‘Happy Hour at Home’ Book Review, Preview Recipes & Book Giveaway
When I was approached about reviewing this book, I thought it was definitely relatable for me as Brian Patton’s story behind the book reminds me of my family’a Tapa’s Friday in our home. I love making appetizers for a meal, especially if you are having family movie night. Munching around the television and veg’ing out is divine!
My thoughts on the book …
The Sexy Vegan’s new recipe cookbook has some wonderful recipes for that Friday night kickback with some wonderful humorous delivery. There is lots of recipe choices with a fabulous range in palette choices. For the everyday vegan home cook the ‘Efficiency Tips’ are a nice touch and let you even know when its ok to just buy something already pre-made. As much as I love making everything from scratch, when you are busy you need to have shortcuts available, this cookbook understands that! I know many people love having the grocery lists, this book contains that courtesy!
The recipes themselves are quite straight forward, simple and delicious. Personally, I do love making things outside the staples in the kitchen with unusual ingredients, but those of you that prefer not to buy the more unusual edible items (just a heads up!) there are several recipes that you will have to make the extra trip to the store for. The cookbook is smaller which is nice for the recipe book obsessed that you will have room for it on the shelf. One of my disappointments is that the pictures are in black and white and not very clear, but just a preference of mine to have the color pictures. By the way, I tried a few recipes in the book, including the Spinach Artichoke Dip, that was the biggest hit!
Thank you to Brian for providing us with a sample of the recipes (including one of my favorites ‘Spinach Artichoke Dip’), also did I say Giveaway in the title? YES, I did! The Sexy Vegan is delivering one of his lovely in cookbooks to one of our readers … details below!
FREE RECIPE SAMPLES
When author Brian Patton aka The Sexy Vegan began dating his soon-to-be wife, he offered to entertain her with Friday night Happy Hours at her apartment or his. After a long workweek, she was ready to kick back and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine, and it was the perfect way to enjoy summer evenings. After a couple weeks, these evenings weren’t just for two because her friends begged for invitations after hearing rave reviews of Brian’s delicious tapas and appetizers.
Brian created so many recipes that he decided it was time to put them into a book. The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home is divided into 20 Menus, each with 3 or 4 recipes, and libation suggestions. The dishes in each menu complement each other, using similar spices and overlapping ingredients, making the menus efficient. Designed around specific themes, each menu has a unique twist but can easily be combined with other finger foods to provide everything you need to entertain vegan and non-vegan friends and family alike.
This Spinach-Artichoke recipe is from the book’s Bombers and Bread Bowls Happy Hour Menu that also includes recipes for Braised Broccoli Rabe and Shaved Cantaloupe with Pine Nut-Basil Cream.
3 cups Cashew Ricotta (see recipe below)
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed, water squeezed out, and roughly chopped
One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 French boule (see WTF below)
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
Assorted fancy-ass breads torn into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper
In a medium pot, combine the Cashew Ricotta, spinach, and artichokes, and heat over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until heated through.
Insert a knife into the top of the boule, and cut a wide circular piece as if you were carving the top off of a pumpkin. Remove the “lid” and, with your hands, pull out the bread inside, creating a bread “bowl.” Break the chunks of bread that you just extracted from inside the boule into bite-size pieces.
In a large skillet, heat the margarine over medium-high heat. When the margarine is melted, add all the fancy-ass bread pieces. Toast the bread pieces on one side for
2 to 3 minutes, then flip and toast the other side for 2 to 3 more minutes.
Once the dip is warm, season with salt and pepper to taste, and pour it into the bread bowl. Serve it with the toasted bread pieces for dipping.
You’ll most likely have extra spinach-artichoke dip. If you and your guests don’t eat it all in one sitting, it makes a great filling for pasta shells or lasagna.
2 cups whole raw cashews
One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed,
and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
1 garlic clove
1 heaping tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a medium pot, cover the cashews with water, and boil for 8 minutes to soften them up. (If you’ve got a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec, you don’t need to soften the cashews.) Drain and let cool. In a food processor or blender, process the cashews until they’re finely ground. Add the artichokes, lemon juice, water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, garlic, nutritional yeast, and oil, and puree until mostly smooth but still somewhat grainy. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
You’ll end up with about 3 cups of cashew ricotta. If you don’t use it all right away, store the excess in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
WTF is a French boule? It’s a round loaf of bread. Well, not completely round; it has a flat bottom. It’s more like a dome…yes, a dome of bread that can be made with any type of flour and is perfect for turning into an edible bowl. Most grocery stores carry them.
This Stromboli recipe is from the Holy Stromboli Happy Hour Menu that also includes recipes for Quick Giardiniera and Cannoli Cups.
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups bite-size broccoli florets
Unbleached all-purpose flour for dusting the work surface
1 pound store-bought pizza dough or Basic Pizza Dough
(recipe follows), at room temperature
8 ounces mozzarella-style vegan cheeze, shredded
1/4 cup sliced pitted black or kalamata olives
2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
Preheat your pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven for 1 hour at 400°F. Yeah, you have to — just open your windows and stop whining about the heat.
In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, oregano, basil, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, until the mushrooms are tender, then add the broccoli. Once the broccoli is tender, about 4 more minutes, season the veggies with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the veggies to a bowl and let cool.
On a floured surface, roll the pizza dough into an oval that is approximately 13 to 14 inches long and 9 to 10 inches wide. Transfer the dough to a floured pizza peel — one of those giant spatulas they use to put the pizzas in the oven at pizzerias. You have one, remember? I told you to buy one in my first book; therefore, you did.
Fold the mozzarella and olives into the bowl of veggies — this is your filling. Place the filling in an elongated pile in the middle of the dough, making sure that there are 2 to 3 inches between the edges of the dough and the filling on all sides. Fold in the short sides of the dough so that they cover a couple inches of the filling. Then take one long side of the dough and fold it in half so that the long sides meet, completely covering the filling. Pinch the edges of the dough together.
With a paring knife, make three 1-inch slits in the top of the stromboli to release steam. Brush the top of the stromboli with a generous amount of olive oil. At this point the dough might be sticking to the peel, so gently run your hands under the stromboli to make sure it’s not sticking. Just before transferring the stromboli to the pizza stone, give it a little shimmy shake to make sure it will slide off. Then with one easy motion, thrust the peel forward over the stone, then quickly pull back to let the stromboli slide off.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the top is browned and crisp. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut crosswise into 4 pieces. Serve with the warmed marinara.
Basic Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water
One 7-gram package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat the dough and bowl
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Healthy pinch of salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
In a bowl, combine the water, yeast, 1 tablespoon oil, agave nectar, and salt. Gently mix it all together and let it sit for 5 minutes, until it starts to froth. This ensures the yeast is active and has not expired. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix it up (I do it by hand, but you could use a stand mixer with a dough hook). Continue to slowly add the rest of the flour until you have a slightly sticky ball. Then knead the dough by hand or in your stand mixer. You can add a little flour if the dough starts to stick to your hands. You’ll need to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic; this will take about 10 minutes by hand (or 5 minutes on medium speed if you’re using a stand mixer). After kneading, form it into a ball.
Coat a large bowl with olive oil. (The dough is going to double in size in that bowl, so make sure the bowl is big enough.) Also coat the dough in olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl, cover it with a damp kitchen towel, and stash it someplace warm for 90 minutes for its first rise. I find that turning my oven on to 200°F for 2 minutes,
then turning it off, creates the perfect environment for rising dough. After the first rise, give the dough a couple of light, open-handed slaps to make it collapse so that it’s flattened out. Then let it rise for 40 more minutes.
Now your dough is ready to use and is the equivalent of 1 pound of store-bought dough.
Excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home ©2013 by Brian Patton. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com
Brian Patton is author of The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home and The Sexy Vegan Cookbook. He is also executive chef for Vegin’ Out, a vegan food delivery service in Los Angeles. As the quintessential “regular dude” vegan chef, he started posting instructional cooking videos on YouTube as his witty, ukulele playing alter-ego The Sexy Vegan and quickly gained a large following. Visit him online at http://www.thesexyvegan.com.