Irresistible Vegetarian Recipes and Tales from Husbands That Cook

Husbands That Cook
 More than 120 Irresistible Vegetarian Recipes and Tales from Our Tiny Kitchen

By: Linda Kissam

Photo: Emma K. Morris


Husbands Alvarez and Merrin, creators of the delightfully playful Husbands that Cook blog and the must read Husbands That Cook: More than 120 Irresistible Vegetarian Recipes and Tales from Our Tiny Kitchen, had me at, “Food is Love.” Quite simply their cookbook is the authors’ love letter to each other, their friends, family and you.

Strawberry Ginger Lemonade: Photo by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin


Even before you peruse the recipes, once you read the introduction you’ll be hooked. Such joy, love and personal sharing goes way beyond how to make an exceptional peanut sauce. Just sayin’…

Photo: Emma K. Morris


You will want to hug these two guys and try every yummy inspiring recipe in their book.  Doesn’t matter if you are a vegetarian or a meat eater. You will love these recipes and the sometimes hilarious, sometimes thought provoking notes that go with each recipe. Lots of well thought out recipes in this rich, complex and varied collection to choose from for every meal and cocktail hour. The photos showing what success looks like are dynamic.

Orange-Pecan Overnight French Toast : Photo by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin

The duo cooks together in a small kitchen in a house on a hill in Eagle Rock, California. 26 Feb 2020. They shine by bringing a whole lot of vegetarian yum to your kitchen through great recipes like Peach Dutch Baby with Raspberry Puree for breakfast; Lemon Barley Soup for lunch; Summer Caprese with Grilled Peaches as a starter; Cuban Empanadas for dinner; Life-Changing Corn Bread as a side; Schokladen Cake for dessert: and a Bee’s Knees bourbon-based cocktail that will (literally) know the socks off of you.

One-Pan Pasta Primavera: Photo by Ryan Avarez and Adam Merrin


Don’t be put off by the recipes that have you cooking many things from scratch. If you have the talent and patience for that…go for it. But if you don’t, you’ll be fine deciding to use store-bought things like broth or fresh homemade pasta. Like the authors say, “Cooking is a lifetime hobby. Take one day at a time, one recipe at a time. Take this very special recipe from the book for a spin. The recipe notes for this one will have you smiling with self-reflection including,

we learned two valuable lessons: don’t ever put carrot peels down the garbage disposal, and be nice to your significant other, especially when they are making you a birthday cake.”


Communication Breakdown Carrot Cake Photo by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin


Communication Breakdown Carrot Cake with Whipped Goat Cheese Frosting

Makes 1 2-layer, 8-inch cake • Serves 12 to 16

Special Tools: Electric Mixer

Kitchen disasters can happen to anyone—even on your birthday. Every August, Ryan bakes me a cake (best husband ever), and one year, I requested a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. While he was busy baking, I stepped into the kitchen and it was like walking into a Jackson Pollock painting. There were masses of grated carrots covering the walls, bits scattered over the floor, and even a few dangling from the ceiling. Since we didn’t have a food processor at the time, he had been strenuously grating carrots for the last half hour, and the first words out of my mouth were, “What did you do in here?!” Tensions rose and words not worth repeating were exchanged, but the story gets worse. While Ryan continued mixing the batter, I thought it would be helpful to clean the kitchen, so I gathered up peels from every inch of the room, then stuffed them all down the disposal, which began producing terrifying murky sounds while water backed up and started filling the sink. Then, suddenly, the pipe under the cabinet exploded, sending a torrent of filthy water and carrot peels pouring onto the floor. We laugh about it now, and thankfully, the cake—and our relationship—survived the Great Carrot Flood of 2005. This recipe is appropriately named after that chaotic day. We kissed and made up, and we learned two valuable lessons: don’t ever put carrot peels down the garbage disposal, and be nice to your significant other, especially when they are making you a birthday cake.


For the Cake

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for greasing the pans

2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ teaspoon salt

2 cups (396 g) granulated sugar

1½ cups (355 ml) toasted walnut oil (see note)

4 large eggs

3 cups (300 g) grated carrots (about 5 medium carrots)

For frosting and Assembly

6 ounces (170 g) goat cheese, at room temperature

3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups (340 g) powdered sugar

⅓ cup (45 g) finely chopped pecans, for garnish

To Make the Cake

Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with butter, line the bottoms with circles of parchment, and grease the parchment.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to combine, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and walnut oil, and whisk until smooth and blended. Add the eggs, and whisk until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Then fold in the carrots until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cakes cool for a few minutes in the pans, then invert the cakes onto wire racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. Use immediately, or wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

To Make the Frosting

Place the goat cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium until smooth and evenly combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and continue beating until smooth. Gradually sift the powdered sugar into the mixing bowl in several additions, stopping to mix between each one.

Continue to beat until light and fluffy.

To Assemble the Cake

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread half the frosting over the layer, all the way to the edge. Place the second cake layer on top of the first, then spread the remaining frosting over the top. Sprinkle the nuts over the frosting. Kiss and make up, serve, and enjoy!


  • Toasted walnut oil adds a delicious nutty flavor and can be found in many supermarkets and online. If you can’t find it, any neutral vegetable oil can be used instead.
  • Don’t ever throw carrot peels down the garbage disposal (see cautionary tale above).
  • To make a 6-inch, 2-layer cake that serves 6 to 8 people, cut the cake recipe and frosting recipe in half. The layers will be slightly taller, so be sure the cake pans have sides at least 2 inches high.

From Husbands That Cook by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin. Copyright © 2019 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

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Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin. St. Martin’s, $32.50 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-20992-4

Although the author of this article was provided with a complimentary review copy, the opinions are her own.

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