Home Made in the Oven, a cookbook review

I got excited when I first found out that Yvette Van Boven was releasing a new cookbook in the US.  I had the pleasure of meeting her about a year ago during her book tour for Home Made Christmas. She and her husband Oof are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  I really believe that her endearing personality comes across in her cookbooks: in the little recipe sketch drawings, and in the little stories she writes. I often skip recipe introduction when I flip through a cookbook, but I won’t skip hers.   

The latest book (available Oct. 15th) by Van Boven is “Home Made In The Oven: Truly Easy, Comforting Recipes For Baking, Broiling, And Roasting.”  There’s over 80 recipes, I believe, all meant to be cooked in the oven. The book is simply broken down by:

  • Vegetables
  • Fish and Meat
  • Baking

Each of these sections have recipes that are categorized by month, but don’t assume there’s an equal amount of recipes for each month. There are five January recipes in the Vegetables chapter, and nothing for July or August.  To be fair, those are hot months in the Northern Hemisphere and therefore turning on the oven is the last thing anyone wants to do. The reality is there are only three July recipes and one August recipe in the whole book.

Each recipe comes with a sketch of how to make it, and a little photo in the top right hand corner.  And I do mean little.  Without grabbing a ruler, I estimate the photos are a little more than an inch by an inch and a half.  The sketches are cute, and the recipes are fairly simple and straightforward (that does not equate to boring).  

Here are the recipes that I’m most interested in making:

  • Sweet potato and spinach gratin
  • Leftover focaccia
  • Cupboard cannelloni
  • Smoky butternut squash and papaya salad
  • Oven asparagus with cashew cream
  • Stuffed autumn portobellos
  • Comforting meatballs (I’ve never seen a beef meatball with shrimp in it before)
  • Salmon, fennel and lemon with spinach miso-mayo
  • Apple almond crumble
  • Clementine yogurt cake
  • Almond apple cake
  • Baked apples with blueberries
  • Royal carrot cake muesli bars
  • Peach scone pie
  • Blackberry ricotta cake
  • Yogurt cake with lemon and ginger
  • Chocolate nut cake

 

For now though, I made the veggie filo pie (which is technically a May recipe even though it’s currently October – but it’s fine!  There’s nothing very seasonal in this dish). I’ve never bothered making a filo pie on my own before so recipe testing seemed as good a time as any.  It has leeks, garlic, spinach, chickpeas, egg, ricotta, nutmeg, smoked paprika, and crumbled feta. You make the filling, pile some filo dough strategically in a pan, and then bake.

It was so easy to make!  It’s not unhealthy either, since Van Boven’s point to this dish is to eat more vegetables.

It seems pretty easy to customize.  Since I have some leftover ingredients, I plan on making a second time this weekend.  But I’m tempted to change the spices. While I love nutmeg and smoked paprika, I felt like nutmeg was the dominant flavor.  I have an overwhelming urge to try curry powder or ras el hanout? I haven’t decided yet. (Your comments will be considered if you have other ideas.)

In general, the whole book is very approachable.  I can’t really think of a recipe in it that’s too intimidating.  If you’re picky about high quality glossy cookbook photos, then maybe this book isn’t for you, but I think everyone else will enjoy it through and through.

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Abrams for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  
Reference Links:

https://www.instagram.com/yvettevanboven/

https://yvettevanboven.eu/

https://www.abramsbooks.com/

Advertisements

Umami Bomb, a cookbook review

Umami…  One word with so many expectations!  Or rather, I tend to have high expectations when I see it thrown around.  The last time I reviewed a cookbook with the word ‘umami’ in it, I was underwhelmed by the recipe testing result.  Would “Umami Bomb” by Raquel Pelzel be equally underwhelming or will it pass expectations with flying colors?

The chapters are sorted by the main umami ingredient of the recipe.  The chapters are:

  • Parm and Other Aged Cheeses
  • Soy Sauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Miso
  • Smoke
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Fish

What sets this book slightly apart from other umami focused cookbooks is that this one is (lacto-ovo and pescatarian) vegetarian.  For better user experience (ok, that’s the nerdiest thing I’ve said on this blog), recipes are marked if they are vegan, vegan-optional, and with a rating system based on the number of umami ingredients.  What makes this book possibly better than the other umami book I’ve reviewed in the past (based on appearance only) is how approachable these recipes are. Pelzel’s book isn’t asking for any specialty ingredients if you’re living in an urban area.  It’s not asking you to build a pantry of DIY pastes, seasoning, or sauces.  

And… there’s a wealth of recipes I want to try.  I just didn’t have time to make more than one in time for this review.

  • Killer Chocolate Cake (just because I want to put soy sauce in frosting)
  • Grilled Pan Con Tomate with Miso Butter
  • Tomato ‘Nduja
  • Sick Day Tomato Soup
  • Savory Mushroom Breakfast Porridge
  • Veg and Cornbread Bake
  • Falafel-Spiced Grilled Mushrooms with Miso-Tahini Dressing
  • Mushroom Gravy
  • Caramelized Onion Korean Pancake 
  • Miso Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Polenta with Smoked Cheddar and Kale
  • Eggplant “Meatballs”

In the end, I decided to make Toasted Sesame Granola with Coconut, Orange, and Warm Spices.  I’ve never tried using sesame oil in my granola before or fresh ginger. Or soy sauce for that matter.  I try not to meddle with recipes for review, but I had to leave out the orange for this. I forgot to pick it up at the store.  Another note, cinnamon is one of the ingredients, but Pelzel suggests smoked cinnamon if you can get your hands on it. And now that I’ve made this granola, I’m seriously considering sourcing some smoked cinnamon.  The flavors in this recipe are really bold, some of the other ingredients are sesame seeds, shredded unsweetened coconut, ground ginger and ground coriander. My taste buds couldn’t really taste the sesame flavors but the amount of saltiness from the soy was perfect.  For me, the main flavors were ginger and coriander so smoked cinnamon would have matched really nicely.

View this post on Instagram

Mmmmm granola

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

Unadorned, the granola is almost overwhelming but I couldn’t stop eating it anyway.  (Isn’t that kind of the point of umami anyway?) But when I topped my plain yogurt with it, it was perfect in every way. Pelzel also suggests pairing it with chocolate ice cream so obviously I need to go pick up some chocolate ice cream, sooner rather than later.

Overall, I really appreciate how unique the granola recipe is.  It makes me excited to experiment with the other recipes.

The book doesn’t have photos for everything, but that’s ok.  The photos that are there are bright and appetizing.  I think the array of recipes nicely covers a little of everything from breakfast to dessert.  I also appreciate how approachable and functional the book appears to be.  It’s all very appealing.  I definitely recommend giving this book a try if you can.

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Workman Publishing for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  The book is released September 3, 2019.

Reference Links:

http://www.raquelpelzel.com/recipes/

https://www.workman.com/

 

Vegan Meal Prep, a cookbook review

Meal prep is a topic near and dear to my heart.  I’m often prepping 4 days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Sundays.  I try to go for meatless for breakfast and lunch, mostly because I know that I should amp up my vegetable intake in general.  You would think about after three years of meal prep (more or less) that I’d have it down to a science, but I really don’t.

Breakfasts tend to be the same recipe, week after week, until I can’t stand it anymore.  Lunches can go either way. They are variations of the same basic recipe or simple-but-new-to-me recipes.  Dinner is the one meal that I give myself more time and freedom for experimenting. I’m often flipping through recipes all week long, trying to decide what I am willing and wanting to make that weekend.  And sometimes, I end up in a mild panic and just use a tried-and-true recipe when I’m too indecisive and running out of time.

I’ve always wanted a cookbook that did all the thinking for me, which led me to pick up a review copy of Vegan Meal Prep by Robin Asbell.  Asbell’s latest cookbook is basically detailed step-by-step meal prep instructions, from start to finish.

The book is split into three major sections.  “Setting Yourself Up for Success: Five Weeks of Vegan Meals” is the first section.  The highlight in this section, in my opinion, is Vegan Nutrition Basics. Asbell is pretty detailed: listing sources of protein, omega-3, calcium, iron, and zinc.  It’s a pretty good one stop reference if you’re fully vegan.

The second section is “Meal Prep 101: Planning, Shopping, and Prepping.”  This is where you’ll find the overview of the five week meal plan, shopping lists, and the prepping instructions for each week.

The third section is “Let’s Get Cooking! 125 Vegan Recipes”, which is broken down into these chapters.

  • Vegan Staples
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Salads, Dressing, and Sides
  • Desserts and Snacks

Here are the recipes that I’m most interested in trying:

  • Whole Grain Baking Mix
  • Lemon Pecan Muffins with Apricot Cashew Spread
  • Smoky Tempeh Taco Meat
  • Sweet Potato Chickpea Cakes
  • Barley with Vanilla Apples and Spiced Sweet Potato
  • Blueberry Breakfast Squares
  • Farro and Kimchi Bowls with Kale and Sesame Dressing
  • Farro Salad with Apricots, Carrots, and Spinach
  • Tempeh, Brown Rice, and Roasted Veggie Wraps
  • Tempeh Pasta Salad with Tomato and Avocado
  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Curry
  • Black Bean and Squash Chili with Dumplings
  • Matcha-Glazed Pistachio Blondies
  • Peanut Butter Raisin Cookies

The things I liked most upon first impressions were the tips, variations, and “to pack for lunch” blurbs that frequently show up on corners of the recipe pages.  I also like how the ingredient lists are generally not intimidating nor filled with hard to find items.

The only critiques I have are two.  I wish nutritional information were listed.  I’ve seen other meal prep books that do. But for the purpose of mixing and matching for people who might be trying to watch their sugar intake, etc., it would be handy to have.  The other issue I have is the order of the recipe section. The whole book is planned around the five week meal plan/schedule but the recipes are in order by course. At least within each course type chapter, recipes are back in order by schedule and marked with which week/day the recipe belongs to.  If you’re planning to mix and match, then recipes ordered by course type makes sense. But I think if you’re planning to use the book as written, then having the recipes ordered by course type makes less sense.

In neither a “pro” nor a “con” comment, all of the recipes are meant to make about 4 servings.  So while I had originally planned on following a full week of recipes for this review, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t feasible for me.  I am not trying to feed a family of four (But you might be!),

I ended up testing two recipes: Baked Marinated Tempeh, and Breakfast Protein Cookies with Dates and Pistachios.

View this post on Instagram

Breakfast cookies

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

Both were easy to make.  I’ve made breakfast cookies before but it never occurred to me to use dates and pistachios.  I tend to use a lot of raisins. (In fact, I didn’t have time to get dates for this recipe so I used golden raisins which I think are milder in raisin flavor than the more familiar thompson seedless raisins.  Please don’t hate me for substituting.)  The cookies have good protein content, due to the sneaky addition of tofu, and don’t taste too sweet.  Having said that, the cookies actually use more sweetener than my typical baked oatmeal, and I don’t think you can reduce it as the maple syrup acts as part of the wet ingredients.  (Well, maybe you could increase the tofu?  Maple syrup and tofu are the only wet ingredients in this recipe.  Vanilla doesn’t count.  And like I said, it doesn’t taste too sweet so would reducing the sweetener be a futile exercise?)  The portion size is 3 cookies, and it seems to mostly sate my morning hunger.  (But I have a really high appetite in the mornings.  Sometimes I want more food.  Your mileage may vary.)

I liked the baked marinated tempeh too.  It never occurred to me to use apple juice as part of the marinade before.  I decided to mix up the baked tempeh with leftover marinade (which I cooked with cornstarch thinking i could use it as a sauce) and some cauliflower rice.  The natural tempeh flavor was not too strong in this recipe, so I think I’ll use it again in the near future. (However, the cooked marinade plus cauliflower tasted like… fish?  It’s a subtle enough flavor that I will push through it, but yeah, I’m never doing that combination again. lol!)

Overall, I recommend this book for anyone who wants to do more meal prepping, want a reasonable food budget, and have more than one mouth to feed.  Oh, and if you’re just trying to up your veggie intake (like me). I do have the minor reservations as listed above, but that might not bother you as much as it does me.

 

Reference Link:

https://www.robertrose.ca/book/vegan-meal-prep-5-week-plan-125-ready-go-recipes

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Robert Rose for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

 

Rice with Green Peas and Almonds

See that photo? I took the photo, but I didn’t make the rice. My friend Dawn did for Tammy’s dinner party. Dawn dropped the rice at my house earlier that day because she knew she was going to be late for dinner. I really can’t complain though – this gave me time to whip out the heavy digital camera and a chance to smell the rice all afternoon.

And when I say this smells amazing, I mean it smells AMAZING.

The recipe for this dish comes from a Hari Krishna book (seriously!). No, Dawn is not a Hari Krishna. She is very, very Italian American. However, she is a “part-time vegetarian” (as I like to call it). Stealth_eater is also a part-time vegetarian but for very different reasons. Dawn loves fish and chicken, but doesn’t really care for the taste of red meat at all. Stealth_eater does it for “health” reasons… but seeing as her health hasn’t changed for the better , she is thinking about putting some red meat back into her diet (the omnivore and the cook in me rejoices). But anyway, since Dawn is a part-time vegetarian, she loves the recipes in her Hari Krishna book. And it didn’t hurt that the book only cost her a couple of bucks.

Rice with Green Peas and Almonds
source: The Higher Taste
serves 4-5

1 cup basmati rice
3/4 tsp salt
4 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
2 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ghee or oil
1 cinnamon stick, about 1 1/2″ long (but Dawn used a 3-4″ stick without problem)
6 whole cloves
1/3 cup sliced raw almonds
1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Bring the water, salt, and turmeric to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Keep the pan covered.

Heat the ghee/oil in another medium saucepan over low-medium heat. Fry the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods, and almonds until the almonds turn a pale golden-brown. Add the rice and saute for about 2 minutes or until the grains turn translucent.

Pour in the boiling water, and if using fresh peas, add them now. Stir, increasing heat to high, and bring the water to a full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently simmer (no stirring) for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is all absorbed and the rice is tender. If using frozen peas, quickly sprinkle them over the rice halfway through the cooking time. Turn off the heat, and allow the rice to steam for another 5 minutes.

Serve while hot.