Call us old-fashioned, but there is something about holding a cookbook in your hand that can’t compete with an online recipe blog. Don’t get us wrong, we love scrolling through gorgeous photos of vegan layer cakes and watching vegan cooking videos on YouTube. However, when it comes down to it, a cookbook is simply more practical in the kitchen. You can brush off an accidental dusting of flour off a cookbook, but it’s not so easy when that flour gets under the keys of your laptop…That’s why we are so excited to finally have a hard copy of Vegan Comfort Classics, the first printed publication by YouTuber and blogger, Lauren Toyota of Hot for Food.
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Toyota is a Canadian-based vegan and lover of food. On YouTube, she’s gathered a loyal following of over 400,000 subscribers who can’t get enough of her tantalizing yet approachable recipes, which she posts every Wednesday. Toyota emits a down-to-earth energy and engages with her viewers while she cooks, elevating her content beyond the thousands of dump-and-stir-style recipe videos. She also includes outtakes; she’s the first to admit that the cooking process is not perfect, and mistakes happen. Her cat may also make an appearance every now and then.
Beyond her relatable personality, followers are drawn to her food. The cookbook, subtitled 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face, is classic Hot for Food. The recipes include a few YouTube favorites in addition to eighty “brand-spankin’ new ideas.” As the title implies, Toyota is all about that vegan comfort food. If you’re looking for a collection of raw, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free recipes, look elsewhere. However, Toyota strikes a balance between over-the-top-indulgent dishes and simple, weeknight-approved affairs.
In the introduction, Toyota writes, “I’m of the belief that as long as it’s free of animal-based ingredients it’s A-OK to eat! My motto is to maintain a balance of foods I should eat with foods I want to eat, and make these two things one in the same whenever possible.” She continues, “You want French fries for dinner? Duh! Who doesn’t? And you should be able to eat them without judgment.”
Toyota also makes a nod to her omnivore readers. “To all the omnivores out there…anything you can eat, I can eat better AND vegan.” She encourages them to expand their horizons by exploring (and cooking) her recipes. With dishes such as Stuffed Crust Pizza, Gooey French Onion Soup, and Waffle-Topped Cottage Pie, this certainly is not a collection of stereotypical ‘vegan food.’ Toyota wants meat-eaters to know that vegans eat far more than just salad.
On to the food. The book is organized into chapters, encompassing everything from Badass Brunches, Finger Foods, The Main Event, Oodles of Noodles, Sweet Things, and more. Each recipe is accompanied by a glossy full-page picture, making the decision of what to make first nearly impossible. “I’m in the business of making food porn,” Toyota explains.
To get you started, we have a few suggestions. The Real Wonton Soup is one of our favorites, and we love that Toyota helped us get over our fear of making wontons. The dish is healthy and comforting, and once you fold two or three, making wontons is actually quite easy. The Banh Mi Bowl was also simple to throw together while delivering on taste and Instagram-worthy colors. For brunch, we suggest the French Toast Coffee Cake. It’s perfect for serving a crowd, and it’s topped with a coffee-infused cream…which we licked by the spoonful. Finally, on the more decadent side, check out the Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo or the Monte Cristo. Neither will disappoint. Oh, did we mention that she also includes recipes for five different kinds of vegan bacon? Those recipes are a must.
Vegan Comfort Classics is available through major book retailers and online.
Image Credit: Hot for Food