Chef Fran Costigan

Coconut Bacon from Baconish by Leinana Two Moons

Baconish by Leinana Two MoonsSatisfy your bacon cravings with the first vegan bacon cookbook by Leinana Two Moons. Now the oft heard, “I’d be vegan but I can’t give up bacon,” is no more. You can enjoy the salty, smoky, crispy, fatty yum made with plant-based ingredients. It’s all in the seasonings, and these easy-to-make recipes are loaded with decadently delicious bacony flavor. Not only that, but these tasty plant-based bacons are low in fat and cholesterol-free. Leinana does admit the recipes are not low salt and not all are healthy, but they are far better than the pork kind in every way. Compassionate, plant-based bacon that tastes great and so many different kinds – let’s go!

In Baconish, you’ll discover Leinana’s basic bacon recipes, made with a variety of plant-based ingredients. Then you can use them to make  favorite dishes that include bacon. With these plant-based bacons, you can make a wide range of recipes from Quiche Lorraine, a Bacon and Butternut Galette, BLTs (of course), and Bacon Cheeseburgers, plus much more!

The recipes are quite easy to make, and use readily available ingredients. I appreciate their versatility, allowing readers to use the various bacons interchangeably. So when that salty, smoky, crispy craving strikes you, Leinana’s  animal-friendly flavorful recipes will serve you well. I found this coconut bacon recipe easy to make and delicious to eat.

Coconut Bacon from Baconish by Leinana Two MoonsCoconut Bacon

Makes 2 1/2 cups

This recipe will make any vegan-bacon skeptic a true believer. It is my absolute favorite bacon to use for the best BLTs ever.


  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 cups unsweetened large-flake coconut


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the tamari, liquid smoke, water, and maple syrup together in a large bowl. Stir in the coconut and mix well to ensure that the flakes are evenly coated.

Spread the coconut in an even layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes, then stir. Bake another 8 minutes, keeping a very close eye on the coconut in the last few minutes. The coconut will go from almost done to completely burned very quickly. Remove from the oven when the coconut flakes on the outer edges of the pan are becoming a deep, dark brown, but not black.

Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack. The coconut will continue to crisp as it cools. Coconut bacon will keep 1 to 2 weeks in an airtight plastic container, but will become less crisp the longer you store it.

From Baconish © 2016 by Leinana Two Moons. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.


I have a copy of Baconish for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on May 3rd. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck!


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Vegan Chocolate Mendiants

Mendiants from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan

Mendiants are small chocolate disks topped with candied fruits and nuts. They look beautiful but can be time-consuming and tricky to make when using tempered chocolate and candying the nuts. I made a simpler version by using leftover ingredients. Melted chocolate left from a recipe test? Check. Walnuts or pine nuts? Yes. Four squares of candied ginger, a handful of dried cranberries… you get the idea. This is probably heresy but it works! I had only to rewarm the formerly melted chocolate. While the chocolate was melting, I lined a sheet pan with parchment and gathered the bits of fruit and nuts. Straight out of the refrigerator and onto a silver tray, the leftovers became elegant confections worthy of a grown-up party. I still think of them as fancy leftovers, though.

Since I am very busy this month, working with Rouxbe on the new Vegan Baking Essentials Course (whoot to being the Director of Vegan Baking and Pastry), this is what I am bringing to the seder at my daughter’s home. Maybe I’ll do a few with broken pretzel sticks for the boys. What’s not to like, they are chocolate? I’ll bring some of the Dukkah-Spiced Chocolate–Covered Matzoh, too.

Notes: All amounts are approximate: use more or less depending on what you have. About a half tablespoon of melted chocolate makes a thin 2 to 2 1/2-inch / 5 to 6-cm thin confection, but figure in a little bit of extra chocolate for chocolate that sticks to the spoon. If the leftover melted chocolate is streaked with white, warm it with a few small chunks of solid chocolate to “temper” it . Tempered chocolate sets fast, so you will have to add the toppings quickly. If the melted chocolate is not tempered, it will stay liquid for an hour, at least.


Makes about 12 Thin Mendiants

Mendiants from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan


  • 3 ounces / 85 grams dark chocolate (70 to 72%), melted and kept warm in a water bath
  • 6 walnuts, halved or quartered
  • 10 blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 ounce / 12 grams candied ginger, slivered or cubed
  • 1 1/4 ounces / 35 grams any dried fruit, slivered or cubed if large
  • 1/4 ounce / 5 grams pine nuts (about 24)


  1. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  2. Drop a tablespoonful of the chocolate onto the sheet and use the back of a spoon to spread it into a thin round about 2 to 2 1/2 inches / 5 to 6 cm in diameter. Keep the thickness of the round as even as possible. Make only 6 at a time to ensure that the chocolate doesn’t set before the toppings are added.
  3. For each mendiant, arrange a walnut half, a couple of pieces of almond, some of the ginger, a piece of another dried fruit, and 2 or 3 pine nuts on top of the chocolate, creating your own design. Repeat the process until you have used all of the melted chocolate, nuts, and fruits. Allow the mendiants to harden at room temperature. You can speed the process by placing the tray in the refrigerator. 


Mendiants (even made from leftovers) deserve to be served on an elegant tray. These are perfect party confections, or a lovely snack to enjoy at tea time. (Sip from a tea cup, not a mug!)


Store the mendiants in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.


Recipes reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, (Running Press 2013). Photo credit: © Kate Lewis



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Vegan at a Foodie Conference in LA


Fran with Derek Sarno, Tal Ronnen, and Chad Sarno

The International Conference of Culinary Professionals annual conference was held in LA this year. Culinary influencers of all types – cookbook authors, agents, editors, media, test kitchen personal, food manufactures, culinary educators, and cooking school owners, both brick and mortar and online – came to learn, network, and of course, to eat. Most attendees were not vegan but are becoming ever more interested in plant based foods.

Berry Tart with Coconut Cream from Crossroads

Berry Tart with Coconut Cream from Crossroads

I get to LA regularly as the Costigals and their parents live there, but for this now they are in New Zealand. (Imagine my surprise when I got to the conference hotel and saw that it’s right next to the girls’ school!) Every time I book a trip to LA,  I make a reservation at the spectacular Crossroads Kitchen. This trip, I had two swoon-worthy dinners at Crossroads, the first in the private room no less, thanks to chef Tal’s kindness to a long time friend. The Crossroads cookbook was up for an IACP cookbook awards in the Chef and Restaurateur Category. This was the first time a book with the word vegan on the cover was nominated.

Artichoke Oysters at Crossroads

Artichoke Oysters at Crossroads

I made a reservation at Moby’s new restaurant Little Pine, too, as it opened after my last visit.  Terry Romero, Kathy Hester, Jill Nussinow, and I dined lightly on several salads, breads, and spreads, but when it came to dessert, we could not resist ordering two. The Banana Cream Pie, a whole pie, was adorable and creamy, but it was the Vegan Baked Alaska that had us in awe. It was perfection.

Vegan Baked Alaska at Little Pine

The Vegan Baked Alaska at Little Pine was dessert perfection.

Moby donates all of the profits to animal welfare groups, and he sells an assortment of interesting pottery and books in the restaurant. You think I was happy to see this? So there I was, a vegan at a food conference LA and very happy!

Look what I found on the shelves at Little Pine!

Look what I found on the shelves at Little Pine!


Car Vegenz

LA is the center of the plant-based universe

Tour: Los Angeles: Center of the Plant-Based Universe
First stop on the tour was Follow Your Heart, a company that was founded in 1970 by 4 vegetarian friends. Earth Island was created in 1988 to produce FYH proprietary products, including Vegenaise and vegan cheese alternatives – the ones we see in that in supermarkets. These foods are served in restaurants across the country, too. We toured the super sustainable facility and were treated to yummy snacks. Cheeses, gluten-free brioche, and quiche made with the new VeganEgg were well received by the many non-vegans, which was the majority of the group. We left with swag bags.

Gluten Free Brioche Toast at Follow Your Heart

Gluten Free Brioche Toast at Follow Your Heart

Quiche made with Follow Your Heart's VeganEgg

Quiche made with Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg

Next we traveled to Marina del Rey to meet with the culinary and marketing team at Gardein. Twenty-five years ago the founder of Gardein had a dream to make the world a better place using the power of vegetables to create healthy versions of American fast food favorites. I’ve tasted most of the Gardein and Kite Hill products, but had not yet tasted the Fish Fillets. I was astonished. More, please! Chef Jason and the team were gracious and welcoming and generous with the platters of foods to taste. More swag, too!

Gardein's Beefless Tips

Gardein’s Beefless Tips

Gardein Sandwiches

Gardein Chicken Sliders

Now, I can’t say anyone of us was hungry when we found ourselves next on the beautiful patio of Sage Organic Bistro in Culver City, but the dishes, served family style, were irresistible. After eating more than I thought was possible, yet another treat was offered. Chef Mollie is the creator of KindKreme vegan ice cream. Which to order? Well, if you can imagine, we were invited to taste as many of the flavors as we wished. I sure did a wide tasting before settling on the cocoa coffee and super foods. I did pass on the plates of giant cookies. I just couldn’t have another bite. Back on the bus, we had lots of time to digest this meal, the tastes and the day, as LA traffic was serious.

Lunch at Sage Organic Bistro

Lunch at Sage Organic Bistro

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro Nice Kreme

KindKreme at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro

IACP conferencesa are always informative and fun. I’ll be blogging about the food trends next.

Those of you who live in or travel to Los Angeles, I’d sure like to hear about your favorite places. I know I missed Vromage, Plant Food, Real Food Daily, and Shojim this time, but the Costigals will be home this summer, and I’ll be sure to visit LA again soon.