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on March 11, 2003
I am writing this because of the person who said the recipes were bland -- i couldn't believe it! So far I am not only impressed with this book, but genuinely thrilled to have found a really gourmet cookbook for balanced, healthy vegan meals. If I'm having people over they don't even notice there's no meat. It's so elegant, and the ingredients come from across the globe (you do have to carry a lot of groceries for some of them!). The issue I think someone would have is, one must have access to good health food and specialty stores and special produce. You have to have a food processor, blender, spice grinder etc. and the recipes have many elements so it takes a while to complete. But the results for me, so far, are wonderful. I wonder if the person who found it bland was using old spices and substituting ingredients? I am a trained chef, and I think the recipes are somewhat complicated, so can imagine that the average cook might find some of them time-consuming to reproduce adequately. If that is the case, my advice is, make sure you've got the necessary equipment, get fresh organic produce, grind your own spices (or use brand-new ones) and leave yourself an entire afternoon to do it right.
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on December 2, 2000
Anyone, vegetarian or carnivore, who is looking for a useful and delicious collection of recipes should own a copy of this book. I eat a broad range of foods and didn't think I'd be that interested in exclusively vegan dishes, but I've been pleasantly surprised. Every dish I've tried from this book has been incredibly rich-tasting and delicious. Last night I served the Caribbean Black Bean soup at a gathering and it was the hit of the party; it had amazing depth of flavor. Despite the complexity of tastes in these dishes, the recipes are all very easy to follow, and every step is explained clearly, so even if you're a novice cook, you shouldn't have any problem creating incredible meals. There are lots of cool cooking tips, and the book is actually quite fun to read. It's also beautifully laid-out and designed, and the cover is a knock-out! The Voluptous Vegan would make a great gift for anyone who wants to avoid animal products, who is allergic to dairy, who is trying to eat healthier, or who just wants to learn how to prepare scrumptious, delicious meals and desserts. I HIGHLY recommend it!
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on November 30, 2000
Like many Americans, my early culinary history included prodigious quantities of meat. If it walked, crawled, could fly or swim, and could be subdued long enough to be thrown onto a grill or tossed in a pot, we ate it. I never realized how unhealthy and boring my diet was until I experienced a meal at a vegetarian restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the amazing fat-free combinations of grains, vegetables, beans, sprouts, fruits, nuts and seeds that made me feel more healthy and alive than I ever had before.
After moving to New York, my taste for vegetarian food soon led me to Angelica's, where I indulged on the exotic yet simple cuisine of Myra Kornfeld and the other chefs who have made the corner of 2nd Avenue and 13th Street a mecca for all vegetarians.
After feeding us so well for so many years, Myra has finally shared her secrets in this wonderful book. More than a collection of recipes, the book tells us a philosophy of food and its preparation that is so enjoyable, you almost forget how healthy it is. Myra lays out the ground rules of vegan cooking in a simpler, less intimidating and more elegant way than I have ever seen before.
Myra divides her recipes into three logical sections that make using the book a pleasure. Soups and desserts are treated as separate chapters (which is smart). Everything else (entrees, side dishes, salads and accompaniments) is arranged in a series of meals that are perfectly combined (from a nutritional standpoint), complimentary (taste-wise), balanced in terms of difficulty (each menu contains one challenging and two easy-to-prepare dishes) and regional in flavor (with menus that evoke the tastes of Europe, Asia, North and South America, the Middle East and Africa). By arranging contents into meals rather than individual dishes, Myra ensures that we will always get the right result (no weird combinations). And the recipes themselves are amazing. Trust me, the African Groundnut Stew is worth the price of the book all by itself.
Add in Myra's glossary (which discusses ingredients and cooking techniques in detail), resource list, drawings and elegant writing style make this book the second most enjoyable thing about the vegan experience. The first, of course, is the food itself.
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on May 4, 2004
As a longtime vegan and cooking enthusiast, I was drawn to this book because it claimed to offer mouthwatering and "voluptuous" vegan recipes. It is indeed a very well organized cookbook and many of recipes are very creative. Unfortunately, the recipes did not meet my standards in terms of taste. Many of the main dishes are needlessly complex and take hours to make. I made the Moussaka tonight and, after hours of preparation, was disappointed with the result, which was only mediocre. This was also the case with the Mushroom, French Lentil, and Chesnut Ragu, the Shepherd's Pie, and the Mushroom Filo Triangles with Delicata-Porcini Sauce. I've found the simpler dishes, such as the African Groundnut Stew, the Succotash, and the Broccoli Rabe Polenta, to be more satisfying. I have avoided making most of the Latin-themed recipes (and there are quite a few) because they call for too many types of chilis. The Chili and Corn-biscuit Casserole, for example, requires three types of chilis; this seems unreasonable.
This is not a book for a half-hearted cook who is not prepared to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. This book may be useful for dinner parties, if one is planning to make the entire suggested menu, but individual dishes didn't seem strong enough on their own. For simpler, more time-efficient, and tasty dishes, I recommend The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.
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on October 30, 2000
I attended a book signing and dessert tasting hosted by Ms. Kornfeld at a local bookstore this past weekend. Her desserts are amazing! Rich, delicious, sinful; you'd never know they're made without dairy or eggs. I tried the Chocolate Coconut cake, the Chocolate Mousse cake, Apple Spice Streusel, and the Peanut Butter Mousse cake; all were eye-rolling good. The main courses also look delicious. The book is nicely laid out and the recipes explained in enough detail that you don't need to be a professional chef to understand them. Even if you're not a vegan, you'll love this food.
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on February 15, 2001
After receiving this book as a gift it looked so appealing I gave a copy to a friend I knew was interested in vegan cooking. She raved so much about all the recipes and how much she enjoyed actually "reading" the book that I decided I needed to take a closer look and was I ever impressed. I'm not a vegetarian however I can't eat any dairy products and it's always a challenge to find interesting recipes that don't use milk or cheese. I just got a new pasta machine so tonight I made the squash ravioli with white bean sauce, frizzled leeks and sauteed arugula. I couldn't believe how creamy and decadent the meal tasted. mmmm.... Even my meat eating boyfriend had two large helpings!! (Bummer no leftovers). The book also has lots of good cooking tips and takes the difficulty out of menu planning. I'd highly recommend it!!
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on January 19, 2002
The recipes called for many ingredients that were terribly difficult to find, and were expensive. Also, there were so many steps to the recipes that I would forget a step or two and then the recipe didn't turn out that good. I ended up using so many pots and pans and utensils that it took me forever to clean up! I found that you MUST have patience and a lot of time on your hands to cook most of these recipes. Being a new mom I do not have the time to cook like this as time is very limited now. But on the other hand, the recipes are wonderful and tasty! I love sweets, and the cakes and dessert recipes are to die for! My non-vegetarian friends and family loved tasting and re-tasting the great chocolate-coconut cake with fudge frosting I made from this book! While many vegetarian cookbooks are disappointing because the recipes are bland and practically tasteless, the recipes in this book are very delicious and none of my meat-eating friends knew they were eating a meal without eggs, dairy, or animal products.
This book would be great for someone who is experienced in cooking and who has time to spare. This would also be a wonderful book if you wanted to cook something special for a get together with family and friends or for a special occasion. I would recommend this book to have for special occasions, but it is NOT a book for every day use.
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on June 11, 2001
I was one of Myra's recipe testers for this cookbook. I have tested more than half of the recipes and find myself continually going back to it whenever I want something delicious. Among my favorites is the French Lentil Sauce which is wonderful on pasta and even by itself. I love her apple crisp. I made this recipe every week of the winter for a warm treat. I absolutely loved the Squash and Tomatilla Stew as well her Peanut Butter Mousse Cake. This list goes on and on. I have found her recipes to be easy to follow with an in-depth glossary for unusual ingredients. So far I have not had any trouble tracking anything down. The more I use this book, the easier the recipes are to understand and follow. Most of the recipes, however, do not have unusual ingredients but are unusually tasty and fun to make. I highly recommend this book for everyone whether you are a vegan or not. It's packed with flavorful ideas and nutritiously sound recipes. It makes a great gift!
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on December 15, 2001
I have quite a few vegetarian cookbooks, all of them wonderful in at least a few respects. But this cookbook is truly fantastic. Every recipe I have made from this book has turned out absolutely delicious. It is a great source for dinner party fare. Many of the recipes are, however, quite time consuming and the require a number of exotic ingredients, so it is definitely not a source book for everyday cooking nor a good choice for brand-new cooks. But for special events, there is no beating this book. I made the Chocolate Coconut Cake for my husband's birthday. Everyone loved it. It tasted every bit as wonderful as a butter and egg laden chocolate cake. I cannot recommend this book enough for truly decadent (yet wholesome) vegan cooking.
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on January 29, 2005
I purchased this book several months ago. During that time I've tried several of the recipes - the French Lentil soup is very good. The chili and corn biscuit casserole was unappetizing. The chili was so-so and the corn biscuits were too heavy to my taste. The recipe for Mushroom, French Lentil and Chestnut Ragu says to "see Glossary" for the chestnuts but there's nothing in the glossary regarding chestnuts. It wasn't until I read another recipe (Smoky Chestnut and Sweet Potato soup) that chestnuts were discussed. The Mediterranean Salad sounds good on paper but was lackluster. Far too much red onion (which my guests mostly picked out). Although a number of the recipes are relatively simple there are several with very long lists of ingredients that take too much time and too many utensils to prepare. As someone who works full time, a 20-ingredient recipe holds very little allure, no matter how good it sounds. I had trouble finding some of the ingredients. For example, the author specifies several different types of squash which I haven't been able to locate at any of my local grocery stores or farmer's markets. The book is organized in menus which are not listed in the table of contents. If you're looking for a specific recipe you'll have to spend some time with the index trying to locate it which is not convenient. The author definitely has some good ideas but this book probably will sit on my bookshelf more than on my countertop.
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