The first two recipes I tackled from "Dirt Candy" were Carrot Risotto with carrot dumplings and Roasted Carrot Buns. Carrot juice, carrot stock, roasted carrots, carrot dumplings--we will look like Oompa Loompas by the end of the week. The Piglet eliminated this cookbook in the first round, primarily because the recipes are complex, matroyshka-esque, and can't be accomplished in 30 minutes at the end of the workday. I don't need a cookbook to make dinner in 30 minutes. I have a lot of free time on my hands and want the challenge and a finished product with "wow" factor.
Amanda Cohen, owner of the restaurant and co-author of the eponymous cookbook, gives the reader permission to use bottled carrot juice and a searingly honest account of the restaurant business. I loved the graphic novel format and her unapologetic admission that the recipes are flavor-forward and calories be damned. If your idea of vegetarian cookery involves massaged kale salads and juice cleanses, this cookbook may not be for you.
The recipe made about 2 dozen small buns with some leftover filling. The resident char siu bao fanatic loved them as much as her beloved pork buns.