on October 21, 2007
First off, the food in this book is amazing. Vegan With a Vengeance was super great, but this is the friggin' BOMB!
Aside from the incredible food, the product description doesn't mention that the first part of the book is a great (and funny) read about HOW to cut and prepare different vegetables, how to cook different grains, etc...for someone like me, pretty invaluable stuff. Also cool if you're getting this for your "weird" vegan kid that is just learning to cook.
Also,, the icons are a big help (an icon tells you if you can make the meal under 45 min -or way less, another icon tells you if you can find everything at your regular Vons-type market, if there's soy, etc...)
The other review made a comment about the title, which I think is total genius. Then again, I get the HP Lovecraft/Evil Dead reference. What else could you call the "ultimate vegan cookbook" besides the "Veganomicon"??
Not only does this book have great recipes, but it will totally add ideas to your cooking arsenal. After making the "Black Bean Burgers", I am never buying packaged veggie burgers again!
p.s. do yourself a favor and make the "Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits".
on November 5, 2007
From the moment the book arrives, you'll love it! It's not just because of the beautiful photographs and intriguing recipes - it's because the authors and their style of writing capture you, fascinate you, and make you excited to try each and every recipe that they have created.
I'll admit that I am a fan of both Vegan With a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. But I wanted to review Veganomicon without those two prior books in mind. The fact is, I couldn't. I knew that the recipes would be outstanding; the usual nervousness that comes with serving a guest that new pasta recipe was not present. I have a confidence when making Isa and Terry's recipes, a confidence that sometimes does not exist when trying other recipes out for the first time.
I think that each of these reviews, each Veganomicon recipe photograph on Flickr, on blogs, on the Post Punk Kitchen forums, are a testament that many people, experienced chefs and novices alike, absolutely adore this cookbook. And there's no reason why you wouldn't, either.
My favorites so far have been the Eggplant Rollatini and the Lemon Bars. The Pumpkin Ziti with Sage Bread Crumbs is not far behind; I love the cashew ricotta that is used (there are two ricotta recipes in the book - both delicious!). There is something for everyone here, whether you hate vegetables but love mushrooms, choose seitan over tempeh, want breakfast at all times of day, or want to eat a light lunch of bok choy with shallots.
There are excellent recipes for autumn and fall-time meals. The Thanksgiving spread would be more colorful and delectable if you added in a few of the mix and match sides and appetizers, such as Mashed Spiced Sweet Potatoes, Chestnut-Lentil Pate, and Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Seed Rice Paper Rolls.
Thank you for rocking our worlds, Terry and Isa!
Mine is by no means a vegan household, but how could I resist a book with this title? By the time I had found the authors' explanation, I was in love with the book: "...a big vegan cookbook needed a big vegan name. (But just to be on the safe side, don't read this cookbook backward at the stroke of midnight.)" So I checked it out of the library a month ago Shhh! I KNOW I need to bring it back!
The clever introduction makes the case that "vegan food = normal food." The authors move on to a saucy explanation of prepping and cooking terms and some ingredient-specific advice, endlessly entertaining and informative. Take polenta: "Polenta has been called many things, each more insulting than the last: cornmeal mush, grits, porridge. But it got a new lease on life in the '90s when foodies started referring to it by its proper name and charging twenty dollars a plate for it." They follow with basic polenta-cooking instructions.
I had planned to browse and move on. I don't like to cook fiddly things -- no ravioli-making for me -- and I never seem to have enough of the right ingredients for vegan cooking. But what a surprise this book was! Even with no tempeh or miso on board, a quick pass through the front of the market gave me all I needed for some of these yummy recipes.
We loved the Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots (confession: I used regular couscous) and the Herb Scalloped Potatoes. I was planning to make Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta Sandwich but we ate the roasted eggplant before I got the olives. My favorite recipe so far: Jalapeno-Onion Skillet Corn Bread.
There are many other recipes I'd like to try: Fresh Rosemary Foccaccia, Roasted Portobellos, Chickpeas Romanesco, Penne Vodka; and every single thing pictured in full color in the middle of the book. Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook ends with menu suggestions: My Own Private India Menu, Greek to Me and You Menu, Smash Your TV Dinner Menu. Just the names make you want to throw a party, don't they?
Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are vegan veterans, and their knowledge and enthusiasm permeate this practical book. I recommend it as a workbook for healthier eating and just for the fun of it, too.
Linda Bulger, 2008
on December 28, 2007
Now let me say first of all, I am a huge fan of the PPK. Their shows and recipes are what made me finally realize I can eat delicious meals without having to rely on meat, and I've been the happier for it. I also love their other two cookbooks.
For some reason though, I can never get Isa's pancake recipes to work though. I tried making the blueberry corn pancakes while at my in laws, and it was basically a giant nightmare (similar thing happened with the recipe from VwaV). Whatever, it may be something with me, I don't know. And I must say, for the most part, the recipes in this cookbook have been really good.
What I'm more annoyed about, however, is a number of glaring editing errors. There are a lot of spelling errors and misprints in the book. I was really looking forward to making the fudgy wudgy blueberry brownies, but for some reason there's mention of applesauce in the recipe instructions while it's nowhere to be found on the ingredient list. I tried looking it up on the PPK site but it's nowhere to be found, so I'm not sure if it's something they forgot to add to the ingredient list, or something they forgot to subtract from the recipe instructions, not to mention I have no clue how much I'd put in it. There have been other incidences like this throughout the cookbook, and it's starting to make me wonder if I should have waited until it went through another edition or something.
Anyway, the recipes really are tasty, I just think they rushed to print it and the recipes themselves I think suffer.
on May 15, 2008
As an experienced cook, but a new vegan (I had never even been a vegetarian before), this cookbook is just what I needed, and I'm so grateful that I found it!
True to its name, this is a behemoth of a cookbook that covers a huge amount of ground. It gives respectful attention to all types of meals, from mains to soups, salads to casseroles, sandwiches to cookies. My favourite is the "Mix & Match" section, which has many recipes for what would usually be called 'sides' - small dishes of vegetables, grains, tofu/tempeh/seitan or legumes - that you can combine however you like to form a solid and diverse meal. There's also a very useful 'basics' section where all sorts of things are explained, from knife techniques to how to cook most major grains and legumes.
The recipes have a diverse range of regional influences, from Mexican to Northern Slavic, from Southeast Asian to French. The authors don't timidly follow the traditions of all the cuisines they borrow from, but neither do they clumsily make one big homogenised mess of them. Instead, they confidently, but respectfully, borrow from all sorts of cuisines to make a diverse range of dishes that, even if they are unorthodox, still make sense.
I've heard complaints from vegans that many vegan cookbooks are too health-food'y, to the point of being boring or unappealing. Not this one. Don't get me wrong, the overwhelming majority of recipes in this book are most definitely very healthy: fresh vegetables, legumes, and various other wholefoods feature prominently and abundantly. But as you peruse the recipes, you get the distinct feeling that this is a book that, more than anything else, celebrates food. When I first decided to go vegan, I was apprehensive about how limited my diet would become - this book, however, has put my mind forever at ease in that regard.
A good tendency of this cookbook is that the dishes all seem to be very 'do-able'. Although the recipes rarely call for processed ingredients or lazy shortcuts that would compromise quality and flavour, neither are they overly laborious. So far, I haven't found a recipe that looked too hard to bother with, and most of them I could happily make on a weeknight.
I really like the way the recipes are presented. Each of them gives an estimate of the preparation time, has directions that are clear and concise but not clinical, and provides a short 'prologue' from the authors (a feature that's sorely lacking from many cookbooks). These prologues often give you a good idea of the character of the dish, what it goes well with, and some potential pitfalls to look out for while making it. And the girls write with such a pleasant style and great sense of humour that they're worth reading just for that.
Of course, no cookbook is perfect, and neither is this one. Firstly, for a non-American, the ye olde measuring system they use - with ounces, 1/4 inches, Fahrenheits and all the rest of it - is distracting. Secondly, and more importantly, the recipes - in my experience - have been a bit hit and miss. But when I say "miss", I don't mean that they didn't work, or that they were dreadful, but simply that they weren't as terrific as I'd hoped. However, I've never met a cookbook that didn't have some misses, and the Veganomicon hit-miss ratio has so far been pretty good. Furthermore, when the dishes have been good, they've often been fabulous.
Since the cookbook has its imperfections, I was going to give it 4 stars. But then I thought about what it is that I ultimately look for in a cookbook. I concluded that I want a cookbook that will make reliably good dishes, several of which will become lasting favourites, forever enriching my repertoire. If the cookbook is really good, then it will also excite me about food; it'll be a book I can depend on to inspire me when I'm feeling low on ideas and motivation to cook. The Veganomicon has not only been a reliable source of good dishes, but it is flooding my repertoire with new favourites, so far rivalling any cookbook before it in this department. I have also found its pages to be full of inspiration. Before I bought it, I was excited about becoming a vegan for ethical reasons. Now I'm also excited about it for culinary reasons. 5 stars.
on May 7, 2013
I think Veganomicon is incredibly overrated. These recipes are involved, time-consuming, and often yield pretty bland results. I like the potato-kale enchiladas, although that's a two and half hour recipe that dirties scads of dishes, and their breads and muffins are really quite tasty. Several recipes are downright awful--I can't believe those made the cut. The majority are just meh, and not worth the time and effort. I can't understand why so many people are raving about this. There are much better vegan cookbooks out there than this.
This was my first vegan cookbook, and the only one I had for about three months when I was just starting the diet, so I made a good deal of the recipes. I'm just not satisfied. Much better bets are Big Vegan (when it's good, it's phenomenal, and about 2/3 of the recipes are quite good) and Quick-Fix Vegan (I haven't made a single thing that hasn't been delicious from Quick-Fix, and everything takes under 30 minutes to prepare, so that's even bigger incentive to make those recipes). I never use Veganomicon anymore and will be taking it to the used bookstore shortly.
on July 22, 2008
This is not just a cookbook, it is a fun-to-read, text-book-sized instruction manual on how to use your vegan kitchen and almost everything in it. Not only are these recipes tasty (the ones I've had time to try, listed below), they are thoroughly explained, step-by-step, in a delightfully humorous fashion. My boyfriend was teasing me for "reading" a cookbook, but I just couldn't put it down! I have read it cover to cover since last Friday when I received it, and I am thoroughly impressed.
As a relatively new vegan, I'd been suffering through trying to "veganize" standard recipes with fake meats and fake cheeses with marginal success. This book moves beyond using store-bought fake ground beef, etc and gives you home-made, unique, and delicious alternatives. So far I have made the Almesan (vegan parmesan topping - YUM!), marinara sauce (so delicious and easy that I will never buy sauce in a jar again!), tofu ricotta (wow, it even looks like ricotta!), spinach lasagna (my omni boyfriend LOVED it), and jelly donut cupcakes (big hit at work).
The book starts out with an introduction on the terminology and a description of some of the "unusual" ingredients with which a new-ish vegan may not be familiar. Then there are 3 sections on basic things you need to know to be successful in the kitchen before you try a recipe - "How to cook a bean," "How to cook a grain," and "How to cook a vegetable." If you don't learn something from these sections, then you probably don't need to buy a cookbook to begin with and should just open your own restaurant immediately!
While some of the recipes are decidedly "gourmet," this manual is filled with so many great tips that go along with the plethora of recipes, and tips for vegan kitchen use in general that you should be successful even if you've never boiled water before. However, the style of the writing makes the in-depth descriptions interesting even if you are an advanced cook who doesn't need all the details provided.
My recommendation: Buy it. Read it. Laugh. Cook. Eat. Smile!
Update (8/28/2008): I have since originally writing this review made the Cashew Ricotta (used it in manicotti), Tempeh Shepherdess Pie, and Mac Daddy MacnCheese - I really enjoyed all of them.
Vegan with a Vengeance, I think, made a lot of people aware that vegans did not have to sacrifice real and filling food in order to eat ethically. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World made people understand that we didn't have to choose between incredible, mouth-popping flavor and baked goods. With Veganomicon, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her partner in crime Terry Hope Romero have thrown down the gauntlet to not only other vegans but also other cookbook authors. I don't think I have ever seen any other volume that has so successfully and beautifully combined authentic flavors and innovative- but never fussy- techniques.
I haven't made everything in this cookbook- I think that undertaking would be something along the lines of Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen- but what I have made has blown me away. First and foremost, Pasta Della California. Oh my God- linguine in a lime, wine and garlic sauce with arugula (I use spinach), broccoli and avocado. First of all, it's so chockfull of vegetables reading the recipe makes you feel like you've gotten your daily requirements of fiber, vitamin A and C. Second of all, avocados in a cooked dish- and it works! I am so in love with this dish I can't begin to describe it. The best part of it is that it's so good that my picky three-year-old son even eats it.
While it goes without saying that their tofu ricotta and wheat-free chocolate chip cookies (a recipe flexible enough to withstand the addition of wheat) are incredible, I must mention her Cheezy "Nooch" Sauce. This is just one example of how their use of simple techniques from the realm of traditional cooking (bechamel, anyone?) and a few ultra simple substitions makes for an incredible culinary experience. All vegans who have pined for cheese sauce need to go out and buy this book right now just for this recipe. It is so good and so versatile. I've used it at least five times since I bought the cookbook a month and a half ago with pasta and spinach- and it's delicious. Not only do the picky toddlers like it, but so does the finnicky thirteen-year-old. Enough said.
But possibly my favorite "recipe" of all is the ice cream sandwich and it's nine variations. This included next to their delicious and fool-proof ice cream recipe. (How fool proof? I was able to make this by swapping out the ice cream make for the blender- that's how fool proof.) And of course you can, as she even recommends, go grab any old vegan ice cream and any old (usually overpriced) vegan cookie and make these yourself, but I haven't seen these offerings, combinations or ideas for vegans- or non-vegans- anywhere else.
I've got to admit, it is a let down that this cookbook isn't as beautifully glossy as Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but the photo spread in the middle is very well-styled and inspirational. I can't wait to get to the rest of these recipes.
on January 10, 2008
Let me start off by saying my husband and I are flexitarian or semi-vegetarians. After reading the China Study, my husband felt compelled to put us on a more vegetarian diet. Needless to say I met this decision with much reluctance...UNTIL he bought this cookbook. He actually bought the cookbook for himself, but in reality I think he bought it for me. Nonetheless - I am extremely pleased with this cookbook. I am surprised at some of the negative reviews in this book. Perhaps it's because 1. They made some of the few bad recipes in this book 2. They really aren't following the cookbook 3. They're just damned picky. I own several cookbooks (non-vegetarian ones as well) and this is the one I use most frequently. I am extremely fickle when it comes too cookbooks, but this one really is amazing. Almost every recipe I've tried thus far has been fantastic (with the exception of the corn-edamame sesame salad - i'm sorry but 2 TBSP of sesame oil is just too much!). I made the "moussaka" the other day and it was a hit! Another favorite of mine is the Pear and Endive Salad with Maple Candied Pecans. Let's be honest here, not every recipe in this cookbook is going to be fantastic or easy. But isn't that like every other cookbook? The difference between this cookbook and others is that it makes being a vegetarian/vegan - FUN! I don't actually mind being vegetarian now! Let's face it folks this cookbook is full of wonderful recipes. This cookbook is up there with my America's Test Kitchen series and that's saying alot! Bravo to the author's they did a wonderful job doing a seemingly impossible tast - to make great vegetarian recipes beyond just salads!
on June 26, 2008
This is a great cookbook! Every recipe I've tried has been great...well, except for the chick peas with BBQ sauce wrapped in kale leaves, which is was not so hot - but I had kale and there's only so much to be done with it - and they get an A + for originality on that front! The way the book is written if hip and clever. Just a warning that grandma might be a wee confused by it! I have made the coffee-chocolate bundt cake - which is so moist and several other desserts which were all well received. I only have a few tiny complaints - one being that the spice amounts are too low - I have doubled the spices in all the recipes I've made and I think the results have been perfect and would have been pretty bland if I'd stuck to the book - but that's nothing unique to just this cookbook. The only other issue is that sometimes the amount of food made is too much and it's hard to anticipate. For instance, I made a lentil stew recipe that made so much that I was eating it every day for a week. Granted it was good, but now I know for sure to cut it in half.