Cookbook Challenge

April Cookbook Challenge – 4 Ingredients Gluten Free Review

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For my cookbook challenge last month I was testing recipes from 4 Ingredients Gluten Free and the Meat Free Monday Cookbook. In this post I will be reviewing 4 Ingredients Gluten Free and letting you know how I got on cooking recipes from this book all month!

Introduction

The premise of this book is a good one. It is a cookbook aimed at families and people who want to create delicious gluten free meals quickly and easily. The 4 Ingredients Cookbook range is quite a wide one so it’s good to see a Gluten Free version!  The good thing about the introduction pages of this book is that they use information provided by the Australian Coeliac Society to back up their claims. This gives the book an air of authenticity which is good in a wary gluten free world!

The introduction starts by explaining exactly what gluten is and why it should be avoided in people with coeliac disease. It gives some good tips about who to contact for more in depth information whether you live in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand or the UK. There us also a useful table of foods to avoid in a gluten free diet and those safe to include. This would be a handy reference for anybody new to the diet.

A useful tool for people who live in different countries is the guide to weights and measures. I’m constantly looking up on the internet how much a cup of something should weigh but there’s no need with this quite comprehensive table! There is also a guide so that you can convert the oven temperature from fahrenheit to celsius or even gas mark. Another useful tool that makes this book good for worldwide cooks.

On to the recipes!

Breakfasts

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I think breakfast is possibly the hardest meal to try and make gluten free. There are a few good ideas in this chapter of both savoury and sweet breakfasts! I tried two recipes from the breakfast chapter. The first one I tried was Damper  which turned out to be a sweet syrupy bread. I had a lot of trouble with this recipe (as can be seen  in the link above) and can’t help but wonder if it’s too simple. From experience I know that gluten free baking usually uses a large mix of flours and starches and with just 4 ingredients I don’t think this can compete. Another point I wanted to make about this recipe is that I actually had to search online to see what “Damper” was. There is no introduction to this recipe and while I could guess what it was from the ingredients it would have been nice to have had a bit about the recipe.

The second breakfast dish I tried was the Toffee BananasThese were excellent but I probably wouldn’t serve them for breakfast due to the amount of sugar! They made a lovely dessert.

The rest of the recipes in this chapter were not vegan friendly as they relied heavily on eggs and cheese. However, for a non vegan cookbook, I think finding two breakfast recipes is an achievement!

Dips

I didn’t actually test any of the recipes from this chapter which is a shame. I think if there had been a party/buffet to cook for I would have made the Butterbean & Mustard Topper and maybe the Roast Aubergine Dip.

Salad Dressings

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I was quite impressed with this chapter as it had a huge range of different salad dressings. I tried the Orange & Mustard Dressing  which I really enjoyed. The only thing missing from this chapter is actual salad! I think it would have been good to have some suggestions of salads which would go well with each dressing.

Sauces

I didn’t try anything from this section either as nothing really caught my eye! That said, there was quite a lot of choice in this chapter for a vegan and I probably would have gotten round to trying some of it at some point. The Salsa looks particularly good.

Cocktail Food

This chapter was very heavy on the meat, fish and cheese so I didn’t try much in it. It would have been useful to have more veggie options here.

Morning & Afternoon Teas

Gluten free baking is a minefield but there are some interesting ideas in this chapter! I only tried the Pineapple Cake from this chapter and was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out as most gluten free baking recipes require a lot more effort. There was plenty in this chapter which I wanted to try including Orange Coconut Clusters and Fruit Cake.

Light Meals & Lunches – Soups

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Soup is one of my favourite foods so I gave this chapter a good try! I tried the Pumpkin, Lentil & Ginger Soup which was surprisingly good for such a simple recipe! The Tomato & Basil Soup was also a definite eye opener as it was made with just tinned tomatoes and stock. This chapter was one of my favourites in the book as it showed that you need very few ingredients to make an excellent soup!

All Others

Another chapter that I didn’t try anything from! This chapter was based on light meals and included quiches, pizzas and other nice sounding lunches. It didn’t really have much choice for vegans though!

Salads

Sadly this chapter got largely overlooked due to the amazing salad recipes in the Meat Free Monday book. These salads just didn’t grab my attention! They looked quite boring with such few ingredients. Another problem I had with them is that they couldn’t really be modified. If you didn’t have one of the ingredients you would be left with a very bare salad.

Potato 

This was a very basic chapter which would be good for beginners. I didn’t really find much in there that looked exciting! I did try the Healthy Rustic Chips which is pretty much the same as the recipe that I’m used to using anyway.

Vegetables

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A chapter full of interesting ways to cook vegetables! From this chapter I tried the Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes which can be seen above. These were a lovely way to eat cherry tomatoes and something I’ll be using again.

Mains – Meat

There are a number of chapters on meat based mains but as I didn’t use any of them I’ll just let you know what they are (in case you’re interested!). There was beef, chicken, fish & seafood, lamb and pork.

Pasta

Oddly the pasta chapter is nestled in between the meat ones. I didn’t try anything as the dishes were all meat, fish and cream based.

Vegetarian Mains

IMAG1098The photo shows the Broccoli & Lemon Risotto which was a slightly disappointing recipe as the instructions didn’t include enough water and the end dish was much too lemony.

IMAG1139The Rice Pilaf was a perfect recipe and a really nice side dish. I did note that it was not anywhere near substantial enough to eat as a main course though.

There was a good variety of dishes in this chapter and many were vegan which is good to see!

Desserts

This chapter focuses on one of the hardest types of food to make once you go gluten free.. pudding. I don’t often make desserts as they’re usually too big for just me to eat! There were some good recipes in here though including a Cheesecake Base which could come in very handy.

Children

I imagine children are very difficult to feed when they are gluten free! This chapter has all sorts of ideas for quick snacks, lunches and meals which would be very handy for the mum of a young coeliac. The lunchbox ideas are particularly good! There is also a chapter on feeding babies gluten free food.

Drinks

I’m a water drinker really so this chapter didn’t really entice me. There’s a good mixture here though!

The Finishing Touches

After the recipes there are a few useful chapters including one focussing on the different herb and oil types and what they can be used for. There’s also a chapter full of household tips which again would be useful for a new mum.

My Overall Verdict

I think this book would be perfect for families going gluten free and particularly mums. I’m not really the target market! However there were some very simple recipes that could be used time and time again and some good ideas to help me with my gluten free cooking.

There are some things I would have liked to have seen in this book. As always, photos are what draw me to cook books. There were no pictures at all in this book and they really would have helped me to get excited about what I was making. There were also no introductions to the recipes apart from vague “this is really good” type messages. I love it when an author puts some of their own experiences and tips in with a recipe. Finally I would have loved to have been able to look in the index for an ingredient and easily find the recipes that include it. This was a major flaw in my opinion because it makes the book less user friendly and made me want to reach more for the other book in the challenge.

If you’re starting a gluten free family or making changes for your coeliac son or daughter I think this book would be perfect for you. As for me, it was slightly too basic and didn’t make trying recipes fun enough.

Past Updates From 4 Ingredients Gluten Free:

  • Update 1 – Damper, Tomato Soup, Pumpkin Soup, Sweet Potato Fries, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Toffee Bananas
  • Update 2 – Orange & Mustard Dressing, Broccoli & Lemon Risotto, Rice Pilaf, Pineapple Cake

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May Cookbook Challenge – The Books!

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It’s that time again where I choose the two books that I will be obsessively using over the next month! Every month I choose two books from my overstocked shelf of cookbooks and try as many recipes I can from them all month. At the end of the month I review both books and let you know what I think.

So far I’ve reviewed Veganomicon and Weightwatchers Meat Free Meals. Last month I used the Meat Free Monday Cookbook and 4 Ingredients Gluten Free which will be reviewed this week.

The first book I’ll be reviewing this month is The Vegetable Bible by Sophie Grigson.

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This book is not a vegetarian/vegan one and is not gluten free. However with the strong emphasis on vegetables I am hoping there will be plenty in it that I can make! It is advertised as being perfect for veg box users so it should be a good fit into my routine and hopefully won’t require too many specialist ingredients.

The second book I’ve chosen is Everything You Need To Know About Gluten Free Cooking by Rick Marx and Nancy T.Maar.

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After a quick search it seems that this book is not very widely available! I bought this when I was first told to give up gluten. I got it second hand from Oxfam but I’m sure it can be found in other places. I chose this because I’m still not entirely confident about gluten free cooking and am hoping this will give me some good advice!

So that’s my challenge for this month! As always I will post around one update a week on my progress and then at the end of the month I will give a full roundup and review. Wish me luck!

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April Cookbook Challenge – The Meat Free Monday Cookbook (Update 4)

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This is the final update in my April Cookbook Challenge! This is a round up of all the recipes I’ve made from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook in the second half of April. I’ve been using this cookbook a lot this month so this will be a long post!

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IMAG1154This Waldorf Salad is the first salad I’ve eaten with fruit in it. I was always very much against fruit in salads but this definitely changed my mind! This recipe is in the Spring section of The Meat Free Mondays Cookbook and is called a packed lunch. The recipe is very simple, consisting of apple, celery, walnuts, red onion, oil and vinegar. The great thing about this recipe is that it makes just enough to serve one person. I always have lots of leftovers when I use cookbooks so this was great. I served it with salad leaves and roasted new potatoes and it has to be one of the best salads I’ve had recently! The different flavours and textures made it a total winner. I’ve already had this one again.

IMAG1158I love pasta and I adore sun-dried tomatoes so as soon as I received some olives in my Graze box I had to try the Pasta with Broccoli, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives from the Autumn section of the book. This is another lunch recipe but I enjoyed this for tea. The recipe actually includes a type of pasta called Orecchiette which are tiny little scoop shaped pieces. I would have gladly tried to find some of these but since I had to make the recipe gluten free I used my normal corn pasta. I also replaced the pine nuts with sunflower seeds as that’s what I had in my cupboard and I used green olives rather than black. I wasn’t sure what this was going to be like as there is no sauce and I thought the pasta might be a bit tasteless. It was the opposite! I’m definitely going to be making this dish again, it’s one of the tastiest pasta dishes I’ve ever tried.

IMAG1176Two recipes in one here! This is the Roasted Herby Mushrooms with Colcannon. These are both listed as side dishes but were substantial enough together with some baked beans to make a lovely comforting meal. I used portobello mushrooms rather than chestnut mushrooms as that’s what I had in my fridge. These had a lovely earthy flavour and an almost meaty texture once cooked. I followed the recipe exactly and they came out beautifully. For the colcannon I only made one alteration. I used half the amount of cabbage recommended because it seemed like much too much. I’m glad I did because it seemed to be the perfect amount. Again I followed the recipe to the letter and it turned out really well.

IMAG1212I love the colours in this photo! This is the Ratatouille which is a packed lunch recipe from the summer section of the book. I’m not sure about this dish as a packed lunch. I don’t know what it would be like cold! I followed the instructions for this exactly apart from using cherry tomatoes instead of normal ones. The recipe is extremely simple and easy to follow. I served my ratatouille with spaghetti because I didn’t feel it would be filling enough on its own. I think I was right about this as it was the perfect meal.

IMAG1191A definite aubergine theme going on here! This is the Aubergine, Pepper and Potato Stew which is in the Autumn section. This dish is the first one I ever made from this book and is one of the meals that first made me love aubergine so I was keen to try it again. I followed the recipe exactly but left out the feta. The only thing I will say about this recipe is that the photo in the book is not very accurate at all! The stew has a lot more liquid in it which is actually a good thing.

IMAG1181Lastly a soup that reminded me of my student days! This Leek and Potato Soup is a packed lunch in the Autumn section of the book. The only change I made to this recipe was using almond milk rather than semi-skimmed to make it vegan. An easy recipe to follow and a lovely creamy soup.

That’s the end of my Meat Free Monday recipe roundup! The full review will be posted next week. Does anything here take your fancy?

Past April Cookbook Challenge posts:

  • Update 1 (Meat Free Monday) – Caribbean Rice & Beans, Parsnip Soup, Quinoa & Roasted Tomato Salad
  • Update 2 (4 Ingredients Gluten Free) – Damper, Tomato Soup, Pumpkin Soup, Sweet Potato Fries, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Toffee Bananas
  • Update 3 (Meat Free Monday) – Orange & Mustard Salad Dressing, Broccoli & Lemon Risotto, Rice Pilaf, Pineapple Cake

 

 

 

 

 

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April Cookbook Challenge – 4 Ingredients Gluten Free (Update 3)

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This is the second to last update for my April Cookbook Challenge. In this post I will focus on the recipes I’ve cooked for the second half of this month from 4 Ingredients Gluten Free. The full review for this book will be posted a week today so look out for that!

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IMAG1172The first recipe I want to talk about is the Orange & Mustard Dressing from the Salad Dressings chapter of the book. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the dressing before I put it on the salad! The dressing was made up of orange juice (which I squeezed fresh), wholegrain mustard and walnut oil. I was drawn to this recipe because it seemed different from the usual dressings of balsamic vinegar and/or lemon juice! It’s a simple recipe which just involves whisking the ingredients and it was lovely and fresh on my pasta salad. The flavours complemented each other perfectly.

IMAG1098One of my favourite foods is risotto so I was excited to give the Broccoli & Lemon Risotto a try! This was an odd recipe as it tells you to add all of the water to the rice at the beginning and stir rather than adding a bit at a time like I’m used to. I followed it to the letter though and found that the risotto needed a lot more water than recommended. The lemon flavour was much too intense in this dish so I wasn’t impressed with the flavour either. Not very good overall but edible!

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The picture above shows my favourite comfort food! Scrambled tofu which I served with the Rice Pilaf from the mains section of the book. Firstly I’d like to say that rice pilaf is not a main course. The ingredients for this dish were onion, garlic, rice and stock which is no way near substantial enough for a main meal but it makes a perfect side dish. The recipe was easy to follow and the rice tasted really nice. I’ll probably make this one again!

The last recipe I tried was the Pineapple Cake from the Morning & Afternoon Teas section. I’ll be honest that I had no faith that this recipe would work. The ingredients were gluten free flour, sugar and tinned pineapple. I imagined a gloopy uncooked mess. Needless to say, this recipe was amazing. So amazing that I forgot to take a photo before I ate the cake! I’m now wondering whether it would work with other types of tinned fruit and I’m definitely going to give it a go.

So that’s the last recipe round up from this book! Next week I will round up the recipes from Meat Free Mondays and review both books. Does anything here take your fancy?

Past April Cookbook Challenge posts:

  • Update 1 (Meat Free Mondays) – Caribbean Rice & Beans, Parsnip Soup, Quinoa & Roasted Tomato Salad
  • Update 2 (4 Ingredients Gluten Free) – Damper, Tomato Soup, Pumpkin Soup, Sweet Potato Fries, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Toffee Bananas

 

 

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April Cookbook Challenge – 4 Ingredients Gluten Free (Update 2)

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This is the second update for my April Cookbook Challenge where I am reviewing The Meat Free Monday Cookbook and 4 Ingredients Gluten Free. The first update for this challenge can be found here where I discuss recipes from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook (including Parsnip Soup and Quinoa & Roasted Tomato Salad!).

In this update though I will be talking about the recipes I’ve tried so far from 4 Ingredients Gluten Free.

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I’ve made a few recipes from this book but no full meals so far. It’s good for lunches and sides though!

IMAG1081The first recipe I tried was from the Breakfasts chapter of the book. First I googled to find out exactly what Damper was as the book doesn’t give much description other than the ingredients and method. The four ingredients that make this beautiful sweet bread are Gluten Free flour, baking powder, milk and syrup. I made this for breakfast one morning and followed the instructions to the letter (apart from subbing almond milk for dairy milk). However the mixture was much too watery and I ended up adding some more flour. It also took an hour to cook all the way through rather than the 30 minutes mentioned in the book. The result was a rather dry loaf of bread (so maybe I was wrong in adding more flour). It was nice though, warmed up and smothered with chocolate orange spread.

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IMAG1128Ok I don’t want to be overenthusiastic but this is the most simple and delicious recipe I’ve tried! It is the Tomato & Basil Soup from the Light Meals & Lunches section. The recipe was really easy to follow and used everyday ingredients. I can’t believe such a tasty soup was made with tinned tomatoes! I actually got through 2 bowls of this for lunch the other day.

IMAG1147Another soup recipe! This is Pumpkin, Lentil & Ginger Soup. I actually used a butternut squash for this and had to make up the weight with carrots (my squash was nowhere near 1kg!). The instructions were easy enough to follow but I had to add quite a bit of extra water to thin it out. The soup itself was gorgeous.

IMAG1091There are two different recipes on the mix-match plate above. At the bottom of the photo are the Sweet Potato Fries from the kids section of the book (good for adults too!). I have been trying not to adapt recipes too much but I honestly could not bring myself to use cinnamon sugar on these. I always prefer herbs on my sweet potato so here I used rosemary. A simple recipe and delicious side dish. In the top right hand corner are the Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes. Another simple recipe and a delicious alternative to raw cherry tomatoes!

IMAG1092Last but not least are these Toffee Bananas. I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed a banana as much as I did here! It was pretty much banoffee pie in a bowl. I topped mine with some slivered almonds and a splash of almond milk. These are from the breakfast section of the book but to me they are much more of a dessert.

That’s it for the second update of the challenge! Do you own this book? Do any of the recipes inspire you to pick up a copy? Do those toffee bananas make you want to lick the screen?

 

 

 

 

 

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April Cookbook Challenge – Meat Free Monday Cookbook Update 1

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This is the first update from my April Cookbook Challenge where I am reviewing The Meat Free Monday Cookbook and 4 Ingredients Gluten Free.

This first update is for The Meat Free Monday Cookbook by the McCartneys.

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So far I’ve not been very successful in finding many recipes in this book that I can make using ingredients I’ve already got in my kitchen. So far I’ve tried a few recipes though.

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The first recipe I tried was when I was very short on food in the kitchen. It’s the Caribbean Rice and Beans from the Autumn section and comes under the Packed Lunch category. It’s a relatively simple recipe made with just rice, red kidney beans and coconut milk. It was lovely if a bit bland. I don’t think I’d take this as a packed lunch on it’s own as it would be very boring!

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Another recipe from the Autumn section and a packed lunch. This is Parsnip Soup which is a soup that I wouldn’t usually need a recipe for! This one used carrots as well which isn’t something I’d have necessarily put into a plain parsnip soup. It was lovely though and I’ll be making it again!

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A recipe from the Spring section this time! Again this is a lunch recipe (but not a packed lunch one). The Quinoa and Roasted Tomato Salad was a lunch that took a bit longer to prepare due to the roasting but it was lovely. I think next time I’d use stock to cook the quinoa in rather than using balsamic vinegar to add flavour. That’s just personal preference though!

That’s it for this week’s update. So far so good but I haven’t found as many recipes I can make as I did with Veganomicon!

Have you got Meat Free Mondays? Do any of these recipes help persuade you to give it a go?

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March Cookbook Challenge – WeightWatchers Meat Free Meals Review

This month I have been testing recipes from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero and Weight Watchers Meat Free Meals. Here I will be reviewing Weight Watchers Meat Free Meals!


This is a mini book that I picked up when there was a buy one get one free offer in Sainsbury’s. Although I’m not interested in losing weight (in fact I’m actually trying to put it on!), the photos drew me in!

Introduction

This book is aimed at both vegetarians and meat eaters and is a compilation of recipes from the best of Weight Watchers cookbooks. The introduction claims that “there is something for all occasions” which makes me hopeful that there will be simple everyday recipes as well as something a bit more special.

There are some handy tips in the introduction on storing leftovers and freezing them. Very handy for people who are cooking for one like me!

There is also a checklist of some of the main ingredients used in the book which is extremely useful.

I was expecting some more tips about losing weight as this is a Weight Watchers book. Although I wouldn’t have been very interested in them, the people who this book is aimed at would probably like some more information!

Soups and Salads


I tried two recipes from this section: Courgette & Potato Soup and Carrot & Sunflower Seed Salad (pictured above). The good thing about the soup recipes in this book is that they only make one or two servings. Usually when I make soup I end up with a lot of leftovers! The recipes are easy to follow and use common ingredients. This is a great chapter for lunches! The Roasted Red Pepper soup sounds nice and I also want to try the Fiesta Bean Salad.

Light Bites

I had two recipes bookmarked in this section but sadly never got around to either of them. The first was the Rice and Vegetable Pot which I will be making for lunch at some point. The second was the Spiced Lentil Dip With Crudites. Unfortunately a lot of the recipes in this section included bread and/or cheese so it wasn’t very suitable for me. However if you’re a vegetarian who can eat gluten it’s very good!

Speedy Suppers


The only recipe I tried from this section is the Mexican Stir Fry. It definitely fit it’s description as it came together in less than 20 minutes! This section is aimed at people who need a quick but tasty meal when they come home from work. It has some really nice looking recipes in it such as Sweet & Sour Tofu & Vegetables and Goulash. I think it’s perfect food for families!

Family Favourites

I actually can’t believe I didn’t try anything from this chapter! It’s a fabulous chapter full of old favourites that have been redesigned. The Vegetarian Shepherds Pie looks particularly good and I had bookmarked the Lentil Bolognese!

Curries, Casseroles and Stews


From this chapter I made the Aubergine Madras and the Pumpkin Stew. I love this kind of food so this chapter was brilliant. At some point I’ll get around to trying the Lentil Curry with Crispy Onions!

Entertaining


My favourite recipe from the book came from this section! This is the Paella with Roasted Vegetables which is the meal that introduced me to smoked paprika (a dangerous thing!). A brilliant chapter full of recipes to impress! The Roast Vegetable Pilaf was calling me next.

General Comments

This is a good book full of healthy and nutritious recipes that don’t lack in flavour! It’s a good addition to your library for the speedy and easy recipes that can be thrown together with few ingredients. The photos are beautiful too, a great addition to such a small book. My only criticism? No desserts!

Previous WW Meat-Free Meals Posts

First Update – Carrot & Sunflower Seed Salad, Aubergine Madras and Paella with Roasted Vegetables

Second Update – Courgette Potato Soup and Mexican Stir Fry

Veganomicon Review

Categories: Book Reviews, Cookbook Challenge | 1 Comment

March Cookbook Challenge – Veganomicon Review

This month I have been testing recipes from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero and Weight Watchers Meat Free Meals. Here I will be reviewing Veganomicon – The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook!

This book is famous in the vegan world and is considered by many as a sort of “vegan bible”. Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are American vegan chefs who have written a number of cookbooks including (Vegan With A Vengeance), (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World) and (Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar). They also write the blog (Post Punk Kitchen). This book was designed to be the ultimate vegan cookbook and contains 250 recipes broken down into a number of categories including snacks, brunch, salads, mix and match vegetables, grains, beans, tofu, soups, casseroles, pasta, breads, cookies and desserts. It also has a very large introduction and tips on how to cook vegetables, grains and beans. Veganomicon claims to be an “all-purpose” cookbook which includes both everyday meals and more extravagant ones. It also claims to be written with beginners in mind so the recipes should be very easy to follow. Above all the aim of the book is to “prove that vegan food doesn’t have to be repetitive, difficult or inaccessible”.

About the Icons

The book starts with an explanation of the icons used in the recipes. There is an icon for every purpose here! My favourites are:

Soy Free – So many vegans are starting to avoid soy as many people are intolerant to it and others just don’t want to become too reliant on it. Even now that vegan cooking is everywhere it is very difficult to avoid soy in the vegan world so it is nice to see that vegan chefs are taking it into consideration.

Gluten Free – Of course this is extremely important to me as a gluten intolerant vegan.

Under 45 Minutes – It’s nice to have a number of recipes which can be cooked after work and don’t need hours spending in the kitchen!

Supermarket Friendly – Yes I have discovered the joys of the wholefood shop. However when I first became vegan the amount of ingredients I couldn’t find in my local supermarket made following recipes very difficult. This is a brilliant icon so that beginners can join in too.

Stocking the Pantry, Kitchen Equipment and Cooking and Prepping Terminology

These three chapters are extremely helpful for a beginner vegan cook (and a more experienced one!). The pantry chapter includes tinned items, fridge items, herbs and spices and essential baking ingredients. It suggests a lot of vegan friendly brands too but unfortunately this isn’t much use for those of us in the UK. Apart from the named brands though this chapter is easily transferable to UK ingredients. The list is written in a very friendly and down to earth manner and also recommends budget foods which is extremely helpful! The kitchen equipment chapter is also brilliant for first time cooks. It actually made me want to make a few purchases myself! That cast iron skillet will be mine! The terminology section is another brilliant source for beginners. I had no idea what braising, broiling or deglazing was before I read this chapter!

Low Fat Cooking

Veganomicon makes no claims as a diet book and veganism is not always as healthy as omnivores may think. This chapter includes some excellent tips for lower fat cooking if you are that way inclined. It also includes a section on when you should not cook low fat!

How to Cook a Vegetable, Grain and Bean

These chapters may seem overly simplistic but have some good tips for beginners! The vegetable chapter had sections on grilling (it really made me want to grill!), roasting and steaming. It gave me a few ideas for things I’ve never tried such as roasting garlic and tomatoes. The grain chapter didn’t really teach me much I didn’t know but listed a large range of grains and how to cook them. It did make me want to try millet though. The bean chapter was about dried beans which I’ve never really tried because I prefer the lazier tinned beans. A good starting point for new vegans!

All in all the introduction is one of the most useful I’ve ever seen in a cookbook. It turns this book into a sort of vegan textbook!

Now… onto the recipes…

Snacks, Appetizers, Little Meals, Dips and Spreads


This chapter focuses on small meals which could be used for buffet tables, as part of a bigger meal or for lunches. One of the first recipes I tried from this book were the Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes which can be seen above. Other recipes I wanted to try were the Creole Stuffed Peppers, Walnut-Mushroom Pate and Sun-Dried Tomato dip. I’ll definitely be trying these in the future! You can see the review of the Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes here.

Brunch

Sadly I never got to try any of the recipes in this chapter! I wanted to try the Diner Home Fries but never got around to it. This chapter is not very Coeliac friendly I’m afraid as it’s full of waffles, pancakes and crepes but if I wasn’t gluten free I’d definitely be trying the Chocolate Chip Brownie Waffles!

Salads and Dressings

This chapter fights against the idea that vegans live off lettuce leaves and carrots and with recipes like Pear and Endive Salad with Maple Candied Pecans it does a good job! I tried two recipes from this section. The first was one of my favourite recipes in ages, Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard dressing. The second was the Mediterranean Olive Oil and Lemon Vinaigrette from the Super Simple Dressings Section which I used to make the rice salad that can be seen above. There were many other recipes I was desperate to try though including Prospect Park Potato Salad and the Miso Tahini Salad Dressing.

Sammiches

Sadly since I gave up bread there was not a lot of room in this section for me. However for all you gluten eating vegans I highly recommend it! I’d love to give the Beanball Sub and the BBQ Seitan and Crispy Coleslaw Sandwich a go!

Mix and Match

This chapter argues for one of my favourite types of eating. Here readers are persuaded to mix and match side dishes of vegetables, grains, beans, tofu, tempeh and seitan to create one meal.

From the vegetable section I tried the Cornmeal Masala Roasted Brussels Sprouts and the Roasted Portobellos (pictured above). There were so many other recipes I was dying to try though including Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots and Sesame Seeds, Herb-Scalloped Potatoes and Roasted Butternut Squash with Coriander Seeds. It is a brilliant section full of simple side dishes which help you to work through your vegetable rack!

From the grains section I made Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf and my favourite Broccoli Polenta. If I hadn’t been gluten free I would have been all over the Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots!

I didn’t get around to trying anything from the bean section but the photo above shows my New Year dinner which did include the Rustic White Beans and Mushrooms!

Lastly I tried the Marinated Italian Tofu from the Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan section. This section contained some exciting looking recipes such as Tangerine Baked Tofu and Baked BBQ Tofu.

Soups

Strangely I never got around to trying any soups from Veganomicon. There are some nice looking recipes here though including Black Bean-Vegetable and Porcini Wild Rice.

Casseroles

Another chapter I never got around to trying anything from although I did have the Caramelised Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts bookmarked!

One-Pot Meals and Stove-Top Specialties


This chapter had one of the recipes I will be remaking time and time again! The Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas was absolutely amazing. I also tried the Lentils and Rice with Caramelised Onions which was nice but I had a few issues with as it didn’t really go as planned. I had to adjust the cooking time as well as the flavourings to make it taste less bland. You can read more about this here.

Pasta, Noodles and Risotto

This was not a very useable chapter for me as I tend to avoid pasta a bit. However I will get around to trying the Green Pea and Lemon Risotto with Roasted Red Peppers!

Sauces and Fillings


The Cheezy Sauce from this chapter was amazing. There are so many sauces in this chapter that I still want to try! The Almesan is calling out to me as is the Salsa Verde and the Mushroom Gravy. Simple sauces with simple ingredients.

Breads, Muffins and Scones

Sadly there are no gluten free recipes in this section at all. However when I’m more confident at gluten free baking I’d like to have a go at adapting some of them. The recipes that interested me the most were Home-Style Potato Rolls, Carrot Pineapple Sunshine Muffins and Maple and Brown Sugar Pinwheels. Yum.

Cookies and Bars/Desserts

Sadly the same goes for these chapters! Those Pistachio-Rose Water Cookies and Caramel-Apple-Spice Cupcakes are desperate to be adapted though!

General Comments

I absolutely adore this book and it is a must for new vegans. The guide at the beginning is really informative and helpful and the recipes are fantastic. The only thing I found myself wishing for was more photos. There are some large glossy photos in the middle of the book but not only are these halfway through an unrelated recipe, they are not mentioned anywhere else in the book. It would be good if the recipe said something like “see photo on page…”. One of the things I love about this book are the comments that come before each recipe giving a bit of history and suggesting ways to serve the food. I love the way the whole book is written as well, as if they’re telling one of their friends how to cook. The recipes themselves were easy to follow and I rarely had any problems apart from the ones mentioned above.

I’d definitely recommend this cookbook to anyone and look forward to reviewing more books by the same authors!

Past Posts on Veganomicon

First Challenge Update – Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas

Second Challenge Update – Mediterranean Olive Oil, Lemon and Herb Vinaigrette; Chickpea Quinoa Pilaf; Broccoli Polenta; Lentils and Rice with Caramelised Onions

Third Challenge Update – Marinated Italian Tofu, Cheezy Sauce, Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing

Categories: Cookbook Challenge | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Monthly Cookbook Challenge – Final Update!

This is the final update in my March Cookbook Challenge. This month I have been cooking as many recipes as possible from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero and Weight Watchers Meat Free Meals. Later this week I will do full reviews from both books but for now here’s the food!

Veganomicon



Throughout all of my recipe testing I hadn’t yet tried a recipe based on tofu! Veganomicon has a whole section on tofu including tangerine tofu, curried tofu and baked BBQ tofu! I chose the Marinated Italian Tofu as I already had the ingredients in my cupboard. The authors claim that this is a simple recipe that goes with just about everything. The marinade is made up of balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke, lemon, garlic, basil, marjoram and thyme. These are all basic store cupboard ingredients which makes this recipe a good everyday choice. There are two options for cooking the tofu – grilling or baking. I chose baked because I love the chewy texture of baked tofu and I don’t have a grill pan! The recipe was easy to follow and the tofu was delicious. I served it with a spinach, olive and pepper salad, corn on the cob and a dollop of sundried tomato hummus.


How beautifully unhealthy does that look? It is gluten free pasta with peppers, leeks and spinach topped with Veganomicon’s Cheezy Sauce. The flavourings for this sauce are mainly garlic, mustard, lemon juice and nutritional yeast. It makes a lovely thick and flavoursome sauce that does taste very cheesy. It also makes a change for a cheese style sauce recipe to not use soya mik! Again the recipe was simple and easy to follow. It is suggested that this sauce be used for nachos, dipping vegetables in or pasta. I’m thinking it would make a good cauliflower cheese!


For my last day of the challenge I made a recipe which was one of the first I bookmarked to try. Apparantly the Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing is a staple in Isa’s house and I can see why. The Roasted Portobellos have their own recioe in the Mix and Match section of the book. They are marinated in a balsamic vinegar dressing before being baked for around 40 minutes. I used two mushroom caps and was going to save one for another salad the next day but they were so lovely I ended up eating them both! The salad is suggested to include mixed greens, avocado, red onion and chickpeas but I didn’t have any avocado or red onion. I used iceberg lettuce, tomato, spring onions and chickpeas. The spicy dressing was lovely though. It was made up of mustard, red wine vinegar and maple syrup. I’ll definitely be making these meaty mushrooms again!

Weight Watchers Meat Free Meals



With the amount of soup I eat it is surprising that I’ve not tried many recipes from these two books. Yesterday I made the Courgette and Potato Soup which I thought would be a nice light spring soup. It wasn’t light really; it had a deep flavour (probably because of the soy sauce) and was more of a wintery soup. It was really lovely though and a plus point for this recipe is that it only makes enough for two bowls rather than the huge amounts that most recipes make!

This is Mexican Stir Fry which is under the “Speedy Suppers” section of the book. This stir fry contains peppers, tomatoes and courgettes along with cumin seeds and cayenne pepper. The serving suggestion is in wraps in a sort of fahita style. I think it would go perfectly like that but for a gluten free alternative I just served it with some left over pasta from the day before. It was really warming and spicy and definitely a make again recipe. It was the perfect food to make quickly when I came home from work too.

So that’s it! That is the last update from my March Cookbook Challenge. Keep an eye out later this week for a review of both cookbooks and an announcement of my new challenge!

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Monthly Cookbook Challenge Update – Aubergine Curry, Roast Veg Paella and more..

I recently challenged myself to get through my shelf of cookbooks by choosing two books each month to cook as many recipes as possible from. This month I am working my way through Weight Watchers Meat Free Meals and Veganomicon. So far I’ve tried a few recipes from each book so it’s time for an update!

Veganomicon

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I’m loving this book so far! I keep saying it’s like the bible of veganism and if it was gluten free I would have the best possible recipes. This week I made Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas.

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This was an easy recipe to follow and I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen already so no shopping was required. I did make a few substitutions though. I left out the red pepper because I didn’t have any and I replaced the white wine with vegetable stock as I don’t drink alcohol. I added courgettes as I had two that needed using and know how well they go with aubergines (or eggplants if you’re american!). I was also out of normal paprika so used smoked paprika instead. The recipe was easy to follow even though it took a while as the vegetables needed to be roasted before the stew was made.

I love how each recipe in Veganomicon has a couple of paragraphs before it giving some background on the food. This was described as a “deeply satisfying Mediterranean dish”, a comment that I can’t disagree with! It tasted amazing and was a gorgeous winter warmer. The chickpeas and aubergine went really well together and the herbs and spices combined beautifully. I’m glad I used smoked paprika because I loved the smoky flavour in this stew. I’ll definitely be making this again!

Weight Watchers Meat-Free Meals

516E-qR4xRL._SL500_AA300_This book is quite different from veganomicon. The recipes are a lot simpler and based more on everyday meals which makes them very versatile and user friendly. This week I’ve made quite a few recipes from this book.

IMAG0919One of the salad recipes that attracted my attention when we were quite short on vegetables was the Carrot and Sunflower Seed Salad. I had all of the ingredients needed already in the kitchen and decided to make this for my lunch. The only substitution I made was using agave instead of honey to make it a vegan recipe. The instructions were minimal and basic as all that was needed was to mix everything together! I have to admit that grating 4 carrots was quite labor intensive but that could be solved with a food processor! The salad was lovely and had an asian type flavour to it due to the sesame oil and tamari. The seeds gave a nice crunch and some added protein. I served the salad in rice paper rolls with some hummus and it was a lovely spring lunch. I’ll definitely be making it again (with the possibility of some grated courgette maybe?).

IMAG0950I had two aubergines sitting in my fridge and had been out in the cold all day so the Aubergine Madras recipe was calling to me! I did make some substitutions in this recipe as I didn’t have all of the spices needed. I used coriander leaves instead of coriander seeds and replaced the fennel seeds with caraway seeds as they both have an aniseed flavour. I also had to use ground ginger rather than fresh ginger and added some red pepper with the tomato. The curry was lovely (if a bit too hot for my taste!) and the coconut milk was an excellent addition. I had thought that only having aubergine in the curry would be a bit boring but was proven wrong! The instructions were exactly right and super easy to follow.

IMAG0915This is the Paella with Roasted Vegetables (and yes I was very impressed that my dish looked exactly like the photo!). I’ve had a bag of paella rice in my cupboard for a while now without knowing what to do with it so I was very happy when I found this recipe. The only thing I substituted here was purple sprouting broccoli for the asparagus. I would never have though of putting balsamic vinegar and soy sauce on the vegetables before roasting but it made a nice contrast with the smoky rice. The rice itself was like a smoky version of a risotto. One forkful and I was in love. Smoked paprika is now my favourite spice!

Summary

So that’s this week’s update! Check back next Monday for some more recipes from these two books. So far I’m getting on very well with them.

Do you have either of these books? If not am I tempting you at all?

Categories: Cookbook Challenge, Cookbooks, Other Recipes | 1 Comment

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