In the kitchen with two old friends

June 24th, 2009 · Lisa · book review, Review · Comments

A fresh look at a pair of cookbooks that have stood the test of time.

How important is timing to the experience a cookbook provides? I recently found myself rediscovering some books that have been on my shelf for years. Each is full of fantastic food memories-dishes I have shared with friends and colleagues, and that have provided much needed culinary comfort. Here are two such books that have stood the test of time on my shelves.

Extraveganza
Since Extraveganza was released in 2006, I have spent many evenings flipping through its pages and imagining the joy of spending time at Phoenix Organic Farm, sharing a glass of lavender lemonade while devouring the red pepper hemp cornbread. Laura Matthias provides recipes she has created for the guests who have patronized her Vancouver Island B&B; over the years – resulting in an impressive collection of breakfast recipes, cookies, cakes, pies and scones. Matthias shares her expertise as a field biologist with her suggestions for using edible flowers to brighten your plate and as natural dyes.
Since I brought Extraveganza home, a few recipes have become staples. My mom has adopted the no-knead recipe for Mom’s Basic Dinner Rolls as one of her favourites. These whole wheat rolls are incredibly simple and produce a light and soft texture that is the perfect addition to any meal.

The Maple Orange Granola and Spelt Cinnamon Buns are two other recipes that have helped to make brunches and breakfasts at my place extra special. I don’t know any guest who doesn’t feel celebrated by the smell of cinnamon wafting under the door to greet them in the morning.
Matthias offers complex recipes for entertaining but also shares some quick and simple ones that keep her family satisfied and energized. Two recipes I turn to when life requires quick nutritional gratification use the Quinoa Three-Bean Salad with Toasted Almonds, and the Quick Noodles with Miso Lemon Tahini Sauce. Both take only minutes to pull together and provide the perfect foundation upon which seasonal vegetables can be added to create countless delicious variations.

I was recently introduced to Matthias’ Lavender Chocolate Chunk Cookies – decadent delights that are an indulgence you won’t soon forget. Her creativity really stands out in the unique flavour combinations of her desserts.
My only complaint about Extraveganza is that the instructions are often vague and unclear – leaving the reader to fill in a missing step or use a little common sense and ingenuity to achieve the desired results. If you’re a seasoned cook you could easily navigate these issues without any problems, so don’t let that stop you from being inspired by the artistry Matthias brings into her kitchen.

Vice Cream: Over 70 Sinfully Delicious Dairy-Free Delights
Jeff Rogers, also known as the Naughty Vegan, made the soy-free, dairy-free, ice brain-freeze widely attainable in 2004 with the release of his book. He shares his recipes for his sinfully delicious “vice creams” that follow his tried and true technique for achieving the perfect creamy texture. It seems that cashews or coconut are the secret to that perfect mouth sensation.
All of his recipes use natural ingredients, including maple syrup or dates for sweetness, and different combinations of nut milks, nuts or coconuts to produce the rich base of these frozen delights. Half the recipes use exclusively raw ingredients.

My niece and I whipped up a batch of strawberry ice cream, using a ton of local berries. The result was a bowl full of summer goodness. We made our own almond milk and used dates to provide a little bit of sweetness.

Although the process is fairly consistent from one recipe to the next, the interesting combinations of fruits and spices make each churn of the ice cream maker a new experience. Since each recipe only produces one quart of vice cream, this could be the summer to try them all.

Since I acquired this little book, I have found a few favourite recipes. I recommend churning up a batch of Date Nut, Strawberry, Raw Vegg Nog or Raw Chai vice cream. Next on my list are the Carrot Cake and Raw Apple Strudel recipes (I take pleasure just in reading those names.)
I love that these desserts can be enjoyed by anyone who avoids dairy, eggs, soy and refined sugar. That should make us all scream for vice cream!
I hope that you are inspired to try out the recipes that Matthias and Rogers have developed or rediscover other cookbook authors who have helped you over the years to create tasty memories while nourishing your body with whole plant foods.

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