This is a cake I was very excited to try out. I never really had too many fruit cakes, but I found the photos very interesting. There was something very pretty about a pretty golden cake with lots of little berries baked inside. And there was also booze in the cake. I am always down with that. This cake has been altered quite a bit in the American Cakes cookbook. Many changes I am happy about, omitting the citron and lemon peels, and using white wine instead of the more heavy sweet fortified wines like brandy or madeira. Many online recipes also offer a frosting/icing to go on top of the cake, which I think it is too much. This is a rich dense cake, very similar to a pound cake with spiked fruit inside. I think it stands very well by itself.
This cake was made by Martha Washington– the first First Lady. She supposedly made this cake when George was returning home from serving as president, making it in time for Christmas. The recipe was written down by her Great Granddaughter Martha Parke Custis and is the main reason why the recipe still survives today.
Another thing that I liked from it’s modern adaptation is how much it has been scaled down. Part of the “great” in “great cake” is the sheer size. Readers of the blog might remember me describing the massive size of Election Cakes, and this cake was quite large as well.
Take 40 eggs & divide the whites from the yolks & beat them to a froth then work 4 pounds of butter to a cream & put the whites of eggs to it a spoon full at a time till it is well work’d then put 4 pounds of sugar finely powder’d to it in the same manner than put in the Youlks of eggs and 5 pounds of flower and 5 pounds of fruit, 2 hours will bake it add to it half an ounce of mace and nutmeg half a pint of wine & some fresh brandy.
I’ve even taken the size of the recipe down even further! The original recipe calls for a pound of currants, and I had to buy bulk organic currants. It wasn’t terribly expensive, but I found that the currants were quite old, and very dry. So they soaked up a LOT of wine. I later found that it was easier to find 10 oz boxes. The original recipe calls for a larger than normal loaf pan, so I figured I would scale the 16 oz currants to one box. I crunched the numbers and worked out well.
When I first baked the cake I replaced the butter for oil thinking that it would be dense enough to handle the softer texture. I added some baking soda to the mix for some rise, as the original recipe didn’t. And finally I replaced the eggs with aquafaba since the cake was light in color and I wanted to keep it flax fleck free. As I started to mix the aquafaba to the sugar-oil mix, I noticed it acting very similar to a pound cake. It made me wonder if I could skip the leavening agent all together.
So the second time making the cake was when I scaled down the size, and baked like a normal pound cake. I was VERY nervous. But it worked! Surprising I know! The photos might look like the cake is under baked, and it might of been just a smidge. I think I over soaked the currants (I did it overnight) making the cake a little too moist. But the texture was definitely cooked!
So here are some important notes about the ingredients. You will want a nice white wine. Pick something you would drink, but still have it be on the lower end of cost. I omitted the mace from the recipe, but it should traditionally be in there. I also used Earth Balance and specified it in the recipe. It worked for this, but I can not promise how homemade butters would work.
The oven is also on low and slow! This cake takes over 2 hours to bake! Plus 2 hours of soaking! This is going to take a loooong time to make, but very hands off. I hope this doesn’t scare off too many people, because this does make a great cake for the holiday season. One that might get people to question what they think of a “fruit cake.”
It’s been a hot summer, and it really has been a damper on my desire to bake lots of cakes and pies. Ouch. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t busy in the kitchen. Nope. I’ve just been busy exploring other parts of American desserts- candies. I am not a big candy maker, but I do have fond memories as a child of buttering my fingers and cutting hot sugar and rolling them into hard candies.
The first candy I was happy to feature on the blog doesn’t use melted sugar. It is a very simple candy to make, like most American candies, but has an ingredient that is unexpected- potato. I’ve made them twice before, once from a vegan recipe from Homestyle Vegan. I’ve simplified and more readily “veganized” the recipe today. But… let’s take a step back- What is a needham? Where are they from? And what’s the history?!
Well, a needham is made with sugar, coconut, mashed potatoes, and butter. They are cut into squares and coated in chocolate. If you are an American and never heard of this candy, chances are you haven’t been to the New England area, specifically Maine. This is a local treat that is kind-of overshadowed by lobster, blueberries, and whoopie pies for tourists. But many Maine natives have fond memories of the dessert.
This history of the Needhams. Like all candy it is shadowed in a bunch of folklore. One story tells about a priest who made the candies to increase church attendance. Another story tells about a candy maker who named the candy Needham after a popular evangelical priest in hopes to increase sales. If you need a non-priest storyline, supposedly one year there were “too many potatoes” for crops and a competition was set up to find new ways to eat them. And guess which recipe won- the needham of course! Most historians think most likely there WAS a competition, but it wasn’t because of a surplus of potatoes but because it was set up by a company that sold potatoes. The facts are that the earliest recipes for Needhams go as far back as 1926/1930
Regardless there is a little something about using potatoes in the candy. It does have some binding properties, making it so you don’t have to do any of the usual candy making heating. Some people claim it cuts down of the sweetness, but I think there is something to be said about the starchy texture in your mouth. If you have time to cover these gems in chocolate give this recipe a go! Don’t be like me who got tired towards the end and just poured the chocolate over the remaining candies. I didn’t include those in the pictures. lol
I’m back for Vegan MOFO! Let’s hope this works out as I hope this year, having a kid makes life pretty hard. At least it makes blogging life hard. lol But I am hopefully I stick to my theme and get more posts than last year. The theme?
AMERICAN DESSERTS! Yes, I have a weird obsession of making good old American desserts rich in dairy and eggs and making political and liberal by veganizing them. What are you going to get? Well hopefully delicious foods, though I will admit, some of these desserts are not my favorites. *shrug* But I’ve been loving the history and recipes from American Cakes, and now this time around I want to expand on some of the non-cake desserts that are very American. What can you hope for? Maybe the Southern version of apple dumplings, depression era vinager pies, and green tomato pies.
If I didn’t already loose you, GREAT! Join me on this journey as I rush to bake a fuck load of goods and give away 50% of them so I don’t vomit from sugar overload. If you can’t wait till tomorrow, you can check out these already veganized American goods:
This cake has a fun twist of using a gose. Although this sour and salty beer is German, Americans go nuts for that shit. So why not give it a try?
This is the REAL apple dumplings- baked apples in a pie crust. Originally a Pennsylvanian-Dutch breakfast, it is now a dessert commonly associated with the Amish.
Ready to bust out the yeast?! This cake takes some time, and booze, but it is a great way to treat your friends for voting (perhaps in THIS current election cycle?!)
This is a simple recipe and is soooo yummy. It’s the first recipe from the American Cakes cookbook, and I add my own little flair by using blackstrap molasses to give it a kick.
Traditionally these have no potatoes, nor are they Irish. But my recipe puts a little potato in them, making them not your traditional South Jersey/Philadelphia treat.
Every vegan knows about this cake- one of the first vegan cakes out there! You can use any frosting, but I adapted the caramel icing from American Cakes so you don’t even need to wait for your cake to cool to frost.
Before we were sneaking veggies into kids food, we were adding sauerkraut because- well we didn’t have much else sometimes. Even though it seems a little odd, the kraut add a nice moistness to the cake.
Apparently American were the first to use applesauce in baking. A tradition that haunts almost all vegans who don’t regularly find the stuff on their grocery shelves. It might be an American obsession.
Most vegans know about Vedge, a fancy restaurant that all the omnivores eat at. Naturally, when a place is popular there are haters. I’ve herd people complain that the food is too salty, tastes burnt, or too hippy-dippy (yup, that was said about the book at least.) But when I went, I only have wonderful things to say.
That said, I’ve always been a little intimidated about this book. It sat on my shelf forever, and I am pretty sure it was gifted to me by my Mother in Law, otherwise I think I would of felt it would be too fancy for me. But once we went to Vedge, my husband demanded a birthday dinner made completely from this book. *sigh* So I made some food from it, and it wasn’t so hard. So I made even more from the book and here we are now with this review. So let’s go!
The photos in this book are beautiful. They are done by Michael Spain-Smith- who has a few shots on his website. The photos show shots of food and the restaurant itself, heck even some shots of the food within the restaurant (you know, as if it was being served to someone.) I am a little sad that there aren’t more shots of the plated foods. This is suppose to be high end food, and the visuals are an important aspect. It would be nice to have an idea of how to serve the dish. The authors say to use your imagination, and because of this I don’t demand the recipe to match the photos perfectly. For example the recipe for the breakfast radishes show chunks of avocado when the recipe tells you mash them up.
A fairly typical setup- an into by Joe Yonan (because the authors are now famous enough for someone to write about them), then an introduction from the authors, and some “before you cook” tips. Overall I like how quick and to the point the authors are. It doesn’t take long to get into the recipes, and they do stress the importance of fresh ingredients, and basic cooking skills. I didn’t like their chapter on pantry essentials. It felt a little pointless, and dumb, it would be nice if they ditched it.
They divide up the recipes into 6 categories- Small bites and small plates, Soups and stews, The dirt list, Plates (aka mains), Desserts and baked goods, and finally Cocktails. This is KIND-OF how they set it up at the restaurant. Small bites and small plates I guess are normally listed as their vedge bar. They are usually things you could get with a drink at a fancy cocktail bar, or as they suggest in the book something like tapas. The dirt list tends to be cooked veggies, something that resembles a side dish. I find that this category there is a very thin line to the Plates (aka mains) category, which is listed as “The Grill” on the menu. The mains tend to be a little heartier and more umami. But it is pretty hard to figure out the difference in my opinion. The organization is so arbitrary. There is a stew listed under plates- even though there is a soup and stews chapter. Luckily they are pretty on topic for the cocktails and desserts. No confusion there.
I like the writing, it is quick to the point but very informative. The instructions are pretty simple for the recipes, which feels a little odd since we are talking about a fancy pants restaurant. Although it doesn’t give massive clues to a perfectly charred pepper, I think it makes the recipes a lot more accessable. I easily read this book now that I’ve made a few of the recipes, and it feels really easy to tackle on 3 recipes at once. At the very least one recipe that I serve with leftovers.
The recipes really need to be tried out before anyone dismisses this cookbook. I’ve read some reviews on Goodreads, half say how much they love it, and other half usually poo-poos recipes without actually trying them out. I will admit, there are some pretty crazy sounding things, especially in the desserts. A sweet potato and cabbge dessert? An apple wardof salad sweet?!
But just with following the few recipes that I have made, it has given me more confidence in the kitchen with more unusual vegetables. I now have a better idea what I would like to do with radishes. I don’t feel like I have to keep layering flavors to get something that tastes good.
But when you have a cookbook that has such spectacular recipes, but maybe not other inspirational, educational aspects, you need to deliver on the recipes. I found that almost every single vegetable dish needed more time in the oven. Period. There is no mistaking “just cooked” with “not cooked.” I had to add as little as 3 minutes, but sometimes as much as 20 minutes. It happened so often I didn’t bother adding the notes in the recipe reviews. I also felt there was a little sparse detail on what to look for in cooking, I would have to give 4 out of 5 stars for this cookbook. If the devil is in the details, give me all the details please.
As always, I give reviews for individual recipes. If I am able to find the recipe online with a publisher approved website, I’ll link it. I think it is a great way to “test out” a cookbook before buying it. The next best thing is checking it out from the library.
Hey Guys, just thought I would give a little update for everyone. You might of noticed I’ve been hardly posting the past few months. Well, I’ve been busy naturally, so I will give some quick breakdowns.
1) VEGAN MOFO! I’ve been trying to prep for Vegan Mofo 2018. I might not be quite as active as every single day, but I have a bunch of posts all ready to go, so there definitely be more than one post per month like I have been doing lol
2) I started a new job! And quit. I was working for Aldi’s to earn some more money, but it became quite clear that the amount of money being spent on daycare and paying for sick visits were not worth the amount of time effort and stress it was putting on our family. Sadly, it means less income for us, but it is best for our overall health and happiness for our family
3) We went on vacation at Bushkill Falls in PA. Hopefully we will have a little post about that, but who knows.
So that’s really it. I will hopefully have my cookbook review of the month tomorrow, and I will be skipping the month of September so I can stick to the them for Vegan MOFO.
I feel like every cookbook review starts with “Well, Jenny Marie…” and I am doing it again. I kind-of had a thought that I wanted to do more cookbook reviews for the blog again since I had more time in the kitchen now that Wolfie is a little older. But Jenny Marie’s goal of making recipes from ignored cookbooks made me reach deep and grab my very ignored cookbook- Very Vegetarian.
I got this cookbook in my early “vegan” days. I was mostly trying to loose weight and stay healthy, though ethics totally took some importance. I wasn’t strict, and I remember having a hard time when staying with my parents in Saint George Utah. Not much in the town is vegan now, but it was much less vegan friendly at the time. I mostly stayed at my parents home all day, or worked a temp job at a coffee shop. But there were a few glittering mechas of hope. One was soft serve oat-cream at a health food store. Which blows my mind seeing how popular oat milk now is, they were totally ahead of the curve. Then there was a lone vegetarian restaurant owned by an older married couple. I went probably twice, I don’t eat out often. But I remember they had a good burger, and they even had vegan cheese. The day before I left, my Mom bought me a lunch from there, and a cookbook. And the couple asked if I was interested in a job, I laughed and told them that I was leaving to go back to Philadelphia the next day. I think they were just excited to see a young person into veganism.
But the book sat on my shelf, mostly flipped through for the memories. And I thought now would be a great time to finally dive back in. Reflect on how much cookbooks have changed. Pro-tip! Try picking up a digital copy of the The Complete Vegan Kitchen. It appears to be the same book as Very Vegetarian but is updated. Plus the digital copy is $3, so not much of a financial risk.
I am still in shock and awe at how much food photography has changed over the years. I’m not even talking about the crazy posed retro shots of food, in just as short as 10 years ago, photos were very RED. But it is obvious the photographer tried to combat this with blue flatware and other tricks, but there are one or two photos that are just stained with yellow or red. The photos often feature shallow depths of field and have bright colors placed behind the food. And naturally there is a group shot of all the types of soy based foods on a plate, something I swear I’ve seen a million times between vegetarian and asian cookbooks pre-2010.
But it is funny looking at these photos. Some I see and think “I could see this on a blog,” like the one shot of a millet paella sitting on an old brown bag for rice (it’s actually used for the cover of her other book.) Oooh rustic! But then there is this weird shot of a compilation of desserts that I are laid out by a fancy balcony. Where the heck are these people? I guess they wanted to give the appearance of a fancy soiree? Like vegan dessert can compete with fancy French pastry?
Ignoring the merits of the photography (it isn’t the worst, but about fifty percent are dated) they are sandwiched randomly through out the book. Most pages are pages with black text, on rough paper. I largely forget that there a photos in the book since there are such a small amount.
This book is written at a time when veganism was pretty unknown. It is assuming you don’t know what it is, so it gives quite a bit of information about it. Bennett actually gives quite a bit of helpful information on servings (fruit, protein, grains etc) and which nutrients to focus on as a vegan. She even includes zinc which I feel like no one does, but I know I always fall a little short on. I’m a little sad I never read this when I was younger. She does talk quite a lot about something that should of been skipped over. Like she talks a LOT about tofu, when many of the soy products mentioned aren’t even used in these recipes. Don’t want to loose your audience! There is also some quick notes about cooking, like how to cut veggies, etc. As you can see below, Bennett covers a lot in this book- having over 300 recipes, which is a lot. Most cookbooks now only have about 100-120.
There is a list of chapters in the front, but each chapter has sub-categories, and the recipes listed. This is nice except the recipes don’t actually have page numbers. This is a giant pain. I am not really sure what the point of that is. If you are wondering here is the list of sections:
Appetizers & Snacks (Dips and Spreads, Pates and Terrines, Pancake like Appetizers, Filled Appetizers, Bruschetta)
Soups (Stocks, Hot Soups, Chilled Soups)
Salads & Dressings (Salads, Dressings)
Condiments & Sauces (Condiments, Sauces)
Sandwiches (Cold Sandwiches, Burgers, Hot Sandwiches)
Beans & Grains (Beans, Grains)
Pasta (European Pasta, Middle Eastern Pasta, Asian Pasta)
Breads (Quick Breads, Yeast Breads, Flatbreads)
Desserts (Cakes, Frostings, Bars Cookies and Candy, Puddings, Pies and Fruit Crisps, Frozen Desserts)
Beverages (Milks, Smoothies, Ades and Teas)
Treats for Kids
This book has a lot of information in it. I feel like if I wrote a cookbook, it would be very similar in it’s density (I mean look how long this review is?!) Aside from ALL the information from the beginning, each chapter has a few notes by her. This book is clearly written with the mindset to help someone is recently went vegan, and perhaps doesn’t cook often. I feel like MANY early vegan books are like this because of how uncommon it was. Now with blogs and social media people are always bumping into vegan recipes, or non-vegan bloggers are labeling recipes as vegan when they make them. The term vegan and what it means is somewhat in the mainstream.
It is also worth noting that “health” is a huge part of this book. Carl Lewis writes an introduction talking about how a vegan diet helped him feel his best. There is a lot of nutritional information in the book, and generally the recipes are overall pretty healthy. None of the claims are extra-ordinary, but something to keep in mind if too much health talk is a trigger.
Although I like how much information is given in the book, I wish it was organized differently. For example, in the vegetables section Bennett organizes the recipes alphabetically by vegetables. She often gives a description on the vegetable with tips and info on how to prepare and store it. But sometimes the description of the vegetable would be underneath a recipe using a different vegetable, making it look like it is part of the recipe. She needs better graphics to divide the recipes from informative text.
If you are wondering who the heck is Jannequin Bennett, you aren’t alone. I thought it was odd how little comes up when you search her name. Gurl- you gotta build a website! Sure she has a twitter, but it seems that she uses it for a lot of political tweets. It seems, from my quick search is that Jannequin ran quite a few restaurants in her day, first in Manhattan, then moving to Richmond Virginia. She currently isn’t running a restaurant, but is known for her vegan and macrobiotic menus. To make things even more confusing she has two book released- Very Vegetarian and The Complete Vegan Kitchen. It appears that The Complete Vegan Kitchen is just a renamed version of Very Vegetarian, so maybe some of the formatting has been fixed, maybe not. She is supposedly working on a new book of gluten-free recipes, and she has helped with Chefs Move to Schools.
Okay, so that said, should you buy this book? Hmm… it feels like a big “Why Not?!” with the $3 digital copy on Amazon. If there are a few recipes you enjoy from it, sure go for it. But there is a lot of dated info, like she gives some outdated information about shortening and margarine now that US is phasing out transfats. Or that she says there is no current replacement for egg whites. There is now- aquafaba. But there are recipes I would like to try from the book, and things that I’ve learned from it. But knowing what I know now about it, I wouldn’t pay more than $5 for a second hand or digital copy.
What would I love to see the author release? A vegan vegetable bible! My favorite chapter in the book is the vegetables chapter. So much attention to detail is given, but there would only be one, maybe two recipes for each vegetable. Bummer. She gives so much information but tries to cover so many topics, it comes off a little scratter brained. I think she should REALLY focus on one topic, or get a bigger book like the New Basics. The recipes were either really good, or pretty good with some personal tweaks.
I posted reviews of all the recipes I made from the book. I wanted to make a recipe from each chapter, but this did not happen. I usually leave links to recipes but I found zeros recipes online. So, sorry about that. Enjoy the reviews!
This is another cookbook my Mother-in-Law found and thought of me. She was browsing a local second-had bookstore, Second Time Books, and found this little jem. I was pretty skeptical. Mason jars are made for jarring and holding things, not for drinking and eating. A fad that I am totally against. I smiled, took the book and flipped through it. I figured I would give it a fair shot.
After reading Jenny Marie’s cook-a-long monthly challenge, I thought it would be fun to share some posts reviewing the book as well. If you have a blog with a review (specifically of the recipes), leave a comment and I will add you to the list.
My first guess was that Kris took the photos herself (she did!) I could tell they weren’t professionally done, but they are still very good. It certainly not like when your boss at the restaurant you work at says “Can you believe they wanted $200 to take photos of food! I mean look at my photo? Isn’t it just the same?” You nod yes, but your bosses crummy photo pretty much explains why a professional photography wants $200. This has happened to me TWICE, just pay a damn photographer! NOW if KRIS was my boss and showed me her photos, I would of been impressed. She uses lots of natural light, and does a great job making the food look enticing.
But she does not have a photo for each recipe. I think that is overall fine. I think there is enough to leave out some of the doubt and guesswork, like what the heck will a babka in a jar look like? Or how will a whole loaf look in a mason jar?!
Like most modern cookbooks, this has and introduction then chapters full of recipes. I have to say I STRONGLY recommend reading the introduction! She gives some important information about mason jar safety, that you might want to read to make sure you don’t have any exploding jars in the oven. She is short and sweet, so you can move on to the recipes.
She divides the recipes in 9 chapters- No-Bake Treats, Cakelettes, Pie and Friends, Pastry, Odds and Ends, Treats for Two, Mixes, Jam on It!, Toppings and Fillings. I like how she starts with no-bake so if you are excited you can jump right in. I also like how she does include some jam recipes, I mean that’s what mason jars are for, right?
Kris does a great job getting to the point but talking about what is important in the beginning. And I quickly went from “why can’t we move on past the mason jar trend!?” to “oh, she makes a really good point!” I am not 100% sold, but I think it does create some great points. You get self portioned desserts, you can easily bring an apple pie for lunch at the office. Okay, I’m getting this. So what I am trying to say is that Kris is really good at getting you excited about making food.
She should be good at it, she has written quite a few books, mostly about baking and has a now dead blog called Nom Nom Nom Blog. I know for a fact that I’ve stumbled onto this blog a few times in the past.
There have been both hits and misses with these recipes. I think I found that the delicate oil based cakes we are used to in the United States just don’t work with the glass baking dish. I had zero luck with the hot water bath baking. BUT I loved the premade portions for the desserts. I think my husband was in heaven taking a small little apple pie into work. And the heavier cakes worked beautifully.
There are a lot of recipes I am interested in trying. Mostly the baked fruit pies for my husband. I am usually making a WHOLE pie for him. Sure I’ll eat a slice, but I am happy eating only one or two slice and letting my husband polish it off. Having small jars makes it easier for him to enjoy and the oven is on for less time.
The book is pretty short, which is kind-of a bummer, but in some ways great. I think overall this book helped me get excited about a new baking tool. It has very much inspired me to try converting some recipes into a jar. I am sure my husband will enjoy the more elaborate desserts that he can bring into work.
Below are my individual recipe reviews. I tried to leave links to any publisher approved online recipes, which was only two. I also try to pick a recipe from each section, but skipped Treats for Two, Mixes, Jam on It!, Toppings and Fillings. The mixes I felt didn’t fit my definition of a baked good mix (too many non-shelf-staple mix in required). I made a few topping and fillings, but they are mixed in the reviews (two cakes, and a grasshopper pie). Finally summer creeped in and turning the oven on seemed irresponsible for making anything from the Treats for Two section, and I wouldn’t be making anything from the jarring section. You probably didn’t care, but there you go. My logic for the whole thing!
This curry round up has taught me one vital lesson. I am spoiled. Yes my idea of what a curry is, is slowly becoming quite narrow. After cooking so many dhal recipes and such from Vegan Richa’s cookbook I have learned how to create so much depth and flavor to a curry dish. Now, when I stumble upon a recipe that uses plain curry powder, it makes me a little sad.
Yes, there are some curry recipes on here that just uses the yellow spice mix, and some don’t. Some are called a curry and a yummy, but deep in my heart I know it is just a stew. So read and enjoy my most recent round up!
This is a very odd recipe, I’ve never seen a curry made this way. First you roast the kohlrabi then you cook the rice, then saute the aromatics, then add the kohlrabi to the aromatics. Very weird, but it works. She also uses chili powder which works surprisingly well with everything.
The recipe says it only take 30 minutes to make, which isn’t fully true, it can be more if your oven is really old and takes 20 minutes to preheat. My second complaint is that the recipe really only makes enough for two very hungry people. I might be interested next time doubling the recipe. And I was using a pretty HUGE kohlrabi too!
My word of caution is to peel the kohlrabi well. I didn’t and it was very tough in some parts. My husband described it as being stabbed by the curry. This is an easy fix.
Bottom Line: Yummy, easy
This is one of my summer favorites. When my CSA is producing tons of tomatoes, it isn’t a big deal to use up three pounds of tomatoes in one dish. In my area, that many tomatoes can cost $9 overall or $12 organic. It isn’t the worst amount of money when you consider that it makes 4 servings, etc, etc. But when your cheap like me, it is a big deal.
What I find interesting about using fresh tomatoes instead of tinned is that you get two very different Chana Masalas. Canned results in a sweet dish, and that is how most Westerners learn how to make Chana Masala. That is all fine and dandy, but I like how this dish is practically all the same ingredients but show how you can get something totally different with a few tweaks. The end results is a tangier curry that was awesome. I love any chickpea based curry, and if you like Chana Masala you might to give this a try.
Bottom Line: Pricey with tomatoes, super yummy
I pretty much picked up on this recipe since it looked simple and used cocktail or cherry tomatoes. I do have to say it is insanely easy. Roast some bell peppers, saute onion and garlic, then blend with a bunch of stuff. Then mix with spinach, chickpeas, and tomatoes, and bake. It might take over an hour to make, but the active and clean up time is pretty minimal. I also had the brilliant idea of using pasta instead of rice. I think both would of worked well, but I am slightly more partial to the pasta. The rice would of been good at grabbing onto the thin sauce.
I think the only downside to this curry is that it probably needs more salt… or rather more defined amounts of salt. I think the author sprinkled more salt onto the bell pepper than I did. So in the end the sauce was a little bland and I sprinkled a lot of coconut aminos on it. Which is fine and still tasted amazing. I will definitely make this dish again in the future. You could speed up the cooking process by using jarred red bell peppers.
Bottom Line: Super easy, lots of down time
Here is the biggest flaw in the recipe, you slow cook for a total of only 4-6 hours. Sucks. Most people use their slow cookers before they go to work, making most people out for 8+ hours. I know that isn’t how everyone has it, but most. So that is my number one complaint. It isn’t a big deal if, say, you want to make this on the weekend, or perhaps if you are a stay at home mom. Maybe you can come home during your lunch break? There are many situations where you can make this.
Oddly this is the second curry on here that uses cherry tomatoes. Odd, but I am loving this idea. I get so many cherry tomatoes from my CSA, and sometimes, I can’t just eat them raw in salads and wraps. I liked how they created sweet little bursts of flavor in the sauce. Slow cooking REALLY makes the flavors come out in the sauce, and I will be making this again for sure. I think in the future, I may want to bump the tofu from 1lb to 1 1/2lb. I was able to cut cubes for Wolfie and cover it in extra sauce. Baby approved.
Bottom Line: Great for stay at home moms or people who can come home for lunch to prep
This dish I am on the border of printing out and making more often. It was pretty minimal work. Blend the raita up, chop and toss the cauliflower in a quick sauce, bake, and assemble. Pretty simple. It is also pretty darn healthy. I served it with a little bit of leftover brown rice instead of greens, though just the greens would of been tasty as well.
I have two complaints. One, which isn’t as big of a deal, is that there was SOO much leftover raita. I am not 100% sure what to use it for, but I will have to think of ways to use it up. The second complaint is that I wish there was a LIITTLE more flavor to the cauliflower. I didn’t use a whole head of cauliflower because it looked like there was too much for sauce. So I think if I made this again, I would double the sauce coating. Maybe even toss the chickpeas in it?
Bottom Line: Lots of extra raita, wish for more sauce, OVERALL YUMMY!
I like how easy this recipe is. Very simple, but surprisingly large amount of flavor. It calls for green lentils, but I went for brown since they were the only ones available. I am sure green lentils would of tasted better, because I don’t know many people who prefer brown. Oh well.
This dish is as simple as saute the onion and garlic, add water, coconut milk, and lentils and simmer. Then toss in the peas and broccoli, cook JUUUUST a little longer, and that’s it. This involves very little chopping and prepping. This is something I would feel very comfortable leaving for my husband to make. This will get printed and filed away for him to make one day when he needs to make dinner on his own.
Bottom Line: Yummy, easy
Well, Jenny Marie is doing another cookbook challenge with a cookbook I own- Vegan Eats World. I made a review awhile ago that you can check out, but I’ve cooked a few more things from the book. I mean I wrote that review 4 years ago! Wow. Also, I didn’t cook NEARLY as many recipes from cookbooks as I do now.
As mentioned in the original review, my copy broke pretty early on. I was pretty pissed since this was a gift, but because of this I recommend trying to get a hard copy of the book. This is also why there aren’t any photos of my book, and just photos of a big binder. Oh well.
As always, I am linking to other recipe reviews of the book, to share all the fun. If you have a review of the cookbook on your blog leave a comment. I will happily link it. And as always if I find a recipe online, I will link it.
Berbere Spice Blend
Section: Spice Blends
I made this spice blend for a recipe in The Great Grains Cookbook. I couldn’t find any berbere spice blends at any of my normal grocery stores. I think that is why I love this book. It does provide some useful tools for people who don’t have access to global/international food stores. I enjoyed the blend, though I do wonder how authentic it is. I’ve never actually had it before. But still yummy.
Deluxe Tofu Vegetable Mafe
Section: Curries, Heart Stews, & Beans
This is hands down one of my favorite dishes from this book. A nice peanut buttery stew. Yum. I think one of my favorite parts of this dish is that it is very flexible with the vegetables you can put into it. At the end of the recipe there are many different alterations, okra, winter squash, whatever really. This is really helpful to make over and over again as the produce changes over the season. If you are going to make one recipe from this book I would either recommend this one, or the other peanut based dish- Flying Massamn Curry. Oh, and I recently ate the leftovers of this dish on a corn waffle. It’s a great way to eat it.
Flying Massaman Curry
Section: Curries, Heart Stews, & Beans
Recipe: The Veracious Vegan
More peanut butter please! I make this a lot during the summer months since our CSA makes really good cherry tomatoes and I can’t keep eating them in a salad! I love how the cherry tomatoes go into the curry, and I believe this is yet another recipe with a million veggie options. I have a feeling that I usually do green beans… if my memory is serving me right. I love how easy this curry is to make, and like the mafe this one of my favorite and most frequently used recipe from the book.
Fusilli with Almost-Sicilian Arugula Pesto, Potatoes, and Peas
Section: Asian Noodles to Mediterranean Pasta
This was a hit. I am still not convinced that arugala should be a pesto, this is the second recipe that used it that I’ve tried. But everything is very good. Apparently putting potatoes in a pasta dish is a very Italian thing, though I’ve never heard of it before. It is pretty easy, just make the pesto, then boil potatoes adding the pasta at the end. Toss. I used the suggested green beans instead of peas since I was making this dish for my Mother in Law who doesn’t like peas. Although this is good, I would only make it again if I used an all basil pesto instead of arugula.
Golden Tandoori Tofu
Section: Hearty Entrees
Recipe: The Veggie Table
I never really thought much about this recipe until My Cat Loves Daiya made it. So I took the plunge and I am glad I did. The tofu is a beautiful golden color, which prompted me to eat it next to “purple” beets for a vegan mofo complimentary colors challenge. I like the sauce, it is creamy but full of flavor. I am not 100% sure if you need to use yogurt. I didn’t taste any of the tangy notes in the dish, which I bring up since vegan yogurt can be a little pricey for people. This is a dish I will make several times again, for sure.
Section: The Three Protein Amigos Touf, Seitan + Tempeh
This was my first time making seitan and it helped me get over my anxiety of making it. I hear lots of people say it is hard to mess up seitan, but then I’ll read blog posts about how people hate when it gets spongey or whatever. I was happy with this recipe, and it inspired me to make these adzuki seitan sausages.
Ninja Carrot Ginger Dressing
Section: Salads, Spreads, and Sandwiches
Recipe: Vegan Latina
This was really easy to make, even easier for me since I had my crazy high speed blender. I didn’t even need to grate the carrot, all I did was throw a bunch of carrot chunks with all the other ingredients and blend. I enjoyed the recipe, my husband wasn’t a huge fan (though he didn’t hate it.) We ate it with the tofu burgers, and the leftovers were tossed with some pasta and peas that Wolfie really enjoyed.
Okra Masala (Bindi Bhaji)
Section: Robust Vegetable Entrees & Sides
Recipe: The Blender Girl
I don’t really like okra, but my CSA grows it. And if you have a CSA like I do, sometimes you get put in a corner where you either take something you don’t like, or deal with less veggies or too many of the same veggies. So I made this recipe, and I can safely say this is my favorite way to eat okra. This dish is very easy to make, but is really something that needs other dishes to be served with it (like that sri lankan dhal) The instructions are detailed, and cook the okra in a way to help reduce all that slime. But I think the star of the recipe is the amchur powder. My sister gave me some awhile ago, but this was the first recipe to use it. It makes the dish tangy and amazing.
Roasted Chili Pepper Harissa Paste
Section: Spice Blends
I’ve made this many times, and it is only recently I’ve actually BOUGHT harissa from Trader Joe’s. So going from that bit of information, does the recipe hold up? I’m going with yes- mostly. I think Trader Joe’s version is more oily, which might be more traditional. But I do like making it at home because you can control the spice levels more, which is great for my husband. I also love using the hot peppers from my CSA. So I get very fancy ORGANIC and LOCAL harissa. Can’t beat that?
Section: The Three Protein Amigos Touf, Seitan + Tempeh
I love this recipe. It gets made all time, though I’ve taken a step back. I make it constantly for stir-fries, but since having Wolfie, I’ve chilled out with it a little. I just don’t have the time. I like how lazy I can be with it, but it is time consuming, and makes the house hot during the summer. You need to press the tofu, then bake for 40 minutes. The recipe is pretty simple, mostly getting flavor from soy sauce.
Sensei Tofu Hijiki Burgers
Section: Hearty Entrees
Oh mixed reviews on this recipe. I loved it, my husband was not a big fan. I am a little clueless as to why, but I guess you can’t please everyone? This was super yummy as it was mostly drained tofu that had been crumbled and mixed with hijiki seaweed and panko breadcrumbs. Then coated with more bread crumbs and baked. The burgers were pretty small, so you can’t fully make them into a burger with a bun. Well, you could, you would just need to make less than 8.
I served it with the ninja carrot dressing as suggested which was easy to make and tasty. I think these would be great to try and make those rice “burgers”. This would also of been better if I made a side veggie while the burgers were baking in the oven.
Spicy Savory Soft Tofu (Ma-po Tofu)
Section: Curries, Heart Stews, & Beans
Recipe: Vegan Latina
This is a recipe that I’ve seen a few times in various vegan cookbooks. I didn’t seem to care too much about making it. But I figured why not? I have some black bean paste in the fridge, so why not learn a new dish? Overall I wasn’t a huge fan. I think I might try it eating out, but it seemed weird. I think I felt compelled to add some veggies to the dish. You also use soft tofu, making it hard to cook. I am not very gentle, so I struggled to keep the tofu cubes in one piece. Overall it tasted good, I just wasn’t feeling the recipe.
Sri Lankan Red Lentil Curry
Section: Curries, Heart Stews, & Beans
I use to make this dish a lot. It’s been awhile though. I altered the recipe to make it into a slow cooker curry, and it got so creamy and delicious that it was to die for. This recipe takes awhile to make, you need to soak the lentils in hot water, then cook them. You temper some veggies and spices on the side and add at the end. It involves little work from the chef, which is ideal for making other sides, proteins, or maybe a flatbread.
My Mother-in-Law knows I love to cook, I can almost assume I will be getting some sort of cookbook during the holiday season from her. Sometimes I specifically ask for it, sometimes it is a cookbook she happens to see. One year, she saw this book and thought it looked pretty tasty. It was something that wasn’t on my radar- although I’ve heard of the blog Fettle Vegan, I never actually read it. I didn’t see any reviews for this cookbook, it was completely new to me. The book sat on my shelf forever and ever, and I finally thought I ought to make a review of this book and finally put some of the recipes to work!
I think the photos were taken by Amber St. Peter herself, so I feel a little bad saying this- but I am not impressed by her photography. Overall they are great photos, it most definitely not as bad as Martha Stewart’s instagram account. But her photos are very warm, and the reds are over saturated, making her photos look more like they were taken closer to the early 2000s.
But she does deserve more credit as she has photos for pretty much each recipe. Some recipes are on her blog, but many are not. And the food looks very appetizing and still pretty to look at. I simply think it would of been best if there was a special photographer hired to take the photos, but I’d rather have these photos than none at all.
This book is a cookbook through and through. Amber wastes little time and dives into the recipes after a very brief page-long introduction. The downside is that I think it makes the overall theme a little hard to figure out. I always thought she had a weird selection of recipes, but once I read the descriptions it became clear that it is comfort foods that she grew up with (mostly.)
The sections are as follows: Rise + Shine, Meals That’ll Stick to Your Ribs, Feed Your Friends, Crowd-Pleasers, Cook Up Some Comfort Food, Bake Sale-Worthy Baked Goods, When Cookies Won’t Cut It, Have a Drink, and Stock Your Pantry. Frankly- I don’t understand what defines HALF of the savory-meal sections. I start to think “oh these are appetizers?” then suddenly there is a cornbread and potato salad. There needs to be a little more rhyme and reason! A good portion is also sweet dishes. Most of the breakfast foods are sweet, and then you have two dessert chapters. The “have a drink” section is also predominantly sweet drinks, which follows the comfort food themes. I tend to not like the sweets so it wasn’t really my thing, and I think a major factor to why I never used the book.
I really like Amber’s writing style. It is very inviting, and I found myself more interested in the recipes once I read her description. She is very laid back, and really good at convincing you that you’ve got this recipe, and it will really taste delicious. My only concern is how often she says “healthier” in the description. Although I totally agree with her, her food tends to be healthier than the originals, I do have major concerns about selling veganism as a healthy diet. It can be, but people do expect life altering changes in their health.
This isn’t the cookbook for me. I think all the recipes have tasted pretty good, I could modify them as needed, and I can think of quick ways to make them work better for myself. But I find her categories confusing and therefore a little hard to figure out what to make. It feels like there are so many sweets for the categories, but I guess that is mostly because I am just a savory girl. And she has some staples in the back, but none I felt compelled to make.
I think what it comes down to is that would probably be a good book for a totally new vegan. Maybe someone who is making vegan meals when a friend or family come to visit, or maybe if someone is just wanting to try more food that are meatless/dairy free. None of the recipes seemed particularly new to me, and I could easily find in some vegan cookbook on my shelf. There are few little sparkling jewels that I wasn’t going to find in the other cookbooks, but I think most seasoned vegans might want to pass on this book.
I am thinking about donating this book to the library. I think a new vegan would find this book MUCH MORE HANDY than myself. I think there are lots of nice qualities to this book, like the recipes are very veggie heavy and the book has a wonderful “flat-lay” pages, making it extra easy to read recipes while cooking.
As with all my cookbook reviews, I try and review as many recipes as I can, from each category from the book. If there is an online recipe available I try and link it, but I only link up recipes that are approved by the publisher. Any photos I’ve take are shown as well.