You need not call yourself “Hrundi V. Bakshi” (as Peter Sellers did in The Party), nor croon to parrots as you sing out “Birdie Num Num” to get in touch with your innermost self and confront at last your darkest question: what is “vegan” food, actually?
In Lauren Ulm’s debut cookbook, she debunks the common misconception that vegan food consists of “a pile of beans or a block of tofu” by presenting an array of accessible, easy-to-make recipes that are decadent, too. She addresses new vegans in her introduction, promising “an armory of fantastic recipes they can serve to their [carnivorous] friends and family with pride.”
A self-acclaimed non-chef vegan blogger (the goofy name of the book is from the blog), Lauren provides detailed directions to readers who are new to the kitchen in the form of photographs of her recipes in progress. Gnocchi with Thyme Vinaigrette and Lemon Cashew Cream (p. 190) offers pictures and descriptions of the potato dough at different stages of the recipe, as well as detailed trouble-shooting to achieve the most ideal dough consistency. Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Crème (p. 99) has 11 clear, step-by-step directions for cooking and assembling, and the result is both delicious and aesthetically pleasing!
However, the written directions are not always clear enough. Lauren often gives directions a little bit out of order– for example, telling you to preheat the oven in the middle of the recipe when it would’ve been more helpful to preheat it in the beginning. In another recipe you are told to boil pasta and then drain it. A bit later in the recipe Lauren writes that you need to use the pasta water for something else, but she never said to keep the pasta water. Presumably, if you read through the whole recipe then there would be no problem – but many people do not read the direction before starting to cook.
Recipes designated “Under 30 Minutes” like Hurry Up Alfredo (p. 195), Seitan Black Bean Corn Burgers (p.71), and Weekend Pancakes Made Easy (p. 33) provide quick, easy vegan crowd-pleasers. Vegan Yum Yum even offers a recipe for Mini Baked Donuts (p.234). However, while Ulm promises health benefits (for example, every recipe has zero cholesterol and typically vegan substitutes are lower in calories than their non-vegan counterparts), her decadent recipes sometimes use “specialty products” like Earth Balance Margarine, Vegenaise Mayonnaise, and Tofutti Sour Cream. These substitutes are useful when cooking recipes that would typically require butter, sour cream, or other dairy products, but they are not always low-calorie options, either.
Vegan Yum Yum offers decadent twists on old standards, like Pepita Fettucini with Spinach and Cranberries(p. 208), Candied Lime Sweet Potatoes (p. 134) or Moroccan Spiced Root Vegetable Home Fries (p. 142). Her creative recipes are easy options for new vegans, curious carnivores and anyone interested in trying something new – but read before you cook.