As I mentioned last time, J.K.’s two favorite food bloggers, Sam Turnbull of “It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken” and Candice Hutchings of “The Edgy Veg”—both youngish, blond, Canadian vegans—came out with new cookbooks in October, so this month J.K focused on The Edgy Veg cookbook. Though I initially wondered what would set the two cookbooks apart, they do seem pretty different. For example, The Edgy Veg might be the first vegan cookbook to feature a hangover remedy (Black Lemonade, which Hutchings describes as “black like [her] soul”).
J.K said she liked the recipes and the humor, and particularly liked that the cookbook “has recipes in it that you wouldn’t think could be vegan, like cheesecake.”
I liked the humor, too. For example Hutchings (whose husband assisted her with the cookbook) said the recipes “are tried and true, and the only reason people like us.” I also liked how the table of contents is a two-page spread at the beginning, so you can see all the recipes at once. And I appreciated the “Hack It!” tips that Hutchings gives at the end of many recipes with ideas for doing some aspect differently.
J.K. made The Token Kale Salad (kale salad with pesto), Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothies, OG Pancakes, New York Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis, and I (seeking the simplest recipes) made Edgy Roasted Veg and Dill Pickle Popcorn and Salted Chocolate Popcorn.
Our family really liked everything we made, though in a couple of cases (the smoothie and the popcorn) we thought something was a little too rich—an outcome we could easily adjust in future renditions by using less of certain ingredients or, let’s face it, being more diligent about measuring. While we particularly enjoyed recipes featuring vegan substitutions for eggs and dairy (the pancakes and cheesecake, for example), the cookbook does contain many vegan variations of meat-based recipes, which would probably appeal to meat-eaters.
Some recipes that sounded really good called for deep-frying, which didn’t really appeal to us. For example, I wanted to try the portobello burger, but not fry it in three inches of oil. I happened to be at the Co-op talking with Holly and Erin at the register, and was really intrigued when Holly mentioned that she had gotten an air fryer. I’d never heard of air fryers and thought that would be a fun way to make some of these recipes, but J.K. was more practical, mentioning that we don’t have space for a new appliance, would probably never use it, and it’s not as if we want to eat more fried food in the first place. Oh. Dang. She was right.
As for specific recipes, J.K. really liked the OG Pancakes. These use soymilk with apple cider vinegar, which Hutchings notes “will turn the soy milk into non-dairy buttermilk!” J.K. liked them so much she made them again the next morning, adding blueberries, and said, “I’m hungry and I’m going to eat them all.”
We all liked the “Token” Kale Salad with pesto, which I found surprisingly good. As for the Edgy Veggies (which Hutchings acknowledges are not particularly edgy), we used Co-op sunchokes instead of Jerusalem artichokes. We all liked the veggies, though only Fred and I liked the tahini sauce. J.K. added ketchup instead.
The Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie was memorable, in part due to the experience of buying chlorophyll. The label said “Internal Deodorant,” which was weirdly fascinating in itself.
Regarding the aesthetics of the smoothie, J.K. noted that “it’s not a pretty color.” As one who regularly downs smoothies of greenish and even grayish hues with reckless abandon, I had to agree that this smoothie’s muddy brown color was not visually enticing.
As for the taste, at first sip I found it incredibly delicious, but—I never thought I’d say this—I ultimately thought it was too intensely chocolatey. J.K. and I agreed this could be easily adjusted in future incarnations, however, by being a little more restrained with the chocolate chips.
We made flavored popcorn the night we had a couple of extra teenagers over for dinner. None of us was brave enough to make the popcorn using the cookbook’s suggested method, melting coconut oil over high heat and heating the popcorn in a pot with a lid (“shake the pot constantly to avoid burning”) so we used our air popper and then added melted coconut oil to the unburned popcorn. Hutchings intends the popcorn to taste like theater popcorn, and we all agreed that it did, but as J.K.’s brother said, “The coconut is really weird. No coconut would be way better.”
We also thought the popcorn was too salty, because the recipe called for salt plus vegan butter, which is pretty salty in itself. As one of our teen guests said about the dill pickle popcorn, “It’s very, very good, and I like it a lot.” We all really liked it, though we didn’t think it particularly tasted like dill pickles. Striving for more pickle-ness, J.K. added lemon juice, which seemed like a good idea but led to … wet lemony popcorn.
Later we realized that what would probably make the difference was the optional ingredient, citric acid, which I later saw Hutchings had noted “makes dill pickle seasoning the BOMB.” When I went to the Co-op to get some the next day, I was told someone had just come in and bought all of it to use in making soap. Undeterred by this a) setback and b) potentially alarming information, I procured some citric acid a few days later and raced home for Round Two. Without the coconut oil coating the popcorn, however, the dill pickle powder mixture immediately sank to the bottom of the bowl. Not good. Fortunately, a physicist was stationed nearby. Thinking fast, Fred sprayed the popcorn with canola spray and shook the bowl vigorously with a plate on top—and voilà. The dill pickle powder was now well dispersed, nicely covering the popcorn’s available surface area. Best of all, the citric acid really made a difference. We all really liked it and now thought it tasted dill pickle-ish.
We also all really liked the salted chocolate popcorn, which really tasted like a dessert. One of our visiting friends said, “It tastes like chocolate, not popcorn, which is a good thing.” And J.K. thought it struck “a good balance” between chocolate and popcorn.
Also in the dessert realm, we all liked the New York Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce. It turned out perfectly when J.K. removed it from the pie plate, which is never to be taken for granted with vegan and gluten-free desserts. J.K. noted that while it didn’t taste “exactly like cheesecake” (not surprising, since it was made with silken tofu), “it’s good, though.” She also noted that “it wasn’t that much work; it just took a really long time because it had to set for four hours.”
Lolling on J.K.’s shoulder, Ollie, our bearded dragon, declined the opportunity to sample anything made with silken tofu and asked us to hurry up with the black lemonade hangover remedy. “Black like my soul,” we heard her muttering.
The Token Kale Salad
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main
As the saying goes, “You don’t make friends with salad” — until you do. This kale and pesto salad is so beyond run-of-the-mill. Pasta sauce on salad? Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? It’s a match made in BFF heaven. It’s delicious on its own, but let’s face it: salad is a sad meal, so pair it with a burger (pages 209 to 213) or a hearty bowl of Half-Baked Mac and Cheese (page 170). Now, that’s what I call balance.
4 cups shredded dinosaur kale 1 L
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 30 mL
1-1/2 cups Presto, Pesto (see recipe, below) 375 mL
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved 125 mL
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper 125 mL
1/4 cup finely diced red onion 60 mL
2 tbsp nutritional yeast 30 mL
1 tbsp hemp seeds 15 mL
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped cashews 60 mL
1. In a large bowl, drizzle kale with olive oil and massage leaves with your hands. Add pesto and continue to massage, until kale is completely coated. Add tomatoes, red pepper and red onion to salad. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, hemp seeds and sea salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine and top with cashews to serve.
It might seem a bit strange to massage your food, but you’ll be amazed at what a quick five-minute rubdown can do. Take handfuls of kale and rub them together. Play some spa music, for the full effect. As you massage, you will start to notice the leaves getting darker in color and becoming silky in texture. The longer you massage your kale, the more it will break down and become less bitter. Massage kale with pesto or dressing of choice and refrigerate up to 48 hours in advance.
Makes 1-1/4 cups (300 mL)
Pesto is the quickest and easiest sauce to make, and it can take any meal from drab to fab. When I was in university, I literally put the stuff on everything: pasta, salad and personal- size pita pizzas. When it comes to sauces, pesto is the besto.
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil 500 mL
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds 125 mL
2 garlic cloves 2
3 tbsp nutritional yeast 45 mL
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil 60 to 125 mL
1. In a food processor, combine basil, sunflower seeds, garlic and nutritional yeast; process until a coarse meal forms.
2. Slowly add 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil in a steady drizzle through the feed tube as you pulse. Process until it forms a smooth paste. Add more olive oil, if necessary, if the mixture is too dry. You want the pesto to be moist and spreadable. Season with sea salt to taste.