Co-author of the vegan household cookbooks Veganomicon and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with Isa Moskowitz, Terry Hope Romero has gone solo for her latest cookbook, Viva Vegan!, a foray into Latin flavor. I caught up with her via e-mail to dish about the new cookbook.
Robyn Lazara: Tell us about the new cookbook.
Terry Hope Romero: Viva Vegan! is the most personal of cookbooks I’ve done to date. Also my first solo work. All cookbooks are personal in nature and this book feels even more so it’s all about how I would want popular Latin American dishes and flavors “translated” for the vegan home kitchen. I wanted a vegan mofongo (with “chicharron” bits) so here I go with a recipe for the classic Caribbean fried plantain mash with bits of smoky tofu in for good measure that’s Viva Vegan! in a nutshell.
In addition to that I wanted to make sure that a little bit of many of the different Latin American cultures was represented in this book. My roots are Venezuelan raised within the Latin-Caribbean influences of the North Eastern US. Mexican cuisine is wildly popular all over most of America so I had to add things like tacos and enchiladas, and I’m currently fascinated by Peruvian food. I go buckwild for tamales and empanadas, so entire chapters are dedicated just to that. This book is very much a dream menu for me of Latin American food done vegan-style.
RL: What’s your favorite recipe from the book?
THR: For sheer decadence and relative ease (once you have the basic ingredients prepared) I adore the Cubano Vegano sandwich. It’s extremely rich and rather not “vegan” tasting with the only vegetable represented being a few pickle slices.
But for something lighter and more veggie-ful I recommend the Avocado Palm Heart Ceviche. Whips up together in a few minutes, and while it’s outrageous served with hot tostones (fried green plantain chips), it’s also great with jicama slices or tortilla chips. (Recipe below!)
RL: Who has had the most influence on your cooking?
THR: It’s hard to remember when I first started cooking. I was allowed free range in the kitchen, and as I was the pickiest kid in the universe, my parents gave up on trying to feed me and let me cook for myself. I really started messing around with recipes around age 12 or earlier, baking and cooking and plowing though the mountains of ’70s and ’80s cookbooks and magazines my parents collected.
My dad is also an adventurous cook, and we’d spend a lot of time figuring out how to make French bread, sushi, Indian and Vietnamese food and whatever else looked good when exploring ethnic markets. And of course I grew up surrounded by lots of Latin American home cooking too.
RL: What is a staple meal that you make all the time?
THR: Spending years making cookbooks it’s tough to exactly recall what’s staple anymore! Lately I’ve been “off” recipe testing and I’ve made big piles of quinoa salads, roasted kale or broccoli, rice n’ beans, the Veganomicon wonder of the baked chickpea cutlet. And pizza. There seems to be a cast iron pan pizza in my life once a week at least, usually with stuff like capers and pine nuts on top.
RL: Tell us about your most inspiring kitchen discovery.
THR: Ají pastes like Amarillo and panca, so nuanced and good in sauces and dressings! Pan toasting pumpkin seeds until they puff up. Making personal pizzas baked in preheated cast iron pans. If you don’t own a cast iron skillet yet and needed a reason here it is.
RL: Speaking of pizza, what do you think of Daiya, and do you use it in your personal cooking?
THR: I’m still undecided about Daiya and make my weekly pizza without any faux cheeses.
RL: What’s your favorite comfort food?
THR: Warm crusty bread & herbed olive oil. Avocado peanut sushi rolls. Black beans and rice. Peanut butter chocolate coconut ice cream. Now I know what I want for dinner
RL: Where’s your next travel destination?
THR: Don’t know yet! I’ve been too busy these past few months to think about going places, though I’d love too. Considering a West Coast visit to some of my favorite cities like SF, LA, and Portland to name a few. It’s been forever since I’ve traveled abroad but I would love to see more of Latin America
Avocado and Palm Heart Ceviche
Serves 4 as a side or appetizer. Gluten-Free, Soy-Free.
Creamy heart of palm and avocado make a cool
compliment to packaged plantain chips, tortilla chips,
or homemade fried green plantains (tostones).
1 (14-ounce) jar or can of hearts of palm, drained, and rinsed
1 large ripe red tomato (1⁄2 pound), seeded and diced finely
1 small red onion, peeled and diced finely 2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 large ripe avocado
1. Slice each palm heart down the center vertically, then slice
into 1⁄2 inch pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Add the
tomato and onion. Pour the lime juice, white wine
vinegar, olive oil, chopped cilantro, oregano, and salt
on top and mix well. Chill for 30 minutes to blend the
2. Just before serving, peel and remove the seed from the
avocado. Finely dice and thoroughly fold into the
ceviche. Serve immediately.
To get your signed copy of Viva Vegan! and try out some dishes, join Terry at MooShoes tomorrow, Thursday, May 6 at 7 p.m. for her cookbook launch party.