Cooking the Books

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Power Vegan Book Signing Event at The Wild Cow

Posted By on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 5:57 AM

When people find out I’m a vegetarian, I’m often asked, “How do you get enough protein?” I want to respond, “Where do you think your protein gets protein?” but, instead, I usually just tell people that a balanced vegetarian (and vegan, too) diet has plenty of protein for the average person. Unless you’re strength training.

But what if you are strength training? Regardless of what your food preferences are, having a good nutrition plan is essential for people who train hard. Getting enough lean protein for a rigorous training regimen can be difficult even for omnivores. Whether you’re herbi or omni, Power Vegan can help you.

The author of Power Vegan, Rea Frey, is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. So the book isn’t filled with dubious science (this is a pet peeve of mine for any book of this nature). There are easy-to-understand guidelines as well as practical and accessible recipes (easy to make, not too expensive) for anyone who’s looking for better health and nutrition and particularly for people who have an active lifestyle. It’s also a great reference for information on nutrition and provides helpful tips on how to find the right diet and exercise plan for your individual goals and needs.

If you’d like to know more, Rea Frey will be at The Wild Cow this Wednesday, June 12, at 2 p.m., signing copies of the book and answering questions.

Book signing with Rea Frey, author of Power Vegan
Wednesday, June 12 at 2 p.m.
The Wild Cow
1896 Eastland Ave.

After the jump, here’s a sample recipe from the book. Blueberry season is coming up, so this is a good one to file away for breakfast or snack time.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Southern Vegetarian Book Signing Event, Plus a Giveaway

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 5:57 AM

This weekend, you — and I! — have the chance to meet and chat with the authors of one of my very favorite food blogs, The Chubby Vegetarian. Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence will be appearing at Barnes and Noble on West End this Saturday, June 8, to sign copies of their cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table.

I’ve been a fan of The Chubby Vegetarian for a long time. The recipes range from the simple to the extravagant, and many of those on the more simple end of the spectrum have entered my regular rotation. My veggie burger recipe is actually an adaptation of the Black Eye Burger. I’ve been following along for a while as Justin and Amy worked on the book, which includes a number of recipes from the blog that were culled, curated and nicely assembled with Justin’s photography.

The book is really helpful for anyone who’s interested in vegetarian-ized Southern cuisine, particularly if you’ve had any challenges approximating some old favorites like redeye gravy or authentic, hammy greens. The recipes aren’t fussy, but some do call for ingredients that may not currently be in your pantry. And other recipes may require a skill level that not everyone has if they didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen with a mother or grandmother. The recipes generally have photographs of the finished product, not for the individual steps. So, for example, if you’ve never made a pie — crust and all — from scratch, you may want to do a little studying elsewhere before attempting Nannie’s Blueberry Pie.

However, I do recommend trying your hand at making some "bacon" from coconut and some of the other playful twists, such as beluga lentils and bean curd pork rinds. And in addition to recipes, the book contains some helpful information on stocking the Southern vegetarian pantry, including recommendations on what types and brands of products to use as well as storage tips. The authors are both from Mississippi and currently reside in Memphis, but recipes are included from areas all around the South.

You can pick up a copy of the book and meet the authors this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Barnes and Noble on West End. You can also enter here to win a copy of the book as well. Just leave a comment with your favorite Southern vegetarian dish or which one you'd most like to have vegetarian-ized. I'll choose a winner on Monday, so please be sure that your contact information is included in your Scene profile or leave your email address (substitute "at" for "@") or a Twitter handle in your comment.

Book Signing with Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence, authors of The Southern Vegetarian

Saturday, June 8, at 1 p.m.
Barnes and Noble
2501 West End Ave.

Update: we have a winner. Thanks to all who entered!

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Eat Healthier with the Recipe Rehab Cookbook

Posted By on Fri, May 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM

If you're one of the people trying to eat a healthier diet, then you're like just about everybody else. One of the most successful ways to improve your eating and cooking habits is to make a conscious effort to alter your traditional recipes to cut the fat and the calories without sacrificing flavor.

That's the idea behind the ABC show Recipe Rehab. Each week chefs are invited to tackle a decadent family recipe in an attempt to make a healthier version. Regulars on the show include some notable celebri-chefs like Spike Mendelsohn, Aida Mollenkamp, Candice Kumai and Govind Armstrong. Now the group has compiled some of their best recipes in a book, also titled Recipe Rehab, which was released last week.

The 80 recipes have been simplified and scaled for the home kitchen, and are divided into sections to get you through an entire week of meal planning:

• Healthy Starts like Stuffed French Toast with “No-tella”, Southwestern Breakfast Frittata and Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
• Apps and Snacks such as Bacon-Wrapped Figs, Spinach Dip and Stuffed Mushrooms
• Carb Makeovers such as Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, Vegetarian Spaghetti & Meatballs and Mexican Lasagna
• “No-Junk” Foods like Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Nachos Supreme and Big Island Burgers
• “Un-Fried” Favorites like Chicken Drumsticks and Biscuits, Fish & Chips and General Tso’s Chicken
• Indulgent Desserts like Peach Cobbler, Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting, and Chocolate Cupcakes

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The Duke's Table: Eat Like Vegetarian Italian Royalty

Posted By on Fri, May 24, 2013 at 5:02 AM

There are generally two types of cookbooks I love: beautiful food that’s beautifully photographed but includes recipes I’ll likely never attempt (Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin) and books that are informative and technical and full of great tips and recipes that can help anyone be an expert in the kitchen (How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman). While I love perusing the beautiful books in my collection, my Bittman book is the dog-eared and stained go-to in my library, like many people’s copies of Joy of Cooking.

The Duke’s Table falls firmly in the latter category. More than 1,000 recipes are packed into just over 300 pages in this veritable encyclopedia of vegetarian Italian recipes. Subtitled The Complete Book of Vegetarian Italian Cooking, it was originally published in 1930 by Enrico Alliata, the duke of Salaparuta.

A rebel in his time and place, he was a major proponent of not just vegetarian cuisine, but raw food as well. Written in the author’s native Italian, the original book — Cucina Vegetariana e Naturismo Crudo (Vegetarian Cuisine and Natural Raw Food) — has been translated wonderfully to include the author’s eloquence and style and updated for American kitchens. The common sense and science the duke writes about in his introduction to vegetarianism still hold up today.

The book was originally written as more of a guide than a cookbook, but the update includes actual recipes instead of guidelines. Still, if you are new in the kitchen, some of the recipes may be a little tough for you, as they do not include step-by-step photos or even photos of the finished dishes. But even if you are more Boyardee than Batali, there are plenty of recipes for you. They range from the simple (yet elegant) like Deviled Egg Crostini and Cucumber Juice Soup — which anyone can make — to the more elaborate, such as The Queen’s Timballo and Cauliflower Souffle (which I'm not going to attempt any time in the near future).

Many of the recipes are heavy on dairy and eggs (as a standard vegetarian, I’m OK with that). But a respectable number of recipes are vegan, and there’s an entire section of the book devoted to raw foods, including soups, main courses and even desserts. And the duke makes excellent notes on ingredients, such as, “the pollen [of chopped zucchini blossoms] gives off a seafood flavor,” a comment included in a recipe for mock clam soup.

If this post seems like a bit of a love letter to this book, that’s because it is. I haven’t been this excited about a cookbook (eh, any book) since Bittman’s vegetarian book. Opening it to a random page yields a number of recipes for dishes I want to try immediately. Though I’ll need to save my pennies for black truffles and good saffron for some of them. But I can make a deviled cheese crostini any time. And a fig bread next month!

The Duke’s Table, The Complete Book of Vegetarian Italian Cooking is available on

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cookbook Review: The Passionate Vegetable

Posted By on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM

The Passionate Vegetable by Suzanne Landry is a cookbook that you’d think, based on the title, is yet another vegetarian cookbook. But it’s actually an omnivore’s cookbook, one that aims to help omnivores bring more whole foods, vegetables and grains into their diets rather than convert them to a completely plant-based diet.

The first three chapters of the book are devoted to nutrition and how to have a healthier kitchen. It includes pantry basics, how to choose food (and ways to cook food), plan meals and even some basic knife skills. Very useful information. I do, however, have a quibble with a portion of the nutrition section, particularly in reference to protein. The chef/author explains the largely discredited claim that you must eat grains with beans to make them a complete protein (in fact, you don't need to combine foods to get a complete protein). Landry does, however, include the important point that, on average, Americans get about twice the recommended (RDA) protein they need daily. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people assume I do not get enough protein from a vegetarian diet. Where do they think cows get their protein? But I digress ...

Aside from this disagreement, I still believe there is still plenty of great information in the book. And it’s packed with recipes from breakfast through dessert and for everything in between to help you get more plants into your body in the tastiest and least punishing way possible. Recipes include Dilled Rice and Green Pea Salad, Spanish Style Quiche, Thai Coconut Chickpeas with Fresh Basil, and Roasted Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese, among many others. The book is a nice resource for anyone who’d like to decrease reliance on animal proteins and get some fresh ideas for meal planning. The book is available via Amazon and the author's website.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Improve Your Patty Skillz with Wicked Good Burgers

Posted By on Tue, May 7, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Apparently May is National Burger Month; so sayeth the folks that declare those kind of things. But this is the kind of commemoration I can get fully behind. Why not take advantage of the attention to improve your home burger cookery. Our friend and colleague Nicki Pendleton Wood contributesa very interesting burger primer in this week's issue of The City Paper and shares great hints that range from the simplest to the esoteric. (Duck burgers anyone?)

For a more extensive education from an unlikely source, you should consider picking up a copy of Wicked Good Burgers by Andy Husbands, Chris Hart and Andrea Pyenson. If that title sounds vaguely familiar, this cookbook comes from the same team of Boston-bred Yankees who published Wicked Good BBQ after carpetbagging their way to Lynchburg and taking home the hardware at the Jack Daniel's Invitational World Barbecue Championship. I'm just kidding about the carpetbagging part. I really like the story of Husbands and Hart, and their barbecue book has given me some really good tips in the past.

Now they have turned their sights on the humble burger in an attempt to raise the level of creativity and technique of the average Joe. (Or Sully or Bubba) They address the art and science of making excellent burgers, from the actual grinding of the meat to cooking methods on your grill, smoker, griddle, frying pan or even sous vide apparatus if you have that level of kitchen. Being kind of a kitchen nerd myself, I appreciate the fact that the authors use very precise weights and measures (including, gasp!, metric) in their recipes.

Some of the burgers are truly over the top, like the $100 Burger that calls for Wagyu brisket and short ribs, foie gras and truffle powder, but most of the recipes look delicious and creative. There are also plenty of recipes for inventive side dishes and toppings like duck fat fries, grilled romaine and dilled salmon roe.

To whet your appetite, they were nice enough to share a couple of recipes that you can try out to kick off Burger Month. If these get your grill preheated, buy the book and check out the rest.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Maneet Chauhan's Brilliant World of Flavors

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 5:51 AM

Mostly I wear my cookbook-editor hat anonymously. A well-edited cookbook is seamless, and looks like it just popped itself between the covers of the book. That’s what I aim for — smooth and invisible.

This winter I edited a cookbook that was so thrilling, so different, that I want to come out from behind the pages. Flavors of My World: A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries by Maneet Chauhan has some of the most innovative recipes and exciting flavor combinations I’ve come across in 25 years of food writing.

I’m talking about ropa vieja made with seasonings used for rogan josh. Fish and chips flavored like masala aloo. Doro wat with Mangaloran spices.

In Nashville, Chauhan is getting attention because of her announcement that she's planning to open her first restaurant here: a gastropub with Indian-inspired cuisine, called Chauhan Ale & Masala House. (She's partnering with local restaurateurs Moni Advani, London Parfitt and Austin Ratliff, who co-own Anthem and Revelry in the Gulch. The new restaurant's site isn't determined yet, but it's expected to open by the end of the year.)

Nationally, Chauhan was probably best known as one of the judges on the Food Network show Chopped. Before that, she was executive chef at Vermilion in Chicago and New York for eight years, serving Latin-Indian fusion food that won loads of recognition and awards.

The cookbook is based on that fusion ethic, blending Indian flavor profiles with already interesting “ethnic” foods like spanokopita, risotto, soda bread, Spanish omelets and goulash. I was so bowled over that I kept an electronic copy of the edited document, with its original title, Indie Culinaire.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cookbook Review: Health on Your Plate (Plus a Giveaway)

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 3:08 PM

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of Health on Your Plate by Yara Shoemaker. Shoemaker is a former model and aesthetician who’s studied a variety of diets and health programs — ostensibly to maintain her health and appearance — and combined that with the practical knowledge she gleaned from older, healthier members of her grandmother’s Syrian community. For the book, she’s assembled a wealth of what should be common sense to serve as a road map toward a healthier lifestyle. This is not a diet book at all; more like a lifestyle guide.

She starts with the basics, even including guides to choosing cookware, appliances, and pantry items. She also includes information on how to best shop for food. For example, she’s got a great section on oils — which to use for what type of cooking and which to avoid (and why). Shoemaker is not a vegetarian, but notes that the common denominator in the healthiest of diets in the world is an emphasis on whole grains and vegetables. Other food groups can be included, but in moderation and prepared in a healthy way.

And though it’s not explicitly a beauty book, Shoemaker does include tips in various sections on how to maintain your appearance and how what you eat affects your appearance. She notes, “ 'You are what you eat,' so imagine what you would look like on the doughnut diet” as opposed to a diet of the slender carrot. But she doesn’t condescend to readers at all, and every claim is backed up by a thorough set of references included at the end of the book.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Signing Events With Maneet Chauhan — and a Nashville Restaurant in the Works?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Earlier this month, blogger Beth Sachan of Eat. Drink. Smile. included a report with a few sparse details about a new restaurant planned for Nashville, helmed by Maneet Chauhan, of The Food Network’s Chopped and Iron Chef. Located somewhere in the Gulch, it would be a tapas-syle restaurant featuring Chauhan's popular globally inspired cuisine. Not much is known at this point, though one can assume more details will be shared at Tuesday’s dinner and book signing event at Anthem. The dinner will feature recipes and cocktails from the chef’s new cookbook, Flavors of My World.

The impressive cookbook includes recipes from 25 different countries made with an Indian influence and flair. Each country’s dishes are matched with an incredibly inventive cocktail as well. For example, the section featuring Ireland makes the country’s soda bread unique by adding anardana powder and candied Indian gooseberries. The accompanying cocktail transforms a Guinness Stout into a complex beverage featuring kokum, an Indian fruit that functions to gently sour many Indian specialties.

Interesting notes are made in each section that include history and trivia about each country’s cuisine as well as the individual recipes and ingredients themselves. All are accompanied by exquisite photography of each dish and cocktail. Many of the recipes may seem a bit daunting to the average home cook simply based on the exotic ingredients, but the chef and her co-author, Doug Singer note that components are easily found in Indian groceries as well as online (and they helpfully include links). Interesting local notes: friend of Bites and City Paper food writer Nicki Pendleton Wood edited the book, which was published by Favorite Recipes Press, an imprint of Nashville-based Southwestern Publishing Group.

In addition to the pop-up dinner book signing event, Maneet will be signing copies at Whole Foods in Green Hills Wednesday, April 24 from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Also, if you’re intrigued by this book (and you should be), note that Beth is hosting a giveaway of the book on her blog. But hurry; the contest closes at 11 p.m. Tuesday. Luckily, chances of winning are really good right now. You don’t want to miss the chance to win this amazing cookbook.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tweet Your Way To Being a Published Cookbook Author

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Writing a cookbook isn't easy. I can speak from experience, but not nearly as much as Nicki Wood or Lindsay Landis. But just having a good idea and getting it down on paper is only part of getting published. First, you have to sell that idea to someone else.

Agents are very helpful for this, and the good ones (including mine!) assist writers throughout the process and help to keep the project focused and marketable. It's not easy to get your pitch in front of the best agencies and publishers, but The Lisa Ekus Group, a culinary agency that recently celebrated 31 years in business, wants to find new talent using a unique medium to accept pitches: Twitter.

As the big March Madness college hoops tournament is approaching, Ekus styled their competition in a bracket format. Contestants must pitch their best culinary nonfiction ideas to @SallyEkus via 140-character (or less) tweets and add the hashtag #SignMeSal from March 11-13. Here's what happens next:

On March 14th, 2013, the finalists will be chosen to participate in the playoffs and entries will be whittled down in subsequent days. Like the March Madness basketball tournament, 16 finalists will enter the playoffs. Remaining participants will then be asked to round out their proposals with further tweets that cover standard proposal elements, such as the book’s point of differentiation, the author’s promotional ideas, and the author’s credentials. The last two finalists will join Literary Agent Sally Ekus in a Twitter chat on March 25, 2013 to discuss their ideas as well as ask questions about agency representation and cookbook publishing in general. Contestants, who were previously eliminated, as well as the greater Twitter community, will be encouraged to join the Twitter chat to ask questions of the final two contenders. A single winner will be chosen and then work with agent Sally Ekus to develop a fleshed out proposal to pitch to editors at publishing houses.

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