Thursday, 27 June 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 26 - Vegan Lunch Box Around the World

This week I have been cooking from Vegan lunch box around the world, this is the second in the series of Vegan lunch box books from Jennifer McCann and I have to say I far prefer this book to the first.

Chik'n Pot Pie - this was really rather good, I didn't use the recommended recipe for the pastry (instead using a lower fat potato pastry) and underneath was a layer of veg & soya chicken in a creamy chicken flavoured sauce. Definitely a recipe I will be making again:

Chik'n Paprikas - this was my least favourite recipe - mostly due to the fact it was a bit watery, other than that it was quite tasty but could have done with a thicker sauce:

Martie's Gumbo - I have never tried Gumbo before so I didn't know quite what to expect but this was very good - tomatoes, veg & vegan sausage (I used Vegandeli Italian Gourmet Mortadella) in a spicy sauce. I thought it would be too hot but cooking it for several hours removes a lot of the heat leaving a wonderfully tasty meal:

Jollof Rice - this was my favourite of the recipes,. its rice cooked in a chicken style broth served with veg & soya chicken in a tasty sauce:

Overall I though this book was far better than the previous book I look forward to trying some of the other recipes soon/

Friday, 21 June 2013

Cookbook Challenge Weeks 24 & 25

This week I have cooked from 2 cookbook - the reason being that even though I want to cook from a different cookbook each week there will be weeks when I don't want to cook from any (such as the last 2 weeks in December when I eat every type of mass produced Vegan junk food on the planet) so I am going to get a few weeks a head so I can still complete my challenge and relax when I need to.

Vegan Lunch Box 
The first book that I have been cooking from is Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann, I've had this book for several years and have never got round to cooking anything from it, so I decided to make the Golden Chestnut Soup, Ranch Dip & Easy Potato Salad.

Ranch Dip - This really wasn't great, a bit lacklustre and flavourless (even with the addition of extra garlic & nutritional yeast). I am going to try this again tomorrow with lot of nutritional yeast, onion powder & garlic powder. Hopefully this will improve the taste:

Easy Potato Salad - I have not had potato salad in 5 years (mostly through laziness) so I couldn't wait to try this and I wasn't disappointed, it was thick, creamy, tasty and easy to make. Definitely something I will be making again through the summer - I served it with veg & 5 spice seitan:

Golden Chestnut Soup - as per usual saved the best for last, this was delicious. Warm and sweet, probably better for the winter months but an excellent recipe all the same and something I will be making again in future:

Overall I found this book a little disappointing, there are some recipes that I still want to try such as pretzels but when reading through it I found it a little  difficult to find things that I wanted to make, the second book in the series (which I am cooking from next week - Vegan Lunch Box around the World) however is far more promising...

The Conscious Cook
The second book is the conscious cook by Tal Ronnen, I found this book in Waterstones a few years ago, I went back to buy it the next day and had to hunt through the shop to find it (it had been taken off the shelf to be sent back as it was not selling), but eventually found it on a trolley with a lot of other unloved and forlorn looking books. I am so glad I went back as this book has been wonderful!! At first it can be a bit intimidating as some of the recipes are complex or need unusual ingredients (E.G there is a recipe for fresh Vegan pasta - like egg pasta but without the chicken period) but if you give the recipes a try they are definitely worthwhile.

Creole Tempeh - Tempeh is probably my favourite fake meat (not as boring as tofu, not as chewy as seitan) and this recipe really made it special. Its spicy, warm and full of flavour:

Split Pea Soup - this is supposed be served with tempeh bacon but I ration my tempeh as its kinda hard to get hold of, instead I used homemade fake bacon bits. The soup however was one of the best that I have ever tasted. It was flavourful, warming and extremely filling. This will be another firm favourite in my house from now on;

California Gardein Chicken Salad -  I had to substitute Asda chiken style pieces for the Gardein as we don't get it in the UK, that notwithstanding this recipe was for lack of a better word perfect.
The recipe is made up of fake chiken, grapes, celery, vegan mayo (among other ingredients) but what really made it special was the toasted walnuts which gave it a chicken flavour that I have not experienced since turning vegan. This has now become one of my favourite sandwich fillings* and will be made again very soon:

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake - Gorgeous and brilliant, one of the nicest things that I have eaten all year:

Overall the only way I can describe this book (and please forgive my language) is f*****k brilliant, it probably helps that Tal Ronnen is a chef, but this book really shows how great Vegan food can be.
This is one of the best books that I have cooked from so far this year.

*The others being "The Fat Ass" from the Sexy Vegan, Dark Chocolate Dreams (Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cherry Jam and Coconut - inspired by the Peanut Butter Co), my own 5 spice seitan with spicy pickle mayo & Vegusto and my Vegan Croque Monsieur 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 23 - Superfood Kitchen

This week I have been cooking from Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris. I bought this book just before Christmas and although some of the food looks good, I was put off some of the recipes by the ingredients (sacha inchi, acai etc) but I decided to give the book a try. I picked what I wanted to make and then put in a rather expensive order for the ingredients needed.

I ended up making the following:

Hot Quinoa Bowl - I hated this. Great texture and it would have been really good apart from the taste of quinoa. I stopped eating quinoa years ago and now remember why. I mixed in some coconut sugar which made it passable but I will not be making this again (I would like to point out that this is in no fault due to the recipe or the book, but purely through my complete revulsion of quinoa):

Banana Seed Bread - This took a little while to make and used most of the unusual ingredients (Mesquite powder, lucuma, hemp seeds, coconut sugar, coconut oil), but was well worth the effort. Its the first banana bread that I have ever made that is actually like bread (most end up delicious but a bit too moist) and really does taste good. I may use the base recipe again (dry ingredients to wet) but I will probably not make this again due to the difficulty getting some of the ingredients:

Kale and Black Eyed Pea Stew - this was quite good, tasty and filling but a bit too watery for me. I prefer thicker soups/stews but compared to some shop bought soups this is far better:

Chipolte Chilli - this was my second favourite recipe, far thicker than the stew it was full of flavour and very filling - brimming with black beans & sweet potato. I would definitely make this again (I didn't make the avocado sour cream that is supposed to go with it as I don't like avocados):

Tofu Broccoli Quiche with Quinoa Crust - this was my favourite recipe. I have never made a broccoli quiche before and I was very dubious about this as the recipe didn't seem to have much flavouring in it, but I decided to give it a whirl and I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was. I did not make the quinoa crust as stated before I hate quinoa, instead using my usual quiche crust - a wrap.
I will definitely make this again:

Overall I like this book a lot, it has made cooking with so called superfoods far easier for me and less daunting, but what I really loved was how quick and easy these recipes were, apart from the banana bread they were all done and cooking away in about 20 minutes. Its an excellent addition to my cookbook collection I will certainly be trying other recipes from it in future. 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 22 - Nut Butter Universe

This week I have been cooking from Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson, I have been wanting to use this book for a while but for some reason I couldn't decide what to make, anyway I decided to take the plunge, picked 3 of the tastiest looking dishes and here are the results:

Southern Peanut Soup - of the 3 recipes I chose this was the most simple, only 6-7 ingredients and it takes about 40 minutes to make. Whilst making this I really wasn't confident that it would be anything other than watery peanut/potato soup, however after it had reduced down a little and given a night to mature it was really delicious. Warm, nutty and comforting this would make an excellent soup in for warming up on cold winter nights:

Roasted Nicoise Salad with Cashew Goddess Dressing - I made this one evening in preparation for the next day as I was working late, during the following day I found myself getting exited about going home so I could  eat this, its another excellent recipe - roasted potatoes, green beans, tomatoes & chickpeas with a creamy dressing:

West African Peanut Stew - this was the best recipe of the 3, I couldn't believe how tasty it was (both hot and cold)  - lots of vegetables in a creamy/tomato/peanut sauce.I will be making this again:

I think this is a wonderful cookbook, it has risen to one of my favourites and all I can say is go out and buy it because its wonderful!