On the surface, Lust for Leaf seems like an odd fit for my cookbook shelf, which has very little room to spare between all the Nigel Slater, MFK, and Deborah Madison. And yet, despite the fact that there are chapters titled Bro-tein and recipes for things like Weed Dip, Junk Food Potato Salad, and something called Nasty Dates, this slim, mostly vegan volume has captured my attention. Read on for why I think this unlikely cookbook just may be a keeper.
• Who wrote it: Alex Brown and Evan George
• Who published it: De Capo Press / Lifelong Books
• Number of recipes: 95
• Recipes for right now: These are summer fun recipes, taking full advantage of seasonal produce. Notable are Radish Remoulade; Elote al Echo Parque; Red Haterade (a non-chemical take on Gatorade); Butter Beer Flapjacks; Grass Crackers (made with fresh chives); Oyster Po' Boy (made with oyster mushrooms); Kaleslaw; Manhattan Pie (made with cherries, rye whiskey and vermouth).
• Other highlights: As mentioned, at first glance this looks like a ditzy party book geared towards your stereotypical college-aged, beer-drinking dudes. But a closer look and a few recipes later, I'm starting to see that there is some really good, creative recipe crafting here. In the aforementioned Nasty Dates, for example, are Medjool dates are stuffed with blue cheese and a bit of curry paste, then skewered and grilled until they're hot and melting. Yum!
The book is dedicated to summer party food. It's divided into tacos (Taco Zone), grilling (Fire Walk With Us), camping (Wild Grub), pizza (Pizza Pool Party), vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes (Bro-tien), vegetarian southern barbecue (BBQ Mosh Pit), potluck fare (Potlatches), and, of course, desserts (Sweets). As mentioned, most of the recipes are vegan, with the occasional vegetarian recipe that includes the addition of cheese or other dairy. A large 'V' lets you know at a glance that the recipe is vegan. And of course, in true party-guy fashion, each recipe comes with its own beer and soundtrack pairing.
Some of you may already be familiar with this cooking duo through their Hot Knives blog and their previous book, Salad Daze. Both authors are former line cooks turned bloggers and caterers, so they bring some practical, professional expertise under all that party hardy bravado. The book ends with a beer list as well as a song playlist, both in alphabetical order, as well as a short index. There are dozens of full color photographs throughout, printed on thick, glossy paper.
• Who would enjoy this book? OK. If a sassy, youthful, life's-a-party outlook annoys you, then this book probably isn't for you. Nor will you be happy if you find the occasional four-letter word to be offensive. But if you have a sense of humor, enjoy innovative recipes, and like to cook vegan or vegetarian, then by all means check this out. This book is perfect for anyone looking for summer fun recipes, be it Grilled Peach Ice Cream, Cool Ranch Biscuits (where yes, the liquid in a classic biscuit recipe is substituted with cool ranch dressing!) or Mushroom Ceviche. So totally awesome.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Lust for Leaf by Alex Brown and Evan George
• Visit the author's website: Hot Knives
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Dana Velden)