Monday, 3 September 2012

Book Reviews - Two Non-Vegan Cookbooks.

Firstly, Whatever happened to Sunday Dinner?, by Lisa Caponigiri.

A hefty book, hardcover, with a decent amount of pictures and well spaced recipes. This book is a year's worth of recipes (so 52 menus) for a 5 dish meal; each consisting of a starter, a first (often pasta) course, a main course, a side dish and a dessert. Most of the recipes which are accidentally vegan, vegetarian, or easily veganisable are not main course dishes so the dishes I tried are mainly sides and pastas.

There is not a lot of comment to be made about a number of the recipes, especially the sides, as they were very simple and quite standard. I've listed the recipes here by English names, though in the book they are in both Italian and English.
Page 61 Sautéed Swiss Chard
Page 74 Sautéed Green Beans
Page 95 Sautéed Spinach
Page 131 Roasted Leeks
Page 267 Rosemary Potatoes
Page 273 Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Garlic
Page 285 Oven-Roasted Potatoes
All perfectly nice, simple vegetable side dishes, with olive oil and garlic mainly.
(Rosemary Potatoes with Sauteed Swiss Chard and Pepper Stew noted below)

Page 88 Lisa's Classic Tomato Sauce
My only issue with this recipe is it says to simmer (and doesn't say to cover or not) for 2 to 4 hours, giving no indication of how thick the sauce should be at the end of simmering.

Page 94 Polenta with mushrooms
Hearty and filling, though we liked it better served with the mushroom sauce stirred into the cooked polenta, not served on top as stated.

Page 156 Woodsman's pasta with Mushroom sauce
Too many dried mushrooms in this for me as they never do really properly rehydrate (in my experience). Nice enough overlooking that (which wasn't an issue for H).

Page 163 Risotto with sautéed vegetables
A little ho-hum. Nice as a backdrop to more flavourful items but doesn't stand alone (and is not meant to really).

Page 216 Pasta with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Nice, simple, easy to make.
(Pasta with Spicy Sauce pictured with Roasted Leeks)

Page 222 Pepper Stew over arborio rice
Wonderfully flavourful. Thick and very more-ish. Could eat this with no accompaniment.

Page 228 Risotto with mushrooms
Nice enough, nothing super special, but tasty.

This is a pretty good book, for the right (preferably omni) person, just not for me. Maybe someone would enjoy the challenge to vegansie it all, but not me, not right now.


Then we have a book in the "Idiot's Guide" Series - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Low-Carb Meals, by Lucy Beale.

Just from the cover picture I would not have picked this one off the shelf! and I am not really a fan of the whole "low-carb lifestyle" thing, but I know people who are so I approached this one with an open mind and was interested to find that a number of recipes where either accidentally vegan, or easily made vegan. Not loads, mind you, as there are whole chapters I had to completely skip, but some. I did have to make some substitutions and omissions from the recipes I made, which were, on the whole basic but tasty, with simple instructions which may have benefited from a little more detail.
I do like that this book is encouraging the consumption of more vegetables than other "low-carbing" books seem to. The introduction really stresses how important eating lots of produce is, and the recipes reflect that.

The recipes I made -
Page 30 Granola
I used vegan marg instead of the butter and agave instead of the honey. Makes a tasty granola that I am enjoying.

Page 57 Mexican Layers
I used vegan mayo, and cheese. Nice tasty salad which looked very pretty in the bowl - not that the picture does it justice.

Page 184 Cajun Black Bean Soup
I left off the eggs. Little confused as to when to add the whole beans so I just put them in with the mashed ones. Not sure if you're meant to eat the lemon slices or not. Tasty! I toppede mine with a little vegan sour cream which was nice.

Page 186 Lentil Soup
Super easy, but a really tasty soup. I was a little surprised at exactly how tasty as the ingredients are very simple.

Page 235 Avocado Margarita
Like a chunky guacamole. Tasty, nice with salad and baked potatoes.

Page 285 Fiesta Confetti Salad
Really nice, refreshing and interesting with all the different flavours and textures going on.

Page 286 Five-Day Coleslaw
Unlike any coleslaw I've made before. The dressing was a little sparse and left the cabbage a little dry almost. I had trouble getting the vinegar and spice mix to boil, as once I added the spices the liqquid turned into a paste. I added a little water. H enjoyed this one more than I did.

Page 290 Mandarin Orange Salad
I used Arugula instead of spinach. Very nice tasty salad though I would make again with fresh mandaarin segments, not canned ones.

Page 328 Quinoa Pilaf with Vegetables
Simple and tasty way to eat quinoa. I omitted the cheese.

Page 344 Peanut Butter Cookies
H took some to work for a meeting and got great feedback. I liked these though found them more almond-y than peanut-y.

Page 361 Nut Clusters
I used pine nuts with the coconut and these were so delicious and very more-ish. Simple and quick to make so I will make again!!


While I enjoyed most of the recipes I made I don't think I will be keeping either of these books as there are more recipes I can't make as written than can. I have people in mind to give each of them too, and I know they will be well received.

1 comment:

indianist said...

With the help of your guide i prepared a soup which is delicious thanks for the information