Ellen Jaffe Jones, Fran Costigan


Part I – Elle Jaffe Jones, KITCHEN DIVIDED
Ellen Jaffe Jones is the author of the bestseller, “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day,” and just released, “Kitchen Divided-Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households,” and is under contract for two more books, one on vegan fitness. Ellen is an accomplished endurance and sprint runner…7th in the US in her age group for the 1500 meters, 10th in the 400 meters. She has placed in 58 5K races since 2006, and was the 5th oldest female to finish the Palm Beaches Marathon, her first, in 2010. She is a certified personal trainer and running coach, and a cooking class instructor in the Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida area.

Part II – Fran Costigan, VEGAN CHOCOLATE
Chef Fran Costigan is an internationally recognized culinary instructor, author, and consultant whose innovative recipes marry healthy eating with sumptuous tastes. Fran uses organic and minimally processed ingredients to make rich moist cakes, flaky piecrusts, delightful cookies and bars, creamy puddings and much more. All are white sugar, trans fat and cholesterol free, and absolutely delicious.

Fran’s cookbook, More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally, is a complete course in exceptional desserts that satisfy vegans and omnivores alike. Her highly anticipated new book, Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy Free Desserts (Running Press) will launch Fall 2013.

A graduate of the New York Restaurant School and the Natural Gourmet Institute, Fran worked as a pastry chef in both traditional and vegan kitchens, before moving into the teaching kitchen over 20 years ago. Home cooks and professionals enjoy her lively classes in New York City, which include the Costigan Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive®, and she presents demonstrations and workshops at events throughout North America and Europe.

Fran has made her celebrated “Chocolate Cake to Live For” on Fit TV, and her Organic Vegan Twinkies on ABC Nightline and on DeliciousTV. An advisory board member of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, Fran is also a member of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance (NYWCA), Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR), the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), and the Authors’ Guild.


Hello everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass you’re listening to It’s All About Food. It’s one of those beautiful crisp fall days, November 19, 2013 and it’s funny you have to be careful what you wish for sometimes. It’s so important to get a lot of rest and eat healthy food and exercise. I have a really packed schedule this week and I was thinking I wasn’t going to get in a run today. And then the subway was late, I got off a stop earlier than I usually do because they said they were passing my stop. It was crazy. I ran all the way here…in my heels. I got my exercise. And I’m feeling good. You know you can only do this kind of thing if you’re powered by nutrient-dense plant foods. They are absolutely there when you need them. And today, I started the day—I don’t always do this but I love it when I do—I started the day with a gorgeous kale, arugula salad with my favorite dressing, tahini dressing and these luscious super ripe, sweet, smooth pears. These pears are in season now and they’re just phenomenal, they melt in your mouth, delicious and I really can’t get enough of them. And then when they’re out of season I will have had enough. Let’s move on to my first guest Ellen Jaffee Jones. She’s a certified personal trainer, running coach, consultant, author and speaker and she has been vegan for more than thirty years. She’s a two-time Emmy winning TV reporter in Miami and St. Louis and winner of the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism. And she has a website at vegcoach.com. She’s with us on the show today to talk about her new cookbook Kitchen Divided: Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households. Ellen, welcome to It’s All About Food.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Thank you Caryn. Thanks so much for having me.

Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome. Now I heard it was your birthday.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Nasty rumor.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes. So if you give me a moment, I’m going to give you a song.

Caryn Hartglass: (Sings Happy Birthday to Ellen)

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Wow! What a voice!

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. I’m a greedy songbird and any time I have the opportunity to sing Happy Birthday, I do.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Opera, I’m thinking you should do opera. Awesome.

Caryn Hartglass: I do, I do opera. Yes, you got that. Anyway, happy birthday and what I want you to do…do you like chocolate.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Mildly, yes.

Caryn Hartglass: Mildly? Is that not your favorite?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: It is my favorite.

Caryn Hartglass: It is my favorite. I was just hoping that Fran might be able to send me some.

Caryn Hartglass: So this is what I want you to do. I want you to close your eyes. I want you to imagine a vegan cake to live for, chocolate cake to live for, made by Chef Fran Costigan, for you and we’ve put a lot of candles on it, they’re soy-based of course, vegan candles and I want you to take a moment and make a wish, blow them out.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: I have to inhale first.

Caryn Hartglass: OK. Inhale.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: (Exhales) OK, I’ve made my wish.

Caryn Hartglass: OK. Yay Ellen. Happy birthday!

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: So we’re having a little party here on It’s All About Food in honor of Ellen’s birthday and in honor of so many things. It’s always good to take an opportunity to celebrate. So let’s celebrate your new cookbook Kitchen Divided.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: OK, interesting topic.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Yeah, you know I was running around the country talking about my first book, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day and I wrote in that book it’s more important to have someone who loves and respects you than a clone at the dinner table. And in one of my talks I just sort of, off the top of my head, I said “so how many of you live in mixed marriages, where one of you is veg and one of you is not?” So many people raised their hands and just rolled their eyes and lots of looks of frustration. I started asking this question every talk I gave. I thought, you know this is another myth that needs to be busted which is you can’t live with somebody if they don’t eat the way you do. I just wanted to come up with some recipes that would make the poor, stressed-out vegan eater not feel like a short-order cook.

Caryn Hartglass: Relationships of all kinds are difficult. I think that’s the greatest challenge we have as humans—dealing in relationships. Either romantic relationships or familial relationships, business relationships are all difficult and we all want to control and have it our way. It doesn’t work.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Especially in the kitchen.

Caryn Hartglass: So it’s the hardest when you’re living with someone. Some relationships make it a long time and some don’t. Very often two people are together and then they grow in different ways and they work things out or they move on. At the dinner table it’s such an important place to be at peace. You put together at the beginning of the book several different situations based on what feels good with the parties involved on how you might approach eating differently, together. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Right. I just found that in polling in that very scientific base on Facebook (laughs) most people’s ideas on how they coped. I came up with these different ways, plans, none of them are set in stone, some of them overlap with each other but it’s whatever works for you. The first one is peaceful coexistence where each person does his or her own shopping, preparation, cooking and cleanup. The vegan and animal based foods are stored on completely separate shelves in the pantry and the refrigerator. This one really minimizes the hassles and avoids arguments if you can do it but it really is like living in two different households if you do it that way. So the next program, the next way of looking at it, is a little more—we kind of give with each one of these methods—the next one is partial co-existence where one person buys all of the food. Each person does his or her own cooking and cleanup. Again you still have the separate storage and yet the shopping is simplified because if the non-vegan person does the shopping, this can be an opportunity for him or her to learn more about plant-based foods. The reason there is so much of this mixed-marriage stuff going around is we have a lot of new vegans who have come to the table as a result of high-profile people, celebrities, Bill Clinton going vegan, people have done it for health as well as animal-rights issues as the videos become so prolific out there that people can’t turn their head and pretend they don’t see but often they do it in a family setting or with their friends and other people around them are going…what? And so that’s one of the ways you can incorporate more and more people in your surroundings by inviting them to see some of the same kinds of movies and read the same books you have. So we get a lot of new vegans who are trying to figure how to incorporate everyone else around them into their lifestyle. The third way is the division of labor where everybody has specific assigned tasks. It’s very clear. The key to all of these different plans is making it very clear so everybody knows where the other person stands. The constraints are very specified so everyone adheres to rules about where the meat and the animal products are stored and also equipment and tools are segregated. This kind of follows the ground of, in the Jewish religion, keeping kosher and in some situations like that people when they go out they might make exceptions or do things differently. Really it’s whatever you work out with your partner, your family, your friends. There may be compromises made in the division of labor where only vegan is prepared and served in the home and that would mean the non-vegan partner can’t bring in animal food but can eat it when eating out. Those are the little things you negotiate.

Caryn Hartglass: It sounds like things that you can apply to almost any thing in life. You need to plan and you need to communicate. Organization and planning helps everything you do. If you strategize before the disaster happens it’s less likely that disaster will happen.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: That’s really true. It sounds a little trite but it’s all about communication and setting boundaries. I even encourage people to write these things down. You can identify for yourself where is the red line. What will you not do, what will you do to make your partner, your family, your friends happy.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m fortunately in a relationship right now with Gary who is vegan. We both love cooking. It’s a joy that we are able to do these things together. We cook together, we sing about vegan food together, we do everything about food together which is really fun. But I’ve been in other relationships and some time ago I was living in France with a French guy and he was very respectful about my vegan diet but we agreed that he could have milk and cheese in the house. What was really frustrating for me was I would make these great meals and he would look at it without even tasting it and just grate a bunch of cheese all over it. It’s just like people who salt food without even tasting it. Can you please taste it and see if it needs something? Many people are in that habit of not paying attention and they just think: Foods need salt, they need cheese, they need things that they are used to putting on them without paying attention. So planning and communicating is a good step in that direction.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Yeah. I love stealth recipes where you can—I have a chocolate surprise cake recipe, not, I’m sure not as good as Fran’s, but you know. It’s actually in Eat Vegan. I love when I’m talking, I’ll show a picture of the finished product and I’ll ask people to guess what the ingredients are. And they never guess that things like zucchini and pineapple are in this very rich, lush chocolate cake. I love being able to sneak recipes like that through at a dinner party and then pass out the recipe at the end.

Caryn Hartglass: Once again that just shows that most people don’t know much about food. They don’t know what’s in their food and then they think they have to have certain things in their food but they don’t even know anything about it to know what they need or not in their food to make it taste good.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Right. Many people just grow up a certain way and it’s very hard. I found in my cooking classes… I sort of joked, this is kind of a sad thing to say, but people get desperate on their deathbeds. And often it takes some kind of life altering event to make people consider making changes. Often especially the older they get it is common to see this, whether it’s cooking or in healthcare, that people get set in their ways and unless there’s a real compelling reason for them to change—whether it’s a movie or a relative or their own experience—it can be very challenging. I’ve structured recipes in the book so that there are recipes that would encourage or entice a meat eater to, like you say, give a second look with maybe not dumping the cheese and the meat into the recipe. There are also flex dishes that allow themselves to doing that kind of thing so if someone really wants to do that, they can. There are also side dishes that can be the main dish for the vegan and the meat eater can do whatever they want to them.

Caryn Hartglass: Organization is important and having different spaces and cupboards and refrigerators, it can work. You do need to have enough space. Some people don’t even have enough space for the little things that they have and it does require some organization and planning but there’s always a solution. I think you may have alluded to this but—you may even have said it—it still keeps the door open for those meat eaters to learn more about plant foods and maybe come a little over to our side more and more. Not that that’s your goal.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Absolutely.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s my goal.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Just little silly things like planting a garden when you can smell the aroma, the fragrance of fresh vegetables and herbs it’s really hard to resist. The sense of smell is so powerful especially with children. Things like making a game of cooking when you can see that your partner is laughing or you start dancing around the kitchen—just things like that to make it more enticing. It’s not just about the ingredients but making it a positive experience as well.

Caryn Hartglass: So you got a number of responses, reactions from Facebook and other places. Have you gotten reactions from the recipes in this book yet from people who have tried it out?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Oh yes, in fact, an amazing woman—she’s just one of my followers on Facebook—she made it her challenge, she just decided to do this one day, she made every single recipe in the book. She posted a picture of it. She deals with this so I think I’m putting this out there. The response has been really really positive as people look for tools and ways to… I think some of the recipes, hopefully most of them in the book, are standalone great recipes even if you didn’t live in a divided kitchen. I really wanted to make all of these recipes be appealing for those that are stressed out especially. Because it’s about time, you only get so much time in the kitchen before the blood sugar kicks in and you just have to eat something. I just wanted to make it as simple, as tasty, as possible for people who are in these situations and just don’t want to feel like they’ve gotta be making everybody happy all the time.

Caryn Hartglass: We know that people need to find their kitchens and they need to learn how to prepare healthier food because most Americans today are lost in the kitchen and they’re buying ready made foods filled with salt, sugar and fat. They’re going out to restaurants and choosing all the wrong foods and as a result our health is in the toilet and we’re suffering and it’s not a good scene. OK, so people need to be making food. I think when people start to learn about making food they learn what’s in it and then can even make sensible choices when they’re buying foods outside of the home. Here’s what I’d like to see: Restaurants could use these recipes. So often you go into a restaurant and they don’t want to move, they don’t want to budge, they don’t want to be flexible. How many times have I been in a restaurant where they use chicken broth in their rice or in their risotto. You don’t need to use chicken broth and if they used a vegetable broth nobody would know…nobody would know! If they could make food for the least common denominator so that everybody could enjoy it, then they could add these things to it if they wanted them. And charge more for them.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Absolutely. Because you get healthy living as a result of eating these incredibly beautiful and health providing recipes. Just two quick examples of what she said in our area, we have a barbecue place about ten minutes down the road called Mr. Bones and I almost ran off the road one day seeing they had a big sandwich board sign outside saying “vegan and vegetarian dishes”. I ended up speaking to the owner and she said we just got tired of seeing kids come in and they couldn’t eat with their parents or the Europeans especially came in saying “what do you mean there’s no vegan restaurant for the next thirty miles?” They met the market demand. Also Chipotles in our area for those that don’t have access to them, it’s a very nice fresh Mexican fast food chain. They make a big deal about promoting fresh ingredients. They posted a sign about two months ago that said our pinto beans are for everybody, meaning they’d taken the meat out so that vegans could eat it. I thought, you know the world is changing.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Let’s just meditate on that for a moment. The world is changing. Can we do it fast enough, that’s the question. I think my favorite in the book here is “Quiche Your Troubles Goodbye”. It’s the very comfort looking food. I’ve been into making pot pies lately so I’m kind of into a savory pie moment. It’s the season for savory pies, in my belly. (laughter) OK, Ellen I want to know what are you doing for your birthday today other than boasting about your new book?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Actually this is the second radio show I’ve done. Doesn’t everybody do radio shows on their birthday?

Caryn Hartglass: They should. It’s all about you today.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: I’m telling the world it’s not only how healthy this food is but how cheap it is, not only what you can save at the grocery store but all those healthcare costs no matter what the government decides to do. And that’s just a whole mess but I keep saying we need to take responsibility for our own health and not depend on the government to do it for us.

Caryn Hartglass: For our friends who are young to do it sooner than later because our friends who are older are really struggling and panicking and thinking about their cholesterol and possibly having a heart attack and it’s so much easier when you get good habits when you’re younger and you’re going to be stunning longer.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Well you know somebody posted on my Facebook page this morning, well use today to have real chocolate cake. I said there is a real chocolate cake and I showed the picture of the one that I had posted, of course the vegan variety with this lush icing and I go, for me this is about feeling well and being around for the grandkids. I just placed in my 58th 5K race and I feel so energized and so much better than when I didn’t eat this way. I remember what that was like, almost died of a colon blockage. That is not fun, it doesn’t feel good.

Caryn Hartglass: No. No. It does not feel good and it’s not necessary. I’m all about flow, flow. Let’s all flow together. Bring it in, let it flow in and then out. OK, Ellen, thank you for joining me today. I want you to have a really spectacular birthday. Fran just walked into the studio because we’re going to be talking about chocolate cake for the next half hour. Fran, we’ve already served Ellen a piece of your virtual chocolate cake and blew out the birthday candles.

Fran Costigan: Happy Birthday Ellen!

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Thank you Fran.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you for joining me Ellen. Your website is vegcoach.com?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: It is.

Caryn Hartglass: And what can people do when they get there?

Ellen Jaffe Jones: You can buy my books or you can sign up for a little personal training cyber-wise. I do that right on Skype so that’s very cool or vegan lifestyle coaching. I’ve been doing this for the better part of thirty-two years so…happy to share that and thank you so much for having me on.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you Ellen, take care.

Ellen Jaffe Jones: Bye bye.

Transcribed 1/1/2014 by Suzanne Kelly


Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, we’re back! I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All about Food and I’m lucky! I’m chewing and swallowing here because Fran Costigan just brought me some chocolate treats! And one day, when our technology is really developed, we’ll be able to lick the screen and taste whatever it is they’re showing on it, right? And smell the delicious fragrances coming out of the food, but for now, you’re just going to have to listen to me describe what I’ve tried and salivate, or, buy this fabulous new book that we’re going to be talking about next, Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Decadent and Luscious Dairy-Free Desserts by Chef Fran Costigan, and make what I just tried myself. So, Fran, I haven’t given you an appropriate introduction, so let’s just do that for a moment. I have to take a deep breath; Chef Fran Costigan is an internationally recognized culinary instructor, author and consultant whose innovative recipes marry healthy eating with sumptuous tastes. Fran uses organic and minimally processed ingredients to make rich, moist cakes; flaky pie crust; delightful cookies and bars, creamy puddings and much more! All are white sugar, trans fat and cholesterol-free, and absolutely – you guessed it – delicious! Now her first cookbook was More Great, Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally a complete course in exceptional desserts that satisfy vegans and omnivores alike, and now we’re going to talk about the new book, Vegan Chocolate, this is a masterpiece, Fran, thank you. Thank you for joining me, thank you for creating this book, which is going to go down in history.

Fran Costigan: Caryn, I am never speechless, you know that, but I am speechless. Thank you for the introduction; thank you for saying that about the book. Caryn could make everyone – everyone one this planet just live to eat kale the way that she talks; and I do eat kale, Caryn knows that.

Caryn Hartglass: I had kale for breakfast!

Fran Costigan: Yeah! The people in my life know that I eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, and I love chocolate; and I eat them on separate plates.

Caryn Hartglass: I was just going to say there’s no chocolate-dipped kale chips in here.

Fran Costigan: No. No, actually I start most, if not all, my cooking demonstrations and classes and lectures like the sweets dilemma, can you be vegan, can you be healthy and eat a treat too? With a bunch of kale in a flowerpot or something to make the point that desserts are treats, they are, they can be better-for-us treats than the stuff we find in the bodegas, the butter, margarine, white sugar, eggy things that are all-white, that aren’t, well we’ve talked about this

Caryn Hartglass: We have talked about this before where people don’t even know what good is until they keep eating more, they want big cookies and big cakes because they’re all crap…

Fran: They aren’t satisfied, right!
Caryn Hartglass: …and then you eat that little morsel of good.

Fran Costigan: I know that it’s true, because I watch when I serve people, I watch! And your body knows if you get something that’s brown and you’re told it’s chocolate but it’s really carob, and it’s made with Splenda or something, and your body just keeps looking for that real deal. I’m thrilled that you said this book will go down in history, I’ll tell you; who knows? But I never imagined – and I’ve been doing this for twenty-some-odd years – that a book with vegan in the title, my publisher did not shy away, Vegan Chocolate, it has been number one in chocolate books on Amazon for over a week. Thank you, people who have bought the book and supported the book and it’s ranking very high in traditional dessert category as well and that’s what I wanted. I am very careful about testing recipes, nothing goes in until it really is unapologetically luscious and decadent and happens to be dairy-free. So I get it to a certain point, and these recipes were all carefully tested by real people in real kitchens all over the country of the U.S. of A and all over the world as well and they’re reliable; you have to follow some of Fran’s Rules, I have a rulebook at the front of every chapter because the different – pie-making is different from cake-making, cookie-making and so on, you follow those rules, which are really basic! Put your oven rack in the right place, put a thermometer in the oven so when you set the dial to 350 it’s not necessarily 350 and measure the way that I’m suggesting that you measure and use quality ingredients; use these high-percentage chocolates.

Caryn Hartglass: I look at a lot of cookbooks, a LOT of cookbooks and there are lot of cookbooks coming out today because thanks to the internet and new ways of publishing there’s a lot of books that are coming out and some of them are…okay; I see a lot of cookbooks that aren’t great and for a lot of cooking to help people transition from off of meat and into vegetables that’s good because most people don’t want to get that crazy and they want it to be easy and simple and, okay, so all of that’s fine. But there are cookbooks that kind of go down in history as…well I don’t want to use the expression “game-changer” but when Julia Child’s cookbooks came out about French cuisine it just changed everything here in the United States and I think this is one of these books, I do.

Fran Costigan: Wow, that’s just lovely to hear. It was my intention to do a book that would…

Caryn Hartglass: This is a special book everybody! Holidays coming up, this is special

Fran Costigan Thank you, I think this would be a very nice holiday gift. It’s really pretty. Running Press does beautiful books

Caryn Hartglass: You want to lick every page! Or lick the cover! Everything looks so good.

Fran Costigan: Well… I have had a number of people say “I could just lick that cover” The cake on the cover is an incarnation of what I call “the cake that cracked the code; the chocolate cake to live for” when I was, I didn’t really transition I changed my diet overnight, that’s just what I did and it worked for me, but I didn’t want to eat anything sweet anymore, I became, for a very short time, a member of the food police until my kids said – and this is a story a lot of people know about me – my son said “you’re not putting a candle in a sweet potato and saying that’s my birthday cake” and he had a point; and so now there I went and I just worked until I got something and it was vegan and it was made with quality ingredients! I didn’t use junk before, I wasn’t going to use it now but the point is it didn’t say to people who was ate it “Oh this is good for a vegan cake” it was just this great chocolate cake, so I’ve forced myself not to play with it over time because it really is a great cake, people this is the most googled cake but on the cover Kate Lewis did a gorgeous job of photographing these desserts

Caryn Hartglass: And it’s got the raised lettering, it’s just beautiful

Fran Costigan: Yes the raised lettering, the cover is glossy, full-color photographs, the art director did a great job. But this is a Sacher torte and so easy to make but better than – if you’ve been to Austria you know that those Sacher Tortes are kind of austere-tasting which is probably why they serve them with a lot of schlag, but in the photo in the book of the Sacher Torte with the S, I have schlag too, it’s just not made from dairy and it’s not made from junk, it’s a different kind of a thing. My 6-year-old granddaughter wanted this cake for her birthday! And I was thinking, “This cake for a 6-year-old party, I don’t know” the ganache on the cake is dark. But I had left a number of these cakes – I did my book trailer, look at the book trailer if you get a chance at FranCostigan.com, it’s kind of cute, fun, it was fun to do. My kids are film-makers, they said “come out here, we’ll do the movie” and so I had all these swap-out cakes and I left them and the kids said, “I want that cake!” So they made it in a larger size pan, three of them, my daughter-in-law’s mother who…we are very good friends but she tolerates the way I cook because she likes to separate eggs and that kind of thing, she made the cakes and she said they were delicious and really easy to do and she takes this cake now to everyone she knows; That’s what we want and I want people to be successful

Caryn Hartglass: So this whole concept chocolate, again, I said this in the earlier part of the show, people don’t know what’s in their food, so they think of chocolate and for some reason they connect the dots with milk and they think the two cannot be separated and that’s so far from the truth

Fran Costigan: Oh, chocolate – that is so far from the truth, absolutely, I would underline that and put it in bold if I were writing on my computer right now

Caryn Hartglass: I mean good chocolate doesn’t want to be near milk!

Fran Costigan: No, and you know what, I have two traditional pastry chefs did advance praise it’s on the back of the book, and that would not have happened many many years ago I don’t think, but Chef Ron Ben-Israel who’s the host of Sweet Genius on Food Television Network and who does the most gorgeous wedding cakes, I mean they are breathtaking, he told me that actually these are amazing desserts without any animal sources, and stand on their own as ambrosial desserts, but he told me that he realized a couple of years ago, that by taking dairy away from chocolate, you get more chocolate taste; you get more chocolate taste! So you need, I’m not scrimping, these are desserts, I’m not making bran bread I’m making brownies but we don’t need all the sugar, certainly the higher the percentage of chocolate, the lower the percentage of sugar, without the milk you get the benefits of dark chocolate, which, they really are listed. Now I’m not telling anyone I’ve seen studies lately that say “Eat dark chocolate, avoid a stroke” … and Alzheimer’s…

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah I remember my mom hearing that chocolate was better than broccoli and it’s like “Okay, come on”

Fran Costigan: Yeah, come on! And somebody, actually posted on my Facebook page, <a href=” https://www.facebook.com/francostiganveganpastrychef : target=”_blank”>Vegan Pastry Chef Fran Costigan</a>, the other day, a study saying that people who eat chocolate are slimmer, and she said “Well, I guess so! Look at Fran.” There’s balance, but the fact is that these chocolates give you that real, deep, rich chocolate taste that we want, so we need less, in terms of being satisfied; a smaller piece – it’s not that giant cookie that doesn’t taste good – a smaller piece of a beautifully-made chocolate cake that is chocolate through and through, with different textures, I like to play with textures, in a beautiful crumb and a nice ganache and a creamy filling. All without any animal products, there is no palm oil in my recipes; I am not saying that people who use it are wrong, I’m saying it’s not for me; I never used it, so when the controversy about palm oil and the environment and the orangutans and people and so on happened I didn’t have to remove the palm oil. I use a mild-tasting, American-made extra virgin olive oil that’s my favorite, it almost tastes buttery and rich.

Caryn Hartglass: Olive oil can have a fruity flavor!

Fran Costigan: It can! So in recipes where I want the taste of the olive oil to be noticed in my Lemon Olive Oil Truffles, for example, that are finished with a little lemon salt, or in the Chocolate Orange Almond Cake that was really – it’s a very simple cake, but it took me – it was one of the hardest cakes to get right. I remembered eating a cake like that in Italy about 30 years ago, it was creamy; I couldn’t get it creamy, I got it gummy, or dry, and then I got it creamy; there I will use a fruity olive oil. In the other recipes I use a neutral one, if you cannot find a neutral extra virgin olive oil, use any neutral oil that you like, but watch out for GMO oils.

Caryn Hartglass: That means Genetically Modified Organisms and there are soybean oils and canola oils, cottonseed oil, that are genetically modified and we don’t like them here at It’s All About Food, no, no, no, no, no.

Fran Costigan: No one should like them. Read about them, listen to Caryn about them.

Caryn Hartglass: But let’s talk about the good stuff! But one more thing, one more sad note with happy endings here, you go into a lot of detail about a lot of things in this book, which makes it a good read in addition to enjoying the recipes, but we need to know more about chocolate, and there’s different kinds of chocolate out there and some of it doesn’t have a nice story attached to it and a lot of the chocolate that we’re familiar with, like Hershey’s, for example, has a very scarred past, I’ve heard that they’re changing.

Fran Costigan: In 2020 is their goal.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, 2020 so in the meantime a lot of child slaves are going to be exploited and tortured harvesting cocoa beans that go into your Hershey’s Kisses, yeah, that’s right, child slaves in the Ivory Coast are used in the cocoa business and this is really sad. But there’s lots of alternatives and some of them might cost more, but think about what it is that you’re eating! Do you want to really participate in child slavery? I mean come on. I talk about – I started this last week last week – first world problems, mentioning first-world problems. I want to change it to first world concerns, I think, instead of problems, but what I’m talking about, we all have, a lot of us have abundance, we have opportunity, we may not be as rich as we’d like and some of us may be out of a job and struggling, but a lot of us still have the opportunity to have chocolate! That’s a luxury! We should be grateful for everything that we have, but do we want to enjoy something at the expense of…children? It just kills me.

Fran Costigan: It was impossible for me to do anything else.

Caryn Hartglass: How do we know which chocolates are safe?

Fran Costigan: I have a list of chocolates that I feel are safe, in the back of the book. Of course, in the nature of things that’s going to change. Look for chocolates that say on the label, they will be labeled “Fair Trade”, “ethical”, some chocolate companies that go beyond even the Fair Trade rules are very fair, there is an indication of that. You can also, Patty Breitman informed me about a wonderful resource called “The Food Empowerment Project” so go to foodempowermentproject.com [foodispower.org] and they have a list – an enormous list, carefully done – of ethical chocolates, chocolates they’re not sure about, chocolates where there’s transparency, the companies that didn’t get back to them. For me, it’s as simple, yes, these chocolates cost a little bit more, and I am not a rich person, but I’m paying the extra money. I can’t participate in that. The way I look at it is, at best, harvesting the cocoa bean, which is like, you can think of a football, is hard and dangerous work. It’s the jungle, it’s hot, it’s steamy, there are machetes involved, so there’s a lot of room for problems. And Caryn is not making this up, this is a fact! That we are still talking about slavery in the production of food today or in anything, boggles my mind, but I go out of my way to use organic, Fair Trade chocolate and sweeteners.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, you mentioned the jungle for a moment, and I remember being in Costa Rica and some friends giving me a cacao fruit, and it was hard for me to imagine how a part of that could become chocolate. Can you…?

Fran Costigan: Yeah, did you whack it open?

Caryn Hartlglass: Yeah!

Fran Costigan: And you saw white…the white stuff

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, the white fleshy stuff

Fran Costigan: …and the beans?

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, but the beans didn’t taste chocolate-y to me

Fran Costigan: No, what happens is there’s a natural fermentation process that happens, and for some of the growers, or the people who make chocolate, this is all proprietary information, I mean chocolates don’t all taste the same; I thought all 70-percents would taste the same, they don’t. It has to do with, the bean is cut open, the white kind of evaporates out – although I understand it tastes good, it’s one of my great wishes to go to where you were, and get a cocoa bean and taste that.

Caryn Hartglass: Let’s go!

Fran Costigan: Let’s go! Okay – and then the beans are dried, and unless it’s raw chocolate, they are roasted, and of course there are different levels of roasting. That’s not going to taste very chocolate-y, it’s very bitter, when those beans are chopped up, you know cacao nib, that’s what it is; think about like a coffee bean. Then the beans are crushed, the fat is pulled out, and it’s called cocoa butter, but it’s not dairy butter, and there is – the cocoa mass is also called cocoa liquor, but it’s not booze, and that’s the cocoa mass, and when the cocoa butter comes out – the fat – what you have is really almost de-fatted chocolate and that becomes cocoa powder as we know it and there are different types, natural and Dutch, I go into that in the book, but it’s quite a process!

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, do you realize when you’re eating a piece of chocolate what’s gone on before it got to your store? It’s just incredible.

Fran Costigan: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: Then you want to buy it and you want to get this book and really get started making things!

Fran Costigan: Yeah you really have to do your homework! And I tell people, any chocolate that tastes good to you, out of hand, before you’ve cooked with it, or baked with it or melted it, that’s the right chocolate to use, we all have different palates, different ideas about what’s dark, and what’s sweet, but! one of Fran’s Rules, any chocolate you like is the right one to use, as long as you stay within the percentages listed in the recipe. If a recipe says to use 70-72% chocolate and you go to use an 85, or a 60, the recipe will fail, it won’t turn out; we don’t want that to happen!

Caryn Hartglass: Well, it couldn’t be that terrible, it doesn’t have to be perfection.

Fran Costigan: Well no, you wouldn’t have to throw it in the garbage! But, your truffle center might never set up, or your frosting might run off your cake, so you’ll have a nice sauce.

Caryn Hartglass: So these are your disclaimers, use the proper chocolate as noted in the recipe book!

Fran Costigan: Right, and so, yes, those are the kinds of rules I set.

Caryn Hartglass: You mentioned carob before, can we take just like 30 seconds to talk about carob? Okay, carob is a very nice plant, it’s a tree, and it has these pods, and you can chew on the whole pod, and grind them up and make flour, you can do all kinds of things with carob, carob is not chocolate, carob is not chocolate, carob is not chocolate, and it should never ever be compared to chocolate, it should not be confused with chocolate, it should not be used as a substitute. Did you get that? Now, I don’t know whose idea it was why and when carob was a substitute for chocolate, did they think that maybe chocolate wasn’t good for us?

Fran Costigan: That is exactly what it was, and that is probably, second to the candle in the sweet potato, what got me into the kitchen because 22 years ago… I mean, there is nothing inherently wrong with a carob cake, if you make it right, and carob is not necessarily inherently better for you than chocolate, because a lot of the confections are filled with really bad stuff.

Caryn Hartglass: If you’re not thinking you’re getting chocolate, and you’re open to carob it can be lovely!

Fran Costigan: See, this is why vegan desserts got a really bad name in the beginning, because people were saying “here have this chocolate cake” and it was brown…

Caryn Hartglass: And that was about it!

Fran Costigan: That was about it, it didn’t taste good. So, I don’t know where that started. There are people who say that chocolate isn’t good for you, and I say if you have an allergy or sensitivity, or something, I mean not every food is good for everybody I know someone who can’t eat kale, really can’t eat kale.

Caryn Hartglass: Whoa, I thought there was nothing kale couldn’t do!

Fran Costigan: Except make the bed! But chocolate, actually the fat is healthful, the stearic acid, in balance it can be a very healthful food. So yeah, Caryn’s right, don’t confuse the two. This is not a book about carob, this is a book about chocolate, and I have chapters on really every kind of dessert I could think of! I have a whole chapter on truffles, I have a chapter on cakes; little bites, then these showstoppers which look like they would take from now until next summer, but I break down the steps; I have a suggested game plan, and essentially everything can be made ahead, lots of things can be stuck in your freezer – not stuck, thrown – but wrapped and put in your freezer and taken out. You want a Buche de Noel coming up, I gotcha covered. You want an opera cake, you’ve got it. You have stuff left over, some cream, some cake crumbs, make a trifle. Everything, of course, is vegan, that’s the name of the book! But some are raw, some are gluten-free, and I have really, finally got the gluten-free chocolate cake that passed my test, which means I can’t tell the difference, so that’s good for you and a lot of people. So many of the component desserts, or if you want to make, I grew up with this [23:57] black-out cake, my dad went every weekend to the bakery in Brooklyn. So, every time I teach, or am in front of a class I say “Anyone from Brooklyn?” there has never been no one from Brooklyn yet, including in Atlanta last week at a cooking school, so I made this cake; it’s so easy! It’s two chocolate cake layers that you cut in half, you don’t have to be careful because you’re just going to smear, slather chocolate pudding in between and on the sides, and then you throw crumbs from the last bit of cake all over, so you need your vacuum cleaner but it’s…

Caryn Hartglass: Stunning!

Fran Costigan: …stunning and it’s, so this person was just like “Oh! I remember that cake from my childhood!” and that’s ultimately why I wrote this book, because even in my classes that were non-chocolate-themed eventually, toward the end someone would say “That was really good; can you think of a way to put chocolate in it?” and then people got this dreamy look in their eyes, and then that followed with “But can I eat healthfully and eat chocolate? How do I know it’s vegan?” and so on, and that is what – I want to just warn your listeners, a factoid that I learned in writing this book that was really surprising to me, I thought that any chocolate that wasn’t milk chocolate was vegan.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, yeah; you have to read the ingredients.

Fran Costigan: Got to read the label. Turns out that it is legal – up to 12% milk or milk solids – is allowed in chocolate labeled dark chocolate.

Caryn Hartglass: But it’ll say milk on the ingredients.

Fran Costigan: It’s disclosed, but I didn’t know to look for that; I was like “Oh! dark chocolate bar, ethical…”

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, no. You can taste it.

Fran Costigan: You can taste it, it doesn’t taste as good, it’s a filler, it’s cheap.

Caryn Hartglass: I remember – I’m trashing Green and Black now…

Fran Costigan: Oh, what a shame.

Caryn Hartglass: Well I remember when Green and Black first came out and they were organic, and it was a phenomenal chocolate, I liked the cocoa powder, I used to open up the container and just breathe, it was heavenly, and I had this one chocolate cake recipe, no fail when I used this cocoa, and then somehow it changed and I couldn’t figure it out and then I heard, because it was, first Cadbury bought Green and Black, and Cadbury makes a lot of milk chocolate, the Cadbury was acquired by Kraft, I think?

Fran Costigan: It was a hostile takeover by someone like Kraft, so it’s not poor Green and Black’s fault, but it’s not the same…

Caryn Hartglass: It’s not the same.

Fran Costigan: …and their bars say, they took the vegan certified off the label, and they say organic milk powder.

Caryn Hartglass: So you have to continually, unfortunately, be vigilant; nothing is forever.

Fran Costigan: Even if you just bought your favorite brand the day before, I say look at the label tomorrow because maybe one of these big guys, you know this is becoming a trendy thing, maybe one of these big guys has bought your favorite chocolate bar. I don’t think it will happen to, I mean I like Theo chocolate, in particular their, in Seattle they were the first bean-to-bar, they’re really fair, they’re one of many that I like, they’re very ethical, I don’t think anyone’s going to be buying them anytime soon, but you know what? I still read their labels every time.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, you have to. Okay, well I love this Brooklyn Blackout cake, and one of the things that you need to do, the next time you’re in a bookstore, is you have to look at this book, and you have to look at the pictures, if there’s any doubt in your mind, look at the pictures; you’re going to see desserts like you – that you don’t normally see! I mean it’s really stunning, just to convince yourself that you can have your cake and eat it too, how many times have we said that? But really stunning.

Fran Costigan: That’s really true. That was one of the intentions – this book had several intentions, and one was to write a book that would be for everyone; for absolute beginners, and for professionals, for people who want to read a lot of information in the front of the book, and for people who just want to go right to it and bake. But in looking around there are so many beautiful chocolate books on the shelf, looked at them, did the research, and it was time for vegans to have a gorgeous chocolate book too. It’s very interesting that the non-vegan community has come in and embraced this book because it’s gorgeous, Kate Lewis did a gorgeous job.

Caryn Hartglass: Now you’ve been cooking for a long time and not always vegan, were there some chefs that really got you going or a cookbook that was your favorite when you got started or was there something that inspired you?

Fran Costigan: I’m inspired by a number of cookbooks, I mean Julia Child was one of my early inspirations.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I wish she were around today, Fran, she would love your book!

Fran Costigan: Do you know, I think that she would because I met Julia – Ms. Child. I had the opportunity to say hello to her at a traditional conference and she asked me what I do! And I didn’t know what to say! I’m going to tell Julia Child that I bake without eggs and “buttah”? And I did, and she was so interested; she was a woman who was really interested in the process. Maida Heatter’s books in the beginning, another ground breaking, a woman who wrote careful, careful recipes. Anything by Rose Levy Beranbaum, now these are not vegan bakers. We haven’t had a pastry chef’s books to go to. I have a book called How Baking Works and I recommend to all of my students or people who want to learn a little bit more that they read it, but Rose’s books are fabulous, fabulous. Alice Medrich, the queen of Omni Chocolate, her books are really good, so this is where I get my inspiration, mostly from traditional magazines, cake shops. I was in London and Paris recently for – someone’s got to do it right? – I was invited to do chocolate demos at the London and Paris Vegfests and so I cruised the food – what do you call those? Food halls, the food halls in London.
Caryn Hartglass: Food courts?

Fran Costigan: Food courts! We – when I went many, many years ago for the first time we didn’t have that here, we have that here now. Things are really – the food scene’s caught up, but it’s very interesting; one of my interns who is now interning at Chez Panisse – Alice Waters, another goddess whose books I admire very much. Oh and Deborah Madison’s books inspire me and Deborah is revising, rewriting Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone which was – won all the cookbooks awards when it launched.

Caryn Hartglass: Groundbreaking.

Fran Costigan: Groundbreaking, and she’s redoing it, she wrote a lovely blurb for me, she’s redoing the book to include more vegan recipes, and shouting them out, vegan, vegan. Molly Katzen has a new book, Heart of the Plate and the vegan recipes are shouted out, vegan.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s about time!

Fran Costigan: It’s about time! So, everyone can eat the way Caryn and I do, and be just as happy; have a good piece of chocolate something.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Well, this is really a lovely, lovely work of art, Fran, and I know you worked your butt off for a long time you were here on this show almost a year ago when we were talking about – and you were already knee-deep in chocolate, I think, by that point

Fran Costigan: Yes. How much chocolate was used in the making of this book? Close to 150 pounds.

Caryn Hartglass: Whoa!

Fran Costigan: Yeah and I lost track at about 95 pounds of cocoa powder, and I didn’t gain any weight.

Caryn Hartglass: No, I think you got slimmer from working so hard.

Fran Costigan: So, it was a labor of love but I’m, I mean I had this in my mind, I had a picture of what I wanted and I got it and the publishers really surpassed what I wanted, I again want to shout out to Kate Lewis, she did a beautiful job photographing the recipes which were made by two of my baking students, Claire Gray and Christina, and the art director and it’s really just gorgeous.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, you’re creating new traditions, I really like to talk about traditions and holidays, they’re really important, we should all have traditions and holidays, but traditions change, and that’s okay! We can always modify our traditions, keeping the good part and leaving the bad parts behind. There are some nasty traditions out there that nobody wants to keep going; but the good ones, and making new ones, it’s all good, and so Vegan Chocolate is the way to go you can have all your chocolate cakes and veganize and make the world a better place. And I want to mention just before we go we’ve got some big holidays coming up, Hanukkah’s coming early, I’ve got a real tradition now, Baked Potato Latkes, Baked Potato Pancakes on my responsibleeatingandliving.com website, you can watch the video, and also see our Thanksgiving real traditions too. Thanks for listening! Thank you Fran!

Fran Costigan: Thank you Caryn!

Caryn Hartglass: Have a delicious week, with chocolate!


Transcribed by Katie Mabry-Rairigh, November 29, 2013

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