Monday, September 30, 2019

Vegan Mac and Cheese - More than 50 Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food

Vegan Mac and Cheese is a new collection of vegan recipes and techniques featuring plant based riffs on the perennial favorite, by Robin Robertson. Released 17th Sept by Quarto on their Harvard Common Press imprint, it's 144 pages and available in hardcover and ebook formats.

Mac & cheese is probably my number one go-to comfort food. It's warming and filling and wonderful. I had never found a good substitute vegan friendly cheese or cheese sauce that really came close to replicating the 'real' thing, and to tell the truth I hadn't looked exhaustively because my family isn't vegan.  This year, however, we are incorporating a lot more plant based meals with an eye to a paradigm shift sometime in the next couple of years for both health and philosophical reasons.

According to the publisher, this is the first entirely vegan friendly book dedicated to mac & cheese dishes. The book has an easy to follow, logical format. An introduction (~15% of the content) follows the evolution of vegan friendly alternatives to cheese and dairy and includes an intriguing mention of the Baltimore Vegan Mac & Cheese Smackdown. It's unclear if the annual event is still ongoing, but I'm definitely going to attend next year if it's happening, since I'm (fairly) local. The intro also includes a fun timeline of the development of vegan mac&cheese starting in 1200s Italy and culminating in 2019 with the publication of Vegan Mac & Cheese.

The following chapters provide variations on the basic recipes in chapter 1. These are intriguing and varied. I'm still sourcing some ingredients, so we haven't tried many of these, but there are German, Thai, Caribbean, North African and other variations. In addition to the different spiced up variations on the basic dish, there are chapters devoted to combinations featuring vegetables, 'meaty' dishes, and unusual twists including waffles, hors d'oeuvre, soup, quesadillas, and even a couple of desserts. 

The author's style is upbeat, conversational, and easy to follow. The recipes are varied and complete. Each recipe has a descriptive paragraph, serving yields, and step by step instructions.  Ingredients are listed in a sidebar. Many (most?) of the recipes are photographed with serving suggestions. The book is well photographed with clear and appealing pics of the dishes themselves. There are not really any cooking process pics, but most all of the recipes are straightforward, so process pics would have been superfluous anyhow. 

Many of the ingredients will already be available in the average (non-vegan) household. The different pastas and vegetable ingredients will be very familiar to anyone. There are some specialty ingredients such as vegan butter, nutritional yeast, white miso, and a variety of nut butters which will require access to a large grocery or vegan friendly retailer. 

The book also concludes with an author statement and cross referenced index (including photos). 

All in all, I can't think of anything in my imagination that this book could have included. It's a great niche addition to any mac & cheese lover's library. There are some recipes here which are destined to become family favorites in our household.

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes  

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