This book by Kristy Turner was never really on my vegan cookbook wishlist, because the title always put me off a bit – I assumed it was for new vegans and would be full of basics. How wrong I was! It’s actually an ambitious and extensive book that’s quite reminiscent of Isa Does It (one of my all time favourites) in its scale and creativity. There are some quick and easy dishes, along with some multi-component ones. There are things that require half a pot of nooch. There are things that require cashews to be soaked in advance. This is a real vegan cookbook.
It’s also a huge tome (I’m guessing here – I purchased an electronic copy, but there’s plenty in it) and I didn’t get around to cooking as many things as I’d hoped. I’m actually considering doing a ‘Part Two’ of this post in August. There are some sections I didn’t even have chance to delve into. Here are the recipes I did try, and I’ve added the section names just because they made me smile.
I Could Never Give Up Cheese!
I’m a sucker for a good vegan mac’n’cheese, so of course I tried the tempeh bacon mac’n’cheese with pecan parmesan. It had several components to work on, though some of them can be skipped: the tempeh bacon, the pecan parmesan, roasted cauliflower for the cheese sauce. So was it worth the effort? Well, the sauce was good, but it wasn’t the most flavoursome I’ve had. The tempeh bacon and pecan parmesan were tremendous though and I will probably add them to every mac’n’cheese I make for the rest of my life.
Where Would I Get My Protein?
As promised, the broccoli and quinoa tabbouleh with tahini-herb dressing was a very busy, hearty salad! Dr HH said that he felt it was lacking protein, then qualified that with “a protein, like some tofu” when I exploded that it was basically all protein. I liked it, but felt that more tahini would have made it sing. It was solid, but not an instant classic like some of the other recipes in here.
I was very impressed with these falafel tacos with sriracha-tahini sauce. Don’t they look inviting? The sauce was exquisite, a really perfect blend of flavours, and the falafel was wonderfully herby.
Tofu Doesn’t Taste Like Anything!
The Mediterranean tofu scramble was delicious! It was well-seasoned with plenty of herbs, and I loved the artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach in there. Who doesn’t feel fancy when they have artichoke for breakfast?! We really enjoyed it.
The creamy mushroom fettuccine alfredo was a strange one – when I first sampled the creamy sauce, I was absolutely revolted. I want to say it tasted like hops, though I’m not entirely sure what hops even are – basically, it tasted the way the streets around a brewery smell. I was quite worried about whether it would even be edible. But when I added salt and pepper and cooked it with the mushrooms, it was delicious! So, top tip: don’t sample it at all before serving! (Obviously vegan fettuccine doesn’t seem to exist in Prague, so this is the next best thing.)
Vegan Cooking Is Too Hard!
I was quite worried about trying the chickpea omelets, even though they’re in this easy section. I needn’t have worried: the batter was really easy to make (it’s essentially just chickpea flour, water and seasoning galore), and I even managed to flip them tolerably easily. Maybe I’ll even make them evenly shaped next time! And there will definitely be a next time. I used spinach instead of kale for the filling, along with sliced mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. It was marvellous.
I was quite taken with the idea of these bean and rice freezer burritos, so I whipped up a batch. They are a great option to have in the freezer for emergencies! Next time I’d reduce the quantity of rice and increase the beans, and stick some vegan cheese in there as well. The recipe suggests they can be cooked from frozen in ten minutes, which I strongly disagree with – I doubled that, and topped them off in the microwave too.
Where’s the Beef?
It’s always pie season as far as I’m concerned, but I can imagine this portobello pot pie being especially welcome in the colder months. The herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage) give it a wonderfully comforting aroma, and you can’t argue with big earthy chunks of portobello mushrooms. Two thumbs up from me!
Dr HH volunteered to make these chickpea sloppy joes and he did a fine job, as always. He declared them very easy to make, and I declared them very easy to devour! He doubled the seasoning recommendations, and the chilli was bursting with flavour.
The Thai seitan satay with spicy peanut dipping sauce wasn’t quite perfect – we don’t have a grill, so I just fried the seitan pieces, and they were really flavoursome and delicious. I spooned the peanut dipping sauce on top, but everything was the same colour due to the bottle of dark soy sauce I currently have, so it doesn’t look as appetising as it should. Great flavours, though.
These BLT and avocado soft tacos were a very quick and easy meal. The bacon is the same as the crumbles from the mac and cheese, and it’s really delicious. I made this recipe even easier by using shop-bought crispy tacos.
Just Thinking About Salad Makes Me Yawn!
As it’s pretty hot in Prague now, I was keen to make a few salads for packed lunches, rather than our usual soups. The three pea and orzo pistachio pesto salad was delicious, though it didn’t pack enough of a flavour punch due to a bizarre shortage of fresh basil the day I was trying to make it (two supermarkets, and nothing!). Still, it’s recommended and was very filling. I didn’t have time to make my own feta, though there is a recipe – I used shop-bought vegan feta instead.
What About Brunch?
These chickpea scramble breakfast tacos were my third tacos recipe from the book. As a novice taco maker and eater, my question is this: why not eat something easier to handle?! I really enjoyed the filling of these, but the devouring logistics would have been much simpler if the filling was simply secured in a wrap. Am I missing the magic of tacos? It seems to be a messy endeavour to me! Anyway, this recipe was good, but I was a little confused by the instructions to chop the chilled chickpea mixture into squares – next time I’ll just crumble it with my fingers (like tofu) to save time.
The buckwheat banana pancakes with peanut butter syrup made a sensational breakfast! I used regular plain flour instead of the recommended buckwheat and oat flours, and they were just delicious. The syrup was sweet and sticky. All in all, this was a mighty fine breakfast.
I turned to Dr HH to make these pecan-date cinnamon rolls, and he did a top notch job! The recipe recommended processing the pecans to a powder, but he merely chopped them so we got some good chunks. They were delightfully sticky and really delicious.
Not Soup Again!
I really enjoyed this creole corn chowder (though I suspect nothing will ever top the Glam Chowder from Isa Does It). It had a really good spicy kick, and the chunky texture is just how I like a soup.
I didn’t really know that broccoli and cheddar went together until I went vegan and found that every book contains a broccoli cheddar soup recipe. Now I heartily approve of this combination! Roasting the broccoli beforehand was a nice touch that lent a pleasant charred taste to the soup, and the chickpeas were quite a fun addition. I’ve got about a million of these recipes now, and I’d happily make this one again.
I added nooch to the cauliflower bisque, because why would I not? It was a lovely soup, really creamy and comforting, and I’d happily have this again.
If you go shopping between 3pm on Friday and 10am on Monday, it’s pretty slim pickings in my supermarket. As such, this white bean and portobello stew was made with shiitake mushrooms instead, and without any carrot, which is always a shame. Nevertheless, it was delicious: the seasoning was just perfect, and the mushrooms still had that good earthy flavour that you want.
But I Hate [Insert Vegetable Here]
This pan-fried gnocchi and acorn squash with hazelnut-sage pesto was very easy to throw together, and really flavoursome to boot. It felt quite autumnal to me, but it was still delicious. The pesto was easy to make and packed so much flavour. This was really impressive, but was very quick and easy in reality.
You Can’t Bake Without Butter or Eggs!
The salted caramel peanut butter bars were delicious! The sponge was just perfect, so light – but maybe it could have done with a bit more peanut butter, it tasted more strongly of banana. And I’d tone down the salt in the caramel as well: the ingredients list calls for some salt, but it’s not mentioned in the method. I chucked it in anyway and wish that I hadn’t, as it was a little too salty in some parts. Still delicious though!
These iced oatmeal cookies were my first recipe from the book, and they were a very promising start! They’re quite crunchy on the outside but lovely and soft inside, and I feel like they’d be perfect for Christmas – not that I’m planning on waiting that long to make them again.
Wait, Is Chocolate Vegan?
How could I resist the chocolate chip brownies? The recipe indicates that the consistency of the finished mixture should be closer to cookie dough than cake batter, and that was definitely the case – and the baked brownies had a slightly crumbly, biscuity texture. They weren’t dry like stale or dry cake, they were just quite crumby. And they were delicious! I swapped one cup of chocolate chips for pecans, and I’d certainly recommend doing the same, as they were already extremely chocolatey.
All in all, this has been my favourite cookbook of the year so far and I’d definitely recommend it to the keen cook, vegan or not – if you’re just looking to reduce your meat intake or give veganism a test drive, there’s plenty in here to inspire you. And if you’re already vegan I think you’ll love these innovative and flavoursome dishes. Furthermore, it’s great value for money: as I said, there are still plenty of recipes here that I’m desperate to try.
Never again will I let a title deter me from a vegan cookbook!
This book has cropped up on my radar when I’ve been trawling on-line bookstores for vegan cookbooks. I’d written it off as a ‘new vegan’ introduction book rather than a serious contender to add to my burgeoning recipe collection but these recipes look amazing! ISA does it has been my most used cookbook for quite some time now, so comparing it to that is praise indeed. It’s going on the wish list! 🙂
It sounds like we had the same reaction to the title, then. Let me know if you get a copy and it lives up to my Isa comparison!
I love this cookbook! I even reviewed it on my blog- it is fun seeing what you thought of some recipes and my comments. Since the review I’ve made a lot more from the book. I love the recipes but sometimes I think things can have TOO much flavor. Like the hamburger pie was good but there was WAY too much mustard in it. I am thinking typo? I really want to pick up her new book
I just went and found your review! The pie was on my wishlist but I never got round to it, but I almost certainly would have agreed with you, as I think any amount of mustard is too much! Her new book is at the top of my list now too.
I’ve read reviews with very different takes on this book, so I’m glad to see that pretty much everything you cooked turned out good. Now I feel I need to get a copy out of the library, and get some taco shells, and see for myself (or should I just skip the taco shells?!)
Skip the shells, but definitely give the book a try!
I love Isa Does It too and now I feel like I need to add this one to my collection. The beef pie looks epic and I love any and all vegan alfredo recipes. The Salted Caramel PB bars look amazing too, I wish I had an oven so that I could whip up some vegan baked goods right now.
Living without an oven must be tough – I bet you’ll have a vegan baking extravaganza when you’ve got access to one again!
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