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Herbivoracious Cookbook Review & Caramelized Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini

At a book release party for Michael Natikin’s Herbivoracious I fill my plate past capacity with the gorgeous spread laid out at a Culver City restaurant, his cookbook’s recipes incarnate. It isn’t until I’m halfway though the incredible tasty bites that I realize that it’s vegetarian. Of course it is, its Herbivoracious. This is how I like my vegetarian food, as a celebration of produce rather than and explanation for missing meat. This is what Michael has managed to do, turn out an entire book of recipes so full and beautiful that the addition of animal protein would be an imposition. Recipes that range from perfectly simple to complex and inspirational.  This isn’t a book for vegetarians, or for accepting meat eaters, it’s a book for everyone who loves food.

Cookbooks, in a real life paper and page form, are even more important to me that ever. As I pull out my Grandmothers copy of The Joy of Cooking, with her notes scrawled in the margins with a soft pencil I can feel a connection with her that would have been lost if eReaders had been invented 50 years ago. I feel her in the pages, and she is still able to teach me what I was never able to learn when she was alive. I want this for my daughter, for my future Grandkids, another piece of me to be found in an old box, when they are ready to receive it. Cookbooks should be the last thing to be digitized, you won’t pass down a kindle, make notes in the blank spaces with a number 2 pencil.

But the main reason to buy cookbooks is simple: recipe testing. Cookbook recipes are tested, over and over, to insure that the unchangeable print is perfect. Bloggers make a recipe once, giving online recipes a much higher rate of flaws, my own included. You are our testers and your feedback gives us insight in how we write the recipes and if we later make changes to what we have already posted. With bloggers cranking out up to 10 recipes a week, you can hardly blame us. But cookbook authors take much more time and care, agonizing over measurements, yields, terms and times, getting hundreds of hours of opinions and feedback because once it prints, that’s it. No updating posts, or responding to comments, the recipe has to be perfect.

That is why you should buy cookbooks.

Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, ESPECIALLY if you aren’t a vegetarian, Michael Natikns book is a must own celebration of produce. Buy it, make notes in the margins, and pass it down to endless generation of food loving humans. 

Caramelized Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini

Recipe from: Michael Natkin, Herbvoracious 
Makes 16 crostini
20 minutes

  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 16 thin slices of crusty baguette
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 small apples such as Pink Lady, cut into 16 wedges
  • Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (Don’t be afraid of this, it put this dish over the top!)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup blue cheese (such as Blue de Causses or Gorgonzola dolce), at room temperature
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) or large crystal sea salt (such as red Hawaiian salt)
  • (I added a drizzle of raw honey)

1.Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees.

2. Set aside 32 nice looking tarragon leaves. In a mortar and pestle or mini food processor, roughly puree the remaining tarragon with the olive oil.

3. Brush the baguette slices with the tarragon oil, reserving the crushed tarragon. Toast in the oven (on a baking sheet) or toaster oven until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.

4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the apples on in a single layer, working in batches if needed, until both sides are golden brown and somewhat tender, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of cayenne pepper and several grinds of black pepper.

5. To serve, arrange two slices of cooked apple on each crostini. Top with ½ teaspoon of the blue cheese, a speck of the crushed tarragon, two whole tarragon leaves, and a few grains of sea salt. (Drizzle with raw honey, if desired)

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cassie @ bakeyourday May 21, 2012 um 12:43 pm

Fun appetizer or snack, Jackie! Apple and blue cheese is a perfect combo. Gorgeous photos too!


Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious May 21, 2012 um 1:29 pm

Awesome review. I love going to barnes & nobles, sitting down on the floor, and going through 100 cookbooks. It’s been a while since I’ve done that though since I’ve been more active in the food blogging world but thanks for reminding me to go out into the real world and read books again! And this crostini looks absolutely perfect. I’ll have to make it at my next dinner party.


Jackie May 21, 2012 um 1:43 pm

Me too! Used to be my favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Lately I’ve been really into used bookstores and vintage cookbooks, especially the ones with hand written notes in the margins by someone else’s Grandma 🙂


chinmayie @ love food eat May 21, 2012 um 7:39 pm

So happy to know you enjoyed a vegetarian cookbook 🙂 I often feel like a lot of people don’t eat enough vegetables because they simply don’t know what to do with it. Books like this are made for them. Thanks for sharing Jackie…


Marisol Murano May 22, 2012 um 8:14 am

Great post, Jackie: Fresh. Simple. Succulent.

Chef Marisol —


Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies May 22, 2012 um 10:33 am

I completely agree with the philosophy of embracing what you CAN eat as a vegetarian instead of trying to make fake this or that. Yuck. I think that’s why vegetarian/vegan food has such a bad reputation. With food like this, you’re not thinking, "Oh, this would be so much better with some meat in it!" (Although I still get people pinning my posts all the time and saying, "I’d add ground beef" or whatever. Ha!)


Ashley May 22, 2012 um 12:17 pm
Thank you for sharing the great review. One of my favorite memories of my grandmother is seeing her notes on recipes as well! This cookbook looks fantastic. Going to check it out now.


Deanna May 23, 2012 um 12:45 pm

I love cookbooks. I’ve been hearing a lot about Herbivoracious, and I might have to get it. Just as soon as I get my fix of Plenty which I just bought.


Baker Street May 24, 2012 um 7:25 am

Great review, Jackie! Apple and blue cheese is such a fantastic combination.


claire @ the realistic nutritionist May 24, 2012 um 1:41 pm

I was admiring this photo on Foodgawker, of course it’s yours Jackie!! I love this review too!


ziuter May 29, 2012 um 6:03 pm

reminds me of my childhood in france


[email protected] May 30, 2012 um 11:14 am

I love elegant dishes like this that let the flavors of the ingredients shine through!


Herbivoracious in the News » Harvard Common Press May 31, 2012 um 12:09 pm

[…] Domestic FITS reviewed Herbivoracious and shared the recipe for Caramelized Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini from Michael’s Los Angeles […]


Herbivoracious Across America » Harvard Common Press July 9, 2012 um 8:57 am

[…] Domestic FITS […]


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[…] – Apple & Zucchini Bread with Honeycomb Butter Foodie Crush – Bloody Caramel Apples Domestic Fits – Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini Chasing Delicious – Apple Pecan Pie Half Baked Harvest – Caramelized Apple + Cheddar […]


30 Ways to Eat an Apple a Day » 2Create in Color September 18, 2013 um 12:53 pm

[…] These Caramelized Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini although I don’t think it would be completely necessary to caramelize the apples; you’d still have an awesome tidbit 🙂 I might just smash the blue cheese onto the crostini, dust it with the peppers, then lay the apple over all. Or just do it their way LOL … hmm, what about an apple, blue cheese, and roast beef panini? […]


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