Review: The HappyCow Cookbook

HappyCow Cookbook ReviewWhen I heard that HappyCow was coming out with a cookbook, I was intrigued. For years I’ve been using their website to locate vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants when I’m home and while traveling, and their app is one of the most used and appreciated apps on my phone. For finding vegan restaurants when I’m on the road, it is incredibly useful.

Like the global reach of their website, The HappyCow Cookbook features recipes from vegan restaurants all over the world. The restaurants are from across the U.S., Canada, Australia, Denmark, England, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Spain. In addition, there are interviews that precede the recipe(s) for each restaurant. They highlight the owners of the restaurants, their most popular dishes, lessons they’ve learned, and what inspired them to go vegan and/or open a vegan restaurant.

So often when I travel, I wish I could bring back a souvenir from the trip that encapsulates an experience that I had, and this book offers that. Of the restaurants listed in the book, I have been to 11 of them: Café Blossom (now Blossom on Columbus), Candle Café, Karyn’s On Green, Millennium, Native Foods, Peacefood Café, Portobello, Real Food Daily, Stuff I Eat, SunCafe Organic, and Veggie Grill. (Click on the highlighted links to read my posts on those restaurants.)

In addition to revisiting some favorites, there’s also the opportunity to learn about restaurants I may never visit and sample some of their offerings. Even without cooking from it, the cookbook would make for a fun coffee table book. So far I’ve made 3 things from restaurants I’ve visited in the past.

Bistro steak sandwich - Native Foods - from the HappyCow CookbookI started with the recipe for the Bistro Steak Sandwich from Native Foods. This sandwich is one of my favorites from Native Foods. The sandwich is a multi-layered affair with marinated seitan steak, crispy shallots (like olive rings but in shallot-form), Native bleu cheese, and oven roasted tomatoes.

With this many elements, it was no small process making all of it. Plus, I had to first make a batch of seitan from scratch. (There’s no recipe for the seitan, just the marinade. I used the white seitan recipe from Viva Vegan and added freshly ground pepper to it.)

The end result was very tasty, but required quite a bit of changes because of confusing and possibly flawed directions. My sense was that the recipe needed more testing, especially with a home cook in mind (as opposed to a restaurant’s needs). However, with some changes, I’d make this sandwich again.

In case you’re making it at home, here are my thoughts:

Native Foods seitan steak sandwich - HappyCow CookbookI made a half batch of the crispy shallots, and it was plenty for 4-6 sandwiches. It’s not clearly noted that the salt is divided into two parts of the recipe – one for soaking the shallots and one for salting afterwards.

I think there was a typo with the Native Bleu Cheese, and it should be 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, not 2 Tablespoons. The full amount of vinegar made it inedible, and I had to compensate by adding double the amount of silken tofu. Again, just a half recipe of the bleu cheese would be more than enough for a full amount of sandwiches.

For some reason, the marinade recipe calls for the reader to make double the amount of marinade necessary. Then they are told to save half of the marinade for another time. Outside of a restaurant situation where you’ll definitely make more sandwiches in the near future, it seems counterintuitive to assume a home cook would want to make more than needed, especially when it’s simple enough to make just the amount you need.

Coconut Milk Butternut Squash Soup recipe from Karyn's On Green - HappyCow CookbookNext I made Coconut-Squash Soup with Garbanzo Bean Garnish. I had this soup at Karyn’s On Green a couple of years ago. This simple recipe has just roasted butternut squash and coconut milk for the soup, and then it’s topped with garbanzo beans that have been browned in a pan and tossed with paprika, salt, and sugar.

The recipe didn’t specify the size of the butternut squash needed, and squash can vary quite a bit. It said to bake the squash for an hour and a half, but mine was totally soft and ready at an hour. After tasting the soup, I ended up doubling the amount of squash, because it just tasted like coconut milk. So I’d recommend using large butternut squash for this recipe.

Because there weren’t any spices in the soup or onions or garlic, I found it to be quite bland. If I were to make this recipe again, I would definitely start by sautéing onions and garlic, and I’d add some spices like cumin, coriander, paprika, or curry powder.

Seitan marsala recipe from Cafe Blossom - HappyCow CookbookFinally, last night I made the Seitan Marsala from Café Blossom in NYC. I visited the restaurant last month, and it was one of the highlights of my trip from a food perspective. This is one of their most popular dishes; although, I’ve never tried it at their restaurant. The recipe calls for seitan filets, but there’s no recipe for the actual seitan. So I made a batch of the chicken-style seitan from Vegan Diner, which is one of my favorite seitan recipes, and cut large pieces from it for the filets.

This dish involves a layer of mashed potatoes, a bed of kale, and seitan that has been cooked with fennel, mushrooms, and shallots in a wine sauce. Since this recipe calls for 2 different kinds of wine, Marsala and port, it was definitely one of the pricier dishes to make.

Seitan marsala - HappyCow CookbookThe recipe is supposed to serve 4-6; however, I made a half amount of the recipe, and it was easily enough for four. There was a lot of liquid that was supposed to reduce in the pan, but after doubling the amount of time it was supposed to reduce, all of the ingredients were still swimming in it. So I removed about a cup of liquid from the pan. Then I took a little bit of the liquid, made a slurry with a tablespoon of flour, and put it into the pan to help it thicken.

The building blocks of this dish tasted good – the mashed potatoes, the seitan filets, the kale, fennel, shallots, and mushrooms. However, the flavor of the sauce was overpowering; it was both bitter and sweet all at once. Perhaps if I had purchased a different variety of marsala or port I would have liked it more. Since those flavors were the most prominent, they covered everything in their path and made it impossible to taste the mushrooms and fennel underneath. As it was, I don’t think I’d make this recipe again. It was too expensive and time consuming for the end result.

Seitan Marsala from Cafe Blossom in the HappyCow CookbookFinal thoughts: Because there were so many contributors in this book and because the recipes are from restaurants that need to cook in bulk, I think the recipes could have used some tweaking for a home cook. For example, there’s a recipe for Chia Pudding from Luna’s Living Kitchen, and the recipe makes enough to serve 7, and the first ingredient is 25 dates. It is more helpful for cookbook recipes to make enough for an even amount of people, so that the recipe can easily be divided. I don’t know who is making chia pudding for 7, but it seems more like the kind of thing a person would make for herself/himself for breakfast or maybe for one another person.

There are also instances where specificity could be improved, like in the size of the butternut squash in the soup recipe above, or in the seitan marsala recipe when it called for kale, but never noted to remove the leaves from the rib or chop them. It simply said to sauté three bunches with olive oil and garlic.

Finally, it would be handy if there was an index by ingredient, as opposed to just the name of the dish and by location. When trying to find a dish, it makes it easier than trying to remember the very specific name or restaurant.

Want to see more? Kelly at has made quite a bit from the HappyCow Cookbook and wrote a lengthy and helpful post with pictures on her blog. 

Disclaimer: I received this cookbook from the publisher, BenBella Books.  The thoughts and opinions are totally my own.  This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Twin Peaks, Cherry Pie & Coffee

Twin Peaks - cherry pie and coffee

Today we have a guest post from my husband, David – a fan of Twin Peaks, cherry pie, and coffee…

Hello, dear readers of Cadry’s Kitchen! It’s David, aka “Mr. Cadry” here, bringing you this update from a place where the birds sing a pretty song, and there’s always music in the air. The cherry pie is damn fine, and the coffee is served black as midnight on a moonless night. That’s right – I am writing to you from the mythical town of Twin Peaks, a magical place that we will all get to visit once again in 2016.

If you haven’t heard (or have been wrapped in plastic for the last week), famed cinematic auteur David Lynch announced that he is bringing back his cult favorite TV series, which originally ran from 1990-1991, for a 9 episode run on Showtime in 2016. For those of you who (like me) have been devotees of this strange and wonderful show for the last 25 years, this is the greatest news since that gum you like came back into style!

Cherry Pie & Coffee - Twin Peaks

“How’s Annie?” We’re finally going to find out, in 2016!

So, here’s the thing: I love coffee. Like, really love it. I drink a cup or two in the morning before work, and then another cup or two in the afternoon as a post-lunch pick-me-up. As much as I love the flavor of coffee, I also love the ritual behind it – grinding the beans, starting the water brewing, smelling the aroma as the coffee trickles through the filter into the pot… It’s damn fine, all of it.

But I wasn’t always like this. I am 42 years old, and did not enjoy coffee at all until about 5 years ago. Through a series of circumstances too long and boring to go into, Cadry ended up the recipient of an absurd amount of $5 gift cards to a coffee shop. I started using them since they were free, and thus discovered the joys of the soy misto – coffee with steamed soy milk – and gradually, this set out on my spiritual journey into being a coffee lover.

I bring this up now because earlier this summer, the entirety of Twin Peaks (except, of course, for the new episodes we are soon to get!) was released in a gorgeous new Blu Ray boxed set. Being a video guy by trade, I love to see older series like this get cleaned up and restored so that they look far superior to how they looked when they were first broadcast, and this set has not disappointed on any level. The episodes, which always pushed the envelope for cinematography and visual style, look and sound impossibly good, and it has been a joy to slowly work my way through the series again.

Twin Peaks - cherry pie & coffee

“Damn good coffee! And hot!”

However, as I started working my way through the episodes – I realized that I have never before watched this show as a coffee drinker. The series fetishizes coffee to a ridiculous degree, and there is almost always someone onscreen enjoying a cup, and exclaiming how good it tastes. I have found that I am now entirely incapable of watching Twin Peaks without getting a cup of hot coffee and sipping it along with the characters, even if I am watching late at night. (And, really, this is a show that is best watched late at night!)

Another food that is featured in nearly every episode is pie. A major hangout spot for the denizens of Twin Peaks is the Double R Diner, in which characters discuss murders, conspiracy theories, and malevolent woodland spirits while gobbling down delicious-looking pies of all varieties. The most prominent pie served in Twin Peaks is that old Pacific Northwest favorite, cherry pie. So when the return of the show was officially announced last week, I knew I had to make a cherry pie to celebrate the good news!

Cherry pie and coffee - Twin Peaks

“This must be where pies go when they die.”

I am a pie-maker from way back, and my recipe book of choice is always Vegan Pie in the Sky, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. For this particular pie, I chose to make the “She’s My Cherry Pie” recipe with the “Olive Oil Double Crust” as the base. Both the crust and the pie filling are very simple to make, although I made two changes to the filling: One is that I used sweet cherries rather than tart cherries (which the recipe recommends), as I find the sweet cherries make for a slightly milder, more umami flavor to the pie; and secondly, I added a capful of almond extract to the filling, which gives the pie a bit of an Amaretto taste.

The pie turned out so good that it was gone in two days – necessitating the creation of a second, identical pie earlier this evening! I am just about to brew another pot of coffee and carve up a slice of this second pie, and fire up the Blu Ray player for another visit to my favorite quirky little town. After all, as Special Agent Dale Cooper himself once said, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.”

Log Lady - cherry pie & coffee

There was no food-related reason why I should dress up like the Log Lady, but what the hell…

Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links