Cookbook Obsession: Review of Vegan Eats World

I started my review of Terry Hope Romero’s latest cookbook, Vegan Eats World, so long ago that the post originally began by wishing you a Merry Christmas.  Instead, I’ll wish you a happy Independence Day.  May your day be filled with friends, fireworks and vegan barbecue.  On to the review.

My copy of Vegan Eats World arrived at my apartment just a few days after its October 30th publication date, so I’ve had the opportunity to read through the book a bunch of times and cook a few recipes.  Vegan Eats World has nearly 400 pages and about 300 recipes, so I haven’t yet scratched the surface. However, my first impressions of the book are mainly positive.

To start, the book is beautifully done.  It’s hard cover with full color photos throughout.  Not every recipe has photos, but there are way more photos than your average vegan cookbook — no photo insert with a just few recipe pics here.  And the photos are beautiful to boot; they are crisp, bright and artfully arranged.  Flipping through the book, dozens of recipes caught my eye (including the entire chapter on dumpling!)

On to the negative.  Unfortunately, the book could have used another round of editing to correct an error that occurs a number of times throughout the book.  It appears that some of Terry’s original variations became main recipes and vice-versa and the copy was never updated to reflect that.  For example, the recipe for Roasted Beet Salad (page 103) says that Terry enjoys the recipe as is, but that you can add romaine lettuce.  However, romaine is already called for as an ingredient in the recipe.  Similarly, the Greek Eggplant Lasagna recipe (page 238) doesn’t call for any eggplant, but there is an eggplant variation listed after the main recipe.  Hopefully, this issues will be fixed in subsequent printings.  For now, it hasn’t taken away from my enjoyment of the book too much.

Finally, there are a couple of things to be aware of that may be either plusses or minuses depending on the reader.  First, the recipes in Vegan Eats World are heavily weighted towards Asian food, particularly Thai and Indian.  African, European and South American cuisine are represented, but certainly not given the depth of treatment afforded to Asian food.  Second, many of the recipes call for ingredients that you may need to visit a speciality store to find.  I live in a large city with a diverse population and there are still a bunch of recipes I won’t be able to make until I get around to ordering spices online.  I’m certain that this makes the recipes more authentic.  (I remember once asking an Indian friend what I could substitute for certain spices in a curry recipe and having her tell me, “nothing if you want it to taste right.”)  However, it’s limited the number of recipes I could dive right in and cook using my current pantry.

The recipes I’ve cooked so far include:

Roasted Beet Salad  – This was a winner — simple to put together and delicious.  As I mentioned, the ingredients errroneously call for romaine lettuce, which is intended as an optional add in.  Be aware that if you use the lettuce, you might want to double the dressing recipe.  I’m not one who drowns my salads in dressing and the only reason I had enough was because my husband decided to eat his salad dry.

Afghani Pumpkin Ravioli – This recipe has several components: a pumpking dumpling, a spiced tomato sauce and a yogurt sauce.  Although it took time to put everything together, the results were worth it.  The pumpkin dumplings were so flavorful and delicious that I would have gladly eaten them dry.  The sauces, both individually and together, were different from anything I’ve ever eaten and I really enjoyed them.

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Yellow Split Pea Soup with Chard – I’ve never met a pea soup that I didn’t like and I had high hopes for this one.  Given the number of spices used, I expected big flavor.  To my surprise, the soup was actually a bit bland.  Although none of the soup went to waste, this recipe won’t be going into my regular rotation.

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Braised Leeks – The flavor of this recipe was enjoyable, but next time I will cut the leeks into rings.  Leaving them whole as directed in the recipe made them hard to clean and resulted in an overly chewy texture.

Pumpkin Churros – You heard right — pumpkin churros!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get these babies to cook in the middle no matter how small I made them.  I’m really not sure what went wrong.  Perhaps my oil was too hot?  (I followed the temperature directions in the recipe, but I can’t think of any other explanation).

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