Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Book Review - Green Smoothies for Every Season

This is a nice hard cover book, small and square, with the recipes grouped by season and one to a page. The grouping is done by the availability of the main ingredients. Each section has a decent sized introduction and looks in more detail at the season fruit and vegetables used in the recipes within the section.

The main introduction looks at the general benefits of green smoothies, the vitamins and minerals they can provide and gives hints for keeping them interesting. It touches on seasonality, and has a chapter on additional ingredients which can be added to smoothies if creating your own and that are used in some of the recipes in this book.

There are no pictures, but the recipes are green smoothies and likely look similar - not a big deal to me.

I tend to be a little same-old same-old when I make green smoothies, and am not a once-a-day drinker. It was nice to have a selection which was a little different, even though I did not make many of the smoothies. I made -

Page 49 - Luscious Lassi
Lovely and smooth, loaded with Mango flavour.

Page 51 - Strawberry Fields
Summertime in a glass - loved the strawberry / mint combination. Did add some sweetener as my bananas weren't overly so.

Page 81 - Just Peachy
A little like ice-cream in a glass this was a very smooth, mild, and sweet smoothie.

Page 100 - Superman
Though I used spinach instead of radish tops - so my smoothie was quite mild. I used more cinnamon than indicated but found it lovely.

The only thing I have that is a bit negative about this one is that it uses some ingredients I've never seen here in Canada. The author is Australian so will have easier access to things such as Tamarillos and Feijoas ( both of which are common in New Zealand so I know them).

Recommended - if you're a green smoothie fan and looking for new ideas - or just a newbie looking to get started this book will work for you.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Book Review - Cheers to Vegan Sweets

In Cheers to Vegan Sweets, Kelly continues with the creativity and sense of fun which can be found in her earlier work (The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, reviewed here) and takes it further. The recipes and the photos (as in her previous work) are all hers and I find the quality of both her writing and photography to have matured and improved no end. Awesome to see.

This is a really pretty book, loaded with the colourful and the quirky, sweet treats all based on drinks. The recipes are grouped into 8 logical chapters, though there are some recipes which could be equally at home in more than one, are laid out 1 to a page, are easy to follow, and introduced with interesting but not overly chatty headers. There is an introductory chapter touching on basic ingredients, equipment and trouble shooting, none of which is out of place.

Working through the recipe chapters I have compiled a list of the recipes which have tickled my fancy the most -
Chapter 2 - the breakfast bar: Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls
Chapter 3 - the cafe: Irish Coffee Pudding Pie
Chapter 4 - the lemonade stand: Rosewater Lemonade Cupcakes
Chapter 5 - the soda fountain: Root Beer Float Whoopie Pies
Chapter 6 - the holiday table: White Chocolate Nog Truffles
Chapter 7 - the bar: White Raspberry Chardonnay Bundt Cake
Chapter 8 - the cocktail lounge: Pina Colada Tres Leche Cake

I like very much that there is always a non-alcoholic option given! I also like that its not just baking - but treats and desserts including ice-cream, fudge, beverages and the like. There's just so many decadent looking options!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Book Review - Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free

Filled with temptations. Filled with them. I have to control my will power around this book as everything looks so very good, and everything is something I could make and eat and not have to worry about.

This is a beautiful book, with lovely photos, well laid out recipes (one to a page) which are nicely introduced and easy to read and follow. The recipe chapters are logical, breakfast items, cookies etc, cakes and cupcakes, cheesecakes and pies, and then raw / no-bake. Each recipe indicates if it is also soy-, nut- or corn-free as well as being gluten- and sugar-free and vegan. There is something for everyone.

The introduction is quite comprehensive, outlining the authors journey to bake this way, and looking in detail at ingredients used, their qualities and roles in the recipes. There are tips and techniques specific for GF and sugar-free baking and a look at equipment used. I feel that as this is a way of baking which is not usual for most vegans it is helpful to have this in depth look at the ingredients.

If I had to choose only 1 recipe from each chapter to make they would be as follows - (and this was hard to do believe me!)
Chapter 1 - Breakfast Bakes: Tropical Lemon Coconut Muffins
Chapter 2 - Cookies, Squares & Bars: Ultra Fudgy Brownies
Chapter 3 - Cakes & Cupcakes: Golden Vanilla Cupcakes (for the kids!!)
Chapter 4 - Cheesecakes, Pies, Tarts: My Mother's Cheesecake
Chapter 5 - Raw & No Bake: Caramel Ice-Cream

My only issue would be that some of the ingredients will be harder to find for some folks without accessing the internet to shop, there's some I don't keep on hand and would ave to specially purchase, and some of these are on the more expensive side.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Book Review - Vegan Desserts in Jars

Cute book, loaded with pictures of the recipes so it is a very colourful book. Add to that the colour used in the recipes and it is a really bright read.

The recipes are grouped into logical chapters, themes of which include no-bake, cake, pie, pastry, mixes, jams, and toppings. The recipes are laid out mainly one to a page, with concise introductions, and easy to read and follow instructions. There is an introductory chapter which is short but covers the basics and looks at both canning equipment (jars etc) you'll need and a basic vegan baking guide. Short but sweet.

The recipes are all creative and interesting, which I'd expect from Kris. Those which most appeal to me are a number of the raw pies (Pecan Pie!) and puddings (Baked Pineapple Pudding, Chocolate Vanilla Puddin' Cups) and something called Banana Cream Pie Crunch Cups (which uses homemade granola as the crunch!). There will be something for everyone - as long as you have the jars to cook them in! My only real critique of this book would be that it doesn't offer alternative cooking methods for those of us without canning jars in our kitchens, or the inclination to go out and buy some.

If you do have canning jars and are looking for other creative uses then give this book a look!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Book Reviews this week....

This week I'm going to do things a little differently with the book review thing.
I have 3 dessert books I've been sent, and at the moment I am not feeling the sweet tooth thing (maybe an overload on Halloween candy?), and with my limiting wheat the recipes I could make would be limited anyway, so am going to give a review based on my impressions of the books (one for each of the next three days) and give examples of the recipes they contain and what I would choose to make. I will revisit each and update once I have made some recipes but didn't want to hang onto them for ages and then review as they may not be current books by then.
This may mean I don't have anything to review next week - have to wait and see...

Monday, 11 November 2013

Book Review - Live Raw Around the World

This book is a good size, bright and cheerful with lots of colour photographs. It is a follow up to Live Raw, which I don't have and have not seen. Taste wise, the recipes I made were, on the whole, awesome -
Page 82 - Tapas Salad Picar
Refreshing and lifting. Little heat, some salt and sour, very nice combination.

Page 122 - Arugula and Pear Salad
Simple, but well balanced with bursts of sweetness from the pear.

Page 162 - Kale Tabouleh Salad
So good - you'll never miss the grains at all!

Page 188 - Adraki Gobi, Raw Style
First time using a dehydrator - loved the way the onions ended up. Very tasty - still with a little crunch.

Page 200 - Rice and Pineapple Salad
Using Parsnip rice! While a little dry this was very tasty, and very like rice.

However, other than taste wise there were a number of editing errors in the recipes. Ingredients were not listed in order used, and some left out of the list (for example Kale Tabbouleh Salad calls for a topping to be added and gives instructions for the topping but no ingredients). I also found recipes with sub-recipes a little confusing and not laid out in a manner in which made sense to me. There was no referral in the main ingredients list that an ingredient was actually a sub-recipe for example. I didn't make any of these more involved recipes as I didn't feel confident I would get the expected result, and didn't want to have to back track if things were out of order. I also noticed in some recipes that the heading style was inconsistent with other recipes so wasn't sure sometimes where things started and finished.

I am finding this review incredibly difficult to write. I like being able to say nice things about the books I cook from, and other than that the recipes in this one I made were tasty I am finding it difficult to say much more. Maybe if I just do a bullet list it'll be easier-

  • The book is called "Live Raw around the World"  (my emphasis) but really is Europe plus India and Thailand.
  • For my preference there are far too many pictures of the author and far too many mentions of how good she looks for her age and that she is the sexiest vegan over 50. She looks very good but mentioning it once is enough.
  • I find the introductory chapters, and the chapter introductions, too involved, somewhat irrelevant and a little repetitive. I never thought I'd find a books' introduction too long, but there you go.
  • The recipes were not well laid out (as mentioned above) and run into each other. It felt as if there weren't enough pages in the book so they were all crammed in. I would have preferred to have seen some of the introductory stuff cut and the recipes laid out more clearly if that were the case.
I did enjoy the recipes I made, very much so, and am happy to recommend the food in this book to anyone who is happy to look just for the delicious food, and is willing to take the time to really read the recipes first. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Book Review - Raw, Quick and Delicious

This book promises 5 ingredients recipes in 15 minutes, and that it delivers; with (in my opinion) a small (allowable) cheat or two - that is, some of the recipes make use of ingredients which you have to make first (recipes given in the first chapter), and some of the recipes are not for dishes which stand alone would make a meal so you'd be taking more than 15 minutes until you ate. Nit picking much?

I have Douglas McNish's first book (Eat Raw, Eat Well) too, and am equally impressed with this one, maybe even more so as none of the recipes require a dehydrator so all were available for me to make. (I'm getting one soon so will be able to revisit his other book and other raw books I have!) This book is laid out in a similar manner (same publisher) has easy to follow recipes, logical chapters, a small introduction, and like Eat Raw, Eat Well two colour photo inserts. Again the photos of produce I could have done without, but the actual food looks awesome. I tried to make a range of dishes to showcase all that was available in this book.

Page 29 - Sunflower Seed Hummus.
Nice and tangy - balanced just like hummus, though a little thicker. Great on crackers or with veggies.

Page 30 - Spiced Nut Crumble
Nice by itself but this is one of the recipes for ingredients. Super simple.

Page 95 - Creamy Cashew Red Pepper Dip
Very tasty - easy to make and fresh tasting. I spread on romaine lettuce leaves as a starter.

Page 109 - Parsley Almond Tabouli
Very like other (ie non-raw) Tabouli. Tasty, and even better the next day.

Page 124 - Sweet Pepper Slaw
Maybe the least favourite of all the ones I made, a little simplistic, but tasty enough.

Page 131 - Lemon Tahini Dressing
Smoky Variation. Garlic-y and smoky and good. Nice with a mixed salad.

Page 132 - Spicy Lime Avocado Dressing
Spicy and sour - reminiscent of tacos in a salad.

Page 161 - Lime, Tomato and Avocado Chili
I wasn't terribly sure about this one until I tasted it. A little salty but good. The next day the saltiness had mellowed and I enjoyed it even more with veggies.

Page 181 - Creamy Garlic Spinach
Super garlic-y, and surprisingly like cooked creamed spinach. I should have massaged the spinach a little to get it to wilt more but this one I'd make again for sure!

Page 197 - Pistachio Halva Balls
If I had any I would have melted some chocolate and dipped these in it as after dinner truffles. So very good - sweet, but not too sweet, and great textures,

Recommended? - I think this one makes a great introduction to raw food as there is no need to invest in equipment you may not use again. Even with my less that powerful blender and food processor I had no problems with the recipes - though I did have to blend for longer and give the machine more breaks than stated. So, yes, I would recommend this one!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Not a Cook Book Review...

The A to Z of Children's Health is obviously not a cookbook but a book I've been sent from one of the publishers who send me cookbooks. I found it to be OK, but a little limited, and didn't cover some of the questions I was looking for answers to - maybe because my children are at the upper end of the "Birth to 10 years" age range covered, and maybe because I was looking for information which was a little too specific. It would be incredibly hard to cover everything which could come up relating to the health of children in that age range!
I do think that the information contained is useful, and that the entries are well written, and easy for a non-medical person to understand. I like the Case Studies which give real life examples of the problems, and that there are lots of pictures, charts and illustrations.
If you have young children and are looking for a resource to use alongside information from your family doctor then this fits the bill - just be aware that it may not have answers to everything you're looking for and that the information is generalised.