Thursday, July 08, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway:
The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East
by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray

As soon as I heard about The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East, I couldn't wait to get my hot little hands on a copy. But wait a minute ... did I hear that right? 150 Asian-inspired recipes I can prepare in 30 minutes or less? Am I dreaming? A sharp pinch and a quick skim through the book's 200+ pages of recipes for delectable dishes from Afghanistan to Viet Nam, tells me that I am holding the key to much more than curry in a hurry; it's more like accelerated culinary nirvana.

Indian, Thai, and Iranian foods are among my favorite cuisines and hold a very special place in my heart and at my table. I own several wonderful cookbooks that exclusively feature recipes from these far-away lands. But to have just one book filled with near- and far-Eastern Asian recipes that can be prepared in as little time as it takes to get take-out is nothing short of a godsend.

I am already a huge fan of the authors' best-selling book, The 30 Minute Vegan. Could they possibly outdo themselves with another collection of 30-minute recipes? The minute I honed in on the recipe for Vanilla Cardamom Rose Lassi on page 38, I quickly realized they had.

I suppose it would have been lovely to sprinkle a few rose petals on top, but I couldn't resist placing this rose bud on Mark's glass for an extra touch of romance. Not that this beverage wasn't already romantic. The most enticing ingredients combined to create a creamy drink that was intoxicatingly fragrant and passionately luscious. I substituted So Delicious Coconut Milk Kefir for the coconut milk yogurt suggested in this recipe, with palate-pleasing results. "Suggested" really is the key word in ALL of this book's wonderful recipes. In both 30-Minute Vegan books, authors Reinfeld and Murray encourage readers to experiment, tweak, and otherwise have fun playing with the recipes. While many authors invite readers to create their own recipe variations, in an almost magical way, Reinfeld and Murray truly inspire such creativity.

Like a mystery novel page-turner just waiting to be devoured, Taste of the East excited my curiosity and taste buds. With dishes like Tibetan Dumplings, Tempeh Vegetable Korma, and Arame Lotus Root Sauté, it was agonizingly difficult choosing the next recipe to sink my teeth into. Thoughtfully, Taste of the East is organized by country of origin, not only by course, so you don't have to wait to get to the end of the book to get to the dessert recipes. Within each section, the recipes are listed in the order you'd find them on a menu, from appetizers to desserts. Each section starts with a glossary of ingredients unique to the country's cuisine, and sprinkled throughout the book are helpful boxes with Thoughtful Chef's Tips and Tricks. (What do you do if you tear your nori in the middle of making a sushi roll?) Highly useful appendixes include Preparation Basics for everything from toasting spices, nuts, and seeds to roasting tofu and tempeh.

In the spirit of sweetness, (and because I have absolutely no problem with eating dessert first), I dove straight ahead into these two enticing recipes—Mango Custard Pudding from China and Black Rice Pudding from Thailand.

If you like coconut milk, you'll love these desserts. Both were decadently rich, creamy, and sweet.

After satisfying my sweet tooth, it was time to explore more serious fare. Inspired by the red lentil dal I enjoyed so much at Ananda Village a few weeks ago, I decided to try the Indian Dhal and paired it with the recipe for Coconut Spinach Rice.

Agonizingly difficult-to-choose quickly transformed itself into incredibly delicious-to-eat. And true to the book's title, once I had all of the ingredients assembled, both dishes went from stove to table in 30 minutes.

Next, I wanted to become reacquainted with a dish I'd only eaten once many years ago. Indonesian Gado Gado is a delightful medley of both raw and cooked vegetables served with a sassy peanut sauce dressing. Although the dish is traditionally made with cooked potatoes, I used yams instead, which together with roasted tempeh, red cabbage, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, red onions, scallions, tomatoes, and cucumbers created a vibrantly delectable fusion of flavors. The dressing blended peanut butter, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, maple syrup, and tamarind paste together and was the perfect accompaniment.

To get my Thai on, I decided to try a dish I've never had before, Sweet Soybean Sauce With Noodles, better known as Pad Siew. This simple dish made with a soy-sauce marinade and stir-fried vegetables is surprisingly tasty. Among the ingredients is a fish-free sauce (the recipe is in the book!) which substitutes for the traditional fish sauce used in many Thai dishes. It's an optional ingredient in this recipe, but I really do think it added a little pizazz to my Pad Siew. And I appreciate having an alternative to fish sauce on hand for all of my other Thai cooking.

Whether you want to impress your friends and family with your cooking prowess or you just enjoy eating great Asian cuisine, get yourself a copy of  The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East. It will inspire and delight you and awaken the creative culinary genius within you.

Right now, I have an extra copy of The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East to share with one lucky reader*, who will be selected at random. To enter to win this fabulous book, please follow these three simple steps:

1. Follow this blog.
2. Leave a comment on this post. (Receive an extra entry if you tell me what your favorite Asian-inspired dish is!)
3. Unless you know that I already have it, please include your email address in your comment, so that I can contact you when you win!

If you'd like to earn extra entries, you may do so by either tweeting about this contest or posting it to your facebook page with a link back to this post. Thank you for visiting, and good luck!

*Contest is open to all entrants with U.S. postal addresses.


Paula said...

Wow! The photos are gorgeous and are making my mouth water. I would LOVE to win a copy of this book. And I love so many Asian dishes it's hard choosing just one, so I'll mention two: Pad Thai and Vietnames Pho Bo.

peters.paula at rocketmail dot com

Elle said...

I would really, really love to win this book! 'Ethnic' food is pretty much the only food I eat, so this book is right up my alley!

My favorite Asian-inspired dishes would have to be pad thai, anything 'satay' and pot-stickers! (peanuts, coconut, lime and tamarind basically rock my world)

Email: daniela.yilmaz at yahoo dot com

Shannon Rose said...

Their previous book is my fav cook book and I can't wait to have a copy of this new one! My kids LOVE Asian food but since we're vegan, it's hard to come by. Tomorrow is my birthday so it would be great to win this book so I can get started making yum Asian cuisine!
Pad Thai is our very favorite dish but i can't wait to see what this book offers!

Anonymous said...

Yummy Thai-I love Thai salads and all the curries-green curry with eggplant is excellent and yellow currie with potatoes and carrots-my favorite!

Helen said...

You betcha I want a copy of this book! It sounds incredible! My favorite dish is Masala Dosa.

helensbells09 atgmaildotcom

Anonymous said...

Oh pick me, pick me!

My favorite Asian recipe (ish!) is honey chicken. I love a nice saffron chicken or potsticker too!

tkdnyc+kitten at gmail

Anonymous said...

Also tweeted this (it's private but please follow ;))

Niveditha said...

Love to win this wonderful favorite dish is 'channa masala'..I can have that anytime.Thank you!!!

Bike Junkie said...

as a new vegan (2 months now) I would love a vegan cookbook!

HMS Wordslingers said...

Loove Filipino dishes! You should try laing - vegetable dish with coconut milk!

Kissie said...

OMG, this is my all time favorite.

So many of my colleagues, due to their own ignorance, talk about how "boring" my diet/lifestyle is ... I beg to differ and now you've helped my argument (not that I needed a boost). I have to borrow Micky Ds' slogan, I'm loving it! Oh, they look good ...everything shown.

As far as the contest rules go, I think I'm missing something here, I don't see where to follow this blog.

My favorite dish: Garlic and Black Pepper (chicken) Thai

Or Ginger Chicken - I'm not a cook/chef so I may be wrong in my title selections but definitely not the taste! Now let me find how to follow this blog.

Bike Junkie said...

Forgot to add my favorite asian dish to the previous comment. It is a yellow curry that I make. The recipe I found calls for potatoes and pineapple, but I've substituted some bell peppers and other veggies for some of the potatoes.

freeflying_soul said...

Thirty minutes for a vegan dish. That's a great premise for a book plus the wide variety of dishes you featured make me hungry to check the book out for myself. I'd love to wine the extra book to try it out myself.

Anonymous said...

I love the first 30 minute vegan book. I am dying to get my hands on this one--especially if there is a recipe for my favorite--yellow curry!

Vegiegail said...

Hi Kissie! Thanks for stopping by. At the top of the page, there is a blue bar and on the left size there is a link you can click that says "Follow." Please remember to leave your email address, too, so I can contact you if you win.

Anonymous said...

Fav Indian dish is tie between Chana Masala or Alo Matar. I usually end up getting both!
mtbvegan at yahoo dot com

Abby Bean said...

I too am a fan of the original 30 Minute Vegan; this almost sounds better!

My favorite Asian-inspired dish is extremely spicy Thai yellow curry with broccoli, potatoes, onions, long beans, and red peppers!

Jenni (aka Vegyogini) said...

Awesome...I would LOVE a copy of this book! I've been following your blog on my Google Reader for quite some time now and enjoy it immensely.

It's really tough to choose a favorite Asian dish, but I'm I think chana masala is probably the winner. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

Lynn Bernhardt said...

This book looks delicious! Newbie vegan mom here, and I love sesame chicken!

Kimberly Pye said...

I just discovered this blog today! Following now, for sure!

My favorite Asian-inspired dish is anything hot and spicy! Vegan Kung Pao Anything, please! Or something Szechuan!

The Kuntrageous Vegan said...

I've heard nothing but great things about this book. I love Asian food...vegan pad thai and summer rolls make me happy; but anything with peanut sauce will do :)

VeganMarr said...

Eveything looks & sounds yummy!

Angel said...

As usual, your photos are mouthwatering (the Gado Gado dish is spectacular!), and the book looks amazing. Who wouldn't want to own it? My favorite Asian dish would have to be Thai Red Curried Tofu and Vegetables.

angellovesdogs at geemail dot com

Unknown said...

Looks delicious!! As a 16 yr veteran Vegan I'd be psyched to try out your recipes!

My favorite Asian inspired dish is Po Pia Sod.

email: church.teal.l@ ( Take out the spaces)

The Vegan said...

The book sounds wonderful and the pictures of the food you prepared from the recipes make the dishes look so tasty. It's amazing because every single time I look at the pictures of the dishes you prepare I leave your blog feeling like one hungry vegan. Now off to go get dinner. I am thinking maybe some Thai food..... :-)

Anonymous said...

Now that you've made me believe I cannot live another day without this book, please pick me!

My favorite Asian dish is Thai Salad Rolls with peanut sauce. Do they have a recipe for that in the book?

iamvegan at live dot com

ariel said...

Sounds like an amazing cookbook! Pad Siew(sp??) is always a favorite of mine and I'm dying to get the fish-free sauce recipe!

fearlesswriting at gmail

Julia P. said...

I would love to win this book. The recipes you made look amazing! My favorite Asian dish is anything Thai featuring Thai Basil!

Amanda said...

I haven't heard of this book yet and I like to think I've got my finger on the pulse of vegan cookbooks! Thanks for sharing!

Favorite dish? Pad Thai. Cop-out, maybe, but so comforting.

Email: amandasdomestic at yahoo dot com

Mary said...

My favorite Asian inspired dish is the Vietnamese pho.

Veganwheekers @ gmail

Shannon said...

Wow, the book sounds amazing! I definitely need some easy and quick vegan recipes in my life since I eat too much "processed" food (Tofurkey, anyone?).

My favorite asian dish is pepper "steak." There is this great vegan chinese restaurant here and they make such great asian dishes.

Erin said...

Always looking for new, inventive ideas and any good cookbook will help!

Merrie Beth Samways said...

The new cookbook sounds just delightful and full of unique and creative ideas for having a exotic and fun time in the kitchen-Middle Eastern style! Would love to read this new vegan cookbook cover to cover!
My favorite Asian inspired vegan dish would have to
be Panang Spicy Tofu and Vegetables.... YUM!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad someone put together a book of vegan Asian recipes! I lived in Indonesia and can't get enough Indonesian food! My favorite was Masakaan Padang, spicy cooking from Sumatra. SO good!

Banks Michaelson said...

Awesome! great review, I'm definitely gonna check this book out. ps you have such beautiful plates (not to mention amazingly prepared food on top of them) I'm super hungry now =)