Monday, 30 April 2012

Book Review - The Inspired Vegan

Bryant Terry has written a wonderful book. It is more than a cookbook, it feels like a reference to his life. As such parts of it have a depth which seems quite personal, and you feel the love he has for what he is doing, and sharing with the world.
The book is structured by meals, with each meal (banquet maybe would be a better term) having a number of dishes which work together to a theme. Bryant has included music and readings to accompany the theme which is where the depth is added. Unlike some books which group recipes by meals Bryant has also included a helpful list of recipes by more traditional "part of meal" at the start of the recipes section for easy reference and to allow mixing and matching to create your own meals (which is what I did). Basic recipes (those used in other recipes) are a section of their own too. Each chapter (meal) starts with an explanation of how the recipes came to be, and the meaning that they have in his life, and the lives of his family and friends; as I said before, a very personal touch. Some folks may not like this insight to his life, but I find it quite touching, as it is respectfully and tastefully done. There is an insert with delicious looking colour photos.
The recipes are creative, and a little out of the ordinary but very appealing. I would recommend this book for any foodie (vegan or otherwise) looking for something to expand what they usually do. The recipes are a little involved with multiple steps being made simultaneously, so may not suit a very beginner cook.
The recipes I made - in page number order....
Page 26 Plum Tomato Ketchup
Sweet, tart and a little bit spicy, this sauce is a bit of a party in your mouth. Easy to make and great on lots of things not just the potatoes as written (follows)

Page 42 Sparkling Rosemary-Grapefruit Water
I let my rosemary steep a little long so my water was very herbaceous. Very refreshing, and would make again.

Page 43 Paprika Peanuts
My husband ate most of these. I did use a combination of regular and smoked paprika, which was a nice flavour.

Page 47 Wilted Dandelion Greens with Hot Garlic Dressing and Garlic Chips
Though I used  Swiss chard as directed for a sub. Mine didn't really wilt too much, but was lovely and garlic-y!

Page 67 Aromatic Asparagus and Sweet Potato Curry
My sweet potato took longer than stated to cook tender, but it was worth the extra time, very nice.
Page 69 Saag Tofu
The tofu in this isn't as soft and creamy as I was expecting but did make a nice contrast to the soft and creamy spinach (oh yeah) which was super delicious.
Page 71 Yellow Basmati Rice
Picture above. Strange that the recipe is titled "basmati rice" but uses short grain. Tasty though.

Page 84 Bright-Black Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Plum Tomato Ketchup
See above for the ketchup. These potatoes were really good! I should have made double. We would have eaten them.

Page 92 Funmilayo Fritters
A little dry (but nice with the Plum Tomato Ketchup in place of Harissa) but very tasty. Crisp outside which was lovely.
Page 97 Thiakry with Millet and Raisins
A little more liquid-y than I was expecting, but good.

Page 103 Crunchy Chopped Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing
Crunchy salad, yes. Creamy dressing, yes. Very nice.
Page 123 Mexican Chocolate Pudding with Agave-coated Pepitas
Too much cayenne for us for a dessert, however it was creamy and luscious and will make again without the cayenne!

Page 130 Creamy Chard Soup with Tostones
I love tostones. I loved the soup too. Not entirely sure the two were a perfect match, but I'd gladly eat the soup over and over. So simple but so good.
Page 134 Double Garlic Rice
If you like garlic (which I do) you'll like this simple way to infuse the rice with flavour (which I did).

Page 146 Molasses, Miso, and Maple Candied Sweet Potatoes
Sweet and salty combination which was well loved. Will make again for sure - maybe for Thanksgiving.

Page 166 Tofu with Peanuts Roasted in Chili Oil
Little bit plain, this one, I was expecting more ooomph.

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