*Note: the author received this book for free, in return for a guarantee to review said offering. That said, we say what we want—good and bad, happy and sad.
Are you a good witch, a bad witch or a vegan sandwich?
I consider myself a sandwich artist.
I love sandwiches. When creating them I take on the task like Picasso approaching a blank canvas. My submission for The Sketchbook Project 2012 by Art House Co-op was themed “Sandwich.” I even have an entire pinboard dedicated to sandwiches on Pinterest.
So, when the book Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! came up for review I jumped at the chance to get my hands on it. As soon as I read the intro line (“The best thing to happen to sliced bread”) I knew I had made the right decision.
This full-color cookbook by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes is filled with over 100 vegan recipes. Yes, that’s right—all recipes are dairy, egg and meat-free (this certainly isn’t your grandmother’s cookbook).
My mouth began to water on page 20 with The Incredible Green Sandwich, which is a mixture of ripe avocados, garlic, scallions, jalapeno, fresh cilantro or parsley, lime juice, salt and olive oil on a Green Monster roll with baby spinach leaves and sprouts. Not sure if it’s because I grew up watching The Hulk and Mr. Green Jeans on Captain Kangaroo, but this sandwich makes me smile.
With this recipe and a lot of others there’s a “serving and variation” suggestion box, which is refreshing in that it allows people to play with ingredients and not feel constricted by sticking to the original recipe. For example, it’s suggested for the Beet-N-Barley Burger that you serve it with lettuce and tomato, but the cookbook also gives other ideas, such as salsa with smashed avocado or, for a Southern feel, corn salsa and red onion or, for yet another twist, mango chutney and alfalfa sprouts. They all sound good to me.
The book is broken down into eight chapters, which range from “Sandwiching Made Easy” to “Going Topless” to “The Building Blocks.” There’s even a helpful guide to key ingredients for people who are new to vegan cooking.
The photography is wonderfully delicious. With each turn of the page your taste buds and visual appetite are tempted with creations like The Almighty BLT (tempeh bacon is used, but you shouldn’t miss the pork or the mayo, since there’s a tasty-sounding spread that uses hearts of palm, sun-dried tomatoes and capers), Mango Basil Wraps, French Tofu Salad with Grapes and the Onion Ring Ranchocado (I literally had to restrain myself from licking the page with this one).
As a special treat, desserts are included. One that really caught my eye was Bananas Foster Cake Sandwiches. Since my freezer is starting to look like a monkey’s food pantry, filled with bananas ripe for baking, I decided to give this one a try.
Smart choice on my end. The house quickly filled with the smell of bananas and warm brown sugar. The cake was moist, the caramel sauce was velvety smooth with a touch of rum to spike the palate and my boyfriend (who thinks bacon is a vegetable) didn’t even miss the eggs or butter you’d usually find in non-vegan recipes.
I’ve already pinpointed Something Blackened This Way Comes as my next target. It’s a tomato-cucumber relish to top the No Cluck Spicy Cutlet and is described as “wicked good.”
In case you were wondering, I’m still smiling. Get this cookbook—your stomach will thank you.
(I also highly recommend checking out the authors’ blogs: Celine Steen’s blog is Have Cake Will Travel and Tamasin Noyes’ blog is Vegan Appetite. Also from these talented ladies is American Vegan Kitchen (Noyes) and Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites (Steen). And, they’ll be releasing another book together, Whole Grain Vegan Baking, in the spring of 2013.)
Bananas Foster Cake Sandwiches
Yields 8 Sandwiches
Nonstick cooking spray
1 heaping cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3-4 bananas)
Scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light olive oil
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
To make the cakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat two mini 5 3/4 x 3-inch loaf pans with spray. Combine the bananas, sugar, oil, arrowroot and vanilla in a large bowl. Sift and combine flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Add on top of the wet ingredients, and stir until just combined. Divide between the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Carefully remove the loaves from the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.
2 tablespoons nondairy butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened plain nondairy creamer, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
To make the caramel:
Combine the butter, sugar, salt, rum and 1/4 cup creamer in a medium-size saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon creamer with the cornstarch, stirring to form a paste. Add the paste to the syrup and cook just until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
When ready to assemble, cut both mini loaves into 8 slices. Take a slice and place a small scoop of ice cream on top. Drizzle warm caramel sauce over all. Top with another slice of cake.
Please note: the book does give a recipe for vanilla ice cream, but I took the easy way out and used store-bought this time.
Kristina Nicholas is an aspiring knitter, baker of tasty treats, mixed media artist, dharma bum, magazine addict, Scorpio, organic gardener and coffee drinker who enjoys a wicked sense of humor. She’s known as Aunt Nee to her four nieces and can be found on instagram, Twitter and Etsy. She lives in Ohio with her boyfriend and their dog.
Editor: Jayleigh Lewis