Fresh Vegan Kitchen by David & Charlotte Bailey
A guest review from Laura at Full to the Brum
Having a lactose-intolerance means I often look to vegan cooking as it’s a lot easier to substitute in the meat, should I wish, than work out how to extract dairy for a number of dishes. Authors of The Fresh Vegan Kitchen might not be too pleased at this, but the book is written in such a positive manner that celebrates rather than chastises, that even as a meat eater I feel welcomed in by this book.
All of the recipes are vegan and a large number are also raw too. There are a number of cuisines represented, but the majority of recipes include ingredients that wouldn’t be too hard to find in larger supermarkets (and in abundance at more specialist shops) – any that might prove a little trickier to find often come with substitute ideas. Recipes also range from the surprisingly why-didn’t-I-think of that Coconut milk porridge to veggie restaurant favourite Beer-battered tofu ‘fish’ and chips and to more adventurous Raw ‘lasagne’ and Bhel puri.
Unlike a lot of vegan recipe books, The Fresh Vegan Kitchen feels like gentle, positive persuasion into for many will be an alternative way of cooking, which offers up meals with substitute meat to those which don’t even find the meat lacking. Certainly a book I’ll be looking to dip back into.
The Fresh Vegan Kitchen is published by Pavilion Books, cover price £16.99
A guest review by Madeleine at From the Healthy Heart
If you are trying to keep up your New Year resolution to shed a few pounds then this cookbook is just the ticket. Divided into 3 sections – 100, 200 and 300 calorie dishes – each recipe has a handy serving analysis including calories, fat, fibre and GI level. Each section contains a range of recipes including starters, mains and desserts. This is great for a mix and match approach.
I decided to make a three course meal this way and I can report that 600 calories later I felt very satisfied. I added some extras alongside for my three hungry men. The Spiced Squash and Butter Bean Soup (100kcals) was tasty and easy to make. I added cheese rolls for the men. The Smoked Fish and Spinach Gratin (300kcals) was declared ‘delicious’ and non-weight watchers ate it with a mound of mash potato. Finally, Apple and Blackberry Strudel (200kcals) was scrumptious and an easy way to impress guests. It could be served with cream.
I will certainly be working my way through some of the other recipes which look just the business to keep my resolve on track.
Quick and Easy Low Calorie Cookbook is published by Pavilion Books, cover price £14.99
I am really enjoying this book as it fits exactly with my one rule for a better diet, of eat an extra portion of vegetables with every meal, if you concentrate on eating more of the good stuff then there is less room for the bad stuff.
The book starts with an introduction to different types of greens, with key nutritional facts and suggested dishes for each one. the chapters cover breakfasts, sides, soups & salads, mains and cakes & desserts. The recipes are all easy to make with few specialty ingredients, and for any moderately experienced cook will be easy to adapt to what is on hand in your kitchen and the book has a lovely homely feel about it. Most of the recipes are photographed and all look attractive and enticing. Unlike many of the North American cookbooks I see the measurements in the UK edition have been sensibly converted for the British cook. Everything in the book is very similar to the type of food I make already and in many ways is the book that I wished I had written.
I am looking forward to adding to my repertoire of green smoothies and love the back to basics green smoothie, the sweet potato and greens burger looks perfect for a weekend supper, secret ingredient brownies are packed with spinach. I’ll also be making the pesto polenta fries and a comforting creamy spinach curry with a tofu paneer.
Perfect for anyone looking for inspiration to get more greens into their diets, omnivore, vegetarian or vegan alike. An investment in your health.
Greens 27/7 is published by Apple Press, cover price £14.99
Gut Gastronomy by Vicki Edgeson & Adam Palmer
Based on the regime at Grayshott spa the rather obvious premise behind the book is that eating the the best foods for your digestive system will improve your overall health, which does make sense if you think how large your digestive organs are, and how much energy the body uses digesting its food. Paired with the popular intermittent fasting (or 5:2 diet) which allows the digestive system time to heal and repair itself, it is a regime that you will lose weight on (various swathes of food are banned in the initial plan including dairy and grains), as well as the claimed health benefits.
The first third of the book is packed with information about the plan, nutritional information and physiology along with a 21 day menu. Much of the diet makes sense – eat a rainbow of local & organic vegetables, avoid processed food and do not get hung up on fats – learn which are the healthy ones.
Regardless if you follow the plan or not the huge strength and selling point of the book are the sumptuous photography (most recipes are photographed), and delicious sounding recipes. Beef carpaccio with pepper, chilli ginger and sesame dressing sounds and looks delicious, and is achievable by a competent cook, but I am not entirely sure it is an everyday meal. Easier to make on a weekday are the lamb koftes, spinach, butternut squash & lentil frittata, sweet potato & chick pea cakes or smokey aubergine soup with peach and green olives.
Well worth a look for the nutritional information and interesting recipes with innovative flavours regardless if you follow the full pan or not. Good for making some changes to your lifestyle. The book is not really suitable for vegetarians as many of the recipes contain meat and fish. Another stunning book from Jacqui Small.
Gut Gastronomy is published by Jacqui Small, cover price £30
A guest review from Lucy at Baking Queen 74
You cannot fail to have heard of Gennaro Contaldo, the Italian chef who inspired Jamie Oliver and in his own words taught him everything he knows about Italian cooking. In this beautifully photographed book, Gennaro shares his favourite slow cooking recipes, from soups, pasta dishes and stews, to roasts, as well as breads, cakes and more.
Some of the recipes include tips on how to make the dishes in a slow cooker, but you do not need to have a slow cooker to enjoy this book, as Gennaro himself uses casserole dishes or roasting tins for his slow-cooked recipes. As well as dishes that are cooked slowly, the book includes recipes which require marinating for several hours, to allow the flavours to develop. You might be surprised to find light recipes such as sardines marinated in orange here alongside the heavier slow cooked dishes, which add a nice variation and mean the book will be useful all year round.
I found out from reading this book that there is an official recipe for Bolognese sauce issued by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, and this is definitely one to try for the authentic Italian taste.
The recipes provide a marvellous insight into rustic Italian cooking, done the old-fashioned way with savoury bakes and cakes being baked in the wood-burning oven after the bread. Dishes that caught my eye include the roasted pork shins with oranges, lasagne with slow-cooked vegetable ragù, Tyrolean beef stew and baked peppers filled with risotto.
A great book for new or experienced cooks alike, readers are bound to enjoy this rich and diverse collection of dishes.
Gennaro: Slow Cook Italian is published by Pavilion cover price £20
Many thanks to the publishers for review copies of the above books, and to my guest reviewers. All opinions our own.