Friday, 30 November 2012

Georgia Straight!

Here am I - in the paper online!
Follow the link! Go on.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Book Review (and more) - Gorilla Food

The book with the food from the Restaurant - from here in Vancouver. As it is so close by I did have to take a trip down town to try out some of the dishes in the book, and on the restaurant menu, which I couldn't make at home as I don't have a dehydrator. Review of those dishes is separate after the ones I made.

The book is laid out in an easy to use manner, the recipes logical and there are a lot of photos for those who like them. Its a nice looking book. There are a couple of small introductory chapters looking at what it means to be raw, equipment which would be handy, and what ingredients are used in the book, then it's straight into the recipes. Each recipe has brief introduction, some being longer than others, but there is no intro for each chapter.

I found this book easy to use, and the results delicious, even with my old and not-so-great blender and food processor (and no dehydrator or spiralizer), so if you are actually set up for making raw food I think you'd find lots to enjoy in this book.

So onto the recipes I made - Page number order -
Page 29 - Fruit Salad
A huge serve per person! I had it for lunch and I was so full afterwards. Quick, easy and tasty.

Page 65 - Cashew Alfredo Sauce
Tasty. Very simple, great as a salad dressing, or dip.

Page 65 - Green Cashew Coconut Curry Sauce
Vibrant, spicy, undertones of coconut, really good. Loved this sauce.

Page 68 - Oh My Gado Peanut Sauce
I used regular peanuts in  mine so the one I made did taste a little different from the one I had at the restaurant. Both were super delicious, very peanut-y, and beautifully spiced.

Page 75 - Zucchini Hummus
Love Loved this, though it was a little salty, an easy fix.

Page 76 - Basic Olive Tapenade
Yum. Though just a basic tapenade really.

Page 78 - Guacamole
I usually use lime not lemon juice so this one was a slightly different flavour profile. The avocado really does shine.

Page 79 - Salsa
This was lovely - the date really does add a perfect hint of sweet.

Page 87 - Walnut Chili Pate
Quite "meaty" really - which is the point in the recipe where it is used. Lovely and tasty.

Page 92 - Hemp Seed Nogurt
Used with the Fruit Salad.
Nicely refreshing, creamy, a little sweet.

Page 105 - Olive and Love Veggie Wraps
Uses - Tapenade and Zucchini Hummus.
I'd never had collard greens before, and found some were more tender and less bitter than others. The milder leaves were easier to eat raw in this manner. The wraps were tasty and filling.

Page 120 - Basic Greens Mix
Not really a recipe and not really needed.

Page 122 - Basic Coleslaw Mix, Sesame Seasoned Version
Oh, yum, the sesame goes really well in the slaw, and you can taste the addition.

Page 125 - "Seazer" Salad
Uses - Cashew Alfredo Sauce
Nice salad, a little Caesar-ish, but not really. Nice for what it is.

Page 129 - Sprouted Quinoa Medley
I am in love with sprouted quinoa - I had never tried it before and am a true fan! I want to make the Sprouted Quinoa Tabouli on page 128 now!!

Page 134 - Tossed and Tenderised Deep Greens
Nice massaged kale salad. I should have cut the other veg slightly smaller as I would have preferred less chunks but that is just personal preference.

Page 139 - Chili Verde Soup
This was the only recipe I made I didn't like. Maybe my kale was too bitter, but I did not enjoy it.

Page 165 - Curry Veggies
Uses - Tossed and Tenderised Greens, Sesame Coleslaw, Green Cashew Curry Sauce.
I like this very much - and had leftovers without the extra veggies for lunch the next day!

Page 170 - Green Taco
Uses - Walnut Chili Pate, Guacamole, Salsa
Tasty. Quite filling. I also drizzled the tacos with the Nogurt as a sour cream-esque topping.

Page 173 - S'Weed as Curry Maki
Uses - Tossed and Tenderised Greens, Sesame Coleslaw, Green Cashew Curry Sauce
Nice rolls! The nori sheets work well with the flavours in the components.

Page 190 - Choco Halva
Not too sweet, very more-ish. Hard to stop at just one piece.

Page 222 - BC Blue Smoothie
Page 226 - Strawberry Fields Smoothie
Page 230 - Sweet Magenta Juice
Page 233 - Choco Gorilla Shake
All the drinks were super easy to make, very easy to drink, and the smoothies and shake were definitely meals in themselves!

and following that, the recipes I didn't make but tried at the restaurant over a couple of visits.

Page 155 - Peanut Selectah Pizza
Uses - Sunny Buckwheat Crust (152), Ital Herb Sauce (66), Tossed and Tenderised Greens, Walnut Cheeze (71) Gado Selectah Sauce (68)
SO good. A huge slice, and filling. Worked really well with the peanut sauce, and the crust was so very good!

Page 161 - GO Veggie Burger
Uses - Veggie Flax Bread (35), Veggie Burger Patties (158), Fresh Ketchup (83), Guacamole
Again, very tasty and filling. Comes with lots of salad and I found it easier to eat with cutlery!

Page 208 - Chocolate Hemp Seed Pie
Uses - Basic Pie Crust (203)
Not overly sweet, but so very lusciously creamy and smooth. The chocolate is not too intense, but definitely there. Worth saving the space for.

Page 210 - Lemon Avocado Pie
Worth the visit for this alone. Seriously, seriously good. So creamy, smooth, rich, lemony. I will run out of superlatives! I will have to get a better food processor so I can make this one at home!!

The restaurant (link to website) is cute, colourful, welcoming, and worth a visit if you find yourself in Vancouver. It is a short walk from Granville Street Skytrain station, though I'd guess getting parked nearby wouldn't be easy as it is down town. There isn't a huge amount of seating, so maybe call ahead if you have a large party.

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.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Recipe from the Sweetest Vegan.

Via this YouTube post. Vegan Double Bacon Cheeseburger anyone?

I am intrigued by the bacon and would love to try it.  I love the cute apron Tasha is wearing in the video, and the dab of cheese she gets on her nose at the end of the segment. (oops)

Tasha blogs here as The Sweetest Vegan, so go have a look.

Anyone use YouTube as a source for recipes on a regular basis? not something I have looked into very much, I may have to start doing so more often!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Book Review - Peanut Butter Planet

Though mine has a different picture on the cover....
An oldie (well if you count 2006 as old) but a goodie from Robin Robertson, who, to be honest, never disappoints. The recipes in this book are all vegan, though have non vegan options. I am assuming this is nothing of Robin's doing, and would bet that it was a publisher/editor directed thing to appeal to more than a vegan audience. Everyone loves peanut butter, except my children, right?

It's a cute book, square, with lots of pictures, recipe per page, and pages of fun peanut facts scattered throughout. At only 80 recipes its not one of Robin's larger works! Introductory sections look at choices of peanut butter, buying, storing, and allergy alternatives. Not a large section, but informative and nice to have.

Heartily recommended for anyone who loves peanut butter!

I made;
Page 12 Southern Peanut Soup
Creamy comfort food in a bowl. Lovely and filling, warming on a cold day.

Page 19 Peruvian Peanut-Potato Soup
Similar in flavour profile to the soup above, and to a sauce in Viva Vegan! which I enjoyed. Left chunky this is a nice texture contrast.

Page 28 Peanut Butter Hummus
I make a peanut butter hummus which is very different to this one. This is more basic, allowing the peanuts to meld unadorned with the chickpeas. Enjoyable if a little plain.

Page 44 Cold Noodle Salad with spicy Peanut Sauce
I should have added more spice, but it was a nice salad. Tended to get a bit glumpy the second day.

Page 45 Crunchy Coleslaw with creamy peanut dressing
Nice slaw. Not overly peanut-y which my husband enjoyed.

Page 46 Mixed Baby Greens with Thai Peanut Dressing
I didn't make the papaya part of this salad, keeping it simple. The dressing is quite intense, sour and hot, so only a little is required!

Page 50 Peanut Lover's Potato Salad
Very nice. Enjoyed this immensely. I too make a peanut potato salad - shall have to share the recipe sometime.

Page 59 Spinach with Peanut Sauce
Comfort food through and through. I made the recipe to serve only 2 (it says 4) and could have eaten it all myself.

Page 78 Rice Noodles with hoisin-peanut sauce
Nice. Different flavour profile with the hoisin. Very easy to pull together.

Page 134 Silken Peanut Butter Pudding
I used vegan Butterscotch chips as it is what I had, mistakenly thinking they were peanut butter. Still turned out awesome, smooth and rich.

Page 138 Too easy chocolate-peanut butter fudge
Though I ran out of peanut butter and used half almond. I found the texture a little drier than I was expecting, more like tablet than fudge. Probably the substitution. Still yummy and very more-ish

Page 142 Orange Decadence Truffles
Not keen on this one. Peanut butter and chocolate = yes, Orange and chocolate = yes, all three together doesnt' work for me I'm afraid.

As a side note, I see on Amazon that Robin has a new book slated for release next February, titled Nut Butter Universe! Pick me for a review copy of that one please!!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Book Review - 150 best Indian, Thai, Vietnamese & more Slow Cooker recipes.

Not a vegan book, and truth be told, one I was sent ages ago to review (apologies!!) but I didn't feel like getting my slow cooker out before now. See, having written a book of slow cooker recipes myself (Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking) I was a little "slow-cookered out" and needed to work back up to feeling like using it again! While the book is not vegan there are a large number of recipes in this book which are vegan friendly - and most are marked as such - the ones you don't need to make substitutions for that is. Many many more would need a sub of some sort (sometimes as simple as replacing butter) but in the spirit of ease of use I stuck to those which were vegan already. I also didn't make as many recipes from this book as I usually do for my reviews - again that being "slow-cookered out" thing, so I do apologise for that. I also must apologise for not many photos - I had a hugely busy week last week and getting food on the table was enough challenge without remembering to photograph it first.

All that said, this book has a photo insert showing both completed dishes and some arrays of spices and such, and like all the books I've seen in the "best" series from this publisher the recipes are clearly laid out, easy to follow, replete with hints and tips, though with no recipe or chapter introductions. There is an initial "how to use your slow cooker" section, but it is quite short and touches on non-vegan stuff which is of no interest to me.

If you are either a super curry fan, or a super slow cooker fan, looking for more recipes then you'd likely enjoy this book - especially if you are open to experimenting with subs for the non-vegan recipes.

The recipes I tried -
Page 126 Bombay Aloo
I found there was way too much liquid in this, and while the results were flavourful, the potatoes tender and delicious I did have to scoop them from the liquid to serve over rice.

Page 129 Mushroom and Tomato Chutney
Quite a lot of pre-slow cooker sautéing in this one, but it was very good - if (again) a little too liquidy for my preferences. I added some arugula to up the green quotient prior to serving to have alongside potatoes.

Page 130 Sweet Potato Curry
This was the only recipe I made which can be considered a "dump and turn on" style slow cooker recipe, and to be honest was my least favourite. I enjoyed it more after I pureed it and turned it into a creamy soup!

Page 133 Cauliflower Curry
My favourite of the ones I made, also the last, so I did actually add less liquid than specified as I had figured out that I would have to by then. Cauliflower was tender, as were the chickpeas, enrobed in a rich tomato and pepper sauce.

Page 139 Cambodian Vegetable Curry
Nice enough, though a more aromatic and fragrant than hot curry. Nice with rice, or by itself, as it was quite filling, and again, a little too liquid for my preference.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Thinking ahead -

I have been pondering the shape this blog will take in 2013.

I would like to continue with reviewing vegan cook books which come my way, but am thinking I will make fewer recipes from each book so it doesn't become the all-consuming "making other people's food exclusively" that it has been in 2012, as I do feel I haven't been all that creative recently.

I am also conscious of now that I am working more or less full time, taking the time to blog really creatively is not going to happen, and doing the reviews has allowed (and will continue to allow) me to continue without adding additional stress which trying to be creative when I am tired would bring.

I would like to share recipes I already have next year too - recipes which have been through testing but for whatever reason have not made it into a book. This would include baking recipes, slow cooker recipes, and recipes from other testings.

For 2013 I am thinking to have a "recipe of the week" blog post on the same day each week (Monday maybe?) which would feature a fully tested recipe (hopefully with a picture!) to share, and alongside that, but less frequently, depending on what I get sent to review when, book reviews where I make only 5 recipes from each book.

Comments please!