I have long been a fan of the recipes by Janet at the taste space blog, so I was pleased to be asked to review an e-cookbook, A Vegan Dinner Party by Janet Malowany, Anya Kassoff and Allyson Kramer (published by Erudition). Given the combined extensive experience of these writers, there is no surprise that this is a collection of innovative vegan recipes. These recipes are far lighter than the usual rich dinner party fare and yet still impressive.
|Crispy Beer Soaked Sweet Potato Fries|
|Black Bean and Avocado Enchiladas|
The Mains section has some showstoppers that I would love to be served at a dinner party: Black Bean and Avocado Enchiladas, Broccoli Stem Risotto, and Cellophane Noodles with Crispy Vegetables. A few recipes like the pizza or the onion flowers are in need of accompanying dishes. Some ideas for menus would be really helpful and would bring together some of the recipes in the book. More notes about making meals ahead would also be useful for dinner party planning.
|The Best Vegan Pizza|
|Tamarind Roasted Eggplant and Chickpeas|
- Crispy Beer Soaked Sweet Potato Fries - these were easy and tasted different to regular fries. The beer gives them a yeasty hoppy flavour that moderates the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. They were soft inside with crispy bits on the outside and very moreish. I would be more likely to serve them as a side than a starter but I can see them making a repeat appearance in our kitchen.
- Black Bean and Avocado Enchiladas - this was a complicated dish that I made on a weekend when I had enough time. It is just the sort of thing I would spend time on for a dinner party. It tasted great and looked attractive too.
- The Best Vegan Pizza - as a regular baker of pizza, I was initially dubious about the claim that it was the "Best" but I was won over when I made it. The base was 100% wholemeal and so soft and bready. The sauce was so easy, so rich and so delicious. I used vegan cheese because I had some Notzarella but I agree it is not essential.
- Tamarind Roasted Eggplant and Chickpeas - I really enjoyed this curry with rice but E thought it needed something else with it. We both enjoyed the leftovers on a wrap with some avocado and tomato.
- Apple Pie Parfaits - this was my most challenging dish. The apples took ages to cook, my timing was all wrong, and I had bought a vegan yoghurt for the recipe that I found tasted awful. I ended up using dairy yoghurt and only had enough of it for one serve; the remaining apple and nuts went into my porridge. It looked attractive and tasted nice but did not remind me of an apple pie. Nor did the apple and date filling taste like caramel to me. However it would be a refreshing dessert in summer.
|Apple Pie Parfait|
I was interested to look at the e-book formatting. I have only used a few e-cookbooks. This one was the first I have seen that isn't just a pdf document. It showed me the potential of online publishing. I loved the drop down menu, the section for the reader to type notes and the ability to include video demonstrations of techniques. Every recipe had a photo and some had step by step photos. While I still love to hold and browse a hardcopy cookbook, I am fascinated by the technological capabilities of e-books. I was quite amazed at how easy it was to browse this e-book.
What I really disliked was the need to click between ingredients and step by step instructions. It is best practice on the internet is to minimise clicks. Many of these clicks seemed unnecessary and it made it awkward to be clicking backwards and forwards between the ingredients and the instructions while making dishes. I have since discovered that while the ingredients just on one page on iBooks, when viewing the e-book online the ingredients stay at the bottom of each page that has the instructions for that recipes. I prefer the online recipe format but the iBooks download had a better photo display.
Overall I would certainly recommend A Vegan Dinner Party for anyone who wants to cook and share interesting vegan recipes.
Giveaway by Janet: One of the authors, Janet, is currently holding a giveaway of this e-book on her blog at the taste space. You need to be quick as she will draw the winner on 20 June 2014.
To Purchase: A Vegan Dinner Party is now available to buy directly on the Erudition website, where it can be read on computer/tablet via the web browser and downloaded for offline reading as iBooks or Kindle formats.
Disclosure: I was given a free e-book voucher by Erudition. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.