What better time to write a cookbook review than on a Sunday morning while enjoying a nice cup of coffee and wondering if it will ever stop snowing in New England. It’s the end of March, past the official first day of spring and more snow just started to come down!?
And it is only fitting that in midsts of another snow storm the cookbook I am highlighting is all about barbecue (BBQ) that you can do without much fuss and without ever stepping a foot outside your kitchen. The cookbook in question just came out last week – it’s “Great Vegan BBQ Without a Grill” by a mother-daughter team Linda and Alex Meyer.
Linda and Alex are the creative team behind Veganosity, a web-site that offers lots of recipes and advice on making plant-based food and living a plant-based, vegan, healthy and happy lifestyle. The philosophy behind their new cookbook is that when it comes to the plant-based recipes the best strategy is not to abandon and forget all the flavors and cooking traditions you grew up with, but embrace what you like and learn how to make the same wonderfully tasting dishes using plants only.
The recipes in this cookbook will appeal to all of you who enjoy the flavors and traditional fares of the Southern United States. And if you have not had the chance to explore the American South let me try to explain why you should give it a try – the food is rich in flavor, smokey, savory and sweet at the same time, and best enjoyed in a large circle of family and friends. It’s the food of summer, heat, and hanging out, and this cookbook captures that essence while allowing you to create all the recipes indoors.
In addition to the Jacked Up Crab Dip recipe below – which I could not resist giving a try given my past success with using jackfruit as a seafood substitute for crab cakes, New England Clam Chowder, and White Clam Sauce.
The Jacked Up Crab Dip is creamy and satisfying. It is a perfect party food and it’s sure to please both vegan and non-vegan eaters especially when served with some tortilla or pita chips. It is also very easy to make and nutritious. No mayo in there, which I really appreciate since many commonly used dips are full of either mayo or cheese, so this was really refreshing to see. Plus, the seasoning and the lemon juice fully re-create the flavors of the original. I actually had some leftovers and the dip keeps well for 2-3 days if stored in the fridge
I also made Honey BBQ Ribz that were phenomenal, Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread with Maple Butter, where I skipped the maple butter part and still had a great corn bread that worked really well with the ribz, and Caroline Coleslaw which was refreshing because it used mustard only (no mayo involved). One not on the coleslaw – I found the onion hard to digest so will skip it next time. You can see what my plate looked like at the bottom of this post (below the recipe) – this dinner was a feast!
I’m looking forward giving other dishes in this cookbook a try, and implementing some of the strategies of taking some of the common Southern ingredients and flavoring agents, like molasses or smoked chipotle peppers, and letting them enhance the plant-based food and bring a little bit of sunshine into my kitchen, especially during these stubborn last days of the winter. Congratulations to Linda and Alex on an excellent cook book!!!
Jacked Up Crab Dip
(RECIPE PROVIDED COURTESY OF LINDA & ALEX MEYER)
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups (300 g) raw cashews, soaked in 2 cups (480 ml) water overnight
1 large clove garlic
¼ cup (60 ml) unsweetened cashew milk or other vegan milk
2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
2 tbsp (30 ml) Dijon mustard
½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
½ tsp ground sea salt
¼ tsp ground paprika
⅛ tsp onion powder
1 (14-oz [400-g]) can young jackfruit packed in water or 1½ cups (400 g) fresh jackfruit
Drain and rinse the cashews and put into a high-powered blender or food processor. Add the garlic, cashew milk, lemon juice, mustard, Old Bay seasoning, salt, paprika and onion powder and blend for approximately 2 minutes (scrape the sides frequently), or until it’s smooth and velvety. You shouldn’t see or taste pieces of solid nuts.
Scrape the cashew mixture into a medium bowl.
Drain and rinse the jackfruit well. Shred the jackfruit with a fork or in a food processor and put in the bowl with the cashew mixture. Gently fold until fully combined. Serve with crackers, toast or sliced vegetables.
(This recipe is courtesy of Linda & Alex Meyer, and just one of many in their new cookbook!)
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this cookbook through a community of vegan bloggers. This did not influence my views about the recipes I tried thus far and mentioned above. The photo and the recipe above are reproduced with permission from Linda and Alex – thank you!