Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cookbook Review: Vegan Family Meals by Ann Gentry

I used to watch a wonderful vegetarian cooking show on Veria Tv hosted by Ann Gentry, owner of the organic vegan Real Food Daily restaurants. (I still watch clips on Youtube HERE.)  She turned me onto to making my own cashew cheese; fortunately that recipe is also included in this book. I received an advance galley file of this beautifully designed book that has since expired but I liked the recipes so much I'm going to buy a print copy when it is officially published in June.

Vegan Family Meals includes gorgeous color photos and sidebars sprinkled throughout on such topics as silicone cookware and great soup thickeners.  She says in the intro that she is not 100 percent vegan and she makes a great case that vegan meals are not an all or nothing proposition - all of us can cook and eat more vegan meals with great results. Ann  includes some fun ways to encourage kids to eat more vegetables - one of the variations for her baked kale chips instructs you to crumble the chips with your fingers and sprinkle it over popcorn. Like her Real Food Daily cookbook, Vegan Family Meals includes her signature chopped salads

We all have our idea of how long a family meal should take to prepare and a recipe like Watercress and Butter Lettuce Salad with Israeli Couscous, Orange-Basil Tempeh and Sweet Miso Dressing probably won't work for a rushed weeknight dinner. She includes a chapter with simpler meals but I think the title of the book, Vegan Family Meals, is more aspirational than practical. Most of the kids I know have pretty limited palates and shun the more exotic stuff but I'm glad to know there are children out there who will eat tempeh and seaweed and all sorts of vegetables.

The book uses some exotic ingredients I can't find here. I shop at about 7 different locations throughout a city of half a million and I've never seen dried Hunza mulberries or frozen unsweetened acai berry bars. Most of the recipes have ingredients that may be hard to find if you are shopping at a regular supermarket such as tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and umeboshi plums.

Here is the incredible Tahini-Vegetable Spread served on some homemade sourdough pumpernickel bread. I adore the combination of tahini and miso and this recipe was just delicious. I had to substitute regular tahini for roasted tahini which I've never seen around here.

I also enjoyed her fun Southwestern Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing and Agave-Chili Tortilla Strips. I loved her idea for adding a touch of agave nectar to baked tortilla chips.

By far my favorite recipe was her Tofu Chevre. Firm tofu is pressed for four hours or overnight, then pureed with garlic, white miso, olive oil and salt, then molded into a log and refrigerated and then baked. It is an incredible addition to any salad and there are variations for peppercorn, nut, and herb crusts.

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