For me, the arrival of a new vegan cookbook is like the beginning of a new relationship. And like any other kind of relationship, some are better, richer and more rewarding than others. Recently I started courting a new friend, someone who may be playing an important role in your dining experiences as well. Let me introduce all of you to my new kitchen buddy: ‘Veganomicon’ The arrival of this book has really shaken things up in my cuisine routine. From what I have heard, I am definitely not the only one who has had this experience, in the first week of January my friend saw numerous shoppers wandering a local health food store with this tome in hand, in search of recipe essentials. So, you may ask, what is all the hype about?
Well, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero previously gave us a revolution launched by cupcakes and recipes cooked up with a vengeance. This time, they tempt our taste buds with an incredibly diverse collection of 250 recipes that can provide the foundation for a satisfying veg lifestyle. In comparison to their previous books, this one is certainly more comprehensive, providing directions on delicious ways to cook different vegetables, grains and beans, and pantry-stocking solutions. The authors use helpful symbols to denote recipes that are quick to prepare, use gluten-free and soy-free ingredients, or contain those unique and more difficult to obtain ingredients, making it easy to find the perfect selections for your palate and circumstances. The book has been described as the “Joy of Cooking” for vegans; the cover reminds me of a textbook and I think the contents will be a regular reference point for culinary experimentations in my kitchen for years to come. Overall, I have been impressed with the variety of recipes ‘Veganomicon’ contains. There are hearty soups, salads that can elicit ooohs and aahs, a collection of casseroles that can provide that warm comfort necessary at the end of a long winter’s day, and sweets that range from simple to sinful. In contrast to their last book, I have found a greater focus on nutritious ingredients and healthful preparations. After all, you can only survive on cupcakes for so long.
Of the 250 recipes, I have only tackled a small list thus far. However, as I know many others who are currently nurturing their own budding romance with this book, I have certainly heard recipe reviews from friends, colleagues and family members. One of the stand-out staples seems to be the ‘chickpea cutlets’. This recipe is easy to prepare, freezes well and provides an alternative protein staple to serve at your next dinner party. My family ‘festivus’ buffet table incorporated a number of ‘Veganomicon’ offerings, including the spicy tempeh nori rolls, Vietnamese seitan baguettes with savory broth dip, chocolate chip brownie waffles, orange chocolate biscotti, fudgy-wudgy blueberry brownies and banana ice cream. I was definitely impressed with the results of each and every one of these recipes, and so were the members of my family, who range in age from 2 to 52. Everyone licked their lips and cleaned their plates.
If you are looking for a new cookbook that will push you to expand the diversity of dishes you bring to the table and introduce you to delicious and unique flavour combinations, I encourage you to begin your own relationship with ‘Veganomicon’.
P.S. If you just can’t get enough recipes from Isa and Terry, don’t worry, they have a number of future projects in the works, including a brunch cookbook and another one devoted to deserts.