Saturday, 13 September 2014

Such a bad blogger!

That would be me. Apologies.

I am however making more of an effort with posting things to Instagram - meals I make and the creative food I am eating these days. If you are so inclined I am on Instagram as veganyear so feel free to check that out.

Hope to be back here a little more often in the near future!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Book Review - Salad Samurai

Terry Hope Romero - again! She's back and as beautiful as ever in this, her latest book.

I'm going to start with the few things I don't like about the book to get them out of the way. Mainly design stuff - not actual food related. Just my thoughts. I found this quite dark in parts - colour wise. The white (or coloured) writing on grey / black backgrounds isn't always the easiest to read (blame my old-lady eyes) especially when the font is small (ingredients lists mainly). Also, some of the photos are dark background and dark plates, and I don't really feel they do the food justice or show it off to its best.

Moving on.
Layout is one recipe per page, many with photos - layout of each recipe is good, with the cons noted above for the ingredients lists re font colour and size, but the body of the recipes is easy to read, the instructions are clear and easy to follow. Recipes are grouped into logical chapters: dressings, toppings, then by season - which makes perfect sense (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) for dishes you're going to use fresh produce for. The introduction is relevant, looking at menu planning for salads, reading the recipes, ingredients and equipment. The recipes are creative and inviting.

The recipes I made - in page number order as always -
Page 19 - Lemon Tahini Dressing
Simple, yet good. Throw this together in minutes - it says to blend but I just whisked and it was fine.

Page 28 - Green Curry Dressing
Light but flavourful. Green Curry inspired to my thoughts rather than actual green curry, but tasty.

Page 29 - Marvelous Miso Dressing
Another super simple and tasty dressing.

Page 49 - Lentils for Salads
Simple and neutral, yet tasty. As they are pretty neutral you can add them to anything.

Page 83 - Pesto Cauliflower and Potato Salad
Bright and fresh, super tasty and quite filling.

Page 88 - Green Curry Lentil Quinoa Salad
Good combination of recipes already noted above - as well as a sweet burst from fresh pineapple. I did find the Thai basil a little overwhelming so would add less next time.

Page 115 - Grilled Miso Apples and Brussels Sprouts Salad
As Brussels aren't in season I used Napa cabbage, and didn't grill the apples, but this was super tasty. Real hit all round in my house.

Page 121 - Monday Night Red Bean and Rice Salad
My least favourite of the recipes I tried. I found the spices a little harsh, needed a touch of sweet to balance them out (to my palate anyway). Very pretty.

Page 123 - Almond Falafel Crunch Bowl
The falafel were a little dry without the dressing, Good thing the dressing is great so you want to use lots. Salad with the falafel was simple and refreshing. Easy to  make.

Would you use this book? I know you're wondering about that, being as this is a book about salad. Short answer is: Yes. The recipes are for main course salads, so they are full meals in a bowl, balanced and well thought out. While this is the case there is no reason why you can't prepare the salad in a huge communal bowl and use as a side to something else, or as part of a salad buffet. I tended to do this when I was testing the recipes. If you're wanting a complimentary book then I'm pretty sure Vegan al Fresco would fit the bill!

and before I go - Happy Canada Day for tomorrow, and Happy Fourth of July for the Fourth!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Book Review (sort of) - Vegan Eats World

Yep, this is one I have reviewed before - which is why this is only a "sort of" review.

I now also have a copy of the soft cover version of Vegan Eats World, and I am just as impressed by it is paperback as I was all that time ago (December 2012 - can you believe it!) in hard back.

Flicking through both books side by side they appear to be identical (correct me Terry if I am wrong) and all the comments I made, and discrepancies I noted in my first review still stand. The book is still big and long, but not as heavy!

I made a couple of different recipes this time around (but only a few as I made so many before!) -
Page 98 - Mango and Peanut Millet Salad
I'm the only one in my house who really likes millet so I made a 1/2 recipe to use up the little I had in my cupboard. I also cut down the red onion as once I had mine chopped it looked like an awful lot to me. Tasty and satisfying, interesting mix of sweet and savoury.

Page 116 - Andean Bean Stew
Using the substitution for the Aji Paste. Even better on day number two this is a warming filling, not too spicy stew which needs nothing but a hearty appetite to enjoy.

Page 285 - Roasted Cauliflower with Mint
I love roasted cauliflower so it was no surprise I loved this one too. Maybe a touch too mint-y for my tastes, but lovely all the same.

Do follow the link above to my previous review to give you a better idea about how awesome this book is.

Oh, and this has been the first part in a Terry Hope Romero double header. I am currently cooking from her newest book - Salad Samurai - and will have that review next week.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Product Review - Clif Mojo Bars

Lucky me was sent a sample of each of the new line of snack bars from the Clif Bar company. Called "trail mix bars" these sweet and salty snacks are gluten-free, mainly organic, really tasty granola bars.

The three flavours are -
Coconut Almond Peanut
Not too sweet, or too salty, this bar has a powerful punch of coconut flavour, but less so of the peanuts which was a little disappointing. Moist and chewy, the texture is great.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond
Cherrys, almonds, and chocolate - three BFF ingredients all together in one chewy, more-ish bar. More sweet than salty this one.

Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt
As you would expect this one is quite salty. Not in a bad way, and the combination with the dark chocolate is very tasty. Again the bar is nicely chewy, though the almond flavour tends to get a bit lost with the salt.

While I enjoyed all three bars, and found them to be a satisfying snack, my favourite flavour - the one I would actually purchase, - was the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond. mmmmm.

If you'd like more information about the bars - nutritional details, ingredients and so forth - head to the Clif Mojo page.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Book Review - Vegan for Fun / Vegan for Fit

Two books in one review! Not something I usually do but I got both books at the same time, both books are by the same author, and many of my comments would be the same for each if I did individual reviews. Also I am well busy at the moment with Interviews and the like promoting Vegan al Fresco, so am taking the easier (read lazier) route for these two books.

Both books are substantial hardcover books, with large sections of introductory, and appendix chapters. I found some of the information repeated in these sections, and that they were just a little too long. The recipe chapters were, on the whole, logically laid out, the recipes mostly one to a page and well spaced / easy to read. The majority of recipes were accompanied by beautiful photos.  Overall everything I made from these books was delicious, but I do feel there was a lot of tofu / soy products used which may put some folks off, and that some of the ingredients called for (first clear flour / locust bean gum / white almond butter) may not be familiar to (or easily obtainable by) many North American readers. I didn't make a huge number of recipes but what I did make was -

From Vegan for Fit -
Page 142 - White Beans and Basil in Tomato Sauce
I added more water and cooked for longer than stated to have the beans cook in the tomato sauce for longer. Seeds are a nice textural contrast but I'm not sure why the smoked tofu is there. Tasty and easy.

Page 154 - Red Lentil Soup
Creamy and luscious with layers of flavour. Very good. I enjoyed the crunch of the garnish but H did not.

From Vegan for Fun -
Page 36 - Spaghetti with Tofu Bolognese
Tasty and simple. Quite rich but not heavy. Worth making.

Page 46 - Red Fried Potatoes
Very good! though the adding of the tomato paste to the fried potatoes negates all the crispiness you have just created by frying them! Would change slightly to maintain the crispy potatoes.

Page 94 - Chili with Avocado Cream
Made into layered nachos and enjoyed by all the family. This is not spicy so I would maybe add some heat for next time.

Page 118 - Asparagus Salad
Didn't peel the asparagus, which seems to be a European thing - as is white asparagus (I used green). Very simple but very tasty!

There are a few things I found as I was making the recipes which I didn't like. I am not sure whether these are a "lost in translation" thing, or if the recipes in the original German are missing these references too. The recipes I made did not (apart from I think once) give heat temperatures (low / medium / high) for stove top cooking, which in itself is not a biggie, but when coupled with the lack of description after times given is frustrating. The recipes would ask for something to be cooked for "approx. 3 minutes" but wouldn't give a follow up "until XXX" (such as; cook onions for 3 minutes until soft and translucent) so I had to guess at both temperature and expected outcome. Not really a bother for me but less experienced folks in the kitchen could feel lost. I also found an inconsistency with how things were measured, within the same recipe - for example asking for 1/3 cup of one liquid ingredient, but 5.5 ounces of another liquid ingredient - this I feel quite sure will be a translation thing. In Vegan for Fun there was one definite translation typo I noted - Page 96 references "Best Muesli Bars in Town" in the text (Muesli Bars being what English folks call Granola Bars) whereas the recipe on Page 98 is titled "Best Granola Bars in Town". Yes, this one is a nit-picky one.

Another thing I was not enamoured with (and this one is nothing to do with translation) is what I feel to be an excess of photos of the author. Absolutely have some to provide that "Author Presence" and to showcase the exercises in Vegan for Fit, but I would preferred to have had less of these photos. I don't feel they add to the books overall.

Of the two, I prefer Vegan for Fun; the recipes appeal to me more, the premise of the book appeals to me more, and of the recipes I made the ones from this book I enjoyed more. The food was certainly tasty!