Title: Let Them Eat Vegan!
Author: Dreena Burton
308 pages; Softcover
Publisher: Da Cabo Press~Lifelong Books, Boston $13.99 US
Reviewed by, Chef John Vyhnanek
The review--- There are a lot of good sounding recipes in this cookbook. Let Them Eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton, is her fourth book on this subject: nine chapters of great suggestions for satisfying plant-powered recipes for the whole family.

I guess it’s a life style choice that one makes in eating animal free foods. It might be a return to natural ingredients and organics that has piqued the interest of so many these days. Whatever the reason it is also good for you to eat more wholesome vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds over food that may be animal based.

Oh come on, you’ve already eaten vegan food at some point in time and don’t say you haven’t! What about the three-bean salad you had last night or the granola energy bar you had for breakfast with your cup of tea? See, now that you think of it in this regard, it is all different that what you thought. You don’t have to feel deprived even at the mention of the word. It can even be fun!

Looking over the 200 or so recipes I decided to try two that were pictured in the center section of the book amongst the two dozen shots. Mexican Bean Soup (page 77) topped with Chipotle Avocado Cream (page 58) not only looked good but tasted good too! Although the ingredient list looked daunting, about 20 ingredients, it was relatively easy to make, taking only about 30 minutes. My recipe taster, a friend of mine know for being a finicky eater, loved it! The recipe made close to a gallon, so much that there was plenty for him to take home for a quick dinner and a few lunches.

Tempeh Tickle (page 122) with Spinach-Herb Pistachio Pesto (page 154): I chose the author’s suggestion for grilling the tempeh (soybeans pressed into a solid cake) rather than pan-frying it. It was marinated in a soy based, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and mustard mixture that added a lot of flavor to the rather bland tempeh. As suggested in the recipe, I made the sandwich version with a topping of Spinach-Herb Pistachio Pesto. It was quite lovely looking and had a nice flavor component lent by the pesto. Well this was another winner for my friend, so much so, he ate it all!

Well if the recipes in this Vegan cookbook where enjoyed by my non-vegan friend, then just think how well they will be received by those of you who are eating Vegan and looking for just some good recipes. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I thought the recipes were good too!

Recipes tested---
Mexican Bean Soup
4 to 6 Servings

This soup has bold, vibrant flavors without being heavy, as a chili can be. Be sure to pair with Chipotle Avocado Cream. And avoid substituting cumin powder for cumin seeds-the whole seeds really add a distinctive flavor element.
Mexican Bean Stew

1/2 to 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil or splash of water
1 1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
6 to 7 medium to large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno
(adjust to taste; see note)
2 1/2 to 3 cups water
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14-oz) can pinto or kidney beans, or another can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 vegan vegetable-flavored bouillon cube (I use Harvest Sun brand)
1 teaspoon agave nectar or other natural sweetener
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
Chipotle Avocado Cream, for serving (page 58)


In a large pot over medium heat, combine the oil or water, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin seed, dried oregano, cinnamon, and jalapeno (if using). Cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally; lower the heat if the onion is sticking.

Starting with 2 1/2 cups of the water, add the remaining ingredients, except the lime juice, cilantro, lime wedges, and Chipotle Avocado Cream. Stir, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in the lime juice and add the remaining water to thin, if desired. Serve in individual portions with cilantro and lime wedges and a dollop of Chipotle Avocado Cream.

Kid-Friendly: If making this soup for a family with young children, you may want to omit the jalapeno so the soup does not have spicy heat. It will still be flavorful, just not spicy hot for the little ones. Also, if you don't have a fresh jalapeno on hand, feel free to add a few pinches of crushed red chili flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce, to taste.

Tempeh Tickle
Serves 2 to 3

Tempeh is not always approachable for folks. It looks strange, sounds strange, and can even taste strange. But when prepared with a little TLC (and yet still simply), it can taste phenomenal! This recipe will tickle your taste buds, and get you past the tempeh fear factor-fast!
Temph Sandwich

1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
2 tablespoons white or red wine
1 tablespoon tamari
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

First prepare the tempeh, by simmering in 2 to 3 cups of water for about 20 minutes. Drain the tempeh in a colander and leave it in the colander to cool slightly while preparing the marinade (see note).

In a baking dish, combine remaining the ingredients, stirring or whisking to blend fully.

When the tempeh has cooled enough to handle, remove from the colander and gently pat or press with towels to remove any excess moisture. Slice the tempeh, first cutting the block into quarters, and then slice each quarter in half lengthwise (to make thinner) to make eight slices. Place the slices in the marinade. Cover the dish, and if marinating for more than 1/2 hour, be sure to refrigerate after this time.

I like to barbecue the tempeh, grilling it over medium-high heat on the first side for 4 to 5 minutes, and then the second side for 2 to 3 minutes, until grill marks appear and it is heated and firmed slightly, but not drying out. But you can also bake or panfry the tempeh.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400°F, cover the dish with foil, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil, flip the slices, then cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, until the marinade is absorbed and the tempeh is lightly browned.

To panfry, place on a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Let the tempeh cook without flipping for 5 to 6 minutes. Then check the underside and if golden brown, flip to the other side (if not, cook on the first side for another couple of minutes to gain color). Cook on the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes, or longer if necessary, until golden brown.

If This Apron Could Talk: The trick with this marinade is to get the slices of tempeh soaking while still warm. After boiling it, let it drain in a colander until just warm (don't rinse!), then pat dry and get it into the marinade while warm so it can soak up the flavors.

Serving Suggestions: In addition to serving hot as an entree, this is delicious in sandwiches, still warm or cooled, with a thick spread such as Spinach-Herb Pistachio Pesto, Raw Aioli, or "Almonnaise."