Cookbook Review: Cookin’ Up a Storm, Laura Dakin (2015)

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Vegan Eats with a Side of Direct Action

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free book for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program.)

Laura Dakin runs the galley on the Steve Irwin, one of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling vessels. In Cookin’ Up a Storm, Dakin shares her culinary secrets, as well as humorous and informative accounts of a life spent at sea, protecting whales, seals, turtles, sharks, and dolphins.

If you’re saying to yourself that I own more than enough cookbooks by now, you’re probably right. Totally right actually. But I just can’t help myself! Also, Cookin’ Up a Storm is unlike any other vegan cookbook I’ve seen, in that it’s as much a chronicle of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaigns as it is a cookbook. There are tons of photos of marine life; interviews with the crew; sailing terminology; and a glimpse of everyday life on board the Steve Irwin.

These recipes are eighty of Dakin’s favorites, which she regularly dishes up for a crew of fifty, using items that can easily be stored in the ship’s pantry. This makes for some interesting sea-faring substitutions; for example, the obligatory tofu scramble swaps out refrigerated tofu for shelf-stable silken tofu. (Excess moisture can put a damper on scrambles, but here it makes for an unusual scramble that’s similar in consistency to egg salad.)

The cookbook is divided into seven parts, with sections dedicated to morning starters; soups; mains; salads and sides; sauces, spreads, and condiments; breads; and sweets and treats. From a warm and cozy Sea Shepherd’s Pie to meaty Sailors’ Delight Sausages and savory Boatload of Butternut Caponata, Dakin’s got her crew covered.

In case you hadn’t caught on, many of the recipes have nautical and/or activist-inspired names, which is kind of fun and furthers the “eating at sea” theme.

In preparation for this review, I tried the following recipes:

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Mini-Review: The CSA Cookbook, Linda Ly & Will Taylor (2015)

Monday, July 6th, 2015

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Edelweiss.)

I don’t belong to a CSA (community-supported agriculture), but I have kept a summer garden religiously for the past 14 years, with the setup ranging from over-the-top, wth-was-I-thinking ambitious to more modest container gardens. My most popular picks are tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and peppers, but I’ve also experimented with cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, asparagus, and gourds. I also have a few fruit trees: apples, pears, apricots, and one peach that was sadly on its last legs when we moved in (rest in peace).

Most years I end up with more produce than I can possibly hope to consume fresh. My strategies for dealing with the extras run the gamut, from adding them to our dogs’ food (veggie stew + their regular kibble = more volume, without the extra calories; also the gravy is great for the oldest two, who haven’t managed to hang onto all their teeth); washing, dicing, and freezing for later; making dehydrated snacks, including fruit leather; and donating it to the local food pantry (one year we delivered upwards of 500 pounds of apples!). Even so, come August and September the pressure not to waste the food I’ve worked so hard to grow and gather can get pretty intense.

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Mini-Review: The Geeky Chef Cookbook, Cassandra Reeder (2015)

Monday, June 1st, 2015

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Edelweiss.)

Let me start out by saying that, as a vegan, what drew me to The Geeky Chef Cookbook wasn’t so much the recipes as the intersection of food and pop culture. Two of my favorite things, made exponentially better when mashed up together!

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a chef, but I do love to play with my food, and I’m no stranger to veganizing and recipie-zing (is that a word? can we make it one?) foods from my favorite books and television shows. To wit: last year’s VeganMoFo theme, Carbs & Rec, in which I blogged foods found in and inspired by the always-awesome Parks & Recreation (may she rest in peace). There were Mac & Cheese Pizzas, Meat Tornadoes, Champion’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Birthday Biscuits, You Just Got JAMMED! Kolaches, and of course waffles galore.

One of these years, I’d love to do a His Dark Materials theme, but the pressure! It’s so intense! I want everyone to love Lyra and Will and Mary and Iorek as much as I do! I’d even settle for half as much. I feel like it’s my chance to introduce some vegans and veg-curious peeps to this amazing alternate universe, and I don’t want to screw it up.

Anyway. My point is: Pop culture and food? Totally my jam. Even though I thought it unlikely that I’d actually make anything from The Geeky Chef Cookbook – or at least precisely as directed – I suspected I might enjoy it anyway, maybe even come away with some new ideas and a list of recipes to veganize.

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Book Review: Vegan’s Daily Companion, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (2011)

Friday, May 8th, 2015

“…vegan is what I was meant to be.”

four out of five stars

My hope is that we can navigate through this world and our lives with the grace and integrity of those who need our protection. May we have the sense of humor and liveliness of the goats; may we have the maternal instincts and protective nature of the hens and the sassiness of the roosters. May we have the gentleness and strength of the cattle, and the wisdom, humility, and serenity of the donkeys. May we appreciate the need for community as do the sheep and choose our companions as carefully as do the rabbits. May we have the faithfulness and commitment to family as the geese, and adaptability and affability of the ducks. May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys.

My hope is that we learn from the animals what it is we need to become better people.

With no fewer than four cookbooks under her belt – The 30-Day Vegan Challenge, The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan, and The Joy of Vegan Baking, which is destined to become a classic – many of you may know Colleen Patrick-Goudreau as an accomplished vegan chef. But she’s also got a master’s degree in English Literature, which she puts to use as a writer and public speaker, educating the public about compassionate living and animal rights. Her exploration of the intersections between human and animal exploitation, both on the Food for Thought podcast and various short videos released on YouTube, are among my favorites.

In Vegan’s Daily Companion, the self-described Joyful Vegan brings all her talents and avenues of interest together to create a book as unique as it is informative. Part cookbook, part self-help book, part pop culture guide, Vegan’s Daily Companion offers 365 days of inspiration, knowledge, and celebration to vegans, both new and experienced. From Monday through Sunday (with the weekends sharing a recipe), each day you’ll find a short discussion or series of tips, each tailored to a specific theme:

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Cookbook Review: Simple Recipes for Joy, Sharon Gannon (2014)

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Really Enjoyed the Selection of Soups & Pasta Dishes

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.)

Sharon Gannon’s Simple Recipes for Joy: More Than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes is nothing if not quirky – and I mean that in the best way possible. The cover features a Mad Hatter-style vegan tea party, and the interior of the cookbook has a fun, funky ’70s vibe. The glossy pages include tons of mouth-watering food photos, as well as shots of the author, both at work (Garon co-founded the Jivamuktea Café in NYC) and play (her costumes will leave all the hippie chicks in awe).

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The 200 vegan recipes are divided up into fifteen sections: soups; pasta and sauces; salads; dressings; dips and spreads; grains; beans, tempeh, tofu, and seitan; vegetables; potatoes; toasts; sandwiches; quick bread and crackers; desserts; smoothies; and tea and other hot drinks. Also included are a FAQ; cooking tips; notes on a well-stocked kitchen; 30 sample menus; and 21-day cleansing diets.

Since I first got to know Simple Recipes for Joy during the cold winter months, I veered heavily towards the soups and pasta dishes. At 50 pages, the chapter on soups is easily the largest – and one of my favorites. Save for the Cream of Broccoli Soup – which was tasty enough, but made me all kinds of bloated – every recipe proved a winner.

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The Red Lentil and Tomato Soup was awesome, and helped me to polish off a whopping two pounds of my homegrown tomatoes. It’s a little on the thin side, though; for a heartier soup, I added an extra cup of red lentils toward the end of the cooking cycle. That gave them just enough time to cook, but not dissolve entirely, like the first batch.

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Mini-Review: The Pizza Bible, Tony Gemignani (2014)

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

A Vegan Perspective

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Blogging for Books.)

I went vegetarian in 1996, vegan in the mid-aughts, and have been allergic to milk my entire life. And I love pizza! (Yes, vegan pizza exists. And it is glorious!) Whether it’s a quick pita or French bread pizza, or a complicated, labor-intensive original gourmet dealio (mac & cheese pizza, anyone?), my husband and I enjoy pizza at least once a week. I have a tumblr dedicated to vegan pizza (along with my other favorite, vegan ice cream), and Vegan Pizza Day is a legit holiday in my house. Some of my coziest childhood memories involve making pizza from scratch with my mom, a routine we revisit every time I return home.

I picked up a copy of Tony Gemignani’s The Pizza Bible in hopes of upping my pizza game. While I didn’t have any illusions that the recipes would be vegan-friendly (although, in a book dubbed the Bible, I don’t think it’s altogether unreasonable to expect the author to at least mention alternative pizzas, whether they be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or raw; “Bible” implies exhaustivity, no?), I thought that perhaps some of the dough recipes might be accidentally vegan. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed on this front!

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe, Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda (2014)

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

A Celebration of Vegan Food

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through the Blogging for Books program.)

As with many renowned vegan eateries, NYC’s Candle Café is a restaurant I’ve coveted from afar, salivating over the many mouth-watering dishes photographed, enjoyed, and shared by vegan friends and acquaintances on Instagram, tumblr, and other social media outlets. (I have five dogs who I love to pieces – but they kind of put a damper on my travel plans.) Luckily, the burgeoning vegan cookbook market – and the increasing number of cookbooks released by popular vegan restaurants, such as Candle Café, The Chicago Vegan Diner, and Jivamuktea Café – has made it possible to enjoy even the most upscale menus from the comfort of your own kitchen. Hasta la vista, age of vicarious living!

Candle Café ups the ante with Vegan Holiday Cooking, a special cookbook chock full of holiday-themed menus. While this isn’t the first vegan holiday cookbook on the market (there’s also Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas and Susan Voisin, as well as Zel Allen’s Vegan for the Holidays), Vegan Holiday Cooking is unique in its focus: rather than concentrating solely on the “big” holiday season – Thanksgiving through New Year’s – Pierson, Ramos, and Pineda extend their celebration across the calendar.

The book includes ten menus for a variety of occasions, including the Super Bowl; the Lunar New Year; Valentine’s Day; Passover; Easter; Cinco de Mayo; the Fourth of July; Thanksgiving; Christmas; and New Year’s Eve. Each menu receives roughly the same amount of attention – the 4th of July and Christmas both merit 18 pages of coverage! – resulting in a holiday cookbook with great depth and variety.

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Eats World, Terry Hope Romero (2013)

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

“What if the world was vegan?”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this cookbook for review from the publisher.)

Wherever it’s eaten, meat basically remains the same – it’s plant foods that transport our senses. Apply those flavors to vegan staples such as seitan or tofu and even straight-up vegetables, and the possibilities? If not endless, pretty darned expansive.

As a semi-reformed fussy eater, I was both nervous and excited when Da Capo Press offered me a copy of Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet for review. (Waaaay back in May, to celebrate the book’s release in paperback. I’m SO SORRY it took as long as it did, you guys!) Nervous because I knew that many of the recipes contained therein would fall outside my comfort zone and challenge me to try new things – and excited for the same.

The recipes in Vegan Eats World run the gamut: there’s everything from soups and sammies to spring rolls, dumplings, and pierogies. Crepes, breads, and pies, of both the sweet and savory persuasions. Tofu scrambles, gyros, curries, and noodles. French tarts, Greek lasagna, Ethiopian tortes, and Egyptian soup. Romero traverses the globe in search of traditional dishes to veganize and otherwise “hack,” combining different ingredients and foodstuffs in exciting and unconventional ways. The result is a hodgepodge of recipes which hail from South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and are as mouth-watering as they are varied. There’s literally something for everyone here!

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Mini-Review: Candle Café’s Vegan Holiday Cooking

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

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As with many renowned vegan eateries, NYC’s Candle Café is a restaurant I’ve coveted from afar, salivating over the many mouth-watering dishes photographed, enjoyed, and shared by vegan friends and acquaintances on Instagram, tumblr, and other social media outlets. (I have five dogs who I love to pieces – but they kind of put a damper on my travel plans.) Luckily, the burgeoning vegan cookbook market – and the increasing number of cookbooks released by popular vegan restaurants, such as Candle Café, The Chicago Vegan Diner, and Jivamuktea Café – has made it possible to enjoy even the most upscale menus from the comfort of your own kitchen. Hasta la vista, age of vicarious living!

Candle Café ups the ante with Vegan Holiday Cooking, a special cookbook chock full of holiday-themed menus. While this isn’t the first vegan holiday cookbook on the market (there’s also Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas and Susan Voisin, as well as Zel Allen’s Vegan for the Holidays), Vegan Holiday Cooking is unique in its focus: rather than concentrating solely on the “big” holiday season – Thanksgiving through New Year’s – Pierson, Ramos, and Pineda extend their celebration across the calendar.

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Ice Cream, Jeff Rogers (2014)

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Should be Called “(Mostly) Raw Vegan Ice Cream”

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through the Blogging for Books program.)

I’ve been vegetarian since 1996, and went vegan in the mid-aughts. Along with vegan pizza, vegan ice cream is my absolute favorite – and have tumblogs dedicated to each to prove it. I own one ice cream maker (a Cuisinart Ice-45) and covet a second one (the KitchenAid Stand Mixer & Ice Cream Maker Attachment). No fewer than five vegan ice cream cookbooks line the bookshelves in my pantry. I’ve been allergic to milk my entire life (technically it’s galactose – milk sugar – that’s the problem, but same diff), and have never been able to have “real” ice cream. Growing up as I did in the 1980s, I still remember the Dark Days of vegan processed food: when vegetarianism was fringe and my mom bought my dad’s meatless links in the basement of the local Unitarian Church, and I was ecstatic to have two (TWO!) vegan ice cream options in the mainstream grocer’s freezer: Rice Dream (*shudder*) and Tofutti (which will forever occupy a special place in my heart).

I’m a bit of a vegan ice cream connoisseur, is what I’m saying.

I purchased Jeff Rogers’s Vice Cream way back in 2009, but as of yet haven’t tried a single recipe. For whatever reason (the abundance of cashews? the insistence on juicing everything? the multiple steps and machines required for each recipe?), none of the recipes really appealed to me. So when I spotted a new and revised edition – now called Vegan Ice Cream – on Blogging for Books, I decided to give it a try, in the hope that Rogers had tweaked his formulas. As it turns out, the updated edition contains twenty or so new recipes – along with the seventy originals – but all use the same bases found in Vice Cream. Hopes, dashed.

Just scanning through the book, I had my doubts. From my experience using cashews to make vegan cheeses, I could tell that they alone wouldn’t thicken the batter substantially, and certainly not to the pudding-like consistency needed to make a smooth, dairy-like ice cream. Nevertheless, I did experiment with two recipes prior to writing this review: Chai and Chocolate Pecan.

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Simple is Good!

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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A hearty shout-out to Avery, which sent me a copy of one of its upcoming vegan titles: Simple Recipes for Joy: More Than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes by Sharon Gannon, the founder of Jivamukti Yoga and the Jivamuktea Café.

As much as I love the book’s Mad Hatter-styled cover, I positively adore the photo on the back of the dust jacket, which shows the proprietor beaming from the Café’s front counter, standing right in front of a chalk board jam packed with the names of delicious vegan dishes. SO MUCH VEGAN FOOD.

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Burrito Verdura, I want!

This bad boy doesn’t go on sale for more than a month – September 16th, to be exact – but sadly I don’t think I’ll get to do any cooking from it until after then anyway, on account of VeganMoFo, for which I have a theme. A carefully planned, flawlessly executed, hopefully epic theme. (Hint: it involves lots of waffles and all the bacon and eggs you have.)

BUT. I might have to make an exception for the Angel Hair Pasta with Creamy Lemon-Zucchini Sauce, seeing as I have at least ten pounds of zukes sitting on my countertop this very moment. And that’s not counting the half a dozen maturing in the garden. A girl can eat only so many Baked Zucchini Sticks, you know? (By which I mean ALL the zucchini sticks. They’re kind of amazing.)

Cookbook Review: The HappyCow Cookbook, Eric Brent & Glen Merzer, eds. (2014)

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Fancy Vegan Eats from Around the World

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Every vegan’s favorite food and dining app* finally gets the cookbook treatment** in The HappyCow Cookbook: Recipes from Top-Rated Vegan Restaurants around the World. Founded in 1999, HappyCow.net allows users to search, rate, and add to its directory of vegan and vegan-friendly eateries (and stores!), making dining out as a vegan a wee bit easier.

The HappyCow Cookbook features profiles of and recipes from some of the many eateries found on the website. Just as HappyCow.net is international in scope, with listings across the globe, The HappyCow Cookbook doesn’t stay stateside. Among the international joints it highlights are Buddha Burgers in Israel; Germany’s Coox and Candy; and El Piano, in Spain. In the US, restaurants in thirteen states make the cut; this includes not only the usual suspects (New York and California), but also less obvious locales (Texas, North Carolina).

(I was a little bummed – but not exactly shocked – to find that Kansas City had been overlooked. For the so-called “Steak Capital of the World,” it’s surprisingly vegan-friendly. Plus I really wanted to get my hands on Eden Alley Cafe’s vegan buttercream cake recipe!)

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Vegan Eats World this entire pan of Pastichio Vegani.

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

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As if The HappyCow Cookbook wasn’t keeping me busy enough, Da Capo Press sent me a copy of Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World for review. Two cookbooks at once; the insanity right? I can barely juggle one at a time.

Originally published in 2012, a shiny new paperback edition of Vegan Eats World came out a few months ago. I liked the original cover well enough, but I’m seriously digging the paperback version. You know what I want to see on the cover of my cookbook? Food, food, and more food. Please!

Since I’m a seriously fussy eater, I figured the international bent of Vegan Eats World would provide a nice challenge for my taste buds. I already have a list several pages long of the recipes I want to try (and a corresponding shopping list several miles long!) – but of course, my very first is a pasta dish. OF COURSE. Greek Eggplant Lasagna, otherwise known as Pastichio Vegani, eggplant optional.

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This lasagna, you guys? Totally my favorite. Of all the times. For starters, it doesn’t call for lasagna noodles, so no laboring over a giant, steaming hot cauldron, gently stirring giant lasagna noodles while whispering a prayer to the great Spaghetti Monster in the sky that they’ll come out with minimal rippage.

The top, cheesy, crispy layer is what Romero calls an “almost-Bechamel topping” (I hadn’t heard of Béchamel sauce until earlier this month, and now I’m seeing it everywhere!). It’s a tofu and cashew-based cheese that’s cooked until it’s firm and crispy brown on top. You guys! I could seriously just eat the cheese by itself.

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Then there are two layers of pasta slathered in a roux sauce (again, the roux is so surprisingly tasty that I could eat it as is) separated by a layer of chunky veggie sauce with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. The sauce has a special surprise: a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, complemented by the nutmeg in the almost-Bechamel topping. I have to admit, I was a wee bit nervous putting these two spices in pasta; it’s not my usual way of doing things. But the end result was pretty awesome: the cinnamon gives the sauce an extra kick that’s spicy, but not hot; and the nutmeg just rounds the cinnamon out. Hella good.

My favorite part, of course, are the corners:

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Next time I’m totally gonna make this in a brownie pan. THEY’RE ALL CORNERS!

So yeah, my first attempt from Vegan Eats World? A massive success. Luckily, there are only a few more Mediterranean-style pasta dishes here, so even if I play it safe and stick with pasta to start, sooner or later I’ll have to move on to more adventurous (to me!) fare.

Happy Cows and Quinoa Patties

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

THE HAPPYCOW COOKBOOK IS HERE Y’ALL!*

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Well, technically it doesn’t come out until June 3rd, but I was lucky enough to score a review copy. (Thanks again for that, BenBella books!) I have literally been waiting for this cookbook to drop for eight months now, no lie. Maybe more. (My memory ain’t what it used to be.) Now that it’s here, it does not disappoint. Although a real, live chef to recreate all these masterpieces would be icing.

I just got my grubby little paws on it on Friday, and already I’ve made two dishes AND ordered a spiralizer to try out some of the raw pasta recipes. The book features recipes from 46 vegan restaurants – in both the United States and around the globe – interspersed with profiles of each. Along with the expected junk food, there are also some healthy, wholesome recipes, as well as tons of fancy schmancy dishes. (The photos are provided by the restaurants, so good luck matching their presentation! Not even gonna try.)

Topping my to-do list: the Buddha Lentil Burger from Buddha Burgers; El Piano’s Peruvian Leftovers Pie (though I’ll need to generate some leftovers first!); the Canelones de Seitan via Mi Vida; Peacefood Cafe’s Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Cauliflower, Garlic, and Mashed Potatoes with Porcini Mushroom Gravy (say that five times fast!) and its Award-Winning Chickpea Fries; and the Enchilada Pie from the awesomely named Stuff I Eat. There are also some pretty bitchin’ zerts here – Chocolate Raspberry Hazelnut Cake, Gluten-Free Coconut Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes, and Key Lime Tarts, oh my! – but idk if my pants can stand any more sweets. Not with ice cream season upon us.

But wait! Before I get ahead of myself.

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I started with the Quinoa Patties (contributed by Green Cuisine in Victoria, BC), both because they sounded tasty and seemed pretty easy to whip together in a pinch. Plus I had all the ingredients on hand, so bonus.

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Cookbook Review: Mayim’s Vegan Table, Mayim Bialik (2014)

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Quick & Healthy Plant-Based Meals

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Actress-slash-neuroscientist-slash-vegan mom Mayim Bialik makes her foray into the vegan cookbook market with Mayim’s Vegan Table: More than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours. (She previously published a parenting guide, also with pediatrician Jay Gordon, called Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.) With an emphasis on quick, easy, nutritious meals, the dishes found in Mayim’s Vegan Table are likely to appeal to families on the go and newbie vegans. But longtime vegans (and I include myself in that category) might just discover a few new favorite recipes, too!

Mayim’s Vegan Table begins with three introductory chapters about the environmental, nutritional, and ethical benefits of a plant-based diet, as well as tips and tricks on how best to introduce children to a healthy vegan lifestyle. (I must admit to skimming over these; show me the food, please!) There’s also a standard “stocking your pantry” chapter. The recipes are grouped into categories for Breakfast; Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches; Snacks, Sauces, and Dips; Veggies and Sides; Entrees; Breads; and Desserts. The dishes range from simple (Daiya-Style Pizza, Parsnip Fries, Cashew Cheese) to the more complicated (Creamy Enchilada Casserole, Hot Pretzel Challah Bread).

In preparation for this review, I made the following:

 

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  • Pancake Batter (page 67)

    So this is a pretty serviceable recipe for pancake batter. It’s not my favorite pancake recipe of all time – that’s a toss-up between Isa’s Perfect Pancakes (Vegan Brunch) and the Lavender Pancakes from Alicia Simpson’s Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food – but these pillows of carbs are tasty enough. They manage to be both fluffy and cakey at the same time, which is a feat in itself. It would have been nice if Bialik included a few original topping ideas to dress things up, though.

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  • Cookbook Review: Juicing Recipes Bible, Michael Chung (2013)

    Monday, March 31st, 2014

    50 Juicing Recipes; Nothing More, Nothing Less

    two out of five stars

    This book does indeed feature fifty juicing recipes, but it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a “Bible.” In the short, 1 ½-page introduction, the author doesn’t list any tips or tricks for juicing beyond “wash your produce, remove any damaged bits, and serve immediately,” nor does he offer any advice about choosing and maintaining a juicer. Most of the 59 pages are taken up by the recipes…and a ton of white space.

    The recipes mostly seem to be somewhat standard fare as far as juicing goes. However, a few interesting combinations caught my eye: Wild Berry and Mint; Mango and Lavender; Fennel and Pear; Coriander Lime; Gazpacho; and Strawberry and Rosemary. I can’t wait to try them out once these fruits and veggies come into season! As a vegan, I’m kind of disappointed that the author relies on honey as a sweetener, and doesn’t suggest any vegan substitutions. Even so, I’d classify this book as “vegan friendly,” since any vegan worth her weight in Daiya knows to swap out honey for agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or plain old sugar.

    The format of the book can generously be described as “plain”: just a simple, 12-point Times New Roman font on a plain white background. There are no photos or artwork to speak of (or least not in the pdf copy I received for review). Each page contains only one recipe (where two could easily fit), resulting in a ridiculous amount of boring white space. The Juicing Recipes Bible is really more of a pamphlet than a book.

    It could really benefit from a pass through an editor’s hands, too. In just a quick read-through, I spotted several grammatical mistakes; less forgivable are errors in the recipes themselves, such as the Fennel and Pear Juice, which calls for both pears and “pear bulbs.” Additionally, Chung repeats his earlier advice to “drink immediately” in the directions of every. single. recipe., which starts to feel really tiresome, really quickly. While I assume that each recipe is meant to serve one person, I’m really guessing here, as none of the recipes include information about serving sizes.

    (This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

    Mayim’s Vegan Table on Kelly’s Cookbook Table

    Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

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    A belated (Two days late. I KNOW I AM THE WORST.) shout-out to Da Capo Books, who sent me a copy of Mayim Balik’s debut cookbook, Mayim’s Vegan Table. It dropped on February 11th, so you can grab a copy for your own bad self any time you want.

    I’ve already cracked it open and come up with a list of recipes I’d like to try. Naturally I gravitated right to the breakfast foods: Breakfast Burritos, Potato Hash, and Pancakes, yum! There are also a ton of Jewish recipes that caught my eye. Matzoh Ball Soup? Check. Root Vegetable Latkes? Yes please. Rugelach? You betcha! And two mac and cheese-style dishes? I am sold.

    Also, and on a completely different note, don’t you just love my cookbook table? It started out as a place to stash the cookbooks I’m currently using but, as the cookbook shelf in the pantry filled up, it became overflow storage. Wanna take bets on how high I can pile the stack? I have a couple of feet until I hit the bottom of my Rat Terrier Coffee Bean Company poster.

    Serious cookbook addiction? Check and check.

    Cookbook Review: The Oh She Glows Cookbook, Angela Liddon (2014)

    Monday, March 10th, 2014

    Deliciously Wholesome Vegan Food

    five out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the publisher’s behest.)

    Let me begin by thanking Penguin Books for sending me a copy of this cookbook for review about a month prior to its publication date. (Before it was even on my radar, actually.) As an avowed junk food vegan, it’s probably not something I would have picked up on my own – but I’ve discovered more than one new favorite dish in The Oh She Glows Cookbook!

    As fans of the Oh She Glows website and blog already know, Angela Liddon focuses her culinary efforts on plant-based, healthy whole foods, free of chemicals and additives. Continuing this tradition, The Oh She Glows Cookbook includes 75 new recipes, as well as more than 25 fan favorites from her blog. Recipes run the gamut, from “power snacks” to smoothies, juices, and teas, as well as breakfast foods, appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, sides, and desserts. There’s a fairly wide variety of dishes to be found, from vegan versions of American favorites (Lentil Walnut Loaf, Grilled Portobello Burger, Lightened-Up Crispy Baked Fries) to more international meals (Creamy Vegetable Curry, Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole, Quick & Easy Chana Masala). Many of the recipes are gluten-free, or include gluten-free substitutions; and Liddon sometimes offers soy-free alternatives, too.

    I tried just over a dozen recipes in preparation for this review (and, let’s be honest, because my stomach compelled me to!), including the following:

    (More below the fold…)

    The Oh She Glows Cookbook Release – and a Recipe for Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip!

    Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

    Those of you who have been following along with me as I cook from The Oh She Glows Cookbook will be happy to know that it finally drops today! That’s right – as of this morning, you can snag a copy for your own bad self.

    And to celebrate, the publisher has been kind enough to share a recipe for Angela’s Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip. I haven’t tried it yet – but how can you go wrong with cheesy cashew sauce? (Answer: You can’t. It’s impossible.)

    Enjoy, and keep an eye out for my review. Coming soon to an interweb near you.

     

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    life-affirming warm nacho dip

    FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE:
    1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews
    1 cup (250 mL) peeled and chopped carrots
    2 tablespoons (30 mL) nutritional yeast
    2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
    1 large clove garlic
    1 1⁄4 teaspoons (6 mL) fine-grain sea salt
    3⁄4 teaspoon (4 mL) chili powder
    1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) onion powder
    1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon (1 to 2 mL) cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

    FOR THE DIP:
    1 cup (250 mL) chunky marinara sauce
    1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped sweet onions
    2 to 3 handfuls of baby spinach (about 3 ounces/85 g), roughly chopped
    1⁄3 cup (75 mL) crushed corn chips or bread crumbs
    1 to 2 green onions, finely sliced, for serving (optional)

    Tortilla chips for serving

    You’d never know there isn’t a lick of dairy or oil hiding in this mouthwatering hot-out- of-the-oven dip! This dish is always a crowd-pleaser. It’s best when hot, so serve it on a plate warmer or pot holder so it stays warm for as long as possible. I like to bake it in a cast-iron dish, which keeps it warm for almost an hour.

    Serves 8

    PREP TIME: 25 to 30 minutes, plus soaking time • COOK TIME: 25 to 30 minutes

    gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free, sugar-free, grain-free

    (More below the fold…)

    The Oh She Glows Cookbook!

    Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

    2014-02-11 - Oh She Glows - 0001 [flickr]

    Yesterday morning I awoke to an unexpected surprise on my doorstep (thank dog Shane shoveled a path for the delivery peeps over the weekend!): a copy of Angela Lidden’s upcoming release, The Oh She Glows Cookbook. Promptly I sat down and came up with a list of recipes that I just have to try: The Lentil-Wanut Loaf with Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes. Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich. Lightened-Up Crispy Baked Fries. Marinated Italian Mushrooms. Crispy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. (Cookies.)

    As for dinner tonight? I think I’ll make the Broccoli and Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burritos. That, or the 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta. TOO MANY CHOICES.

    The cookbook doesn’t come out until March 5th, so until then you’ve no choice but to live vicariously through me. I may or may not post the results as I cook my way through the book. (I guess it all depends on how busy foster pony keeps me.) But there will be a review, probably some time in March.

    Thanks for thinking of me, Penguin!