Wednesday, October 29, 2008

VeganMoFo: "Fresh Food Fast" Cookbook Review


Last week I picked up a copy of the latest cookbook from Peter Berley (of "Modern Vegetarian Kitchen" fame) at our local used book store. It's not all vegan, but there are a lot of good vegan or veganizable recipes inside. I've made many wonderful meals from MVK, so I was happy to get a good deal on this lovely book.

The book has a lovely, easy layout with great pictures and clear instructions. It is arranged by season, which I appreciate since I get most of my produce from the farmers markets. Also, each menu is designed to be made in less than one hour. To my joy and delight, the meals I've made so far have actually come in at under an hour, including prep, but have been tasty and complex meals that don't tasty "express-y" - if you catch my drift. Most menus are designed to serve 4. I also like that each menu has a section where he suggests an order for preparing the meal (prepare soup to step 3, preheat the oven, saute the veggies... whatever).

First thing I made was Balsamic-Roasted Seitan with Cipollina Onions (I used shallots instead). Wow. This was a wonderful, hearty, filling dinner with a healthy "stick to your ribs" feeling. The flavors were new and rich and sweet-savory all at once. As suggested I made the accompanying Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Parsnips to serve with the seitan. This meal calls for premade seitan, so I defrosted some my "Real Food Daily" Chicken-style seitan from my freezer. This tiny serving is all that was leftover to photograph, because when we ate this at my grandpa's house, there was no time for photography!

Next up I made the Pumpkin, Pear, and Fennel Soup & the Quinoa with Brussel Sprouts and Tempeh. Wow! I LOVED this Quinoa dish. It's definitely a new standard. And it's really quick. Maybe 30 minutes from start to finish? I used black quinoa, for the first time, and that wasn't really such hit. It's crunchier and almost more like poppy seeds. Could be neat in certain applications, but it won't become a new favorite. The quinoa dish was full of flavor, veggies, and tempeh. And it made a lot. I'd say it could feed 5 or maybe even 6. So yummy. I quite liked the soup, which was a 15-minute recipe in the pressure cooker, but Musty doesn't ever like soups with pear or apple in them, so he rejected it. In the end, I ate a lot of it, and also shared some with my family.

Most recently I made Autumn Menu #4: Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes & Pita Bread, and accompanying Red Cabbage with Tomatoes and Cumin Seeds. Yum! I used winter squash instead of sweet potato, since Musty doesn't like those delicious orange tubers. The curry was mild, but hearty and delicious. You could easily up the spices or use some coconut milk in place of some of the water - but it's a quick, nutritious, and easy base recipe for a curry. The Cabbage was totally amazing. I chose to leave out the raisins. It's lemony, spicy, and delicious - very Indian. The curry easily served 4 hungry people, and there was even some leftover for my grandpa to have for lunch the next day. Next time I'll double the cabbage though, because we polished that off in a jiffy!

Based on my results so far, I"m really excited about this book, and I'd definitely recommend it.

7 comments:

  1. Great review!! Definitely sounds like a worthy cookbook.

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  2. A friend of mine has Modern Vegetarian Kitchen and that looks pretty good so I don't doubt this is lovely too. I'm going to add it to the list.

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  3. Tempeh and brussel sprouts! Yum! I gotta try that. Great pics!

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  4. I don't have either of his cookbooks, but I look for them on your recommendation. I like time management tips! And the food looks fantastic! That purple cabbage certainly caught my eye.

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  5. I'm a sucker for a cookbook with full color photos! And all these dishes look so good...I'll have to check it out.

    Also, I'm glad you clarified on why there only two pieces of seitan in that picture. I was afraid that was all you'd eaten, and I felt like a pig ... cause I would have eaten more.

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  6. Sounds great! The quinoa dish sounds perfect for us, we love quinoa & brussels!

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  7. This book, his Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, and also the Angelica Home Kitchen (which shares some recipes in common with Modern Vegetarian) are the awesome trilogy of vegan cookbooks. He really missed the mark with his "Flexitarian" book, however.

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