53 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful pictures but beauty here doesn't run deep...,
This review is from: Great Chefs Cook Vegan (Hardcover)I was excited to get this cookbook and it is indeed breathtaking (photograph-wise, that is...). Otherwise, it contains a lot of difficult to create vegan recipes that mostly seem like side dishes. These great chefs grapple with what vegans eat. There are no recipes that include tempeh at all (a staple for me), a couple that use tofu, and none that use seitan or mochi, but about five recipes for gazpacho..
Beans? These chefs have never heard of them (except for fava beans). Lentils are never mentioned or used.
Need a recipe for cauliflour? Well, you will find many creative recipes here, but any vegan cookbook that has more cauliflour recipes than tempeh recipes (which again are non-existant) has some problems. And the problem is this--these chefs are clueless. They really believe that a vegan eats just vegetable dishes. Going through this cookbook feels liek going to a gourmet restaurant that says it will accomodate vegans and then all you get is a plate of vegetables. Granted that if this cookbook were the menu of a gourmet restaurant that you would get some very creatively cooked vegetables, but that is all that you would get....
This cookbook (again, it is beautiful!) is a big disappointment and in many ways an insult to vegans. Yes, cauliflour is a great vegetable, but why so many recipes for it? Why have four (or was it five) recipes for gazpacho???
I really tried to find a recipe to make, but all seemed like vegetable side dishes....I am disappointed that these chefs couldn't create anything better or more hearty...and disappointed that the editor didn't give them more guidance.
I have given this book one star because despite the aesthetic quality of the book, the content is a real zero.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 7, 2008 3:08:22 PM PST
It's not about creating a cookbook of what will be useful to YOU, it's about elevating vegan food to five-star cuisine. There are loads of boutique cookbooks out there like this one. I think you picked the wrong cookbook. I can't wait to get my copy!
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2008 6:22:15 PM PST
Vegan Symphony says:
Huh? I am supposed to buy a cookbook that is not useful to me? I own the cookbook and can say that it doesn't elevate vegan food to five star cuisine. There are many better vegan cookbooks out there that do, but this cookbook is really a vegetable cookbook. Do I really need so many gazpacho recipes???? I mean I eat (and sometimes prepare) gazpacho but it is not a staple. Why is there not a single tempeh recipe????
These chefs are clueless and did not do their homework.
Posted on Dec 23, 2008 7:38:50 PM PST
Your opinion confirms that there exists a great diversity among the vegan/vegetarian crowd! You put a lot of thought and consideration into your one-star rating, which is appreciated. I am sorry you did not enjoy this cookbook, but this is definitely one of my favorites.
I am not a big fan of tofu, tempeh or lentils, so I was thrilled to find a cookbook that features vegetables as a star ingredient. From a health standpoint, the food pyramids for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians indicate that good diets should be based primarily on whole grains, vegetables and fruits rather than on proteins. A major obstacle in getting people to embrace vegan cuisine is dispelling the notion that a protein should be the focus of every meal. The creative recipes and gorgeous photos in this book may help people appreciate and accept vegetable dishes as entrees, rather than just sides.
I found four gazpacho recipes in this book, and to me they are different enough so as not to disappoint. None of them were the red tomato soups most commonly associated with gazpacho. Yes, two are yellow tomato based, but one is a white gazpacho and another is a watermelon gazpacho.
Having some of the world's most renowned chefs create gourmet vegan recipes elevates and validates vegan cuisine in way that hasn't been done before. The names in this book (Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, Suzanne Goin, Marcus Saumelsson and many more) will appeal to non-vegetarian foodies that would not otherwise be inclined to even pick up a vegan cookbook. It also includes some marvelous quotes:
"It is so important that all chefs take the dietary needs of their customers seriously. Vegan dishes have been in demand a long time, and no longer will a plate of vegetables do. All diners should expect to have a dish as exciting as all the other items on the menu." -Chef Erik Blauberg, Club 21
"Following a vegan diet doesn't have to be boring if you cook with talent and heart - you'll have great and exciting dishes in front of you to enjoy." - Chef Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin
"To cook without dairy, eggs, meat, or fish - and still get great results - requires not only skill but thoughtfulness. It's inspiring to know the days when restaurants served an uninspired plate of steamed broccoli and cherry tomatoes to vegan customers are coming to an end." - Chef Michel Nischan, The Dressing Room, A Homegrown Restaurant
I agree that this is not a cookbook for everyday use; I don't think that was the intent. But it contains much inspiration for special occasions. Expanding one's knowledge of vegan cuisine is an on-going process for vegans and non-vegans, and for home cooks as well as accomplished chefs. Participating in this book and seeing what their fellow chefs came up with might inspire these (and perhaps other!) non-vegetarian chefs to further explore meat-free dishes. A second volume would be even more amazing (*cross fingers*)!
There are many fantastic vegan cookbooks geared toward everyday cooking (thank goodness!), but this one is different. What makes it so special is having world-class non-vegetarian chefs embrace and celebrate gourmet vegan cuisine.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2009 11:08:45 AM PST
Milford Poltroon says:
I have to agree. The reviewer talks about there being too many cauliflower recipes, saying that there are plenty of cauliflower recipes in other vegan cookbooks, for example, yet bemoans the lack of a single tempeh recipe. Well, given that most vegan cookbooks are stuffed to overflowing with tempeh recipes, the complaint seems silly. Moreover, is it just possible that the chefs said, "I'm going to take vegetables and grains and invent a new dish, or a fresh take on an old dish," rather than rely on tired veganese staples like tempeh and tofu? Maybe they thought, "Half the vegan dishes out there rely on processed soybean products. I'll do something different." I, for one, am grateful to have a thoughtful, beautiful vegan cookbook that doesn't have tempeh and tofu on every other page.
Posted on Jan 20, 2009 10:53:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2009 11:59:21 AM PST
pippi longstocking says:
Thank you for the review because I am looking for a good vegan cookbook to inspire me towards total veganism. Though it is not necessary that vegan dishes incorporate protein, I agree with the reviewer that it is dietarily important for a cookbook that has "Vegan" in its title to include at least some recipes that include protein byproducts like seiten, tempeh, or tofu. To address S. Asato's comment about the food pyramid, the food pyramid stresses eating less protein but probably because it is based on an animal-based diet. Non-vegans/non-vegetarians may not fully understand the dietary need for protein (complete set of amino acids) for the human body to function properly since all proteins are available in meat-based diets. Perhaps this cookbook would be more appropriately labeled with "Vegan Vegetables" rather than just "Vegan" in its title since the content of the book appears to have primarily, if not only, vegetable dishes.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2009 6:15:22 PM PST
Cheers to you, Jedi-IWannaBe, for taking the intelligent approach and researching the nutritional aspects of veganism instead of just blinding diving in. I think a lot people fail at veganism because they don't really make the effort to understand the basics of nutrition.
I found 11 recipes in Great Chefs Cook Vegan that include tofu. Tofu is a supporting ingredient rather than the spotlight in some of these recipes (the word "tofu" is not part of the recipe title), so check the index to find them.
Regarding a vegan diet, I found it too hard to remember all the complementary proteins, but there are a few complete protein combinations that are really easy for me to remember:
1. Beans + rice, and also beans + corn (I love Indian and Mexican food)
2. Whole wheat bread + peanut butter (I love peanut butter)
3. Hummus made with garbanzo beans and sesame seed paste and pita bread (I love Mediterranean food)
4. Trail mixes that contain both peanuts and some type of seed (easy snack to take anywhere)
Although some vegan foods are already complete proteins (such as soy and quinoa, which are staples in my kitchen), eating something from four vegan protein groups every day can also help you get all the essential amino acids:
1. Whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc.)
2. Legumes (kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, peanuts, etc.)
3. Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, etc.)
4. Dark leafy greens (kale, swiss chard, collard greens, etc.)
Protein is definitely an important part of all diets, but other nutrients like vitamin B12, potassium, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, magnesium and many others are just as essential. I did two dietary analyses after going veg, and both times I was surprised to find I was borderline high on my protein consumption and had to consciously cut back.
Some websites with great information on both vegan and vegetarian diets are the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine www.pcrm.org and the Vegetarian Resource Group www.vrg.org. A great book on nutrition is The New Becoming Vegan by Melina and Davis. You can also google "vegan food pyramid" to find more info. Good luck to you!
Posted on Mar 15, 2009 7:50:38 AM PDT
I, too appreciate the time you to write the review. That said I feel like you were saying it was an insult to vegans. I wish you wouldn't include me without my permission. I am vegan and this is exactly what I've been looking for. I have a wheat allergy and I can't eat any soy. Makes life rather challenging, don't you think (no tempeh, no soy, no seitan). Even if I didn't have celiac's I still wouldn't care. I DO eat lots of vegetables. So the book isn't heavy on beans. The other twenty cookbooks I have are. It drives me nuts how so many vegan cookbooks are oozing with nothing BUT tofu, tempeh, and seitan recipes. So, again, I appreciate your taking the time to review the book, but I am a vegan who likes to speak for herself.
Posted on Mar 15, 2009 6:04:01 PM PDT
It seems like you are looking for yet another faux-asian cookbook. Asians don't stir-fry tofu with vegetables and serve with brown rice, so why should we assume all vegans do so too?
I actually found this cookbook refreshing because the chefs give vegans more credit than most of us give ourselves. We shouldn't pigeon-hole ourselves into *unnaturally* sneaking protein in all our dishes.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2009 12:59:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2009 1:02:58 PM PDT
S. Clark says:
(speaking to Zippy) Your assumption regarding protein and the food pyramid is wrong. Yes people need protein, luckily protein is already in vegetables, grains, and essentially everything we eat. Unfortunately the importance of protein tends to lead people to the assumption that huge quantities are necessary.
Also given that seiten, tempeh, and tofu are rather processed and lack variety, I don't encourage them in my household. Some find soy produces migraines for them (there is a reason for this but I don't remember it). Soy is unhealthy for very young boys (can interfere with hormones later on in life). Also the healthiest diet for a human being based upon how we have evolved, stresses variety. That variety means not eating soy in nearly every meal, everyday. If your goal is ethics and not health then by all means go on with your current set of criteria for the food you eat.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2009 1:24:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 25, 2009 1:26:18 PM PDT
Chicago Book Addict says:
Given this thread I was thinking there would be no recipes with tofu in this book, but there were actually quite a few. The pastrami tofu recipe in particular is on my to try list and I cannot overstate how fantastic the Sweet Pea ravioli were. Even with my use of frozen peas they were absolutely to die for. I don't think a cookbook centered around vegetables is necessarily a bad thing. In the introduction the editor talks about how the chefs were excited to get away from meat and showcase vegetables and that definitely comes out in the recipes. If anything it was a testament to the fact that you don't have to have meat (or faux meat) at the center of the plate in order to have amazing, satisfying meals.
I should also say that if you're looking for more general purpose Vegan cookbooks I love the following: Veganomicon, Extraveganza, Eat, Drink and be Vegan; and Refresh. They are all delicious and full of approachable and flavorful vegan food. Veganomicon in particular is a good starting point and a thourough vegan cookbook.