Monday, 29 April 2013

Book Review - Vegan Secret Supper

There is no doubting the creativity of Merida Anderson, author, and host of Vegan Secret Suppers all over the continent - she puts flavours together in a way that makes me a little jealous that I didn't think of first (and I'm pretty creative with combinations!).

The book is nicely laid out, with beautiful artfully presented photos for many of the recipes (tempting!), with a nice use of colour in the text, and easy to follow instructions. The chapters are logically grouped by type of recipe, though this does lead to a bit of required page turning for sub-recipes and accompaniments. The introduction is not overly long, just a basic look at how the book came to be and some of the ingredients used, the recipe headers are short and sweet, letting the food speak for itself, though I would have liked a little more information in these at times.

The book is written for dinner parties, and as such has specific plating and accompaniment guidelines, which I didn't follow mostly as I was just making for us, and, because the dishes are meant to be eaten as part of a multi course dinner I found the serving sizes a little out of whack for everyday eating, so bear that in mind. What serves 8 to 10 as part of a larger dinner is really only about 4 servings if nothing else is being served, and I would have liked this to have been mentioned in the introduction or on the recipes. This is my only real nit-pick about the book, and it's not much really.

The recipes I made (still camera free, sorry) are as follows, and I am only going to note the parts of the reciep I made, so if the title includes an accomapniment I didn;t meake I'm not including that in the title here, in case you look through the book and get a little confused -
Page 47 - Spiced Peanut and Yam Soup
Coriander adds a different spice note to this soup, versions of which I'd have from many places. Easy to make and very tasty.

Page 55 - Fennel Portobello Soup
Nice and thick, and very mushroom-y. I think the fennel got lost a little with the mushrooms, but it had a nice kick at the end not usual in mushroom soups.

Page 80 - Pine Nut Caesar with Crispy Oyster Mushrooms
Lovely caesar dressing, nice and tangy. The mushrooms were a little bland and could have done with some spice addition, but were so crunchy and nice with the salad. H thought they were a little gimmicky, but agreed that they'd be a talking point for a dinner party.

Page 107 - Coconut Fettucine Alfredo with seared Brussels Sprouts and Cherry Tomatoes
H loved this one! Nice creamy sauce, garlic-y and rich, with lovely vegetables. I made more vegetables than required as it was for a stand alone main dish, so we all got a bunch instead of a few as a garnish.

Page 139 - Chocolate Hazelnut Pie with Balsamic Chocolate Sauce
Rich and creamy texture - I have to blend in my food processor for ages but it was worth it. Not overly chocolatey, more subtle than I was expecting. The sauce was an intense combination of sweet and sour, which by itself was OK, but with the pie was sublime.

Page 156 - Nut Crust
For the pie. Easy to make.

Page 167 - Cardamom Almond Ice-cream
I didn't get my mix completely smooth, not having a vita-mix or the like, so my ice cream was a little grainy. Flavours were good so worth making.

Page 184 - Ginger Beer Syrup
Oh, yum. Intensely sweet and gingery with a kick at the end.

Recommended? Yes! Especially if you like to make fancier fare every now and then, perfect for entertaining.

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