The Blooming Platter offers a wide variety of creative recipes, emphasizing farm-fresh seasonal ingredients with sophisticated flair. If you’re ready to step up your vegan cooking game, read on!
The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Recipes appealed right away to my inner gourmet. The recipes are built around mostly whole-food ingredients, in interesting combinations. The author offers some simple recipe ideas, like the tasty four-ingredient tomato-olive-cucumber relish; but the book really shines as a resource for those ‘special occasion’ meals, when you really want to show off your mad vegan cooking skills!
Chapters include cooking basics, starters, salads, soups, sandwiches, main dishes, sides, desserts, and brunch recipes. Author Betsy DiJulio also presents some lovely ideas for complete meals in various seasons, using Blooming Platter recipes.
For example, autumn menu suggestions include:
Dinner Party — Butternut squash bisque with cranberry gremolata; seitan with broccoli and mushrooms in creamy tarragon sauce; and sweet potato layer cake with butterscotch-bourbon cream.
Holiday Celebration — Pumpkin-stuffed shells with sage butter; caramelized fennel and figs; and apple-brandy cake with pecan-praline frosting.
Weeknight Meal — Moroccan eggplant and red bell pepper salad; ‘white cheese’ pizza with kale and sun-dried tomatoes; and cranberry crumble with rosemary-pecan streusel.
Lunch or Brunch — White bean and roasted yellow pepper crostini; Tunisian couscous salad with cumin-pomegranate vinaigrette; and baked apples baklava with cider sauce.
If you know anyone who thinks vegan meals are all about ‘fake meat’ and granola (ha! silly people!) this is a great cookbook with which to straighten out that misunderstanding!
The spicy orange-scented sweet potato dip is excellent and unusual, incorporating fennel, ginger, basil, chipotle, and coriander — I’ll be adding this to my Thanksgiving table this year. The black bean and roasted corn salad is very tasty, featuring a delicious cumin-citrus vinaigrette.
Blooming Platter offers many main dishes suitable for company, like white bean sausages with red apple sauerkraut and sour cream-horseradish sauce; kung pao broccoli and tofu; or pumpkin-stuffed shells with sage butter. You can even show off your gourmet skills with the Blooming Platter’s sandwich recipes — the tasty big kahuna burgers or my big fat Greek burgers hold together well enough to grill, and would be a great addition to any backyard barbecue.
Though incorporating mostly seasonal whole-foods ingredients, many recipes do call for things like pomegranate molasses, vegan sour cream, vegan cream cheese, or vegan fish sauce. I substituted rice vinegar for vegan fish sauce (as recommended by the author), and it worked fine. You also need a food processor for many of the recipes to turn out right — especially the burgers.
The Blooming Platter offers creative and tasty vegan recipes, showcasing fresh seasonal ingredients. But I’d recommend The Blooming Platter primarily to experienced cooks (vegan or otherwise), looking to add to their skills. There aren’t a lot of easy basics, to get new vegan cooks off and running; and sometimes there’s some ambiguity in ingredients or directions, requiring an experienced eye — for example, a recipe may say ‘2 tablespoons dill weed’ without specifying fresh or dry, or suggest cooking dry lentils ‘for 10 minutes or until very soft’. So cooks need the experience and confidence to say, “Lessee here, 2 tablespoons dry dill in this dish is going to be overpowering, so it must mean fresh dill weed; and 10 minutes sounds light to me, I’ll just cook ’em til they’re done and then proceed.”
That said, the recipes are delicious and inventive; it’s a great cookbook for exploring vegan gourmet deliciousness. If you’re ready to move beyond the basics and expand your skills (and ‘special occasion’ repertoire), The Blooming Platter Cookbook might be just what your shelf needs!
For more by this author, check out her blog at TheBloomingPlatter.com.
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by Bruce Guenter.