Monday, 19 November 2012

Book Review - The I Love Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook

A couple of things not to be put off by with this book. Firstly, if there is no Trader Joe's where you live, don't let that stop you. I am in Canada and we don't have any. Secondly, if you are vegan don't think that the book is not vegan friendly because it says "vegetarian" in the title. Yes, it is a vegetarian book, but every recipe has a vegan version, and subs are noted - usually as simple as replacing dairy with non dairy options, omitting cheese or what have you.

I do have a query as to how the recipes for this book were tested, but that is just me being nosy. The author  has 2 vegan books (The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes, and Have your Cake and Vegan too; which I have and it is pretty awesome) so I am wondering if these recipes were vegan to start with and then non-veganised by someone at the publishers? or did the author stop being vegan to create the recipes? and were there two sets of testers - a vegetarian set and a vegan set for each version? Not that these questions kept me up at night, or stopped me from enjoying the recipes I made, I just wondered.

The book itself is printed on shiny paper, which is a little unique, with lots of photos for those of you who like photos! Layout is clear, recipes easy to follow, all with relevant introductions. It does, as you'd guess from the title, ask for specific TJ brand items in the recipes, but I just used what I could find at my local store, and didn't run into any issues. Everything I made was pretty straightforward, easy to make, and tasty, though not overly spiced, so I would say if you can get your head around the two things which might put you off as noted above, then this book would be a good addition to a cookbook collection, for everyday meals.

The recipes I made -
Page 18 Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes
The addition of the oats makes the texture lovely, so these are a nice basic pancake, will a touch of extra sweetness from the pineapple.

Page 33 Holy Moly - It's Nuts
Lovely. Especially enjoyed by H - chocolate-y spiced nuts, you choose the nuts you like so you will get a result you like!

Page 59 Slawvocado Salad
I really enjoyed this one - made with Broccoli Slaw and an Avocado dressing I think this would be lovely with regular slaw too.

Page 67 Easy Potato Salad
A little on the sweet side for my tastes as it goes for salad, so I would reduce the sugar next time. Very easy as the title indicates.

Page 80 Quicky Chickpea Soup
The title says soup, but in the intro this is referred to as a stew, and I'm inclined to go with stew as it wasn't very soup-y. It was however, quick as advertised, and very tasty.

Page 99 Shallots and Spinach
I found I needed a lot more time than indicated to get the shallots to the colour required - which is why in the photo my beans look over done - I had timed everything to be ready, and this threw me off. Very worth the extra time though, yummy. Photo below with the beans.

Page 100 Sweet Brussels Sprouts Sauté
(Photo below) Nice enough, though a little plain. I do like my sprouts a little more caramelised so I preferred....

Page 100 Roasted Brussels Sprouts
So simple, and so delicious, caramelised and lovely. Will make you a sprouts lover if you aren't one already.

Page 103 Almond Glazed Green Beans
These are the beans referred to above - tasty, though a little over cooked thanks to timing issues - on my part.

Page 111 Coconut Curry Polenta
(In photo above) I'd never have thought to use a tube of polenta in this manner. I usually pan fry or roast the ready made stuff and make it from scratch if I want it creamy. I found the curry powder a little too much, it needed softening with other spices for my tastes.

Page 115 Roasted Carrot Risotto
Lovely and creamy, intense flavour, which I would have liked to have had some spices added to, to lift the flavour profile a little more. Still delicious as is though.

Page 118 Snap Cashew Crunch
On the salty side for my tastes, but still very good. Nice textural contrasts.

Page 134 Baked Tofu
Nice basic tofu preparation, simple and tasty. Something you could make over and over and have along a number of different sides.

Page 152 Smashing Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Good, but its mashed potatoes, so what's not to like? Photo above with the two Brussels.

Page 161 Pappy's Pistachio Pudding
OK, not something I'd make again, but nice to try. Just not to our tastes I think.

Page 178 Ginger Sparkling Ale
I didn't like the bits of ginger in the syrup once made so I strained them out. Made a lovely refreshing drink.

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