Monday, 1 October 2012

Book Review - Vegan for the Holidays

Just in time for Thanksgiving! (Canadian version anyway). Hopefully you'll get a few ideas from the recipes I made in this review. Thanks to the author, Zel Allen, for the copy to review.

Many of the recipes in this book are special event recipes so you couldn't necessarily pop home after work and throw them together, some yes, but not all, so bear that in mind, the focus really is on holiday meals. As such they make a lot, as it is assumed you are cooking a holiday meal for a bunch of people. I scaled the recipes in half, and had plenty of leftovers. Doing so had no negative result on the final dishes that I could discern, so feel free to do the same.

There are 5 main chapters, one for each of the holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year - with photos representing each chapter included in the photo sections. Each chapter presents a selection of dishes to fit each holiday - from starters and soups, through main courses, side dishes and desserts. There is a great variety to choose from, and I'm sure you could mix-and-match to your preference. I know I did! Even though the recipes are holiday themed and focussed there really is no reason you couldn't use any of the recipes for any gathering, or any meal. The recipes are laid out well, and the recipe chapters flow logically.

Onto the recipes I made -
Page 11 Butternut Squash, Beet and Apple Soup
Unfortunate that this is the first recipe up, as it is the recipe I enjoyed the least of all the recipes I made. I felt sure I would like this as I do like all the component parts, but the overall result was too sweet for me, and I would have liked to have seen more spice or chile to give a lift and other flavour dimension. Maybe you'll like this better than I did!

Page 12 Lemony Carrot Soup
This was a lovely soup, creamy from the nuts, sweet from the carrots, with an intense lift from the lemon. Enjoyed very much.

Page 16 Pistachio and Sweet Pea Torte with Roasted-Tomato Aioli
This is very green in appearance so be warned! It also is very filling and tasty, so worth making. The sauce is rich and creamy, the perfect foil to the savoury torte. I ate this both warm and cold, and enjoyed it both ways. It is also good sliced and pan fried until the outsides of the slices are crispy!! I shared with a number of friends and they all enjoyed it also.

Page 28 Mashed Potatoes with Onion-Chardonnay Gravy
To us, the gravy was very dominantly carrot-y, more of a carrot sauce than a gravy, but it was really very tasty and went well with the potatoes. I'm not sure if I would make again, but am glad I tried it.

Page 35 Williamsburg Pumpkin Pie
This was wonderful. The crust a little like an oatmeal cookie, and the filling, so creamy, with a perfect spice balance. Enjoyed by all immensely.

Page 49 Maple Dijon Salad Dressing
Great combination of sweet and tart, this dressing was especially enjoyed by H.

Page 50 Tahini Dijon Salad Dressing
I preferred the creamy smoothness of this dressing, without the sweet notes, but with a richer texture!

Page 65 Garlicky Roasted Cauliflower
I did roast the cauliflower for longer than indicated as I do like my roasted cauli to be well caramelised. I really enjoyed the olives and pepper in this dish, the flavour accents were wonderful.

Page 72 Chocolate Truffle Mousse
My mousse never really set up all that firm, but it was very tasty. Daughter 2 ate quite a few helpings of this!

Page 99 Jamaican Jerk Tofu
This one needs a lot of advance planning - pressing the tofu for 24 hours (something I had never done before) then another 24 for marinating. I'm pleased I took the time and made this one as it was delicious! Not as spicy as I thought it may have been, so I would likely up the chile if making again, but good all the same.
Page 100 Jamaican Rice and Peas
I did use the optional spices, and they really made this sing. Tasty and filling, a good side dish for the tofu as in the photo.

Page 101African Pumpkin Stew
Loaded with vegetables this was a nice, warming dinner on a cool Autumn evening. The peanuts add nice texture.

Page 128 Old-Fashioned Chili
Enjoyed by everyone, this is a not to spicy chili that is "meaty", hearty and filling. Perfect for serving in a bowl, on nachos (as in the photo), with taco shells, over baked potato... Very good.

Many of the recipes in this book have the added bonus of being oil-free, starting with a water-sauté instead of using oil. I imagine, if you so chose, you could use a little oil to cut down on the browning time, but if you are reducing the fat in your diet this is a good option to try.

1 comment:

Mandee said...

I've never heard of this book until now so thanks for featuring it!