Book Review: Chloe’s Kitchen

125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food you Love the Vegan Way

Chloe's Kitchen Book ReviewAuthor: Chloe Coscarelli
Publisher: Free Press
Book Publication: 2012

One of the reasons many people give for not becoming vegan is that they believe their meals will become bland and boring or that many of their favourite dishes will no longer be the same without eggs, cream or butter. Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food you Love the Vegan Way, by Chloe Coscarelli, sets out to show that vegan cooking is accessible and inspiring.

Coscarelli, who has been a vegetarian her entire life and vegan for the last six years, has already carved out a name for herself by winning the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in 2010, the first vegan cook to win a Food Network competition.

The book features an introduction by Neal D. Barnard, M.D. on vegan diets which addresses health benefits, protein-deficiency concerns, and if children can be safely fed a plant-based diet.

There’s also a handy guide on some vegan ingredients, vegan cooking essentials, and a section on gluten- and soy-free substitutes. At the end of the book, there’s also a section on basics that might appeal to those who want to try vegan versions of pizza dough or sour cream before making the leap to full vegan meals.

In this 288-page book, Coscarelli covers everything from snacks to main dishes, as well as a number of menu suggestions and her Cupcake Wars winning cupcake recipe.

Comfort food staples such as warm spinach-artichoke dip, country meatloaf, fettuccine alfredo, and macaroni and “cheese,” are re-imagined as vegan creations; the last one is actually available on Coscarelli’s website at http://chefchloe.com/entrees/vegan-mac-n-cheese.html for those who wish to take the recipe for a pre-purchase spin around the kitchen.

The book also features a few surprises, such as artichoke-walnut pesto crostini, jalapeño cornbread poppers with whipped maple butter, and sweet-and-sour party meatballs, dishes that one most likely would not expect to find in a vegan cookbook. The recipes feature several surprising ingredients, such as vinegar (which is apparently a good egg substitute) and miso paste.

Not surprisingly, given how Coscarelli first made her name, she has a large number of dessert items in the book, such as the aforementioned cupcake recipe and vegan peanut butter dog treats for the four-footed dinner guest.

I do, however, have two criticisms of the book. The first is that sometimes an entire page is devoted to a cooking tip such as toasting hazelnuts, or how to quickly cut bunches of asparagus; sometimes these tips are only a few lines long. The other criticism regards the random assortment of photographs of the author holding unknown dishes. It seems these pages are filler. Readers might instead prefer a photo of the facing recipe, or perhaps an additional recipe.

That said, the cookbook might the perfect gift for someone who is toying with veganism or interested in trying something new in the kitchen.

Even if you aren’t ready to take the leap to meatless months, instead of just meatless Mondays, Chloe’s Kitchen will show that you can eat vegan and still enjoy a varied diet.

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