BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Early Bird Special

Rumor has it that the May/June 2012 issue of VegNews has already been spotted in the wild, so I can’t wait a moment longer to share my photographic contributions. This particular volume has been dubbed the “media issue,” addressing the explosion of veganism in the public eye, but for me, as always, it was all about the food.

Beverly Lynn Bennett shares a fool-proof method for Chocolate Chia Pudding so delicious, you’ll renounce all things tapioca with one spoonful. Okay, so there’s room enough for both treats in a vegan’s life, but this healthy snack is a delightful (and healthier) change of pace. For everyone who became addicted to the stuff at Vegan Vida Con, here’s the magic formula to reinvent this wonder seed in a more chocolaty format.

Another simple yet sublime offering, Allison Rivers Samson pulls out another stunning replica of a typically non-vegan classic, this time being Caesar Salad. I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down at the idea of another leafy green salad, but this one packs in the flavor like none other. For such a basic combination of romaine, croutons, and vinaigrette, this Caesar really knocks it out of the park. I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit that I chomped my way through the whole recipe’s worth after this shoot was done.

It seems as though those printing presses never stop rolling over there, which is a good thing! That means it’s almost time to embark yet again on the next set of tempting VegNews recipes, and I can’t wait to share another visual feast when they finally make it on paper, too.


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Coming to a Newsstand Near You

A new pair of months means a new VegNews, and for the March/April issue, it also means a new My Sweet Vegan column! After what felt like an inordinately long break, it’s time to break out the sugar and salt shaker, because I’m bringing the sweet and and the salty together for two easy, palate-pleasing candies.

Potato Chip Chocolate Truffles may steal the show, their intense, dark chocolate centers covered in crunchy shards of crushed potato chips, but Buttery Popcorn Brittle is not far behind in the lineup. Like kettle corn in one thick plank, it’s a new way to enjoy that classic theater snack with less muss and fuss. Both could be whipped up on a whim, and let me tell you, they make for excellent gifts… If you can bear to part with either treat.

In addition, I had the pleasure of shooting more savory delights by the lovely and talented Allison Samson. Bringing Cheesy Twice-Baked Potatoes to the party this time around, these rich spuds are not to be missed. Stuffed with creamy mashed potatoes and smothered in gooey “cheese” sauce, it may be tough to go back to plain baked potatoes after trying these tempting tubers.

Have you gotten your issue yet?  Of course, it’s packed full of other recipes, too, so there are plenty of equally attractive dishes to choose from.  What do you plan on making first?


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A New Year, A New VegNews

One week of silence passes by with such ease in real life, each day barely even registering before the sun begins to recede once again. In blog years, it feels interminable, as if I’ve been a bad blog parent and terribly neglected my poor baby. Fully immersed in book writing, it’s hard to stumble out of my cave and into the blinding daylight, back into the usual routine. In my absence, 2011 has come to pass, and now we can only work to get the most out of this new year. The cycle begins anew. Top 10 lists or “best of” countdowns are not my cup of tea, so let’s dive right in, shall we? After all, you can’t move forward if you keep looking back [-Or else be prepared to walk smack into a wall sooner or later.]

Kicking off 2012 on a high note, the January/February issue of VegNews has got to be one of my favorites yet. I may not have contributed a column, but things came together beautifully from a design standpoint, featuring my photos in the best way possible. Focused on a fresh and clean theme, with sights set on a dietary fresh start for those who many have overindulged over the holidays, it’s exactly my speed. Bright, clean… And of course, undeniably mouthwatering compositions. Each recipe was a winner by all accounts, but here are just a few choice shots.

Banh Mi, by Robin Robertson, is sure to please aficionados of this popular Vietnamese sandwich. Strikingly simple and fresh in flavor, it definitely has the edge on the competition, skillfully blending contrasting elements into a perfect harmony. “Spicy and sweet, soft and crunchy,” but let’s not forget simple in preparation and complex in flavor!

Raw Pad Thai, by Gena Hamshaw. My first time ever working with kelp noodles, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy they were to work with, and enjoyable to eat. A bit more toothsome than the typically wheat-based pasta, they do soften quite nicely after a few minutes of marinating in any acidic sauce. Though I feared it would be a nightmare to style this odd, translucent strands, they impressed me from start to finish.

Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart, by Beverly Lynn Bennett. A sure-fire hit with any audience, this dessert pulls out all the stops without any effort. Versatile to a fault, it’s a snap to dress it up with any accompanying flavor you fancy, too. Peanut butter, mint, or orange; Any pairing is pretty much fool-proof.

Based on the initial evidence, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is gonna be a good year.


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Cover-Worthy

Upon spying the November/December issue of VegNews, I couldn’t help but beam when I saw my photos on the cover! Yes, they are rather miniscule, but they’re still front and center all the same, and such a place of honor should mean a whole lot to any budding photographer.

Above image borrowed from Vegnews.Com

Some of my favorite shots from this issue include…

The surprisingly savory Dill Waffles with Beet Compote, by chef Jesse Miner, whom I finally had the pleasure of meeting a few months back. Let me tell you, this nontraditional breakfast or brunch offering will really cause a stir with early morning guests- I couldn’t stop eating them! Though I typically make big batches of waffles in advance and freeze them for later, these babies barely had a chance to even cool down before they were all devoured.

Gena Hamshaw brings the raw goodies as per usual, this time in the form of crunchy Almond Crackers and a very unique Orange Carrot Dip. The best part about this recipe is that it’s all-inclusive, providing an alternate low-temperature baking method in addition to the standard dehydrator approach. Both easy and elegant, they make for an excellent appetizer before a festive meal, or just a satisfying snack to tide you over on a busy day.

The real show-stopper recipe for this round was the Lasagna by Allison Samson, hands down. Layers of rich, homemade vegan ricotta and Parmesan, smothered with lovingly slow-simmered tomato sauce and all assembled in a towering noodle construction, it was a sight to behold. Though lasagna is one of my photo styling nemeses due to its often messy, unruly nature, this was a dream to capture, slicing beautifully, and showing off each layer with pride. This is the sort of recipe that would make anyone thrilled to eat lasagna instead of a grand roast on Christmas, even.

And that’s not the end of it, but before I go ahead and post the photos for the entire magazine, you’ll just have to check out a copy to see the rest. Don’t miss the holiday candy feature in particular! Though the photos came out looking fairly simple, it was quite a journey to get there. A highly worthwhile effort, I’d say!


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The Biggest Food Issue Ever!

VegNews‘ annual food issue is always packed to the brim with the stuff I love most- recipes, restaurant reviews, new products, and more- and the September/October 2011 issue does not disappoint. For this particular two-month stretch, I had the tasty task of photographing quite a few of the featured foods as well. Seeing my work in print a few days early at Vida Vegan, via the generous free magazines being doled out to entice new subscribers, I was especially delighted at how well these particular images were reproduced in paper and ink. On the menu for these two months are…

Kati rolls by Terry Hope Romero, otherwise titled Chile Potato Wraps for a more straight-forward approach when the relatives give you strange looks at the diner table. Consider essentially bundling up spicy and fragrant mashed potatoes in soft, freshly handmade flat bread, and it’s easy to imagine that this as an Indian version of comfort food. It may take a bit more effort than a pile of plain old buttery spuds, but the flavors and varied textures are completely incomparable.

Gobi Manchurian by Robin Robertson, a dish new to me this time around, proved to be the sleeper hit of the batch. Crispy-fried cauliflower dressed up in a mouth-tingling hot tomato sauce with Asian inspirations? Yes please, and leave room for seconds! Traditionally chopped up into florets, this version is served up as whole cauliflower “slabs” to make it into more of a meal or side dish, rather than a mere bar snack.

Classic but always welcome when done right, French Onion Soup by Allison Rivers Samson is incredibly rich for having such humble beginnings. The key, of course, is slow simmered caramelized onions to make up the savory base- Time is your most important ingredient on this heart-warming soup.

Time for dessert! What could be better than Gluten-Free Trail Mix Cookies by Beverly Lynn Bennett? Taking a more controlled approach to the “kitchen sink” concept, each bite brings new fruits and nuts into the mix, making every cookie unique and delicious. Although this particular photo was mislabeled, I assure you, I was the photographer (and baker!) of this short stack.

Finally, one of the simpler but more fun photo shoots of the bunch, I got to set a whole bunch of marshmallows on fire with a torch! Dandies marshmallows to be specific, all stacked up in toasty, gooey s’mores. If you haven’t gotten your s’more on over a summer campfire yet, VegNews is here to remind you that it’s never to late for some mallow-and-chocolate action come colder months.


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Shameless Self-Promotion

Temporarily overshadowed by the frozen delight that was my ice cream feature in the most recent issue of VegNews magazine, I completely failed to mention the other delicious recipes I contributed photos for. How such stellar recipes could slip my mind, I can’t begin to explain!

Do you have tons of excess summer produce rolling around on your counter? Try pickling them! These approachable formulas from Jesse Miner are quick and easy, with novel flavor combinations to boot. Can you say “Spicy Indian Cauliflower Pickles”? Golden-hued, warmly spiced, and invigoratingly tangy, they were easily my favorite of the three.

Fans of Gena Hamshaw likely not only know about her Raw Energy Bars, but have already made and devoured them. For everyone else, consider this your extra push: With only two ingredients, you really can’t get a more wholesome sweet snack.

Speaking of VegNews, their annual Veggie Awards have just opened as of yesterday. Nominated in three categories, I would like to think that there’s a decent chance of at least one of them pulling through, but I’m up against some seriously stiff competition. The best names in Veganism are all there, so I’m seriously going to need all the help I can get! Cast your vote today, and I’d be forever grateful if you could check the ballots for me under the following options:

Favorite Cookbook Author
Favorite Blog (BitterSweet)
Favorite VegNews Column (My Sweet Vegan)

Now I won’t stoop to such desperate measures as bribery… But do keep your eyes peeled for some fun and delicious giveaways soon to come to the blog!


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We All Scream…

…For National Ice Cream Month! Did you know that since 1984, thanks to Ronald Reagan, July has been officially designated as National Ice Cream Month? Clearly there’s no better time than the present to share my latest VegNews magazine article, found in the fresh July/August issue, which just so happens to be a feature on vegan ice cream recipes that go way beyond just chocolate and vanilla. Craving a decadent frozen dessert to keep the summer heat at bay? Imagine Hot Chocolate Ice Cream, with a rich dark chocolate base littered throughout with bouncy vegan marshmallows, or Raspberry-Mint Truffle Ice Cream, a refreshing combination of fresh berries and herbs, with whole semi-sweet chocolate truffles to amp up the indulgence-factor. Don’t forget what might actually be the easiest ice cream ever churned up, the Purple Cow Ice Cream.

Inspired by the traditional soda shop float made with grape soda and vanilla ice cream, I like to play a bit of role reversal and switch it up by creating a grape ice cream, with only two ingredients (three if you count salt.) Serve in a tall glass with thoroughly chilled cream soda for the full complement of tastes and textures.

Purple Cow Ice Cream

1 3/4 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk
3/4 Cup (1/2 of a 12-Ounce Can) Frozen 100% Concord Grape Juice Concentrate, Thawed
Pinch Salt

This is the best ice cream for beginners, as it literally could not be any easier to prepare. Just whisk everything together thoroughly in a medium-sized bowl until homogeneous, and chill for at least 30 minutes. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and transfer to an air-tight container before stashing in the freezer. Let rest in the freezer for at least 3 hours before serving, until solid enough to scoop.

Catch the rest of the recipes mentioned above in VegNews magazine, and don’t forget, this is just another sweet sample spoonful of what’s to come in my forthcoming ice cream cookbook!

Printable Recipe