Since the inception of vegan cooking company Spork Foods in 2008, and long before that, sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg have been advocates of the meatless lifestyle. For their first cookbook, Spork-Fed: Super Fun and Flavorful Vegan Recipes from the Sisters of Spork Foods (St. Lynn's Press $19.95), to be released October 25th, they've included more than 75 of their "secret recipes."
Choosing from a comparatively limited pantry, one would think an array of creative dishes might be hard to come by at a certain point. "Actually, it was difficult for us to narrow it down," the sisters said. Initially, the book contained roughly 200 recipes, but at 206 pages with 75 recipes, the authors didn't want it to be overwhelming.
In honor of sisterhood, Emily and Zooey Deschanel wrote a foreword for the cookbook, to be released on the one-year anniversary of sporkonline.com. "Emily regularly attends our classes," the sisters said, adding that although Zooey is not vegan she supports the lifestyle.
Engel trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Culinary Arts in New York City, while Goldberg embraced veganism living in San Francisco more than a decade ago and working in the environmental non-profit world. The sisters, who teach and operate out of a West Hollywood kitchen, also do in-home consultations and are for-hire at places such as UCLA, where they will train 30 executive chefs at the request of a booming vegan and vegetarian student population.
The cookbook emphasizes more than just recipes, but food history and nutrition facts, which is why in each section there's a Sporkie Scoop. "People are curious. They know this is a place where they can come and won't be judged," Goldberg said of Spork Foods cooking classes.
Strawberry Cream Cheese-Stuffed French Toast
From: Spork-Fed, by Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg.
Note from the authors: "What do you do when you are in France and your bread has been around for a day or two? You make French toast, known in France as pain perdu, meaning lost bread, because dipping tough bread into coating and frying it on both sides brings this baby to life!"
¾ cup spelt flour
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon non-aluminum baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground all-spice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 cups unsweetened almond milk or soymilk
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons neutral tasting high heat oil, plus additional coating for the pan
Strawberry Cream Cheese:
1 container vegan cream cheese
4-5 strawberries finely chopped
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash fresh lemon juice
8-10 strawberries, sliced
1 large spelt boule or French bread
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt and allspice.
2. Add in maple syrup, vanilla and almond extracts, almond or soymilk, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons oil. Whisk until smooth. Do not over mix.
3. In a separate large bowl, combine cream cheese and strawberries. Add brown rice syrup, cinnamon, sea salt, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk with a fork to combine.
4. Place sliced strawberries in a bowl.
5. Slice boule or loaf into large 2-inch thick slices, and cut into each slice horizontally to form a pocket -- but don't cut all the way through bread.
6. Pre-heat griddle or pan to medium-high heat. Grease with additional oil.
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7. Stuff each slice of bread with strawberry cream cheese and a few slices of strawberries. Coat each bread slice in batter, and then place on griddle or hot pan.
8. Cook until bottom becomes slightly golden and edges look dry, about 2-3 minutes.
9. Let French toast cool before cutting. Slice in half with a diagonal cut for best presentation.
Celia Soudry can be found on Twitter @Glutton_In_LA