A review of The Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant
The New York restaurant Candle 79 takes vegan food to the arena of high cuisine, celebrating seasonal foods, healthy eating and, most of all, good taste. The Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant (Ten Speed Press) invites home cooks into their famed kitchen, with recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, entrées, sides, sauces, brunch food, desserts and drinks that will likely open readers’ worlds to new ingredients from beans and root vegetables to spices. Many recipes are vegan twists on traditional favorites that have the advantage of being widely tested and approved by repeat restaurant-goers. One inspired appetizer is cashew cheese-stuffed yuca cakes which make use of the potato-like root vegetable yucca and a “cheese” made from soaking cashews and blending them with olive oil, lemon juice and other ingredients. Or there’s the warm delight of Candle 79’s tortilla soup, lent extra zing from roasting tomatoes and bell peppers with pasilla chiles—“very dark, dried chiles that have a deep, almost chocolate-like flavor.” A leafy herb called epazote adds a hint of mint and citrus.
The entrées get seriously inventive, with a vegan version of paella that involves artisan grain-based sausage, mushrooms, peppers, and cauliflower; black-bean chipotle burgers with a side of thick polenta fries; and spaghetti with seitan wheatballs in place of traditional meatballs. Related pictures are gorgeous, and a glossary spells out any unfamiliar ingredients. As Candle 79 co-owner Joy Pierson, executive chef Angel Ramos and pastry chef Jorge Pineda write in the introduction: “The food at Candle 79 expands the horizons of vegan cuisine, proving that the healthiest food can also be the most flavorful and satisfying.”