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One week cooking from Vegan with a Vengeance

I've never had pasta alfredo, but I gather it must be something of an American institution by the frequency with which it crops up in vegan cookbooks from the States.

Clearly, it was time for me to break my alfredo duck. Step up, Vegan with a Vengeance, which offers its own take on the creamy pasta recipe with Fettucine Alfreda. (Yes, pasta spotters, it would appear that the fettucine has come in fancy dress as macaroni in the photo below. Let's just keep that between us, shall we?)

Whether the traditional alfredo recipe has broccoli in it, I don't know. If it doesn't, it really should - it's one of my favourite veggies and the perfect irony foil for the creamy sauce.  Pine nuts and nutritional yeast are the basis of the sauce, and a delightfully mild, slightly cheesy one it was too.


With a surfeit of carrots in the fridge, the Carrot Bisque was another Vegan with a Vengeance recipe crying out to be made this week. I didn't stick entirely by the recipe though: while VwaV said to puree only half the soup, to me, bisques should be entirely pureed so I liquidised the lot, and amped up the curry powder levels to boot. The result was a velvety sweet soup shot through with warming spices -just what a wet London day called for.


Second carrot recipe was Carrot and Raisin Muffins, although due to the fact that I hate hate hate raisins and love love love sultanas, they ended up being carrot and sultana muffins instead. The batter seemed a bit wet when I was putting it into the cases, and the muffins showed that to be true, ending up with a squidgy, pancakey texture. They still tasted great though, and I kind of liked the cross between pancake and muffin.


We also had a picnic recently, and when I was wondering how to combine the dog ends of rubbish in my fridge into a decent alfresco meal, VwaV stepped up with the Tofu Dill Sandwich. It wasn't the trickiest of recipes  - tofu, couple of condiments, bit of dill - and it took about two second to put together, but didn't taste like it. It held up on its journey to the picnic, and proved yet again that tofu is pretty much the ideal canvas for whatever you want to throw at it.



I didn't love the Chipotle, Sweetcorn and Black Bean Stew as much. It was fine, but had nothing to distinguish from the legions of tomato-based one pot meals that came before it. 


My final making was the Curried Split Pea Soup. Like the carrot bisque, it needed the spice level hiked up, and some quality time with the blender - without a good pureeing, it looked like something that you might see exiting an unfortunate victim of a digestive complaint on Casualty.

But that was a minor bum note in the VwaV recipe pantheon. Despite a front cover that harks back to some leaden age of veganism that nodded towards hemp and crustiness, the recipes were nothing of the kind. A bit more spice here and there would have stood VwaV in better stead, but I still enjoyed spending a week in its company.

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3 comments

  1. I have heard from several people that there were translation problems between American and British editions of this cookbook, especially for baking recipes. Maybe that explains the carrot muffin texture problems. Everything looks really good, and you've made me think twice about some recipes from that book that I have previously skipped over! Tofu dill salad, though, is the best ever - I love fresh dill so much.

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  2. I do struggle with the US/UK conversion for baking - for some things, like sugar, it makes total sense. But for others it throws me - say, when a recipe asks for a cup of chopped onions. Surely that's a bit of a moveable feast - doesn't it depend on how finely I chop my onions and how tightly I pack them in? I need a US cook or two to explain!

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  3. I've made those first 2 recipes a lot of times. Must go back to that book, it was my first vegan cookbook and there's loads I still haven't tried. My sister and I call the Alfreda our hangover prevention pasta, must be something about all the B vitamins in the nooch, we've convinced ourselves that it works! I love the pumpkin muffins, tagine, orecchiette, risotto, crepe and pad thai recipes in it too!

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