A few months ago I had the opportunity to review an upcoming vegan cookbook, CROSSROADS: Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant that is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine by Tal Ronnen. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tal Ronnen, he is one of the co-founders of Kite Hill and is the chef at Crossroads Kitchen in LA. Yes, Kite Hill, as in those delicious dairy free yogurts and cream cheese spreads you have recently seen flying off the shelves at your nearest Whole Foods! When I first discovered how delicious the Kite Hill products were, I couldn’t stop myself from buying Whole Foods out. I literally filled my shopping cart to the brim with all their products. I was utterly impressed with the flavor of each and the minimal ingredients that were used without the taste being sacrificed.
So, when I was approached via email about reviewing the cookbook, I knew this was an offer I couldn’t pass up! After all, Tal Ronnen catered Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi’s wedding and prepared Oprah Winfrey’s 21 day vegan cleanse, so the food just had to be delicious, right? I figured it wasn’t going to be a cookbook filled with the normal everyday bland vegan- plant based fare, such as the typical cauliflower steak, seitan tacos, or boring salad that leaves you wanting more and still hungry.
I was blown away by the simplicity of the dishes. The recipes are easy to follow and accessible for everyone but do take some time commitment. For me, that’s enjoyment, the end result of the hard work you have put in the kitchen. I think he tries to break away from categorizing his food as vegan and just prepares great food-plain and simple- creating food that is in season, locally grown, satisfying and good for you. It is not so much about labeling food, he is just out to create tasty food and it just happens that his style is plant-based.
I had such a difficult time choosing which recipes I wanted to test out first- dessert, breakfast, salads- the options were endless and all to my liking! For example, there were so many different flatbreads to choose from; sweet potato latkes with spiked applesauce, grilled garden vegetable lasagna with puttanesca sauce, pumpkin parfaits, cannoli with kalamata olives (what!?) and a dark chocolate rice pudding with sugared pine nuts and raspberries; the list goes on!
I ended up first tackling the sweet potato latkes with the spiked applesauce and it was delicious! I probably eat way too many sweet potatoes than the average person and will soon start to develop that orange glow, but I had a few on hand and knew this would be the perfect appetizer. Plus, I was curious about the spiked applesauce as well! I thought this was one of the easier recipes to follow along in the cookbook and they came out perfect! Crispy on the edges and soft in the middle. The spiked applesauce paired perfectly with the sweet potatoes as well and I would have never thought of mixing the two together!
The next recipe I tried out was the “Roasted Baby Parsnips with Sherry Maple Glaze and Chanterelles.” (Pictured above) I am always searching for new side dishes to pair with my mains for the week and have recently been on parsnip craze so I wanted to take my usual go-to of simply roasting the root vegetable up a notch with the sherry maple glaze! After roasting the root vegetable in oven they became slightly charred and a little crispy as well as a little salty- I have a weakness for salt! After whisking together the ingredients for the sauce and pouring it over the warm vegetables, I allowed it to sit for a few minutes over the stove- to let it marinate. It was the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and crispy; completely satisfying! I honestly could have eaten the dish alone and forgot the main component of the meal I was pairing the parsnips with; they were that addicting! For the full recipe you can click the title of the recipe above!
As someone who is unable to eat dairy and always having to constantly modify every recipe I follow from a cookbook, it is one less thing I have to think about while following the ingredients here. It is as if this cookbook was made for me! I was really impressed with the cookbook and could stare at the photos hours on end. It isn’t the type of cookbook that you can pull off the shelf and hope to prepare a dish in under 15 minutes, but it is one where you can impress your friends or family and find inspiration for your next meal or dinner party.
Here is my photo of this dish below. I tweaked mine a bit and added a few rainbow carrots that I had on hand and finished off the sides with a few fresh chopped mint leaves.
All in all, I think that this cookbook is worth it- whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, love meat, or just need a little kick in your kitchen creativity. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed with the list of ingredients or the level of difficulty of the recipes because you think you are an inadequate cook; if anything you can find inspiration and put your own spin and creativity on the dishes you create!
If you are interested in purchasing the book you can find it here!
Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!