The Vegan Comfort Classics cookbook review is part of our ongoing series of (mostly) Canadian cookbook reviews!
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Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face is Lauren Toyota’s first cookbook. She's the author of the Hot for Food blog and also has a popular Hot for Food YouTube platform where she shares weekly vegan recipes with her devout followers.
Hey, Hot for Food Fam!
Lauren introduces herself and writes about how she came to write her first cookbook. Her story is quite engaging, especially because making a cookbook was not something she planned for. She also lists the basic equipment needed to make the recipes in the cookbook.
Chapters and Recipes
- Badass Brunches — But First … Bacon (bacon marinade; coconut bacon; almond bacon; tofu bacon, crumbles or slices; mushroom bacon; cassava bacon), Mushroom and Leek Quiche, Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, Pile O’Waffles
- Finger Foods — Herb-loaded Sausages Rolls, Zucchini-Onion Bhaji, Mac & Cheese Onion Rings
- Veggie Sides & Big Salads — Mushroom & Herb Toast, Banh Mi Bowl, My Fat Greek Potato Salad
- Hearty Soups — Chicken Potpie Soup, See Food Chowder, Comforting Lasagna Soup, Real Wonton Soup
- Stacked Sandwiches — Philly Cheesesteak, Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwich, Monte Cristo
- Oodles of Noodles —Creamy Rosé Penne, Eggplant Parm & Spaghetti, The Best Vegan Ramen
- The Main Event — Fried Avocados with Jackfruit, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Waffle-Topped Cottage Pie
- Sweet Things — Cinnamon Rolls, Customizable Cake, Buttercream Frosting
- Get Saucy — The Nacho Cheese, Three Easy Dressings, The Aiolis
The 101 vegan recipes are well written and preceded by headnotes. Hot tips as well as prep ahead ingredients are included where needed. The layout is simple to follow with the ingredients listed on the left and instructions on the right. Prep and cook times are also included. Stunning colour photos are spread throughout the cookbook.
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes (Page 31)
The photo of a stack of pancakes topped with a pat of butter and drizzled with maple syrup enticed me to make these pancakes for breakfast one weekend. The recipe looked easy enough, and in time I would have a stack of pancakes to eat, just like the photo.
But much to my disappointment the result didn’t turn entirely out that way. The first time I made the pancakes, the taste was good, but I didn’t like the chewy texture. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong, so I made the pancakes a second time with the same results.
I searched for this recipe on Lauren’s Hot Food YouTube channel to watch how they’re made, but the video wasn't listed.
Mushroom, Leek & Tomato Risotto (Page 164)
Risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods. That’s why I chose this recipe to make. There are no vegans in my family, so I made it only for my husband and me to try. The only ingredients I bought that were new to me were the vegan butter and nutritional yeast that's used with almond flour to make "The Parm" that replaces the Parmesan cheese used in a non-vegan risotto.
Since we both love Parmesan cheese, we made a pact to be impartial when tasting this risotto and not compare it to our traditional one. This combination of the leeks, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes added flavour to the creamy risotto, and it tasted quite good mixed with "The Parm." If we have vegan guests for dinner, I'll make this risotto dish. I'm sure they'll be impressed.
Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwich (Page 103)
Prep Ahead: The Classic Ranch (Page 223)
This is one of the best cauliflower dishes I've ever tasted! The cauliflower is cut from the top down into vertical slices (steaks), dipped into the spicy mixture, baked at a high temperature, then coated in panko-style bread crumbs, covered in the buffalo-style sauce, and then baked again at a high temperature for a second time, filling my kitchen with a barbeque-like aroma.
I assembled the Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwiches using the Kaiser-style rolls with the The Classic Ranch (Page 223), lettuce, tomatoes and thinly sliced onions. At first bite, the spiciness of the cauliflower with its crunchy texture surprised me. I never imagined that cauliflower could taste so good. To quote Lauren, “this spicy stacked monster of a sandwich” could definitely be an alternative to eating beef or chicken burgers for me.
You can watch the video of how to make this recipe on Lauren’s YouTube channel, although the panko-style breadcrumbs aren't included.
- 2 heads cauliflower
- 11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free rice flour
- 4 teaspoons garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3⁄4 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
- 3⁄4 cup water
- 3 cups panko-style bread crumbs or gluten-free bread crumbs
- 1⁄4 cup vegan butter
- 11⁄2 cups buffalo-style hot sauce
- 4 kaiser-style rolls
- The Classic Ranch
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1 onion) or Pickled Red Onions (page 107)
- 2 cups shredded or finely chopped iceberg or leaf lettuce
- 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 4 dill pickles
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In this case, parchment paper is absolutely necessary, or the cauliflower and batter will stick to the sheet.
- To prepare the cauliflower, remove the leafy parts, being careful not to cut off any florets. Slice each head in half from the top. From the inside of each half, cut a slice 3⁄4 inch to 1 inch thick. You now have 4 large cauliflower cross-sections or steaks. You can reserve the remaining florets to make buffalo bites using the same batter and method or the Southern Fried Cauliflower (page 46), or you can roast them up for another meal.
- Mix the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, nondairy milk, and water together in a bowl until well combined. The amount of liquid or flour may need to be increased if you replace the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour. It should be thick enough that it doesn't pool too much around the steak.
- Transfer the batter to a wide, shallow dish that will fit your cauliflower steaks. Place the bread crumbs in another dish or large bowl. Immerse each steak in the batter, using one hand to coat all the crevices and letting just a bit of the excess drip back into the dish.
- Coat all sides of the steaks in the bread crumbs. Place the breaded cauliflower steaks on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until crispy, flipping the steaks halfway through the bake time. If you go to flip the steaks and the batter feels stuck, it needs to bake longer on that side.
- Just before the cauliflower finishes baking, melt the vegan butter and whisk it into the hot sauce in a shallow dish.
- Remove the cauliflower from the oven. You may want to let the steaks cool slightly so you can handle them. You may need to replace the parchment paper with a new sheet if it’s really soaked through or burned quite a bit.
- Coat the breaded cauliflower steaks evenly on all sides in the buffalo sauce. Reserve the excess sauce to baste the cauliflower before serving. Bake again for 25 minutes, flipping the steaks halfway through the bake time.
- To assemble the sandwiches, just before the cauliflower is done baking, cut the rolls in half and toast, if desired. Spread a generous amount of ranch dressing on the cut sides of each roll. Place a buffalo cauliflower steak on the bottom half. Add the red onion slices, lettuce, tomato slices, and then the top half of the roll. Serve with a pickle or slice the pickles and add to the sandwich.
I think that at least every vegan should own the Vegan Comfort Classics Cookbook. It’s a well-written cookbook that lists creative, comforting vegan recipes. I'm not a vegan, but I have learned to appreciate other methods of cooking. The basics are the same as most recipes I make and can be adjusted to my taste. There are still a few recipes I'd like to try so this cookbook is staying on my bookshelf.
Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face
Author: Lauren Toyota
Softcover: 23 pages
Publisher: Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited
Cover and images from Vegan Comfort Classics by Lauren Toyota, reprinted by permission of Penguin Random House Canada Ltd..
A review copy of Vegan Comfort Classics was provided by Penguin Random House Canada.
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The Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed your Face cookbook review was written by Liliana Tommasini, author of the aptly named blog My Cookbook Addiction. Her passion for baking and cooking began at an early age. Liliana grew up in an Italian household where each meal was made from scratch with fresh ingredients, and Sunday family lunches were always a celebration. She now carries on that tradition in her expanding family. She has a passion for collecting cookbooks and believes that every recipe tells a story that must be shared to nourish your soul and feed your belly. You can connect with Liliana on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.