Friday, 31 October 2014

November Cookbook Review - Big Vegan

This month I have been cooking from Big Vegan by Robin Aspbell.

I bought this book many moons ago and I am ashamed to say I only cooked 1 thing from it (edamame shepherds pie). I was so let down by that recipe that I haven't cooked anything from it since. This month I have cooked 12 recipe from it, here's what I thought:
(Please excuse the awful photography - its getting to the time of year that nights are getting dark and unfortunaetly our kitchen has energy saving lights which are about as effective at lighting the kitchen as the broken fridge light)

Cuban Black Bean soup: This was lovely, spicy filling and very healthy

Patatas Bravas: I have never had this before so I have nothing to compare it with, however it turned out to be a warm, spicy and very tasty dish.

Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu
This was really good, I have never made hot and sour soup before (but enjoyed it from a packet) but this has convinced me never to buy it again.

Tomato and Basil Scramble - This was brilliant. Probably the best scramble I have ever had (possibly barring the Denver Bitchlette from Skinny Bitch). Raw it tasted great, once fried it reached perfection!

Seitan Bourginion - This was a quick stew recipe, it was very tasty but sweet (not the fault of the recipe, I subbed unsweetened grape juice for the wine) which I wasn't keen on. This would have been better with the inclusion of wine but I don't drink.Still a nice recipe though

Tibetan Noodles
This was a fantastic and spicy recipe, full of flavour and delicious. I will definitely be making this again

Broccoli with cheese sauce
A great cheese sauce! Cheesy & smokey, this would work well with lasagne, cauliflower cheese, macaroni cheese or in a myriad other recipes

Jollof Rice, I have tried recipes for Jollof Rice before and they were not brilliant, this however was filling and tasty, spicy and a little creamy. Very nice

New Potatoes Rendand
Another fab recipe, this was spicy with hints of lemon and lime. It was really enjoyable and filling. I served it with the campfire chili from Vegan Casseroles

Creamy Triple Mushroom Pasta
This was let down a little by the parsley, it didn't work for me in this dish but other than that it was another good recipes. As stated - creamy but also rich from the 3 types of mushroom and the wallnuts (I subbed pecans) added crunch and more flavour.

I almost didn't make this, its basically kale (chard should have been used but couldn't find any), garlic and tomatoes topped with a parmesan alternativ and I just didn't feel like, but I made it anyway and I am glad I did. It was delicious and I really enjoyed it, I served it with beans on toast and an Amy's Manhattan Burger - it was one of those days I could decide what to eat so ate everything!

New Orleans Jambalaya & Smoked Tempeh
Jambalaya is one of those things I really enjoy but rarely make. This was one of the better recipes that I have tried for it. Filling and flavoured with basil, thyme and oregano it wasn't too spicy and the tempeh really finished it off.

Overall I ave changed my mind about this book, the 12 recipes that I tried were either good or really good, none were bad or inedible as with other books. I wouldn't say its up there with Julie Hassons books or American Vegan kicthen but its definitely a cracking cookbook

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

October Cookbook Review - Around The World Vegan Style

This months Cookbook review is Around the World Vegan Style by Nancy Robinson

This is a collection of 700 recipes from 10 different chefs from around the world. I bought this book even though is it exorbitantly expensive (I paid around £40 on Ebay but the current price on Amazon is £53.49) and thought it would be wonderful. 
Its not, quite a few of the recipes are repeated (several Mac and Cheese, several Tofu Salad Sandwich recipes etc), the book is badly laid out with recipes squashed in and the photographs (when included) are of poor quality – this coming from someone who’s known for particularly bad photography.

I now think of this as a lazy cookbook, not all but quite a few of the recipes use store bought items that can be difficult for people outside the US to find, for example I was excited to see recipes for Tofurky (thinking it would be recipes to make Tofurky)  but found that you actually need a store bought Tofurky roast for the recipes. Another recipe called for a box of lemon cake mix from which is of very little help. I would have assumed that a book costing 4 times as much as a standard vegan cookbook would be above this.
I managed to find 18 recipes that I wanted (and was able) to make, so here’s what I thought

Mrs Halls Hungrian Goulash
This was a good recipe, very simple, tasty and quick to make it won’t replace my favourite goulash recipe which is from Another Dinner is Possible, but this is good as a quick alternative

Seitan Bourginion
This was quite good, I used the recommended grape juice substitution instead of wine. It was quite flavourful and nice

German Potato Salad
This was quite nice, potato salad with fake bacon bits and lots of flavour. Not bad at all

Alsatian Onion Pie
didn't think I would like this but it was really good, its nice to see a recipe that showcases onion rather than other ingredients. I may make this again

Sharis Golden Macaroni
The sauce for this macaroni is made from butternut squash which I am not a fan of but the other flavours masked the taste, it was really good and quite healthy as well

Oven Omelet
This was probably the best recipe I tried, very quick to make it used mashed tofu rather than blended. It was really good

Tofu Cottage Cheese
I really enjoyed this, it was very flavourful and easy to make. I have made it again since and it was just as good

Hawaiian Island Kabobs
These were really good, full of flavour. Lovely 

Collete's Skillet Tofu
I liked this, its basically a scramble with bean sprouts in but the flavours worked really well

Leftover Luxury
This was rather good, leftovers mixed with BBQ sauce topped with shredded potato. Quite enjoyable

This was a nice recipe, its layers of potato, soy milk and cheese etc. As stated it was nice but not something I would make again

Tofu Italiano
This was basically tofu in a tomato sauce with veg. Nice but boring

Lima Bean Casserole
I used broad beans for this as Lima Beans are impossible to find in the UK. It was a good filling recipe with nice flavours but not something I would make again

Mexican Stacker
This is basically a quesadilla with a fancy name, tasty and filling

Karens Split Pea Barley Soup
This was boring and tasteless.

Macaroni & Cheese
This is a baked macaroni recipe, it was nice but there was nothing special that would make it stand out above other mac recipes

Tofu Eggless Salad
I have had far better from other cookbooks. Disappointing

Yorkshire Pudding
From the picture you can tell that these were a complete flop, hard coins of pastry that were not very appealing at all

Overall, I did like some of the recipes but I felt so disappointed and let down by this book . I was expecting great things and it really didn’t deliver. Would I recommend the book? No. At this price I would recommend spending the money on 3 or 4 other much better cookbooks (Vegan Diner, Isa Does it, American Vegan Kitchen, Vegan Pizza, Chloes Kitchen, Vegan Stoner, Cookin Crunk) to name a few