I hope the sun is shining in your part of the world! The skies are grey here in metro-NYC and the air and ground is wet. We desperately needed the rain, so I won’t complain, but it does make for a rather blah day. Why not brighten it a bit by reviewing three items and offering you a giveaway?
Review 1: Beanfields Chips
I was so jealous, reading all the posts from bloggers who were attending the 2012 Natural Products Expo West. Shortly after, however, I received an exciting email from Beanfields Snacks – their Nacho Bean & Rice tortilla chips were named “Best in Show” by VegNews. Would I like to try a sample? Of course!
I received a generous package of chips – in return for my honest review – a few weeks later. The box included three flavors of chips in a variety of sizes. These chips are corn-free, gluten-free and non GMO verified. The three key ingredients in the chips are beans, rice and safflower or sunflower oil. Rice and beans? Yes!
on a mission to combine social responsibility and award-winning taste. Their philosophy is simple: great tasting snacks should ask be good for you, good for our families, good for our farmers and good for the planet.
I started with the Sea Salt Bean & Rice Chips, made with black beans, navy beans, long grain rice, safflower or sunflower oil and sea salt.
Very crunchy and great for dipping but, honestly, I didn’t really taste the sea salt and thought the chips were good but not exceptional.
The Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice Chips, however, were packed with flavor.
With the same chip ingredients as the aforementioned, the seasoning includes sea salt, torula yeast, spices, and onion/tomato/garlic/celery/pepper/cilantro powders. These chips are great on their own.
Finally, the vegan version of traditional Doritos – the Nacho Bean & Rice Chips. One word: YES!
Seriously, the nacho chips are fantastic!
I do believe this will be my new indulgent snack of choice. Bravo, Beanfields!
Review 2: The Blooming Platter Cookbook
I was delighted to receive a copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, in return for an honest review.
Author Betsy DiJulio, a vegan blogger, writer and food stylist, has used her years of experience as an award-winning recipe developer, caterer, and private cooking instructor to bring us a cookbook that offers
deeply flavorful dishes that sing with the essences of plant-based ingredients.
DiJulio begins the book with Blooming Basics and encourages the reader to be creative. She recognizes that our individual palates differ and she sees her recipes as a jumping off point. As an intuitive cook, I loved the invitation to use my imagination! Each recipe has an icon which indicates the season (spring, summer, fall, winter). She includes a list of fresh produce by season which is really handy. Since it’s spring as I write this, I’ll share that list:
artichokes, asparagus, avocados, chard, chinese cabbage, cucumbers, leeks, lettuces, mangoes, mushrooms, new potatoes, peas, radishes, rhubarb, shallots, snow peas, spinach, and strawberries.
She also offers some great citrus tips (I really needed those!), such as one large lime is equal to about 1/4 cups of lime juice and you can get about 4 teaspoons of zest. Good to know. She concludes the basics section with menu suggestions for a dinner party, holiday celebration, weeknight meal, and lunch or brunch for each season! DiJulio’s spring weeknight meal menu:
Knock-off-amole (p. 22)
Caramelized Onion and Spinach Quesadillas (p. 96)
Chocolate Carrot Cake (p. 149)
At the beginning of each section she outlines the recipes by season (sp = spring; su = summer; f = fall; w = winter).
- Starters (21) include red lentil-pistachio spread (sp); fried cucumbers with midsummer mayo (su); seitan pâté with sautéed pears (f); indian saag dip (w).
- Salads (19) include thai-inspired salad with a twist (sp); blackberry and corn salad (su); grilled romaine hearts with five-spice and lime-roasted cashews (f); spicy grilled pear and spinach salad (w).
- Soups (14) include spinach-tortilla soup (sp); snap bean stew (su); parsnip-cardamom soup with hazelnuts (f); shite bean and kale stew (w).
- Sandwiches (15) include chinese tempeh lettuce wraps (sp); big easy burgers (su); waldorf-inspired smoky seitan sandwiches (f); indian cauliflower wraps (w).
- Main dishes (21) include spicy baja tacos (sp); angel hair pasta with chard and bell peppers (sp); roasted butternut squash pizza with caramelized onions (f); black-eyed pea and spinach cakes (w).
- Side dishes (23) include blooming coleslaw (sp); panko-topped cheesy zucchini (su); green bean casserole (f); krispy kale (w).
- Desserts (23) include mango-coconut cream sorbet (sp); cherry-almond clafouti cake (su); pumpkin-apple butter cheesecake pie (f); ginger streusel pear pie (w).
- Brunch (19) includes savory bread pudding (sp); herb biscuits with southern-style tomato-basil gravy (su); migas with green tomato-chili sauce (f); grits and greens with mushroom gravy (w).
Quite a diverse offering, wouldn’t you say? Betsy DiJulio’s writing style is familiar and inviting. She introduces a cheesecake recipe by sharing a story about her niece and shares how her mother served her own version of sweet potatoes in another recipe. She is kind and gentle to those of us who feel like we just don’t have enough time to create an elaborate meal – some of my favorite recipes from this book are easily prepared and on the table in twenty minutes.
I made the French Lentil Salad with Champagne-Dijon Vinaigrette (p. 51), a fall recipe in the spring, because well, I eat lentils year round and I always have a stock of apples on hand for juices. So, I guess I followed the author’s suggestion to be creative with the recipes!
This was so simple to make (I used a pressure cooker and my lentils were cooked and cooling within 12 minutes). A light salad, with very few ingredients, it is packed with a flavorful zing!
Betsy DiJulio’s The Blooming Platter is an excellent addition to your cookbook collection!
Review 3: OXO Dressing Shaker (GIVEAWAY!)
I have a few OXO gadgets in my kitchen: mandoline, citrus squeezer, tongs, salad spinner and even a soap dispensing dish scrub. Recently OXO reached out to bloggers, inviting them to review a product. I knew exactly which one I wanted. The Salad Dressing Shaker. Why? Growing up we used that bottle that came with the Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix (come on, you know what I’m talking about!) - good in theory, but once you took that green plastic top off it was messy.
I actually get a little boring when it comes to salad dressing and just squirt fresh citrus juice on my greens and add a splash of Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce. I thought that adding this new, improved dressing shaker to my culinary arsenal might inspire me to sass up my salads a bit.
Here’s what I got in the box.
Hey! There are two Salad Dressing Shakers in that box! That’s right, the OXO folks gave me a shaker to try … and one to give away to a lucky U.S reader – details to follow!
Here’s what’s great about this dressing shaker: The opening is wide, not narrow like the convential shaker, so you can fill it up, scrape in ingredients, all with no mess. It has an airtight seal so you can store your dressings in the refrigerator for several days. I’ve been making all kinds of dressings but decided, in light of the previous book review, I would give it a test. Could I shake a recipe, when the method is actually calling for a whisk, due to a thick ingredient (Dijon mustard).
Yes, I could! I love that everything comes out – I didn’t even have to scrape the sides.
Would you like a Salad Dressing Shaker? If you live in the U.S., enter!
Whew! That concludes Review Day!
Don’t forget! You are cordially invited to attend a very special event, Vegan Cuisine: A Simple Art, on May 19, 2012 in Jim Thorpe, PA. You do not want to miss the extraordinary 10-course plant-based feast that Chef Zach has planned for you!