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Vicki’s Vegan Kitchen, Vicki Chelf (Square One Publishers, 2011)

Fifteen years ago, a friend treated us to her version of Vegan chopped liver paté.  It was so similar to what I remembered chopped liver tasting like that I requested the recipe.  The first time I made the recipe it was a bright spring green instead of the typical brown color one would expect from chopped liver!  When I asked if perhaps she had left out an ingredient, she assured us it must have been that we did not use a specific brand of veggie broth. So the next time I used that brand only to have it turn out bright green again!  Despite our best efforts and numerous requests for guidance, our preparation of the recipe never looked like chopped liver although it was tasty.  This cookbook contains a recipe that does replicate the taste, texture and color of that earlier recipe – “Vegan Chopped Liver”.

Chelf’s book is an expression of her enjoyment of working with food – in this case, delicious vegan food. There is an extensive section covering ingredients, cooking techniques, and discussion of food sources (why you should select organic, among others).  The book also includes a fairly extensive Resource section as well.  Also, there is a strongly supportive forward by Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  There are no photographs of the recipes in the book, but there are soft hand-drawn pictures (drawn by the author) that help describe the book’s message.  The drawings are particularly helpful in showing techniques for recipe preparations.  However, for those of you who look to have full nutritional information on the recipes included in this book you will be disappointed as there are none.

In addition to the Vegan Chopped Liver recipe we made several other dishes from the book.  The recipes use fresh unprocessed foods. The Macaroni and Vegetable Casserole was simple with a nice combination of vegetables and a lovely sauce that makes use of silken tofu, miso and Dijon mustard.  The vegetables are sautéed in a combination of Bragg Liquid Aminos, water and thyme, using these ingredients rather than higher caloric oils.  The Fettuccini with Porcini Wine Sauce had great flavors, but I would not use the red onions again as they never seemed to soften and were a distraction from the tasty, meaty mushrooms.  That’s a personal preference of ours as we prefer onions very well cooked.

If you are looking for a cookbook that presents healthy, easy to make recipes that are full of flavor, this could be the cookbook for you.  As Dr. Barnard writes in his forward in the book, “Whether you have been following a vegan diet for years or you’ve decided to dive in and try this healthy way of eating for the first time, Vicki’s Vegan Kitchen is the perfect guide”.  I have to agree.

Glenn McCarthy