The selection of recipes is fairly decent for a book that’s under a hundred pages.
Smith Street Books has once again released a handy, pint-sized volume, this time offering over 30 “plant-based recipes for the festival season.”
Author and photographer Audrey Fitzjohn is based in Paris and dives straight to the recipes in her book. This is a pure, old fashioned cookbook – no personal stories, introductions, or travelogue. The recipes are presented clearly and without fanfare, just as the photographs remain focussed on the dishes themselves. This makes Vegan Christmas a light book but a quick and easy reference for dishes to serve up during what can be one of the busiest times of the year. It’s a particularly good reference book for meat-lovers who are catering for a vegan guest or family member.
The selection of recipes is fairly decent for a book that’s under a hundred pages, although Fizjohn’s biography does warn that she has an “undying love of vegan sweets”. These can be found in three of the five sections: Sweet Breakfasts, Desserts and Yule Logs where you’ll find carrot cake, gingerbread, fruit tarts, pavlova, black forest cake, ice cream and chocolate logs, and more.
The remaining two sections, Starters and Festive Mains, include everything from caviar, punch and aranchini, to roasted vegetables and a pie.
As vegetarianism and veganism both become more common, it is exciting to see so many new, quality cookbooks being released to cater. Smith Street Books easily meet their usual high standard in this latest addition, which is suitable for all lovers of food, including meat-eaters like myself.
Scones (page 8)
My first attempt at making scones was a simpler process than expected. The few ingredients meant little washing up afterwards and the instructions were straight forward. The estimated prep time of fifteen minutes was about right, although cooking took a little longer to get the scones browned in my fan-forced oven. The recipe made nine scones, not twelve as estimated in the book. The result was a light, delicious scone that was slightly drier than its non-vegan alternative, but not too dry. The taste was on par with a more traditional scone. I weakened and had jam & cream on mine – a non-vegan topping, granted, but some traditions just can’t be broken. This is a good recipe to keep on hand to make in a hurry.
Mushroom Turnovers (page 24)
These bite sized pastries have quite a tang, which balances nicely with a side dip of tomato sauce. My fingers are not dextrous enough so after several failed attempts to stuff and fold tiny turnovers, I grabbed a couple of fresh sheets of the puff pastry and made mushroom logs instead. The shape doesn’t change the taste and this simple snack is a surprise for the taste buds. My only other difficulty was the need for Herbes de Provence. I could neither locate any, nor find a store who had heard of it. After trying 4 shops, a quick Google search gave me the herb combination to create my own as best I could. It worked. I expected a relatively bland mushroom dish, but the combination of herbs and vinegar really make the flavour pop. Mushroom also offers a texture that is similar to meat, making it easy to trick the brain for those in the family who might have preferred a mince turnover.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Distributed by: Simon & Schuster Australia
Released: November 2020
RRP: $29.99 hardcover