Monday, 16 September 2013

Book Review - Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking

This is a big book! The introduction contains loads of helpful information about being Gluten-free (though not from a vegan perspective) and looks at things ranging from ingredients to eating out and travelling whilst maintaining a GF diet. Handy stuff.

As this book is not vegan there were a large number of recipes which I couldn;t use unless I made loads of adjustments, so I chose some accidentally vegan ones, or those vegetarian ones which were easily made vegan to make. The other thing which meant I couldn't use many of the recipes is that a lot of the aking recipes call for a bread machine or stand mixer, neither of which I had. The one baking type recipe (the Pizza Crust - see below) I made I used a hand mixer for and it was an OK result, though I'm guessing not exactly as intended.

The recipes are all one per page, come loaded with tips, variations and hints, are easy to read and follow, and come with nutritional information (not that it interests me). There are picture inserts to illustrate a number of the recipes. Five of the chapters are baking, which is nice if you're interested in GF baking, but not so handy if you'd rather have main meal ideas. I would recommend this as a resource for GF folks, but maybe not vegan GF folks as lots of adjustments would have to be made to the recipes.

So, on to what I made -
Page 56 Garlic Bean Dip
Like a white bean hummus but with mayonnaise added, this was creamy and rich and very more-ish. We had with veggies.

Page 68 Sweet and Sour Dressing
More sweet than sweet and sour I didn't really enjoy this.

Page 74 Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette
Another one which was too sweet for me, even with the extra mustard it says to add if you don;t want it sweet. I did eat it as a salad dressing, but could have used as an ice-cream topper.

Page 108 Plain Pizza Crust
See comment above re using a hand mixer. This was quite nice though it wasn't crisp in the centre - maybe I under baked - but it was tasty/

Page 123 Scalloped Potatoes
Yummy savoury goodness. No non-dairy milk or anything, this was comfort food at its finest.

Page 125 Spinach Risotto
Simple and tasty this vegetable risotto was nothing extraordinary, but a very good comforting meal.

Page 132 Vegetable Cobbler
I wasn't entirely sure about the mix of veggies but the cobbler topping was super good. Comfort food again, but a nice variation on a stew.

Page 138 Lemon Jasmine Rice
Nice and bright with zip and tang from all the lemon zest and juice. Enjoyed very much.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Book Review - Eat Your Vegetables

(photo from Amazon!)
Aimed at the single diner this vegetarian (not vegan; though many recipes are easily made vegan) book is a hefty solid hardcover, with many photos - its a lovely looking book for sure. The recipes, which are one per page, are well introduced, some with personal anecdotes which connect the reader to the author, and presented in logical chapter groupings. Each chapter finishes with a short essay looking at an aspect of being vegetarian, or relating to vegetables in some way (growing them for example), and these I really liked - though I do like to read my cookbooks like they are novels! They provide an insight into the authors deeper thinking about the subject matter and are (excuse the pun) food for thought. The only thing I maybe would have liked to have seen is more dessert options, maybe fruit based, or using vegetables even.

The recipes I made - in page number order -
Page 22 - Kale and Mango Nicoise Salad / Page 23 Lime Ginger Vinaigrette
Loved the dressing, and would have lapped it from the bowl! Went nicely on the salad (I omitted the egg) which was very tasty, and interesting combination of flavours.

Page 30 - Walnut Oregano Vinaigrette
One of my least favourite recipes - I found this to be too vinegary and not really balanced.

Page 32 - Sesame Miso Vinaigrette
Loved this one, seriously good. Super simple to make and I'd eat on everything, not just salad.

Page 81 - Roasted Cauliflower and Green Beans with Chipotle Sauce
Though I made the sauce we didn't actually use it - preferring to gorge on the roasted vegetables simply as they were. Very good.

Page 106 - Spicy Basil Tofu Fried Rice
Very good here too - though I would add more basil next time to really up the oomph from that flavour. Nicely spicy and really simple.

Page 107 - Pepper Crusted Tofu with Broccoli Stir-fry
I liked the crust on the tofu but found it a little bland - a marinade to get into the centre and add some flavour would have been good. The stir fry was simple and the sauce very tasty.

Page 152 - Smoky Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip
Nice idea but lacking in the final taste test. I found the paprika flavour to be a little one note, and overpowering of the garlic. Would like to try again and tweak a little.

Page 160 - Almond and Coconut Granola with Ginger and Cherries
Good like candy!! We ate out of hand for a sweet snack, and this was also good with coconut yogurt. Will make this again for sure as it was delicious!

Page 170 - Marinated and Baked Tofu
Good both hot and cold, a great staple to have on hand.

Recommended? More so for vegetarians than vegans, but I did like this book, and like the idea of single serve recipes (an idea I've been throwing around myself for a while now!)

Monday, 2 September 2013

Book Review - 175 Best Mini Pie Recipes

This is quite a large book, with a hefty introductory section about creating mini pies, and a guide to the techniques - complete with photos - explaining how to create the types of crusts used in the recipes. A nice resource.

The recipes are well laid out, one to a page, with many variations, tips and hints for each. Each recipe has a chatty introduction which is nice and friendly but not overly familiar. Easy to read and easy to use. There are photos other than the techniques guide and these are in one photo insert in the centre and show only a few recipes.

Nothing I made was too fiddly, and the crust was tasty, relatively easy to work with (see below) and all results were tasty!

There are a bunch of meat focused recipes so there is a chapter you'll have to skip, but besides that there are many options for vegan, and one purely vegan recipe.

The recipes I made -

Page 24 Gluten-free Pie Dough and Page 25 Vegan Pie Dough
I had to combine 2 crust recipes to get one that would work for me - the GF recipe is not vegan, and the vegan recipe is not GF so I used the GF recipe and subbed flax eggs for the egg yolks and vegan butter for the unsalted. The crust worked fine for me, though if I was going to use it on a regular basis I would tinker more as the first time it was too moist and stuck when rolling and the second time too dry and would crack. Anyway it did the trick.

Page 48 Vanilla Glaze
As part of the sweet pie I made - and the Coconut Variation. Super simple.

Page 130 Mango Apricot Mini Pocket Pies
This filling is delicious, and would be great over vanilla ice-cream!

Page298 Maple Orange Glazed Root Vegetable Galettes
Sweet roasted root vegetables in a cute crust. Elevates the presentation of dinner for sure! The filling would be worth making as a way to have the vegetables if you didn't want to take the time to make the crust.

Page 302 Spicy Jamaican Black Bean and Sweet Potato Pies
Nice filling - fragrant and spicy. I enjoyed these ones a lot, and would make again.

Page 304 Moroccan Chickpea Hand Pies
These may have been my favourites. The filling was spiced and savoury without being hot spicy and was very easy to eat.

So, in all, I think this is a handy book to have if you love pies! Many many recipes are vegan friendly (usually changing the dough and not using egg wash) so just because it is not a vegan book doesn't mean you wouldn't get use from it.