I’ve been cooking exclusively from Julie Hasson‘s Vegan Diner so far this week. And I’ve got to say that I’m impressed. Obviously I was excited when I won this cookbook, although at the same time I was worried I was going to end up with two very similar cookbooks. Tamasin Noyes’American Vegan Kitchen has been one of my favorite cookbooks for months now, and I didn’t see how much more I could do with two vegan diner-style cookbooks.

I shouldn’t have worried though. Both cookbooks are unique in their own ways, and I’m very happy to have Vegan Diner in my arsenal now. With only a few exceptions, the ingredients in the recipes call for basic pantry ingredients, and are easy to prepare. The recipes I’ve made so far were very well explained, and were hassle-free.

Above is the Great Smoky Mountain Cheeze, which is made of tofu, nooch, and agar. The smokiness comes from the smoked paprika, which is probably my new favorite pantry item (I bought some for the first time yesterday – I love it!). Even though I was initially wary of agar having never used it before, it was simple and the cheeze turned out delicious. Even David enjoyed it with me last night. Don’t expect it to last long though – I finished the stuff off within 12 hours. It’s addicting.

For lunch today, I used the last little bit of cheeze to make the Grilled Cheezy Sandwiches from the book. Although it isn’t stretchy like grilled Daiya might be, it is still gooey enough to satisfy you if you’re craving some comfort food.

To go with my lunch, I had a Highlands Coffee Porter. Highlands is my favorite locally brewed beer, and until today I absolutely hated porters and stouts. (I still hate stouts. Gross.) This beer changed my mind about porters… those that are infused with coffee anyway. Upon opening the bottle, I was greeted with the strong smell of a great dark roast. The whole time I drank it I felt as though I were having a treat. If you live somewhere where you don’t have access to Highlands brews, I feel so terrible for you. It’s great stuff.

Any recommendations for other great recipes from this book?