Seven day challenge to “Get Crunk” with Bianca Phillips starts today! »
Let’s get crunk this week, you guys. Seriously! Starting today, Cookin’ Crunk author Bianca Phillips is teaming up with both Vegan Mainstream and Book Publishing Company to launch a seven day “Keep On Crunkin” challenge, as a social media campaign for her cookbook! Each day Bianca will share tips and recipes on her blog, Vegan Crunk. The posts will then offer a social media option that you can take to Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, with a chance to win some awesome prizes, including cookbooks and Cookin’ Crunk aprons! According to Vegan Mainstream, if you’re on twitter, use the hashtag #KeepOnCrunkin to join the conversation at anytime. Being a huge fan of pretty much anything Bianca does, I’m pretty excited to check out what this week-long challenge is all about!
Remember the challenge starts today (Feb 19th) and ends on the 26th —you can find more information about this lively campaign right here! Now let’s go get crunk!
Cookin’ Crunk!: Veganizing the Dirty South »
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime in 2012 I found myself in the biggest creative slump. Even the once exciting outlet of cooking for myself had become a drag, and I knew I needed some inspiration, but from where? Fortunately for me, inspiration came in the mail, in the form of Bianca Phillips’ recently published cookbook, Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South!
You’ve probably stumbled across (or follow!) Bianca’s blog, Vegan Crunk (a Vegansaurus favorite!), which has been around since 2007. I found it a couple years ago while traveling through the South, looking for a vegan place to eat in Memphis. Bianca had me covered with her Memphis vegan dining guide, and so I got to eat tofu scramble at Brother Juniper’s (which I would love to tell you was delicious, but unfortunately I was so very sick, and therefore had to douse it in hot sauce to clear my sinuses. It looked scrumptious!). Anyway, I was super delighted to find that she had published a cookbook and even more stoked to be generously given a copy for review!
I own many cookbooks that I just love, and Cookin’ Crunk has definitely made its way to the top. The recipes are straight-forward and quite manageable, while the task of gathering the accessible ingredients can be accomplished at one grocery store. Of this Bianca says (via email), “I was raised in a small town in Arkansas, and it’s Whole Foods-less. So I was thinking about those people in small towns. … Of course, there are some things, like nooch and black salt … but I figure most vegans can find those things, even if they order online.”
Another feature of this book I’m taken with is that the recipes are so flavorful, sometimes with only a few ingredients: She knows how to spice food up! Last but not least, the narratives and anecdotes presenting each recipe are warm, funny and make me feel like Bianca’s in my kitchen, guiding me through these culinary adventures, dishing out the history of these meals. Cookin’ Crunk was one of my favorite vegan finds of last year, and I honestly cannot wait to make everything in it. I definitely recommend you add this cookbook to your collection. But don’t just go and hit up Amazon; if you buy it through Vegan Crunk, you can purchase a signed copy!
All right, onto the food!
The very first dish I made was the Jalapeño-Lime Watermelon Salad. Now, I was taken aback by mixing jalapeño, lime, and basil with my watermelon, and thought for sure I’d hate it. Turns out, I don’t know if I can eat watermelon all by it’s lonesome in the future, EVER AGAIN.
The second thing I made was the Mess O’Greens with Turnips. I’m embarrassed to admit that this combination of food is too bitter for my California palate, so now I substitute kale and sweet potatoes for collards and turnips!
Here we have the Deviled Tofu Bites, which were reminiscent of the food at my own family get-togethers growing up.
Entree-style is the Country-Fried Tempeh Steak with Soy Milk Gravy (and a side of the Mess O’Greens), which is one of the best things I have ever tasted. It was better than any comparable restaurant version I’ve had, for real. Full disclosure: I used the bake option instead of frying it. Looking at this picture reminds me that I need to make this baby again real soon!
Of course there’s a dessert section! Pictured above is the Old-Fashioned Coconut Pie and it’s KILLER. I’ve made it about five times, I love it so much. I make desserts for a living, which means I’ve both baked and eaten A LOT of vegan treats; let me tell you, this pie is beyond words. I could probably eat the whole thing in one sitting, which is coming to you from someone who usually wants nothing to do with sweet and decadent desserts in her off-time.
What are you waiting for? Go get yourself a signed copy of Cookin’ Crunk!
Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week seven: VEGAN Fried Lemon Pie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream! »
The first six episodes of Top Chef: Just Desserts have had clearly established winning dishes; not so episode seven. For the Restaurant/Sweet Shop War, the judges awarded an entire team of three the win, without clarifying which of the seven total desserts the team made was their favorite. This left your Vegansaurus in a quandary too: despite guest chef Bianca’s skills, asking her to make seven desserts in four days was ridiculous. So we made an executive decision, for the good of our readers and, really, humanity: we asked her to make Morgan Wilson’s fried lemon pies. Bianca, being totally awesome, not only created these beautiful little pies and the accompanying ice cream, but used one of the first recipes ever posted on Vegansaurus in her work. Extreme talent and flattery? Wherever it’s legal to marry ladies and pies, that’s where we’re going, with the pies and their maker, to live fattily ever after.
Fried pie with lemon curd and salted caramel ice cream
Yields 12 pies and about 3 cups ice cream
Salted Caramel Ice Cream (adapted from The Vegan Scoop)
1 cup soymilk, divided into ¼ cup and ¾ cup
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. soy margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups plain soy creamer
⅛ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whisk together ¼ cup of the soymilk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
Place the soy margarine, brown sugar, and one Tbsp. of the soymilk in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the margarine is melted and the brown sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining soymilk, soy creamer, and the salt. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.
Once the mixture is boiling, stir in the soymilk/cornstarch mixture. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. A film may form on the top, but just stir that in. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Freeze in an ice cream maker according to instructions.
Vegan Lemon Curd (recipe by Melisser Elliot)
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (from about 10 small lemons)
½ cup water
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
⅛ tsp.sea salt
Zest of 2 lemons, grated with a microplane grater
⅓ cup plain soy creamer
2 Tbsp. soy margarine
Combine the lemon juice, water, sugar, cornstarch, and sea salt in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and stir in the lemon zest. Heat on medium, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a full boil (about 10 to 15 minutes). Allow to boil for one minute undisturbed. The mixture will be thick and start to turn a little clear. Remove from heat.
Stir in the soy creamer and soy margarine. Whisk until margarine is melted and everything is fully combined. Allow the lemon curd to cool to room temperature in the saucepan. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp.sea salt
1 tsp.baking powder
⅓ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. bourbon (I used Wild Turkey)
2 cups canola oil, for frying
2 Tbsp. sugar, for sprinkling over the cooked pies
Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
Cut in the shortening. Pour the water and bourbon into the dry mixture. Stir to combine. Lightly knead the dough to form a thick dough ball. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Separate the dough into 12 equal-sized balls. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out one dough ball into a 5-inch circle.
Place one tablespoon of lemon curd in the center of the circle. Lightly spread it around, leaving plenty of room around the edges.
Fold half of the circle over and press edges to seal. Crimp the edges with a fork and transfer the pie to a plate. Repeat with the other 11 dough balls.
Cover the plate with plastic wrap and place the uncooked pies in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill.
To cook, heat 2 cups of canola oil in a large sauté pan with sides. Heat for about 10 minutes, or until the oil reaches 375 degrees—you can test the temperature with a metal candy thermometer.
When the oil is hot, place as many pies into the pan as will fit without touching each other. Fry for about 5 or 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Remove the pies from the hot oil using a metal slotted spoon. Allow to drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Sprinkle pies with sugar while they’re hot. Repeat with the rest of the pies. Serve with salted caramel ice cream.
Chef’s notes: The filling sort of stuck to the sides of the inside of the pies, so they look a little hollow, but when I bit into one, lemon filling squirted all over my face so it’s definitely there. I also found that once cooled to room temperature, the pies can be wrapped in waxed paper and kept for a couple of days.
Thanks, Bianca! These pies look AMAZING and you are the best! We are so impressed! Remember to let us know if you try out any of the recipes in our Project Just Desserts series! We would love to see your dishes. Come back Wednesday for the eighth episode preview!
(Chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse, berry compote, and almond milk ice cream by Melisser from last week’s Top Chef : Just Desserts challenge, let’s get it on.)
The seventh episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our seventh guest chef (see the first six here! Chocolate mousse! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Chocolate cake! White chocolate mousse! Panna cotta! Rice Krispy bars coated with chocolate and hazelnut butter! Mini cinnamon almond cakes! DO IT) who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! Well, we’ve got our next fabulous chef and she’s one of our favorites so let’s DO THIS:
Bianca of Vegan Crunk! You already know how much we love Vegan Crunk, and if it’s possible, the love, it is growing. Everything she makes and eats looks like magic, and I’ve wasted many afternoons staring at her creations. But really, “wasted” is such a subjective term. Some might say I’ve actually been enriching my life with deliciousness. Those people would not be my parents, boyfriend, employers, or dog, but what can I say? She taught me to made perfect seitan two ways, the fast way for when I’m lazy and the slow way for when I’m poor. And if you find yourself in Memphis, she has a Memphis vegan dining guide for you! So helpful! I just adore this awesome, awesome lady.
We’re thrilled to see what Bianca does with the crazy challenges that Top Chef: Just Desserts throws her way tonight. Don’t worry, we won’t make her compete in some ridiculous sweets relay race like The Fonz is doing here with the cheftestants. And by ridiculous, I mean OMG I TOTALLY WANT TO DO THAT.
[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com!]
I just want to take a moment to talk about how much I love Vegan Crunk. It’s the super freshest flyest blog around and I want to MARRY IT. Everything that’s on that site makes me want to lick my screen (this photo is from a post dedicated to vegan ramen OMG YES) and anyway, I just love, love, love it. More Vegan Crunk! Less Omnivore Funk! <- May I suggest that for the new Vegan Crunk motto? Free of charge, people! Come to me for all your slogan needs, I’m outta control!