Thursday, October 4, 2012
Vegan For the Holidays: A Cookbook Review
Vegan MoFo Day #4!
A few months ago, the lovely author of Vegan for the Holidays: Celebration Feasts for Thanksgiving Through New Year's Day, Zel Allen, sent me a copy of her new book to test out and review. After showing it to a few friends to look through, one of them suggested we have a big early "Thanksgiving" feast to try some recipes, which was a perfect idea, as I had put off making anything fancier than spaghetti for months because my kitchen was in boxes...and what better excuse to cook a lot of things at once? Yesterday (Wednesday), was a holiday in Germany (Tag der Deutschen Einheit, or Reunification Day) so we all had off from work. We definitely christened my new kitchen...I am still flabbergasted that we all fit in there and managed to cook so much!
The book is separated by holiday, covering Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day. It was interesting bringing a book of American holiday recipes around in Germany. Though this is my fourth year living abroad, I tend to still eat mostly the same foods for the holiday season (except for Glühwein and loads more sauerkraut on everything, mmm), or am back in America or with Americans to celebrate anyway. It was cool to talk about different holiday traditions here and listen to my friends' reactions on how different what Americans eat is, and everyone was excited to test some recipes out.
Overall I give the book a big thumbs up! I tend to be a big mock-meat product person, which there is very little of here, so it forced me to try out a lot of different recipes I wouldn't have otherwise and ended up quite enjoying. Most of the ingredients were basic and very easy to find, even in Germany, and the recipes are mostly whole foods based, with lots of veggies, nuts, beans, etc. I quite like that as when American cookbooks call for specific faux products I can't always get them here, or I have to make a trek to the vegan store (I am lazy), so I prefer being able to make everything myself and that I was able to do! The only ingredient we couldn't find was Xanthan gum, but that was just for the Satin Whipped Cream, so it wasn't a big deal.
The best sign for whether the recipes were successful or not...the table and plates were empty by the end of the meal, I've only a couple slices of pie left in the fridge (one I am eating as I write this)!
Without further ado, here are the photos of our cooking adventure and what we made:
Martyna was our cookbook librarian, as I forgot to make copies of the recipes and many of us needed ingredients and measurements read out to us for different recipes at once! I would like to mention that at one point there were 7-8 of us trying to cook at once, from 8 different recipes in the same book! Coordination, we have it!
Tessa attacking the almonds in a bag for the Winter Almond Chowder with a hammer. The food processor was being used by someone else. ;-)
Me crying from mincing the onions for the Potato Latkas (and Myriam laughing at me in the background). Ouchie.
Tempeh Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms. These were one of my favorite dishes we made. I made the tempeh bacon myself the night before and was popping these into my mouth like candy. I couldn't find big mushrooms, so we just used smaller ones. This is not something I'd normally make, but am so glad we did.
Savory Chickpea Yule Log. This was not my favorite, but there were lots of good comments about it and it was gone by the end of the night! The recipe called for tofu, but didn't mention when to put it in (we didn't) so that might be the culprit.
Williamsburg "Pumpkin" Pie with Satin Whipped Cream. The batter for this was so good I wanted to eat it all before it became pie. The fact that the whipped cream is liquidy is my fault, not the cookbook's, because I tried to use tapioca starch instead of Xanthan Gum. It still tasted yummy! The pie itself was a bit chewier than I'm used to, but that could have been my fault, as it was one of the last things we made and the kitchen was a bit chaotic by then!
Apricot, Date, and Hazelnut Sticky Pie. This is another recipe I wouldn't have made normally, but am happy I did. There are tons of nuts and fruits in here and it's mixed together with a caramel-like sauce (the sauce was great even by itself), put in a crust and baked. This was my favorite dessert. It was very sweet and dessert-like, but didn't make me want to fall into a food coma because it was nice and balanced between the protein and the sweetness and it had very little processed sugar, mostly just maple syrup and brown rice syrup, or in my case I used malted rice syrup (Reismalz).
Potato Latkes with Sour Cream and Applesauce. This dish was my other favorite and I plan to make it again, holiday or not. The latkes and sour cream from the book were both delicious and the non-Americans were surprised how good the applesauce accompanied the latkes. I ate about 500 of them. We doubled the recipe and still gobbled them up, even with all the other food!
Winter Almond Chowder. This was yummy. I blended half of it though, which it did not say to do in the book, but I like my soups creamy and blended. I also added a bit of nutritional yeast, white wine and lemon juice. The rest of this is in my thermos for work! We had a huge pot of it, but we still ate it all!
Brandied Holiday Nog. There was also a Pumpkin Nog recipe we were eying, but decided to go with the basic one to start, since lots of people had never had Nog before. The flavor of this was delicious and it's easy to make. We got lazy and didn't blend it enough (there are cashews for the creaminess), but that was entirely our fault!
Sitting down for the feast after a day of cooking, all the food on my tiny table.
We ran out of bowls, so here is us going at the soup in cups!
There you have it! Our Vegan for the Holidays-inspired feast! It was a great day, and a great meal with friends, so thank you Zel for inspiring it! If you're wondering what to cook for the upcoming holiday season, I recommend checking the book out! It's also available as an eBook, for those who don't want to fork out the shipping cost. What's great is most of the recipes are totally applicable to every day life as well, so I will for sure be making more recipes from the book throughout the whole year, not just the holidays! I especially have my eye on the Peanut Butter Cinnamon Torte and the Apple Crisp, as well of lots of pates and other appetizers...