My Favourite Cookbooks

I have quite a few great cookbooks, it’s hard to choose… The following three are probably the books I refer to most frequently, when I’m not creating my own unique mess…

Vegan Cooking for Everyone by Leah Leneman
Publisher: The Bath Press, Great Britain, 1992, ISBN 0007123477

It’s a little different from many other vegan recipe books on the market, which probably has something to do with the fact that it’s from the UK! The book is enormous, too. It contains over 250 recipes, and I’ve not tried one that wasn’t great. It’s not just for everyone, it’s for everyday – most of the recipes aren’t super-fancy, and the ingredients are simple and, for the most part, easy to find and cheap. Most of it is gluten-free, as well, and there’s a great chapter on cooking with sea vegetables, which is something you don’t find too often.

The range of recipes in this book is quite impressive! Chapters include: Soups; Snacks, Dips, and Spreads, Salads; Rice; Grains, Beans; Nuts: Pasta; Sea Vegetables; Tofu Specialty Dishes; Mexican Classics; Chinese; Far-Eastern Classics; Italian Classics: American Classics; Cakes; Cookies; Rich Desserts: Sugar Free Desserts; Fresh Fruit Desserts and Sweet Breakfast Dishes.

Most of the recipes are low-cal and low sugar, which is certainly a bonus… I find most north American cookbooks are a bit heavy on the sugar use! I love “sugary goodness” as much as the next person, but not in every recipe, and I prefer one type of sugar per cake as well! Often I cut it out of main dishes completely if it’s not essential (savoury flavours are just as good!), or cut back if it is. Not that there aren’t a few exceptions… which brings me to the next book, which has some forking amazing cake recipes…

Vegan with a Vengeance: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Publisher: Marlowe & Company, United States, 2005, ISBN-10: 1569243581, ISBN-13: 978-1569243589

This book is full of fun and great recipes for parties and special occasions. The recipes are impressive. Some ingredients are hard to come by in Australia, or too expensive, so I do make the odd substitution here and there because I’m a cheap bastard most of the time. Isa’s recipes are packed with flavour, and they impress even the most critical of omnivorous relatives!

The uniqueness of the recipes is one of the most appealing qualities of this book. It’s definitely a must-have for any bookshelf. From BBQ Pomegranate Tofu to Tempeh “Bacon” for breakfast, you’ll find many exciting new treats to add to every meal. Although, I have one minor quibble: the scones… In Australia, a la British/Scottish traditional recipes, we don’t put sugar in scones… IT JUST AINT RIGHT! So there.

Isa also has two other great books: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (not particularly gluten-free-friendly!) and her latest gourmet work Veganomicon (love that title!). Isa also has a cooking show and a great website called the Post Punk Kitchen. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t checked them out, clicky clicky.

How It All Vegan! Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press, Canada, 1999, ISBN-10: 1551520672, ISBN-13: 978-1551520674

The original and still the best from Sarah Kramer’s trilogy, with co-author Tanya Barnard. Another great book for every day use. The soup recipes are hearty staples during winter in my kitchen. The ingredients are simple, the format is clear, and the style of all of Sarah’s books is fun and light-hearted.

If you don’t like spending much time in the kitchen but still want to eat good, healthy food, then this is the book for you – the quick, easy recipes abound with with wholefoods and flavour. The other books in the series have plenty of great recipes, too: The Garden of Vegan, and La Dolce Vegan!

Other cookbooks on my shelf worth a mention:

Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuna Devi:
Everyone should learn how to cook Indian food properly. Lentils are a great, healthy wholefood, and no kitchen should be without them. This book shows you how to season and prepare them in the traditional way. I like to increase the spices a bit from what is suggested in the recipes, but otherwise this book is an essential learning tool. It is lacto-vegetarian, though, but it’s easy enough to use vegan milks and uncheeses if you want to experiment with making panir recipes or gulab jamun.

Oxfam Vegetarian Cookbooks:
I have two different vegetarian cookbooks from Oxfam, one that I picked up in their online store, and the other from the shop in my city. They are packed with simple, international recipes and unusual flavours that you won’t find anywhere else, and the majority of the recipes are vegan! Hooray! From South America to Africa to the Middle East and Asia, there are recipes from everywhere. These books will teach you how to combine flavours in new ways, and the best part? Most of the recipes are cheap as hell to make! Win. Additionally, you will be supporting Oxfam, which is always a good thing.

The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook: Delicious Dairy-Free Cheeses and Classic “Uncheese” Dishes, by Jo Stepaniak:
A bit of fun, but not a staple cookbook… unless you really, really dig cheesy tastes. A whole book of uncheese is a lot of uncheese! The best way to get a good block of vegan cheese that isn’t full of processed crap is to make it yourself! The book contains everything from feta to lasagnes to mac & cheese to cheesecakes, with cheese creations made largely from bases of cashews, almonds, white beans, tofu, and sesame. Often there are options for the base, so people with allergies don’t have a problem! You won’t convince anyone that the cheese is made from animal lactation fluid (and who’d want to? yuck!), but it certainly is equally as tasty… Personally, I prefer it. A great book to clobber whiny “but I can’t give up cheeeese” people with. (Get hold of a hardcover edition for this purpose.) Seriously, don’t be so precious. Get over it. I did. Ner.

The rest of my shelf, besides books people have borrowed recently, in no particular order:

    The Garden of Vegan – Sarah Kramer & Tanya Barnard
    La Dolce Vegan! – Sarah Kramer
    Raw Food Made Easy – J Cornbleet
    Vegan Lunch Box – J McCann
    Witch in the Kitchen – K Johnson
    Chinese Cooking: Vegetarian Delicacies – S Khanna
    A Vegan Taste of Mexico – L Majzlik
    Food Allergy Survival Guide – Melina, Stepaniak, Aronson
    The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook – A Marshall
    Vegan Cooking – N Graimes
    Soy Not “Oi!” – from AK Press (a classic!)
    Soon to be added: Veganomicon – Isa Chandra Moskowitz

I have a great book on tea, which I can’t seem to find… Who’s borrowed it? Huh huh huh?

pixel My Favourite Cookbooks
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  • Steph

    Hey what do you think of “Food Allergy Survival Guide”? Jo Stepaniak is generally a favorite of mine, so I’m wondering is this book is valuable both in recipe and advice content. :)

  • Renee

    It gave me a few ideas for gluten-free cooking and the possible combinations for making bread/cake flour mixes, but the recipes tend to have long lists of ingredients and are heavy in fats. I think much of it could have been simplified, but it has some interesting stuff in it.

  • Kristy

    I have a lot of the same cookbooks as you.

    How it all vegan is my ultimate fave and I like the two sequels too although less so and the third is probably my least favourite. I love how it all vegans shepherd pie, its the one dish that even my fam love although I add more braggs than it asks for and I make the lentil quinoa stew in La Dolce Vegan at least a month its easy, yummy and good for you. What more can you ask for?

    I really want to love Vegan with a Vengeance but the recipes I have tried are good but not great and many of them are too much work for lazy me.

    I’ll have to check out Vegan Cooking for Everyone and a few of the others you mentioned.

  • Renee

    I make the lentil quinoa stew regularly as well! It’s great. I love the flavour of the cilantro/coriander in it. And quinoa = love. :)
    Unfortunately the time-consuming recipes in VwaV are definitely the best… I usually only do them for guests! Although lately I’ve been serving up Mexican beans and rice. Simple, but packed with flavour… & chipotles! I love em.

  • Angela

    I also recommend Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton – & her new one eat, drink & be vegan – both are easy & delicious

  • Luke

    I currently only have La Dolce Vegan (it was one of the first cookbooks I came across when I went vegan, so I bought it), and am currently awaiting the arrival of Alternative Vegan which I recently got from TofuHound Press.

    If I were to get one or too more what should I get? Preferably low on the faux-meats/cheeses, and low on the impossible-to-find-in-Australia ingredients.

  • Renee

    Sarah Kramer’s first two volumes are better than the third, so they’re probably worth a look! She steers clear of processed ingredients more in those.

    You can’t go wrong with a veg*n Indian cookbook, a mixed Asian one, or one of the Oxfam vego cookbooks as well. Since most immigrants to Australia are from the Asian continent, we have plenty of great produce and lentils and beans from there. Most Chinese/Asian-style faux-meats in Australia are soy-based and gluten-free, too, which is handy in a pinch. But Sanitarium is full of gluten and is processed crap – their foods are best avoided! And the company is run by the 7th Day Adventist church… who are among the nicest religious leaflet pushers/door-knockers, but I’m still not too keen on donating to their “cause”… hmm.