Monday, 23 December 2013

Wrapping up the cookbook challenge

This year I have cooked from a different cookbook each week, a total of 259 recipes. Some were fantastic and some were awful, I have learnt some great new skills, catalogues some great recipes and learnt an awful lot. Here is a run down of everything thats been made.

  Recipe Type                                                                                         Recipes Tried

Seitan/Seitan dish
Tofu Scramble
Rice Dish
Indian Dish
Potato dish
Mac & Cheese
Noodle Dish/Pad Thai
Pasta Salad
Stuffed Things
Bread/Breakfast Loaf
Sloppy Joes
Breakfast Oats
French Toast
Yorkshire Pudding/Toad in the hole
Here is a list of my favourite recipes, those in red are the ones which I intend to make again:
Very Vegan Christmas Cookies
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Rabbit Food Cookbook
Ohio Valley Tofu

Vegan Yum Yum
Creamy Broccoli Mushroom Bake

Bake and Destroy
Mac and Yeast Bake
Green Bean Casserole Pizza
Breakfast Pizza

Essential Vegan Cookbook
Tofu & Mushroom Stroganoff 
Tofu Mincemeat
Macadamia Cheese

Vegan Stoner
Pad Thai
Falafel Pie
Potato Hash
Holiday Pie

Vegan Slow Cooker For 2 Or Just For You
Cheezy Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Chloe’s Kitchen
Easy Peasy Pasta Salad
Pancakes for Dinner
Cheesy Broccoli Soup
Sea Salt Toffee Bars

Vegan Rustic Cooking
Cream of Pea Soup 
Irish Stew And Dumplings

Vegg Cookbook
Tofu Vegg Omelette
Lemon Curd

Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day
Crispy Leek Mushroom Mania Sandwich
Country Sausage Sandwiches
Devilled Not Egg Salad Sandwiches

The Uncheese Cookbook
Colby Cheese
Gee Whizz Spread
Philly Potato Chowder

Skinny Bitch In The Kitch
Bitchtastic Brownies 
Chicken Salad Sandwich
Tuna Salad
Chicken Noodle Soup
Denver Bitchlette

Hot Damn & Hell Yeah
Chili Non Carne 

Vegan  Diner
Pastrami Style Seitan Roast
Great Smokey Mountain Cheese
Barbecued Ribz
Ooey Gooey Brownies

Vegan Slow Cooker
Cheesey Broccoli Rice
Chili Relleno Casserole

Authentic Chinese
Basic Fried Rice

Vegan Brunch
East Coast Coffee Cake 
Italian Feast Sausages

Vegan Boulangerie
Croque Monsieur

Vegan Taste Of France

Conscious Cook
Split Pea Soup
California Gardein Chicken Salad
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake

Superfood Kitchen
Tofu Broccoli Quiche

Nut Butter Universe
Roasted Nicoise Salad with Cashew Goddess Dressing
West African Peanut Stew

Vegan Comfort Food
Chick'n Seitan
Tuno Casserole
Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Sweet Corn Chowder
Post Punk Chickpea Gravy
Chocolate Raspberry Blackout Cake

PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook
No Need To Visit a Diner For Hash Browns Casserole
The Morning After Scramble

Not Your Average Burrito
Chick Magnet Chicken Casserole
In A Pickle Chickpea Salad

Please Don’t Feed The Bears
Chinese Take Out 

Veggie Burgers Every Which Way
Seitan Burgers with BBQ Mango Sauce

Vegan Junk Food
Sloppy Joes

Animal Aid Solihull Recipes
Veg Soup with Herby Dumplings
Cheezly Broccoli Bake

The Healthy Voyagers Global Kitchen
Suthun Biscuits & Gravy

The Vegan Table

Hearty Vegan Meals For Monster Appetites
Roasted Broccotato Soup with Bacon Flavoured Chickpea Croutons
Real Men Eat Quiche Lorraine

The Sexy Vegan
New England Blam Chowder 

Vegan Eats World
Five Spice Seitan

Cookin Crunk
Seitan Chicken 
Tofu Chicken
Creamy Tofu Chicken Pasta Bake
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Country Vegetable Soup

Appetite for reduction
BBQ Mango Beans

Low Calorie Vegan Comfort Food
Split Pea Soup

Another Dinner Is Possible

Happy Herbivore Abroad
Creamy Mushroom Barley

Finally I have picked my favourite cookbooks out of the 52, these are the books which were outstandingly good and I really enjoyed cooking from:

Bake and Destroy
Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day
Skinny Bitch In The Kitch
Vegan Diner
The Conscious Cook
PETA's Vegan College Cookbook
Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites
Cook'in Crunk

So there we go. Its all over and done with. Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 52 - Very Vegan Christmas Cookies

This week, with it being all festive & cold I have been cooking from Very Vegan Christmas Cookies by Ellen Brown:
This book is a delight to flip through, packed with colour photos of delicious looking cookies, I decided the make three and here's what I thought.

Linzer Cookies - These were a complete failure. I made the dough, chilled it and even threw it in the freezer for an hour but it was too soft to be used and had to be binned. It may have been that I used caster sugar instead of icing sugar, or that ground almonds/almond meal are not the same thing. Whatever the reason I couldn't make these in the end.

Stained Glass Cookies - These are cookies with a filling of smashed up boiled sweets that leave the impression of stained glass. They were delightful, the cookies had a lovely almond flavour, a good crunch and the fruit filling gave it a fruity taste as well - the idea of making these is to hang them up as decoration, however I took them into work and they lasted (in a room full of omnivores) about 60 minutes. I will be making the cookies again, but probably without the crushed sweets in the centre and it ruined a good pan smashing them:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies - These were the best of the three.The best cookies/biscuits that I have ever made. They are filled with flavour, crunchy and packed with chocolate chips. Again I took these into work and they lasted about the same time as the stained glass cookies (I did however put a few away for a colleague who was on leave and even after 4 days they retained the same texture/crunch as when they were fresh baked). The only change I would make to these is to reduce the amount of chocolate chips by about 50 grams (I accidentally put too many in), but I will definitely be making these again.Soon. And because they contain oats they are practically a health food:

Overall I loved this book, the first failure notwithstanding I was so impressed with these cookies that I will definitely be using this book again, there are some gorgeous recipes that I want to try out later (chocolate chip peanut butter brownies for one). I have read some rather disheartening claims about this book on the internet, one being that the pictures in the book are stock photos and not of the actual recipes, the second being that the author is not vegan, however I really couldn't give a damn as these cookies really were just that good. I'm really glad I chose to use this book for the last week of my challenge as it great to bring it to a close on a positive note. 

I will be posting again in a few days time to bring the challenge to a close properly and list the best/worst recipes that I have tried!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 51 - Rabbit Food Cookbook

This week I have been cooking from the Rabbit Food Cookbook by Beth A Barnett:

I bought this book because it sounded interesting and I have to say that it is. Most of the recipes are quite straightforward (unlike some cookbooks they usually only take up one small page of this spiral bound book) and I opted to try 4 of them, here's what I though:

Seitan from scratch - this was OK, it uses the boiling/simmering in broth method which I am not a great fan of. It did have a good texture but taste wise it was lacking in flavour. I used it as the seitan in the Seitan pot pie recipe in last weeks slowcooker book and it worked well there so I would say it a good basic seitan for use in other recipes but using on a sandwich or as a faux meat on its own its not great. I won't be making this again whilst there are so many other better seitan recipes out there:

Seitan & Peppers - this is quite a simple recipe - seitan, herbs, spices with corn flour/standard flour to make what turned out to be quite a good recipe. I did throw in some extra spices (Chinese 5 spice and a few others) to give it some additional flavour but overall I quite enjoyed it. Although I should point out I did not use the above seitan to make it, I used the Moo Free Seitan from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day which is excellent:

Yellow Scrambled Tofu - I have tried quite a few scramble recipes but this was slightly different as it contained less flavourings but had the addition of tomato & red pepper. It was OK and quite tasty but it would have been greatly improved with a bit more flavour - again another recipe I won't be remaking (especially when the Denver Bitchlette from Skinny Bitch was so much better):

Ohio Valley Tofu - Now for the good stuff, this is actually quite a simple recipe. There are quite a few ingredients (tofu & lots of veg) but the flavours/spices/herbs worked together perfectly and made a delicious dish that I definitely want to make again:

Overall I did like this book but there were 2 things I didn't like, firstly I didn't like that the recipes don't state how many servings they make, secondly most of the recipes don't include amounts for the herbs/spices etc which means you have to guess how much to use. Its definitely a good book but not one that can be followed to the letter, its far better suited to those times when you want an idea of what to cook but the flexibility to fly by the seat of your pants as well. 
I will be using it again because some of the desserts do sound delicious! 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Cookbook Challenge Week 50 - Everything Vegan Slow Cooker

This week I have been cooking from Everything Vegan Slow Cooker by Amy & Justin Snyder.
I found this book in a discount bookshop for £2.99, I was trying to stop purchasing cookbooks but this was a bargain so I thought I would give it a try, heres what I thought:

Seitan Pot Pie - This was the first recipe I tried, it was OK but a bit flavourless. I added nutritional yeast, extra soy sauce & herbs to give it more flavour. The basic recipe was good but really did need more flavour. The second issue I had was that the margarine split so it looked like there were lumps of fat in it. I won't be making this again:

Portobellow Barley - This recipe was very nice, at first I found it a bit boring but when I remembered to add the vegan parmesan it tasted far better, however there is a similar recipe in Happy Herbivore Abroad which is far better:

Chana Masala - This recipe was OK, full of heat but was lacking flavour and was a bit thin. I think a spoon of flour to thicken the sauce really would have improved it:

Shredded "Chicken" Chili - This recipe is basically chili with soy chicken instead of mince. It was nice, wasn't too hot and was a interesting twist on standard chili recipes, however its no comparison for recipes such as Vegan Diners:

Overall I was a bit disappointed in this book. The first reason was that it doesn't have a single picture which really doesn't inspire confidence in the recipes. The second reason is the reliance on branded products (such as Better than bouillon and Earth balance) which makes it a bit difficult for those of us outside the US.
I also found that some of the recipes were just not tasty enough so I ended up adding extra ingredients to improve them which can be a pain.
However if you want a slow cooker book that provides good base recipes which you can tailor to your needs then this is quite suitable and I have to admit some of the other recipes do sound good (cinnamon apple oatmeal & tempeh bacon bake both stood out as recipes to make in future) so I will be using the book again.
The thing that I really did like about this book is the simple and straightforward layout, the book is split into chapters (tempeh, tofu, breakfast etc) and at the beginning of each chapter is a list of the recipes it contains making it very easy to navigate through.