A review of Vegan Brunch

June 6th, 2009 · Lisa · book review, Review · Comments
When I came home to find a copy of Vegan Brunch waiting for me, I felt a tangible sense of joy. Finally, I had in my hands the answer to all of my crack of noon cravings. That evening, I had to go out for a friend’s birthday party and I have to admit it was very hard to leave Vegan Brunchat home alone. But I rationalized our separation with the knowledge that there would be many days spent in each others company. So, I left the book at home and simply dreamed about our future rendezvous.

Just a few days later I was celebrating another birthday, that of my vegan brother. In his honour, my Mom and I, decided to make a meal of Vegan Brunch dishes. Since there are lots of restaurants that celebrate serving “all-day breakfast” we felt quite comfortable creating a dinner menu with Isa’s recipes.

The meal consisted of:

Pumpkin French Toast with Cranberry Ginger Sauce
Pumpkin Bran Muffins
Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins
Omelets Rancheros with Spicy Beans and Guacamole
Roasted Herb and Garlic Potatoes
Avocado Potato Salad

Breaking down the Brunch experience:

The Muffins:
Muffins are my favourite breakfast treat so that’s where I started in my exploration of Isa’s newest recipe offerings. As a self-proclaimed connoisseur, I am very picky about the texture of my muffins – I really don’t like a mushy muffin. But Isa did not disappoint, she offers nine tempting muffin variations. The pumpkin muffins are hearty with a hefty amount of fibre, but the pumpkin spice flavour make them a treat to devour. The blueberry ginger spelt muffins disappeared in minutes. The bite I managed (before the batch vanished), had a lovely light texture with a subtle ginger flavour. I have since made another batch of the pumpkin bran muffins and doubled the amount of spice called for in the original recipe (I like life full of spice!), and I found them even more satisfying then my first batch.
French Toast:
I have never been a fan of french toast. It just isn’t a dish that calls to me. But, my Mom LOVES french toast and I’m always trying to find the perfect recipe that can match her pregan memories.
The pumpkin french toast batter came together really quickly. I had decided to make it early since I had the whole brunch menu to prepare, and left it to hang-out in the fridge. After a few hours in the fridge the batter became quite thick. I slathered it all over a loaf of sourdough baguette. Before I cooked the bread on my griddle, I was a little concerned that letting the batter set too long would effect the end product. But the results were a firm outer crust with a soft inside. The french toast lover said it was perfect. We poured the cranberry ginger sauce, that we had whipped up earlier, on top. This is a match made in heaven. Spicy, saucy and delicious. I can see this becoming the perfect dish for the winter holiday season.

Roasted Potatoes:

This is a very straight-forward dish and Isa provides lots of spice variations. We combined the garlic and fresh herb version. The results were crispy, oven baked fries. A lovely, savoury side.

The Avocado Potato Salad:
When my brother selected this dish, my Mom said that it sounded disgusting. If that is your reaction, work through it people. Because this is an amazing salad. I personally hate soy vegan mayos. Seriously, I find the flavour really puts me off and can easily ruin an entire dish. So, a potato salad that employs avocado to impart that essential creaminess is the perfect alternative. This isn’t the most attractive picture but I implore you to give it a try this summer.

The Omelets:
I have often heard that if you get one great new recipe from a cookbook then it is worth the purchase. Vegan Brunch is full of fantastic recipes, but I would buy it just for the omelets! After a quick scan of all of the filling suggestions Isa provides we decided on the omelet rancheros as they were to be the star of our menu. The bean filling was easy to prepare ahead of time. The recipe is also used to top the polenta rancheros, which I’m sure are delicious as I would certainly eat this bean dish on top of just about anything. I loved the smokey, sweet flavour of the black beans (okay, as you can see we used black and kidney beans because that’s what we had in the pantry).

The omelet itself is pretty impressive. The texture is like nothing else I’ve experienced in my two decades of veganism. It is almost fluffy. The first one didn’t turn out, but just like pancakes after that, the subsequent omelets were perfectly formed and cooked (Dan-you are the man). I really enjoyed the flavour, although I had not been able to find the black salt that was suggested in the recipe. I know I can track it down at the local Indian spice markets. Just give me time and I know my omelets will have that balanced sulfur flavour that is the true hallmark of egg dishes.

The guacamole is a basic recipe that will not disappoint.

Here is one of the omelets full of beans and slathered with creamy guac. Isa provides a long list of filling suggestions. An asparagus omelet would be a great celebration of the local offerings now available at our farmer’s markets.

There wasn’t a single recipe that left me thinking…what would I do differently next time. Each dish had an interesting flavour profile that appealed to the vegans, the omnis and even the children at the table. At the end of the meal we all pushed back our chairs, with very full and happy bellies.

I continue to carry Vegan Brunch around with me. It is full of post-it notes for all of the recipes I can’t wait to try. After flipping through this book, I know that Sundays this summer will be super special as I invite the people I love to continue to help me work through the pages. I love the laziness that brunch promotes. This book provides the perfect excuse to slow down, brew some tea, and bake some scones for the people you love. Or, for the perfect start to a quiet weekend, grab the paper, brew yourself a pot of coffee and devour a big plate of puttanesca tofu scramble.

Next on my list to try are: Mushroom, leek and white bean pie, tofu benny with hollandaise sauce and the ethiopian crepes.

What will you try first?

If you want to hear a lot more about Vegan Brunch check out my interview with Isa.

Oh, and I couldn’t celebrate my brother’s birthday without a batch of chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.


  1. Posted June 6, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    I made the Cornmeal Waffles…well pancakes because I don't own a waffle maker. They were quite good. I have not made the omelets yet but that is next on my list of things to make from the book. Though I have to say if the crepes turn out right when I make them then that recipe makes the book worth it. I thought I would never be able to enjoy a crepe again when I became a vegan and to my pleasant surprise that is no longer the case. Great book. I would recommend it to anyone who loves breakfast food.

  2. Posted June 7, 2009 at 7:00 am

    The cornmeal waffles do sound amazing with the gravy on top.
    I have had success making vegan crepes using Isa and Terry's recipe from Veganomicon. I have no doubt that you'll be able to making amazing crepes using the recipe in Vegan Brunch. I really want to try them with the savory Ethiopian lentils. You can see the results of my crepe experiment here http://vegancookbookcritic.blogspot.com/2008/06/cracking-crepe-code.html

  3. Posted June 8, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Mmm, what a fantastic birthday it was! Thanks again!

    I love this cookbook, I decided to make the Tofu Benny this saturday as a special treat for making it to the weekend. The results were fantastic! The marinated Tofu had great flavour, and the Hollandaise Sauce was even better. Added a side of "Diner Home Fries" and it was the perfect way to wake up and start the day.

  4. Posted June 8, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Did you use the black salt? I just picked some up at the spice trader this weekend. I can't wait to try the omelet and the benny recipe with the addition of the black salt (which is actually pink!).

  5. Posted June 8, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Couldn't find any Black Salt, so I ended up doing without it. I'll have to track some down before I make it again though.

  6. Posted June 11, 2009 at 11:12 am

    What a nice birthday dinner for your brother! Breakfast is one of those meals that tends to get zero thought put into it during the week, so sitting down to a meal full of brunchy goodness is even more of a treat. Anything with potatoes in it is a hit in my books. Add avocados – even better! I've heard about those eggless omelets and seen them featured on other blogs and I'm very intrigued. That recipe may be worth the price of the book.

  7. Posted June 12, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I love that we slow down to enjoy and celebrate brunch on the weekends. The omelets do take a little bit of time and attention but the results are more than worth the investment.

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