Vegan Finger Foods: Interview with co-author Tamasin Noyes
Tamasin Noyes is one of my favorite online people. She's the writer behind the very cool blog, Vegan Appetite, and her recipes are always fun, simple, and insanely tasty. So when I learned that she and fellow vegan author Celine Steen had another cookbook out, I just had to catch up with her. This book, Vegan Finger Foods, is all about food that's fun and satisfying after just taking a few bites. Her warm, engaging, joyous personality just shines through in both her recipes and this interview. Enjoy!
Do you think there’s still a perception that vegan food can’t be “fun” food? How does this book work to dispel that image?
I think that more and more people are coming to see how incredible vegan foods can be. Just about every day, I’ll hear about someone who is trying to reduce their meat intake, or eat vegan for one day a week. I’m a firm believer that every meal matters, and taking small steps is the way for some people. With more people exploring vegan cooking, and the creative cookbooks that are coming out all the time, I think people are seeing how easy and tasty vegan cooking can be. It’s no longer just hippie food, which we happen to love since we went vegetarian in 1980. But I know it’s not for everyone. So that’s a long answer to basically say that with all the wonderful cookbooks coming out, we’re all working together to show how amazing – and yes, fun! – vegan foods can be.
Are these recipes that you’ve served at gatherings?
They sure are! Both during development and since submitting the manuscript.
Which recipes proved the most popular with your testers?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. Testers have really varied tastes, which is awesome, because that way we know we have something for everyone, but it makes it hard to pinpoint the superstar recipes. The Buffalo Tofu Bites had a great buzz though.
Which are the easiest recipes? And the most complicated?
Celine Steen (the co-author) and I both tried to make the recipes as easy as possible. Whether you are doing an awesome finger food spread for your family for movie night, or an elegant adult get-together, stress-free, full-flavor recipes are the best. I’d say the Marinated Mushrooms (make a marinade, throw the mushrooms in, that’s it!) is probably the easiest. The most complicated might be the Eggless Roll Smash-Ups. Those use our Fry Anything Dough that can be used in savory or sweet recipes. In this recipe, the dough is filled with sauerkraut, vegetables, and spices and served with apple chutney. Parts of the recipe can be made ahead, so it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Plus, it’s more than worth any extra effort!
In the book, you have graphics above recipes, showing if they can be made head, are quick and easy, and have gluten-free potential. Why did you include these “at-a-glance” graphics?
When we pick up a cookbook, it’s helpful to see what’s what. When doing finger foods, it seemed especially helpful because it makes planning easy.
Did you think about striking a balance between recipes that incorporate meat “substitutes” like tempeh/seitan and focusing on recipes that are primarily plant-based?
Good question. The answer is yes and no! By nature, Celine tends to be drawn to creating recipes that are more plant-prominent. I grew up in a meat-and-potatoes family, so I’m more inclined to use the big three: tofu, tempeh, and seitan. So we do go for a balance, and try to keep things as diverse as possible, but it’s also just how we cook.
While this book is obviously geared toward vegans, what do you hope omnivores can draw from it?
True, we have vegan in the title, but I don’t really think the book is geared toward vegans. Finger foods might be the food course that is most often accidentally vegan. We think that as long as the food tastes incredible, people are less likely to focus on the fact that it’s vegan. We hope to show how easy it is to cook the whole range, from light appetizers to “heavy” and to feel good when you devour them.
Which recipes do you think would best satisfy a crowd that includes vegans, vegetarians and omnivores?
I know it’s almost obligatory at gatherings, but hummus is familiar to all. We’ve got two hummus recipes (Red Pepper Hummus Tartlets and Smoked Hummus), so one of those would be an easy in for an omnivore. Antipasta Tofu Shells –even though they have tofu – are so flavor-packed that they surprise people. The Potato Puffs with Tapenade are definitely a people-pleaser, no matter the dietary preferences. Plus, potatoes! The Pull-Apart Pesto Bread and the Spinach Swirls are also really approachable for omnis, while still delivering for vegans. Of course, you have to have dessert. The Nutty Caramel Chocolate Bites are hard to resist. Or the Almond Crescents!
When did you and Celine start talking about doing a finger foods book? How long did it take to put together?
VFF grew out of another concept we had pitched to our publisher. The publisher wasn’t crazy about our initial idea, but I still think it has huge potential so my lips are sealed on the theme. Anyway, we brain-stormed with Fair Winds and this concept came together. I’d say the whole process takes about a year, but it varies.
How are people responding to the book?
We’ve gotten some great feedback. Like I mentioned before, everybody seems to have different favorites, which we love. Can I put a shameless request in here? Yes? If you have the book, we’d really appreciate a review on Amazon.
What are you working on next?
We’ve got a protein book coming out in early 2015. Like all our books, we’re plant-focused, but still feature some amazing tofu, tempeh, and seitan recipes.
Where can you be found online? (Twitter/FB/blog, etc)
Tamasin's take on sandwiches! These are absolutely wonderful, take my word for it.
Tamasin and Celine's upcoming book. Grab your copy with a pre-order and happily cook when it is published in February 2015.