By Nancy Smorch
I know I said it earlier, but you have seriously got to pick up one of Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbooks! I finally had a chance to sit down and peruse through two of her cookbooks: Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, and Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, and everything looks amazing! I know I’ve probably said this before about other cookbooks, but for a vegan cookbook, everything does seriously look phenomenal.
But does it taste amazing? I can enthusiastically say “YES!” My family, a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarians, whole-heartedly agrees.
So far I’ve tried the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from her desserts cookbook. I made those this past Saturday morning for the company we had that spent the night. They were a big hit and they held everyone over until I finished making breakfast. I wish I had a picture to share with you, but I wasn’t thinking that morning and they didn’t last long. But everyone, guests and all, loved them.
Then last night for dinner, I made the Pasta in Pink Sauce, or more authentically, Pasta Con La Salsa Rosa, from her Italian cookbook. I got more compliments and thank you's from everyone than I can ever remember getting from cooking. Everyone thanked me over and over for making it, and went on about how great it was!
Now, I did tweak this pasta recipe a bit - I wanted a little more substance so it wasn’t just pasta and sauce. So I sautéed some mushrooms, onions, red pepper and broccoli, and added it into the sauce at the end. I think what made this so good was the “cream” sauce that was added, which of course, is not cream, but a mixture of cashews and water blended in the Vitamix. What would also be great with this particular dish would be to add the vegan meatball sliders.
I think another thing that made it so good was that, since I eat gluten free, I used the Jovial brand of brown rice pasta, which I hadn’t used in quite a while. I actually really like the texture of these noodles better than the corn-based Farmo brand.
I was on a roll with Chloe’s recipes, so for our Monday night "Dancing with the Stars" party, I thought I would try her Italian Apple Cake, or again, more authentically, Torta di Mela. I thought it would make a perfect fall dessert and a perfect ending to a great Italian meal. And, once again, she did not disappoint! Click here for the recipe for Chloe's vegan apple cake.
But you know what I’m really excited about? Her books and recipes have inspired me, and a new spark has been ignited for cooking again. Quite honestly, I felt like I was going through a bit of a slump, and I wasn’t being too creative. My family was being very polite, but there were probably only so many sautéed vegetable dishes they could take!
What I also love about Chloe is that she doesn’t push a vegan way of eating on everyone. She is a vegan and that works for her, but she doesn’t make you feel bad if you aren’t a vegan. She just says to maybe give some of her recipes a try and see what you think and how you feel. Or maybe just try one vegan dish a week and see how you like it. Everyone is different, and her way of presenting is so lovingly non-judgemental. We could all learn from that.
Chloe has also got me thinking about all of the creative ways to make substitutions. I’ve tried a ton of Paleo recipes where they have made substitutions for dairy or sugar or some other ingredient, but the Paleo world, in my opinion, hasn’t quite figured it out yet (the exclusion being, perhaps, Julie Bauer and George Bryant’s "The Paleo Kitchen"). The substitutions Chloe has made for vegan dishes and desserts work amazingly well. So much so, that you don’t even miss the ingredient that is being substituted. I think her victory on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” is a testament to that. If the judges on that show awarded her the winner (the first vegan chef to enter), then I think it’s safe to say, most people would find her creations to be winners as well!
So a big thank you to Chloe Coscarelli for all of her hard work testing and re-testing recipes, adapting her family recipes to fit the vegan lifestyle, and for putting herself out there and sharing all of this wonderful food with the world.
And, if you know anyone who is a vegan or vegetarian, or is just looking to maybe start a Meatless Monday program with their family, her cookbooks would make great gifts - for a hostess gift, holiday gift, thank-you gift, or even a just a "thinking about you" gift.
Maybe even give yourself the gift - especially if you are looking for some different options as we move into the holiday season.
Try some of her recipes and let me know what you think!