The winner of Vegan Holiday Kitchen is commenter #87—Cara! Congratulations! Be sure to check your email so we can get your contact information and send the book off to you.
I was thrilled to receive a copy of Nava Atlas’ gorgeous new book VEGAN Holiday Kitchen to review, and even more excited to be able to give another copy away to one lucky reader of the MoFo blog. The photos in this review are courtesy of fellow MoFo organizer Amey, who posted a review on her own blog, Vegan Eats and Treats. I chose an un-photogenic beige soup, and am too embarrassed to show the internet my attempt at braiding challah dough, so Amey graciously agreed to let me use her alluring photos!
The book is stunning—hardcover, full-color, with plenty of photography done by Susan Voisin of FatFree Vegan Kitchen, and boasting more than 200 recipes. This is the kind of book you take straight to the couch with a cup of tea, a warm blanket, some bookmarks (or if you’re a slob like me, your dog-earing fingers), and a pen and paper for grocery lists. One thing I immediately noticed and loved about VHK is that there is no lengthy intro taking up a huge chunk of the book where recipes could be! Instead of spending ninety pages explaining what agave nectar and nutritional yeast are and touting their health benefits, Nava simply includes pertinent ingredient information as sidebars next to the recipe that contains it. The book focuses on major (and mostly Western world/US) holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Easter, Independence Day; and there is section at the end for potluck, brunch, and party appetizer dishes. I had an extremely difficult time deciding what to make first, and eventually settled on the Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup from the Thanksgiving menu, along with the Vegan Challah from the Rosh Hashanah menu.
A wild mushroom devotee, this particular recipe both attracted and worried me due to the intriguing addition of silken tofu and white beans blended into the soup after it has simmered, to add the creaminess. The recipe also called for the mushrooms to be simmered in water separate from the soup’s base rather than being sautéed , which is something I’ve never done in my many years of cooking mushrooms, and I wasn’t sure if it would do justice to the beautiful locally foraged shiitakes and oyster mushrooms I was using for the recipe. Fortunately, I opted to trust Nava’s every direction, and ended up with silky, earthy, and slightly tangy (due to some white wine, which pairs gorgeously with mushrooms) soup. My boyfriend isn’t a fan of mushroom soups and I’d even bought him a frozen Amy’s pizza in case he hated it, but after he got over his initial textural issues, we polished up the eight servings in an obscenely short amount of time.
Having never had non-vegan challah before but being certain I love the vegan version after making it several times, I was drawn to Nava’s recipe, which uses pureed squash as both an egg replacer and to make the breads a subtle shade of orange. Breads are not my specialty, but I had had kind of crappy go of life last week and punching and kneading dough on Sunday afternoon suited me just fine. The dough rose enthusiastically, and there was surprisingly little hands-on time required, just a couple of long rising times during which I caught up on terrible television shows and made the soup. The two loaves came out soft yet dense, with a subtle sweetness and a crispy crust. Will make again, and often.
Other recipes I have dog-eared: Baked Thanksgiving Risotto; Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie; Lemony Spinach and Chickpea Soup; Marinated Mushrooms, Asparagus and Artichokes; New World Wassail; and pretty much everything Amey made, especially the Three Sisters Stew.
To win your very own copy of VEGAN Holiday Kitchen, simply leave a comment telling me what your favorite holiday dish is, to either make or have someone else make it for you. This particular giveaway is open to people with addresses in the US and Canada, and I will pick a winner at random on Thursday, December 1st at 10am PST.
I’ll start! My favorite (finicky) holiday dish is a pull-out-all-the-stops seitan roulade. I haven’t done one yet this year, but am planning it for some time at the end of December when I’m visiting family in freezing cold Alberta, where kneading and simmering seitan is the only way to keep warm.