markets they've discovered during their travels.

The Happy Cow Cookbook is a delightful peek into the kitchens of 45 unique vegan restaurants around the world and an opportunity to learn about the innovative chefs and owners who created them. Many vegans have enjoyed the stunning meals at Millennium in San Francisco, but may not know that Chef Eric Tucker offers special meals based on local wines, farmers' markets, all tomato and chili creations, and dinners on farms. Chef Eric shares his recipe for Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon pictured on the facing page in full-color glory, looking elegant and utterly tempting. Eric Brent

Eric Brent

Those who have never eaten at Hangawi Restaurant in New York may want to experience Korean dining tradition where they remove shoes as they enter, sit on cushions at low tables, and treat their senses as the softly lit Zen candles transport them to a place far from home. Owners Terri and William Choi offer their inspired recipe for Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms with Almond-Cinnamon Sauce.

If Berlin, Germany is on the itinerary, a traveler should plan a meal at the Lucky Leek where co-owners Sebastian Happe-Sinemus and Josita Hartanto prepare new menu items every week and offer special menus each day. Every dish is prepared in-house to assure excellent quality. Perhaps they'll even prepare an Avocado Apple Tatare with Walnut Bonbons for dessert, an original assemblage in brilliant green color.

Glen Merzer
Glen Merzer

Raw foodists touring Toronto, Ontario in Canada can step into Rawlicious where everything is completely raw, gluten-free, and mostly soy-free. Environmentally conscious owners Angus Crawford and Chelsea Clark compost 99% of their waste and include compostable napkins and cutlery with takeout items. Their Zucchini Pesto dressed with Rawlicious Pesto is made with peeled zucchini extruded through a Spiralizer to create pasta-like "noodles." The zucchini is then tossed with a well-seasoned raw basil and spinach pesto sauce beautifully photographed in full color.

Each restaurant description displays a color photo of either an exterior or interior shot and features an interview with the owner/chef fielding questions that cover their restaurant experience, favorite dishes, menu changes and specials, important lessons learned in the business, availability of gluten-free options, and how they reduce their environmental impact. One or two of the restaurants' recipes, along with full-color photos, follow the interviews and certainly do confirm that a picture is worth a thousand words.

The Happy Cow Cookbook showcases a minimum of three attractive photos for each restaurant, some displaying mouth-watering dishes, to make this a gorgeous volume. For anyone traveling across the U.S., planning a stay-cation, or journeying overseas, this volume is much more than a coffe table cookbook--it's a visual treasure that can be packed in a suitcase or taken into the kitchen to prepare a taste of the great big wide vegan world.

Vegan Ice Cream

By Jeff Rogers

Ten Speed Press, 2014
Hardcover $16.99

Author Jeff Rogers is a very naughty vegan who adores preparing very sinfully delicious and utterly rich desserts, especially vegan ice cream. In Vegan Ice Cream, he has completely revised his original book, Vice Cream, and added several new recipes to tempt those who crave the pleasure of frozen desserts.

Vegan Ice Cream With two lusciously illustrated ice cream cones on the hard cover, this book offers an extensive description and explanation of basic ingredients that flavor the ice creams and make them rich and decadent. Jeff covers in detail the unique ways to sweeten the ice creams. Though his preferred choices are Grade A maple syrup and dates, he explains that Sucanat, coconut syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, and brown rice syrup can also be used. He recommends stevia for diabetics.

Readers will be thrilled with the excellent primer on how to use ingredients like extracts, apricot kernels, chocolate chips, coconut milk, toasted coconut and coconut water, durian, ginger juice, nut milks, Spirulina powder, and vanilla beans.

Jeff is a devout raw foodist and has thoughtfully included an entire chapter on raw vegan ice creams that features fresher and less processed ingredients. Also covered is juicing, blending, serving, and storing suggestions and a brief section on ice cream makers.

Most of the book is devoted to a mountain of easy-to-prepare and downright delicious recipes for vegan ice cream and seven sauces to enhance the frozen nirvana delights. Vanilla fans will appreciate the four-ingredient Vanilla Delight made easily from vanilla beans, cashews, purified water, and maple syrup. Vanilla variations include Coconut Vanilla, Raw Vanilla, and Vanilla Hazelnut.

Chocolate lovers may scramble their brains over the difficult choice among 23 different chocolate ice cream recipes. Some will squeal with pleasure at the first bite of Brownie Chocolate Chip, while others turn to Coconut Cacao, Coconut Macaroon Chocolate, or Raw Black Forest Ice Cream.

Jeff's favorite, the chapter on raw ice cream, indulges with several strawberry variations like Raw Strawberry Rhubarb or Strawberry Colada made from a Sugar Loaf pineapple, strawberries, coconut milk, and honey dates.

This author is drawn to exotic fruit flavors and has fun with raw ice creams like Kiwi Mandarin shown in a gorgeous full-color photo on page 70. Other exotics include Mandarin Grapefruit, Apple Strudel, Fig, and Coconut Cacao Durian. There's even a recipe for Mayan Chocolate that showcases ingredients the ancient Mayans may have grown and eaten while they were thriving: raw cacao, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Jeff Rogers Adding to the awesome bouquet of ice cream recipes is a selection of easy sauces to drizzle over each voluptuous scoop of frozen pleasure. Nothing is easier than the two-ingredient sauces made from mangoes, coconuts, strawberries, and blueberries and whirled in the blender.

Smooth, clay-coated paper adds clarity and brightness to the many dazzling photos taken by photographer Clare Barboza. With its simple, very clean layout and tasteful paper choice, this book will hold up well through many years of use.

Vegan Ice Cream will always be the go-to ice cream recipe book for those who appreciate easy recipes that simply never fail. The variety of flavors and the inclusion of raw vegan ice creams as well as standard favorites will make this a cookbook vegans will delight in buying as a gift, or personally using to prepare cool summer treats for family or friends who visit.

Click here for past book reviews

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