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Chloe's Kitchen is one of my all-time favorite vegan cookbooks, and I've only had it since early 2012. Are you wondering who this Chloe is?
If you love to cook and you're a vegan, chances are good you have long settled for watching food cooking channels and thinking constantly about veganizing the dishes they are making. You probably thought more than once about how they could really use a vegan (or at least vegetarian) chef to show people how easy it is to make delicious animal-free recipes.
And if that's the case for you, you can probably remember exactly where you were when you realized one of the contestants on Cupcake Wars was vegan. Maybe you picked up your phone and texted all your vegan friends to turn the channel right away. And you were probably thrilled that Chef Chloe was so sweet and pretty and representing the vegan community so well. And then, when she won (!) you were probably incredibly proud and excited, and imagined viewers everywhere being stunned and googling vegan cupcake recipes.
Since that first Cupcake Wars win, Chef Chloe has been opening the eyes of millions of people to the endless possibilities in vegan cooking. The Food Network has invited even more vegan chefs on its programs, and even featured an all-vegan Cupcake Wars. What is the world coming to? In 2012 she debuted her first vegan cookbook, Chloe's Kitchen and it's a real stunner.
Update: After having Chloe's Kitchen for more than a year, I can officially say that nothing I've made from this cookbook has been anything short of delicious. It's a must buy. When her second cookbook came out in 2013, I instantly knew it had to be mine. Scroll down (or click here) to read my review of Chloe's Vegan Desserts.
Chloe went vegetarian as a young teenager and then went totally vegan at age 17. She has a really great support system of friends and family members, which she credits to keeping a positive attitude about food and your diet changes, "Your friends and family will follow your lead, so it's up to you to set the attitude. I experienced a lot of doubt and negativity when I first made the choice, but because I stayed extremely upbeat and positive about it, I gained a lot of support. I always focus on the positive aspects of eating vegan, bake delicious vegan cupcakes for my friends, and never make anyone feel bad about their own choices. If you don't judge others, chances are they won't judge you!"
A lot of younger people wonder if they could pull off a vegan diet while in college, and they're lucky to have Chloe as a great example of how well it could work. She encourages college students to go ahead and go vegan because, "The great thing about college is that it's universally known as a time for exploration, so you will meet a lot of open-minded people. My friends loved venturing out to find vegan restaurants with me, even though they weren't vegan!"
Chloe suggests keeping the same positive attitude for anyone who's trying a new diet, "If you are considering going vegan, try it once a week or even once in a while. Don't get caught up in a strict "all or nothing" mentality- if you ease into it you are likely to be more successful!"
I'm always curious about how cookbook authors come up with the ideas for their recipes; whether it's from veganizing old recipes or just putting together things in the fridge to come up with winners. It turns out Chloe does both, "I love taking my mom's old family recipes that have been passed down from generations and replacing the animal products. Often times, my vegan version tastes even better! I also love working with what I've got in the kitchen to come up with something unexpected."
My mom was visiting from out of town when Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way arrived, and she was really the first one to look through it. To my surprise, she loved it. Her first move was to open to the middle and scan the pictures and read a few recipes, but before long she had turned to the beginning and read from cover to cover. Pretty impressive, especially since she's an omnivore.
I think one of the big draws is the full color, gorgeous photos of nearly every recipe. We all know we eat with our eyes first, and reading Chloe's Kitchen is like filling up at Thanksgiving dinner.
The other thing my mom said she loved was that all the ingredients are very common, and we all have them in our kitchens. If you're totally new to veganism, there are probably a few adjustment ingredients that you might not be familiar with, like nutritional yeast and tempeh, but seasoned vegans have these foods. The rest is all whole, real, clean food, based around vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fruit, and simple adornments and spices.
And so I launched a few weeks of preparing her recipes. I have to say, this is not normal behavior for me. I do always love new vegan cookbooks, but usually I just make a recipe or two and then stack the book with the others. Chloe's Kitchen sat out on my countertop and anytime I had nice vegetables from the farmers' market or freshly cooked beans, I'd look up recipes that involved the food.
We started off with a few tapas style appetizers, her white bean dip and potato skins with avocado salad. Both were delicious.
Her white bean dip is garlicy and creamy, and actually went well as a dollop on top of the potato skins.
I had to improvise a bit with the potato skins because it's not tomato season and I can't stand buying tomatoes in the store, so I used salsa on top instead. I can imagine a fresh heirloom tomato mixed in with the avocado salad would be even better.
A few days later I tried her tempeh piccata, which amazed my husband because evidently he used to love the non-vegan version. Chloe's piccata is flavorful, rich, and wonderfully simple.
Chloe's black bean sliders might have been my favorite recipe in the initial trial phase. They have amazing texture and flavor, and I just loved the pineapple salsa for the top. You could use this salsa on any moderately spicy dish, and frankly, it's really good on its own as well.
My husband loves foods that resemble his favorites from non-vegan days, and burgers are on top of that list. While he loves the packaged versions, I think they taste too much like meat and they gross me out. Plus, they're processed and packaged, whereas making your own veggie burgers is so easy, it's healthier, tastier, and cheaper to make your own. Making this a double burger with three pieces of bun made it feel decadent and over-the-top, so my husband loved it.
I love that Chloe's double double drive in burgers give you the option of using tempeh or brown rice, and that their base is lentils. You can see that the patties themselves look just like the old hamburger version, in case you have skeptical omnivores to please.
I highly recommend Chloe's Kitchen for everyone- whether you're considering adding more plant foods into your diet or have a stack of vegan cookbooks too high to count, you will love this cookbook. The pictures are gorgeous, the recipes are simple and delicious, and it has a good, positive energy to it. Enjoy!
In February 2013, Chloe released her second vegan cookbook, this one totally devoted to satisfying our sweet tooth: Chloe's Vegan Desserts: More than 100 Exciting New Recipes for Cookies, Pies, Tarts and Cobblers, Cupcakes, Cakes- and More! I bought a copy for my ever-adoring mom (who wanders around calling her Chloe as if she's an old friend) and she immediately made a layered chocolate bar that she loved.
When my review copy came, I tried two recipes, and both were absolutely phenomenal.
First up were her pecan bars, primarily because I had fresh, local pecans that I wanted to use in a special way, and secondarily because I had people coming over for dinner and wanted to try a new dessert.
These are absolutely, ridiculously, insanely delicious. I could tell right away, as soon as I tasted the caramel sauce that you pour on top of the baked shortbread, and before anything was set and in the refrigerator. They were a big hit with our friends too.
If I had any one even slightly negative thing to say, it would be that if you let them sit outside of the fridge for a few hours, they get a bit drippy. My advice is not to let them sit; eat them!
Next up were the brownies. Now, I'm not much of a brownie connoisseur myself, but during a brief stint with the gluten-free lifestyle, my sister made a batch of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's brownies (from Joy of Vegan Baking) that my family raved about and I felt left out. So, I decided we should test good ole Chloe's version to see which my husband thought were better.
He loved Chloe's so much that he couldn't even talk. To be fair to Colleen, we had her version months ago and he tends to like best whatever is most recent in his memory. Regardless, these were really, really good as well.
Chloe uses both melted chocolate and cocoa powder for a double layer of chocolate. Once cooked, the top is crunchy and the inside still retains a fudgy texture, which I believe most people consider to be the primo brownie style.
If it's not abundantly clear, let me repeat myself... if you like to cook and want fresh, healthful and simple vegan recipes, you should get Chloe's Kitchen. If you love desserts, you should really also have Chloe's Vegan Desserts. Enjoy!