Tuesday, December 06, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Quick-fix Vegan

Quick-Fix Vegan
by Robin Robertson

Review by Cathe Olson

I’m sure you’ll be as excited as I was to find out that Robin Robertson has a new cookbook out. Roberson’s books have long been a staple at my house, but with her new book, Quick-Fix Vegan, I think she’s outdone herself.

According to the book cover, Quick-Fix Vegan contains 150 “healthy, homestyle meals” that can be prepared in “30 minutes or less.” Unlike other “quick” cookbooks that rely heavily on jarred sauces and prepared foods, the recipes in this book are made largely from whole, unprocessed foods . . . foods I have on hand and feel good about serving my family.

The chapter of Starters and Snacks includes Moroccan Pumpkin Hummus, Super Nachos, and Easy Artichoke Puffs. I made the vegetable fritters—a mixture of shredded onions, potatoes and vegetables, held together with flour and nondairy milk—for my family and they were a huge hit. In fact, I’ve made them several times since, varying the vegetables, herbs, and flours with excellent results. The leftovers, if there are any, go great in the kids’ lunchboxes. It was a bit challenging to get the fritters all cooked in under 30 minutes, but getting several skillets cooking at once does decrease the cooking time (though adds to the cleanup time). (See more on the fritters here!)

I’m a big soup fan—especially this time of year—and Robertson includes some great ones. We loved the Creamy Greens Soup made with kale and coconut milk; and the Cream of Mushroom Soup was sublime. I haven’t had a chance to try any of the Speedy Sandwiches or Snappy Salads, but am looking forward to making the Sloppy Portobellos, Seitan and Slaw Wraps, Freeburgers, and Burmese Ginger Salad.

The selection of Stovetop Suppers and Pasta Express dinners include a variety of veganized international favorites like Tofu “Scampi” with Spinach, Jerk Seitan and Vegetable Skillet, Korean Hot Pot, and Skillet Lasagne. I made the Tofu Skillet Scramble and it was super quick and easy, and very flavorful. The book also includes recipes for condiments, gravies and chutneys, and desserts like Pear Turnovers, which I am dying to try, and Molasses Ginger Cookies with blueberries.

Every recipe I tried worked well. The instructions were clear and simple. The ingredients are ones I had on hand or could find easily. Some of the recipes do take longer than 30 minutes to prepare. For example, the baking time for the Portobellos Stuffed with Chickpeas and Chard is 25 minutes. But you still need to prep the ingredients and cook the chard for 7 minutes. So read over the recipes carefully if you really are pressed for time just to be sure.

My recommendation? This is one of the best cookbooks I’ve found in a long time. The meals are great for families—nothing too outlandish, but nothing boring either. It is definitely the first one I’ll turn to in the busy months to come.

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