Creature Comforts

Undefinable yet immediately recognizable, there’s no sense in wasting many words attempting to define it; it’s a sentiment communicated through taste instead of language. Comfort food is a concept that transcends all cultural and temporal boundaries, no matter what final form it may take. Seasonings change and dishes vary, but the ability to instantly transport an eater to a happier place, at least for the duration of a meal, that remains the same, from the first bite to the last crumb. That’s why it’s never a bad time to delve into Allison Rivers Samson‘s lovingly crafted ebook, Comfortably Yum. A short but sweet compilation of her ten most soul-soothing recipes, Allison manages to cover a wealth of common cravings without wasting a single digital page.

Incredibly, for a category traditionally laden with fats, sugars, and often processed foods, Comfortably Yum avoids those dietary pitfalls by making every recipe gluten-free or adaptable, and only employing the use of coconut sugar as a sweetener.

Call me biased, but I already knew I was in for a treat with this ebook, since I had previously made and photographed Allison’s fresh take on Caesar Salad for VegNews Magazine two years ago. Yes, salad can be comfort food too, and it’s a refreshing to find someone else who agrees! This rendition on the classic leafy blend comes the closest to my childhood memories, skipping all the fussy fare and focusing in on crisp, garlicky croutons and a creamy dressing, boasting a gently oceanic flavor thanks to the addition of briny capers and nori. Who needs anchovy paste when you have such excellent plant-based alternatives?

Vegan Egg Salad is a classic recipe that every cruelty-free cook should have in their arsenal, and this tofu-based interpretation makes a strong case for taking that spot of honor. Naturally, preparation couldn’t be simpler; an effortless dump-and-stir affair brings together a rich blend of vegan mayonnaise, kala namak, and basic seasonings to coat crumbled bean curd and crunchy cubes of celery. The powerfully eggy flavor borne of that combination is unreal, rivaling the aroma of freshly cracked hard boiled eggs. Served on crackers or between bread, I daresay that only the most astute omnivores would even detect a difference.

Finally, for dessert, I couldn’t resist the siren song of the Chocolate Salted-Caramel Pudding Parfaits. Regrettably, perhaps out of impatience or a lack of finesse, mine refused to form the neat, even layers as photographed in the ebook, but none of that mattered when it came time to dig in. Swirls of coconut sugar custard interlaced with cocoa pudding, creating a flavor sensation sure to delight anyone with a sweet tooth. For anyone who fears traditional caramel-making, take heart: The coconut sugar does all the work for you here, bearing a naturally toasted flavor similar to that of burnt white sugar.

Whether you’re staring down a string of snowy days in the forecast or simply want a taste of comfort any day of the week, Comfortably Yum has got your cravings covered. In this winter of particular extremes, Allison has very generously offered to spread the warm, cozy feelings and wants to share a free copy of her ebook with one lucky winner! To enter, leave a comment on this post and tell me about which recipe you’d most like to recreate first. (You can see the full listing if you scroll down here.) Speak up before February 2nd, midnight EST, and I’ll chose a lucky recipient shortly thereafter.

UPDATE: Always ready and willing to help, the random number generator has spoken, and has proclaimed that the winner should be…

The owner of comment #25: greatveganexpectations!

There’s a golden lining to this contest, even if it wasn’t your lucky day. Allison was so delighted by the positive response that she has very kindly extended a $5-off promotion for anyone who purchases her ebook! Don’t wait too long to secure your copy, because this is a limited-time offer. Enter the code “HBCY24” from now until February 10th to make the most of this delicious opportunity.

42 thoughts on “Creature Comforts

  1. That pudding parfait sounds so yummy. I have a small package for black salt in my cupboard,had completely forgotten about it.Used it once in a vegan egg salad and it really does give the salad an eggy flavour:)

  2. definitely not a unique answer by this point, but I can’t help it, I would immediately go for the salted caramel pudding parfaits! :)

  3. I am actually most interested in the meltable American-style cheese slices! My vegetarian husband has been slowly trying to transition to veganism like me, but he just can’t bring himself to give up his grilled cheese sandwiches. Maybe these slices are the key to helping him give up real cheese for good! :)

  4. Comfort food bypasses language and hits us in the primal solar plexus. It’s a language all of its own and it arrives with the first waft of coffee…bacon or freshly baked bread. It is mainlined into those ancient parts of the human brain where words are negated and deep sensory enlightenment begins. I love the look of that Caesar salad. I love the combination of crisp cool greens coupled with a luscious creamy dressing and the crunch of tasty crouton’s thrown in to complete the circle of yum. Here in Australia it is hot. Here in Tasmania it is hot. It looks like being hot for the foreseeable future so salad it is!

  5. I love how you make caesar salad look so beautiful and appetising! i love caesar too! sounds great to replace anchovies with capers and nori. I have to try that out!

    but you got me at chocolate salted caramel parfaits. I love the flavour of coconut sugar.. it sounds great.. i need to check out this ebook!

  6. I can’t decide between the veggie pot pie and the beet burgers! I’d probably have to flip a coin or play some rock-paper-scissors…

  7. You write beautifully, Hannah! The Caesar Salad looks so good, and def. comfort food! And yes, who needs anchovy paste?! I love “eggless” salads, there’s something about it, I grew up eating Japanese potato salad…which is probably why I like creamy salads! I’m just so happy that there are a lot of plant-based alternatives to make a delicious creamy salad! Salted caramel pudding parfaits….sounds amazing! You’ve selected a few awesome dishes from her ebook, great pick!

  8. My teenage daughter would love to have those chocolate cupcakes and I’d love to make them for her. She has given up processed sugar–a big deal for her. Supporting her decision is important to me.

  9. How cute are those egg salad presentations?! Stumbled across your blog today… so glad I did! If there’s a vegan version of egg salad that tastes like egg salad – sign me up!! Can’t wait to read more.

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