12-14-2009 10:14 AM
Tal Ronnen is the author of The Conscious Cook, a beautiful vegan cookbook that promises to "change the way you eat". Tal was Oprah's chef during her 2008 vegan cleanse, has catered for celebrity clients and consults to restaurants.
I'm most excited about Tal's book because he takes food seriously; a quick flip though the book makes it clear that he wants his dishes to be stunning (though not too fussy), tasty, and meat-free (in that order). I cannot wait to try his dishes, from the foccacia to the beet mosaic salad to the incredibly creamy desserts like vanilla bean panna cotta and tropical tapioca.
12-15-2009 10:35 AM - edited 12-15-2009 10:43 AM
Many of your recipes call for Cashew Cream, which you explain how to make quite clearly in the book. It sounds wonderful -- as an ingredient or just something to have a spoonful of (a la Skippy). Is there a list of five lesser known ingredients (purchaseable or homemade) that you think a vegan cook (or any cook, really) could have in the pantry that will help make their cooking extraordinary? An insider's scoop, if you will?
In other words -- what ingredients can't you live without?
Also, could you tell me about your eating life before you started cooking vegan, what helped you to make the transition, and why you made it? Are you vegan? If so, for how long. If not, why not?
Thank you -- you've created a beautiful and unique cookbook,
12-15-2009 11:22 AM
One thing I love about cooking vegetarian is how specific and regional it can be - Mediterranean is an obvious and delicious style for meat-free cooking, as is Indian. One benefit of sticking to a region is the way it helps you develop a go-to pantry of spices, herbs and basic ingredients. I find that the biggest challenge with cooking vegetables is that the amount I purchase (due to packaging, or just because a bunch of cilantro is one heck of a lot of cilantro for one meal) is too much to be used in one or two meals, so there's a risk of vegetables becoming science projects.
One thing that I've always wanted is to get vegetarian recipes that FINISH with suggestions about what to do in case I have "ingredient leftovers", especially perishable ones. This may seem obvious to the kind of cook that figures out what to fix by looking at what's about to go bad in the fridge, but that's not me! (Although my lovely wife does that very well.)
12-15-2009 12:01 PM
My favorite ingredients are fresh! Ingredients like produce, and I like to choose vegetables based on the seasons. Some of my other favorite ingredients to cook with include coconut oil, raw cashews and good quality vinegars.
Been veg for 19 years vegan for 11!
12-15-2009 07:07 PM
I've got to follow up -- what do you consider a "good quality" vinegar? Name names!
And what "fresh" produce are you cooking with right now?
Since you bring up pickling -- what are the basics? Could you give me an overview for quick pickling (nothing to put on the shelves, but something to do with PKWard's aging vegetables?
12-16-2009 12:10 PM
Getting in really nice Brussels sprouts now …
Some basics for pickling:
Using a 4:1 ratio bring vinegar, sugar and seasonings you like to a boil in a saucepan. Cover for 5 min, then add your cut veggies. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass container and refrigerate
12-21-2009 08:28 PM
Thank you so much for your visit, and your suggestions.
Have a wonderful holiday; we look forward to your next book!