On amazon.com, kittee68, food obsessed long time vegan, writes: “Not only are your recipes the tastiest, support healthy diet, and easy to make, but they are so INNOVATIVE. YOU ARE TRULY THE MOST INNOVATIVE VEGETARIAN AUTHOR OF ALL TIME. I have a ton of cookbooks, and they all just do and redo the same things. But your books tell you how to make new stuff…I get SO smart from you Bryanna.”
From Ron Pickarski, author of EcoCuisine and Friendly Foods; Culinary Olympics gold-medal winning executive chef:
“This excellent vegetarian Italian Cookbook by Bryanna Clark Grogan brings the spirit,history, and cuisine of Italy into the twenty-first century with a breath of fresh air.She inspires the reader with her culinary wisdom and artfully marries vegetarianism with traditional Italian cuisine in an authentic manner.”
From Ken Bergeron, author ofProfessional Vegetarian Cooking; Culinary Olympics gold-medal winning executive chef:
“Nonna’s Italian Kitchen unfolds like a wonderful Italian meal.As would the courses of a feast, each recipe stimulates the taste buds and keeps one anticipating the next chapter.From her soundly written, innovative, and well-researched text, Bryanna serves up delicious information with the generosity of an Italian grandmother.”
From Mindy Toomay, author of Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes, Best 125 Vegetable Dishes,Best 125 Meatless Main Dishes; and several other books:
“Bryanna Clark Grogan’s grasp of Italian ingredients and techniques is extraordinary, and her translation of traditional dishes into vegan terms is a boon to health-wise cooks.But beyond mere instruction, her book delivers tremendous inspiration. In it, Grogan imparts not just the substance, but the soul, of Italian cooking.”
Here's a honey of a cookbook for every vegetarian and a must for the vegan kitchen. Who doesn't enjoy Italian favorites like pizza, pasta, minestrone, lasagne, risotto, and tiramisu? The soft-cover book is not a visual graphic design masterpiece, but its contents make it a highly innovative QUALITY WORK.
Bryanna's Italian heritage stems from her paternal grandmother whose Italian cooking was a memorable influence on her during her childhood. Her father was a wine maker and wine taster in Northern California's wine country. What a combination to lay the foundation for the creative cookbook she has assembled! The recipes are a treasure chest of many old favorites as well as some modern innovations, all well-done adaptations for vegan dining. Throughout the book are nostalgic recollections of family gatherings and food--great Italian food. Nonna, in Italian, means grandmother.
She opens with an appealing section on regional Italian dishes and notes the particular vegetables or grains of those regions that contribute to Italian cuisine, past and present. For example, rice and polenta and a hot vegetable dip called Bagna Cauda are from the Piedmont region. In Milan, where saffron is popular and tomatoes used minimally, rice is preferred over pasta.
The author, well aware of those with food allergies, provides non-dairy and soy substitutes for many recipes, such as soy, rice, oat, and almond milks in place of milk. In her pantry list she offers information about the use of salt, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. She expresses her preference for not peeling or seeding tomatoes in order to retain their fiber and nutrition. Three cheers! Fiber and nutrition shouldn't be tossed away.
Bryanna has a very helpful section on equipment where she tells the reader it's not necessary to have expensive equipment. Her equipment musts for the kitchen include a blender, food processor, pressure cooker, pepper mill, and a pump oil sprayer. In addition, she mentions a few extras that simplify kitchen tasks.
In perusing the recipe section, we found most of them easy to prepare. Those with a bit more extensive preparation had very clear instructions and felt quite do-able. The first section on Basics contains recipes used frequently to create other dishes, such as a Low-Fat Mayonnaise, Basil Paste, and Tofu Ricotta. The pages are loaded with side bars offering additions and substitutions for creating variations of the basics.
Her Tofu Mascarpone, a vegan, rich triple cream cheese, is an easy fix and sounds heavenly. Also in the Basics is Cashew Sprinkle, a soy-free parmesan alternative. She quickly whips this up in the food processor. About Pesto, Bryanna expresses the importance of the freshest, most aromatic basil. "That is the soul of pesto."
No Italian cookbook would be complete without recipes for making pasta. Bryanna's temptations include pasta for ravioli, colored pasta, whole wheat pasta, and stuffed pasta. In addition, she talks about three ways to make polenta, and gives recipes, techniques, and a brief history of risotto.
For the cook who enjoys preparing baked entrees, there's a Ligurian Easter Pie that sounds sublime and a Torta Rustica, a vegetable torte in a bread crust, and even a Prostitute's Stew (love that name!). There are a host of seitan dishes that could easily summon one to the kitchen. The recipe for Hot Italian Seitan Sausage is one we're especially curious about.
An avid bread and pizza baker, the author tempts us further with a number of traditional bread recipes, such as focaccia, along with some new innovations like Stuffed Griddle Dumplings. She ends the bread section with a detailed Panettone recipe and recalls family nostalgia which surrounds this Christmas favorite among Italians.
Dolci, or Sweets, provide the grand finale of recipes that includeTiramasu, which Bryanna refers to as "the perfect company dessert." This section is extensive and offers preparations for several fruit tarts and a Vegan Italian Vanilla Ice Cream, sorbets and Tartufo (chocolate ice cream). How about some Biscotti to go with the ice cream? She didn't miss a thing-- there's a recipe for that, too!
The author includes mail order sources for Italian Mediterranean Foods, Hard-To-Find Vegetarian Ingredients, and sources for Soymage Parmesan Cheese Alternative.
The book's shortcomings are few. There are no chapter headings separating the different sections--one section runs into the next. Not serious.
This Italian cookbook stands out from the rest with its old favorites and features lesser known dishes that are really quite special, such as Chick Pea Pancakes. Those especially called to us, with the side bar suggestions for extra toppings like chopped garlic, rosemary, and thyme or thinly sliced onions or slices of baby artichokes. Sound tempting? In all of her adaptations it was quite apparent the author has tested her recipes extensively to achieve the real meaty and dairy flavors with strictly vegan ingredients. We commend her efforts.
This was the first cookbook by Bryanna Clark Grogan I purchased and went on to buy several others. Nonna's Italian Kitchen has the most wonderful recipes. For two years running, I made the lasagna (made from a combination of three or four other recipes in the book) that we took to potlucks and family gatherings, as well as froze for future use. I have to say that the lasagna is better than what I remember having in the distant past. You can even make your own pasta with the recipes in the book. One of the great things that Bryanna does in her cookbooks is give information about other things that can be done, other ingredients that can be used, changes needed for particular diets (gluten-free, for instance), etc. It's one of the most treasured in my cookbook collection.
Reviewer: Søren from Copenhagen, Denmark:
I'll honestly say that this is the greatest vegan cookbook I've ever seen! Like Diane, this was my first acquaintance with Bryanna's cooking, and I was amazed! Using a few non-Italian ingredients such as tofu and miso, Bryanna has not only collected traditional vegetarian Italian dishes, she's actually veganized the entire Italian cuisine, covering anything from antipasti (starters and salads) over classic pasta dishes (stuffed or with sauces), polenta and risotto dishes, vegetable entrees to an equally impressing chapter on superb meat-free entrees (there's a marvellous Italian "meat loaf" and stews with outstanding flavours - these are guaranteed to leave omnis stunned!), not to mention vegan takes on homemade gelati, tiramisù and other desserts. Furthermore the book is jampacked with background info plus a wealth of alternatives by each recipe. You can cook from this book every day without getting tired. This is a masterpiece of a cookbook, and I can recommend any of Bryanna's other cookbooks.
November 24, 2000 Reviewer: Celeste Dickson from Georgia:
"Regular foods" from scratch! I love this book because it shows how to make regular, satisfying meals...without meat! An earlier review of this book mentioned that you will never make another Boca Burger...the best thing about this book is, you can control what ingredients go in your meal (organic, no-GMOs for me!). I especially like the seitan recipe, which allows you to make delicious seitan for pennies what it costs to buy the prepared stuff. The pizza is also excellent; the homemade crust really makes it. This is a book that makes vegetarianism easy.
I love this cookbook! In fact, every cookbook Bryanna has written is fanatastic. But, this is the one to start with...
Most vegan or vegetarian books are simply omnivore recipes with the meat removed... This usually means fat (oil, nuts, etc.) is substituted for the meat! It seems most cookbook authors (and many vegans/vegetarians) feel that as long as you're not eating meat it's ok to pour on the fat. NOT SO!!! Bryanna gets the point and every recipe is designed to limit fat, taste great, provide superior nutrition and is suitable for vegans. I haven't found another book or author which supports a low-fat, vegan diet as well as Bryanna and her outstanding cookbooks.
Every recipe I have tried from the book (many) comes out exactly as described in the book. It's pretty clear to me that Bryanna has actually prepared these meals according to her own recipes. I can't tell you how many times I've tried a recipe and found it missing a step, ingredient or is just plain wrong. After you try a few of Bryanna's recipes you will be convinced of her genius for creating delicious low-fat, vegan foods.
The book is well organized and lays relatively flat (although I use one of those clear plastic recipe book holders.) It starts out with some background on vegan diets, info about nutrition and fat intake, and addresses the issues regarding vegan diets for children. There is even a section on how to create a vegan-suitable (if not low-fat) meal when you eat out at restaurants or at parties.
Every recipe begins with a list of ingredients and includes information about the number of servings as well as complete nutritional info (Calories, Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat!) which makes it easy to keep track of your dietary intake. Almost every recipe has several alternatives for added variety. For example, the Fat-Free "Sausage" recipe also provides a recipe for Spicy Herb "Sausage", Fat-Free "Italian Sausage", Fat-Free "Ground Pork", and Fat-Free "Ground Poultry" variations (don't worry... they're all vegan.)
If you buy only one book, or you are looking for a great gift for a vegan/vegetarian friend... this is THE book to get. You'll quickly find yourself using this book all the time!
This is Bryanna Clark Grogan's first book - concentrating not only on everyday vegan cooking but on extremely low-fat vegan cooking! Some people may immediately think this sounds as awfully self-neglecting as can be, but this set of recipes are bound to prove you wrong! Bryanna's a very innovative cook, and her main goal is to turn familiar dishes into vegan alternatives that 'meat-and-potatoes' people will enjoy as well ... so you'll find quite a few meat-analogues in this book (tofu, textured soy protein, seitan, and sometimes tempeh) - not all vegetarians approve of this, though I don't see why - if it's tasty, if it's healthy, and if it saves the animals, then why not? Bryanna's book covers all aspects of cooking - how to establish a pantry and how to make basics for a vegan cuisine - and recipes from starters, sandwiches, breakfast, soups, salads, main and side dishes, and desserts. I'm a fan of her breast of tofu (a/k/a tofu chicken) recipe, this has long become a staple in my kitchen, there's a range of tasty dips and spreads (a low-fat guacamole made with green beans and silken tofu - nobody will miss the avocados), her long- cooking chile sin carne with beans, frozen tofu and cocoa powder is extremely rich-tasting, and the best-ever tofu burgers are meaty, chewy and juicy, just as you'd want your burger! The desserts include tofu cheesecakes, ice creams and puddings, this is definitely a great book for everyday cooking. The only reason for not awarding it 5 stars is just because Bryanna surpassed herself with her excellent Italian and Chinese cookbooks.
OK. So, if you've read my comments about "The Almost No-Fat Cookbook", also by Bryanna Clark Grogan, you already know how I feel about her cookbooks... they're all great! As I said there, if you buy only one book "The Almost No-Fat Cookbook" is the one to get. But, if you find yourself struggling to conjure up vegan holiday meals then "The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook" is the answer.
Being Greek, I grew up with "Vasilópita" which is a special semi-sweet, holiday bread prepared for New Year. It's also called St. Basil's bread and the same basic recipe is used for Greek Easter bread. Unfortunately, these breads use eggs and butter and as delicious as they are they are not suitable for vegan diets. I started my own experiments in re-creating these wonderful holiday foods but with vegan-only ingredients. I got mixed (read bad) results. But wait! Bryanna comes to the rescue! Believe it or not, "The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook" has a recipe for "Vasilópita", "Spanakopita" (Greek Spinach-Phyllo pastries), "Moussaka", and much more!
Just check out the table of contents and the recipes listed below and you'll be blown away, not only at the variety but by the fact that these formerly omnivore-only foods are now vegan AND low-fat! For some idea of the Greek dishes available check under "New year's Eve" and "Holiday Baking". Browse through the list and you'll be delighted at what this cookbook will deliver.
As with her other cookbooks, it's clear, after you've prepared a couple of the recipes from the book, that Bryanna actually prepared these recipes herself (and has tried them!) So many times, I have found cookbooks (and not only vegan/vegetarian cookbooks) to be lacking in some respect. Sometimes they leave out a step or an ingredient. Other times, you wonder if the author actually tasted the results of their recipes. Not so with "The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook". You'll find yourself becoming fearless in your selections from the book because every one you try will come out as described.
The book is well organized and lays relatively flat (although I use one of those clear plastic recipe book holders which stand up and protect the pages of the book.) It starts out with some background on holiday recipes and how they can fit into vegan diets, info about nutrition and fat intake, and addresses the issues regarding vegan diets for children and teens. There are even sections on allergies, kitchen equipment recommendations and "controversial ingredients" such as salt, sugar, coffee and artificial sweeteners.
Every recipe begins with a list of ingredients and includes information about the number of servings as well as complete nutritional info (Calories, Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat!) which makes it easy to keep track of your dietary intake.
Most importantly, "The Almost No-Fat Cookbook" does an excellent job of balancing the flavor and character of the dish against a low-fat objective. In no case does the book violate the vegan standard... every recipe is suitable for vegans. Some recipes do call for some use of fat and in those cases, Bryanna makes sure you know about it and has cut the traditional fat content by 50% or more. Fortunately, these exceptions are few and wherever possible the recipes avoid high-fat ingredients like seeds and nuts but they are sometimes included when their omission would adversely alter the character of the food.
The recipes are easy to prepare and the directions are very clear. It's amazing to me that Bryanna has captured and retained the essence of these holiday treats and meals even though she has eliminated the meat and animal products. Judging from the Greek recipes I can tell you that Bryanna has done her homework with regard to authenticity.
One of my favorite recipes is also a favorite of my kids... It's the "Basic Fat-Free Cookie Dough" recipe on p. 158. This recipe offers three varieties: 1) the basic, vanilla cookie, 2) Fudge Chews, 3) Ginger Crinkles and 4) Jam Thumbprints. I go for the Fudge Chews and the kids and Teena prefer the basic, vanilla cookies (I add vegan chocolate chips to this one!) Bryanna recommends keeping these cookies in the freezer if you can't or won't eat them in the same day. So, knowing better than to ignore Bryanna's advice, we froze the cookies. The next day, none of us could wait for the cookies to warm (we couldn't even wait long enough to nuke them!) so we ate them straight from the freezer. WOW! We were all blown away at how good they are straight from the freezer. The cookies taste somewhat like a frozen chocolate mousse when you eat them straight from the fridge. Now, I can't get the kids to eat them unless the cookies are frozen!
Another Claudatos family favorite is the "Basic Holiday Cake Roll" recipe. For a recent birthday, one of the kids made a special request for this cake. Everyone agreed they wanted the cake but it was a split decision about the topping. One variation of the recipe calls for dusting the top with cocoa powder. As a compromise I dusted the top of the cake with powdered sugar (everyone was OK with that) and put a shaker-full of cocoa powder on the table for those who wanted to go for a double chocolate treat. Result: A total hit!
Bottom line... you'll love this cookbook and it will put many holiday foods back into your diet and meal-plans... but this time on your terms.
- Chris Claudatos
Customer review from amazon.com:
Thank you, Bryanna!, January 17, 2000 Reviewer: A Reader from Iowa City, USA:
This is one of the best vegetarian recipe collections I've come across. Unlike many veggie cookbooks, this one does not assume that just because you're not eating meat that it's fine to go ahead and load up on nuts, cheese and other high fat ingredients. As a matter of fact, the recipes are vegan, so there is no cheese or milk at all (or honey, I don't think...). The recipes are easy to make and very healthful and DELICIOUS. I love the no-fat basic cookie dough. Try it, it's amazing. I keep making them for omni-vorous friends and they are a hit every time.
I'll admit straight-away that Bryanna Clark Grogan is my all-time favourite vegan cookbook author. This is her second cookbook, the successor of "The (Almost) No Fat Cookbook", following her strict no-fat policy (she's not that rigid anymore), yet imaginatively creating an amazing range of utterly delicious vegan dishes. As the title implies, this is a cookbook for holiday cooking, and Bryanna does not only focus on the traditional American holidays (Christmas, New Year, St. Valentine's Day, Independence Day) but also embraces St. Patrick's Day, Kwanzaa, Jewish Holidays, End of Muslim Ramadan, and Chinese/Vietnamese New Year and Indian Spring Festival, and an Italian-style Easter menu ... I'd be surprised if you wouldn't find something that suits your taste! I'd recommend the Tofu Tandoori Kebabs (scrumptious!) with Papadums and vegan Lassi (traditional yogurt drink) from the Indian menu, also give the Irish Stew with Colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale) a try - these are much more delicious than the humble ingredients make you believe. Bryanna's Lasagna is to die for as well (check out her Italian cookbook - this is the best vegan cookbook ever), and try the barbecued seitan ribs with smoky chipotle sauce and tortilla chips with homemade salsa ... yum! yum! yum! The Kwanzaa menu offers a tasty bean dish with spicy greens, served with oranges and a refreshing melon/cucumber-salsa. Furthermore, there's a chapter with vegan, low-fat desserts and cakes, as well as a chapter on vegan basics that are very useful in everyday cooking. This is a great innovative cookbook, you might not want to be as strictly no-fat but these recipes are really tasty!
Reviewer: Mimi G. Clark from Fairfax Station, VA, vegan cooking instructor
In The Fiber For Life Cookbook, acclaimed natural foods author
Bryanna Clark Grogan's challenge is to make us believe that "fiber" and "gourmet" can be used in the same sentence. With all of the attention focused on protein, fats, and carbohydrates today, fiber has been virtually ignored (except for Weight Watcher's, which made the connection between fibrous foods and weight loss many years ago). Simply put, when the outside layer of seeds, fruits, legumes, etc., is stripped away in a refining process, dietary fiber is also discarded. Grogan explains that dietary fiber is responsible for balancing alkalinity and acidity, and for detoxifying chemicals in the gastrointestinal system that can cause diseases such as cancer. Without fiber in our diet, cancer-producing toxins are produced in the gut by bacteria that flourish in a fiber-deficient system. When this occurs, Grogan points out that constipation may be a precursor to such life-threatening diseases as diverticulitis, large bowel cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, gallstones, hiatus hernia, varicose veins, obesity, diabetes, and hemorrhoids, many of which do not occur in those consuming a high fiber diet. A chart of "Fiber Superstars" lists 50 foods containing at least 4.5 grams of fiber per serving (a cup of kidney beans contains a whopping 19.4 grams of fiber!). This informative chart is now on my fridge. Another chart lists the fiber and calorie content of over 100 name-brand foods. Sample menus, with suggestions for increasing fiber, are listed for meals and snacks. Over 150 pages are devoted to recipes for breakfast, breads, appetizer/snacks, salads/dressings/sauces, soups, beans, vegetables, grains, and desserts.
With a flair for international cuisine, Grogan circles the globe with her inventive Yemiser Wat (Ethiopian Spicy Lentils), Eggless Crepes, Pizza Dough with flax seeds, Pasta Alla Primavera, Vegetarian Feijoada (Brazilian Black Beans), Chiles Rellenos Casserole, Red Lentil Dal, French Strawberry Pie, and Italian-Style Apple Tart, to name but a few of the mouth-watering, high-fiber, vegan dishes. I highly recommend this book to anyone who doubts that the words "fiber" and "gourmet" can indeed be used in the same sentence.
Gourmet fiber treats ..., November 17, 2002
Reviewer: Søren Jensen from Copenhagen, Denmark
The benefits of fiber can hardly be argued - and Bryanna's new cookbook tells you how to incorporate fiber in your diet AND make it taste delicious too. In this book she focuses more on vegetables, beans and grains, to a larger extend than in her previous books which focused more on tofu, seitan, and other (low-fiber) meat subs - Bryanna gets inspired from cuisines from all over the world. The Italian dishes - taken from her fabulous "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" - are outstanding (such as her Pasta alla Primavera), even a humble-looking recipe like Irish mashed potatoes with kale is a gourmet meal. There are Chinese-style, Latin-American, Indian, and Middle-East-style dishes, ranging from soups (The Lentil Soup is so good!), salads and dinner entrees, even several cake recipes! This may not be as ground-breaking an effort as her truly outstanding vegan masterpieces "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" and "Authentic Chinese Cuisine" - but less can do! This is a completely respectable vegan cookbook that you will definitely enjoy for everyday use. Me, I'm already starting to look forward to Bryanna's next book ...
Although Bryanna might have aimed this cookbook at menopausal women, its content would benefit everyone - vegans and non-vegans alike.Up-to-date health advice and suggestions are included at the front of the book, but its main appeal lies in the wide range of delicious recipes that all include the wonder food, soy.
I am nowhere near menopausal age, but I bought this simply because I love Bryanna's books in general. I think the title might put some people off before they check out the content, but do take more than a peek because it's definitely worth it. Bryanna Clark Grogan has come up trumps again!
Good Advice Good Food, July 13, 2000
Reviewer: wini from Charlotte, NC
I am always excited when a new cookbook by Bryanna is published. There is so much misinformation and hype around soy and menopause. Bryanna has done a great service to women (and their families and friends) by presenting her well-researched information in such a clear, realistic manner. The recipes make wonderful food, no surprise to anyone who has cooked from her other books. Anyone who would like to learn more about cooking with soy will benefit from this book.
The best vegan cookbook!, April 14, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Arlington, VA
I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for many years and own more than a dozen cookbooks in this genre. I bought this book about 5 years ago and I continue to use it weekly. It is the very best one that I have seen. The recipes are delicious and easy to make. I have also found that they leave a lot of room to vary the recipe by suggesting other ingredients. The eggless salad is always a hit at potlucks - my husband didn't know the difference! My very favorite is the 20-minute risotto which you would think would be impossible but it turns out wonderful. The seitan fajitas and Shepherd’s Pie are fantastic too - I make them almost every other week.
Awesome book with delicious and fast recipes!! May 14, 2001
Bryanna Clark Grogan has written other great books, such as a no-fat holiday cookbook for vegetarians and an authentic Chinese cuisine cookbook… IT IS FANTASTIC!! and it has great tasting, easy to make, fast recipes that are not only delicious but FAT FREE!. I am not a vegetarian but I need to watch my weight because of high cholesterol and these recipes are good tasting and help me with my diet. Not only will these meat, egg, and dairy-free recipes be just the thing for putting together a well-balanced dinner (on those nights when you just can't figure out where the time went), but they'll be just the thing for creating a quick snack or appetizer for unexpected company and making that who-has-time-to-cook lunch. Most of the recipes are based on the Mediterranean/Asian model using lots of grains, fruits, and vegetables. Nutritional analyses accompany each recipe. I think this is a great low fat cookbook and I highly recommend it.
Very delicious and quick to make, April 20, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Los Angeles, CA
GREAT recipes and very easy to make. Almost all of the dishes took less than 30 minutes to make and they were ALL delicious. I thought the spinach pizza was the best!. I have cooked most of these dishes for my family and everybody seems very pleased. The book offers many different foods such as, flavorful Spanish rice, seafood, soups, appetizers, spaghetti, lasagna, many salads and other fresh foods. The “fish” recipes were all great and I found them easy to make. The book takes you step-by -step into the preparation process. I was very satisfied with all the recipes contained in this book and the price is very reasonable
This book offers delicious recipes,January 17, 2001
Reviewer: Serena Lancaster from Arizona
I have totally changed the way I cook now. I'm not a vegetarian, but I do want to eat healthy, so this book really came in handy. I have tried several of the recipes already and I'm impressed as to how delicious they are. The book takes you step by step and the instruction is very easy to follow. What I likes the most is, that the book provides you with many recipes, the hardest part was picking which one I wanted to cook first.
This is Bryanna's third cookbook, and like the two first, 'The (Almost) No Fat Cookbook' and '(Almost) No Fat Holiday Cookbook', this is a collection of great-tasting vegan recipes that are not only quick to cook but also extremely low-fat, the only fat used being virtually a teaspoon of oil for greasing a pan! Bryanna has since loosened up her strict no-fat policy in her recent cookbooks, yet these recipes still manage to be full of flavour. If you're sceptical, try her "you won't believe it" pesto for a start! Yum! The book has 8 chapters:
I: Nutrition, Cooking & Shopping Tips
II: Homemade Basics - including recipes such as 'Breast Of Tofu' (tofu marinated in a tasty soy marinade to provide a vegan alternative to chicken) - this has become a staple in our fridge - dairy-free alternatives and vegan mayonnaise.
III: Quick Dips, Spreads & Drinks
IV: Speedy Soups, Sauces & Salads - mmm ... the sea vegetable chowder and ditto manhattan-style are extremely delicious. Plenty of useful sauces, including rich-tasting low-fat alternatives to cheese and Hollandaise sauce, and worcestershire sauce. We're also fond of the oriental noodle salad for a quick light meal.
V: Pasta & Pizza Express. Italian-style pasta dishes alongside Chinese-style pasta dishes - Bryanna goes even further on these subjects in her extraordinary books 'Nonna's Italian Kitchen' and 'Authentic Chinese Cuisine'.
VI: Fast Food Tonight! relies a great deal on tofu and meat analogs for burgers, patties, grills & rapid wraps. These are very tasty too, lots of ideas for hot and cold sandwiches.
VII: Flash-In-The-Pan features stir-fries (the Chinese 'Beef' and Broccoli in Vegetarian 'Oyster' Sauce is a favourite), stews and oven meals, all easy to make and delicious.
VIII: Swift & Easy Side Dishes. How to make rice and potato dishes a little more interesting!
...As always there are plenty of alternatives and ideas for variations so you'll be able to easily use whatever you have around in your fridge. I award this book 'only' 4 stars because Bryanna's subsequent Italian & Chinese cookbooks are so terrific!
"It has been since November that I have written about any of my adventures in seeking to expand my collection of Chinese cookbooks in English, so it was getting to be time to do another installment of “The Chinese Cookbook Project.” Just as I was gearing up to write about the books by the fantastic teacher, author and cook, Grace Zia Chu, I received an email from Scott, asking this very relevant question: “Anyway, I was just looking through the Chinese Cookbook Project section, and wondered if you have encountered any English-language cookbooks covering Chinese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. I have been searching for a while, but haven’t had any success. Most cookbooks have discussed tofu, and a few have at least mentioned the gluten mock-meats in passing, but I would find any information about other ingredients and techniques, such as the (probably brown mushroom-based) vegetarian stocks used, very helpful.
I answered Scott in email, but I thought that the answer I gave might be of interest to other readers, so I expanded upon it and present it here.
The good news is, yes, I know of and have read five vegetarian Chinese cookbooks that deal specifically with some of the Buddhist recipes that Scott asked about. The bad news is–all but one of them are out of print...
Scott is right: most Chinese cookbooks in English do not dwell for very long on these Buddhist specialties. It is assumed that Americans are not interested in such foods, or that they would not enjoy the flavor of tofu or wheat gluten, so short shrift is given to this fascinating and very worthy cuisine....
On to the books!
First, the one that is in print: Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan. To be honest, I was wary of this book, because the author is not Chinese, and it comes from “The Healthy World Cuisine Series.” While the title promises authenticity, I wasn’t very sure about it until I got my hands on the book.
Grogan did her homework, and she presents a good selection of authentic Buddhist-style recipes that utilize wheat gluten. She gives instructions on how to make one’s own wheat gluten, and on how to make vegetable stocks which do indeed, as Scott surmised, use black mushrooms as an ingredient. She also makes good use of typical Chinese vegetarian ingredients such as fermented tofu, Sichuan preserved vegetable, and gives instructions on how to make one’s own homemade bun dough. Some of her recipes are not as authentic as others, but most of them utilize the ingredients and techniques that I have come to expect from a cookbook which is presenting mainly Chinese recipes, as opposed to “Chinese-inspired” recipes.
However, if you don’t know much about Chinese techniques of cutting, stir-frying, steaming, braising or frying–you might not want to use this book on its own, but in conjunction with other books on basic Chinese cookery. While her historical background and discussion of ingredients is very detailed, her ability to explain the basics of the Chinese kitchen is limited."
(Well, I guess I have more homework to do! But, I'm very flattered to be mentioned favorably in the company of the other authors she mentions. BCG)
Book Review-- Vegetarian Journal, May, 2001 by Meri Robie
AUTHENTIC CHINESE CUISINE FOR THE CONTEMPORARY KITCHEN By Bryanna Clark Grogan
This vegan cookbook is perhaps the most traditional Chinese cookbook I've ever perused. The recipes are variations on exactly the types of dishes that I've seen not only in Chinatown, but when visiting at the homes of Chinese friends' parents. Also, all four major regions of China are represented. We're not talking just egg foo young here.
The dishes are fabulous approximations of the originals, mainly because they call for so many
authentic Chinese ingredients, which may prove hard to find. If you have a great little Asian market near you, you should be able to purchase everything called for. But note: as with soy sauce, not every brand of every ingredient is wholly vegan or even vegetarian. Check the ingredient listings on curries and bean pastes carefully.
The major difference between this compilation and others like it is that a lot of care was taken to incorporate "mock meats." Grogan transforms tofu into "chicken," vital wheat gluten into "pork," and seitan and mushrooms into "abalone!" Some of these transitions require pretty elemental ingredients, so be wary. However, even the "meat"-less recipes are
wonderful. (The Chili Green Beans are out of this world!)
Customer review from amazon.com:
Fabulous Chinese cuisine by the greatest vegan cook!, November 17, 2002
Reviewed by Søren Jensen (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Bryanna's Italian cookbook "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" must be the very finest ever example of vegan cookbook published to this date. And now she's done it again - with this wonderful vegan cookbook on Chinese cuisine, taking you all the way through dumplings, dim sum, noodles, soups, stir-fries, ... and vegetarian "mock-meats" that were invented thousands of years ago by strict buddhist monks. Whereas it used to be quite a work to rinse out the starch of a flour ball so that only the protein (gluten) was left, the arrival of pure gluten powder makes this a snap to prepare at home. While some recipes are somewhat elaborate which acquire some routine (making dumplings, spring rolls, etc.), there are several quick recipes (stir-fry chapter a.o.) that are very easy to prepare. It is an excellent cookbook if you love Chinese foods, and the innovative inclusion of above-mentioned "mock-meats" makes it a cut above the rest. The pages are jam-packed with one tasty recipe after the other - this is a shining example that you do not need to feel deprived when embarking on a vegan diet.