Reign Souspreme

Flawlessly functional, endlessly versatile, the contemporary pressure cooker has come a long way from the formidable stove top contraptions of yore. What was once a fearsome unitasker, just as likely to detonate as provide dinner, is now the must-have appliance in any moderately serviceable kitchen. The category is exploding with models- Metaphorically, of course, because safety seals have evolved and improved over the years as well. Performance varies, and what’s particularly important for those with limited countertop real estate to spare, some are far more capable and adaptable than others.

No mere pressure cooker, the Fissler Souspreme Multi Pot has 18 one-touch cooking programs. You’ve got all your staples, from stews, beans, rice, and beyond, but also the ability to slow cook, make cakes, and steam vegetables, too. What really sets this compact dynamo apart from the competition, however, are the settings for fermentation and sous vide.

Who could possibly resist the temptation to whip up a batch of kimchi at home, from scratch, in three hours? Fully fermented with a satisfying funk, I sped through the concept by hastily dumping a bag of shredded cabbage into the pot, along with fiery gochugaru, roughly torn scallions, and salt. No chopping, no brining, no mess. Seal the lid and walk away; the Souspreme Multi Pot can take it from here. If you can stand to wait longer, your patience will be rewarded with a punchier cabbage pickle, but in a pinch, this can save you from bland bi bim bap, no problem.

Yogurt is another basic essential I had wanted to try for ages, but never had the ideal conditions. It takes only milk, of any sort or origin, and a starter culture to bring in the good bacteria. Keeping it all warm- Not hot, not cold- For 12 hours is the real challenge. Not so in the Souspreme Multi Pot. Once again, just set it and forget it. Walk away, go about your daily life, and come back in for a real tart, tangy, dairy-free delight. I let mine run overnight, so woke up to the most heavenly little pots of maple-sweetened matcha yogurt, made with pistachio milk. Where else are you going to find that kind of combination?

What about that headlining sous vide function, you may ask? Well, now that’s a fun twist that really highlights the precision of this fine machine. The temperature can be set to the every degree from 113 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit. With such exacting control, there’s no need for an immersion circulator. Just vacuum seal your food, pop it in, and dial up the timer for anything between 1 and 24 hours. Though typically reserved for prime cuts of meat or boiled eggs with runny yolks, the same concept is completely applicable for the hardy vegetables that could otherwise be at risk of under-cooking, like whole heads of cauliflower or cabbage.

The new wave of plant-based meats, however, adds an interesting new chapter to this story. I had to find out if the “bleeding” burgers could be cooked in this way, finished with the reverse searing technique. That is, cook the patty to a safe temperature, slowly and carefully, and then set it on a blisteringly hot griddle to immediately sear the exterior, leaving the inside utterly rare, pink, yet ready to eat. Finally, I was able to experience that ideal juicy burger patty that only turns up in culinary mythology. Thick, beefy patties, finished with two planes of golden brown crust sealing in an undeniably prime center. THAT is the experience that can win over any carnivore, any day.

Getting back to basics, the true test came down to a classic little French dish known as cassoulet. Traditionally stewed and baked for hours, if not a full day, some say there are no viable shortcuts for this hearty, comforting dish. Well, I say, they’re wrong! Starting from dry beans in cold water, it takes zero labor and only 30 minutes of cooking time under pressure using the Souspreme Multi Pot.

Crisp cubes of bread are toasted separately and added at the table to stay perfectly crunchy, as opposed to the typical morass of mushy breadcrumbs baked right in. Meaty shiitake mushrooms, also added directly to the Souspreme Multi Pot without any need to soak, stand in for less savory entrails and offal in this modern, meatless revival. Tender yet toothsome flageolet beans, plump and creamy, are the real stars of this show. Although you could substitute white navy beans in a pinch, I’d implore you to seek out the genuine article first. Their texture is unrivaled, and the way they drink in the umami broth, rich with wine and heady aromatics, cannot be beat.

Sounds like a dream-come-true for time-pressed cooks and voracious foodies alike, right? Well, wake up, because this delicious vision is about to become real. You can win your very own Souspreme Multi Pot to get this meal on the table, and still have ample time to play with all 17 other functions afterward, too. Read on to enter and snag the recipe! Trust me; you’ll want to save this one for easy reference.

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One and Done

One bowl. Six ingredients. No oil. No gluten.

Ready? Set? Bake!

It’s a lot to ask of one little loaf, but this pumpkin bread can truly do it all. Pared down to the bare essentials, it’s the ace up my sleeve for last-minute fall festivities or sudden sweet cravings. Everything comes straight out of the pantry and into the oven faster than you can say “good gourd!

Versatile, flexible, and endlessly adaptable, this basic foundation is just the beginning. Dress it up with nuts or seeds, get spicy with chai or apple pie blends, or go whole grain with buckwheat flour instead. Add cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and marshmallows, oh my!

This isn’t exclusively a bit of autumnal magic, either. Swap 3 – 4 large, ripe, mashed bananas for the pumpkin puree and you’ve suddenly got a crowd-pleasing perennial banana bread sensation to serve.

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Cupcake Wrecks

There should really be an emergency brake for life. Even a “check engine” light would be nice, for a bit of advanced warning when trouble is imminent. At bare minimum, airbags should come standard, right?

The signs become obvious only in hindsight, when we pick through the rubble to find where it all went wrong. Rather than one origin, one point of failure, an endless array of tiny fissures mar the surface of an otherwise solid foundation. Not cause for alarm by themselves, nothing that could ever bring down a building alone, but together, in concert, they set the stage for a crippling domino effect.

Overworked, under-slept, massively stressed, straining under oppressive deadlines, I still found myself incapable of simply saying “no.” Sound familiar? Each new opportunity sounded better than the last, and how could I possibly turn down good work? Passionate about what I do, I was living the dream, inundated by more jobs than I could handle! Everything was fantastic! Everyday was packed to the max, from the moment my sweet pup jumped on my head at 5am until I collapsed back into bed at midnight. The to-do list was endless, but I loved all of the work. If not for those harsh time constraints, it would have been perfect.

Perfection is a fallacy at best, a dangerous delusion at worst.

Suddenly, but of course, unsurprisingly, the careful cloth I was weaving began to unravel as the stitches became more hurried, sloppy, and periodically missed the mark.

Preparing for the San Francisco World VegFest a mere week after being added to the roster of speakers, I hurried to bake a hundred mini Self-Frosting Peanut Butter Cupcakes to accompany my demo, sharing some basic baking tips out of Sweet Vegan Treats. Sweet and simply, this was easy stuff; a recipe I’d been making with great success for over a decade, to great acclaim. For whatever reason though, everything was going wrong. Perhaps I had been distracted by the photo shoots scheduled for later in the day, or client emails that begged for attention. Pulling the first pan out of the oven, I was shocked to discover that I had forgotten the frosting swirl- The single most important part of the whole assembly! What’s more, my beautiful little cupcakes had transformed into bizarre biscuits, shaped like mittens, of all things. What on earth? I could only ask myself in dismay and disappointment. Where is your head, girl?!

They were ruined, beyond repair. Hastily, I slapped on shoes, taking off at a dead sprint out to Berkeley Bowl, hunting fresh ingredients to begin anew. This could still be salvaged. There was still just enough time…

Violently shaken down to my knees, the pavement suddenly rose to meet me with unforgiving impact. I instinctively gripped my battered knees, but it did nothing to the lessen the tremors. The very bottom has dropped out beneath my feet, as the ground shook angrily below. It was another earthquake, but not just another; it was the big one that everyone had warned about. The catastrophic event that California had been overdue to experience, that we should have expected from the start.

I looked up towards the hills, assessing the damage, when something even more devastating caught my eye. The volcano sitting high on the horizon, long dormant, now spewed glowing cascades of molten lava, thick and syrupy, down across the land. Smothering homes with abandon, the fires began to spread from bone-dry brush along the way, and smoke as thick as grey cotton filled the air. It was coming my way.

Scrambling on top of the nearest car to delay the inevitable, I watched as magma washed away carefully planted succulents lining the streets just ahead, swallowing each helpless plant whole as if they were the salad course before the main meal. I distinctly recall my final thoughts, as the tires began to melt from the sheer intensity of the heat: Well, at least I don’t have to do the cupcake demo tomorrow…

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Give It a Spin

If spiralizing makes your head spin, you’ll want to sit down for this one. Barb Musick turns this trendy kitchen gadget upside down, inventing new ways to use those shapely blades from dawn to dusk in The Vegan Spiralizer Cookbook! Yes, this is the very same Barb of the storied That Was Vegan blog, and recently released The Complete Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook.

The Vegan Spiralizer Cookbook goes way beyond basic zucchini noodles to tempt with a full rainbow of plant-based ribbons, spirals, shoestrings, and more. Every think about giving ho-hum potato salad a whole new twist, spun and shredded, with a bold wasabi dressing, no less? The recipes are as creative as they are crave-worthy, proving that this trendy kitchen tool has truly earned its keep.

Don’t forget about dessert. Barb’s Pumpkin-Spiced Apple Parfaits are seasonal treats that highlight the versatility of those simple blades, transforming average apples into something worthy of the holiday table.

No spiralizer? No problem―This complete spiralizer cookbook gives the rundown on how to purchase, maintain, and safely use both hand crank and hourglass spiralizers. Charts and tips―Find handy references for what to spiralize, how to spiralize it, and how to cook it―plus lists of other kitchen tools to keep on hand.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Dust off that spiralizer in your cabinet and give it a place of honor on the counter, because I have a feeling it’s going to get a whole lot of attention from here on out. Get started with the tempting sweet recipe that follows, and then come back to enter the GIVEAWAY below to win your very own copy of The Vegan Spiralizer Cookbook!

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A Dying Art

After the garish plastic skeletons of Halloween are cleared away, something far more haunting, yet entirely joyous remains in their wake. Sugar skulls, glittering sweet crystals dried into the shape of a human head, shine in the dark of night to honor the dearly departed on Día de los Muertos.

When the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31st, deceased loved ones can return and spend the day with their families, drawn to the calavera made in their likeness. Decorated with colored icing, the most basic are technically ghoulish sugar cubes, super-sized for a couple gallons of coffee, but not exactly something you’d want to consume. Most artists incorporate inedible media like feathers, glitter, sequins, foil, and fabric, treating them more like sculpture than food, since there’s no such thing as too colorful nor too flamboyant to match the most vivacious personalities.

Traditionally, the “glue” that binds these sweet offerings together is either egg white or meringue powder, but for a simple veganization, this is another job for aquafaba. Just because you don’t eat it, doesn’t mean you can’t make it cruelty-free, too.

Contrary to the name itself, Día de Muertos is a truly celebration of life. Why not make it a sweet occasion with these sugary monuments, recalling the spirits of those no longer with us?

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A Date with Destiny

This blog post is sponsored by California Dates but as always, the opinions and experiences expressed in this post are my own.

Prepare yourself for one hot date. No need to put on fancy shoes or spend an hour fixing your makeup though, because this eligible bachelor appreciates natural beauty, wholesome sweetness, and intelligence more than anything else. Rich, worldly, yet down to earth, its impossible to resist his charm. Ready to swipe right on this man of mystery? Well, I’m actually talking about dates. Whole, fresh dates, a universally beloved fruit with a whole lot of heart.

Though the majority of those found in stores fall into the “soft” category (versus the “semi-dry” and “dry” varieties), not all dates are created equal. Huge disparities in quality exist even within the same cultivar, depending on climate, water, soil, and topography, otherwise known as terroir. Yes, just like wine, California is uniquely suited to grow the very finest Medjool dates, moist, succulent, and honeyed through and through.

California dates add a natural sweetness with a lower glycemic Index than sugar. In fact, California dates are a healthy sugar substitute and can be used cup for cup in cooking and baking. Beyond imparting great taste, dates also add fiber, nutrients and antioxidants and other polyphenols to the diet.

Paying homage to the bountiful state that these fruits call home, I wanted to highlight some of the best that California has to offer, all in one nutritious morsel of sunshine. Beaming with the brilliant color of turmeric, the three official state nuts, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, team up in a chunky, crunchy granola blend. Sweetened entirely with dates, the thick and hearty clusters are equally alluring at breakfast and snack time. Spiced with warming ginger, sensuous cinnamon, and exotic cardamom, each bite takes you on trip straight to the west coast- Or as I like to say, the best coast.

Stay sweet, stay golden, and don’t forget to indulge in a blind date every now and then.

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