Alicia C. Simpson’s Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food: 150 Down-Home Recipes Packed with Flavor, not Calories is a black and white cookbook with one section of full color photographs. I counted pictures of 20 recipes. Helpfully, the recipes which have pictures appearing in the photo insert have a camera icon next to them. As much as I rely on good pictures of every recipe to help me decide what I want to try cooking, I understand the dilemma of vegan cookbook authors–often publishers aren’t willing to spring for full-color pictures of every vegan recipe.
I’ve found that one good test of vegan cookbooks is its recipe for basic seitan. With this in mind, when I wanted to stock up my freezer, I found the basic seitan recipe in this book. The overall procedure is great–you make a dough and boil it in water–but it seems odd to me to flavor the cooking broth and not the dough directly. Nevertheless, with modifications, this is my new favorite seitan recipe.
One neat feature is the section called “A Menu for Every Size and Occasion” which lists menus of various caloric values. Additionally, nutrition information per serving appears for every recipe.
At first glance, this book seems to include many soy ingredients, but substitutions are easy enough. A great feature is that many of the recipes build on each other–you start with a recipe for some basic component and then use it in a more complex recipe. I love when cookbooks do that instead of instructing readers to buy and use their favorite vegan hot dog. Speaking of hot dogs, the recipe for those on page 161 looks pretty delicious. It uses the foil and steam method of seitan cooking. Surprisingly, I’d have to find my own recipe for reduced-calorie hot dog buns. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, I suppose. You can find a recipe for corn dogs on the next page, however.
I think there are some tasty gems in this cookbook. If I had it on my shelf, I think I’d use it as a go-to source for making comfort food. But for now, back to the library it goes.