Monday, 31 December 2012

Book Review - Petite Treats

While not vegan there are a number of vegan, accidentally and on purpose, and vegan friendly recipes in this book for tiny dessert treats, and this is the time of year where tiny dessert treats are welcome - so you can have a little treat after a big meal!

I made the following recipes and sent them to school with the girls last week for their holiday / end of school parties. I only got positive feedback about them all, and you know how demanding kids can be about treats! -

Page 21 Blueberry-Lavender Scookies
Though my blueberries were frozen solid so I used raisins, and left out the lavender as they were for a party at R's class. I also do not have a mini scone tray so just made dropped scones on a sheet. All worked fine.

Page 58 Green Tea-Pomegranate Cupcakes
Only the cupcakes though, not the icing as that is not vegan. Worked well though I overcooked a touch. The kids didn't notice they were green tea.

Page 63 Red Velvet Yippie Pies
I don't have a whoopie pie pan so I made these as cupcakes too. Easy to make, very vibrantly coloured, and a real favourite with M's class.

Page 132 Very Best Buttercream
Creamy and smooth - used on both the Green Tea and Red Velvet cuppers above. Also along with the next recipe on R's birthday cake.

Page 133 Extra Special Frosting
Used for R's birthday cake earlier in the month, one of the girls at the party thought the cake tasted like a cinnamon bun due to this frosting. Very very sweet and rich, but very good.

The following recipes which I did not make are also vegan friendly. Weirdly they are not all marked as such which is a bit of an oversight seeing as some of the recipes are -
Page 50 Chocolate Stout Cupcakes; only the cupcake if you use vegan stout - the icing is not vegan.
Page 55 Fauxstess Cupcakes; If you use vegan milk, butter and marshmallow fluff.
Page 60 Pistachio -Rosewater Yippie Pies; Mini Cookie sandwiches with pistachios.
Page 75 Vegan Sprinkled Donuts; You'll need a mini donut pan for this one.
Page 89 Perfect Pie Crust; Just replace the butter.
Page 93 Black Berry Lime Meringue Pie; If you leave off the meringue that is.
Page 96 Apple Pie Cookies; Like a bite size apple pie.
Page 113 Cannoli; Stuffed cookie shells, mmmmm.
Page 134 Classic Struesel; For any of your baked goods.

I got a few photos sent to me from the publisher of this one - showing some of the vegan friendly items in the official photos - take a look at these...

So, while there aren't loads and loads of vegan options there are a good smattering, and many of the other recipes just need an egg or dairy replacing, so pick this one up for a non vegan friend as a not threatening intro to vegan baking (and so they can bake the vegan treats for you!!).

Oh, and have a happy, and safe, New Year everyone!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Meanwhile, in other news...


It appears I have developed a Gluten Intolerance. Yay me. This Christmas was my first one Gluten-free; and it was delicious. No photos, sorry. I had an individual Mushroom and Smoked Tofu Pot Pie using GF Breadcrumbs and Daiya as the top crust (Smoky Mushrooms from The Naked Food book), mixed Roasted Root Vegetables, Brussels and Beans (from VSC), Marmite Gravy (recipe follows but again no photo), Polenta Stuffing (from Appetite for Reduction) and for dessert Chocolate Pie (from VBS using a GF Nut based crust from Gluten Free Vegan Comfort Food). I am working to adjust how I am cooking and eating. I think it will be an ongoing process for the next little while.

The recipes I will be posting as part of the "Recipe of the Week" series will still be gluten containing (at least some of them) as they are ones which are tested and completed prior to this all happening. I dabbled with some gluten-free eating in the past, but guess will be now doing more than dabbling and will post more recipes which are gluten-free as time goes on.

With regards to the reviews I post of cook books which come my way - I will endeavour to choose recipes to make which are naturally gluten-free as written by the author, and will make sure I note in my review any changes or substitutions I have made if I do so. I will continue to use the children as guinea pigs for any non-GF baking. They don't mind!

Looking forward to the challenge, sort of, but wish me luck anyway!

Marmite Gravy
Makes 1 ½ cups
This is my favourite gravy. It’s super quick, savoury without being too salty, and nice and thick, but remaining pourable. Great with seitan (!!), sausages, mashed potato, mixed with mushed up beans on toast, over biscuits, out of the pot, anywhere and everywhere really!

I find this to be salty enough, with the Marmite, Stock and Soy Sauce, but I know everyone enjoys different levels of saltiness, add salt and pepper at the end to taste. If the end result is too thick for your liking add extra water and stir in to reach your desired level of thickness. 

This gravy can be made in advance, and either kept warm over low heat on the stove, or stored in the fridge and reheated as required.

Preparation Time - 5 Minutes
Cooking Time - 15 Minutes

3 tablespoons Margarine

3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons Marmite
½ teaspoon Thyme

¼ cup Chickpea Flour

1 cups Soy, or other non-dairy, milk
cup Vegetable Stock
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce, or to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the margarine and the sauté the garlic, marmite and thyme until the marmite is melted, roughly 2 minutes.
Add the flour and stir to make a roux, cooking for a minute.
Add in the soymilk cup at a time, stirring well after each addition to thicken and cook. Once all the soymilk is added, add in the stock.
Add in the soy sauce and stir well.
Taste and season as required.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Book Review - Diet for a New America

The 25th Anniversary Edition - by John Robbins
A little bit late now for you to run out and get a copy under your tree, but, if Santa brings you a gift card for a book store, or for Amazon, then I would recommend you add this to your list, especially if you've never read the original book. I have read this before, and am pleased to now have a copy to refer back to at will.

This is a book to have stood the test of time, being as relevant now as it was when first published - yes there have been great strides taken but there is still a journey to take! I was actually a little surprised how relevant the facts in the book were - as relevant now as they were 25 years ago. That makes me a little sad really - that larger strides haven't been taken.

The tone of the book is always full of hope, up beat and positive, and while the subject matter (especially in the first section which looks at the horrors inflicted on food animals in the US) is sometimes hard to read, the tone is never defeatist or negative. John Robbins writes with a huge amount of compassion, charm and wit, making the book an enjoyable, (though sometimes emotional) read. The message you take away is that nothing is impossible, and that, yes, as an individual your choices do make a difference.

There is a new epilogue chapter to the book, which revisits some of the changes that have occurred since the initial publication and touches largely on global warming, a phenomenon which wasn't as well known then, but is now another compelling reason for eating less (or no!) meat.

Diet for a New America is a book to have on your shelf so when you get the "does it really matter" "am I really making a difference" blahs which I think strike everyone every now and then, you can pull it out to re-read and be recommitted to the path you have chosen which ultimately is better for you, your family and community, the environment, the world and all living things.

The winner is....

Happy Christmas to the following 3 winners -
Quick and Easy Vegan Bake Sale -
Comment number 9 - Jenny said...
Since I won't be in town for Christmas, we're having an Italian American potluck planned for New Years. I will be making vegan macaroni and cheese pizza and a chocolate cake for dessert. Others are planning on bringing salads, breads, brushetta, and a risotto! Oooh, I can't wait!
Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking -
Comment number 4 - Anonymous EMC said...

I haven't decided what I'm doing for a main dish yet... and since I'll be going to at least two meals for Christmas, I'll probably be nibbling at best. I usually bring a baked good or dessert, but sometimes roasted veggies too. I can definitely consume roasted veggies as a main dish!

Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Foods -
Comment number 12 - Lee Ann said...
We'll be finishing up the rest of the Native Foods Wellington that I treated myself to at Thanksgiving.
With brussells sprouts and gravy on the side and some cranberry-orange compote. I'll be needing Alicia's book for sure after all that food.
Please all contact me at the email address in the sidebar by January 2nd 2013 with the address you'd like the book sent to! Thanks. Any unclaimed books will be redrawn at that point.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Sort of review, and a Give-away

Firstly, the sort-of-review!

I was contacted by Susan Smith, a Library Information Science Student in Maryland, who has put together an awesome Vegan Living Resource Guide (here!) which I thought was worth sharing. Go and check it out once you're done here.

There is an overview page - with links to lots of other resource pages, including books and blogs, and then a bunch of more specific pages to answer more specific questions - including Health, Animal Rights, Environmentalism, and viewable documentaries. There is a lot of stuff to read through and digest, but it is a neat idea to have all these resources linked in one place. Thanks Susan!

Then, the give away. It is a holiday give away, though the winners won't get the books before Christmas. Sorry for not being as organised as I could have been! I will ship anywhere, so you can win for yourself, or for anyone you'd like to send a book to if you already have a copy.

I am giving away 3 books - a copy each of Quick and Easy Vegan Bake Sale, Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking (both by me!) and Quick and Easy Low Cal Vegan Comfort Food by the lovely Alicia Simpson (Review here). All the books are published by The Experiment!

To enter the give away please just leave a comment on this post - how about telling me what you've got planned for your main holiday meal. I'll do a random draw pulling 3 winners, one for each book, on Sunday 23rd at 6pm PT, announcing the winners in the post Monday 24th. Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Book Review - Vegan Eats World.

Terry Hope Romero's second solo offering is pretty awesome. I do have a very soft spot for her first, Viva Vegan! simply because I was a tester for that book, and tested almost every recipe, so I have a real connection to it. This one, Vegan Eats World, hasn't disappointed me, living up to the high standards and great food I expect from Terry.

The book is a lovely hardcover one, hefty and chock full of recipes from most parts of the globe. It opens with a whole section of introductory chapters (which I really like as I love to read cookbooks like they were novels), looking at ingredients, kitchen equipment, and all sorts of hints. The recipes are logically grouped into chapters, are easy to read and follow, headed with helpful icons noting whether the recipe is fast, cheap, easy, gluten free and the like, and with relevant introductions for each. They are printed in a two column style as was Viva Vegan! (and my own Quick and Easy Vegan Bake Sale) to maximise space, and this layout works for me, though I do know some people will find have to turn the pages a little off putting. There are lovely pictures scattered throughout the book for those who like them. Almost every ethnic cuisine you could think of have been represented, so it is a book perfect for the adventurous foodie. Yes, some of the ingredients are not the most common, but they are authentic, and worth hunting down.

There are a few discrepancies I noticed, which may have been an editing thing, or just an oversight - nothing that distracts from my enjoyment of the recipes but were a little confusing. In the section at the back where dishes are listed by icon there are a couple of dishes I noticed in the GF section which are not gluten free, for example the Jerk-Roasted Seitan Strips, and the Soft Red Lentil Kibbe with Fresh Herbs (which is made with bulghur wheat), and in the recipe for the Pad Thai with Avocado and Spicy Green states it makes 2 to 3 servings, but the instructions have you cook 1/4 of the ingredients at a time, which led me to believe the recipe was meant to serve 4 but this was changed at some point. Like I said, nothing major, and nothing which can't be fixed for the second printing.

Recommended? For sure! Especially if you like to visit other cultures and countries through the magic of your own kitchen!

I did make loads of recipes, mainly because I found it hard to choose!
Page 50 Savory Baked Tofu
I made the Asian version and used in a number of Asian dishes over following days. Easy, quick and tasty.

Page 67 Mock Nuoc Cham
Spicier than I was expecting from the introduction, but tasty all the same.

Page 128 Like an Egyptian Lentil Soup
Thick, more like a stew than a soup, but very warming and tasty. I do love caramelised onions so the flavours were right up my street. Easy to make too.

Page 129 Ginger Peanut Squash Soup
Lovely soup - with summer squash instead of the winter squash I had sort of expected. This made it a lighter soup, yet still satisfying and warming.

Page 139 Coconut Black-Eyed Pea Curry
A very simple bean only curry that I added some roasted red pepper to at the end of cooking so I didn't have to make something else! Simple, fast and very tasty. Nice over rice, and nice with naan bread to scoop.

Page 205 Very Nice Chickpea Crepes
Very nice indeed. Though mine stuck to my pan, so weren't the prettiest. A little tricky, but tasty.

Page 207 Golden Coconut Crepes
Spicy filling for these ones - I would tone it down a little next time - I think I am loosing my heat tolerance as I age!I had a little bother with the crepes not behaving, but enjoyed the taste and texture of these and would make again.

Page 217 Tom Yum Noodle Soup
I made a half recipe expecting to have leftovers but didn't! maybe I like my soups with more broth. Enjoyed very much, and can see this being made without the noodles too - simple and very good.

Page 233 Pad Thai with Avocado and Spicy Greens
Yum. I really enjoyed this, with the addition of greens and avocado to your regular pad thai flavours. The chopping is a little time consuming but the cooking is very fast.

Page 265 Red Wine Braised Leeks and Mushrooms
Not such a fan of this one, and I love leeks and mushrooms so was expecting to like it. Don't know why but it didn't impress me so much as other recipes.

Page 269 Fluffy Scrambled Chickpea "Eggs" with Shallots
So easy, so tasty, and so like scrambled eggs, though a little less "eggy" and better! Great on toast for breakfast.

Page 270 Yassa Lemon Mustard Tofu
I have a recipe in Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking which uses a lot of mustard so I wan't frightened by the amount in this - a long cooking time mellows the sharpness nicely - and enjoyed the flavours very much.

Page 279 Sesame WOW Greens
Very tasty, and very simple - will make this again for sure as it was so good.

Page 285 Lemon Garlic Potatoes
Nicely garlic-y and lemon-y, and great cold as an impromptu potato salad! Easy to make - cooks away in the oven as other things go on the stove top.

Page 287 Roasted Broccoli with Sage
Simple and tasty way to make broccoli.

Page 290 Crispy Plantains with East meets West Chocolate Mole Dip
I love tostones so knew I'd love that part of this recipe! The mole dip was lovely, though a little spicy (I should have chosen a milder chile powder) and I enjoyed it as a spread in sandwiches, and as a dip for nacho chips too. I preferred it cold not warm too.

Page 294 Luscious White Bean and Celery Root Puree
It is luscious. Better than mashed potatoes almost.

Page 337 Italian Cashewcotta Cheesecake
I made the small version, though did have to cook them for a lot longer (about double the time) than stated to get them to as described in the recipe. The hardest part about this was remembering to soak the nuts! Very nice, hints of citrus, and needing no adornment.

Page 340 Ethiopian Chocolate Flourless Torte
Easy to make, though I did cook mine a little longer than stated to get it to appear as in the recipe. I liked this served warm with ice cream, and served cold, so it is a versatile dessert, and you do only need a little as it is quite rich.

Thanks for the tasty eats, Terry.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Book Review - Vegan Food Gifts

Such a cute book, and such a good idea! The book itself would make a cool gift, and is full of things you can make to give as gifts! Who knew Joni was so creative and crafty with things other than food!

The book is loaded with lovely pictures, drawings, and things to copy and use to make the gifts you give even cuter. Each project recipe has an indication as to how hard it is, how much it costs, and whether or not it is fast to make - all handy things to know before you contemplate making anything.

The first chapter is all about packaging - things you can make to present your gifts, from the very simple to the more involved. I made nothing from the chapter as I was not giving away anything I made - for the purposes of checking out this book I wanted to consume what I made (because of that I did make part portions of most of the recipes). This chapter is a good reference point for anything you'd like to package.

The other chapters are logical, all the recipes are well laid out, easy to read and follow, and give good instructions for presentations for gifting the results. In the canning chapter there is a wonderful pictorial "how to" guide for newbies. This makes the process seem a lot less scary, even though I did not can anything for this review.

Recommended for anyone who wants to share the vegan love with family and friends!

The recipes I made -
Page 59 - Choconut Mounds
(below) This was too hot to roll immediately as instructed. I also had to add more chocolate to melt so the balls would hold together. The taste of these was divine! I did use the optional nuts and that contrast in texture was lovely.

Page 63 - Peanut Butter Balls
(above) Very tasty, and super easy. If you love peanut butter, you'll love this recipe.

Page 71 - Candied Nuts
I made the Sweet spice blend, and this was a nice mix. Quick to make and a pleasing result.

Page 75 - Groovy Granola
I made the snack version, but ate it with soy milk for breakfast. I did over cook it a touch, but that is my error not the recipes! Nice result.

Page 101 - Instant Macaroni and Cheese Mix
I make something similar (Dry Chees-y Mix from Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking) so thought I would enjoy this, and did. Quick to make.

Page 103 - TVP Taco Meat Mix
Super fast, very tasty - I added beans and tomatoes to make a chili with the reconstituted mix.

Page 122 - Italian-Spiced Parm-y Sprinkles
Served with pasta topped with the sauce (next). very easy to make and adds a nice flavour and texture lift.

Page 123 - Sun-dried Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Pasta and Pizza Sauce
I left mine chunky for on pasta. Vibrant flavours, easy to make, super winner.

Page 127 - Tofu Jerky
This one is really time consuming, so you need to plan in advance. Te end result is tasty, chewy, and worth the wait.

Page 156 - Spinach Artichoke Walnut Pesto
The sun-dried tomato adds a lovely touch to this. It is loaded with spinach so a very vibrant green. Nice with pasta or spread on toast.

Page 157 - Coconut Simmer Sauce
I added more coconut milk to my sauce after adding the veggies to make it a little saucier, the taste was still intense and "curry-y" so that is good to know.

Page 167 - Orange Simple Syrup
Very sweet, so needs a lot of dilution for my tastes. Nice orange flavour though, and very easy to make, even if it takes a little while.