Thursday, 18 July 2013

Review: Vegetarian Step by Step

I am a cookbook collector. I LOVE cookbooks. I've slowed down a bit on the collecting recently because I'm running out of space. Some might say "why don't you get rid of the ones you don't use" but this is not an option. You can't just 'get rid' of cookbooks. So I have two sideboards full of them, with my favourites and most used books out on display so I can grab them easily instead of wading through hundreds of books. Mini's already learning which books are the best, and he certainly knows which book contains our favourite Amercian style pancake recipe!

I recently met some of the lovely people at Parragon Books, and was thrilled that one of the goodies they gave me was this book.

I am a vegetarian, living in a family full of meat-eaters. Mini's quite choosy, OK really fussy with meat. In fact, if it wasn't for his undying love for sausages I think he'd happily be veggie (he's tried the veggie ones but declared them 'yuck'!). Dollop on the other hand loves meat, especially chicken and ham. The NC gets what he's given, and luckily we have a mutual dislike for certain vegetables so they get avoided.

Because of this family make-up of preferences, likes and dislikes, I sometimes have a hard time finding meals that everyone will eat. The kids don't like lentils, Dollop's not keen on rice or squash, Mini will only eat certain vegetables - carrot, broccoli and peas, and HATES tomatoes. It's difficult and so I'm always on the lookout for new vegetarian recipes that, even if they don't suit everyone, can be adapted to suit at least 3/4 of us.

Vegetarian, step by step gives me that. It's divided into 4 recipe sections to make it easier to find the sort of meal you want to cook - soups and starters, salads and light meals, midweek and family suppers and special occasions. There is also a useful introduction which talks about a balanced diet, store cupboard stand-bys and even some hidden ingredients to look out for. But the best thing by far about this book is the gorgeous photography. Each recipe has a list of all the ingredients alongside a photo of them. Then step by step instructions and photographs are given for each stage so you can see exactly what 'sweated down' or 'til slightly browned' actually means.

So far I've tried the Borlotti Bean, Tomato and Onion Salad with eggs (except I cheated and used tinned beans instead of the suggested dried). This was meant to be for just the NC and I, but Mini ended up staying up late and he LOVED it too.

And we've had Bean and Tomato Casserole with Parmesan Toasts which was a nice light casserole in this heat! Dollop didn't like this one, but she was a bit under the weather. Mini however (despite not liking tomatoes) did eat it and had seconds! I can pretty much always find something for Dollop to eat. Mini is the fussier one and he ate both of these dishes, which says something to me!

Both recipes were easy to follow, so easy in fact that Mini helped make both of these dishes. And they came out perfectly. Next on my list are Potato Gnocchi with Walnut Pesto and Falafel Burgers, and Mini has eyed up the Carrot Tarte Tatin. Some of the recipes are things that I'd probably throw together anyway, but there are lots of recipes that I would never have thought of, or previously been daunted by that I'll now give a go. Don't get me wrong, I love wordy cookbooks and have been known to take them to bed instead of a trashy novel, but I really like how clear the photos make this book, and that makes it easier for Mini and I to spend time together doing something we both enjoy.  I'll be seeking out others in the range (they do a beginners step by step, cocktails step by step, but the Tapas one is the one I really would like).

If I had a criticism of this book at all, it would be that it doesn't give you an idea at the beginning of each recipe how long it would take to cook. So make sure you read the recipe through completely before you plan to make it.

If you cook from this book too, I'd love to hear about your favourite recipes...or perhaps you have some other favourite vegetarian books?

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