Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 30 - Authentic Chinese Cuisine

This week I have been cooking from Authentic Chinese Cuisine (all Vegan recipes) by Bryanna Clark Grogan, I bought this book from Viva several years ago and have been looking forward to using it since. But haven't. Mostly due to my inexperience in the kitchen, but over the last year or two that has changed so I decided to try this book out. I made 7 of the recipes with mixed results:

Shao Bing (Northern Chinese Sesame Buns) - I was really looking forward to these and the taste was great, the texture however was awful. Just like old cardboard (I know my father works in a cardboard factory). I threw most of these away:

Chinese Style Beef Seitan - again this was another disappointing recipe, the taste was good but the texture was awful - like chewing Chinese flavour glue. I would definitely add some soya or chickpea flour in future to soften this:  

Scramble or Authentic Foo Yung - I have had Foo Yung several times before I was Vegan but I've only had homemade since, usually containing more "egg" than other ingredients which is how it was when I went to Chinese takeaways, this however was the other way around, less "egg" and more filling and it was just lovely. Full of flavour and very enjoyable, served with Tilda rice (very lazy but there you go): 

Basic Fried Rice - Again this is something that I had quite a lot of before turning Vegan and haven't really had it since. This recipe was really good, tofu in place of egg and soya chiken instead of actual chicken. I really enjoyed this and served it with Uncle Bens Brown Rice (again lazy but again there you go):

Chow Mein - I have never had this before so I didn't know what to expect. What I got was plateful of tofu with a lovely spicy (but not too spicy sauce), I served mine with rice noodles:

Oyster sauce - I don't have any pictures of this as it was a base ingredient in 2 recipes (chow mein & beef in oyster sauce) but it was great, I have never had real oyster sauce but this was full of flavour so is just as good.

Beef & Broccoli in Oyster Sauce - This recipe used both the sauce from above and the Chinese beef seitan (which worked well in this recipe when cut up small) and it made a delicious dinner which left my plate rather quickly, I served mine with rice noodles:

Overall I did like this book, some of the recipes are a bit hit & miss but what I really liked was that the recipes felt more authentic than the premade shite that you buy in supermarkets. Some of the recipes I will certainly be making again and I will be testing some of the others as well.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 29 - Vegan Brunch

This week I have been cooking from Vegan Brunch  by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, this book has always had a special place in my heart as the first time I made seitan I used a recipe from this book (Italian Feast Sausages) and they were wonderful so I had high expectations for the rest of the recipes that I tried....

Red Hash Flannel Hash, Italian Feast Sausages & Tofu Scramble - I made and ate these 3 together, the hash was my least favourite of the recipes, it was nice but I'm just not a huge fan of beets and found this a bit lacklustre, however the tofu scramble was delicious.
I have never been a big fan of tofu scramble but Isa's recipe is really good, it doesn't call for pressing the tofu to get the water out, that happens during the cooking with the flavourings being added in the last few minutes. It was full of flavour and I will definitely be using this recipe again, along with the Italian Feast recipe - the sausages turned out spicy (but not too spicy) and full of flavour with a firm but not chewy texture:

Tomato Rosemary Scones - I though I did something wrong with these as they were rather more pale than those in the book, however they taste delicious and I have been eating them every day this week:

Banana Rabanada (Brazillian French Toast) - this was basically French toast with banana blended into the mix, was it good?  Damn right it was, crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle it was a lovely sweet Sunday brunch treat:

East Coast Coffee Cake - this is the one recipe that I have been wanting to make for years but have just got round to and I am so glad that I did, it was bloody gorgeous - a white cake base with blueberry jam swirls topped with a spiced crumble topping. What more could you want from a cake?

Overall I think this book is brilliant, almost all the recipes have turned out wonderfully and it remains one of my favourite cookbooks.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 28 - The Vegan Boulangerie

This week I have been cooking from The Vegan Boulangerie by Marianne & Jean-Michel.
I have been wanting to cook from this book for ages (I once made the profiteroles which were excellent), but I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in some of the recipes that I tried:

Tomato & Herb Roule -
I was exited to try this recipe as I love tomato breads but I was disappointed, the herbs were too powerful and the texture was very doughy:

Sandwich Jardinier - this was actually quite nice, it was carrot, mushrooms, tomato, sunflower seeds, celery, soy sauce, mustard & chives.  It wasn't the best or tastiest sandwich in the world, but it filled a hole.

Sandwich Parisien - Gherkins, vegan ham, lettuce, marg & salt. Bit of a disappointment really, I expected something a bit better and found this very lacklustre:

Quiche Lorraine  - I was really looking forward to this and again was disappointed. It tasted overwhelmingly of French Mustard & nutmeg. However it didn't look much like the black and white photo in the book so I decided to try it again the next day. The recipe states you should layer the onions & fake bacon in the case, then put the quiche filling on top and bake, which led to the quiche having a big layer of egg style filling with a base of onion & facon. When I made it a second time, I mixed the onion & facon into the filling, placed it in the case, baked it and let it cool first. The result was far far better. Much more like quiche Lorraine.

Onion Tart - this was one of the recipes that I did like, it was a layer of pastry covered with a creamy tomato sauce, topped with fried onions and baked. It was delicious, very plain and simple but sometimes the best things are:

Croque Monsieur - this was my favourite recipe, I have made this sandwich before using my own recipe which I prefer, but this was still really good - fake ham, vegan cheese & pasta sauce between layers of "buttered" bread toasted:

Overall as I said before I found most of the recipes a bit disappointing, maybe thats because I had such high expectations for the book?  I won't be making any of these recipes again (with the possible exception of the last one) but I will be trying some of the other recipes  - some of the cakes look and sound divine, fingers crossed they turn out better.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Cookbook Challenge 27 - A Vegan Taste of France

This week I have been cooking from A vegan taste of France by Linda Majzlik.
At first look this book is very lacklustre, boring and uninspiring - there are no photographs whatsoever. However after making 4 of the recipes I have completely changed my mind, all of them worked out well and tasted great.

Mushroom, walnut and lentil pate - this was really good, full of flavour and very filling (while it was cooking I couldn't believe how good it smelled). What surprised me was how far it went, I made half the recipe which is supposed to feed 3 but it made enough for 5 decent portions:

Red onion, tomato & tarragon tart - I made 2 of these, the first I ate warm and was not impressed with at all. It tasted far too sweet and I really didn't like it, however when left overnight in the fridge it was wonderful, tasty, not too sweet and as it had a wholewheat crust it tasted hearty & healthy. Definitely one that I will make again:

Vichyssoise - this was another excellent dish, primarily consisting of potato & leeks the only change I made was to use Vegan chicken bouillon instead of veg stock as I think Vichyssoise usually has chicken stock in. It was a really great tasting soup, I served it hot but it was supposed to be served cold. I might try it that way next time:

Chocolate & Hazelnut Ramekin  - finally another tasty recipe! This was really simple to make (cornflour, cocoa, soy milk etc) and tasted divine:

I have to say that this book completely proved me wrong, I thought I was going to have a week of boring food but it ended up the complete opposite. If these books could just be improved with some photo's they would be far better.