One month cooking from 1,000 Vegan Recipes

At the start of the month, I was feeling inspired by Money Saving Expert and Jenny Marie to make the most of my cookbook collection. I thought I'd start by checking out the recipes from Robin Robertson's 1,000 Vegan Recipes because well, there are one thousand of them. So many recipes, in fact, that there have been whole blogs devoted to making nothing but recipes from the book). If I couldn't find new, fun things to cook here, where could I?

I've cooked a goodly amount from 1,000 Vegan Recipes before, but my aim for this month was to cook recipes that were new to me. Things didn't get off to a great start.

I thought I'd start with something simple, like tofu... How wrong can you go with tofu-tahini veggie wraps? I'd never met a tofu dish I didn't like. Well, that was, until I made this. Tofu and tahini without much else = weird claggy mouth feel.  The taste was alright though. I won't be adding this to my regular sandwich rotation, but it's nice to meet a dish that makes you radically reassess your eating tenets, like this one. Even if it did make me reassess them in a bad way.

Then things got worse. I made the soytan dream cutlets. Disclaimer: I really have a problem with making seitan. I don't like the taste or the texture when it's homemade, though it seems to be fine whenever I buy it or eat it at a restaurant though. The old 'it's not me, it's you' doesn't wash when it comes to seitan. It's most definitely me.

With that in mind, why I thought making seitan cutlets (even ones with tofu in) would be a good idea is beyond me. There's something about the texture of seitan when you knead it that puts me in mind of biological tissue. And not in a good way (as if there was a good way). I mean, it tasted decent - especially in a sandwich with tomato and kale with caesar dressing - but I couldn't get the tissue image out of my mind. Sorry, seitan. It's not you. It really is me, but I don't think we can see each other again.

So, that's the bad bits done. Now onto the good bits. I made some chapatis. Well, sort of. I made some flatbreads. I overcooked them, so they were a bit on the crisp side. I say 'a bit on the crisp side', I mean 'stiff enough to use as a frisbee'. Either way, they were good. I should make flatbreads more often.

And then, I made tofu waldorf salad wraps. I knew this was going to be a winner before I tried it, because waldorf always is. Especially when the recipe tells you to toast the walnuts. You know when a cookbook tells you to toast walnuts, the author knows what they're up to. Note to self: always toast walnuts.

The next recipe, golden sunshine roasted veg spread, was even more of a revelation. It's roasted veggies and tahini, and that's pretty much it. Sounds a bit meh, tastes amazing - soft, sweet, and sesame-y. It's good for a dip, but also a grand sandwich filling, or a respectable side. I'll be making this all purpose dish several times over in future.

By now, the feeling I'm getting that 1,000 Vegan Recipe's speciality is simple, tasty dishes made from store cupboard and fridge staples. I think that's mainly because I was trying to make things from the food I had, rather than go out back to the local supermarket for some extras.

Which is why I made brown rice and lentil pilaf, and carrot-cranberry with citrus-walnut vinaigrette. As a lunch, it's not going to win awards, but I made it about half an hour with stuff I'd foraged from my kitchen. The pilaf was a bit underpowered for my sand-blasted tastebuds, but nothing a more generous hand with the cumin wouldn't fix. I love the carrot-orange salad though, which put me in mind of Christmas with its walnuts and cranberries.

And it wouldn't be a proper cookbook experiment if there wasn't a cake.  And, erm, I didn't make a cake. I made more of a mess.

I made the chocolate-rum coffee cake, and when I tried to turn it out of the mould, it refused to play ball and came out in several piece and lots of crumbs though. Oh, but what crumbs. This was hands down one of the best cakes I've made in recent times. And, even though it was a bit crumbly, I'd definitely make it again (and again, and again...)

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  1. Yes indeedy we have to make more use of our cookbooks. I have Vegan Planet from Robin Robertson, but not see the cookbook you make reference to, regardless I am impressed that you have started as you mean to go on - cooking from your cookbooks. I am pleased to say that I am with you on that, as i have cooked 4 recipes from one particular vegan cookbook, and that is not like me.

    I now what you mean about seitan, although i make it at home there is an aspect about it that grosses me out.

  2. I am impressed! All of that from one cookbook in one month is a great effort. The dishes all sound good, too, even the titles of those that didn't quite work out. I'm going to have to try making something like the 'golden sunshine roasted veg spread' as that's a great idea.

  3. I've had those cookbook bad starts, too, only to find loads of great recipes as I moved forward. 1,000 recipes is a lot to come up with, and think everyone will like! The dip sounds awesome, and I'll take your word on the cake. :D

  4. I don't know the cookbook but I am sure I have a few of hers and they are pretty easy sort of recipes - my experience has been a bit hit and miss but the good ones here sound really good - though I confess I forgot to toast walnuts too often. I love your photo of the chocolate cake because we have all had cake turn out like that but I don't seem many pics of it like that :-)

  5. Bummer a couple of the recipes didn't work out for you. But if most of them did, then I'll still call that cookbook a winner. I'm not much of a baker myself so I can totally relate to cake mishaps. All is forgiven though if it tastes good. :-)


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