Bitchin’ Book Club

Snacks
A tasty accompaniment to all your vegan cravings and exclusive recipes from the novel

Skinny Bitch in Love
by Kim Barnouin

Table of Contents

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

A Note from the Author Zack’s Favorite Chili Corn, Asparagus & Fresh Risotto Sara’s Ratatouille Crêpes with Raspberry Sauce Kale and White Bean Soup Alexander’s Special White Miso Dressing Red Potato Salad with Black Niçoise Olives Caramelized Eggplant with Red Miso No Crap Café’s Curried Chickpea Cakes Sabotage-proof Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Sauce Clementine’s Chocolate Chip Cookies Mini Lemon Cheesecake Bites with Strawberry Sauce Mrs. Cooper’s Famous Coconut Shortbread Cookies Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Skinny Bitch Cooking School’s Orange Snap Cookies

19-32. An Excerpt from Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin

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A Note From the Author
Welcome to my Bitchin’ Book Club Snacks ebook! 
I am so excited to share with you some of my favorite recipes that are featured

in my book Skinny Bitch in Love. So, Bitchin’ Book Club Snacks was created to give you a taste of what the main character, Clementine Cooper, was cooking up or munching on. The inspiration for Skinny Bitch in Love happened in the summer of 2011 in La Jolla, California. I was on vacation there with my mom and my son Jack, and as we were sitting on the beach I looked around and saw at least half of the women reading a novel. Then it hit me, I wanted to have a book of mine in the hands of these women. But not just my usual health or cookbooks, I wanted a great summer read that they could get lost in. I called my agent right then from the beach and told her my plan…then Skinny Bitch in Love was born. One of my favorite things to do is cook, and especially to bake. And my previous Skinny Bitch books have all been about health, nutrition, and cooking; so why not incorporate what Skinny Bitch is based on into my new world of fiction. Creating the main character, Clementine Cooper, was really amazing. I wanted her to be real and to be the kind of person who took control of her life and didn’t let life control her. I secretly wish I were a pastry chef, but I suppose when I am baking up something in my kitchen I pretend that I am. So living vicariously through Clementine was a great experience for me to introduce some of my passions to my loyal fans that have followed my series of books throughout the years. I wanted to take readers on a journey with Skinny Bitch in Love, not just into the life of Clementine Cooper, but of a culinary experience as well. I wanted to inspire people to get into the kitchen and cook. I want to thank my wonderful fans for supporting my new journey into the world of fiction. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do. And I hope you enjoy the recipes that I have made for you. Get your girlfriends together for a night of food and friendship and talk about your favorite parts of Skinny Bitch in Love!

Love,
Kim
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ZACK’S FAVORITE CHILI
You can never pass up a chili. It’s so easy to make, and it’s loaded with protein and fiber. You can also make it ahead of time in a crock-pot, while you’re at work or running daily errands. I wrap it in a burrito and have it for breakfast whenever I make this recipe. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s just for dinner.

Yield: 6 Servings Ingredients:
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil 1 medium onion, finely diced 1 (4-ounce) can green chilies, diced 1 envelope taco seasoning 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, diced   1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 ⁄2 cup salsa 2 ⁄3 cup vegan cheddar cheese, shredded 1 ⁄4 cup vegan sour cream

  Directions:
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chilies, taco seasoning, tomatoes, kidney beans, and black beans. Let the mixture simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with salsa, cheese, and sour cream.

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Corn, Asparagus & Fresh Risotto
Risotto is one of those dishes that is so hearty and filling. Just add some veggies in there, and it’s healthy too. Don’t be intimidated about cooking risotto—work up some balls. It’s not too difficult and doesn’t take as long to cook as most people think. Also, risotto can be eaten as is, or with a protein such as sautéed seitan or tempeh strips. Mmmm…

Yield: 8 Servings Ingredients:
61⁄2 cups vegetable broth 3 ears of fresh white or yellow corn, husks and silk removed 2 to 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 ⁄3 cup (about 2) shallots, finely chopped 11⁄2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces 2 cloves of garlic, minced 11⁄2 cups Arborio rice 1 ⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup white wine 1 cup freshly shelled peas (frozen can be used too) 2 ounces vegan Parmesan

Directions:
In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth to a simmer on medium-low heat; then cover, and continue simmering on low heat. Place the corn in a pot of boiling water, cover and cook for 6 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the kernels from the cob by holding cob upright over a plate. Take a sharp knife and slice down each side, removing the kernels and the juice. Put the corn aside and put the cobs into the vegetable broth to flavor the broth. In a large saucepan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the onion and shallots and cook, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and sauté until well combined with onions and oil. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the rice and stir, coating the grains with oil for 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup of the warm broth and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the broth 1⁄2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 30 to 40 minutes. While the risotto is cooking, blanch the peas in boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Drain. Stir in the corn, asparagus, peas, and cheese to the rice. Season with salt and pepper. If the risotto is too thick, add a little more broth until it becomes creamy.

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Sara’s Ratatouille
This is a classic French dish, and I thought it would be nice to add a little European flair to the recipes. Traditionally more time, energy, and ingredients go into making this dish, but I wanted to make it easy and semi-quick for when you want gourmet in a pinch. You can eat it hot or cold (we almost prefer it cold). I like it served with a sliced slab of fried tofu, rice, or some crusty French bread.

Yield: 6 Servings Ingredients:
⁄4 cup grapeseed oil 1 medium yellow onion 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed 1 red bell pepper, cut in large cubes 1 large eggplant, cut in large cubes 2 medium zucchini, cut in large cubes 2 Roma tomatoes, cut in large cubes 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced 1 bay leaf
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Directions:
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 1 minute (make sure not to burn the garlic). Add the red bell pepper and sauté about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and stir well to coat in the oil, about 2 minutes. Then add the zucchini and tomatoes and mix well with the other veggies. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the thyme on top and add the bay leaf. Cover and simmer on low until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.

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Crêpes with Raspberry Sauce
Crêpes aren’t the easiest recipe to pull off in a vegan kitchen, but when you do, boy is it worth it. Thin and lighter than pancakes, they make me feel like I am getting away with a savory dessert at eight o’ clock in the morning. Shhh… If you don’t tell, I won’t.

Makes 6 Servings Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking powder 1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 3 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar, plus 1⁄2 cup 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 cup almond milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries 1 ⁄4 cup water 2 tablespoons Earth Balance

Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt. Whisk in the milk and the vanilla extract until smooth. In a blender or food processor, add the raspberries, the remaining 1⁄2 cup of the sugar, and the water, and blend until puréed, for the sauce. Set aside. Heat the Earth Balance in a skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1⁄4 cup of the batter mix into the skillet, swirling to coat the bottom of the skillet as evenly as possible with the batter. Cook until the edges are lightly browned and the crêpe is almost dry on the top. Loosen the edges with a thin spatula and flip the crêpe over with your fingers. Cook an additional 15 seconds. Transfer to a plate and continue cooking the remaining batter. Pour the raspberry sauce over the cooked crêpes. Serve hot.

7

Kale and White Bean Soup
While this might be a hearty winter soup, it makes me feel good any time of year. I am a big fan of kale because it is high in fiber, acts as a powerful detoxifier, and is packed with nutrients that may help fight cancer. For my Skinny Bitches, it also helps fight fat. Bingo!

Makes 6 Servings Ingredients:
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil 1 ⁄2 onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, chopped 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots 1 celery stalk, chopped 1 ⁄2 cup seeded and chopped tomatoes 2 tablespoons tomato paste 6 cups water 2 tablespoons white miso paste 1 teaspoon cumin powder 1 teaspoon coriander powder 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 2 cups chopped kale, with hard spine removed 1 (14-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed 1 ⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil Pinch of pepper

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and tomato paste, and sauté until the ingredients are well combined. Add the water, white miso, cumin, coriander, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add the kale, white beans, and thyme and simmer another half hour. Garnish with basil and pepper before serving.

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Alexander’s Special White Miso Dressing
Dressings have a bad rap of often doubling the calorie count of a salad. For those days when we’re really counting, it’s great to have a light dressing lying around the house. Or a recipe for one, at the very least. This dressing only takes about 3 minutes to make. Just my style.

Makes 2/3cup Ingredients:
1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled 1 garlic clove 2 tablespoons white miso 1 tablespoon agave nectar 2 teaspoons mirin 1 teaspoon soy sauce 1 ⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil 1 ⁄2 cup olive oil

Directions:
Place the ginger, garlic, miso, agave nectar, mirin, and soy sauce in a blender or food processor and pulse to combine. With the motor running, add the oils in a slow, steady stream. Continue blending until the mixture is creamy. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container.

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Red Potato Salad with Black Niçoise Olives
One of the best things about potato salad is that you can use any leftover veggies as added ingredients. Though you can use any type of black olives, black niçoise olives are the best in a potato salad for unique flavor. Your picnic food just got better.

Makes 4 Servings Ingredients:
2 cups large-cubed small red potatoes 1 ⁄2 cup peeled, seeded, and cubed cucumber 1 ⁄2 cup black niçoise olives (or black olives) 1 ⁄2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 ⁄3 cup diced red onions 2 tablespoons capers 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 ⁄3 cup balsamic dressing 1 ⁄2 cup faux feta, crumbled

Directions:
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, return to a boil, reduce the heat, and gently boil until the potatoes are tender but firm, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, add the cucumbers, olives, and cherry tomatoes. Once the potatoes are cool, add to the cucumber mix. Mix in the parsley. Toss all of the ingredients together. Drizzle with balsamic dressing. Sprinkle with feta.

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Caramelized Eggplant with Red Miso
The minute you taste this dish, you won’t know what hit you. There is truly nothing like it. The eggplant is so tender, and the caramelized miso tastes like a thick, fruity coating. This is close to perfection.

Makes 6 Servings Ingredients:
1 large eggplant 1 ⁄2 cup grapeseed oil, divided 1 ⁄3 cup red miso paste 1 ⁄4 cup mirin 2 tablespoons sake Pinch of sanshou pepper powder 1 ⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 11⁄2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon chopped scallion, both white and light green parts

Directions:
Preheat the oven to broil. Slice the eggplant in 11⁄2-inch disks. Slice the eggplant 1⁄2-inch deep to make a checker pattern. Heat 1⁄4 cup of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and fry on each side about 1 to 2 minutes, or until soft and brown. Remove from the oil and set on paper towel-lined plate. Continue frying remaining eggplant, adding additional 1⁄4 cup of oil as needed. Set aside. In a medium-size saucepan, whisk together the miso, mirin, sake, sanshou powder, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar. Cook slowly over low heat stirring often, about 3 minutes. Place the eggplant in baking dish, and coat with sauce. Broil in the oven for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Garnish with scallions.

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No Crap Café’s Curried Chickpea Cakes
This is a dish that you won’t be able to make fast enough. They are that good. The Curried Chickpea Cakes can be eaten as a side dish with some mango salsa, or on a bed of butter lettuce.

Makes 10 Servings

Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 1 ⁄3 cup sliced green onions, both white and light green parts 1 ⁄3 cup light coconut milk 2 teaspoons evaporated cane sugar 2 ⁄3 cup breadcrumbs, plus 1⁄4 cup for coating 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 ⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg 1 ⁄2 teaspoon cumin 2 ⁄3 cup brown rice, cooked 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄4 cup grapeseed oil or toasted sesame oil, for pan searing

Directions:
In a large food processor, add the chickpeas and green onions. Pulse until combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk, sugar, 2/3 cup of the breadcrumbs, curry powder, nutmeg, and cumin. Stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined. Stir in the brown rice and the salt. Mold into mini patties. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chickpea cakes to the pan and sauté until there’s a nice golden sear on the bottom. Flip and sear the other side as well. Continue with remaining cakes.

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Sabotage-Proof Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Sauce
Perfect for date night or special occasions, this gourmet ravioli dish is dolled up by a savory sage sauce. For those times you want to impress…Just watch your back on the butter.

Serves 4 Ingredients:
2 cups frozen butternut squash, thawed 11⁄2 sticks Earth Balance, divided 1 ⁄2 cup Panko breadcrumbs 1 ⁄2 cup vegan Parmesan cheese, grated Salt and pepper, to taste 1 (5-ounce) package wonton wrappers 1 bunch fresh sage, stems removed

Directions:
Place the squash and 1⁄2 stick of the Earth Balance in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs, vegan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Place 1 tablespoon of the squash mixture into the center of each wonton wrapper. Brush the edges of the wrapper with water and fold one corner over to create a triangle. Press on edges to seal tightly. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook 5 to 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Meanwhile, melt the remaining Earth Balance in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sage and cook 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with the ravioli before serving.

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Clementine’s Chocolate Chip Cookie’s
These are the “go-to” cookies. They are delicious with a cold glass of almond milk, or served warm with a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream and some hot fudge. They are easy to make and perfect for any occasion.

Makes 3 dozen Ingredients:
4 1⁄2 teaspoons of Ener-G Egg Replacer 6 tablespoons of warm water 1 cup Earth Balance non-dairy butter, softened at room temperature 1 cup evaporated cane juice sugar 1 ⁄2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 1⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 12-ounce package vegan chocolate chips 3 ⁄4 cup chopped walnuts (optional but delicious)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl combine the egg replacer and the water and whip until fluffy. In a separate large bowl, add the Earth Balance, cane juice sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla, and mix with a beater until well combined. Add the egg replacer mixture and stir well. In a separate medium bowl and add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined like a soft dough. Add the chocolate chips (and the nuts if you are using them). Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Scoop out small spoonfuls of batter and place on cookie sheet, making 4 rows of dough. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.

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Mini Lemon Cheesecake Bites with a Strawberry Sauce
For those of you lemon lovers out there, you will adore this dessert. It is light and tart and so flavorful. They also look so fancy, even though they are easy to make. You will impress your friends with these little numbers.

Makes 2 Dozen Mini Cheesecakes Ingredients:
⁄4 cup toasted walnuts ⁄4 cup toasted pecans 1 tablespoon safflower oil 1 ⁄2 cup rolled oats 1 ⁄4 cup evaporated cane sugar plus 2 tablespoons 6 tablespoons maple syrup, divided 1 ⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1⁄4 teaspoon 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided 1 ⁄2 teaspoon almond extract 3 pinches salt 1 (8-ounce) container vegan cream cheese 2 tablespoons lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon zest 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour 4 to 5 fresh strawberries
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Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts, pecans, oil, oats, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the vanilla, the almond extract, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until well combined. The mixture should smell like cookie dough and should stick together when pulsed approximately 20 times. Lightly coat a mini cupcake pan with oil and place 1 tablespoon of the crust inside each section. Press the crust into the pan using the bottom of a shot glass and damp hands. Bake 7 minutes. Meanwhile, clean out the food processor and then add the cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, the remaining sugar, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the lemon zest, the flour, 1⁄4 teaspoon of the cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and the remaining vanilla extract. Pulse until the mixture looks uniform and creamy. Top the slightly cooled crusts with 1 tablespoon filling per section. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheesecakes look browned. Cool and refrigerate for one-half to 2 hours for the best consistency. Slide a small knife or toothpick around each cheesecake to remove them from the pan once cooled. To make the strawberry sauce, place the strawberries, the remaining maple syrup, the remaining lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Purée until the mixture is uniform. Strain through a fine strainer. Drizzle the strawberry sauce over the cheesecakes when serving.

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Mrs. Cooper’s Coconut Shortbread Cookies
The coconut makes these cookies so delectable. Plus, they are so easy to make. These are perfect for your fancy tea parties when you dig out your Grandma’s collection of expensive china tea cups.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup Earth Balance, at room temperature 1 ⁄2 cup evaporated cane sugar 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 teaspoon coconut extract 1 ⁄2 cup shredded coconut

Directions:
Using an electric mixer, beat the Earth Balance and sugar in a large bowl and beat until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Sift in the flour, and add the salt, coconut extract, and the shredded coconut. Mix together until well combined. Place the dough onto a floured surface and roll the dough into 2 separate logs. Place in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, slice into 1/2-inch pieces, and transfer to a large cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This is a total staple recipe everyone who likes desserts should have, and this one just happens to be vegan. And good. Darn good.

Serves 10 to 12 Ingredients:
1 cup grapeseed oil 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour 2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups finely shredded carrots 2 cups applesauce 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil two 9-inch cake pans and dust the pans with flour. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. In another large bowl, combine the oil, carrots, applesauce, and vanilla, and stir until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing until just combined, then add the walnuts and lightly fold together. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans and smooth out the surfaces. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and continue to cool on racks. Frost when completely cooled.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Everyone knows that no carrot cake is complete without cream cheese frosting. But throw caution to the wind sometimes and use this frosting for a chocolate cake, or cinnamon rolls.

Ingredients:
8 ounces vegan cream cheese 3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
Cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add the extract and powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

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Skinny Bitch Cooking School’s Orange Snap Cookies
These orange cookies are light, yet so flavorful. The butter and orange complement each other so well. They are a snap to make, hence the name. Just try to eat only one!

Makes 2 dozen Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons orange zest 3 ⁄4 cup Earth Balance Butter (room temperature) 1 cup sugar 1 ⁄2 cup orange juice 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Set aside. In a separate large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and sugar until fluffy. Add the orange juice and vanilla and stir until just combined. Add in the flour mixture and stir together until all the ingredients are well combined. Drop small spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

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An Excerpt from Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin 

Order Skinny Bitch In Love Today!

19

Chapter 1

ago, that one day my life would depend on a plate of nine butternut squash ravioli with garlic and sage sauce, I would have said, “Shit, yeah, it would!” O. Ellery Rice, food critic for the Los Angeles Times, sat at Table Three, the table at Fresh, sipping a glass of organic white wine and tapping her blood-orange nails into her iPhone. O was also the “anonymous” Lady Chew of Los Angeles magazine. Obviously, she had a lot of juice. I was born to be chef of Fresh, the hottest vegan restaurant in Santa Monica and maybe all of L.A. And because Emil Jones, our superstar chef, was down and out with an ailment unmentionable in a kitchen, sous chef—that would be me—had her chance. “Blow it, Clementine—one mistake—and you’re dead,” Emil had called to scream into my ear a half hour earlier when

I

f anyone had told me five, even ten years

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he’d heard from probably twenty people that O’s silver Mercedes had pulled up outside Fresh. We had nothing to worry about. I stood at my station, working on the ravioli in the gleaming, stainless steel kitchen, oblivious to the clangs of pans around me, the hiss of sautéing oil, the chop, chop, chop of knives against cutting boards, the comings and goings of the waitstaff. I filled each delicate wonton wrapper with perfectly seasoned yellow-orange squash and whisked the sage sauce until it magically appeared both translucent and opaque at the same time. The ravioli would be perfect. I’d spent years working toward this night, toward this moment, training under the best. And I wasn’t talking about the famed Vegan Culinary Institute teachers or my executive chefs at Candle 22 or Desdemona’s, restaurants where I’d chopped, sliced, and scalded my way from vegetables to line cook to assistant sous chef. I was talking about my father, organic farmer and amazing cook, who’d given me a chef ’s hat for my ninth birthday and taught me how to nudge flour and water into a pasta dough so sublime it melted on the tongue. How to take one vegetable from the ground—eggplant, for instance—and make a savory dinner that would satisfy a family of five. How to simmer a chipotle chile that had won me a sparkly blue ribbon at age eleven. Even before that chile, I knew I wanted to be a vegan chef. Veganism was in my blood. Let’s get something straight right here, since I get this question all the time: what the hell do vegans eat? First let

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me tell you what vegans don’t eat: anything that comes from an animal. Yeah, even if you don’t have to slaughter the creature to get it. So no eggs, either. No milk. No brie on that cracker. And yes, fish are animals. Then what do vegans eat? Duh: everything else. Nothing made me happier than being in the kitchen, learning, experimenting, perfecting. But like an idiot, I’d decided to forget all that the summer I graduated from high school and before I started cooking school in the fall. Away from home— in L.A.—for the first time, I ate whatever the hell I wanted. Having your first hamburger at eighteen? Enlightening. I lived at In-N-Out Burger that July. Stuffed my face with cupcakes. Drank every kind of sugary alcoholic beverage imaginable. Hit up diners after drinking till 2 a.m. and had fat omelets stuffed with bacon and Swiss cheese. I even thought about trying to switch from the Vegan Culinary Institute to Le Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institute of America. And guess what? Also for the first time ever, I started feeling like shit. And not like the hot shit I thought I was for “breaking free” from my parents’ way of life, doing my thing. My once clear skin? Zits everywhere. My one pair of expensive, perfect jeans? Suddenly too tight. And was I allergic to something? Everything in me felt clogged, including what little brain I had left. I gave up the meat. Bad kinds of booze. Dairy—all of it. I went back to eating the way I had growing up, and within weeks, right before I started at the Vegan Culinary Institute, I was back to my old self. I gave up the crap and stopped feeling

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like crap. Quelle surprise. It made me more committed than ever to becoming a vegan chef. So last weekend, when the stricken Emil announced he was making me chef for O’s scheduled visit, there was only one place to go to practice under the best eye: my parents’ farm in Bluff Valley, three hours north. I’d made Fresh’s entire Italian menu for my dad so that no matter what O chose, it would pass his test. Fresh’s gimmick was that the menu changed every week. On Fridays, when the guarded secret was revealed via a one-word mosaic tile sign that Emil hung in the window, a line wrapped around the block. This coming Friday: Italian. And so in my parents’ big country kitchen, greens and root vegetables and apple trees as far as the eye could see when looking out the window over the sink, I made it all. From the intense minestrone soup to the melt-on-your-tongue butternut squash ravioli to an orgasmic tiramisu. My dad couldn’t stand next to me at the center island the way he used to—not since his cancer went from stage two to three. Before the C word came into our lives, he’d tower beside me, shaking his head and dumping the entire tray of seitan I’d just over-seasoned or tasting the soup and pointing at the garlic cloves. But now he watched from his wheelchair, opinionated as ever, nodding, directing, and occasionally giving me the prized, “You make me so proud, Clem.” Twice I had to step outside and gulp in air. My mom, with her long graying braid and red Wellies, had come over while harvesting the cucumbers and assured me that every time I

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visited, my dad was happier and stronger. I drove up every month since his diagnosis more than a year ago, but sometimes, the sight of my formerly robust father—now so frail and weak, his cheeks gaunt and his eyebrows gone along with the blond hair I inherited—made me burst into tears. And trust me, I’m no crier. I’d had to make the pizza primavera twice and the butternut squash ravioli three times to pass my dad’s test. (The second time it only got a 9.5 out of 10.) For O. Ellery Rice, no less than perfection. I turned down the burner on my sage sauce, then gestured for my sous chef, the trusty Faye (thank God Emil hadn’t forced me to work with Rain—definition of frenemy—even though Rain was sauté chef and technically should have been named my sous chef during Emil’s absence), to man the pan while I dashed over to the peephole. James, the Shakespearean drama student/waiter chosen to serve O, stopped at her table with the one hundred seventy dollar bottle of biodynamic white wine to top off her glass. O shook her head so slightly that a waiter less dramatically trained than James might have missed it and bothered her by asking the unnecessary question. You don’t scare me, I silently told her as she slid a forkful of escarole and plum tomato into her mouth. In her early fifties, rail thin and tall, her dark hair in her signature bun, and her face almost obscured by the trademark huge black sunglasses, O sat regally, alone—as always. Her MO was to announce the day she’d visit a restaurant, but not the time. I’d been on red

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alert since five thirty. The moment that silver Mercedes pulled up, I went to work on the ravioli, working the dough the way my father taught me long ago, precisely cutting each square, filling each space extra lightly with the mixture of squash so it would layer on the tongue. The sage sauce was simmering, awaiting the final sauté of the boiled ravioli, the tiny crumbles of garlic at the ready. I watched Service, as Emil called the waiters, in their blinding white uniforms, gliding past the rectangular steel tables. It was lateish, almost nine, and all but two of the fifteen tables were taken. O. Ellery Rice tapped at her phone. Took a sip of wine. Another bite of escarole. I gestured for my sous chef to turn the burner on for my garlic, then darted over and waited for the oil to ping exactly right before sliding in the crumbled bits. “She’s tapping on the phone now,” Jane, a busgirl, reported at the peephole. “Eyeing the plate of fusilli that just passed. Tapping again. Fork going up. That’s it, Clem, three bites of the salad.” O never took a fourth bite of anything. I added the ravioli to the sage sauce for a perfectly timed infusion, gently stirring the garlic one pan over. In two minutes, I plated the ravioli and scraped up the garlic, then shook the slotted spoon with such a practiced shake that each crumble landed perfectly atop the sauce. The ravioli would go out in exactly five seconds. Four. Three. Two . . . As James held the plate for my final inspection, his white T-shirt, white pants, and white shoes so pristine you’d never guess he’d been serving for three hours, I

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knew it was perfect. This ravioli would make my father proud. An eleven, maybe even a twelve. The plate went out. The kitchen applauded. Ty, vegan pastry chef and one of my best friends, placed a cup of his sick tiramisu at my station,
CHEF

spelled out on top with choco-

late shavings. I loved that guy. After closing tonight, Ty and his boyfriend were throwing me a little party at their amazing West Hollywood house to celebrate my big night. T-minus three hours. I quickly went to work on the backup plate, just in case James tripped or someone crashed into him (happened to my least favorite waitress last week) and waited. My heart was beating in my ears. Please let her love it. Please let her write that Clementine Cooper, just twenty-six, is a chef to watch, that the ravioli melted on her tongue, that the explosion of squash and garlic in her mouth was like “being made love to with exquisite rough tenderness by your fantasy lover,” which is how she’d once bizarrely described a shepherd’s pie. In less than thirty seconds, James returned to the kitchen, the plate of ravioli shaking in his hand. “Oh shit, she’s leaving!” Jane whispered from the peephole. “Who’s leaving?” I said. “O,” she said. What? I stared at the plate in James’s hand. One third of one ravioli had been eaten. That was not three bites. It was only one third of one! I darted to the peephole. O. Ellery Rice’s table was empty.

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What just happened? James, never at a loss for words, was practically choking. “She said—” The kitchen went dead quiet. James tried again. “She said—” “What the fuck did she say?” I shouted. “She said it’s no wonder people rave about Fresh’s pastas when there’s real butter in the sauce.” I laughed. The way people did when something made absolutely no sense. “Butter?” Butter was almost a dirty word. There would no more be real butter in the kitchen of a vegan restaurant than there’d be a cow carcass hanging in the pantry and a bloody ax against the wall. I’d perfected my own vegan “butter” sticks from soy milk, vinegar, and coconut oil, and though they were good substitutes, no one, and certainly not O. Ellery Rice, would mistake it for churned milk. I looked around the kitchen as though I’d suddenly spot a tub of Land O’Lakes. My gaze stopped on Rain Welch. Her long, dark hair was in a bun secured with two chopsticks, and she was stirring a pot of fusilli. Calmly. As though the ceiling hadn’t just caved in. Because it hadn’t caved in on her. Just me. Had my dear frenemy slipped a pat of butter in the sauce when I had been racing around the kitchen like a madwoman? Come on. No way. Even I wouldn’t believe that. Anyone who worked at Fresh cared about the place, worshipped Emil. And Rain was madly in love with him; everyone knew that. A couple of months ago, I’d caught them in the secret room inside

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the pantry, Rain bent over the steel safe, Emil standing behind her. I’d assumed the reason I hadn’t caught them since was because they were being more careful, but maybe Rain had cut him off when he promoted me over her to sous chef last month. Maybe she hated both of us enough to ruin Fresh. With gray eyes colder than the stainless steel counters, Rain glanced over at me with the almost-smile of the victorious. Holy shit. “Rain, if you—” I started to say, but my cell phone interrupted me. Emil. “YOU ARE FIRED,” Emil screamed into my ear. “Get out of my restaurant. Now.”

Just like that, I was standing outside Fresh at the tail end of the dinner rush, unable to move or think, until three blondes in the same L.A. weekend uniform of tiny skirt and four-inch heels said “Excuse us” and made me realize I was standing in the middle of the sidewalk. My hands were shaking. My hands never shook. “Let’s get out of here,” Ty said from behind me. I turned around to find Ty shoving his apron in his messenger bag. “You’ve got two more hours to go,” I said. “Like I’d work for that ass?” he said, taking my hand. “I called Emil to make sure he knew you’d been set up. Gave him the ‘If she goes, I go.’ ”

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“He told you to go?” Ty was one of the top pastry chefs in L.A. Everyone wanted him. “Actually he offered me a raise to stay.” “Ty—” He held up his hand. “We’ll both have new spots tomorrow. No one fires my best friend.” Did I mention Ty was great? He was also drop-dead hot. Six one and lanky, sweetly gorgeous, with a shock of jet-black hair and eyes so green that people often stopped in their tracks to stare at him. No one got “Are you a model?” more than Ty. We wound our way down to the Third Street Promenade, even more crowded than usual for a Friday night in June. At our favorite juice truck, Ty got us frozen pomegranate smoothies, then we walked through the crowd. “I can believe Rain would screw you like that,” Ty said. “But she screwed Emil worse. I thought she was crazy in love with the guy.” “She hated my guts for getting promoted over her. And she must hate Emil’s guts for all that wasted sex.” I sipped my smoothie. “Now I’m the one who’s screwed.” “Hey.” Ty slung an arm around me. “It’ll blow over. Emil will call you tomorrow morning when he’s calmed down, and he’ll tell you you’re not fired, that he knows ‘someone’ wanted to screw you both over. We’ll be back at work and it’ll be Rain who’s gone.” “Nice try, but I’ll never work in this town again.” He stopped and tipped up my chin. “Yes, you will. The

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whole thing is stupid and conniving; anyone will know someone sabotaged you.” “Who wants to hire a chef that people want to sabotage?” “All chefs are both revered and despised. And anyway, Clem, you’re one of the best vegan chefs in L.A. Seriously. You’ve proven yourself at three of the hottest restaurants. If Emil doesn’t hire you back, you’ll get a job anywhere you want. Don’t worry.” I was a lot of things, but naïve wasn’t one of them. Within twenty minutes, Ty would be named pastry chef at another top restaurant, but I wasn’t kidding about my not being able to “work in this town again.” A vegan chef who cheated to make the food more irresistible to a non-vegan critic? Through. Done. Over. Ty spent the next half hour not answering the ten or so calls he got—clearly executive chefs who’d already heard he’d quit Fresh—and coming up with all the delicious ways that karma would take care of Rain Welch and assuring me no one would really believe I used butter in the ravioli. But then he had to leave. The only call he’d answered had been from his boyfriend, Seamus, who said that Pippa, their enormously pregnant Siamese cat, was about to have her kittens and could we postpone my party till tomorrow. Yeah. No problem. Instead of going home to my own hot boyfriend who’d dumped me six months ago when he “accidentally” fell in love with a barista/model (such a cliché I’d almost laughed, but hadn’t because my heart felt like it was being stabbed by a thousand sharp stilettos), I called Sara, roommate and best

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friend, told her today’s whole shitty story, and headed to our apartment. Of course, because it was a Friday night, Third Street Promenade was full of couples holding hands. Kissing. Laughing. Happy people with jobs. As I walked up toward Montana Avenue, I felt like all those happy people with jobs were staring at me. The dumped, fired cheat who put real butter in the ravioli at Fresh for O. Ellery Rice. I was about to call Faye, my sous chef for two seconds, and ask what was going on, who’d taken over the kitchen, and what everyone was saying, but a text came in from Claudia, vegetable chef, who was usually hilarious. Little container containing remnants of real butter found under asparagus in the pail at your station. WTF? I texted back one word. Well, one name. Rain. And waited. Oh. And then a minute later. Shit. Oh shit was right. Because the next ten minutes were a flurry of texts. From Faye: Rain swears up and down she didn’t do it, that yeah, she was pissed she wasn’t promoted, but she’d never . . . Not sure what to think, Clem. Not sure what to think? What? From Jane: OMG—Emil just fired the whole staff except the waiters, not including James, of course, dishwashers, and buspeople. Oh shit. Shit, shit, shit!

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Then this gem, from the new guy on vegetables. Fuck you, Clementine. From the juice bar: Thanks a lot, C. And then, from Rain herself: Bitch. Did these people I’d worked with for more than a year think I’d really use butter in a recipe? Me? The one raised on the organic farm by the vegan hippie parents? As I finally slogged onto 15th Street, the sight of the empty storefront on the corner made me stop, as it always did. I didn’t exactly forget about Fresh, about pats of butter, about being hated by everyone I worked with—used to work with. But the storefront was beautiful. The curved red oak door looked like it was from an enchanted cottage; the arched window caught the sun in the mornings and the moonlight at night, illuminating the glass brick and stained glass back wall. This was the place, my dream space. Where I would open Clementine’s Café. (I was still deciding about adding “No Crap” between “Clementine’s” and “Café.”) Ten or so tables, a combination of round and square, polished wood. I’d repaint the pale yellow a Mediterranean blue and whitewash the floor. Add an amazing juice bar. I’d be chef, of course, and hire a small but brilliant team. Clementine’s No Crap Café. Of course, if I opened it now, half the people I know would come and spray paint out the “No” and add in “Full of.”

Order Skinny Bitch in Love Today!

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© 2013 Kim Barnouin

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