Sometime back in the spring I was asked if I would like to review a copy of The Sexy Vegan’s new cookbook, Happy Hour at Home. It got buried in my inbox and I didn’t remember it until the summer. I sent my very tardy response asking if they would still like to send me a copy of the book. They did, and sent it out right away—just before I left to travel during August. And then came Vegan MoFo. And now it is October. How is it already mid October? So let’s get on with the review before it gets even later!
The book contains 20 different menus, usually consisting of 3 components each. However, they are fairly simple to prepare and use many common ingredients, and each menu includes a shopping list too. The menus have hilarious names like “Nothing Rhymes with Citrus” and “Satay-Day Night Fever.”
From the publisher: When author Brian Patton aka The Sexy Vegan began dating his soon-to-be wife, he offered to entertain her with Friday night Happy Hours at her apartment or his. After a long workweek, she was ready to kick back and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine, and it was the perfect way to enjoy summer evenings. After a couple weeks, these evenings weren’t just for two because her friends begged for invitations after hearing rave reviews of Brian’s delicious tapas and appetizers.
My friend Myra, who I’ve mentioned before, is a super foodie. She happened to be here the day I received my cookbook and she devoured the entire book in one sitting! She was so excited about the menus, so we decided to do a joint dinner party, each preparing one of the menus so we could get a feel for the book and compare notes. She prepared the K-Town menu and I prepared Nothing Rhymes with Citrus. Besides both being delicious, I really liked that each menu used a common marinade that was used multiple times. My citrus marinade was used for the tofu first and then reserved. Some of the reserved portion was used for a noodle dish, adding tamari and sesame oil. Another portion was mixed with veganaise for a tofu dipping sauce. Still more of the marinade was used for a salad dressing. And yet, none of the dishes felt repetitive—they were all unique, but worked together perfectly.
Myra made the K-Town menu that included bulgogi mushrooms. I normally don’t like mushrooms, but I gave these a try anyway—they were delicious! I really liked the marinade and will definitely be making it again—maybe this time marinating some tofu too!
And who can forget the cocktails? Each menu has a recommended cocktail! There is a whole section in the back of the book dedicated to delicious beverages. We made the Punchy Pineapple and the Nashitini—perfect complements to our menus. Some menus even include a sweet treat like the Canoli Cups.
Patton’s style is very casual and colloquial—like you are talking to a friend. He has call outs on every page called “WTF” explaining the lesser known ingredients (although none are hard to find, just not as well known). This is not your Mama’s cookbook!
The only thing I would like to see done differently is the photography—I love big color photos in cookbooks—which I know can be pricey—they make it so much easier to envision what the final product should look like. I suppose I’ll just have to go through and make all of the recipes myself so I know what the end result should be!
The publishers of Happy Hour At Home have been generous enough to share the recipe for the Tofu-Citrus Titrus Dippers—part of the Nothing Rhymes with Citrus menu. Want to make the other recipes that we enjoyed? You’ll just have to buy the book! Add this one to your Christmas list this year!
* Please forgive these dark photos! From now on I will need to host all dinner parties during daylight hours, which in Seattle means 3pm!
Tofu-Citrus “Titrus” Dippers, by Brian Patton, aka The Sexy Vegan
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 thumb-size pieces fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Salt and pepper
Two 14-ounce packages extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into bite-size cubes
1/4 cup vegan mayo
Lemon and/or lime slices, for garnish (optional)
To make the Citrus Marinade, in a large bowl, whisk together the marmalade, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, oil, jalapeño peppers, garlic, and ginger. Season with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.
Transfer the marinade to one or two large casseroles or zip-top bags. Add the tofu cubes and submerge them in the marinade. Put the casseroles or bags in the fridge to let the tofu marinate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Remove the tofu from the marinade, allowing the excess marinade to fall back into the bag. Be sure to reserve all the marinade, as you’ll need it for the other recipes in this menu. Spread out the tofu in a single layer on the baking sheet, being careful not to crowd the pieces. There should be space between the cubes so they can brown evenly (if they don’t all fit on one baking sheet, use a second baking sheet). Bake the tofu for 20 minutes, or until sufficiently browned on the top, then toss and bake for 20 more minutes, or until browned.
While the tofu bakes, in a small bowl whisk together 3 tablespoons of the Citrus Marinade and the vegan mayo. Remove the tofu from the oven and let cool. Serve at room temperature with toothpicks, the lemon and/or lime slices (if using), and the marinade-mayo mixture, a.k.a. “titrus dip,” for dipping. If you like, fish out a few jalapeño slices from the marinade and place them artfully on the tofu and dip as a garnish.
Excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home ©2013 by Brian Patton. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com
While I received a copy of Happy Hour at Home free of charge, I was not paid to write this review. All thoughts are my own.
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