Monthly Archives: September 2012

30 Minutes Vegan’s Taste of Europe | Mark Reinfeld

 

Can meatless versions of European classics measure up?

The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and Beyond

TITLE: The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
AUTHOR: Mark Reinfeld
PUBLISHER: Da Capo Lifelong
CUISINE: Vegan

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Featured Ingredient: Tempeh
Tempeh (/ˈtɛmpeɪ/; Javanese: témpé, IPA: [tempe]), is a traditional soy product originallySliced tempeh - By FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands (Tempe) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in the Sinosphere. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
If you’re looking for a nice well rounded assortment of vegan dishes this cookbook will satisfy that. Like the covers says, it contains “Plant based makeovers of classics”. There is a center insert of color images by Fawne Frailey and Sebastian Romero Sea Light Studios. The paper stock is a nice, soft off white that is easy on the eyes and great to page through. This is a nice everyday vegan cookbook. It has dishes you could make for dinner seven nights a week.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Italy
France
Spain and Portugal
United Kingdom and Ireland
Greece
Germany
Europe Fusion

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Roam around the world…

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Pommes Frites French Onion Soup
Quiche Monet Empanadas
Irish Stew Yorkshire Pudding
Currant Scones Beer Soup
Potato Pierogi Swiss Chocolate Fondue

 

I love Greek food, so the Tzatzaki (p.162) and the Spanikopita Triangles (p.173) were both big hits with me. You can use that Tzatzaki sauce on just about everything from salad to corn flakes as far as I’m concerned. The Spaetzle Noodles (p.195) is another winner. I have a spaetzle maker (two actually) and I’m always looking for a reason to break it out. Also, the Chickpeas and Roasted Garlic (p.110) is a mouthwatering side dish. It has 15 to 20 cloves of garlic in it, so it has to be amazing!

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Special Features
The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and BeyondMany of the recipes are annotated with special symbols to help you make cooking decisions. These symbols indicate cooking times and ease of preparation. It’s a nice touch. In the table of contents, the recipe names and page numbers are listed under the chapter names. I LOVE this type of formatting. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know that feature always rates high with me. Making cookbooks easy to use, there’s a novel idea! Also, as you would expect with any vegan/vegetarian cookbook, there is an extensive section on preparation basics contained in the appendix. As is a metric conversion chart. Hey, it’s taste of EUROPE here, so I guess it makes sense. There is also a great list of additional reading and some super helpful online resources. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of vegan cuisine there is a lot to keep you busy.

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Conclusions
Mark Reinfeld does a nice job on his “plant based makeover”. These are recipes that you could use again and again. They are relatively easy to make, so it would be a fairly good cookbook for the vegan beginner. The once sparse space of vegan cookbooks is starting to fill up fast. The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe fills the vegan international cuisine void nicely. If you’ve been hunting for that meatless version of your favorite French dish, you can stop looking. The Seitan Bourguignon (p.84) is now at your fingertips.

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Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and Beyond

How would you like to be a cookbook insider? Of course you would. Included with every cookbook that a publisher sends out for review are publicity notes. Click below to view the notes from The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe. Have fun being on the inside for a change.

The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe – Publicity Notes

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Resources, Links and Press
Vegan Fusion Website
Video: Eating Live: An Introduction to Live Food Cuisine
Mark Reinfeld on vegan.com
Follow Mark Reinfeld on Twitter

Soup of the Day | Kate McMillan

 

“Soup is the song of the hearth…  and the home.” – Chef Louis P. De Gouy

Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

TITLE: Soup of the Day
AUTHOR: Kate McMillan
PUBLISHER: Weldon Owen
CUISINE: Soup

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Featured Ingredient: Stock or Broth?
The difference between broth and stock is one of both cultural and colloquial terminologytomatillo soup by little blue hen but certain definitions prevail. Stock is the thin liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients: solids are removed, leaving a thin, highly-flavored liquid. This gives classic stock as made from beef, veal, chicken, fish and vegetable stock. Broth differs in that it is a basic soup where the solid pieces of flavoring meat or fish, along with some vegetables, remain. It is often made more substantial by adding starches such as rice, barley or pulses. Traditionally, broth contains some form of meat or fish: nowadays it is acceptable to refer to a strictly vegetable soup as a broth [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
I’m a soup fanatic. So, you almost have to stop me from shaking as I turn the pages. 365 soup recipes! Really? Yes, really. It’s printed on a nice premium white gloss stock. It has great page feel. Vibrant color images by Erin Kunkel add to the allure of the recipes. It’s all soup, so you need to keep it entertaining. The way in which the cookbook is divided into days and months does that. They have found a perfect way to keep a single subject cookbook interesting from start to finish.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

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Duck, duck, soup…

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Cioppino Stone Soup
Celery, Leek & Oyster Bisque Three-Bean Soup with Linguica
Artichoke Soup with Morel Butter Creamy Spinach-Leek Soup
Red Bean & Andouille Soup Cool Honeydew-Mint Soup
Brazilian Fish Stew Tom Yum with Shrimp
Pork Pho Garlicky Pork & Chili Soup
Minestrone with Pesto Soup Cream of Parsnip Soup
Wedding Soup Weeknight Hungarian Beef Stew

 

Paring this list down was unbelievably hard for me. There was a new favorite with the turn of every page. But, were there some soups that rose to the top? Of course,

I make a Tortellini and Spinach soup in the winter that both my wife and I both love. The Tortellini & Escarole (p.27), is a nice variation on that theme. The Crab & Avocado Soup (p.173) is a great warm weather soup. Light, fresh and delicious. I was never a huge fan of chilled soups. But, over the years I’ve “warmed” up to them. I love pumpkin soup. So, the Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (p.267), makes my mouth water. I especially loved the pumpkin roasting technique. For me, fall would not be the same without it. And finally, Ribollita (p.207), need I say more? I think not.

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Special Features
Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the YearThere aren’t any special features to speak of. At least in the traditional cookbook sense. The special features of this book come down to its formatting. I love the fact that each month starts with a calendar. Inside each of the days of the month is the soup title and the page number. It is almost like twelve separate tables of contents. That format makes it very easy to browse the recipes. There are 365 soups in this book. That’s a lot. The user friendly formatting aids navigation. The fact that each month contains soups that are appropriate for the weather and the ingredients available was thoughtful way to arrange the content. No matter what time of year it is, you can find a soup to fit the season.

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Conclusions
Again, I cannot overstate this, I LOVE SOUP. So, this book is a serious home run for me. Now, maybe you’re not as possessed by soup as I am. You will still love the variety and diversity of the recipes. All different styles and types are covered. For fun, you could just randomly open to a page and let the soup making begin. Oh, in case you were wondering, today’s special is, Minestrone with Pesto (p.214), yummm!

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Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

Resources, Links and Press
Kate McMillan’s Website
Kate Talks About Soup – Interview
Kate McMillan – TV Interview
Recipe – Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Yellow Rice, That’s Mighty Nice

 

A recipe journey ends in an unexpected place.

Basmati Rice

I have a friend who owns a great Indian restaurant in Sarasota Florida. It’s the kind of place that locals like to hang out. It’s a place where the food says a lot about the people who own it. Warm, comforting, welcoming. It’s an easy place to love.

They have a rice dish on their menu, Cranberry Cashew Pilaf. It’s described as “a rice concoction of sautéed onions, dried cranberries and cashew nuts.” What the description fails to mention is the addictive nature of the dish. At least for my wife. She’s wild about it.

Unfortunately for her, the recipe is a highly guarded secret. It seems a little silly. It’s not as if my non-cooking wife is going to attempt to turn our house into an Indian restaurant. Although, I’ll admit, I wouldn’t mind having that food around all the time.

These days you can find just about any recipe you want on the internet. From Thomas Keller’s famous Oysters and Pearls to a thousand world class meatloaf recipes that any grandmother would be proud of. It’s all there. Well, almost all of it.

A few weeks back we reviewed Bryant Terry’s new cookbook, The Inspired Vegan. Little did I know that contained in the pages would be the rice dish that I had been searching for. Bryant calls it, Yellow Basmati Rice. But, that title didn’t tell the whole story.

I made Bryant’s recipe as part of my cookbook review. One taste told me that I was one step (and two ingredients) away from a breakthrough. So, without further adieu…

Yellow Basmati Rice with Cranberries and Cashews

Ingredients
1 cup basmati rice (soaked overnight in water)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onions, diced finely
1/2 tsp. coarse ground sea salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup cashew pieces

Method
Drain soaked rice into a colander. NOTE: I have made this dish twice. The first time through I didn’t have time to soak the rice overnight. So, I just rinsed it well in a fine mesh strainer. This method produced a finished product closer to what I was looking for. Soaking the rice gave it a distinct barley-like texture and feel when cooked. If you like that, then soak away.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and the salt. Sauté until well caramelized. About 10 to 15 minutes. I actually had to turn the heat up to medium to get the onions to caramelize in that amount of time. When the onions are browned add the turmeric. Stir for about 30 seconds to fully incorporate. Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes stirring often. The mixture should start to smell nutty and all of the water should be absorbed.

Add 2 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook for 50 minutes.

When rice is cooked. Remove from heat, add cranberries and cashews. Cover and set aside for about 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Serves 4
Recipe adapted Yellow Rice, Bryant Terry, The Inspired Vegan. Da Capo Lifelong Books © 2012.

Here’s what you’ll end up with. Looks amazing, right?

20120830-yellowrice(17)600pxJPG

Here’s the thing. Having the recipe is great. Make no mistake about it. Does it replace the experience you get dining at the restaurant? Not even close. So, I’m pretty certain that I’ll continue to take advantage of the fantastic food and hospitality that only the REAL thing can offer.

FYI – The restaurant that makes that delicious Cranberry Cashew Pilaf is Chutney’s, Etc. If you click here, you can drool over their menu online. If you’re in the area, be sure and stop on by and say hello. You’ll be happy you did.


Looking for a copy of Bryant Terry’s The Inspired Vegan? You can grab your very own by clicking the book cover below.

The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus