This fall Robert Rose Inc. published “The Vegan Holiday Cookbook”, a translation of Marie Laforêt’s work originally published as “Noël Vegan” by Éditions la Plage (Paris).
It’s a good reference for anyone preparing holiday meals for people who avoid animal products and, of course, anyone vegan or not, can enjoy them. A number of the recipes in the book are also gluten-free or can easily be adapted for gluten-free eating.
It’s an attractive, well-designed book. Searching the contents is easy, with a table of contents, a listing of recipes at the beginning of each section and a good index.
Laforêt, an accomplished photographer, is credited with the photographs that illustrate almost every recipe in the book, and they are well-done. Seeing the finished dishes pictured attractively encourages the reader to prepare them at home.
The most important aspect of a cookbook, of course, is the quality of the recipes. In a good cookbook, the recipes are well-chosen, they work, and they taste good. Based on those criteria, I think “The Vegan Holiday Cookbook” qualifies.
There are three main categories, all appropriate for holiday eating: Elegant Appetizers including spreads and hors d’oeuvres; Festive Party Dishes, which includes soups, main dishes and side dishes; and A Feast of Sweets. The book ends with an additional short chapter entitled Festive Cocktails and Gourmet Gifts.
Accessibility of ingredients is an important consideration. Without the required ingredients, it would be impossible to prepare the recipes. As anyone who has done vegan cooking knows, the omnivore’s pantry is unlikely to stock some of the ingredients that are everyday fare for a vegan, but a cook might have a similar experience when trying any unfamiliar cuisine. A little searching at large grocery stores and a bulk food store turned up most of the ingredients that I was looking for, including vegan margarine, nutritional yeast, miso and vegan mozzarella.
Measurements in the recipes are listed in both metric and imperial units, with the imperial by volume (tsp, tbsp and cup) and the metric by weight (g) for all except liquid ingredients.
The recipes I tried turned out similar to the pictures, and tasted good.
Although I was nervous about the technique for the Holiday Roast, the directions were easy to follow, and the result was as described. I thought that leftovers tasted even better than the dish did when first served.
The Shiitake Mushroom and White Bean Soup was easy to make, was ready to serve in less than an hour and had a wonderful deep flavour.
Just in case you are thinking that vegan eating is austere, this recipe might change your mind. These medallions are festive enough for a New Year’s celebration, with the added advantages of being easy to make and looking good.
I found vegan dark chocolate for the medallions in bar form at the bulk food store and substituted slivered almonds in the recipe as the pecans I was sure I had were nowhere to be found. The medallions were delicious anyway.
Pecan, Pumpkin Seed and Cranberry Medallions
adapted from Laforêt, Marie: “The Vegan Holiday Cookbook: from elegant appetizers to festive mains and delicious sweets”, Robert Rose Inc., Toronto, 2017.
30 g (¼ cup) pecans, finely chopped
20 g (2 tbsp) green pumpkin seeds, finely chopped
12 g (1 tbsp) raw cane sugar
200 g (7 oz) vegan dark chocolate, 70% cocoa, chopped
20 g (2 tbsp) dried cranberries, chopped
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small skillet, combine pecans, pumpkin seeds and sugar. Place over high heat and cook, stirring, to caramelize. Transfer to a plate lined with parchment paper, separating pieces as much as possible. Let cool.
In a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate.
On prepared baking sheet, using a tablespoon, form chocolate circles about 4 to 5 cm (1½ to 2 inches) in diameter. (Pour a little melted chocolate from the spoon, and use the base of the spoon to spread chocolate in a circle.) Place pecan, pumpkin seed, and cranberry pieces on top. Refrigerate until set.
Carefully remove medallions from baking sheets, and transfer to an airtight container. If you have several layers, use parchment paper to separate medallions. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 20 medallions
Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at email@example.com.