Title: Vegan Soul Kitchen
Author: Bryant Terry, 2009
221 pages; Soft cover PhotographySome Color
Publisher: Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA 02142
Reviewed by, Chef John Vyhnanek, May, 2009

The review--- Times change and as they do so does food. A quick walk through history and we see that refrigeration is a modern invention. People were still using blocks of ice at the turn of the 20th century. Canning or putting -up was the norm, especially in the country. Believe it or not, there were no TV dinners until the mid 1950's!

Vegan Soul Kitchen changes and reinvents soul food. Just think of the famous slow cooked collard greens, so popular in African-American Cuisine, now being made with chiffonade of blanched collard greens, raisins and orange juice. Is this heresy ? No, says author Bryant Terry, why not update and reinvent the long treasured soul food dishes? He wants his dishes to appear bright, bold and sexy. Looking at the recipes, ALL VEGAN, don't expect any ham hocks, fried chicken or fish here. They look good and are certainly creative.

The Crisp Okra Strips with Lime-Thyme Vinaigrette and fried in extra virgin olive oil isn't what Grandma made! I don't like okra but his was really good! Also top notch was the Succotash Soup with Garlicky Cornbread Croutons. What a neat idea, the Black eye Pea Fritters with Hot pepper Sauce. They were delicious and somewhat reminiscent of Falafel, Arrancini and Conch Fritters all rolled into to one; very nice indeed! Wait, I must try his Coconut-Pecan Pralines and they hit the mark big time. Sticking with the Vegan theme, I did not have a glass of milk with them but it was tough!

This is a fun book that is well written with good recipes to boot. It will make a nice addition to your cookbook collection as long as Grandma doesn't swipe it to try a few recipes for herself!

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Hot Pepper Sauce

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Soundtrack: “I.T.T., Pt. 2” by Fela Kuti from The Best Best of Fela Kuti
Art: “Three Wise Men Greeting Entry into Lagos” by Kehinde Wiley
Books: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney (Howard University Press, 1981) and Graceland by Chris Abani (Picador, 2005)

While bean fritters are thought to have their origin in Nigeria, one can find them throughout West Africa. Inspired by the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters served at the Gambian-Cameroonian restaurant Bennachin in New Orleans, I whipped up this dish.

1 cup dried black-eyed peas, sorted, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
1⁄2 medium onion, diced
1⁄2 cup raw peanuts
1 teaspoon minced thyme
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1⁄2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon cornmeal
5 cups coconut oil

Remove the skins from the beans by adding them to a large bowl, filling the bowl with water, agitating the beans, and fishing out the skins that float to the top with a fine mesh strainer. Rinse beans well.
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the beans, onion, peanuts, thyme, cayenne, vinegar, water, and salt and pulse until completely smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200 F.
Remove the batter from the refrigerator, add the bell pepper and cornmeal, and beat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.
In a medium-size saucepan over high heat, warm the coconut oil until hot but not smoking, about 5 minutes.
Lower the oil to medium high, and in batches of 5, spoon the batter into the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Fry, stirring around, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. If necessary, adjust the temperature to ensure that the fritters do not cook too quickly.
Transfer the fritters to a paper towel–lined plate and allow them to drain. Transfer the drained fritters to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Serve hot with Hot Pepper Sauce (page 171).

Black-Eyed Peas
African in origin, black-eyed peas are one of the most salient staples of African American cooking. They tend to cook quickly, but if they are old, it may take longer to prepare them. While canned black-eyed peas are available, I always make mine from scratch. In Southern lore black-eyed peas are thought to bring good luck when eaten in copious amounts on New Year’s Day. So my family slow-cooks them in a Crock-Pot every December 31.

Hot Pepper Sauce

Yield: 1 cup
Soundtrack: “Hot Lava” by Kudu from Death of the Party
This is my attempt to replicate the oh-so-slammin’ hot sauce at the Senegalese restaurant Joloff, my favorite eatery in New York City. This version is only slightly hot, but if you really want that fire add one more habanero chile.

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne
Coarse sea salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 habanero chile, minced
1⁄4 cup tomato paste
1⁄4 cup tomato sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground
white pepper

In a saucepan over low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, cumin, cayenne, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and saute until the onions start to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and chile and saute for 2 minutes more. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, vinegar, and water. Mix well, and simmer until It'starts to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Transfer all the ingredients to an upright blender, add the white pepper, and puree until smooth. Season with additional salt to taste. Store in a tightly sealed jar in the