Tag Archives: vegetarian

Review of ‘Vegetarian Dinner Parties’ by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein

ImageThanks to NetGalley and Rodale Inc for the ARC of this book.

This is an amazingly through cookbook, packed with advice on hosting a successful vegetarian dinner party.

Each recipe has extensive notes including explanations of strange ingredients; what parts of the recipes can be made in advance; ideas for garnishes; what other dishes and drinks would go with it; and tips for preparing dishes more quickly. However, they do not include information on overall prep and cooking times or the nutritional/calorie content of dishes. I guess the latter is less important when planning food for dinner parties rather than everyday food.

Despite the wordiness of the advice and notes  around each recipe, the actual instructions for the cooking steps seem simple and concise.

The book is broken down into seven sections:

  1. Twelve ways to say “welcome” – basically cocktails so serve on your guests’ arrival
  2. No plates needed – basically hors d’oeuvres
  3. Small plates – starters
  4. Salads and soups
  5. Pastas
  6. Large plates – other main courses
  7. Final plates – desserts

There’s a wide range of recipes, including  lots of vegan options. In fact half of the recipes are vegan and these are clearly marked.  Many of the dishes seem quite autumnal/wintery with lots of hearty sounding stews and casseroles.

The book ends with a nice suggestion for a parting gift for your guests, a recipe for homemade granola which you could give them in jars. I’m slightly obsessed with making my own granola at the moment, so I loved this idea!

There are not enough photos of the finished dishes. I’d estimate probably on 1/3-1/4 of the recipes have an accompanying photo. I much prefer cookery books where every recipe has a photo. Particularly when you are planning food to cook for friends, it helps to know what the dish should look like and have some ideas for plating it up.

I found the overall style of this book a bit patronising and verbose. As well as including recipes, there’s a lot of advice on planning your dinner party. I’d say there’s a bit too much information, such as the inclusion of a suggested playlist (unnecessary) and a rant against the use of paper napkins (who cares?).  The introduction is incredibly wordy and spends a lot of time trying to convince you of the benefits of eating veggies. This doesn’t seem necessary as I would have thought the vast majority of people picking up this book and reading the introduction are probably sold on this idea already.

I’ve not had the chance to host a dinner party yet to try out the recipes from this book but I’ll definitely consider some next time we have guests.

Review of ‘Meatless All Day’ by Dina Cheney

meatless all dayThanks to NetGalley and The Taunton Press for the ARC of this book.

This is a beautiful vegetarian cookbook, with tempting veggie recipes and beautiful full page photos for most recipes. The book has a warm autumnal colour palette which emphasises the cozy, filling nature of the food.

The emphasis of the book is making vegetarian food ‘meaty’ and substantial. The introduction includes lots of good tips and advice for cooking common veggie ingredients to get the best from them. I particularly like the tips for adding ‘meatiness’ such as using caramelised onions, miso or toasted coconut in recipes.

There are a wide range of recipe ideas from cuisines from around the world; however the book has a definite ‘American’ feel to it with lots of burgers and pancake recipes. There are some very interesting ideas for meals I haven’t tried before e.g. pumpkin pear pancakes and beet wellington. There are also variations on well-known veggie staples e.g. edamame hummus. Unlike many veggie recipe books there is not too heavy a reliance on pasta and carb-heavy food. There is no dessert section, which is unusual but not necessarily a bad thing.

Most of the recipes have LOTS of ingredients so I think you would have to do a special shop to make most things rather than relying on your store cupboard or fridge. Many of the dishes serve lots of people too, for example there is a breakfast pancake recipe which makes 27 pancakes, I can’t imagine ever needing that many!

I like the tips which come with each recipe on what other dishes to serve to make a good meal. Recipes do not have nutritional info such as calories or details of whether dishes can be frozen, which would be helpful.

This recipe book contains lots of tempting recipes which I shall enjoy trying.

Review of ‘The Vegan Cookbook’ by Adele McConnell

The Vegan CookbookThanks to NetGalley and Watkins Publishing Ltd for the ARC of this book.

I’ve been vegetarian for 22 years, but recently I’ve been trying to eat a more vegan/raw food diet in order to lose weight, so I was excited to have the opportunity to review this book.

As this was an electronic advanced review copy, it was slightly difficult to view the book. Ingredients lists were split over pages and recipes seemed to run into each other. Also, there was no consistency in the placement of the photos of recipes, sometimes they were before the recipe and sometimes they were after, so when you reached a photo that looked interesting you did not know when to scroll backwards or forwards in the book to find the recipe. I assume that the hard copy will be a lot better formatted and much more user-friendly. Generally, I think recipe books work much better as hard copies.

This seems like a good vegan recipe book. It has recipes from a wide range of cuisines from around the world. The author has a very friendly voice and I like the personal notes she gave with most recipes. The pictures are bright and colourful and appetizing. There’s a good section on vegan ingredients at the beginning of the book, although this could have included a bit more information on where to buy the ingredients.

There were a few interesting recipe ideas for things I hadn’t thought of before, such as quinoa porridge. The information provided with recipes includes cooking and prep time and highlights where recipes a free of soy, sugar, nuts, seeds, gluten or where they are raw. However, there is no nutritional info such as calories, which I find useful, also there is no indication if recipes can be frozen. The recipe order is a bit odd; snacks and treats come before main courses, so there is a random sweet section in the middle of the book before we return to savoury main dishes.

The one concern I have with this recipe book is the information about soy in the introductory section. I think this is a controversial subject. The author says she avoids eating soy because it contains phytoestrogens which mimic oestrogen in the body. However, I have read elsewhere that this assertion is inaccurate and the words sound alike but soy does not affect hormone levels in the body. I think where food and nutrition are concerned it is important to offer a balanced opinion based on scientific facts.

So far I’ve tried cook two recipes from this book – Warm Tempeh Salad and Spicy Lentil and Quinoa Risotto. Both recipes were easy to follow, but neither turned out particularly well, both were quite spicy but didn’t have interesting layers of flavour, instead they were pretty one-note. I don’t think I’d bother making either again, but I will try some more recipes from this book, particularly I thought the breakfast recipes looked quite interesting.