I’m somehow not on the official blog roll for this year’s Vegan MoFo. I suppose I should have confirmed my registration was successful sooner than 9 days into MoFo. Live and learn, it seems. Though I’m disappointed not to be an official participant, I’m going ahead with blogging this month anyway.
We’re in a transition period here in the Veggie Lawyer household following my decision to quit my job and move 3,000 miles to be closer to family. In keeping with our life situation, the theme I have chosen for the month is “Try Something New.” I’ll be trying new foods, doing new things and making recipes for the first time. Then, I’ll blog them here.
Cookbook Review: La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer*
Although I own 3 of Sarah Kramer’s cookbooks and consider many of her recipes “go-to” favorites, I have never done a review of one of her books here. La Dolce Vegan is my favorite of the 3, so I selected it for this review. In keeping with my MoFo theme, I tested 2 new-to-me recipes as part of the review process.
I first became interested in vegan cooking about 10 years ago after spending 5 years as a vegetarian. Because it is in my nature to over-research everything, I started searching the internet for cookbook recommendations and Sarah Kramer’s first book, How It All Vegan (co-authored with Tanya Barnard), kept coming up. When I came across a copy in Borders, I snapped it up. A few months later, I spotted both La Dolce Vegan and Vegan with a Vengeance on the shelf. Unable to decide between the two, I bought both. Between Sarah and Isa, I learned pretty much everything I needed to know to get started as a vegan home cook.
I enjoy cookbooks where the author’s voice shines through. Reading the introduction and cooking tips at the beginning of Sarah’s books gives me the sense that I know a little bit about Sarah and that she’s someone I’d enjoy chatting with. I like that she is both no-nonsense and non-judgmental.
La Dolce Vegan is sub-titled “Vegan Living Made Easy.” As the sub-title suggests, the focus is on easy recipes, though there are more time-consuming recipes designated by a clock icon. This book also includes a lot of recipes that make just two servings, which may be a plus or minus for you depending on the size of your family.
Though the recipes are easy to put together, I’ve had good results with everything I’ve tried. My favorite recipes include:
- Apple Pie Pancakes (page 38): These are full of apple pieces and raisins and cook up nice and fluffy. A perfect autumn breakfast.
- Economy Maple Pancake Syrup (page 40): This is imitation maple syrup. I use it in baked goods recipes that call for lots of syrup to save cash. I don’t care if it is healthier. I can’t bring myself to put $10 worth of syrup in anything.
- Sleepy Sunday Morning Scramble (page 44): I’ve blogged about this recipe before. It’s my go-to scramble. All other scrambles just make me wish I was eating this instead.
- Baby Spinach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette (page 79): Just what it sounds like.
- Mock Beef and Rice Noodle Toss (page 135): Teriyaki noodles with seitan beef. So easy. So tasty.
- Phebe’s Mushroom Stroganoff (page 136): I double the mushrooms, worchestershire and tamari and the result is my favorite stroganoff recipe.
- Veggie Pot Pie (page 153): I sub tofu for the lentils and the result is my favorite pot pie.
I’ve also love the seitan recipes in the book, though I’ve adapted the recipes and cook them in my steamer. (I had fine results boiling them, but I prefer the texture of steamed seitan).
For this review, I cooked two new-to-me recipes. The results were tasted by my husband, 23 month old son and omni parents.
First, I tried the Baked Chili with Cornbread Biscuit Topping (page 173). Chili with some sort of bread topping is pretty standard fare in vegan cookbooks, but I liked how this version used cocoa powder and molasses to create depth of flavor in the chili. The chili tasted even better as leftovers. I debated whether to post the photo I took because it didn’t come out particularly well. However, a down-side of Sarah’s cookbooks is the lack of photos, so I’ve elected to include it. Feel free to nominate me for a bad food porn award in the brown category.
Next, I tried the Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup (page 106), which is one of three lentil soup recipes in the book. (The book often includes several variations on a theme such as 3 soda bread recipes. Depending on my mood, I sometimes consider this a plus because it provides choice and sometimes consider it a minus because I would prefer for the author to just select and include the “best” version of a particular recipe.) In the Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup, traditional red lentil soup is kicked up through the use of curry paste and coconut milk. I wound up halving the amount of coconut milk called for in the recipe because the soup tasted creamy and coconutty enough for me at that point. My mom raved about this soup and everyone in my family went back for seconds.
*The cookbook image, above, was borrowed from Sarah Kramer’s website, govegan.net. I used the image because I prefer linking to Sarah’s website over Amazon. However, if the copyright holder would prefer that I remove the image, I am happy to do so.