By Michael Suchman and Ethan Ciment
Vegan Heritage Press, 2017
Authors Michael Suchman and Ethan Ciment acted on an idea to create a vegan cookbook that would highlight the various cuisines of their beloved New York City. The result is NYC Vegan, a cookbook that peeks into a multitude of unique kitchens throughout the city and turns traditional cuisines of the Big Apple into vegan delights.
Both authors live in New York City and lead professional lives. Michael is a certified vegan life coach and educator. Ethan is a podiatric surgeon. Yet, they made time to create the popular blog VeganMos a cyberhome for delicious vegan meals they enjoy preparing for themselves and friends.
Following a dinner party with friends who encouraged them to write a cookbook, they struck on an idea that resonated immediately. Inspired by New York's diverse ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants, they began creating vegan dishes that celebrate the numerous cuisines of the city.
The authors veganize familiar dishes like Waldorf salad, Reuben sandwich, General Tso's chicken, and eggs Benedict that originated in New York so long ago their roots were forgotten. Because New York is such a food Mecca, the city provided a rich palate to inspire them.
The first chapter covers vegan basics like nut milk, pizza dough, basic seitan, Parmesan, ricotta, and ham that later become an integral part of iconic New York dishes like Diner-Style Pancakes and Chick'n Pot Pie.
New York is known to be a 24 hour city where anyone can order breakfast at 3 a.m. as well as 8 in the morning. Tempting the breakfast crowd are well-known favorites like Diner-Style Pancakes, Cheese Blintzes, and Bacon, Broccoli, and Cheddar Frittata. Anyone hungry for Italian Tofu Scramble, Tofu Benedict, Matzoh Brei, or New York-Style Bagels? With NYC Vegan in the kitchen, anyone can make these familiar foods at home.
Before the couple was vegan, one of their favorite dining spots was Uncle Nick's in the Theater District where they devoured the Avgolemono Soup, a Greek specialty made with chicken, lemon, and rice. Their tasty version features rice, lemon juice, and lemon zest, but turns vegan with their homemade Chicken-Style Seitan featured in the first chapter.
The Power Lunch chapter brings the world a little closer with well-established favorites like Minestrone Soup, Tuscan White Bean Soup, and Caprese Salad from Italy. The city's diversity comes alive with Miso Vegetable Soup from Japan, New Fashioned Jewish Chick'n Soup from Europe, and New York's own Manhattan Glam Chowder. Street foods like Arepas from Columbia, Falafel from Israel, and Knishes, a Lower East Side Jewish specialty are included among the irresistible lunch favorites.
For dinner, this skillful pair turns traditional standards like Lasagna, Chicken Pot Pie, Mofongo, and Brisket into satisfying vegan main dishes that don't skimp on flavor. Tofu Ricotta replaces the Italian ricotta for the Lasagna, while Chick'n Style Seitan stands in for the chicken in Chick'n Pot Pie and General Tso's Chicken. Mofongo's familiar pork cracklings easily morph into vegan with seasoned seitan.
In Farmer's Market, Ethan mentions his Hungarian roots and shares his Grandmother Regina's delicious Potatoes Paprikash considered legendary according to everyone who tastes it. He also adapted his grandmother's recipe for potato Latkes. In this section, home chefs can enjoy making Caribbean-Style Callaloo with Okra, Israeli Salad, and Colcannon.
Anyone who's eaten in a New York deli has most likely enjoyed half-sour pickles. Count on Michael and Ethan to provide the recipe for everyone to enjoy pickle pleasures at home.
Ending the recipe section on a sweet note is How Sweet It Is with directions for making vegan Churros, a well-loved Mexican sweet! Nearly every diner in New York City has apple pie on the menu, but none compare to Ethan's grandmother's homemade Big Apple Pie made with apples grown in New York State! This chapter also features compelling sweet treats like Caramel Corn, Brooklyn Egg Cream, Italian Ices, and Mandelbrodt. The final recipe in the dessert section is Zeppole, a long-standing street festival treat made of fried balls of dough rolled in powdered sugar--and they're vegan to the core.
The following pages feature author statements expressing how meaningful being vegan is to their lives and why being vegan matters to New York City. They mention heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, the environmental cost of animal agriculture, methane and greenhouse gasses and the psychological impact of working in slaughterhouses. Michael and Ethan believe, "Adopting a sustainable plant-based, vegan diet will reverse climate change, promote health, and address issues of food scarcity."
Very proud of their city, the authors share an impressive two-page listing of the 55 vegan restaurants in NYC.
The NYC Vegan cookbook is a graphic delight with eye-appealing, full-color photos of many of the dishes enhanced with attractive food styling. Each chapter is introduced with a black and white photo of a notable New York scene. Recipe titles and their double-line borders appear in large brick-red letters. A real plus is numbered recipe directions, large fractions easy to read, and head notes that often provide a touch of the recipe's history and are a pleasure to read.
NYC Vegan brings a colossal offering of New York's famous foods to the vegan table in such a personal way. The authors warmly share their love of the city and excel in bringing a taste of NYC to those who have never visited the bustling Big Apple. Whether it's Blintzes, Pierogis, or New York Cheesecake one might crave, the recipe is in the book in grand vegan style!