Second deathmatch. Two ebooks. Two vegan pioneers. On Kindle Paperwhite – Forks Over Knives Cookbook, on iPad – Chloé’s Kitchen. Drama! Tears! Blood!
…I was so excited to discover these two. You see, there are vegan cookbooks galore, and some are written by nutritionists, some by vegan celebs (or celebs gone vegan)… A lot of them try to entertain you, to make you feel like vegan cooking is a neverending party of joy and delight. Vegan brown bag lunches to vegan brunches – knock yourself out. And that’s what I did. And I ended up sinking in the quicksand of hundreds and hundreds of cookbooks…
While Forks Over Knives, The Cookbook was rather an easy fetch – I saw the docu, checked out their website, and ordered the book, it was Chloé’s Kitchen, a vegan classic already, that took me a while to find. Do you believe how I found it? On GoodReads!.. But anyhoo.
What’s so good about FOK and Chloé’s Kitchen – they focus on a variety of everyday meals, some with a chic and festive and party-worthy twist (mostly Chloé’s Kitchen), many basics (FOK is amazing here covering such indispensables as “no cheese” sauce or sour “cream” or vanilla whip). You get snack ideas and dessert recipes, and easy-to-make recipes to feed a family such as stews and roasts.
It’s good that both books are digital. If they were paper, the pages would fall apart by now: I use both books a lot.
I want my everyday cookbooks to be digital.”
A CLOSER LOOK – FORKS OVER KNIVES COOKBOOK
Unavailable for iPad, the book comes as a black-and-white Kindle edition. This kind of steals the fun, but at least you can focus on the instructions I guess. Less is more or sumthin’.
The navigation is tedious if you’re used to an iPad and confusing if you’re completely new to digital reading experience. I think Kindle should do better. The jumping back and forth to the table of contents isn’t as easy or continuuos as it should be. And if you follow a link in the text, say, a sauce, there is no back navigation. Minus points guaranteed…
The recipes are divided into 13 chapters:
Basics – an amazing chapter covering and/or veganising in a healhty, yet utterly delicious way most of those basics you need for cooking – stock/broth, pesto, tomato sauce/salsas, BBQ sauce, béchamel sauce, sour “cream”, mayo, no-cheese sauce, chutneys, sauces for Asian cuisine.
Breakfasts – I found this chapter rather weeak, ranging from somewhat obvious granola/smoothie/porridge recipes to just a few hearty scrambles. Healthy plant-based breakfasts are a pain in the… armpit of the vegan cook. At least of a Beginner.
Salads – not what you thought! Or I, for that matter. Many rice-based and grain-based and bean-based salads. I wonder why they havent included those at “Breakfasts”, really!
Soups – I loved the “single soup”, for when you’re by yourself but craving a warm and healthy – and easy – snack. Other soup recipes include gazpacho, minestrone and a variety of vegetable soups, Asian soups, chowders, bisques as well as cream soups. It just occurred to me that I might actually dedicate a whole post to soup cooking in autumn, because it’s truly an art in itself.
Stews and Chilies – this chapter offers Thai, Indian, Spanish, Ethiopean recipes and then a nice variety of regional bean, lentil and grain soups as well as several chilies.
Wraps and Spreads – very nice lettuce and tortilla wraps, tacos and fajitas + three homemade spreads including hummus, a lovely roasted bell pepper spread, and a fava bean spread.
Pasta and Noodles – I was suprised by this section. It offers really nice, Eastern and exotic takes on noodles and pasta, shows a good use for those basics from the first chapter, and includes pasta salads as well as main courses. Could be a book on its own! Lots of easy and lovely lunch ideas.
Stir-Fried, Grilled and Hashed Vegetables – the chapters starts with a practical advice to keep one of the basic sauces at hand for easy veggie stirs anytime. Cool. The section gives many, many ideas of how to turn the vegan’s fave plants (eggplant, cauliflower, kale to name a few) into delicious main courses – best part: omnivores don’t notice what’s missing unless you tell them.
In fact, several of the recipes of this chapter make great hearty breakfast or brunch ideas!
Stuffed and Baked Vegetables – no big surprises here, squashs, tomatoes, bell paprikas, stuffed. And baked. Personal faves include “Cheese” Brokkoli Baked Potatoes and cabbage rolls. Really easy winter dinner recipes. Because: Winter is coming!
The Amazing Bean – TBH, I’m not that much into beans. I like kidney beans, and Azuki beans in mochi cakes, and lentils in soups, and green beans as side dish; baked beans are nice too. I actually hate corn – in salads, in stews, in wraps, it tastes and looks like filler material! I like chickpeas, too.
But the herbs and spices used here gave me quite a few ideas on how to spice up and slightly change my time-checked bean recipes. The chapter’s favourite: Mujadara (Lentils with Rice and Caramelized Onions). Mostly because I’d eat my shoes if they were covered in caramelized onions.
Great Grains – Fineapple “Fried” Rice! “Meatball” Rice”! Gluten-free pilaf with sweet popatoes and cauliflower!
Yup, I totally dig this chapter.
Casseroles – the clear favourites of this section: Mac and Cheese sans loads of yeast and without cashew = not too fat; and FOUR DIFFERENT Shepherd’s Pies. I’ve figured how to make my own vegan version before I had these recipes handy. So now I have FIVE. *Performs little dance*
Desserts – here I got really disappointed because the chapter starts with cookies. And cookies, in my world, aren’t desserts. Cookies are baked goods and you dip them into your cuppa. A chocolate mousse is a dessert. A tiramisu is a dessert. A goddamn peach cobbler is a dessert! Duh!
The scone recipe is fab though, and makes up for the rather obvious breakfast section. I’d definitely have put it up there as this cookbook’s editor!
The chapter then goes on with granola bars. Granola bars? Are you kidding me?
IN WHICH UNIVERSE ARE THOSE DESSERTS? I ask you. WHERE? HOW? WHY? GOSH…
Brownies and a carrot cake and cupcakes and breads and loaf recipes follow. The carrot cake is good, I’ve baked it (in individual, heart-shaped ramekins – picture here), but I also discovered that my tastebuds don’t think that a vanilla whip sweetened with maple sirup is a good idea. I had to stratch the whip off the cake and start anew. But I digress.
So, what’s the matter with all the baking? Seriously, MINUS POINTS for that. Not a single “normal” dessert, no crème caramel or brulée, no chocolate mousse, no tiramisu, no “panna” cotta. I realise those are not easy to create. But dang.
(Bonus chapter and points: Metric conversion charts, THANK YOU, authors, THANK YOU!!! From the very bottom of my European heart!)
A CLOSER LOOK – Chloé’s Kitchen
Looks good, how it sits in my virtual book shelf, between classics, thrillers, scifi novels, vampire mysteries, steampunk comics, and health guides.
But I digress.
This cookbook has a vegan tarte tatin, folks! Tarte tatin! My hands-down favourite pastry!
I digress again…
The recipes are divided into 8 lifestyle-based sections rather than menu parts. Also the iPad table of contents doesn’t suck tofu meatballs.
I’m looking at you, Kindle. You can do better. Anyway, Chloé’s Kitchen:
Gluten-free and Soy-Free Cooking – this chapter follows the Intro, the Foreword and the section called “Vegan Pantry“. So you get all the info before you get to actually cook, which is great if you’re new to it. I read it out of curiosity.
Chloé talks about vegan cooking, cooking, and about becoming an acclaimed vegan chef. In the Foreword, Neal D. Barnard talks about the perks of plant based food: losing weight, cancer prevention, getting “enough protein”, and if vegan food is good for children. “Vegan Pantry” explains comprehensively, well, what you need in your pantry, and, finally, “Gluten-free and Soy-free Cooking” helps those who need to cut out gluten and/or soy. Helpful!
Small Bites – this chapter offers appetizers, dips, bite-sized patties and meatballs, sushi and wontons.
Here you find anything for a cocktail party or just small bites for a night in – as in: “IN front of your telly/Playstation”. Either way, delicious small treats. Some of those qualify as office lunch.
Soups and Salads – savoury classics, deliciously veganised: Caesar Salad, soup in bread bowls, lentil stew, pasta salad, couscous with arugula, tomato soup. Not too many dishes, but a good selection, everyone will find their favourite.
Simply Vegetables – here the ideas for roasting and grilling and mashing vegetables are collected. If you never have roasted, grilled, or mashed vegetables, you will discover endless possibilities. If you ever have roasted, grilled, or mashed vegetables, you’re going to sit back and yawn a bit.
A couple sweet tricks for glazing, cutting, as well as for Teriyaki and tempura though are the reward for staying put while reading the basics!
Eat with Your Hands – is a nice name for all things toast, pizza, burgers, and panini. My favourite chapter! The recipes are amazing – rich in flavours, you won’t ask for a dessert after eating those! And Chloé’s L.A.-style Chimichurri Tacos totally won my heart. I’m so making these this exact weekend!
Oodles of Noodles – have I told you that I’m not much of a pasta lover? Pasta? Nah. Gimme mashed or baked potatoes and I’ll be happy.
Criticism: I don’t like the vast use of store-bought mayo – or of vegan margarine. It’s really not a piece of cake to get good quality one, without hydrogenated fat – or palm-oil free for that matter. I wonder if it can be replaced with coconut oil?..
Favourites here are the creamy, spicy and sweet Peanutty Perfection Noodles, mushroom and walnut Spaghetti Bolognese, and the savory Japanese udon soup with shiitake!
The Main Event – love that name for main courses BTW!
The recipes are very versatile, delicious, healthy – whether you’re into rice, dough, skillet, kebabs or pancakes… you’ll find your perfect main course. Weird: pictures of several dishes are not included.
Cupcakes and More – I’m simply happy. The “more” in this chapter really is more than baked goods. But behold.
Baked Doughnuts sound promising, in my other life doughnuts used to cross my path every other week, and no, I wasn’t a police officer. But Donkin Donut stops really sit on every corner in Berlin! Duh!
Since I’m not a cupcakes person, I’ll omit the cupcake-cinnamon rolls-fudge-brownie gorgeousness (if you love them, you’ll be very happy) and jump right to what interests me personally the most: desserts!
Chocolate Crème Brûlée! Hot Fudge Sundaes! Mint Chip Ice Cream! Vanilla Ice Cream! Tarte Tatin!!! (I know, I know, so it’s a tart and it’s baked, but let’s face it – Tarte Tatin isn’t just yet another ol’ cupcake!)
The Basics – pizza dough, cooking beans and grains, sour cream (competes with the FOK version, seriously so), BBQ sauce… Lovely and helpful.
The book ends with coordinated menu suggestions – kids menu, lunchbox menu, ladies lunch menu, date menu, holiday menu, etc. – for those whose eyes went all goggly from all that vegan awesomeness, for mums and dads, for singles, for fast-food-lovers, for lovers of comfort food!
THE BATTLE: QUICK and HARD
1. Favourites ratio: Number of hands-down favourites and overall recipe collection?
FOK: 15. Yet – ZERO desserts (only baking). Otherwise endless (300+) recipe varieties. 2 points (would be 3 with desserts).
CK: 14, 5 of those are desserts. Good recipe selection (103 recipes + a dozen basic recipes) with versatile menus. 3 points.
FOK: Yes. Yes. 2 points.
CK: Yes. Yes. 2 points.
CK: No. 1 point.
FOK: Pretty much. Everything is cooked from scratch, from raw materials only. Gluten-free options aplenty, and not too many soy-based recipes. 2 points.
CK: Pretty much. Store-bought vegan mayo and margarine are somewhat “meh”. Nice tips for replacing glutenous food and soy-based ingredients. 1 point.
FOK: Of 13 chapters two are ridiculous for my personal use (Breakfast, Desserts). Stuffed & Baked Vegetables section is more comprehensive than the competitor. 2 points because otherwise the recipe selection is. Just. Huge.
CK: Of 8 chapters one is rather weak (Vegetables), but the rest of recipes are rock’n’roll. Where FOK aims at providing healthy, tasty plant-based food, CK aims at offering a mouth-watering menu. And succeeds at that! 3 points, one extra for the nice menu compilations, making vegan cooking and entertaining a no-brainer!
With this cookbook, you get 300 fairly easy recipes together with basics. Good if you’re seriously into the plant-based cuisine already.
WIth this cookbook, you get your money’s worth of sweet food photography. Great for beginners, for cooking beginners, for those curious for vegan options, makes a cool gift because it’s entertaining.