Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
Marlowe & Company, 2007
Even though there are only four episodes, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Post-Punk Kitchen remains one of the most entertaining vegan cooking shows ever. EVER! After all, what better way to find out about an awesome band like Made Out Of Babies than by watching them play vegetable-instruments in Isa’s living Brooklyn living room? Sadly, I doubt we’ll be seeing any new episodes now that Isa’s moved to Portland to live with the other 98% of North American vegans, but don’t fret too badly: Isa and Terry’s cookbooks will help you forget the lack of good vegan cooking shows. Vegan With a Vengeance remains one of my favorite vegan cookbooks and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World was so successful, it made Isa hate cupcakes. Veganomicon continues the tradition of greatness (three makes a tradition, right?).
This nearly 300-page book offers up over 250 snacks, brunch items, salads, dressings, sandwiches, casseroles, one-pot meals… you get the idea. Everything’s covered.
The Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream was the first thing we tried. My margin commentary reads: “Takes a long-ass time, but is really good. Very lasagna-y.” There are layers of eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, tomato sauce, and breadcrumbs topped by an incredibly delicious pine nut cream that I think would also taste good in a pizza setting. This dish isn’t one you’ll want to make on a night you get home from work at 6pm, but it’s an outstanding one to break out on a weekend.
One recipe that’s gotten a lot of praise on various forums is the Chickpea Cutlets. It lives up to the hype. It’s the cutlet for vegans who are ready to to move beyond regular ol’ mock meats.
The Curried Tofu was really good on sandwiches, the Black Bean Burgers are a good go-to burger, the hummus is what you’d expect (in a good way), and the White Bean Aioli is a nice variation on the standard mayo-heavy sauce. The only dish we haven’t cared for so far is the Grilled Yuca Tortillas. It’s OK, but not one we’ll be returning to.
Some other recipes I’m looking forward to trying: Chestnut-Lentil Pate, Saffron-Garlic Rice, Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits, Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-fry, Pumpkin-Cranberry Scones, and a simple Vanilla Ice Cream. Oh, and the Smlove Pie because it looks absolutely insane. Quite simply, there is so much here, you will never tire of this book. The variety that Isa and Terry come up with is truly amazing and it’s exceedingly rare that you stumble upon a dud, thanks to how much testing goes into each of their books (hi PPK forum people!).
The book’s been compared to a high school math book and I’d say that’s apt. But I like it. It’s sturdy and stands out on the bookshelf. And huge thumbs up for presenting the full list of recipes in the table of contents. As you may remember, that’s my number one most important requirement in a cookbook’s design.
Of course, the writing’s great. Isa and Terry know their stuff, but their writing lacks the pretense of most cookbooks of this complexity level. There are sections on kitchen equipment, stocking your pantry, terminology, how to lower fat in your cooking, and basic instructions for cooking vegetables, grains, and beans. In addition, they provide helpful menu combinations and an organization of recipes by the time they take to cook, their fat content, gluten-free and soy-free recipes, and the most interesting: “Supermarket-Friendly Recipes.” For this last category, the ingredients had to be easily found in a supermarket near Isa’s in-laws in rural Vermont.
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Veganomicon for someone who has to call their mother to find out how to boil water (I swear, I never did this. OK, maybe I did, but I was 15 and babysitting.), as the recipes can be somewhat involved and time-consuming. But for those of us that have gotten comfortable around a kitchen since becoming vegan, it’s an absolute must-have.
The next book in the series will be a brunch-themed book, which may or may not be named after an object in Evil Dead 2 (Vegan Brunches for People With Chainsaw-Hands, perhaps?). Isa’s blogged about other books-in-the-works, but I’m having trouble finding the post. I’ll be eagerly awaiting each and every one.
I’m closing with this picture. It’s old, but I still love it: