As a student of Chad Sarno from my Plant-Based Professional Certification Course at Rouxbe.com, naturally I had to get my hands on a copy of a book that he is raving about. This is Nom Yourself: Simple Vegan Cooking by Mary Mattern. And I can see why! This new book is the vegan cooking the way I like it – simple with easy to recognize dishes that are comforting and just plain good.
Mary has a great story. She was a so-called regular person who moved to Baltimore and while trying to figure out what to do with her life, she became a nanny. Together with the mother of the family, she would trek to the farmer’s market each weekend to pick out perfect produce, tomatoes, and anything and everything fresh on offer.
But Mary didn’t know how to cook. Once she got in the kitchen and dedicated herself to figuring it out (and how to light the oven), she became a great cook and an accidental vegan. Mary says, “Just by shopping at the farmer’s markets and giving vegetables and fruits center stage, I found myself naturally cutting out animal products – so I felt much better.”
Mary started posting on Instagram and through the magic of social media, she connected with Jeremy Piven and became his personal chef. Um, right there – this chick is cool. I mean, Ari! Entourage!! And then the stars aligned and this book was born.
The title says it all – Simple Vegan Cooking, not restaurant style vegan cooking (like Crossroads or Cinnamon Snail) with multiple complicated recipes for each dish made with crazy ingredients. It really is simple. From the of Mary’s pantry staples to a long section on oils (did you know avocado oil has the highest smoke point of any oil?), this book is perfect for a new cook or someone looking for for new ideas.
There are recipes for homemade staples like nut milks and salad dressings (Million Island Dressing, get it?!), breakfasts like California Tofu Benedict (love this!), appetizers like guacamole wontons (oh yeah), really easy soups, salads, and sandwiches, and pasta toppings. There are entrées like a portobello chop and southern fried tofu with sides like pickled beet stems or what Mary calls Lucy’s Licorice.
I love this book because I can totally relate – to Mary’s story, to the recipes, and to her cooking style. I also veganized my grandmother’s date and nut bread, I make my own tempeh bacon, and of course I love making my own staples. I have marked a bunch of recipes but today, I made Mary’s Sea-Salted Caramel Sauce with her brilliant secret ingredient: apple juice! It came out smooth and thick and reminds me of caramel apples – a great twist on a dessert topping which I will be serving on this season’s apple crostata àpres apple picking.