Part II: Terry Hope Romero
Terry Hope Romero is co-author of bestselling books Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Her first solo cookbook of Viva Vegan! came out in spring 2010. She contributes to VegNews‘s “Hot Urban Eats” column and has hosted the public access/podcast vegan cooking show the Post Punk Kitchen. Terry lives, cooks and eats in NYC.
Listen to the June 23, 2010 interview on IT’S ALL ABOUT FOOD with Terry Hope Romero.
Caryn: Hello I’m Caryn Hartglass and you are listening to It’s All About Food. Here we are the week of Thanksgiving, November 20, 2012 and I talk about what I love most and that’s delicious plant food. Okay, my next guest is Terry Hope Romero and she’s got another super duper wonderful yummy cookbook out called Vegan Eats World. She is the co-author of the best-selling books Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Her first solo cookbook of Viva Vegan! came out in spring 2010. She contributes to VegNews‘s “Hot Urban Eats” column and has hosted the public access/podcast vegan cooking show the Post Punk Kitchen. She lives, cooks and eats in NYC. Welcome to It’s All About Food.
Terry: Hi Caryn. How are you?
Caryn: Good. I didn’t mention the Vegan Mash Up here , how is that going?
Terry: Oh, it’s going alright, we have season one done, and that is available on DVD and it’s also making it’s way to a couple of public stations all around. I know it’s going to be in San Francisco very soon if it hasn’t already shown.
Caryn: That’s exciting. For people that don’t know about it, we talked about a while ago but that’s with you and Miyoko Schinner and
Terry: Toni Fiore
Caryn: There we go, that’s right.
Terry: And also many guests, we have a lot of people come on the show as well.
Caryn: Excellent. And you make wonderful, delicious food.
Terry: That’s right.
Caryn: That’s good. Okay so you have this new gorgeous cookbook, out, congratulations.
Terry: Thank you.
Caryn: Are you relaxing now?
Terry: Not yet, you know the book even though it’s out, it feels like the work starts all over again, telling people about the book and everything.
Caryn: Right, there’s a lot of work that goes into this you can just, without even opening it up just feel it. It’s heavy.
Terry: Oh yes. It really is.
Caryn: I love the colors too, turquoise and that sort of like a creamy tomato.
Terry: That’s a pomegranate actually.
Caryn: Oh okay, no on the cover, yeah, but the binder.
Terry: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, I guess – you are hungry right?
Caryn: Yeah, I’m hungry.
Terry: Hungry like a nice creamy tomato sauce color, yeah.
Caryn: Like with a little cashew cream in it or something.
Terry: Yeah, absolutely.
Caryn: Okay, first let’s talk about this book. How did you do the work to discover recipes from all around the world and then make them your own.
Terry: Oh man. Well it’s kind of a task of a lifetime. I’ve always been into all kinds of the ethnic cuisines and I love playing with, you know, veganizing things and taking in different cultures and seeing what I can do with them. What can I apply them to things you are probably already familiar with if you do a lot of vegetarian or vegan cooking such as tofu and tempeh. One thing I talk about in the book is secretly a cookbook about Queens – my vegan fantasy or Queens, New York City. Queens is one of the most ethnically diverse places in North America. It’s so easy to travel everywhere like in a day on the subway to go find Indian food, Greek food and Lebanese food and Korean food and Chinese food, these variations all over the place. And all these great markets to find food at that, you know all my traveling that I did for my previous book all over the borough, to find Latin American ingredients, I saw all these other great places that I wanted to shop at. I said, well, this is what I need to do, I need to take this a step further and it’s Queens vegan.
Caryn: I’m another Queens vegan. I echo everything you just said. I I love sometimes when hve guests, taking them around Queens, which is never what they expected to do because everyone wants to head over to Manhattan. Manhattan’s great for lots of things, but it’s like you said, you can really travel the world, right here in Queens and hear nearly every language imaginable and I walk into some crazy ethnic stores and find things you’ve never seen before.
Caryn: There are more vegan cookbooks coming out now than ever before. This is a great thing. What I want, my wish of course is, obviously, there are cookbooks that are coming out all the time, that’s like the number one seller of books, right? People are nuts about food and cookbooks and so it follows that they would be more vegan cookbooks. Ultimately though I would love to see that all cookbooks are vegan and and we could stop putting that vegan word on it, but we are not there yet.
Terry: Yeah, we are probably a long way from that. So for now on let’s just think about vegan cookbooks.
Caryn: This is to me, okay maybe it’s just a Queens cookbook, but I am thinking it’s an American cookbook, because this is what we do in this melting pot. All these people come here and they bring their traditions and then we make great things out of them, even food.
Terry: Really it is. One of the things I can definitely tell you, I tested all over America, and in the U.K. and Australia
Australia and various parts of Europe and in Canada. So it’s kind of in some way, I want to say that it’s an urban cookbook because in all these urban centers you having such a great influx of all these people from all over the world, in many countries all over the world, but I also have had people in less urban areas surprisingly be able to find a big Asian market near them in a shopping plaza, or a little Mexican grocery store at the edge of town, those things are there. It’s part of our changing world.
Caryn: Well that’s what I was going to ask you, could these testers find the ingredients they needed.
Caryn: And I guess that’s because it’s not just the United States, it’s everywhere, this global thing is happening in rwe are all sharing so much.
I highlighted a few recipes that really were mouthwatering to me. I wanted to talk about them. The first one I really can relate to because I’m from New York and that’s the Zen Spinach Wonton Soup. I’ve had it a gazillion times. I was really smiling when I saw that you put that in there.
Terry: Yeah, for any of the listeners that don’t know it’s kind of a rip off of Zen Palate which is a popular vegan restaurant in New York City. They’ve been around a long time. I remember in the 90’s when I started coming to New York city, they might even be older for all I know. It’s one of those hallmark things, classic Chinese big broth soup with big dumplings, with a little bit of seitan, a little bit of spinach.
Caryn: We are having a little trouble hearing, Terry, I don’t know if it is where you are, or what you are on, I just wanted to make a note of that because we want to hear everything you’re saying and right now it’s a little garbled.
I love the big bowl of soups, brothy things with noodles and this has wontons in it. Zen Palate definitely has a history here in New York, it was groundbreaking. It’s kind of been overwhelmed by some other restaurants but you know that happens over time, you know, things change.
The next thing you know, I don’t even know how to say it – Dukka, d-u-k-k-a?
Terry: Yeah, yeah, that’s about right, yeah.
Caryn: This is crazy stuff.
Terry: Yeah, it’s really exciting. For those that are not familiar with that it’s a rip off of Egyptian food. It’s kind of somewhere between a dip and an appetizer. It’s a little different – ground up toasted nuts with lots and lots of spices. Traditionally it’s served with olive oil and bread and sprinkled or dipped into but it can also be as sort of a sprinkled topping on top of mashed vegetables, I’ve been putting it on soups and salads because it’s so addictive, so hardy. It’s something that’s got a lot of substance to it because you get all the nutrition from nuts and all these spices. It’s not just a seasoning. It’s much more substantial than that.
Caryn: It’s made from hazelnuts right?
Terry: Yes, yes, it’s usually made with hazelnuts. You can throw other nuts in there as well.
Caryn: Okay, it’s something like this – we’ve heard it a million times – people, when you talk about being vegan, people say “oh, but I can’t give up cheese”. Cheese is like this salty, fatty thing that makes things taste good to people. I even remember I lived in the south of France for four years and the French guy that I was with kept saying that he loved my cooking but everything I served he would just grate some cheese on top of. It very frustrating. But something like this Dukka which, it has the fat, it has the flavorings, but it’s, I would think, it’s so much more interesting.
Terry: And very fun.
Caryn: Something to play with. The next one that really popped out on me – I love pancakes and crepes and playing with all kinds of flours but coconut crepes?
Terry: Yeah – that’s a traditional Vietnamese food. It’s kind of like a big stuffed pancakeIt’s bright yellow because it has a lot of turmeric, which is really good for you. Turmeric. And traditionally it might have some seafood baked into it but it’s really is delicious with lots of sprouts and onions and this one I put in a handful of spinach just before you fold it over, omelet style. And then you can tear it apart with your hands and dip it in a dipping sauce. They are really great.
Caryn: Yeah. So amazing. I don’t often learn about new things but that was definitely a new one.
And another one, red bean ice cream mocha dumplings. Now everyone loves dumplings but these are made out of things I never heard of before.
Terry: Well, that’s a dessert. I’m calling it a dumpling in kind of a general sense. It’s mochi. If people aren’t familiar with mocha, it’s a chewy, sweet rice dough, that is consumed in all kinds of Asian countries. In this case it is sort of modeled after the Japanese version where they take the dough, sweeten it with a little sugar and it’s rolled out, and then you wrap it around, traditionally things like red bean paste, like a dessert you eat with cheese. And this one is like a riff off of, if you have every seen, they have mocha dumplings filled with ice cream and they are almost never available vegan. And playing at home it was easy to find out, hey, I can do this at home. Red bean is one of my favorite flavors for ice cream that you can never find vegan. It’s almost impossible to find red bean. Now it’s easier that ever to find very good vegan ice creams in the stores. But we are kind of missing out of some really fun Asian flavors and on of them is red bean. Red bean is like the chocolate of Asian ice cream flavors. This one is just a simple fast dough that you can make at home quickly and then you can flavor your favorite vegan ice cream with red bean paste. With al little bit of time on your side, you can make cute little dessert dumplings. Put them in the freezer for a minute and serve. They are really fun, they are really cute, they are great for parties. They are just great.
Caryn: I like it. So Vegan Eats World will tell you how to do that. Basically.
It’s Thanksgiving and I want to talk about Thanksgiving and about tradition. So you celebrate Thanksgiving, yes?
Terry: Yeah, sure.
Caryn: Do you have traditional stuff from your family and culture?
Terry: You know the funny thing is I just did a Thanksgiving post on my blog. One of the things I was thinking about is that you see all these menus for things, posted, but no one I know makes an entire menu. Almost everyone likes to make the traditional mishmash, very Thanksgiving-y foods and maybe they try one or two brand new things. Personally I almost never have my own Thanksgiving. Unfortunately I always have to go to someone else’s house. I am never making a whole meal at my house. It doesn’t happen. I don’t really have many traditions, I don’t tend to do that. But one thing I would make, it comes from the Polish side of my family for Thanksgiving, it comes from the Polish side of my family, are pierogies. I am not doing that this year. But if I was going to make one thing that I grew up eating, are pierogies and pierogies are definitely in Vegan Eats World.
Caryn: Yeah and it’s great Thanksgiving food because it’s that comfort potato-y kind of thing.
Terry: Yeah definiteiy.
Caryn: Well I love Thanksgiving and I used to make big dinners here, complete menus, and I was just mentioning we have an entire food show with a complete menu on ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com’s website. And it has some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Like you, I am going to family, and it’s a big mix of lots of different dietary requirements. There was a funny cartoon in the New Yorker a couple of years ago and I thought, “oh my god, this is so my family”. It was a circle of people and one low salt, one was low fat, one was vegan, one was dairy-free, one had Celiac, one had nut allergies. It’s really kind of an interesting potpourri.
But the thing is about tradition, and I want to relate it to your book because some people are so stuck on tradition – that’s the way my mom, that’s the way my grandmother made it, that’s the way it should be especially when it comes to Turkey on the table. I think we know that the original Thanksgiving was not like the traditional Thanksgivings that we have today. Recipes are dynamic. They change. They get better. Your recipes in this book are a testament to that. You are taking things that people make and then you’re doing your thing with it and that’s always what recipes have been about. They are somewhat traditional and somewhat not.
Terry: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. If someone has to make a traditional Thanksgiving they are going to do it, right? But the kind of funny thing is, I listen to people talk about their Thanksgiving dinners and the ones that they go to, to travel, and you hear a lot of complaining a lot of times, about the traditional dishes that people always made, that they’ve made year after year that are not good. But they are made because they have to be made. I don’t know what to tell you, it may be one of those things where you have to talk to your hostess or host, you know, is working on your presenting the Thanksgiving and say, “hey you know, I want to bring something. I want to bring something different or new, and is that okay with you?” It most of the time is. Surprise, especially, I think in this world, like the cartoon you are talking about, where everyone has a different food requirement, allergy or need or belief, that, it’s becoming more widely accepted that not everyone can eat the same exact spread, and bringing your own food, at least one dish, is okay.
Caryn: Yeah, I think that’s a really good idea. It’s funny because we’ve been going for a few years we’ve all been bring stuff and this year we were told, everything is taken care, we are not supposed to bring anything.
Terry: Oh boy!
Caryn: It’s like, oh my god, I’m scared. For me Thanksgiving has always been that time to indulge and my form of indulging is nowhere near what other people do when they indulge, it’s kind of ridiculous. I eat a very clean diet and Thanksgiving I think of all the comfort foods that I don’t normally eat. Like a really rich mashed potatoes and more than one third dessert, pumpkin pie and apple pie and cornbread that’s rich and gravies. I don’t usually make lots of different foods and make them rich and this is the one time that I want to do that. When I’m eating somewhere where I’m not getting those foods, it’s a little disappointing. It’s all about expectation and you shouldn’t have any. And if you want a certain food you make it when you want to.
Terry: Yeah, I mean, I kind of operate that way around certain holidays.
Caryn: Make your own Thanksgiving.
Terry: Yeah, yeah, that’s one of the things I find with a lot of people it that, especially the vegans, you always hear about the other Thanksgiving they are having. The one that is before or after the actual date. One they are really exciting about.
Caryn: Thanksgiving is really a very focused vegan thing. There have been a lot of events around Turkey-free Thanksgiving, and Thanksliving. I don’t know how it all got started because so many different holidays and meals center around meat why we chose this particular one to be the one that we own. But there is a lot of focus on Thanksgiving.
Terry: Yeah, I think that’s because there is that one central animal that’s in the middle of it all. I think because it is very American. This is that holiday that doesn’t have any particular, no particular religious affiliation. We sort of built up. Kid’s get all those days off. A lot of people get work off. People travel. This is the biggest travel day of the year. I think it makes sense to me, this is the holiday to co-opt.
Caryn: Definitely. Okay so what is next?
Terry: I don’t know.
Caryn: You’ve conquered the world are you going to go out of space now?
Terry: I can have a great vacation. There’s another book in the works. I have to start thinking about it very soon. I have a couple of ideas out there. I think I might start asking my fans, what do you guys want from me next? Whatever it is it is going to be a smaller book. It’s definitely going to be in smaller scope and scale but it’s still fun and hopefully filled with food that’s delicious and help people expand their culinary horizons.
Caryn: Good well as long as it’s fun, that’s what’s important.
Caryn: Importat – fun and savoring, I like this: I like the way you say “International Recipes for Savoring the Planet”. That’s a very nice play on words, because so many of us are always saying, “saving the planet”. I get it! We are savoring while we are saving. Very clever, I almost missed that. I just caught it.
Oh, Terry, thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food and thank you for keeping us, keeping us inspired with some really good, delicious recipes that are clean and cruelty-free and delicious and yummy and why wouldn’t everybody want to eat like this? I don’t know.
Terry: That’s right. Awesome.
Caryn: Yeah, thanks for joining me. And go forth and do more good food work.
Terry: Thanks, Caryn.
Caryn: You are welcome. Okay so we just have a few minutes left. I wanted to get back to talking about my favorite recipes. Because it is Thanksgiving and as I said before it is important to me. Some of the things in this food show that we’ve put together – one of the recipes that I’m really excited about is a savory pumpkin pie.
There are a few key ingredients that a lot of us connect with when it comes to Thanksgiving. It’s the sweet potatoes or the yams, and potatoes and corn, hearty, satisfying foods. I came up with this pumpkin pie, and was so excited about it because the crust is a dough that I made from pumpkin seeds. I didn’t use any oil. I’m always on a mission to make food that is healthy and delicious but also limited in the foods that aren’t so good for us. I try to stay away from oil. I try to stay away from salt. And when I am making a pie crust, it is usually made with a lot of margarine and oil. And then when I figured out I could make it out of seeds, which provide the fat, but it’s a healthy fat and it’s a fat with fiber so I was really excited. So I made this savory pumpkin pie. You can also use this pumpkin seed crust for sweet desserts as well. If you’re looking for something to bring to a party try this savory pumpkin pie. I show you how to make it. I give you the recipe and it’s all at ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com
Just click on the left sidebar we have a Thanksgiving Celebration Feast page with recipes.
And another one of my favorite recipes that’s included in this program is the cassoulet. Now cassoulet is based on French dish. I know this is an American holiday but we take a lot of things from the French when it comes to food. Why not? The French wouldn’t even like me calling this a cassoulet because it doesn’t have the basic ingredients that they put in it, which is a lot of different meats. But it’s a white bean herb stew with a Dijon mustard sauce in it; and it’s really hearty, creamy very satisfying. It can even be a centerpiece or a main dish. It’s colorful, it’s beautiful if you put it in a really nice casserole dish. Or you could put it inside a carved pumpkin. It’s another thing I like to do. People are so focused on the centerpiece for Thanksgiving. Why not use a carved pumpkin like a terrine or you could put a soup or a bean stew in it. Just a few last-minute ideas for you and we show you how to do it.
And then a few of the other recipes – I make this soup. I call it the soupe au pistou. It’s another variation of a French recipe but it very much reminds me of the harvest, which is what we’re celebrating during Thanksgiving, the harvest. It has turnips and leeks and carrots – root vegetables puréed into a really lovely creamy soup. It’s a great starter and it has that lovely pumpkin orange-y color which is so Thanksgiving.
want to save the best thing for last – we have a pumpkin spice ice cream. Everybody loved this, it’s really a treat. It’s made from coconut milk. It has those great Thanksgiving spices, the ginger and the cloves and the nutmeg. It’s such a wonderful as easy to make ice cream and you can top it on all the other desserts are being served – the pumpkin pie, the apple pie. I like to make poached pears something really clean and simple and then pair it, oh, (no pun intended) pumpkin spice ice cream. Just visit ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com and I hope you check out that food show.
If you have any comments at any time about food, about my interviews, if there are people that you think we should have on this show, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really love to hear from you and about what it is that you want, just like Terry Hope Romero was talking about asking her readers what they want next.
Thank you and have a very happy, delicious Thanksgiving, and a delicious week. Bye bye.