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Cookbook is rich in elegant vegan holiday fare

The Braised Cranberry-Orange Tofu is a perfect choice for a festive Christmas meal. | Jim Franco/Ten Speed Press

Vegans want holiday fare just as much as the rest of us.

Here to show that those meals can be as festive and spectacular as traditional fare is “Vegan Holiday Cooking” (Ten Speed Press, $22.99). It’s from the food gurus at Candle Cafe, known for the popular vegan fare available at its three New York restaurants, catering business and through its national food line.

It’s not just for the Christmas holiday, either. There are inventive and elegant menu ideas for New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl, Passover seder and Easter brunch, to name a few. The one constant throughout is the use of the fresh ingredients of the different seasons.

Creative takes on traditional dishes (such as the Chopped “Liver” for Passover) are included. Yet the modern-day dishes suggested as holiday fare — consider the Mojo De Ajo Seitan with Grilled Peaches for the 4th — would be welcome at any table, I would think.

The cookbook doesn’t lack in sweets, either, with killer choices such as French Toast Coffee Cake and Pumpkin Cheesecake with Apple Cider Reduction.

Each holiday chapter also includes an inventive array of cocktails (the Acai Mimosa for Easter, Chai Kiss for Valentine’s Day) for each occasion.

For the most part the recipes are simple. But even the longer ones provide easy-to-follow directions.

The photography by Jim Franco makes the different dishes and drinks so inviting.

I also wanted to give a shoutout to Candle Cafe co-owner Joy Pierson who shared the credit here with Candle Cafe’s executive chef, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda, pastry chef and kitchen manager. All three have their names prominently across the cover. (That doesn’t always happen.)

The recipe included here is one that can be used at Christmas as well as Thanksgiving. It looks so classy in the photo above, doesn’t it? The roasted tofu teams nicely with two flavors of the season, cranberry and orange.



2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 cup water

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

2 oranges, juiced

2 tablespoons agave nectar, plus more if needed

1 cup white wine

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon arrowroot powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Finely grated zest of two oranges

2 (14-ounce) blocks extra-firm tofu

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the shallots to a saucepan; add the water, cranberries, orange juice, agave, wine, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat, add the arrowroot, and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce has slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. If the sauce seems too tart, add a bit more agave. Remove from the heat, stir in the zest, and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a large baking dish.

Cut the tofu into ¾-inch-thick slices and put them in the prepared baking dish. Pour the cranberry-orange mixture over the tofu. Turn to coat each side. Top with the rosemary and bake for about 25 minutes, until the sauce starts to caramelize. Serve immediately.

From “Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe” by Joe Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda (Ten Speed Press)