Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cookbook Review!

La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer

Well, in my opinion this book is both good and bad. The good: the recipes are easy and fast. There are different kinds of food tips in the beginning. There's 45 things you can do with salt. There's a DIY chapter in the back, and while I haven't actually made anything yet, I'm planning on it. Sarah Kramer's a doll and I enjoy this book even if there are some flaws in it, which we turn to now. The bad: some of the recipes need tweaking. Some of the recipes call for copious amounts of oil. Some of the recipes aren't the healthiest in the world. Still, I think the good outweighs the bad, and I do like this book. Also, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good recipes in this book. Here are some things I've made (both good and bad):

Kalamata & Sun-Dried Tomato Soda Bread-no tweaking needed for this recipe. It was so good!

Gillian's Lentil Dip-This wasn't that good. Granted, I didn't use all the oil it called for. No matter what people may say, 5 tbsp of oil for 2 cups of dip is a lot (I used 2 tbsp). It calls for 1/4 cup of lemon juice, but this dip was overpowered by tartness (and I happen to like lemony tartness). I don't think I'll make this recipe again.

Caesar Salad Dressing over romaine lettuce* and tomatoes* Remember, this (*) stands for food Rachel brought home for free from the health food store. If you're afraid to buy this book, at least get it for this dressing. This is by far the closest thing to Caesar you'll ever find (and it doesn't even have soy in it!). The base is almonds (it calls for blanched almonds, but I didn't bother blanching them and it turned out fine.)

Wolffie's BLT Brunch Casserole-very delicious!

Curry Fennel Cauliflower Bake-Yum! I doubled the recipe, which has cauliflower*, tofu*, garlic*, and cilantro* among other ingredients. I'm going to eat this over brown basmati rice for dinner tonight.

Cheryl's Faux Cheese-one of the better homade faux cheeses I've made, though I've only made a few, so what do I know. That said, it still doesn't melt. Boo Hoo.

Eeny Meeny Chili Beany on Toast-very good.

Faux Fish-While I like the recipe for seitan found in Good Time Eatin' In The Cajun Country better, I really like the fact that there are different broth options for the seitan in La Dolce Vegan. What I'm actually going to do is make my favored seitan recipe, but use the broth ingredients in this book.

Stephanie's Sugarless Power Muffins-these use stevia in place of sugar. I don't know how I feel about these, all I know is they tasted better with almond butter spread on them. These were also wheat-free, so they were a bit crumbly, but not as bad as I would have thought.

The next two pictures have a story behind them. As you might know, Susan is interning at the Catskill Mountain Foundation. Well, her boss Pam is lactose intolerant, and when Susan first got there she told Pam that I was A) a vegan and B) a good cook, and that someday she would bring vegan cookies I made in. Well, about a month went by, and from what I'm told Pam kept asking when Susan was bringing sweets in. So off I went in search of some sweet treats that weren't too labor intensive. Here they are:

Hal's Maple Chocolate Flax Brownies-super-dee-duper good!

Wolffie's Peanut Butter Cookies-really good, but this recipe needed tweaking. I needed to add more flour than it called for in order for the dough to be rolled into balls. Also, for some of them you can see criss-cross patterns, but after about 6 criss-crosses the fork just stuck to the cookie dough and left me frustrated, hot (yeah, I was baking on a hot early July afternoon), and annoyed. I gave up and left the rest un- criss-crossed.

The verdict for the sweet treats: everyone in the programming department (where Susan works) went crazy over them! It was a big success, and Pam was so touched she wrote me a note on a cute little cow card. Wasn't that so sweet of her? That reminds me I want to make some more stuff for her.

Anyway, my overall verdict for the book is that the good outweighs the bad. Now it's up to you to decide.


Freedom said...

Mmmm, so many delicious pictures. It's a pity that some of the recipes need tweaking - I hate such unhealthy things. And who could possible want 45 uses for salt?! This would be good to prove to skeptics that just because something is vegan, doesn't mean it's good for you!

t. said...

Very insightful review! And you definitely tried out a number of the recipes!
Anyhow, email me for help on putting youb button up! I will give you all info you need!

KleoPatra said...

Interesting review! I can appreciate all your time in trying the recipes! That is way cool. I also typically cut down the amount of oil in recipes, that's certainly not something i would suggest just from this particular recipe book, which i don't yet own but i hope to soon.

Thank you for this post. Very nicely done.

vegancore said...

Can I have a brownie? I want a brownie. I have this cookbook (all of hers, actually) but I never use it, because I've had some not-so-great experiences with all 3 books. But this review kind of makes me hopeful that it wasn't entirely a waste of money.

funwithyourfood said...

Holy geez
That is a lot of cooking. I don't think i've cooked that much in a MONTH


Urban Vegan said...

Agree. LDV is more good than bad. And I think the book is inspiring. BUT...

About half of the recipes are iffy and need "tweaking." I personally did not like the flax brownies at all. They reminded me of what 1970s health food used to taste like.

Wolffie's recipes are all good--maybe she should write a cookbook.

In any case, LDV's heart is definitely in the right place. And I love the "45 things to do with salt" and all the crafty stuff in the back [tho' like you, I haven't made anything yet.] I love her "can do" attitude.

Maybe next book, a little less Sarah and a little more attention to the quality of the recipes? But then again, maybe not. I think most of Sarah Kramer fans are more into her persona than anything.