Last year was the year of canning and preserving, this year, it's vegan cookbooks. And not just celebrity vegetable-centric dinners like we've had recently, but everyday slow-cooker and sandwich fodder — even a book dedicated to vegan “cheese.”

Our favorite? The gorgeous Pure Vegan book by Altadena DIY mastermind Joseph Shuldiner — get the recipe for his “ceviche de vegan” here (photo above). Yes, it might be a good time to put those essential vegan cooking tools on the holiday Amazon wish list. Get more after the jump.

Vegan cheese; Credit: Book Publishing Co

Vegan cheese; Credit: Book Publishing Co

5. Artisan Vegan Cheese:

Artisan Vegan Cheese isn't entirely focused on making vegan cheeses, as the second half of the book is dedicated to recipes using vegan cheeses, such as calzones, cauliflower gratins and mock cheesecakes — yes, there are an abundance of “c” recipes here. The book also has a touch of that just-off-the-home-printer feel (it's actually from a community-owned vegan-centric publisher), but no matter. If you're a vegan pining for the old fromage days, those recipes for mock brie, Boursin and cheddar are what you really came for.

Among the cheese recipes, many are made from soaked and ground cashews amplified with herbs and flavorings like miso and yeast flakes. There are chapters on aged faux cheeses, air-dried cheeses (mock Emmentaler and Parmesan), meltable cheeses like Muenster and mozzarella, and “almost-instant” garlic-basil ricotta and farmers cheese made from soy milk. And if you're vegan and have always wondered what to do with your grandmother's old fondue pot, author Miyoko Schinner includes a recipe for “Gruyère” fondue.

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day; Credit: Fair Winds Press

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day; Credit: Fair Winds Press

4. Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!:

The new office sandwich menu: Beet and avocado, PB and banana with tempeh bacon, a Reuben made with spiced seitan and tofu-pickle spread. In Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!, there are also plenty of berry-stuffed French toast “sandwiches” and pistachio-cranberry canapés to start the day.

Vegan cookbook author Tamasin Noyes and converted vegan baker Celine Steen are behind those curried lentil sloppy Joes, beet-barley burgers and curried chickpea and chutney pitas. Their clever takes on bánh mì (with seitan, tamari and pickled veggies) might just convince a carnivore to try that vegan muffuletta.

Fine, that's probably not going to happen anywhere within several hundred miles of Bourbon Street. But this cookbook takes its vegan sandwich topic seriously, offering up variations that actually sound worth the kitchen time — even despite the occasionally cheesy “out for the count of Monte Cristo” recipe titles. Toss in desserts like sesame cookie ice cream sandwiches with coconut milk-raspberry ice cream, homemade fruit rollups and mango-ginger whoopie pies, and yes, we'd be delighted to come over for that vegan tasting party.

Vegan Food Gifts; Credit: Fair Winds Press

Vegan Food Gifts; Credit: Fair Winds Press

3. Vegan Food Gifts:

Last year you made raspberry jam and homemade pickles for all of your friends, so how about vegan taco seasoning mix and chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls this year? Enter Vegan Food Gifts.

Author Joni Marie Newman serves up vegan baking mixes, preserves and baked goods photographed by Celine Steen (also co-author of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!). Among the 100 recipes: vegan chocolate bark, banana-nut bread, and baking mixes like a strawberry-orange cake and a chocolate chip cookie version (just add nondairy milk and veggie oil).

There are also cutout gift tags in the book to dress up your homemade “vegan liqueurs” (pretty much any homemade fruit liqueur sans cream) and the occasional Etsy inspiration such as how to make hand-stitched placemats. Actually, now that the California Homemade Food Act has passed, consider the book brainstorming fuel. We all could benefit from your orange-basil marmalade and vegan salted caramel sauce inspiration.

Fresh From fhe Vegan Slow Cooker; Credit: Harvard Common Press

Fresh From fhe Vegan Slow Cooker; Credit: Harvard Common Press

2. Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker:

Maybe we've just seen one too many pot roasts on the cover of vintage slow-cooker books over the years, but the idea of a vegan slow-cooker book caught us by surprise. It turned out to be a good surprise, as in Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker, longtime cookbook author Robin Robertson brings us 200 plant-based recipes inspired by global cuisine. Dishes like wild mushroom-barley soup, “jerk tempeh” with sweet potatoes and onions, Italian-style tomatoes and zucchini, seitan pot-au-feau, hoisin and miso-braised tofu. Now this is a slow-cooker book we can get into at 7 a.m. on a Monday morning.

There's even a “Condiments From the Crock” chapter (think Granny Smith apple-green tomato chutney, homemade ketchup, pear confit), a dessert chapter (spiced pumpkin cake, apricot-tapioca pudding, chocolate truffle cake, granola-stuffed apples), and another on crock-pot beverages made with rum punch, Mexican hot chocolate and a vanilla-spiced Chai tea for your weekday slow-cooker inspiration (the drinks tend to be cooked briefly, only for an hour or two).

Among the most intriguing recipes: an “upcountry pâté,” a vegan country-style pâté made from ground nuts, potatoes, lentils, whole-grain flour, nutritional yeast and a myriad of spices. You place the mixture in a loaf pan, add a rack or crumpled piece of aluminum foil to the bottom of your slow cooker along with water, and steam it for four hours. Not exactly your grandmother's crock-pot chicken.

Pure Vegan; Credit: Chronicle Books

Pure Vegan; Credit: Chronicle Books

1. Pure Vegan:

Institute of Domestic Technology founder Joseph Shuldiner isn't merely a cottage-food industry herald, he also happens to be a fantastic graphic designer (Shuldiner designed the EAT: Los Angeles guidebooks, among others).

No surprise that his new book, Pure Vegan, to borrow from the subtitle, is beautiful — and filled with enticing recipes. Those “70 Recipes for Beautiful Meals and Clean Living” include French toast with cardamom pear compote, a celery root and fennel chowder and his all-veggie take on eggplant Parmesan with cashew cream sauce. There are also plenty of late-night refueling options, like Shiso martinis and pistachio olive oil cake, depending on your energy fix preference.

Tip: Take your copy to the new Wednesday afternoon Altadena Farmers' Market, which Shuldiner was instrumental in organizing, and you'll likely be able to swing a pop-up book autograph. And if you miss him, consider it an excuse to stock up on ingredients for that great “ceviche de vegan.”

Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Find more from Jenn Garbee @eathistory + eathistory.com.

LA Weekly