This month we review a cookbook that could become the ultimate vegan classic.
Veganomicon: the Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
By Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
Marlowe & Company, 2007
Veganomicon is not just a great storehouse of original vegan recipes, but rather an extensive culinary classroom in a book. Keenly aware of their eager audience and the dearth of vegan cookbooks covering basic cooking instruction for the kitchen novice, the authors applied their personal kitchen expertise, drew from long-standing kitchen wisdom, and offered good common-sense approaches to plant-based cooking.
Written in conversational style with humor and carry-over from their post-punk Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook, this compendium is not only a delightful cookbook, but also an enjoyable read. The last recipe you read at night will spur you to wake up in the morning eager to prepare that "interesting dish."
Each recipe contains icons to inform readers whether it's soy-free, gluten-free, low or reduced fat, prepared in under 45 minutes, or contains ingredients easily found at the supermarket. The section on pantry staples includes a few unique items like chickpea flour and tapioca flour, plus a host of suggestions for storing these and other staples.
On wines and vinegars, the authors say, "A snotty person once said that you shouldn't cook with any wine you wouldn't drink. We say 'Pfft!' The wines you'll find in any supermarket marked simply 'cooking wine' are just fine." They note that a shot or two of wine transforms a sautéed item into something quite special.
Kitchen Equipment covers more than just the necessities. There's a pack of good solid advice in this section followed by invaluable old-fashioned cooking terminology so necessary to fully understand and follow a recipe. The book contains good suggestions on low-fat cooking and an extensive section on cooking vegetables including grilling indoors and outdoors, along with a host of sidebars that offer excellent cooking tips. No more wondering how long to cook a kidney bean or how much water to add when cooking wild rice--it's all included.
The recipe section opens with such tantalizing starters as Autumn Latkes stunningly photographed in the center section of full-color food photos on smooth, clay-coated paper. An appealing dollop of Horseradish-Dill Sour Cream finishes the dish with the perfect garnish.
Brunch at the authors' pad is easy to recreate with recipes like Potato-Mushroom Blintzes or Greek Tofu Benedict, an old classic turned vegan with tofu, Dill-Tahini Sauce, and roasted red peppers standing in for salmon, hollandaise, and poached eggs.
Sammiches, otherwise known as sandwiches, become a spectacular meal when given the Isa /Terry treatment. They fearlessly pile on the good stuff and pack their sammiches with plenty of roasted veggies, seared seitan, salad fixings, a sprinkle of great seasonings, and enclose them in exceptional breads. One mouth-watering example is the Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta Sandwich pictured in the photo section.
No need to wonder how restaurants create those crisp-crusted tofu steaks. They're easily accomplished in your own kitchen with the recipe for Chile Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu on page 125. If you drool at the thought of a succulent cutlet, you'll want to make the Chickpea Cutlets kneaded with thyme, Hungarian paprika, and rubbed sage and flavored with soy sauce, and garlic.
True soup aficionados will certainly have challenging choices to make when it comes to deciding on Smoky Red Peppers 'N' Beans Gumbo, Roasted Yellow Pepper and Corn Bisque, or French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme. Or why not do an Isa --combine Gazpacho and Borscht and bring a bowl of Gazborscht to the table.
Because the authors are keen on baking, they pack the book with tempters like Home-Style Potato Rolls, Scallion Flatbread, and Skillet Corn Bread. And in autumn when pumpkin and cranberries are in season, they bake a batch of Pumpkin-Cranberry Scones. But for dessert, they dish up nirvana on a plate. Imagine serving that someone special an Individual Heart-Shaped Apple Galette on Valentine's Day or perhaps Smlove Pie, a rich, yet light chocolate pie with peanut butter caramel, studded with maple candied pecans, and drizzled with chocolate.
Whether it's creating a quiche, a jambalaya, a favorite American dish, one from an international cuisine, or a dazzling dessert, this author-team steps up to the task and veganizes them all with a creative flair.
The attractive photos tucked into the center of the book illustrate what two creative minds can do with a desire to cook from scratch with wholesome cruelty-free ingredients. The book concludes with 15 menu suggestions, notes on Timing, Acknowledgements, an Appendix of Recipes by Icon, and an extensive Index.
With its 250 totally vegan recipes, plenty of kitchen how-to, and a host of good solid culinary advice, Veganomicon: the Ultimate Vegan Cookbook is an awesome volume for a newcomer to the vegan path as well as for those experienced in the kitchen. Every cookbook shelf needs a handy kitchen reference--Veganomicon could easily become the ultimate vegan classic.