At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well


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James Beard Award Winner (Vegetarian)
IACP Award Winner (Healthy Eating)

A sophisticated vegetarian cookbook with all the tools you need to be at home in your kitchen, cooking in the most nourishing and delicious ways—from the foundations of stocking a pantry and understanding your ingredients, to preparing elaborate seasonal feasts.

Imagine you are in a bright, breezy kitchen. There are large bowls on the counter full of lush, colorful produce and a cake stand stacked with pretty whole-grain muffins. On the shelves live rows of glass jars containing grains, seeds, beans, nuts, and spices. You open the fridge and therein you find a bottle of fresh almond milk, cooked beans, soaking grains, dressings, ferments, and seasonal produce. This is Amy Chaplin’s kitchen. It is a heavenly place, and this book will make it your kitchen too.

With her love of whole food and knowledge as a chef, Chaplin has written a book that will inspire you to eat well at every meal. Part One lays the foundation for stocking the pantry. This is not just a list of food and equipment; it’s real working information—how and why to use ingredients—and an arsenal of simple recipes for daily nourishment. Also included throughout are tips on living a whole food lifestyle: planning weekly menus, why organic is important, composting, plastics vs. glass, drinking tea, doing a whole food cleanse, and much more.

Part Two is a collection of recipes (most of which are naturally gluten-free) celebrating vegetarian cuisine in its brightest, whole, sophisticated form. Black rice breakfast pudding with coconut and banana? Yes, please. Beet tartlets with poppy seed crust and white bean fennel filling? I’ll take two. Fragrant eggplant curry with cardamom basmati rice, apricot chutney, and cucumber lime raita? Invite company. Roasted fig raspberry tart with toasted almond crust? There is always room for this kind of dessert.

If you are an omnivore, you will delight in this book for its playful use of produce and know-how in balancing food groups. If you are a vegetarian, this book will become your best friend, always there for you when you’re on your own, and ready to lend a hand when you’re sharing food with family and friends. If you are a vegan, you can cook nearly every recipe in this book and feed your body well in the truest sense. This is whole food for everyone.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611800852
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 10/21/2014
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 66,097
Product dimensions: 8.60(w) x 10.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

AMY CHAPLIN has worked as a vegetarian chef for over twenty years. She is the former executive chef of New York’s renowned vegan restaurant Angelica Kitchen, a recipe developer, a teacher, and a private chef whose clients include Natalie Portman and Liv Tyler. Amy’s delicious vegan and vegetarian cuisine has appeared in numerous publications, including Martha Stewart Living, Vogue, Whole Living, New York magazine, the Guardian, and Fitness. She is also a regular contributor to the Food Network’s HealthyEats blog. A native of Australia, over the last two decades Chaplin has worked as a chef in Amsterdam, London, Sydney, and New York. She currently resides in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

My relationship with food and nature goes further back than I can remember. I suppose I really did inherit my love of good food from my mother and father. I was raised in a remote area of rural New South Wales, Australia, by vegetarian parents who grew and cooked everything we ate. My parents migrated up the coast to a developing community farm before I could walk, because they wanted to live off the land as much as possible.

Our family home—an octagon-shaped, mud-brick house—was built around the kitchen. We all spent a great deal of time in that large open room washing, chopping, and cooking vegetables; sharing meals; and in winter, warming ourselves by the wood-burning stove.
My father designed and built the house with handmade, sun-dried mud bricks; reclaimed wood and windows; and antique doors. When I was an infant, my mother bathed me in the kitchen sink; once I could sit up on my own, she perched me on the counter to keep an eye on me as she cooked our daily meals. I sampled whatever she happened to be making, and as soon as I could hold a spoon, the job of stirring (and tasting) cake batters was mine. Before long, I graduated to using a small knife and chopped the chives and parsley picked from the garden that we added to almost all our meals.
As a child, a weekly high point for me was helping my father make our bread. He would set me up at a low table so I was able to knead the dough. I loved creating my own minirolls from the excess dough, which I filled with dried fruit and spices.
My sister and I were involved in everything my parents did: keeping bees, brewing ginger beer, making tofu, molding the mud bricks to build the house, creating biodynamic preparations for the property, and grinding wheat into flour. We were also part of the process of planting, harvesting, and cooking the food we ate; inevitably composting our food scraps, which were eventually used to fertilize the garden.
There were no stores within a thirty-mile radius of where we lived, so being well prepared on the food front was ingrained from an early age. Besides growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs on our land, my parents ordered bulk grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and olive oil, which sat in jars on a big old dresser in the kitchen. The image of those large jars filled with wholesome ingredients has been central to inspiring me to create new recipes over these many years as a chef.
In addition to having a well-stocked pantry at home, we packed meals whenever we went on road trips; my mother still travels with a picnic blanket and a “billy can” (Australian campfire kettle) in her trunk. Sipping tea and eating delicious homemade food out in nature—on remote beaches or in subtropical rain forests—is something we frequently did. Today, I do this as often as possible and think of it as one of life’s greatest luxuries.
It never occurred to me when I was growing up that as we ate from the garden, collected milk in jars from a local biodynamic farmer, composted and collected rainwater, we were living an ecofriendly lifestyle. This cycle of growing, harvesting, cooking, eating, composting, and fertilizing was deeply rooted in us. Even now, though I live in downtown Manhattan, I continue to compost every food scrap that is created in my kitchen by making biweekly trips to the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s compost bins at the Union Square farmers’ market. After lightening my load, I then fill my bags with fresh vegetables, and the ever-rewarding cycle begins again.
I attribute my reverence for nature and obsession for seeking out the best-tasting whole foods to spending countless hours in our garden as a child. There I sampled everything we grew and often made herb-vegetable combinations in my mouth as I walked the paths that divided the tiered garden beds. Those vegetables I casually sampled on a daily basis made a huge impact on my taste buds. I am always seeking ingredients that match the integrity of the produce I grew up with and honoring it with recipes that bring out its best qualities. This is what I strive for as a chef.
The first time I set foot in a working kitchen was at my favorite café in inner-city Sydney. I got a job there through word of mouth (and lots of enthusiasm!) working the espresso machine and waiting tables. I often found myself helping out in the busy kitchen during the lunch rush and would step in when they were short-handed, making the daily specials. I worked hard and learned a lot in that bustling little café.
During this period, I was living with friends who followed a macrobiotic diet. Through them and the local macrobiotic restaurant (which quickly became my favorite), I was introduced to the idea of food as medicine. In the short time I lived in Sydney, I cooked a lot and shared many meals with both new and old friends: we ground millet for porridge, roasted copious amounts of vegetables, discovered the endless possibilities of tahini sauce, and experimented with vegan desserts—just because my awareness for healthy ingredients was expanding, I still didn’t consider missing out on dessert! I found I actually preferred the flavor of desserts made with natural sweeteners, nuts, and fruit. The challenge of creating a delicious dessert in its own right, without using animal products or refined ingredients, captivated my interest.
I was itching to travel, and less than a year later, I arrived in Amsterdam and continued my food journey, this time in a Japanese macrobiotic restaurant, once again waiting tables. Eating the daily staff meal was an education in home-style Japanese food and kept me curious; on my days off, I replicated what I ate for friends and continued my exploration of vegan, whole-food desserts. To my delight, the owner of the restaurant noticed my interest and zeal for cooking and offered me a position as pastry chef. I was given a few training sessions on traditional Japanese desserts, which solidified my understanding for the way agar and kuzu work and gave me the keys to create any vegan dessert I could imagine. Once my foot was in the kitchen door, I got the chance to learn from some very talented macrobiotic chefs, and in addition to the desserts, I started preparing the daily “bento box” specials.
Though I still didn’t consciously realize that I was moving deeper and deeper into a career in food, it did excite me that I had built a small following, and my desserts started selling out nightly. Planning menus and envisioning new flavor combinations occupied my mind and started keeping me up at night. I was inspired by the endless possibilities that food held and bounded out of bed at five a.m., when the quiet kitchen gave me the space to create. I felt so happy and fortunate to be able to dream up desserts and then create them at work.
Through these early years in my career, I knew I wanted to eat food that tasted great and nourished my body (with indulgences, of course!) while having a minimal environmental impact. I also remained strongly drawn to honoring a connection to nature and the way food has the ability to act as a catalyst for this. As my knowledge about the benefits of vegan and macrobiotic diets deepened, the world of plant-based whole foods commanded my full attention; its seemingly endless possibilities still inspire me as much today as they did when I was first starting out as a chef. Though the structure of cooking this way grabbed my attention, I also wanted to find ways to infuse my food with the element of celebration with which I was raised, the festive quality that I think defines many Australians’ approach to food.
Some of my most vivid food memories are of my mother’s parties. She routinely invited people to celebrate holidays and special occasions, setting long tables with antique plates and linen napkins, serving champagne, and often entertaining with live music. All the food was either made by us or prepared by the neighbors and friends in attendance. I took to the role of hostess at a young age and, along with the rest of the family, was involved in every aspect of the party from cocktails to dessert. Besides food for the main event, my mother would often prepare late-night pastas and breakfast the following day for the guests who had stayed over.
Looking back, it’s no surprise that I moved from Amsterdam to London to found a catering business with my dear friend, Rosada Hayes. The business was based on our shared passion for vibrant, delectable, healthy food and lavish vegan and wheat-free desserts. Together we constantly created new dishes and planned seemingly endless menus for all sorts of events and parties. In that highly creative time, I finally and fully embraced my life path as a chef.
My journey deepened further when I followed my heart to New York City and moved to an apartment a block from the Union Square farmers’ market. Although I had grown up eating homegrown vegetables, food miles and microseasons were not concepts I had been aware of, and never in my life had I seen such an abundance of local, organic produce. To this day, I am able to stay intricately connected to the seasons through that market and feel blessed to live just a short walk away.
One of my first meals in New York was at Angelica Kitchen, the city’s most famous and long-standing vegan restaurant. I got a job working there not long after, first as pastry chef and then as executive chef. At Angelica Kitchen, I experienced the most challenging and rewarding restaurant work I have done. I got down to the nitty-gritty of using truly local food and took great care to center the daily meals around seasonal ingredients, while keeping them healthy, tasty, and beautiful. I learned firsthand what it means to build relationships with growers and how those relationships are imperative to sustaining ethical business practices. Some farmers have been providing Angelica Kitchen with produce, tofu, or sea vegetables for more than thirty-five years; it was an honor to witness those deep ties and to cook with the freshest, locally grown produce available. In that busy 24/7 kitchen, I was fortunate to be able to absorb the exceptional knowledge of the many past and present chefs who have cooked there. The culinary challenges that I was faced with at Angelica pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped solidify my approach to food.
I moved on from Angelica Kitchen to work as a recipe developer and private chef and have had the pleasure of cooking for people who value the thought and effort that goes into sourcing sustainable organic ingredients and preparing them in ways that enhance nutrition. Again, the farmers’ market is central to what and how I cook, be it a cleansing diet or special multicourse dinner. The produce there is my trusty guide and barometer, as well as my primary source of inspiration.
Ultimately, my favorite thing about working with food has been sharing my knowledge with others, whether by teaching cooking classes or through my blog. I love introducing people to the nightly rituals of soaking grains, beans, and nuts and how the routine of cooking can inspire and delight not just the cook but everyone involved. Today, nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing people excited by a trip to the farmers’ market, what they can make, how they feel, and a new practice that enriches their life.
Cooking is something I began doing to make a living and to nourish and ground myself in different parts of the world while I was looking for the career I really wanted—at that time, I didn’t realize cooking would be that career. The pleasure of choosing ingredients and creating meals kept me company in the early days of navigating new cities, whether it was Sydney, Amsterdam, London, or New York. Then and today, food continues to keep me connected to nature, to my past, and to the people I cook and eat with. The more I learn about the nutritional benefits of eating a diet of real whole foods, the more I want to cook—and vice versa.
The recipes in this book, like my diet, are over 90 percent vegan. I always choose real whole-food ingredients over anything processed and would rather leave the cheese out than eat a processed vegan cheese with questionable ingredients—when given the choice, I will always choose real butter over a processed (vegan) margarine. I use local goat dairy products and occasionally yogurt as a garnish and a way to enrich meals; this way I’m not always relying on avocados, nuts, and seeds to add richness (none of which are local to the region where I live). So choosing a vegetarian diet over a vegan one means that I can support a variety of local farmers and artisans.
Through this book, my intention is to inspire you to seek out ingredients that have been grown with reverence for the environment, find a deeper connection to the natural world, and above all else, to cook more. This way we can participate in a healthy, sustainable food system that truly nourishes us all. This book is the culmination of my life with food thus far, and I hope it will inspire you on your own food journey.

Amy Chaplin
New York City

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