One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cookbook Review: The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour at Home + A New Recipe!

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.

Brian created so many recipes that he decided it was time to put them into a book.  The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home is divided into 20 Menus, each with 3 or 4 recipes, and libation suggestions. The dishes in each menu complement each other, using similar spices and overlapping ingredients, making the menus efficient. Designed around specific themes, each menu has a unique twist but can easily be combined with other finger foods to provide everything you need to entertain vegan and non-vegan friends and family alike.  

I fell in love with Brian's first cookbook last year and was so excited when I found out he had another book on the horizon (and a new wife, and a new little vegan baby!) I was even more thrilled to get a chance to cook my way through the book and fall in love with the new collection of recipes from The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour at Home. Being a mom to a toddler I don't get too many happy hours (and by that I mean I get none) but these recipes are perfect for any occasion, including a regular ole family dinner - which is how I used the recipes in our house. My daughter is quite an adventurous eater but when it comes to faux meats she turns up her nose (and why shouldn't she?!) so I was thrilled to see that this book is free of the fake stuff and uses healthy, basic ingredients to make extraordinary dishes. The lentil patties that go into the Little Mac's are her new favorite burger and she asks for them constantly. 

I loved every recipe in the book except two - the yamburger sliders and the tamales  The yamburgers because they were nothing but slices of yams and I expected more from the recipe and the tamales because they really shouldn't be called tamales at all. The taste, textures and ingredients are not even close to a tamale. But that's a personal bone to pick with me because I grew up on authentic tamales and am pretty inflexible about changing them up even the slightest.

This Little Macs recipe is from the book’s The Happiest Meal Happy Hour Menu that also includes a recipe for Baked Sweet Potato “Fries” with Adobo Dipping Sauce.
Little Macs with Very, Very Special Sauce

One 15-ounce can black or green lentils, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 small slices vegan cheddar cheeze
8 tiny sesame seed buns (about 2 inches wide) plus the bottom halves of
8 other tiny buns (to use as the middle bun)
1/2 cup Very, Very Special Sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 small dill pickles, thinly sliced
1/2 cup minced white onion
8 long toothpicks or skewers

To make the burger patties, in a medium bowl, combine the lentils, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, tamari, and Worcestershire. Mash it all together with a fork or your hands until about 70 percent of the lentils are mashed. Add the wheat gluten and continue mashing until there are no dry parts remaining and you have a ball of dough. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough and place it on a large cutting board or other work surface. Repeat until you have 16 lumps of dough. Roll each lump into a ball, then flatten it into a 2-inch patty.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil to medium-high, and add the patties (you may have to fry them in two shifts). Fry on one side for about 5 minutes, or until browned. Then flip, top each patty with a cheddar slice, and fry for another 5 minutes.
In the meantime, get your tiny buns ready. Slather the top and bottom bun halves, and one side of the middle buns, with the Very, Very Special Sauce.
By now your patties should be ready, so it’s time to start assembling. Place one patty on each of the bottom bun halves. Top the patties with half of the lettuce and half of the pickles. Place
the middle bun pieces, sauce side down, on top of that, followed by the remaining patties, lettuce, and pickles, and the onion. Finally, cover with the bun tops and use toothpicks or skewers to hold them together. 

Very, Very Special Sauce

1 cup vegan mayo
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup yellow mustard

In a small bowl, whisk all this stuff together.

Excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home ©2013 by Brian Patton.  Published with permission of New World Library

Brian Patton is author of The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home and The Sexy Vegan Cookbook. He is also executive chef for Vegin’ Out, a vegan food delivery service in Los Angeles. As the quintessential “regular dude” vegan chef, he started posting instructional cooking videos on YouTube as his witty, ukulele playing alter-ego The Sexy Vegan and quickly gained a large following.  Visit him online at

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