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316 of 322 found the following review helpful:
Watershed book includes sophisticated use of new vegan products, vegan history, chef bios, and maximum multi-level flavor Oct 09, 2009
By J. Al-hashimi
This is an extremely sincere high-end vegan cookbook. In the past, vegan cookbooks produced average to sub-average results and include recipes that involve either mixing vegetables (cooked or raw) in various combinations, using frozen pie dough and wonton skins in a couple obvious ways, and simplistic tofu/tempeh recipes that don't taste very good. There are a few breakthrough high-end vegan cookbooks lately from inspired chefs, such as "Great Chefs Cook Vegan," compiled by Linda Long, "Vegan Soul Kitchen" with Bryant Terry and now this one.
This book is more comprehensive than the other two because it goes gives vegan chef bios (many of them vanguard and brilliant)and important vegan restaurant history as well as rationale for eating vegan and ways to use new-to-newish vegan ingredients, such as Gardein (vegan "meat" products; chicken breasts, chicken strips, and beef strips), Earth Balance (vegan butter in solid form), Vegannnise (vegan mayo), Field Roast Italian Style seitan sausages, New Chapter All-Flora probiotic capsules (to culture homemade cashew or macadamia cheese and give it a sharp flavor), tempeh bacon, precooked udon noodles, vegan mozzarella, etc . Also, for people who haven't cooked vegan, recipes are included for ingredients for more involved recipes such as cashew butter, hazelnut milk, Asian slaw, the use of ground flaxseed in baked goods as a substitute for eggs, and new ones such as chipolte cream and tofu ricotto.
Most people would probably enthusiastically eat vegan if they had access to meals of this quality. So, the challenge is to learn how to cook at this level, how to use the unique ingredients, until it becomes easy.
One challenge of vegan are the tofu, tempeh and seitan preparation, because of their high protein content; a couple winner recipes here are Old Bay tofu cakes and cornmeal encrusted tempeh. Recipes with new meat-substitute products bring a welcome level of sophistication and ease to vegan cooking. Additionally, there are presented a number of great unusual grain recipes using quinoa, spelt flour, etc.
For those who haven't cooked vegan or vegetarian, this book will give you contemporary "how-to" that will make your first efforts worthy endeavors and bring your skills to produce multi-level and exotic flavors quickly. No oddball vegan results here. Working from this book is cooking with vegan master chefs, you really can't go wrong. It is the sort of book beginners should cook their way through. By the time they get to the last page, they will be a master vegan cook with a sophisticated repetoire... a very nice endeavor indeed.
I was a bit apprehensive that this cookbook was going to be mainly a promotion vehicle for Gardein because it has been pre-featured on their website, but it is not. It is an excellent vegan cookbook, probably the best quality and most comprehensive one on the market.
136 of 140 found the following review helpful:
Gourmet food, very creative, but not very accessible for the home cook Jan 11, 2010
By D. Nidy
I'm psyched that Tal Ronnen was on Oprah talking about his book and that so many people have bought this book and are being exposed to vegan cuisine. For all those people buying up the Julia Childs cookbooks but are now trying to get healthier and "more conscious", I think this is the book for them. It is haute cuisine with gourmet flavors made vegan. It reminds me of the Millennium cookbook in that it requires advanced cooking techniques, expensive ingredients, and complex flavors. This is great if you're a foodie and really love to cook. The pictures are amazing, the design and layout are gorgeous, and the recipes are tantalizing.
However, it's not accessible for the average home cook. And like the Millennium cookbook, it's destined to sit on my shelf until a special occasion arises where I want to spend hours in the kitchen making something. Case in point: I spent three hours prepping and cooking a meal from this book (agave lime tofu with sweet potatoes and asian slaw). I spent an hour and a half prepping and cooking another (asparagus lemon meyer risotto). And those were two of the the recipes I thought sounded the easiest. And the ingredients were not cheap, either.
There are several things about this cookbook that make it inaccessible for the home cook: 1) the complexity of the cooking techniques 2) the need for many, often expensive ingredients and 3) the need for very difficult to find ingredients and 4) the need for expensive kitchen appliances like a Vitamix blender and a pasta maker. A good portion of the recipes are using Gardein meat substitute. I just went to Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, a very well-stocked all, vegetarian supermarket. Guess what I couldn't find? The gardein cutlets, breasts or steak used in many recipes. So if not there, where in the heck do you find this stuff?
The other thing I don't like is that Tal Ronnen is financially invested in Gardein. So it's kinda sketchy to me that he's pimping out this latest meat substitute under the guise of a cookbook. But on the other hand, if more and more people start asking their groceries to carry the stuff, maybe it will become pervasive and I'll be happy to find a great meat substitute on supermarket shelves.
Don't get me wrong - I think this is a good problem to have - that there's a vegan cookbook on the market that is over my head. We are lucky enough now to have so many to choose from. I don't think any omnivore cookbook would suit every meat eater, so not every vegan cookbook will suit every vegan either. I wouldn't recommend as the first vegan cookbook you buy if you're an average home cook like me. I'd instead recommend Veganomicon. And on top of that, I'd recommend dinner reservations at Millennium in San Francisco where you can sit back and enjoy gourmet vegan cuisine that others carefully prepare for you.
71 of 74 found the following review helpful:
must-have book Oct 06, 2009
By William Kerr
This book is a must-have for anyone who entertains the occasional vegan or has a family member that is vegan. More importantly, it is likely the best resource out there for those who wish to 'wow' a meat-eater with vegan dishes. These dishes will blow you away, and Tal pays well deserved respect to some of the leading vegan chefs in the world (so a reader has the benefit of their expertise as well). You will not be disappointed with this book - the information is compelling, the photos are exceptional and the dishes are to die for.
179 of 199 found the following review helpful:
Good ideas but too processed Nov 24, 2009
By E. Dery
Having been a vegetarian for many years and an on-again-off-again vegan for the last two, I was very excited to see a new high-end entrant to the vegan chef club. Unfortunately, this book doesn't work that well for me. I can get some ideas from the book (and the production value is particularly high) but in terms of daily recipes, this doesn't work. I am not interested in highly processed meat substitutes (even if they are vegan). I also think most of the recipes in this book are quite complex and require much more time than most of us have. I'll consult this book every once in a while but for daily fare, I'll stick with Nava Atlas or macrobiotic chefs. I'm in favor of anything that gets more people eating fewer animal products so if you think this will help you do that, definitely buy the book.
39 of 40 found the following review helpful:
Beautiful & Tasty Gourmet Dining at Home with Ronnen! Oct 15, 2009
By A. Bronfin
I'm so proud to have this cookbook in my kitchen. The recipes are easy to understand, well-written, and creative. Plus the photos and page designs are stunning. I served a few of the Gardein dishes recently to some meat-eater friends and they didn't know it wasn't chicken until I told them after! Whole Foods now carries the Gardein products, but make sure to ask your local stores to carry them. A few of the dishes I have made so far, corn chowder (flavors to die for!), "Chicken" Piccata, Chopped Salad, Grapefruit Salad, Endive Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Quinoa with sweet potatoes and tomatillo dressing (the presentation looked amazing!) this dish will truly impress your dinner guests! Can't wait to make more! I highly suggest you buy this book if you are looking into eating healthier, but still want knock-out flavors and beautiful fine dining presentations. He has tons of delicious substitutes for dairy, meat and fish, and you won't be able to taste the difference!
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