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on May 4, 2004
As a longtime vegan and cooking enthusiast, I was drawn to this book because it claimed to offer mouthwatering and "voluptuous" vegan recipes. It is indeed a very well organized cookbook and many of recipes are very creative. Unfortunately, the recipes did not meet my standards in terms of taste. Many of the main dishes are needlessly complex and take hours to make. I made the Moussaka tonight and, after hours of preparation, was disappointed with the result, which was only mediocre. This was also the case with the Mushroom, French Lentil, and Chesnut Ragu, the Shepherd's Pie, and the Mushroom Filo Triangles with Delicata-Porcini Sauce. I've found the simpler dishes, such as the African Groundnut Stew, the Succotash, and the Broccoli Rabe Polenta, to be more satisfying. I have avoided making most of the Latin-themed recipes (and there are quite a few) because they call for too many types of chilis. The Chili and Corn-biscuit Casserole, for example, requires three types of chilis; this seems unreasonable.
This is not a book for a half-hearted cook who is not prepared to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. This book may be useful for dinner parties, if one is planning to make the entire suggested menu, but individual dishes didn't seem strong enough on their own. For simpler, more time-efficient, and tasty dishes, I recommend The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.
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on March 11, 2003
I am writing this because of the person who said the recipes were bland -- i couldn't believe it! So far I am not only impressed with this book, but genuinely thrilled to have found a really gourmet cookbook for balanced, healthy vegan meals. If I'm having people over they don't even notice there's no meat. It's so elegant, and the ingredients come from across the globe (you do have to carry a lot of groceries for some of them!). The issue I think someone would have is, one must have access to good health food and specialty stores and special produce. You have to have a food processor, blender, spice grinder etc. and the recipes have many elements so it takes a while to complete. But the results for me, so far, are wonderful. I wonder if the person who found it bland was using old spices and substituting ingredients? I am a trained chef, and I think the recipes are somewhat complicated, so can imagine that the average cook might find some of them time-consuming to reproduce adequately. If that is the case, my advice is, make sure you've got the necessary equipment, get fresh organic produce, grind your own spices (or use brand-new ones) and leave yourself an entire afternoon to do it right.
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on November 6, 2003
I confess to never buying a cookbook without taking a copy home from the library for a test spin. In the end I find most cookbooks don't translate well from dreams to dinner!
As a "working cookbook", The Voluptuous Vegan truly shines!
In practice I have found the recipes come together quite easily and their flavor is fantastic! Brand new cooks may be intimidated by the look of some recipes, as they tend to look harder or more futsy then they actually come off in the kitchen. One of the reasons for this is the author's detailed explanations of steps--which is actually a nice feature. Also, ingredient lists are longer than non-vegan/vegetarian recipes because the deep rich flavors of the recipes don't rely on meat to prop them up.
I would recommend this cookbook to anyone, vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore! It's just tasty, tasty, tasty!
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on December 2, 2000
Anyone, vegetarian or carnivore, who is looking for a useful and delicious collection of recipes should own a copy of this book. I eat a broad range of foods and didn't think I'd be that interested in exclusively vegan dishes, but I've been pleasantly surprised. Every dish I've tried from this book has been incredibly rich-tasting and delicious. Last night I served the Caribbean Black Bean soup at a gathering and it was the hit of the party; it had amazing depth of flavor. Despite the complexity of tastes in these dishes, the recipes are all very easy to follow, and every step is explained clearly, so even if you're a novice cook, you shouldn't have any problem creating incredible meals. There are lots of cool cooking tips, and the book is actually quite fun to read. It's also beautifully laid-out and designed, and the cover is a knock-out! The Voluptous Vegan would make a great gift for anyone who wants to avoid animal products, who is allergic to dairy, who is trying to eat healthier, or who just wants to learn how to prepare scrumptious, delicious meals and desserts. I HIGHLY recommend it!
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on September 17, 2002
I have loved everything I've made from this book. You can serve these dishes to guests without worrying about whether or not they'll like vegan food. I rate it five stars for flavor, but withheld a star overall because many of the recipes have long ingredient lists and/or instructions. So I don't turn to it if I want to make something quick and easy in a hurry. But when I'm cooking for fun or for guests, and have the time, this is the first book that comes off the shelf.
I suppose the menu arrangement will be useful for some, but I ignore it, generally just making one dish at a time. Other reviews have complained about the organization, but it's not a big deal: there's an excellent index, which is the most useful way to browse for recipes.
This book goes way beyond tofu, but I mention it because I've been trying to love tofu for a long time and have found it hard! Then I made the baked Ginger tofu on page 76, and it's become a staple. So yummy I find myself eating it cold from the fridge with my fingers. I made it last night, thinking about summer rolls from the leftovers, but -- ooops! -- all gone!
I highly recommend this book for any gourmet or weekend chef who wants an expanded repertoire, new ideas, and delicious ways to include more healthy dishes in his/her diet.
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on June 25, 2002
Okay, so it's pretty clear from the other reviews that most of the recipes are complex and she often calls for "unusual" ingrediants, but she opens up a world of multi layered, textured, and flavored foods. An example might be the Paella, the recipe calls for garbanzo beans and cauliflower to be roasted seperatly and then added close to serving time. One could easily cook those ingredients at the same time, in the same way, as the other vegetables and it would still be good but roasting them adds another element that raises it above. I haven't made nearly everything in this book(partially because I keep going back to the same recipes)but everything I have made has been wonderful,from black bean soup, to latkas, to garbanzo bean crepes, to cakes. In my opinion her recipes are easy to follow and allow room for variation. The finished results have always been worth the extra time, and leave me feeling like a chef not just the person cooking dinner.
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on July 28, 2001
This is a fantastic cookbook and is quickly becoming my very favorite (out of more than 30 that I own). The gazpacho recipe alone is worth the price of the book, but every recipe I've tried has been both delicious and beautiful to look at. And the recipes are complete in themselves--they don't rely on meat, egg, and dairy substitutes. This is especially good for new vegans-- so many recipes make you think about how it would have been perfect with a tiny bit of cheese, or just one egg to hold it together... These recipes don't taste as if anything's been left out or substituted for. They are a bit time-consuming, but the results are worth it.
Two caveats, neither of which should deter you from buying the book (I just like to complain). First, you may need to adjust the oil and salt. When I make these recipes I usually use about 3/4 of the salt it calls for and maybe half of the oil. (I think the reason for this is the same as why vegetarian cookbooks of the 1970s called for pounds and pounds (way more than necessary) of eggs, cheese, and butter--just to make sure the recipe would turn out well. Vegan food has become the new frontier, and I think the author went just a bit overboard trying to ensure that the food would be truly 'voluptuous'.) But once you tweak it, the flavor combinations are incredible.
Second (in case anyone from Clarkson Potter or Random House is reading this): the copyediting and proofreading were terrible. Lots of misspelled and repeated words, other mistakes that should have been caught like 'roll' for 'role', and more troubling, in one of the dessert recipes, four TABLESPOONS of vanilla are called for. Clearly, this should be four TEASPOONS, but you wouldn't know that if you didn't bake often (and a lot of vegans don't)... I hope they proofread it again before the second printing. Didn't stop me from giving the book five stars, though, because the recipes really are that good; buy it.
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on January 23, 2001
Okay, I admit it... I began by breaking the first rule of book selection. I judged Ms. Kornfeld's book by its absolutely gorgeous cover. I admit to this offence, but upon delving into this truly luscious book, I found its contents more than upheld any preconceived notions I may have had.
Now, I've been trained as a chef myself, but I had had little experience with purely vegan menus and was a little curious how one could cook (or more specifically bake) entirely without eggs or dairy.
Ms. Kornfeld has opened my eyes. Truly, her real focus isn't solely the promotion of veganism. It encompasses delicious and natural foods which are a creative joy to prepare and even more of a pleasure to devour.
Without question, her depth of knowledge shines brightly throughout "The Voluptuous Vegan" whether it is through her extensive culinary background or her obvious nutritional expertise. Every ingredient, every recipe has been thoroughly researched to balance taste, flavour and dietary requirements.
The beginning of the book, with its excellent information on various foods, cooking materials and culinary terms, would give confidence to even the most desperate of kitchen warriors and her choice of separating the book into various menus is brilliantly-conceived - perfect for those of us who may not be as knowledgable about matching dishes for a feast.
The recipes are stylishly layed-out, the diagrams easy to follow and the instructions written in a very comfortable tone. All of these help to make the recipes simple to read and execute.(Ms. Kornfeld even gives ideas on where to locate more-exotic ingredients.)
And that's the really wonderful part. Ms. Kornfeld has generously included a tremendous amount of ideas in "The Voluptuous Vegan" - not only in the form of creative recipes, but also with serving hints, substitute ingredients, an extensive glossary, a list of resources and many handy culinary tips set into neat boxes throughout the text - and all this wisdom is bestowed with a jovial ease. Just like cooking with an old friend.
Still think that I may be judging this book prematurely? A meal of the Roasted Corn Soup finished with the Chocolate Coconut Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting will erase any lingering doubts you may have, I guarantee it (yes, one can bake without eggs and dairy - with Ms. Kornfeld as your guide!) You'll wonder why its taken you so long to discover vegan food!
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on December 29, 2001
First, the pros of this book: The recipes seem like they would be delicious, great glossary of terms and ingredients in the back of the book, explanation of ways to prepare (dice, mince, etc.) at the beginning of the book, and a nice list of mail-order places where you can order some of the spices and other ingredients.
Now, for the cons ... Let me start off by saying that I am only a beginner vegan cook. I like fast and easy recipes, which these certainly are not. The author is a professional chef and it shows. The recipes require a lot of ingredients that can't be found at my local grocer's. I don't live near an Asian market so these recipes aren't easily accessible, especially all those vegetables and different types of mushrooms. The recipes also seem pretty complicated. Several of the recipes have multiple parts, which means you'd better plan on spending some time on them. Even if I did have the ingredients required, I know that I wouldn't be using these recipes everyday. As a working mom, I would only attempt these recipes on the weekend, my days off, or special occassions.
I liked the way the book was organized, with a glossary, index, sketches, and explanations, but I don't feel like I'm ready for these recipes yet (because the recipes seem complicated and because I don't have half the ingredients required). I think that veteran vegan cooks will really enjoy this cookbook, but for beginners like me who are just looking for everyday recipes to use, this cookbook is not a good fit.
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on June 23, 2001
This is a recipe book that will not only become dog-eared with use, but you will rave about it again and again to your friends. If you have a meat-eater that you are trying to cook for, this will be the book that brings him or her over to the vegan side of life. To say that this is simply a recipe book would be giving you only half the picture. This book is full of delicious recipes, as well as an amazing amount of cooking and food information. You could actually just sit and read this book. The recipes are rich and fulfilling, and the blends of foods are just different enough to entice you and your family to try new things. I think the single, most important bit of information gleaned from this book was the recipe for tofu cream that had endless variations. It may sound trivial, but often the richness of a dairy product like sour cream really makes a dish, and often, that is the one thing that I miss. This tofu substitute is entirely satisfying, and dare I say, even better because you can transform it to fit the dish.The preconceived notion that all vegan fare leaves you hungry and unsatisfied will be quashed when you try some of the heartier choices like Shepard's Pie and Thai Vegetable Stew, which requires only a simple trip to your local Asian grocery store. For dessert, there are fabulous recipes for Chocolate Mousse Cake, fruit pies and cobblers and Cashew-Cinnamon Ice Cream for starters. The best thing about this book is that the recipes are laid out step-by-step so that you can easily follow them. Also, helpful hints are liberally sprinkled throughout. I recommend this cookbook because it not only has many new and different recipes for the vegan family; it also includes rich, tempting foods that you will love to make.-Reviewed by Amy Rawson
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