Cookbook Challenge: Shut up and Eat!

Shut up and Eat! by Tony Lip and Steven Priggé is a cookbook, but unlike most cookbooks, it’s not just a collection of recipes. The book does include a lot of recipes, but in my opinion the stories are the best part of the book. Many famous Italian-American actors share their memories about food, movies and life and after the story they also share their best recipes. Some recipes are old family recipes, some are from famous restaurants and some are just food they like to cook. You can read about Tony Lip’s days in the army, how he later worked in nightclub Copacabana in New York City, how he served dinner to young Sopranos fans who came to his door asking for autograph. And then you can cook same Pasta Fagiole he cooked for Mickey Rourke when they lived together in Los Angeles. And this was just the first of many actors in the book and about 20 first pages.

As you can expect, the recipes include a lot of animal products. Few are already vegan (just don’t sprinkle the optional parmesan cheese on top), some are easy to veganize and many recipes are impossible to veganize.

Who would I recommend this book to? The stories I would recommend to anyone, but I wouldn’t recommend the recipes for veg(etari)ans. I’m happy to own this book, but I read it as a collection of interesting tales, not as a great recipe collection.

I’m going to skip this challenge in February for two reasons. A) I’m starting to work overtime next week and I don’t want any extra work with cooking. B) I want to cook more from One Dish Vegan and Shut up and Eat!
I’ll return to the cookbook challenge in March or April.

Cookbook Challenge: One-Dish Vegan

I got Robin Robertson’s One-Dish Vegan from VeganMoFo 2013 giveaway. Once again, I was browsing the book a lot and reading the recipes when I got it, but only cooked couple of recipes. That’s why I didn’t blog about it then. I knew December would be a busy month with holidays and everything, so this book seemed a perfect choice for weekday dinners. The rule in my challenge is that I have to cook at least once a week something from the book, and this month I cooked something 2-3 times a week, except during the holidays.

One-dish in this case means that the dinner is served from one dish, you may need more for preparing. But in many recipes it does mean you need only one pot or pan for making and serving the dish. The book also has conversion tables for liquid and weight measurements and oven temperatures. I love this, it’s really useful for us who live outside US. I hate when the recipe says I have to bake something in 375 F and I have no idea how hot is that in Celsius degrees, and I have to go and google it.

The book is filled with recipes for soups, stews, pasta, baked dishes, chilis, salads and other dishes that can be made quite easily. They don’t require hours of cooking, so they’re great for cooking on weekdays after work. Polenta bake was a clever idea. If you know you won’t have much time for cooking, you can prepare it day before and just bake it for dinner.

My favourite part of the book was the soups. Usually soup recipes are a bit boring, but not in this book. They are hearty and they’re filled with vegetables and a protein source, so they’re a complete meals, not just starters. My favourite recipe in the whole book is Creamy Bean and Winter Vegetable Soup (p. 29). I haven’t tried Indonesian Noodle Soup with Tofu or Spicy Peanut Soup yet, but they sound so great that they may be even better.

I skipped the salad section, because I want to have warm dinners when the weather is cold. But how about Mediterranean Rice and Chickpea Salad or Citrus-Dressed Quinoa and Black Bean Salad next summer? I’m sure they’ll also be great lunches for work.

I recommend this book for anyone, who isn’t allergic to tomatoes, since a lot of recipes include tomatoes in some form. Many recipes call for a can of fire roasted tomatoes, which are not available here, so I substituted them with regular crushed tomatoes or chopped sun dried tomatoes. Otherwise the ingredients are easy to find, you can buy most of them from any supermarket.

Cookbook Challenge

I like to read cookbooks. I buy them or borrow them from the library, but I rarely cook anything from them. I wanted to change this and challenged myself to cook more from the cookbooks that sit neglected on the book self.

My personal Cookbook Challenge has simple rules: Every month I pick a cookbook and I have to cook something from it at least once a week.

For November I picked Vegaanikeittiön käsikirja by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman, which is the Finnish translation of The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. I have been browsing this book, but I don’t think I had actually tried any of the recipes until beginning of November.

This book is written for omnivores who want to become vegan, so I’m not quite part of the target group. If you’re used to cook with animal products and want to stop eating them or reduce the amount you eat them, this book is for you. This book has instructions and tips for substituting meat, dairy, eggs and honey with plant based products, so it’ll help you to create vegan versions of your old favourite recipes. The authors have even added non-vegan sample recipes with instructions how to veganize them. The book also has chapters about substituting gluten, soy, processed sugar and fat, so if you’re allergic or want to eat healthier this book has recipes and tips for you too. We have been vegans for years, so we’re familiar with cooking with tofu and seitan, or baking without eggs. The cheese substituting chapter was my favourite, and it had good tips and recipes for us too. I didn’t try any of the cheese recipes during this challenge month, mostly because I didn’t have ingredients at home and was too lazy to go buy them, but I definitely will try them one day.

I hate one thing in this book: the recipe index. It’s nearly impossible to find anything from it. My favourite recipe was called Grillipavut (probably Barbecue Beans in the English version) and normally I’d expect to find it from G in the index. Not in this book. You have to guess how the authors have categorized it. Maybe it’s a main course? No. Side dish? No. Meat substitutes? No. Finally, here it is in the soups and stews. It’s easier to just browse the book to find the recipe you’re looking for. If someone has made a usable index for this book, please let me know. I’d be happy to print one for me too.

I think the translators have made couple of mistakes, like I think seitan ribs recipe should call for gram flour, not graham flour. And the translators haven’t bothered to convert the cups to dl. They just suggest buying measuring cups and have added approximate amounts in dl in parenthesis in the recipes. I’d expect a Finnish translation would use dl, since we use metric system here.

There are some imperfections in the book, but in general it’s quite good. I’d recommend this to anyone who want to eat more vegetables and less animal products. During this month I found couple of recipes that I’ll definitely make again, and several interesting recipes I haven’t tried yet.