Monday, April 12, 2010

American Vegan Kitchen: A Cookbook Review

I was really pleased when Tamasin Noyes contacted me to review her cookbook, American Vegan Kitchen, because I had been eying it on Amazon. I dig comfort food, and this book is expressly dedicated to all things homey and comforting. From donut bites to potato skins to burgers and onion rings to apple crisp, this book has you covered from breakfast to dessert. The book begins with a brief intro to the basics (what is tempeh?) and a few recipes for seitan, veggie broth, spice blend, etc. What follows is almost 200 pages of breakfast food, starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, sides, and desserts. Most recipes get their own page (shorter recipes share a page with other shorter recipes) which makes them very cook-friendly (I hate having to flip back and forth between the ingredient list and method). The book is published by Vegan Heritage Press, which, from what I can tell, is a small company that only publishes vegan books. The front cover is great, but I wish the photos in the colour insert were of the same quality. The layout is a touch spartan, but easy to read and follow.

As to be expected with a cookbook of veganized American cooking, the entrees and sandwiches are heavy on the seitan and tempeh which stand in place of meat. That being said, the book is not simply a fake-meat fest. Flip through the table of contents on Amazon to see what I mean. Some recipes are there in their full deep fried glory (which you will either love or hate), while others have a baked option (the onion rings, for example). I will be honest, I don't really cook from cookbooks on a regular basis, but I can see turning to this book to supplement Sunday brunches and neighbourhood BBQs.

After leafing through the recipes, I decided on the Tuna-Free Noodle Casserole. It was a total hit with the whole family: a creamy cashew-based sauce with roasted chickpeas and a crumb topping. The ingredient list is one of the longest in the whole book, but the kids loved it so it was worth the work. As you can see, I can't get egg-free ribbon noodles here, so I used bowties.

13 comments:

jd said...

Too funny! I just bought this cookbook a week ago... I'd been eying it on amazon.com for a while, too...

Although that Tuna-Free Noodle Casserole looks good, I have to admit that the cookbook wasn't really my style. I really liked all of the yummy comfort food recipes (like onion rings!), but it was too heavy on the faux meat for my taste.

I ended up returning it - reluctantly - but I'm sure that people who're interested in seitan, tofu, tempeh, and other meat substitutes will really enjoy it. Also, it's clear that the author put a lot of love into the cookbook, so I definitely have to give her props for that - I'm just sorry it wasn't up my alley!

Jan Scholl said...

I bought it last month and while I have yet to prepare anything, I am reading it in bed everynight and have post it notes marking what I want to try. I wish there had been more photos but then the price would have been a lot more.

Chickadeeincharge said...

Mmmmm . . . .tuna casserole! Looks delicious!

BJ said...

I thought there was more to your review, but apparently that's not the case. So, overall, did you like the book? Do you plan on trying anything else? Did YOU and Vegan Mom like the casserole? I've been wondering about this book for a long, long time.

in2insight said...

Thanks for highlighting this book.
I have it, and the few recipes that we made have all been rather awesome.
The layout works for me too, and the recipe procedures are well written out.

Like VD, I use cookbooks mainly for inspiration and ideas, yet as noted, have found myself following some of the recipes as written.

Vegan Dad said...

BJ,
I beefed up the review a bit. Hopefully it addresses your questions (along with the comments others have left). I will use the book again, but I don't see it as an everyday cookbook. It is more niche book, and when I am in the mood for some American cooking, I will certainly turn to it.

Marla said...

Thanks for writing the review. I love buying new cookbooks, but I'm super picky. That casserole looks tasty. I think I'd have to find a way to stop expecting it to be the kind my mom used to make with canned mushroom soup and crushed potato chips!

ceblakeney said...

The vegan cooking phenomenon will continue to evolve, and I too have been looking at this cookbook wondering what new ideas may be taken away. Think it's on my order list now. Even if it doesn't become a mainstay, it may become part of the learning, and that's alright with me.

VegBlogger.com said...

Thank you for the review! I have also been looking at this book and considering purchasing it.

Lindsey said...

I've only tried a couple things so far, the pudding cake and the 50/50 buns. But those buns are awesome.

Glad you're reviewing this book!

Marci said...

I bought the cookbook after seeing your photo for the tuna casserole! It looks delicious! Can't wait to get it!

My name is Jennifer. said...

I'm still on a quest for the perfect veggie patty recipe--something bbq grill worthy. Does the book contain any good burger recipes?

The Casserole looks delicious btw...

Alicia said...

I just reviewed the book here http://www.examiner.com/green-culture-in-mankato/review-american-vegan-kitchen-review and kind of came to the same conclusions. We tried four recipes and they were all good, but it's more trouble than I'm used to. I went into some detail about the pros and cons.

And yes, Jennifer, there is a good sounding burger recipe. I haven't tried it yet, though.