Recipe #2 from The Conscious Cook is Cornmeal Crusted Tempeh with Smoked Tomato Sauce, Green Chili Relish, Black Bean Puree and Braised Kale. Holy cow is this good!!

it took me a solid two hours to prepare. It's basically tempeh, that has been cooked in a broth of water, shoyu, ginger, garlic and chilis, then coated in cornmeal and pan fried, layered with a black bean puree, braised kale, a spicy tomato sauce and a chili relish. I have no idea how the chef, Tal Ronnen actually intended for it to be plated, but the above was my best guess. I honestly don't know that it matters how you stack it, because I think it would be delicious regardless.

Again, still really loving this cookbook. I do, however, have a couple of additional observations that I would like to share. First, in the description of the book, it indicates that Chef Ronnen is a former lover of steak and this is a "ground-breaking book filled with delicious and hearty meals that will satisfy even the most devoted meat-eaters." Based on my experience thus far, mission accomplished. The other thing I would like to note is that even though these are all vegan recipes so they are healthier than their meat and potatoes counterparts, the two recipes I have made so far do not feel healthy. There is fairly generous usage of oil and other fats - this particular recipe called for 3 tablespoons of Earth Balance to put melted into the tomato sauce after it was pureed, but I just could not bring my self to do it. In addition, there's nearly a cup of oil used throughout the rest of the cooking, either for pan frying or sauteing. Also, he instructs you to add the liquid that comes with black beans into the pot; maybe there's nothing to it, but I have always drained and rinsed my beans to remove excess sodium and whatever other things were added so I was left with just beans. Now, I have thumbed through the book and this is not indicative of all 70 recipes, but it is a point worth making.

What does this all mean to me? Well, it means that I will look for ways to modify the recipes to reduce the amounts of fat and sodium, where necessary. That, combined with the complexity or time required for some of the recipes, this will be a cookbook reserved for special occasions and lazy Sunday afternoons. But still, I have to say this is a cookbook that every vegan should have, especially if they are called upon to entertain from time to time, or love to try different things.

Now, which cookbook to cook from next week...???