In the September+October issue of VegNews—our annual Food Issue—we featured six upcoming cookbook stars and first-time authors, asking them about the tomes (and people) who have inspired their culinary careers the most. And we have two more to add to the list: Bianca Phillips, author of Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South (out in January 2012), and Julie Morris, whose Superfood Cuisine was released in June. Read on to find out about the cookbooks they can’t help but turn to year after year, which ones they’d gift, and those with which they are currently obsessed.
VegNews: What cookbook have you used the most in your life? Why has it stood the test of time, and what recipe do you cook most frequently from it?
Bianca Phillips: La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer. I love all of her books, but the Faux Fare chapter in La Dolce Vegan! taught me how to make homemade seitan. I use Sarah’s boiling technique more than any other method. In fact, the seitan recipes in my upcoming cookbook use the same technique.
Julie Morris: Covered in splotches, sticky pages, and housing a few old shopping lists, my copy of World Food Café shows all the signs of a well-loved cookbook. I’ve built an entire spice collection around this book! Making and eating foods from different cultures is a great education in flavor combinations, and dramatically enhances creativity in the kitchen. I made my dad a variation of the recipe for Sweet Potatoes in a Cayenne, Ginger, and Groundnut Sauce about a decade ago, and he still requests it every Father’s Day.
VN: What established cookbook author do you find most inspiring and why?
BP: I have to go with Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Every one of their books is amazing. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World changed my life. Before receiving that book as a Christmas gift years ago, I wasn’t a huge dessert fan, but I developed a sweet tooth the day I tried the Basic Chocolate Cupcakes. I haven’t looked back since.
JM: Charlie Trotter’s books always blow me away. To say that his recipes are works of art is an understatement. His recipes are so thoughtful and refined; he seems to always make sure every last detail is in place. His food is just magnificent!
VN: If you could have written any cookbook that already exists, which one and why?
BP: Alicia Simpson’s Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food. I rarely cook gourmet meals because I find so much more joy in preparing (and eating) simple soul food. My cookbook is also filled with comfort food eats, and I feel like Alicia and I share similar tastes.
JM: Naked Chocolate by David Wolfe and Shazzie, though my real reasons for wanting to create copious amounts of cacao-themed recipes should be fairly obvious.
VN: What cookbook are you most excited about right now?
BP: Appetite for Reduction. I’ve been cooking from that book at least once every week. My favorite recipes include Baked Falafel, Hoisin-Mustard Tofu, and Sushi-Roll Edamame Salad. It’s nice to know that I can make delicious vegan food that isn’t loaded with calories.
JM: I just got a copy of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi and am so excited to take it for a whirl in the kitchen! I really appreciate Oggolenghi’s masterful yet unpretentious approach to vegetables, and many of the recipes are easy to veganize, when necessary.
VN: What’s your go-to cookbook to give as a gift?
BP: La Dolce Vegan!. I gave this to my best friend when she went veg because I wanted to share my obsession with boiled, homemade seitan. Plus, Sarah is so cute and kitschy.
JM: My new go-to gift book is Going Raw by my friend Judita Wignall. So many people are becoming interested in incorporating more raw foods into their diet, and Going Raw serves as an ideal place to begin. The recipes are easy to follow, earn a gold star in the “super yum” department, and the book itself is stunning.
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