About a month ago, a friend of mine (Hey, Rhiannon!) who works at my publisher, Book Publishing Company, stayed at my house for a few days when she and her boyfriend Forrest were in town. She brought me a copy of Mistress Ginger Cooks, which BPC put out earlier this year.
Let me tell about Mistress Ginger, aka Justin Leaf. Leaf is a performance artist, choreographer, ballet teacher, and yoga teacher based in Minneapolis. But his alter-ego Mistress Ginger is a sassy showgirl with a fabulous wardrobe, a quick wit, and some serious vegan talent. She always wears her hair in a flashy pink bob, but she's pictured throughout the book in all manner of get-ups — frilly pink nightgown, fitted business suit, green sequined two-piece, and even in a super-sporty athletic jersey dress (belted at the waist, of course).
Ginger's personality shines in the recipe intros and descriptions in a way that makes this book not only fun to cook from but a blast to read. Here's an excerpt from her recipe for Mediterranean Melange, a quinoa-millet pilaf with white beans and kale: "Step one in the universal quest for an Italian stallion is to prepare a light quinoa-millet pilaf. Put the quinoa, millet, water, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. ... While the pilaf cooks, pray to Mount Vesuvias that your loverboy will materialize within the next 15 minutes, and then prepare the white beans and kale."
I tried three recipes from this book, and all were wonderful! I brought this Moroccan Broccoli to a work potluck, and it was a hit. It's a cold salad with broccoli (I used a medley with cauliflower and carrots) and a homemade Moroccan-spiced (cumin, ginger, cinnamon) tofu-based mayo with cranberries and peanuts. So different! So tasty!
Last week, I made Ginger's Threesome Salad with Drizzle Me Dressing. The threesome is field greens, red cabbage, and carrots. And the dressing is a super-easy tahini-ume plum vinegar dressing.
I had my salad with the Baba's Tempeh Sandwich with Shakti Spread and Cha-Cha-Cha Chutney.
The tempeh is fried in a light marinade of soy sauce and lemon. The spread is made from red lentils, sunflower seeds, and spices. And the chutney is made with mango, currants, green onions, vinegar, and agave. I'd probably never think to combine these ingredients in a sandwich, but it's a genius combo. The Shakti Spread gave the tempeh sandwich an Indian flair, and the mango added just the right blend of sweet and salty.
If you're looking for a fun vegan cookbook that's probably unlike any other book on the market, Mistress Ginger is it. Reading this book is almost as good as being at a drag show with a cooking stage.