Monday, 27 August 2012

Book Review - The Vegetarian Kitchen Table Cookbook

This one is not vegan, just in case the title didn't give that away!

Quite a big book, with a number of logical chapters, and quite a few pictures, though as a vegetarian book a large number of the recipes do contain eggs and dairy. Many of these recipes can be made vegan with a quick substitution for the dairy, or a single egg replacer. However, some of the other recipes are egg dependent so not really able to be made vegan. That said, a number of the recipes are "accidentally vegan" so it is not without options for vegans. It is not necessarily a book I would recommend to go out and buy to have in a vegan kitchen, but would make a nice addition to a vegetarian one, or to anyone on the SAD wanting to reduce the amount of meat they eat, and increase their veggies.

The recipes I made, as always in page number order...
Page 13 Hummus
I have never before had hummus made with sesame oil in place of the tahini. You really should try it as it adds a different flavour dimension and slightly more creamy texture to the hummus. Nice.

Page 40 Carrot and Orange Salad
Little too much juice for my preference, but a lovely vibrant flavour, and very simple to make.

Page 46 Green Bean and Legume Salad
Nice combination of beans and vegetables. Worked really well with other salads.

Page 60 Lentil Salad
I had no puy lentils so made with regular lentils. I think puy would have been better as I do prefer the texture and flavour. Nice, hearty and earthy, but nice.

Page 164 Green Curry Vegetables
Nice, basic curry, though I don't usually use napa cabbage it was a tasty addition.

Page 204 Pad Thai
I have an issue with this recipe. In a vegetarian cooking book asking for Fish Sauce????? as an ingredient. Not even vegetarian! (I just added some Bragg Liquid Aminos). I also had an issue with my bean sprouts, they were yucky when I opened the packet so made it without them, in case you were wondering from the picture.

Page 265 Peanut Satay Sauce
I have never made a peanut sauce starting with peanuts instead of peanut butter. This was nice, though I did think the sesame seeds overpowered it a little, and felt a little out of place.

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Next week I will be doing 2 books in one review - I have a couple of not-even-vegetarian cookbooks that I have been making things from, and I don't really want to give them a post each, as they are limited in what is available to vegans, unless you're willing to take the time to substitute and experiment. (Nothing against the books as they are - they're perfectly fine books, just not really perfect for me.)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Book Review - Vegan 101

This book is not huge (being only 101 recipes!) but makes a good introduction to veganism for those looking to dip their toes in without too much commitment. It is part of a larger "101" series from Surrey Books and doesn't appear to have a single author - being edited by Kate DeVivo with some recipes coming from other books (with attribution).
The book starts with a simple introduction to being vegan, basic cooking equipment, techniques and ingredients which would be helpful to the complete novice. The recipes are simple, the instructions not overly detailed but workable, and the photos are nice. If you looove photos, there may not be enough for you, but there is a good smattering to give you an idea of how the recipes should turn out.

The recipes I made -
Page 28 Black Bean Hummus
Nice riff on regular hummus, with a different flavour added from the black beans and soy sauce. Worth making and tasty.

Page 32 Pinto Bean and Avocado Dip
Thicker and more hearty than Guacamole, this dip is nice with salad as well as with a variety of things to dip (pictured are nacho chips and fried baked potatoes). I enjoyed it.

Page 34 Garbanzo Salsa
Tasty, fresh yet filling, nice as part of a salad spread.

Page 34 Fried Ripe Plantains
Not that I feel I need a recipe for this, but I do love some plantains!

Falafel Burgers with Tahini Dressing
Tasty. I didn't think the falafel mix was going to hold together, but the texture of these was great, as was the sauce. The sauce was thicker than expected.

Page 62 Curried Pasta and Vegetables
OK. Nothing super great, but decent combination, and easy to make.

Page 78 Bean Gazpacho
Really good. Thicker and heartier than a "regular" gazpacho, and more filling. One I would have liked to have thought of!

Page 83 Vietnamese Curried Coconut Soup
I added quite a bit more curry powder and chili paste to get the flavour oomphed up a little for this one. Simple but nice - I would have liked a little more vegetable variety but that is easy enough to do.

Page 98 Mango and Black Bean Salad
Nice and refreshing, while staying filling. Great as part of a salad buffet.

Page 120 Orange Cilantro Rice
Tasty and simple, though the recipe doesn't say white or brown rice. The picture is white which is what I went for and I think that was right.

While not the most awesome book I've had, this one is perfectly serviceable, with tasty recipes, and makes a good starting point for new vegans and vegan-wannabes.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Book Review - Vegan a la Mode

(Again with the lack of photos - sorry!)

This is a hard cover book, and well bound so it stays open on the page you turn to! Nothing is more annoying than having to weight down a book to keep it open to the page you want! Nicely laid out, with lots of pictures (if you like that), one recipe per facing page so easy to read.

The book starts with a number of chapters running through ingredients used, and the roles they play in ice-cream making, the tools you need (and how to work around the ones you don't have), and the techniques involved. There is also a small trouble shooting section, which is handy, because sometimes things don;t go as planned!

I like that in this book there are a number of different base recipes used, and that the recipes are not just variations on the same base. I would have liked to have seen a basic Basic Vanilla recipe and a basic Basic Chocolate recipe just because I have folks who prefer those above all other flavours. As a criticism its not a big one! The not so successful recipe (to come) we had does not put me off making more, though I may make some just for me, and not to please the vanilla-and-chocolate-only members of the family.

I made only six recipes, as there is only so much ice-cream you can eat! If you want to see reviews of other recipes then here are some I have found (or you can just Google like I did!) - Vegan Appetite, Snarky Vegan, A Dash of Compassion. So, I made -

Page 8 - Blue Moon Ice-cream
This is the one which didn't work for us. The mix, when chilled to be added was as thick as pudding, quitee solid, and didn't churn properly, just gummed up my machine. It also tasted a little artificial, which I had expected from the ingredients, and even the girls didn't like it much (and they like the cereal!). Maybe our cereal was a different brand than used in testing.

Page 20 Cookie Monster Ice-cream
Yum. Loaded with cookie dough, and cookies, this is a cookie sandwich in a bowl. Loved by R especially, and she has asked that I make the ice-cream without the cookies, as she really liked the vanilla base ice-cream! Winner.

Page 28 Peppermint Crush Ice-cream
I had leftover candy canes so used those. R requested this one, and liked it, butt it was one that you couldn't eat much of at a time. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing). Texture was lovely.

Page 48 Double Chocolate Fudge Chunk Ice-cream
There's a typo in this one - some of the ingredients are missing from the list for the fudge chunks. I guessed and got it pretty much right but others may not be so lucky. This one ended up being divine. Super over the top chocolate love! I would make again without the chunks for the kids as they weren't keen on them for some reason (best part I think!)

Page 50 French Vanilla Ice-cream
I enjoyed this one but the girls didn't. To me it doesn't taste like french vanilla, or at least not the french vanilla I remember. It does to me taste like custard ice-cream, and I love custard, always having custard powder in the house! Would make again, but would call it Frozen Custard or something similar.

Page 70 Vanilla Bean "Honey" Ice-cream
Nice one. I used my own "honey" that I bodged together, and it was wonderful. I could see it being awesome on pie as in the photo. Simple and tasty.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Cute stuff.

I came across this site - Nothing with a Mother or a Face - with some cute gear, T-shirts, bags and the like.

If you're one who shops on-line then you might like to take a look-see. The stuff here is super cute, and looks like there is something to suit everyone!!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Product Review - Liquid SereniTea

Obviously, tea, and liquid, but really quite ingenious. Actual, real green tea infusion, with flavouring and (for some types) a little sweetening added, you control the strength by the amount of water you add, no need to steep, and you can add to either hot or cold water! The website is here.

I'm not usually a green tea fan, but I was sent a sample of the sweetened Raspberry Decaf and found it quite enjoyable. I did prefer it cold, over ice, rather than hot, but it is summer time! There are a number of flavours, and they are all organic. I think I'd quite like to try the peach....

Thanks to Liquid SereniTea for the burst of flavour to my summer.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Book Review - Grilling Vegan Style

In our house all cooking on the grill is done by H. I do the prep, he does the cooking so we'll have some of his feedback included in the comments on this one too.

I must confess, I had this book for a while before using it and reviewing, simply because I was waiting for summer to finally come to our part of the world. It arrived (at last) so we got grilling! and as I said last week I have been having camera issues so......... sorry for the lack of photos in this review.

The book starts with two full introductory chapters, the first looking in some detail at grills and grilling basics, and the second at the ingredients used in the book, touching in detail on the vegan protein "holy trinity" of tofu, seitan, and temeph. Nice info to have.

The recipe chapters are logically ordered, concluding with a hefty drinks chapter (which you would expect from the chap who brought you The Tipsy Vegan), and each chapter has a nice introduction. The recipes themselves are clearly laid out, easy to follow, and the recipe headers are relevant and not overly chatty.

On to the recipes I made, in page number order as always;
Page 57 - String Bean and Arugula Salad
Nice and zesty, sharp from the arugula. I enjoyed the flavour combination. H commented that the beans took longer than stated to cook, and that he felt this was a little fussy to make a salad.

Page 68 - Cedar Smoked Mushrooms
Mushrooms crusted with mushroom powder and cooked on a cedar plank for a yummy smoky infusion. We are mushroom lovers so devoured this one. I had loads of leftover mushroom crust after making this, and instead of throwing it out I used as the base for a mushroom risotto. Very nice, and helpful to know!

Page 80 - Chunky Grilled Potatoes
H's comment was that they took longer than stated to cook, but otherwise we both enjoyed this, I especially liked the little caramelised bits.

Page 93 - Balsamic--Splashed Zucchini
Simple but tasty. H's comment was that he would liked to have the zucchini marinated in the balsamic.

Page 101 - Portobellos with roasted leeks and spinach
Very tasty, a little fussy to make - stuffing the hot mushrooms for example, and we had way more filling than the mushrooms would take so we ate it over a salad. Nice that way too.

The following are marinades, from the chapter dedicated to them. All were very simple to make - I used tofu or tempeh.
Page 105 - Asian Infusion Marinade
Nice, little spicy, but went well with tempeh.

Page 106 Lemon and Garlic
I'd have liked more garlic, but I am a fiend.

Page 108 Finger-Lickin' BBQ Sauce
Very tasty, would make again for sure, though I usually prefer a no-cook BBQ sauce.

Page 111 Prime-Time Lime
Nice and zesty!

Page 114 Lemon and Pepper
Awesome on tofu! Nicely lemony, and not too much pepper.

Page 123 Stacked Portobello Burgers
Love portobellos, so loved these burgers. Nicely flavoured from the marinade, which enhanced the mushrooms.

Page 126 Garbanzo and Herb Burgers
H felt these were a waste of time to grill, as they are basically pre-cooked then just finished on the grill. I enjoyed the flavour, and loved the sauce, which was also great as a salad dressing.

Page 127 Southwestern Burgers
These were too sloppy to grill well, even after time in the fridge so we gave up and I pan cooked them. Tasted great, but the texture was a little off for me.

Page 156 Grilled Corn on the Cob
H didn't feel he needed a recipe so much discussion followed on how some people would... The sauce was lovely, we don;t usually have sauce with our corn and H felt it was a bit strange. Nice as a salad dressing too.

Page 168 Maple Soy Tempeh
So much of this recipe is cooked on the stove it is a bit of a waste of heating the BBQ to just grill the tempeh. A lovely dish, very flavourful, so I would make again, but indoors.

Page 170 Tex Mex Tempeh
Nice recipe, lovely and spiced, a little hot, and perfect with a tex-mex spread.

Page 172 Chipotle-marinated Tofu and Vegetable Kebabs
Really nice marinade. I would have liked to marinate the veggies too - and I will next time.

Page 206 Lemonade Stand
Loved by the girls especially! Simple and easy to remember so I have made a number of times.

Overall a solid book, though H felt a number of the recipes had something grilled for the sake of being grilled and that not much was added to the final dish by this step, especially the recipes where things had to be cooked in another manner beforehand. The marinade chapter got a huge thumbs up!!

Recommended? Yep, even if you don't have a BBQ, as many, if not all of the dishes can be made indoors using a pan. Not just for summer either, many of tthese recipes will take you to summer if it is mid-winter!

Friday, 3 August 2012

The two winners are....

As randomly chosen by my children - comments numbers 5 and 6 -Suzanne Drazic and Jenny. Hooray. Thanks for entering.

So please contact me (email address in the side bar) and I will pass your details on to Hilary who will contact you directly with your copy of the book.