Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Simple Is Better

Before I received my review copy of Cornelia Guest's Simple Pleasures, I had no idea who Ms. Guest was. But as I began reading the introduction of her new, gorgeous, full-color vegan entertaining book, I became intrigued with Guest's upbringing. The actress was the daughter of fashion icon CZ Guest and champion polo rider Winston Frederick Churchill Guest.

Now I'd never heard of them either, but according to Guest's intro, her parents were friends with Halston and Andy Warhol. Guest grew up around fashion and art celebs, and her childhood home — Templeton — is a grand old place. Growing up, she had ten Jack Russells and she took horseback riding lessons. I'm sure her upbringing was quite lovely. It's far from the middle class Arkansas background I knew, but Guest and I do have two things in common: We're vegan and we believe in keeping things simple.

Guest's book is all about simple vegan entertaining. She's like a very uncomplicated Martha Stewart minus all the insider trading mess. About the first fourth of her book is a guide to entertaining: stuff like the proper length of a cocktail hour and setting a lively table with mismatched plates and glasses and lots and lots of seasonal flowers.

The rest of the book is filled with dinner party recipe ideas arranged by season. Her meals aren't pretentious, gourmet silliness. They're easy-to-prepare meals that rely heavily on fresh, seasonal produce. Take, for example, green tomato salsa in the summer and spinach tofu lasagna in the winter. But the best part are the beautiful photographs! Food is always plated on some amazing vintage serving dish, and with each picture, Guest provides a caption with some background on the dish or decor.

For my review, I chose to make a couple of the summer dishes. First up were the Chickpea Patties with Salad:

Now, my falafel patties looked NOTHING like the perfectly rounded circles in Guest's book. But they were delicious nonetheless. The recipe suggests serving them over salad with a homemade Vegenaise-lemon dressing. But I need carbs, so I stuffed mine in falafel and had my salad on the side.

I also made Guest's Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad:

This is so easy, y'all! I grilled corn on the cob on my indoor grill, sliced it off the cob, and mixed with seasoning and creamy avocado. It's what summer should taste like every day. Lucky for y'all, the publisher is allowing me to reprint this recipe!

Grilled Corn & Avocado Salad
Serves 6
Total time: 25 minutes

4 ears of corn, shucked
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1. Heat a grill to medium-high. Grill corn, rotating often, until lightly charred, about 15 minutes.
2. Let cool slightly. Carefully cut kernels from the cobs.
3. Gently toss corn kernels with avocado, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Serve right away.


Jess of Midwest Vegan said...

That corn salad looks good! I might make some of that. :)

Amanda @ Hungry Vegan Traveler said...

If a salad has avocado in it, I'm in.

foodfeud said...

Simple is DEFINITELY the way I prefer to entertain. It's so stressful otherwise. The corn salad sounds so good!

Barb@ThatWasVegan said...

Love the simple corn salad!

urban vegan said...

Simple is better. I'm with you though. Growing up in a coal mining town of working class stock and being the 1st in my family to attend college, I have more respect for people who make their own way rather than via nepotism. Nevertheless, this chick's salad recipe looks totally yum!

urban vegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Belle said...

That sounds delicious!

Jesse @ Happy Go Lucky Vegan said...

I'm constantly surprised how how much I love simple foods. The corn and avocado salad look so fresh and flavorful - I'll definitely try the next time we get those ingredients.

Lillith P. said...

So many things you can do with chickpeas. And I love corn in any way, shape, or form.

tender b. said...

Very nice corn salad. Does seem pretty simple. (nice comparison to Martha Stewart).