Big Vegan Virtual Potluck Week 2-Visit all the Stops for Vegan Recipes and Fun!

25 10 2011

Take the Tour, Comment to Win

Drumroll please, or maybe we should ring a virtual dinner bell. Today kicks off phase two of the Big Vegan virtual potluck. Thanks to a very talented group of bloggers, my new book, Big Vegan, is getting a web-wide showcase. Last week, three of us made breakfast.

Baguette French Toast Stuffed with “Cream Cheese” and Topped with Apples

Leinana Two Moons

Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins

Caron Golden

Maple Barley Granola with Pecans

Robin Asbell

Don’t forget to comment on all the posts if you want to win a copy of Big Vegan. If you are a twitter user, you can also tweet why you go vegan with the hashtag #bigvegan by midnight November 4 to enter to win a copy.


Mango-Jícama Salad with Lime Dressing and Pepitas    

Susan Russo

Armenian Red Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice

Bryanna Clark Grogan

Korean Miso-Tofu Soup

Nancie McDermott

Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa

Jill Nussinow

Please read, comment, and take a moment to scroll through these wonderful blogs. Every one of these writers has great articles, recipes, and books that might just make you a regular reader. Follow them all on twitter, too. Their twitter handles are @foodblogga, @veganfeaster, @nanciemac, and @theveggiequeen. Last weeks are @carondg and @vegangoodthings, and of course, me, @robinasbell.

Big Vegan is filled with recipes that you and your family will love, and this stellar group will show you just how appealing Big Vegan food can be!


Big Vegan Virtual Potluck Day 1:Breakfast!

18 10 2011

Today is the launch of my big virtual blog tour. Rather than jet around the country, my recipes are being made all over the country by talented bloggers. I hope you will click on Leinana and Caron’s links and visit their outstanding blogs for two more breakfast treats.

Leave a comment at one or all of our blogs, and you will be entered to win a copy of Big Vegan at each one. Go to twitter and tweet your reason for going vegan with the hashtag #bigvegan by November 4 midnight CST, and you will be entered in the twitter contest, too.

Baguette French Toast Stuffed with “Cream Cheese” and Topped with Apples

Leinana Two Moons


Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins

Caron Golden

I hope you are hungry, since we have a hearty breakfast to share today.

Maple-Barley Granola with Pecans

As for my breakfast, I picked a recipe that I make often. It’s not the showiest or the most photogenic, but dangit, I love it. I’ve been a connoisseur of granola since my early days working in whole-grainy bakeries, where we often had a house granola. We made it by hand in huge batches, measuring mountains of soft, fluffy oats into a deep container before pouring jug-fuls of liquids over it all. I can remember mixing up deep vats of the stuff, up to my elbows in oats, oil and syrup. We believed in whole grains and didn’t care about fat. The granola was rich, tender and sweet, and usually loaded with nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

Good times.

In the years since, I’ve had plenty of time to experiment with granola. I’ve even written about it for Taunton’s Fine Cooking, who published my piece on granola as a holiday gift years ago. I wrote granola recipes for Veggie Life, too, once upon a time.

One of the things I really like in granola are chunks. Adding some flour and other ingredients that will stick together and create slabs of granola is one of my fave tricks. That makes the best granola for eating with your fingers. It’s almost like cookies, broken up in a bowl of milk. To achieve this, I add some flour and either protein powder or gluten flour, and some liquids to hold it all together.

That extra protein will help carry you through to lunch, along with the high-fiber, nutrient dense whole grains. Pack a baggie of this granola just in case you need a snack-it’s great just eaten as is.

Maple-Barley Granola

Oats reign in the cereal world, but did you know that barley has more of the heart-healthy starches that make oats the recommended grain? Beta-glucans are a kind of starch that lowers cholesterol, and barley has more of them. It also makes a hefty, tasty rolled flake that you can make into a delicious granola. If you can’t find rolled barley, you can use rolled oats.

Serves 16

2          cups/170 g rolled oats

2          cups/170 g rolled barley flakes

2          cups brown rice crispies

1          cup/115 g pecan pieces

½         cup/60 g whole wheat flour

½         cup/40 g vegan protein powder or gluten flour

1          cup/240 ml maple syrup

½         cup/120 ml canola oil

2          tsp vanilla extract

½         tsp salt

Ready to mix

1. Preheat the oven to 300° F/150° C/gas 2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, barley, rice crispies, pecans, flour, and protein powder . In a large bowl or a blender, combine the syrup, oil, vanilla, and salt. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets and spread the oat mixture on the pans.

2. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the granola with a spatula and bake for 20 minutes more, until it is lightly toasted. Cool the granola on the pans completely on racks, then transfer to airtight containers or zip-top bags.Keeps for a couple of week, tightly closed, or put it in the freezer for a couple of months.

Toasty Crunchy Granola

It’s Almost Here! The Big Vegan Virtual Potluck and Book Giveaway

14 10 2011

Dear Readers, it is a very exciting day. The planning for this has been in the works for a while, and I’m just thrilled to be able to announce the first day of our virtual potluck.

What is a virtual potluck, you ask?

Well, thanks for asking. For the next three weeks, a host of talented, wonderful bloggers are going to be posting dishes that they made from my new Book, Big Vegan. Each of them will also be hosting a giveaway of the book, so if you visit their blogs and comment, you may well win a FREE copy!

On each successive Tuesday, we will be posting and linking to a series of blog posts, culminating in a final post on the Chronicle Books webpage, linking back to all the blog posts from the potluck over the three weeks. Chronicle will also be doing a potluck within their office, and posting on November 4.

If you really want to win a copy of Big Vegan, you will have lots of opportunities, just by visiting these great blogs and making comments, but we are not stopping there. Another giveaway will be going on on twitter-just tweet why you decided to go vegan with the hashtag #bigvegan. You must tweet by midnight CST on November 4th to be considered.

Of course, you can order Big Vegan anytime, in case you are not one of the lucky winners.

I hope you enjoy these tasty blogs and tweets, I’m really proud of the plant-based cuisine that we are sharing with the internet world. This is a group of such wonderful chefs, writers and bloggers that I know you will want to visit and follow their work in the future, as well.

DAY 1 Post October 18

Maple Barley Granola

Robin Asbell

Baguette French Toast Stuffed with “Cream Cheese” and Topped with Apples

Leinana Two Moons



Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins

Caron Golden

DAY 2 October 25

Mango-Jícama Salad with Lime Dressing and Pepitas    

Susan Russo

Armenian Red Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice

Bryanna Clark Grogan

Korean Miso-Tofu Soup

Nancie McDermott

Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa

Jill Nussinow

DAY 3 November 1

Green and Red Spaghetti

Sandra Gutierrez

Bengali Curry of Cauliflower and Kidney Beans

Robin Robertson

Spanish Chickpea Fritters

Julie Hasson

Sundried Tomato-Kale Calzones AND

Pumpkin Cherry Bundt Cake

Leinana Two Moons


Peanut Butter Tart with “Ganache”

Tara Desmond

The Vegan Cheese You Make at Home

9 10 2011

a Simple Pot of Cashew Cheese


When people hear that I wrote a vegan book, or want to talk about vegan, one topic always comes up. Cheese is often the hardest food for people to imagine giving up. Or maybe it’s ice cream, or yogurt. I hear that alot- people who can’t imagine life without yogurt.

Well, if you are one of those people, I understand. Cheese is delicious, and dangit, it’s really easy to use. A slice of cheese or a schmear of cream cheese makes a simple sandwich or bagel into a meal, and cheese makes pizza and pasta into the most popular food in the world.

So, whether you want to kick it or just cut back, you can make it much easier to do. Of course, you can buy processed cheese substitutes. Plenty of people swear by them, and they are convenient. In a previous post I made nachos with the very popular shredded Daiya cheese, and it was certainly a big improvement on the ones I remember from 10 years ago. Still, if you were eating cheese for protein or calcium, these substitutes may not have them.

The truth is, if you are a DIY kind of whole foods person, you want to keep it home made. That’s why I decided to start keeping a pot of nut cheese in my fridge at all times. I realized that a big part of the way we all eat is to just open that refrigerator door and start looking for some food. If you have dairy based habits, like bagels and cream cheese, cheese sandwiches, or cheesy pizzas, having the nut cheese is step one to making a really great stand in.

Nuts, by the way, are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Good fats, protein, all the good stuff, so you are boosting your nutrition with this move.

I did some experimenting to come up with a good recipe, and there are two in my new book, Big Vegan. But, if you haven’t got the book, you can certainly just improvise something. I’ll talk you through it.

Almonds Are A Fast Way to Cheese

First, just soak some cashews, almonds, or macadamias, or a combo of all three. Use skinless, raw nuts. You can try other nuts, like brazils, or even pistachios, but they will not be white and cheeselike. Just soak the nuts, drain them, reserving the water, and put them in a processor or blender. Blend, puree, and process, scraping down, adding just enough water to make a creamy smooth paste. Once it’s totally creamy, add some salt, lemon, or whatever you want to make it more savory. The nuts are basically sweet and rich, so to make it more cheesy you need an acid, salt, and some fermented flavors, like nutritional yeast or white miso. Or you can keep it simple and season it for each dish.

Creamy Cashew Cheese

Once you have this tasty, nutritious spread, you are on your way to saying “nuts” to cheese. Go ahead, dollop it on a prebaked pizza crust, smeared with pesto or tomato sauce. Build a panini, or toss it in the pan with hot pasta and veggies, adding a little olive oil and non-dairy milk as needed. Or just dip veggies in it, spread it on bagels, or sprinkle it over nachos.

Once you have it made, you have it made.

Big Vegan is Officially Out!

2 10 2011

It's Big, It's Vegan!

Well, it has taken about two years, but the official release of Big Vegan, Over 350 Recipes, No Meat, No Dairy, All Delicious has arrived.

Actually, I spent October 1 at a lovely signing event at Linden Hills Coop Grocery in St Louis Park, serving up samples of the Creamy Squash and Millet Soup with Chipotle.
Here is a link to my Big Vegan Trailer Video:

Of course, I did some early events, like my trip to New York to teach vegan at the Natural Gourmet Institute and The Institute for Culinary Education a couple of weeks ago. But, the official launch is now.

A Happy Class at NGI

So, what is so big about Big Vegan? Well, it is literally, kind of big. About 500 pages. It’s the biggest book I have ever written, packed with plant-based recipes. As big as it is, I had room to sprawl out and come up with recipes for things that I think are really useful and handy, like how to make your own cashew almond cheese, seitan, and mayonnaise. I even had room for a sauces chapter, where I made up some really tasty sauce recipes, and some simmer sauces, that you can make and have ready for times when you just want to throw some stuff in a pan and have a meal in a few minutes. There’s a grilling chapter, if you find vegan grilling to be a mystery.

But mostly, Big Vegan is filled with recipes in which I endeavored to inject as much flavor and excitement as I could. I’ve heard it too many times: “vegan food is blah, vegan food is weird, etc etc.” It kills me that people make those kind of judgements. Vegan food is food. By and large, the same food omnivores eat alongside their omnivorous ingredients. So what is the big problem with it?

Well, if you are vegan or cook vegan, you have a number of preconceived notions to overcome. The most benign of those is that our food is bland. That’s not hard to prove wrong, if the notion-holder is willing to have a taste with an open mind. Then you get the other biases. Vegans are a pain, vegans are preachy, vegans hate food and have some kind of eating disorder that sucks joy from the universe.

Well, all I can say is, I will do everything I can to make joyful, happy vegan food and spread the word. I believe in meeting people where they are-by which I mean, helping them to eat more plants, whatever their diet-style. Meatless Mondays, Tofu Thursdays, or a total vegan transformation seven days a week, all move people toward a more sustainable path.

I hope you will take a look at Big Vegan, and consider trying plant-based foods made from the recipes.

Watch here for upcoming virtual potlucks and book giveaways, where I and several other bloggers will be preparing, photographing and writing about recipes from Big Vegan.