Tag Archive for thug kitchen

Top Cookbooks of 2014

Oh, the irony. Here I am, my blog the anti-cookbook, with a list of my favourite cookbooks from this year.

I can’t help it. Even though I primarily still cook by laptop, I do love a good, old-fashioned, dead-tree cookbook. There were some good ones this year!

Here’s what I look for in a cookbook:

  • #foodporn: Images are so important! I want a cookbook that has drool-worthy images.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan options: I don’t eat much meat, so I’m always looking for cookbooks that at least include vegetarian options.
  • Something new to learn: whether it’s a new recipe, a take on a classic, or a new technique, I always love to learn something new.
  • A good story: food, let’s face it, is about context. Where you ate that amazing brownie is every bit as much part of the story as the ingredients that went into it.

best cookbooks of 2014

Without further ado, then! My picks for the Top Cookbooks of 2014 (*note: these are cookbooks that came across my radar in 2014, or I acquired them this year. They may have been published a little earlier. I don’t own all of these, but the ones I don’t own, I want to).

Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery: If you don’t follow Butter Baked Goods on Instagram, I highly reccomend you do, for your daily dose of some of the best #foodporn out there. The cookbook is more of the same–the photos are gorgeous and mouth-watering. I got this book months ago, but it remains in the place of honour on my coffee table, because it really is part cookbook, part coffee table book. Read more (including a recipe from the book).

Plenty More: 2014 saw the publication of Yotam Ottolenghi‘s follow up cookbook to PlentyThis is vegetarian cooking at its best. The recipes are beautiful, colourful, and fresh. Everyone I know is talking about this book.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out: from one of my favourite vegan blogs, finally, a cookbook! Love it!

Jamie’s Comfort Food: Jamie Oliver is a machine! He pumps out cookbooks and cooking shows, and runs restaurants and generally makes the rest of us look like slackers. But this book–some of the stuff in here–drool. Like his ultimate grilled cheese sandwich, mac ‘n’ cheese, and other comfort food dishes from around the world. And because it’s Jamie Oliver, you know the recipes are going to be simple, accessible, and delicious.

Dirty Apron Cookbook: Recipes, Tips and Tricks for Creating Delicious, Foolproof Dishes: a local success story from one of our local cooking schools. I’ve not had a chance to dig deeply into this one yet, but I can’t wait to make more of the recipes in here. The ones I’ve tried so far have been stellar. Plus the photos… Read more (including a recipe).

The Thug Kitchen Cookbook: yes, there’s a lot of swearing, which, honestly, I find amusing. But if you go beyond that, these are simple, fresh, easy recipes, which happen to be vegan. Read more (including a recipe).

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories: David Lebovitz is an American living the dream in Paris. I love his writing–every day I live vicariously through him. Isn’t it every foodies’ dream to go and live and Paris? Well, it certainly is mine. Through this book, you can, too.

Delicious! (not a cookbook) by Ruth Reichl. I know a lot of people weren’t crazy about this novel which followed a young protagonist who goes to work for a dying food magazine. I enjoyed it, though. It was a fun read. Maybe something to read over your Christmas vacation? Read my review here.

What were your favourite cookbooks this year? Let me know in the comments section below.

Thug Kitchen: Vegan Caesar Salad

As a blogger, and someone who works in social media, I pay pretty close attention to trends in blogging. One great trend I’ve been happy to see is when food bloggers get cookbook deals. It happened to my friend Liz, and it’s happened to a bunch of my favourite blogs over the past couple of years. The most recent one? Thug Kitchen.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Thug Kitchen, you really need to head over there right this second and have a look at it. I just have to warn you–the site may be NSFW (depending on where you work).

vegan caesar salad dressing

Thug Kitchen’s brand is built on a couple of things: gorgeous #foodporn photography, and a lot of f-bombs.

The Thug Kitchen Cookbook stays true to brand. Lots of gorgeous photos, lots of swearing. The sections include breakfast, salads, snacks and sandwiches, comfort food (soups and stews), mains, and desserts.

Two things you need to know about Thug Kitchen: they are vegan and, until recently, the identities of the authors were hidden. In fact, you won’t find the authour’s names anywhere in the book. Even in the acknowledgments, they simply use initials. I’m guessing the reason behind this is because they are a couple of young, middle-class white folks, but I’m not really interested in exploring that angle.

I love Thug Kitchen because, yes, swearing is funny, but mostly I love them because they make good food that happens to be vegan. This book is really aimed at the beginner cook–someone who is in their early 20’s, and just going out on their own.

When I was in my early 20’s and went away to university and lived on my own for the first time, I ate A LOT of hot dogs, Kraft dinner, chicken nuggets, and french fries. I know that might shock you, given how you know me today, but I’m not one of those people that grew up in a gourmet household, I only really learned how to cook in the last 20 years or so.

So, simply put, I think this book is awesome, and should be given to any kid who is leaving home for the first time. I’m not saying that they need to be vegan, but learning to cook healthier right from the start is a good place to start. There are tons of basics and tutorials in here to help the beginning chef–even I learned a couple new tips from this book!

I also really love that this cookbook isn’t touted as a Vegan cookbook. It’s vegan, yes, but it’s not sanctimonious and preachy in the way that some people can be. It’s good food. That happens to be vegan. Period. The end.

Which brings us to our recipe. I love me some caesar salad. My son loves caesar salad. Ergo, we eat a lot of caesar salad–sometimes as much as 2-3 times a week.

Now, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need to leave out the anchovies that normally form the salty base of most caesar salad dressings. You could do a straight-up, simple vinaigrette. But this–this is a creamy vegan Caesar salad dressing. The creaminess comes from almonds–the technique is similar to how you’d make a cashew cheese.

The best part of this dressing? It still has that unctuous, salty base, without the use of anchovies. Capers are what make this vegan caesar salad dressing magic.

By the way, I never buy croutons. What a huge waste of money! I buy a big loaf of french bread at my local grocery store, and take about a fourth of it and let it sit out overnight. The next day, I cut it into cubes, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder, and whatever dried green stuff I have kicking around–basil, parsley, oregano. Lay your cubes out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in a slow oven for about 20 minutes until they are toasty. I then store them in a mason jar in my cupboard, for instant caesar salads.

vegan caesar salad

Vegan Caesar Salad

(from The Thug Kitchen Cookbook)


  • 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp dijon
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • romaine lettuce
  • croutons


  1. Place the almonds and the hot water in a small bowl, and set them aside to soften, about 15 minutes.
  2. In the mean time, mince the garlic finely. Once the almonds are softened, throw them into a blender with the water they were soaked in. Add the garlic and the rest of the ingredients (except the capers), and blend well until nice and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings. If the dressing seems too thick, add a little more water and blend again. Finally, add the capers and blend for 5 seconds. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.
  3. To make the salad: wash and spin dry your lettuce. Cut or tear into bite-sized pieces. Place in a big bowl, top with a couple tablespoons of dressing, and toss well. Top with croutons (and vegan bacon bits if you like) and serve.
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