Top positive review
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Watershed book includes sophisticated use of new vegan products, vegan history, chef bios, and maximum multi-level flavor
on October 8, 2009
This is an extremely sincere high-end vegan cookbook. In the past, vegan cookbooks produced average to sub-average results and include recipes that involve either mixing vegetables (cooked or raw) in various combinations, using frozen pie dough and wonton skins in a couple obvious ways, and simplistic tofu/tempeh recipes that don't taste very good. There are a few breakthrough high-end vegan cookbooks lately from inspired chefs, such as "Great Chefs Cook Vegan," compiled by Linda Long, "Vegan Soul Kitchen" with Bryant Terry and now this one.
This book is more comprehensive than the other two because it goes gives vegan chef bios (many of them vanguard and brilliant)and important vegan restaurant history as well as rationale for eating vegan and ways to use new-to-newish vegan ingredients, such as Gardein (vegan "meat" products; chicken breasts, chicken strips, and beef strips), Earth Balance (vegan butter in solid form), Vegannnise (vegan mayo), Field Roast Italian Style seitan sausages, New Chapter All-Flora probiotic capsules (to culture homemade cashew or macadamia cheese and give it a sharp flavor), tempeh bacon, precooked udon noodles, vegan mozzarella, etc . Also, for people who haven't cooked vegan, recipes are included for ingredients for more involved recipes such as cashew butter, hazelnut milk, Asian slaw, the use of ground flaxseed in baked goods as a substitute for eggs, and new ones such as chipolte cream and tofu ricotto.
Most people would probably enthusiastically eat vegan if they had access to meals of this quality. So, the challenge is to learn how to cook at this level, how to use the unique ingredients, until it becomes easy.
One challenge of vegan are the tofu, tempeh and seitan preparation, because of their high protein content; a couple winner recipes here are Old Bay tofu cakes and cornmeal encrusted tempeh. Recipes with new meat-substitute products bring a welcome level of sophistication and ease to vegan cooking. Additionally, there are presented a number of great unusual grain recipes using quinoa, spelt flour, etc.
For those who haven't cooked vegan or vegetarian, this book will give you contemporary "how-to" that will make your first efforts worthy endeavors and bring your skills to produce multi-level and exotic flavors quickly. No oddball vegan results here. Working from this book is cooking with vegan master chefs, you really can't go wrong. It is the sort of book beginners should cook their way through. By the time they get to the last page, they will be a master vegan cook with a sophisticated repetoire... a very nice endeavor indeed.
I was a bit apprehensive that this cookbook was going to be mainly a promotion vehicle for Gardein because it has been pre-featured on their website, but it is not. It is an excellent vegan cookbook, probably the best quality and most comprehensive one on the market.