Vegan: The Cookbook
By Jean-Christian Jury
Jean-Christian Jury, vegan chef, restaurateur, world traveler, and cookbook author, introduced his new cookbook Vegan: The Cookbook to a group of enthusiastic bloggers at Melissa's Produce in Vernon, California. The bloggers had the pleasure of meeting the chef, tasting several of the dishes from his colossal cookbook, and bringing home signed copies. The jumbo book that contains more than 450 recipes, weighs an impressive three-and-one-half pounds, and features plant-based recipes that reflect home cooking around the world.
Jury, originally from France, traveled widely working as a chef, keeping long hours under stressful conditions, getting little sleep, and eating unhealthy foods. Heart failure was his wake-up call. After researching foods to improve his health, he turned to a very different cuisine--the vegan lifestyle with an emphasis on raw, plant-based foods.
He regained his health and on World Vegan Day, November 1, 2007, opened La Mano Verde, a popular vegan restaurant in Berlin. The restaurant became successful and well known in Europe. Jury currently serves as Executive Chef and Guest Chefs' Coordinator of Blue Lotus, a modern, plant-based vegan academy in Hua Hin, Thailand.
In his 60s, he is remarkably vigorous and energetic. His tall and robust stature is reminiscent of jolly old Saint Nick without the red suit and bushy white beard.
The Essential Vegan Pantry, the first section of the book, lists by category the necessary ingredients the chef keeps on hand for convenience. Following is the Starters chapter with about 50 recipes that feature many easy dishes that can be quickly made in a food processor or blender. Each recipe lists the country of origin, preparation time, cooking time, and the number of servings.
From South Africa is a food processor recipe for Vegan Cream Cheese featuring soaked cashews, silken tofu, and nutritional yeast. Green Pea Patties, a fried patty, hails from Poland, while Sweet Cardamom Carrots from Saudi Arabia offers a well-seasoned pudding-like carrot dish.
Graphically, the oversize book is attractive with eye-appealing, original, full-color artwork dividing each section. The book's colorful fore edge makes it easy to locate each chapter. For example, the Starters are tinted in lavender, while the Soups are pink. Main dishes are pastel green, desserts pastel orange. Many of the recipes are displayed in full-color photos with simple, yet pleasing food styling.
One of the colorful photos displays the Wild Mushroom and Potato Soup from Latvia appearing on the page facing the recipe. The four servings contain a generous cup of smoked tofu and a whole pound of wild mushrooms to insure a hearty soup with plenty of delicious mushroom flavor.
The two largest chapters present Main Courses and Desserts. Adventurous diners looking for some unique main-dish recipes may be drawn to the Beet Borani from Azerbaijan. After cooking, the sliced beets and steamed green beet tops are enhanced with a well-seasoned, unsweetened vegan Greek yogurt heightened with garlic and dill.
Caribbean Jerk Chili is a colorful dish of kidney beans, red bell pepper, and mango. The exotic flavors come from the combination of Jamaican jerk seasoning, coconut milk, and lime juice. The dish is attractively pictured on page 169 in bright hues that highlight its cheery colors.
The Dessert section with over 80 recipes is packed with cakes, cheesecakes, puddings, custards, pies, and tarts that give dessert lovers a mountain of fun choices. Cheesecake fans might love the Lemon Cheesecake with Apricot Cream, while those looking for unique frozen desserts might gravitate to the Banana and Passionfruit Ice Cream.
The final chapter of Guest Chefs includes Jury's collected recipes by restaurant chefs from many continents. Dan Barber of Blue Hill Restaurant in New York shares his favorite V9 Juice and a carpaccio of raw Fall Fruits and Vegetables enhanced with a drizzle of grapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar. Tony Lu of Fu He Hui in Shanghai shares Spicy Ganba Mushroom with Orzo and Peas.
Other guest chefs include Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in New York, Kwang Uh of Baroo in Los Angeles, Michel Bras of Le Suquet in France, Alexis Gauthier of Gauthier Soho in London, Jonathan Karpathios of Vork & Mes in The Netherlands, and Xavier Pellicer of Celeri in Spain.
While there is no shortage of recipes and full-color pages of many of the dishes, the book contains no head notes and does not lie flat for easy use in the kitchen. A number of recipes contain unique ingredients not readily available in every grocery store. It might have been helpful to have a note on those recipes with suggestions where to purchase these uncommon ingredients. On the plus side, there are four Index sections: a General Index, Recipes by Country, Recipes by Type of Food, and Recipes by Course, making it easy to find a particular recipe.
The last page in the book is the copyright page that uniquely contains the author's biography and acknowledgements, items not usually found on a copyright page. Also part of the copyright page are Recipe Notes that establish details like:
Because the Recipe Notes offer important information about the recipes, it might have been more helpful to have the notes on a separate page near the beginning of the book.
Vegan: the Cookbook is not an ordinary book of recipes. It is an international compendium of recipes shared by home cooks around the world, a coffee table volume extolling the merits of vegan dining as well as a sourcebook of unique recipes time tested by people who cook for their families every day. Plaudits go to Jury for presenting recipes for gourmet foods that are not only delicious, but also bear the stamp of good health.