Book Reviews · Cookbook

Cookbook Review: More With Less

Overview

I have * a bit of * an obsession with cookbooks. I love reading them, buying them, checking them out from the library- and recently, I’ve started to really enjoy reviewing them. I received a digital advanced ready copy of More with Less by Jodi Moreno a few months ago, and I’m delighted to say that it’s a brilliant addition to my cookbook collection.

Jodi’s cooking is mostly plant-based, though she does use the occasional egg, pat of butter or dollop of yoghurt. Her recipes are innovative but simple- most can be on the table within 30 minutes, and very few contain ingredients you wouldn’t be able to source at a local grocery store.

Her cookbook is organised by a mix of meals and ingredients, which I initially found a bit odd, but it makes sense for the purposes of this book. There are chapters for breakfast, soup, salad, nibbles and snacks, veggie entrees, fish, and dessert. I obviously skipped over the fish section, and none of the desserts got me all that excited, but I’ve already marked loads of recipes from the breakfast and soup sections.

Some of the recipes don’t have serving sizes, which might have just been a result of my having a digital copy, but was still frustrating, because I am a firm believer in meal planning, and it’s difficult to do that if you have no idea how many people a recipe serves.

Recipes

For the purposes of this review, I cooked 3 of the recipes from the book:

  • Curried Sweet Potato and Yellow Split Pea Stew with Crispy Shallots
  • Hot Chocolate with Tahini and Cinnamon and Star Anise
  • Coconut and Ginger and Turmeric Oats

Below are my thoughts on how they turned out.

Curried Sweet Potato and Yellow Split Pea Stew with Crispy Shallots

I love making a big pot of soup for lunches, and I’m always looking for more lentil recipes, so I thought this recipe would be perfect to try out. Roasting and then mashing the sweet potatoes is a bit of a faff, but other than that it’s an easy one-pot meal. Sadly, however, it was pretty flavourless. I had to add more lemon juice, more salt, more curry powder, plus some turmeric and garlic powder to make this palatable. Curries only work if there’s a real complex depth of flavour, and this just didn’t have that.

Hot Chocolate with Tahini and Cinnamon and Star Anise

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This is my new go-to hot chocolate recipe. I was very sceptical about mixing tahini and chocolate together– despite tahini’s status as the newest ‘hot’ ingredient, I still think of it mostly as an ingredient for hummus, but oh ye of little faith. This drink was THE BOMB. Perfectly rich, thick, and, because the tahini I bought from Lidl had honey added, it was also just sweet enough. If you can’t find tahini with honey added (which is likely, since this is the first time I’ve ever seen it), I’d suggest adding a teaspoon (or four) of agave nectar to this to balance out the dark chocolate and the savouriness of the tahini.

Coconut and Ginger and Turmeric Oats

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Again, I was sceptical about this one. Turmeric and oats? Um… I’ll happily guzzle all the turmeric lattes and golden milk you can give me, but I’m picky about my oats. But again, I shouldn’t have worried! This dish was so warm and comforting. I made it on a snowy weekend morning, and it was the perfect thing to curl up with. The turmeric and ginger added a subtle spice, and the coconut milk made the oats even more filling and moreish.

Verdict

All in all, I’d recommend this cookbook. More with Less by Jodi Moreno is a great cookbook if you’re looking for innovative, easy meals, and it’s also a great read if you’re looking for some cooking inspiration. The gorgeous photographs and simple recipes make it well worth a purchase.

The book comes out tomorrow, April 24, so order now!

 

 

 

 

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Blog · Book Reviews · Cookbook

Review: Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassoff

Those of you who have seen my Instagram probably know by now that I don’t subscribe to any specific kind of plant-based eating. I don’t classify foods as “bad” or “good”, and I find just as much pleasure from Chocolate Oreos as I do from salads. Therefore, you might be wondering why I’m reviewing a cookbook that touts itself as “seasonal, clean, and nourishing” when I don’t give the “clean eating” movement much attention.

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I requested a copy of Simply Vibrant on Edelweiss+ because I’m always looking for new, exciting recipes, and I’m trying to be a bit better about cooking with different vegetables (I tend to use the same ones over and over again– broccoli, looking at you here). Many of Kassoff’s recipe ideas are inspired and look absolutely delicious, thanks to the excellent photographs included in the book, but I was a put off by the number of expensive ingredients included in both the recipes and the list of Kassoff’s pantry staples. While I won’t turn my nose at black rice, quinoa, or almond butter, those ingredients can be expensive, and I would have loved to see some cheaper substitution suggestions included in the book.

Now, on to the recipes. I chose 2 recipes to try in my kitchen: the Strawberry and Rhubarb Oven Pancake and the Baked Potato Latkes. Since it’s February in Ireland, there was not a stalk of rhubarb to be had, and the strawberries at the Lidl looked sad and artificial, so I subbed in some mango from the local Asian grocery store, wholemeal flour for the whole wheat spelt, and I have to admit, this recipe was damn tasty. I love pancakes, but sometimes I don’t want to spend half an hour at the stove flipping one batch after another, so this is the perfect solution for those weekends when I want pancakes without all the effort. I’m excited to try this out with actual strawberry and rhubarb, as well, though the basic pancake recipe would work well with many different fruits. IMG_0081

I was a bit more sceptical about the outcome of the Baked Potato Latkes. The only thing binding them together was flax seed meal, and while I’ve seen recipes before that only used the starch from the potatoes themselves to bind the latkes together for frying, I wasn’t sure that it would work quite the same in the oven. But I was wrong! These latkes were perfectly crisp on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, with a pleasing lemon flavour. They definitely took a bit longer than just frying the latkes, but again, there’s no standing in front of the stove with this recipe, which freed me up to do other things in the kitchen.IMG_0080

My Kindle copy of this cookbook did have some glitches with the formatting– ingredient lists were on the wrong page, for example. Overall, the book was well-structured, though, and I love that Kassoff notes which season each recipe should be used in,   making it easy for you to find a recipe to suit the plethora of grapes, for example, that your local CSA might stick you with.

I’ll definitely be cooking from this book again, but I’ll be using my own substitutions for spelt flour, maple syrup, quinoa because while I love the recipe ideas in this book, I do not love an astronomical grocery bill.

 

Blog · Cookbook · Roundup

The Cookbooks That Made Me a Better Cook in 2017

Cooking is one of my passions, and it was also a saving grace this past year while I was finishing up my last graduate degree. There are few things better than knowing you have a warm, filling lunch on a day when you’re in class for six hours straight. Coming home at night after a long commute and experimenting in the kitchen was also a great way to de-stress. My cooking has developed so much in the last year, and it’s mostly thanks to these cookbooks.

 

  1. The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison 51-pKzg8rDL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

I bought this book on a whim after SmartBitchesTrashyBooks listed it in one of their Daily Deals roundups, and oh am I glad I did. While I knew that vegan food could be exciting, this book taught me how to go completely off-piste, creating meals that were totally new, rather than new versions of old favourites. My top recipes from this book include the Oat Bread, Cashew Curry, and all of the Red Lentil Dals.

2. The Taco Cleanse by Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanich, Molly R. Frisinger, and Jessica Morris

I love cooking Mexican food, but prior to getting this book (also from a SmartBitchesTrashyBooks Daily Deals email), that usually meant utilising the many packets of Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning that I brought with me from the US and dumping it into some beans. This book taught me how to get the aromatics of my favourite dishes down pat, and there isn’t a recipe in here that hasn’t turned out wonderfully. My absolute favourite is the Minimalist Nacho Cheese, which tastes just like that delightful neon yellow cheese that comes out of a container at sporting events, thought the Beer Battered Portobellos are a close second.

3. Veganish by Mielle Chénier-Cowan Rose

What I love about this book is that it teaches you the basics, then has guidelines for when you want to branch out on your own and start experimenting with your own flavours. This book helped me master risotto and introduced me to Angry Sauce, aka the best pasta sauce of my whole life (so good that my Mom told me it was better than my Grandma’s!).

4.Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home by the Moosewood Collective616lDuoyIML._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

This is an oldy but a goody. My parents let me take this from their cookbook collection when I became a vegetarian two years ago, and since then I have made so many delicious recipes from it. Standouts include the Italian-Style Tofu Pizza, Tofu Burritos, and the Risotto with Pesto and Green Beans. This book might have been published in 1994, but it’s evergreen.

Pro-tips: Something I’ve found to be essential when using cookbooks is to write in them. Make notes about what worked in a recipe and what didn’t, note what spices you added or took out, and note if the portion sizing is correct. This helps future-you the next time you flip back to that recipe, so you know you’ll get a perfect finished product without having to really think about it.