Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Cookbook Review: The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau...
I thought it was time for another cook book review since the last one went over so well, and what better book to review then Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s “The Vegan Table.” This is actually one of the very first vegan cookbooks I ever got my hands on. I found it in my local library months before I’d even gone Vegetarian. I was however already leaning in that direction - which is why I was in that particular section of the library in the first place. Now, it’s been so long that I can’t remember exactly what came first me listening to Colleen’s wonderful “Vegetarian Food for Thought” Podcast, or me picking up her cookbooks in the library, but somehow I feel like they happened simultaneously and independently of the other. I don’t think it dawned on me at first that the wonderful recipes I was making out of that book from the library were penned by the wonderfully inspiring voice I was listening to each afternoon via the internet. Eventually something clicked though, and I put two and two together. In fact it was Colleen’s Podcast that was the final push I needed to make the transition to veganism. I think I borrowed this book from the library half a dozen times that year before finally receiving my own copy of it as a Christmas gift.
Right away I fell in love with this book because Colleen makes veganism so easy and accessible. Her recipes use simple, whole food ingredients - nothing strange or out of the ordinary, she doesn’t even use seitan. Still she comprises a variety of dishes in this book for every meal of the day, and she includes a ton of wonderful information about food, cooking tips, food lore, and veganism. I also really love that she has a section on vegan celebrations and party planning. These things are all extremely helpful to the newbie vegan, but they can also be utilized by long-time vegans too. Most of the cooking methods are quick and simple to master, and many of the recipes can be made without oil, soy, gluten, sugar, or salt, and there are specific indicators letting you know that incase you have these kinds of dietary restrictions.
Even after four years of veganism I still get use out of this book, in fact it’s remained one of my ‘go-to’ cook books especially for when I’m cooking for a ‘mixed crowed.’ For me, these recipes feel tried and true, they’re practically ‘no fail’ or at least I’ve never failed making hem and they’ve always been winners among even the most ardent ‘carnivores’ that I know. For me as a newbie vegan this book was an indispensable resource, and I learned so much by reading and cooking through it. Colleen writes in an easy, down to earth style that makes you feel comfortable and confident. She inspires you, and gets you feeling excited about cooking. Her passion for veganism, for cooking, and for education are clear on every page of this book, and I love that atmosphere her personality lends to the pages.
Some people have criticized the book for it’s layout - which I fully admit is a bit strange, but once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t hard to find the recipes you want. Some people have also criticized Colleen’s use of white flour, sugar, and non-dairy butter - particularly in her baking recipes, and I guess it can’t be said often enough that veganism and health-food are not necessarily synonymous. That’s not to say that Colleen’s recipes are unhealthy, but her baking recipes are also not ‘health food’ they’re baked goods, and most people I know like a little sugar in their cake. The fact that her baked goods do use white flour, sugar, and non-dairy butter is what makes the recipes so accessible to newbie vegans. If she was using a ton of crazy ingredients her recipes wouldn’t have the same air of simplicity, and they would be more intimidating to the average newbie. One of the greatest things about Colleen’s recipes is her ability to provide you with veganized versions of the familiar and comforting foods that you grew up without compromising on flavor or taste, while still keeping it relatively simple.
Though I haven’t made as many recipes from this book as I would have liked the ones I have made have been delicious, here’s what I thought.
Pan-Fried Asparagus with Lime Juice - LOVED IT
Tofu Benedict - Loved it
Tempeh Bacon - Very good
Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onions - LOVED IT
Spring Vegetable Risotto - LOVED IT
Pad Thai - Very good
Tofu Scramble - Very good
Marvelous Mushroom Risotto - I thought this was okay, but then I'm not the biggest mushroom fan. My husband loved it though.
Polenta Hearts - Fantastic
Roasted Red Pepper Coulis - LOVED IT especially over the polenta hearts
Red Velvet Cake - Personally I'm not a fan of this kind of cake but my husband is. I made it for his graduation and he and all the omnivores loved it.
Better Then Tuna Salad - Pretty good
Herbed Scalloped Potatoes - Pretty good
Golden Corn Pancakes - Loved it!
Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms - LOVED IT
Apricot Whole Wheat Muffins - Pretty good
Magical Miso Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms - Pretty good but I prefer my own homemade miso
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Onions - LOVED IT this is a `go-to' holiday recipe for me now
Roasted Beets and Fennel Bulbs in Fennel Oil - I thought this was just okay, but then I'm not the biggest fan of fennel.
Pan-Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with herb infused marinade - loved it!
French Onion Pie - Didn't like it. However I did try this back when I just turned vegan, and didn’t particularly care for tofu. I wouldn’t be opposed to giving this recipe another whirl now that my tastes have changed.
Cauliflower with Spicy Vinaigrette - Loved it!
Masoor Dal - Pretty good
Fruit Sushi - LOVED IT
Frozen Mango Lassi - Loved it
Cuban Black Bean Soup - Loved it
Eggless Egg Salad - Loved it.
No Queso Quesadillas - LOVED IT
Muhammara - LOVED IT
Boston Baked Beans - Pretty good
Caramelized Tempeh Shawaramas - LOVED IT - my new favorite way to eat tempeh
Mushroom Pecan Burgers - LOVED IT
Tofu Spinach Lasagna - LOVED IT - a `go to' when cooking for Omni's
Traditional Vegetable Soup - Pretty good
Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions - LOVED IT
Golden Mushroom Gravy - LOVED IT
Mushroom walnut Pate - LOVED IT
Tempeh and Eggplant Pot Pies - LOVED IT
Irish Soda Bread - LOVED IT
Gado Gado Vegetable Skewers - LOVED IT
Potato Salad in Radicchio Cups - LOVED IT
Tomato Basil and Arugula Bruschetta - LOVED IT
Basic Pizza Dough - LOVE It - this is my `go to' dough for pizza
Beet and Sweet Potato Pizza - Loved it
Pineapple Upside Down Cake - pretty good.
In short I would definitely recommend this book to just about anyone. It’s versatile enough for curious omnivores, newbie vegans, vegetarians and long-time vegans too. However if you’re looking for a vegan health book, or a No SOS book - salt, oil, sugar. - or a raw book, then this is not the right book for you, and you’d be better off finding a book that uses those words in it’s advertising.
This really is one of my favorite and most beloved cookbooks, so I hope that if you haven’t checked it out yet you feel inspired to do so now.
If you want to learn more about Colleen and the work that she does you can check out her Website, which is phenomenal by the way, and be sure to click on her Podcast!