Monday, 30 January 2012

Book Review - Quick Fix Vegan

Robin Robertson's latest offering is all about fast cooking. Need something on the table in half an hour? Here's your book. (OK, so some of the recipes take longer than that, but these are make ahead ones where the work is done in half an hour, then you just have to bake).

The book is green inside - printing, paper, headings etc. Not unattractive, but I thought I would mention it as it is not usual. There are no pictures, so if you are a person who needs a visual reference you may find this harder going. I don't, so found this fine as it is. QFV has a wonderful introductory section all about being quick, and shortcuts you can take and what you should have on hand in the pantry for the quick-fix recipes. I do like a good introduction! I found the recipes I made (on the whole) to be simple, with easy to follow instructions which would suit even the most novice of vegan cooks. Recommended? Most definitely!

The recipes I made, again in page number order, were -

P21 - Moroccan Pumpkin Hummus.

Why didn't I think of this one?? So good, with pumpkin and chickpeas being new bestest buddies.

P 23 - Hummamole

I love hummus. I love guacamole. So of course I'm going to love the combination of the two!

P 24 - Smokin' Guacamole

I toned down the chipotle in this one so it wasn't too "smokin" just nicely accented. Very nice.

P 24 - Red Bean Chipotle Dip

I didn't tone down the chipotle and maybe should have (OK so maybe we are wusses) but this was very nice.

P 46 - Coconut-Curry Chickpeas and Cauliflower

I'm not a fan of carrot in anything tomato based. I don't know why, but to me they don't belong together. Personal taste is a funny thing. This was nice, but I'll leave the carrots out next time.

P 59 - Smoky Chipotle-Chocolate Chili

Very yum. Even with slightly less chipotle you still got the wonderful flavor combination. This will be made again.

P 89 - Cream of Mushroom Soup

This reminded me of a Mushroom Paprikash recipe I make. Spoke to me of Eastern Europe and wintertime. Loved this soup.

P 100 - Asian Noodle Soup with Bok Choy and Shiitakes

Though I didn't use shiitakes as none of the local stores had any. Nice and light, yet completely satisfying. The recipe served 2 as a main.

P 132 - Quinoa Salad with Apples and Walnuts

I liked this one. I ate it warm, and them some later cold, and it was good both ways. Very reminiscent of a Waldorf (well, sort of).

P 154 - Indian Shepherd's Pie

I think I mucked this up a little as I ended up with too much bottom and not enough potato top so I had to cook more potato before I baked it. Again, another one where I felt the carrots weren't needed. Nice concept - would make again.

P 200 - Catalan-style Creme Brulee

Oh, my!!!

All in all an enjoyable week's eating!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Hearty Vegan Winner

Again thanks to the Random Number Generator -

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:12
Timestamp: 2012-01-29 20:26:19 UTC

The winner is - Comment number 12.
Emily - "Tofu jerky?! I must try this!"

So, Emily, please email me with your contact details so the book can be on its way to you!
Thanks to everyone for playing.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

This week I am cooking from ....

Quick Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson

Review to follow next week - though no giveaway this time!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Review and Giveaway

Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites

Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman

Here-after referred to as "Hearty Vegan" to make things simpler.

Of the book and the layout itself I don't have much to say - there's nothing I picked up on as being something I'd have like to have seen done differently. There's not a big blah blah section in the front of this one, which is not the preference I have, I personally like all the introductory chapters in cookbooks. I know not everyone does, so this may be more of a plus to people who aren't like me, some folks like to just get to the recipes. The recipes in this one are well spread out, mostly one to a page, with an easy to follow layout. Directions easy to read and follow - not squished in. This book has loads of very nice pictures! which for me is not a necessity, but very nice to have all the same. The glue on my front cover has come a little loose, but maybe that is my treating the book a little roughly!

Running through the recipes I made - in page number order to keep things straight and fair.

P 30 - Breakfast Potatoes O'Brien

Nice, very tasty, though heavy! We had them for dinner not breakfast, which was better for us. Would have liked to have been given a time range for the potatoes to cook once in the oil so I could have timed my meal a little better.

P 43 - Coconut Creme Brulee Baked Oatmeal

Oh, yummy. More of a dessert (a heavy-ish dessert) than a breakfast as it was so decadent and delicious. My sugar didn't brulee, as you maybe can see in the photo) but that is more a comment about my sugar than the recipe! This one I will make many times and can see myself changing up the flavorings.

P 71 - Creamy Mushroom Soup

Nice. Simple, easy to make Mushroom Soup when you feel like a bowl of something warm and comforting.

P 119 - Black and Braised Tofu

This was my least favorite of all the recipes I made. Not because the recipe is bad or anything, but it just wasn't to my taste is all. You get that in all cookbooks.

P 149 - Irish Nachos

Oh, I really, really enjoyed these! I wasn't sure I would but then I all but licked the plate. So simple but so yummy.

P 151 - Home Fries with Chipotle BBQ Seasoning

I have a bunch of the seasoning left over, so I will have to force myself - oh, such a hardship - to make these again to use it up. (I am being sarcastic in case it isn't translating). Enjoyed these.

P 153 - Twice Baked Potatoes

These were OK. Filling was a little too sloppy (liquid?) for my preference but I only had small potatoes so used more than stated and maybe didn't use enough. My bad.

P 161 - Tofu Jerky

I will have to make this one again, as it was delicious. Not as chewy as I was expecting, but I did only use EF tofu, and would like to try with super-firm.

P 172 - Kale with a Kick

So good I made it twice! Photo with Tofu Jerky, above.

P 209 - Mamou's Magical Vinaigrette

Nice and simple, yet tasty, salad dressing.

P 213 - Smoky Pub Cheese

This one really does taste like smoked cheese spread. Texture is a little gummier and not as creamy as I was expecting but that didn't stop us from eating the lot very quickly. Super simple to make as well.

P 216 - Imitation Bacon Bits

I'm still working through the pile of these in my fridge. I found if you nibble at them straight up as they are they weren't smoky or salty enough for my expectations, but when used ON something the flavor really pops. Nice one. In Irish Nachos photo, above.

P 231 - Frangipane Rice Pudding

I love rice pudding, and this one is a nice variation on your bog standard puddings.

As last weeks giveaway the publishers are providing a copy of Hearty Vegan to one lucky reader. As last week, yet again, they are willing to ship to an address in the US. Sorry for everyone else but they are shipping so they are calling the shots.

Like last time just leave a comment, this time before midday Sunday Jan 29th (PT), to enter. Winner announced shortly after that. Good luck.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

and the winner of Vegan Subs is.....

Drumroll please......

There were 38 entries (thanks everyone for entering!) so I used the handy dandy Random Number Generator to find the winner.

True Random Number Service
Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:15
Timestamp: 2012-01-23 00:37:51 UTC

Number 15 was - Mary Horowitz
"I'd LOVE to win! We're recently dairy- and gluten-free, and have found we're reaching more and more to vegan recipes to meet my food needs now. This book seems like a great starter cookbook for the newly (mostly) vegan!"

So Mary Horowitz, please email me (address in sidebar) to get the balll rolling on the book coming to you!

Watch for tomorrows post to another book giveaway!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What's next?

This week I am cooking from

and will have a review next week. I have 3 (or is it 4) other books in the pile to review so there's a few more in the works!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Review and Give-away

The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions.

Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman

From now on I'll refer to this as Vegan Subs to make the typing easier! I cooked from this book last week to get a good overall picture of a number of recipes, and I must say that everything I made was delicious. Would I have changed anything? yes, of course, to suit my tastes more - which you will see as we go through the recipes I made in a minute, but overall I was impressed with the total yumminess of the dishes I made. Would I recommend the book? Yes, for beginner and more experienced vegans alike. I think everyone could learn something, and find a recipe to enjoy.

The book is divided into chapters by which animal product's substitution is being discussed, and illustrated by the recipes. I like this layout and think it reads well and each chapter is complete and concise. I like how the use of the animal product is introduced, and that a table is included showing common substitutions. I especially like how a sample recipe is veganised - to be honest I would have liked to have seen more of these, especially in the Egg chapter (as eggs have so many uses in tradition baking and cooking) and the Meat chapter (different meats best suiting different subs and flavorings etc) but understand space constraints may not have made more of the sample substitution recipes possible. However, and this would be my one and only gripe with the layout, I would have liked to have seen a larger, more clearly laid out section at the end of the book listing the recipes by "meal" - in a more traditional manner - all the Breakfast Recipes listed with page references, then all the Entree recipes with page references, then Baking.... and so on (this information is available, but it is in the index. I think a clearer appendix would have suited better)

The photos are gorgeous, seriously drool worthy, and drawings are cute - appropriate and neither too many or too few. The recipes are easy to read, and follow. I only had one recipe where I thought the instructions were a little confusing, but not so much that I couldn't figure it out (and I am glad I did!).

Now, on to the recipes I made. I didn't take photos of all of them because I am a little forgetful when faced with food I just want to eat - right now! I'm going to run through these in the page order they appear.

P52 - Nacho Queso.

Super simple, and so tasty. I made a half batch and by the time I got it to table I think I'd "tasted" about 1/4 of that! Will make this one again for sure, and not just for over nachos.

P72 - Spinach and Mushroom Tofu Scramble.

Very tasty, enjoyed by us all, though as written a little salty for me. When I make again I will adjust to my taste.

P117 - Taco Meat

This is the one I found a little confusing - there are both soy- and gluten- free versions and I feel the instructions need subheadings for each. I made the soy version which was super quick, very tasty, and easy to adjust the spice level to taste.

P131 - Smoky Potato Wedges

I made a double batch as I knew we would love them, and I should have made even more. This is one that will join our "what to do with potatoes" rotation! (In photo with the Tofu Scramble above)

P177 - Curry Tofu and Arugula Salad

I was a little worried this would be too bitter, with the curry powder and arugula, but I shouldn't have. It was lovely. Simple to make and very tasty.

P178 - Quinoa and Lentil Pilaf

Not quite what I was expecting from it being called a "pilaf" but really good. Super simple, and tasty. Made a lovely lunch and I can see myself making this again and changing up the additions.

P184 - Southwestern Polenta

Comfort food completely! Oh my. This was perfect. Top with lashing of the Nacho Queso for more heaven. Takes a little longer to make but not overly so.

P189 - Amaretti Cookies

I needed a little more water than stated to get mine to hold together and actually form cookies. That can happen. These were lovely, light and tasty, and appreciated by everyone who I shared with.

P193 - Tofu Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is my cheese. The one thing I really miss being able to eat. Before being vegan I used to check restaurant menus to see if they had a Creme Brulee as dessert and then order as to leave room if they did. I liked the dish, ate it all up, and would happily eat it again.

Now, as to the giveaway part. Would you like to win a copy of Vegan Subs? (of course you would!)

This is being sponsored by the books' publisher and their requirement is that the winning entry be sent to an address in the US. I am sorry too everyone elsewhere (like me) but as they are shipping the book, they get to decide where it will be sent.

All you need to do to enter is comment on this post before 6pm (PT) Sunday 22nd January, and I will blog the winner next Monday.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

This week -

I will be cooking from Vegan Subs - or more officially -in order to post a review next week. Remind me to take photos!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Book Reviews to come.

I received in the post today two books to review - both by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman - Hooray!

Which two?? These two... (pictures from Amazon)

What I will do now is read them through (I love to read cookbooks like they are novels) and then get my trusty kitchen trainee-sidekick, M, to browse through and choose a few recipes from each she'd like to "help" me make. We'll then make the recipes (most likely concentrating on one book at a time) and I'll report back in a few weeks. You'll need to watch this space!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Too late for this year, but here's a recipe for a simple slow cooker souup which gets you your lucky Black Eyed Peas, and Greens in the same recipe! This one didn't make the final cut for Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking (such a HARD process to decide which recipes don't make it!) due to space considerations! Set and forget is perfect for this time of year, and soup always makes you feel better if there has been over-indulgence at some point.

Black Eyed Pea, Potato, and Kale Soup
Serves 4 to 6

This is a rustic looking soup, which tastes divinely beautiful! In a totally healthy, good-for-you sort of way. This is a thick and hearty, tasty and filling, soup which is almost a stew! In fact, if you’d rather have it as a stew, reduce the vegetable stock by half a cup.

Cook the beans as directed in advance, drain and hold until required. Alternatively use canned beans, drained and rinsed, in place of the cooked beans, see Notes.

Preparation Time – 30 Minutes, divided

½ cup dry Black Eyed Peas, soaked overnight then drained and rinsed
1 Bay Leaf
3 cups Water

½ medium Onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 cups grated Potato, 2 to 3 medium or about 12-ounces, peeling optional
¼ cup White Wine
2 ½ cups Vegetable Stock
½ teaspoon Salt
¾ teaspoon powdered dried Sage
¾ teaspoon Cumin
¼ teaspoon dried Rosemary

1 ½ cups shredded Kale, 6-ounces, see Notes

Additional stock as required

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine the beans, bay leaf and water in the slow cooker.
Cover, set heat to low and cook for 7 hours until beans are just tender.
Drain, returning only the cooked beans to the slow cooker. Add the onion through rosemary and stir to combine.
Cover, set heat to low and cook a further 6 hours until potato well cooked, and beans perfectly tender.
Partially blend with an immersion blender so most of the beans and potato shreds are smooth, but some retain their shape and texture.
Add the kale, stir well, and cook until well wilted and tender, 1 hour further.
Add more stock as required to achieve your preferred consistency.
To serve, add the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To cut your kale into shreds you need to make sure it is washed, then remove the hard centre stalk. Roll the leaves into a fat cylinder shape (like a cigar) and finely cut slices across the roll.
Use 1 ½ cups cooked Black Eyed Peas, drained and rinsed if canned, skipping the first cooking step if doing so.