Thursday, July 05, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Vegan Vittles Second Helpings

In this new expanded edition of the popular "Vegan Vittles," Stepaniak has broadened each section of the book to include many new recipes for alternatives to animal-based foods. With recipes for homemade veggie "meats" and "cheeses" to scrumptious egg and dairy substitutes, eating vegan is easier and yummier than ever. "Vegan Vittles Second Helpings" includes hearty breakfast fare like Phenomenal French Toast, Eggless Omelets, and Muffins That Taste Like Donuts (they really do!). For lunch, try the Boneless Chickenless Chicken Salad (made with tofu), Chickpea Tuna Salad, Radical Rueben, or a Sloppy Lenny (a lentil based version of a Sloppy Joe). There is even a recipe for Gooey Grilled Cheez which looks surprisingly like the real thing. It tastes rather unusual however—imagine tahini, lemon juice, ketchup, and nutritional yeast flakes mixed together. My husband and I found it tasty enough but the kids didn't care for it. Maybe more ketchup and less nutritional yeast flakes next time...My favorite section, Soups, Chowders, and Stews, offers easy, nourishing options like Sadie's Vitality Broth made with chickpeas and orzo pasta, Butternutty Chowder, and Elegant Broccoli Bisque. We especially loved the Cheez Please Soup made with potatoes, carrots, silken tofu, and soymilk, puréed into a thick cheesy tasting soup and garnished with steamed broccoli and cauliflower. (I learned my lesson and used less nutritional yeast flakes than called for and my children had 3 bowlfuls each!) We also loved the Creamy Potato Kale Soup.Main dishes include Sweet and Sour Tempeh, Southern-Fried Tofu, Classic Quiche, Macaroni and Cheez, Baked Stuffed Shells, Pot Roast and much more. We tried the Gardener's Pie (a tofu-based version of Shepherd's Pie) and it was wonderful. I served it with Savory Chickpea Gravy from the Sauces and Gravies section. A small selection of side-dishes includes Twice-Baked Potatoes, Garlicky Greens, and Coconut Rice. There are also recipes for salads and dressings like Warm Salad Nicoise, Fiesta Coleslaw, and Ceasar Salad.I tried a few of the tempting desserts offered in the Happy Endings section of the book. The Poppy Seed Cake was moist, tasty, and just sweet enough. The Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies were crunchy and delicious. I still have many I want to make like the Ultra-Fudgey Fudge Brownies, Grandmother's Spice Cake, and the Peach Kuchen.The recipes in the book are clear and easy to follow. An ingredients guide explains foods that may be unfamiliar. Besides recipes, the book defines veganism, debunks common farm animal industry myths, and relates heartwarming rescue stories of animals now living happily at Farm Sanctuary. This cookbook would be inspiring and helpful to all vegan cooks.

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