Thursday, 26 September 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 40 - The Vegg Cookbook

This week I have been cooking from the Vegg Cookbook by Rocky Shepherd/Sandy Defino, and I am completely divided over this book.
The recipes are not written by one specific person, but are a collection of recipes from different cookery writers/bloggers or chefs using the Vegg. The are a couple of advantages to this, the first being that there are several recipes in the book for similar meals (3 Omelets, 2 scrambled tofu/vegg recipes, a couple quiches) so if you don’t like one you can always use another, the second advantage being that if there is a recipe that you don’t like it won’t mar the book for you as the rest of the recipes are from other people.
However there is also the disadvantage that there can be a lack of consistency (different contributors may be using US cups/UK cups/Australian Cups and some of the recipes use grams and ounces as well).

I was going to make 10 recipes but didn’t want to run out of Vegg so cut it down to 8, 2 of which were a failure with the other 6 being wonderful:

The Bad:

Vegg Omelet - page 15:
This was awful, a combination of firm tofu (recipe didn’t state to use silken so I didn’t), Vegg, soy milk  and oil. It didn’t cook very well and was basically a tasteless lump of blended tofu:

Spaetzle German Vegg Noodles:
This was one of the recipes that I was really looking forward to and disappointed me the most.
The batter looked ok but as soon as it got through the ricer into the hot water it turned it to a weird lump which tasted awful:

The good
Tofu Vegg Omelet - page 23:
This was a really good recipe using Silken Tofu, it was full of flavour and had the consistency of a egg omelette without the chicken periods, the only omelette that I have made which surpassed this was the Denver Bitchette from Skinny Bitch:
Broccoli Quiche:
I have mad loads of recipes for quiche in the past and this was a really good one. It had a strong egg taste that I’m not used to so I may try and water it down next time (maybe add some extra tofu in), but other than that it was a definite winner, although the Real men eat quiche Lorraine from Hearty Vegan Meals is still my fave:

Scrambled tofu:
This recipe is perfect for those vegans who really miss eggs, its probably the closest thing to scrambled eggs that I have tried since turning vegan and was quick and simple to make using only a handful of ingredients, sometimes I prefer scrambled tofu not to taste like egg (but rather just a savoury scramble) but for those times when you really do want something eggy its perfect.
Just the thing for a lazy Sunday morning:

Pots O' Chocolate
This was a really excellent recipe, it could have done with a bit more time in the fridge as it was a bit sloppy, other than that I really can’t complain. It’s a really decadent dessert without being stodgy or too filling:

Summer Veggie Casserole
This was unexpectedly good, its basically a load of veg mixed with vegg and breadcrumbs (recipe stated Panko but I could not get them so used Tesco golden) and it was great and really easy to make (most of my prep was carried out the night before). I don’t know what I really expected from it but it tasted fantastic, kind of a cross between a pie and a casserole (tasted like pie with a thick eggy casserole consistency):

Lemon Curd:
So I have saved the best for last, I have not had lemon curd in the 6 years since turning vegan and even though its not something that I have really missed it has always bugged me that I couldn’t buy a vegan version.
This recipe is outstanding, it had quite a strong lemon flavour  - I’m not complaining about this (this was probably due to my juicer which is extremely effective at juicing lemons so I may have used a bit more juice than was called for) so I might add some extra water and extra cornflour next time to make it go further, but I will definitely be making this again. Its the best recipe I have tried in weeks, delicious, easy to make, lower in calories than normal jam and completely brilliant:

Overall I really liked the book, its a bit like a treasure hunt – you have to keep trying recipes until you find the hidden gems (like the angelic lemon curd or the scrambled Vegg) so I will be getting some more Vegg next time I get paid and will be trying more of the recipes to see if I can find more treasure!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 39 - Love Bites

This week I have been cooking from Heather Mills cookbook Love Bites, I won this several years ago and have not cooked from it, primarily due to the fact that most of the recipes try to get you to buy a Redwoods/Vbites product, to be fair the recipes do state things like "Vegan Chicken preferably Vbites or Redwood", so you don't have to use their products but it is quite annoying to read it in almost every recipe.
I cooked 4 things from this book and purposely picked recipes where I could avoid using Redwood products:

Crispy Tofu & Tomato Soup - I really liked this recipe, I have never had tofu chunks in soup before but it worked well and the soup was very very tasty:

Hot Cheesy Tomato Soup - Again I really liked this, it was hot and spicy with a slight sour note from lime juice, instead of using the recommended Redwood cheezly I used Violife pizza flavoured cheese:

Beef Style Ragout - This was full of flavour and was a really filling mid-week meal, its the only recipe where I used a Redwood product (meatless balls) because I already had some in the freezer:

One Pot Chinese Style Aubergine Rice - this was awful. Overly spiced with no flavour, very boring and I will never make this again:

Overall I am undecided on this book, I wanted to give it a fair chance but found a lot of the recipes to be veganised versions of non vegan recipes (as opposed to more original recipes like the Peanut Stew from Nut Butter Universe), some look delicious but others are just not appetising. I probably won't be using this book again in the near future 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 38 - Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day

This week I have been cooking from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day. A whole book dedicated to just vegan sandwiches, I have tried 4 recipes and they were all great....

Chickpea Shawarma  - This was a lovely sandwich (curried chickpeas with a tahini yoghurt dressing) but compared to the others was my least favourite:

Crispy Leek-Mushroom Mania Sandwiches - This was surprisingly tasty - fried mushrooms & crispy leeks with a creamy dressing, it really hit the mark on a rainy Monday lunchtime:

Country Sausage Sandwiches - Marinated Tempeh, Hash Browns & a creamy spicy dressing. This sandwich was fantastic:

Devilled (Not) Egg Salad Sandwiches - I have never tried devilled eggs so have nothing to compare this to, that really doesn't matter as it was faultless. I ate this whilst shopping in Manchester and kept expecting it to be a fake fish style sandwich (mostly cos it was made with Chickpeas) but what I got was a creamy, warm and spicy sandwich that I will be making again regularly in future. If you make one sandwich from this book make sure its this:

Overall I loved this book. Lots. All the recipes I tried were delicious and there is a long list of more that I want to try, the only (and this is a very very small fault) issue that I had was prep. Some of the sandwiches need starting several hours (or the day) before, which tripped me up a few times this week. Other than that this book is brilliant.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 37 - The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

This week I have been cooking from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook from Joanne Stepaniak. I wanted to buy this book for a while but it was always quite expensive (£18 range), however I decided to splash out a few weeks ago and unfortunately I have to say that although the recipes look brilliant, some I found disappointing.

The Uncheeses -

Muenster - I have never had Muenster before I became Vegan so I don't have anything to compare this with, I found it a little bland and uninspiring.

Swizz - I was going to make the Monterey Jack but the recipe was almost identical to the Muenster so I opted for the Swizz instead and I'm glad I did. I had a lot more taste and was far better than the Muenster.

Colby - This was my favourite of the 4 I made, flavoured with pepper and garlic it tasted really lovely and I will be trying it again although possibly with more red pepper. The only fault I found with it (I also found it with the Gee Whiz Spread which I made on the same day) was that it tasted too much of lemon. I used to specified amount in the recipe but it was a little too sharp and lemony, I will definitely use less next time.

Gee Whiz Spread - This was a nice spreadable cheez with a good taste, it worked really well spread on sandwiches or on toast and got better the longer it was left in the fridge, a reviewer on Amazon recommended making this with chickpeas instead of the white beans which I might try as I think they would be an improvement.

Overall I liked the cheeses, the only thing I didn't like was the texture. They didn't contain as much agar as other vegan cheese recipes so I found these a little crumbly/watery. This might be down to my agar or it could be intentional by the author to help the cheeses melt but if I use these recipes again I will throw a bit more in to firm them up:

Above is Muenster (Bottom right with the red tinge to the top) and Swiz Cheese (Top Right)

Above is Gee Whiz Spread (Small tub on the left) and Colby (Big chunks in the centre)

Gooey Grilled Cheese - I was really looking forward to this, I followed the recipe to the letter and ended up with a very lemony tasting grilled cheese (maybe my lemons are just a bit too strong?). Very disappointing.

Classic Quiche - The texture of this was really good (chickpea flour helped with that) but I found the taste disappointing. There was was bit of nutritional yeast and nutmeg in this for flavouring, but other than that it was missing out on a lot of taste. I put some mushrooms and vegan ham in but they didn't add much flavour either, it really could have been improved with some onion & garlic powder and maybe some soya sauce/tamari/liquid aminos:

Traditional Macaroni & Cheese - I was really looking forward to this but it really was as fantastic as I expected. It certainly wasn't bad, but I have had far better vegan versions in the last few years (I topped mine with some vegan parmesan for extra taste):

Cheezy Rice and Broccoli Casserole - this was quite good, the texture was nice and it was quick and easy to make, the only improvement I would make would be the addition of some onion powder, maybe some soya cheese and a bit more nutritional yeast: 

Philly Potato Chowder - This was really good, a thick and cheesey soup topped with fake bacon bits. Lovely and definitely one to make again:

Cheez-A-Roni - The best recipe that I tried, it was a combination of tomatoes, Gee Whiz Spread, nutritional yeast and pasta. It was a very tasty, quick and easy to make comfort food which I will definitely be making again:

Overall I did like this book, some of the recipes weren't great but they were really quick to make and it gave me some great ideas for making Vegan cheeses that are a lot faster to make than those in Artisan Vegan Cheese, with a few tweaks I think they could be really great (that notwithstanding my favourite is still the Smokey Mountain Cheese from Vegan Diner). I also now have a few new items in my "to cook regularly" list from this book so thats always a plus and there are some other recipes that I really want to try from it (peanut butter fudge pie anyone?).