Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review: Vegan Unplugged
by Jon Robertson with recipes
by Robin Robertson

I had never given emergency preparedness much thought. But when my refrigerator gave out last week, I was very glad I had a copy of Vegan Unplugged: A Pantry Cuisine Cookbook and Survival Guide to get me through a week of living refrigerator-free. It could have been an expensive week of take-out and eating out, but we had some of the best home-cooked meals ever, made them with simple, inexpensive ingredients, and prepared them in lightning-fast speed—thanks to this wonderful book.

While the recipes in Vegan Unplugged are phenomenally easy-to-prepare and delicious (and worth the cover price alone), it also offers priceless solutions to a variety of challenging situations like eating vegan while traveling, when visiting non-vegan family and friends, when camping, remodeling, when the power goes out, and on those days when you just don't feel like cooking.

Within its pages you'll learn how to shop for a safe, reliable, and efficient non-electrical heat source and stock your pantry with everything you need to create a bounty of delectable globally inspired pantry cuisine. With recipes like Curry-Spiced Pumpkin Bisque, Thaiphoon Tofu Stir Fry, Asian-Style Vegetable Pancakes with Dipping Sauce, and No-Fuss Chocolate Fondue, your meals will taste more like painstakingly prepared gourmet cuisine than making-do-with-what's-in-the-pantry fare. Bear in mind that these recipes are not to be put on the back burner only to be called upon when disaster strikes or when you're on the road. The recipes are all completely flexible, and you can upgrade them with fresh ingredients for spectacular meals anytime.

So what did we eat for dinner while the fridge was out? We started with Kitchen Sink Capellini made with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, chickpeas, black olives, capers, and basil over angel hair pasta. I added some greens, as I wanted to start using up the produce I had before it spoiled. This gorgeous dish was so scrumptious, I'll be making it again and again.

Tuscan Chickpea Stew is a delightful combination of garbanzos, potatoes, artichoke hearts, and roasted red bell peppers. Again, I upgraded the recipe with some lovely purple kale. Colorful and delectable!

I first saw the recipe for Samosadillas on Jon's Facebook page. It looked so good, I had to jump right in and make it. And we enjoyed it so much the first time, I made it again last week. This recipe turns a samosa on it's head by wrapping its curried potato filling inside a warm flour tortilla. It's a fabulous   fusion of Indian and Mexican food.

Moroccan-Spiced Vegetable Stew starts with an enticing medley of dried mixed fruits (I used blueberries, cherries, apricots, raspberries, and raisins), green beans, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and chickpeas, infused in a fragrant blend of cinnamon and cumin. Served alone, with warm pita, or over couscous or rice, you couldn't ask for a more sensuous dish.

Whether you're the kind of person who plans ahead for emergencies, or you just want to sink your teeth into some super delicious, easy-to-prepare dishes, Vegan Unplugged is a must-have. You'll come back to its recipes again and again. Want to win your very own copy? Head on over to the new Vegan Heritage Press blog, and enter to win a copy of one of three great books: Vegan Unplugged, Vegan Fire & Spice, and American Vegan Kitchen! (But before you head on outta here, check out the recipe below, and please leave me a comment letting me know which one of these dishes made your mouth water or your tummy growl.)

To whet your appetite, here's the recipe for Samosadillas from Vegan Unplugged excerpted by arrangement with Vegan Heritage Press. Copyright © 2010. Enjoy!


1 16-oz can white potatoes drained, or 3/4 cup dehydrated potatoes, rehydrated (I used 1 fresh russet)
1 4-oz can green peas, or 1/4 cup dehydrated peas, rehydrated
1 4-oz can hot or mild diced green chiles, drained
2 Tbs raisins
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs curry powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and black pepper
4 flour tortillas
1 small jar chutney (I used tamarind chutney)


1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and mash them with a potato masher or ricer. Add the peas, chiles, raisins, soy sauce, curry powder, coriander, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and heat over medium-high heat until hot, stirring as needed, about 5 minutes.

2. Cut the tortillas into quarters. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling onto each piece of tortilla. Fold one side over the filling and press lightly to flatten. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

3. Arrange the samosadillas in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. cook until lightly browned and heated through, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Serve hot with chutney.


Helen said...

You always make everything look so crazy good. Add this one to the list of cookbooks on my wishlist! Thanks so much for the recipe (I love samosas!) and for the link to the giveaway! Fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Great review! From the cover of this book, (no amazing food photos), I never would have imagined it contained such wonderful recipes. But everything looks amazing!

Kathy Hester said...

What a great idea for a book! All your photos look yum-a-lisious too!

Dianne said...

You really can't judge a book by its cover. Who would have guessed this one contains such a cornucopia of scrumptious recipes? This sounds like the perfect book for my busy schedule. Thanks for bringing delicious back into my kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Another delicious post and my mouth is watering! Why do I always read these in between meal times? LOL!

Sandra said...

Great review! I have a similar story...I had just purchased the cookbook and completed a pantry stock up when my kids got sick (one after the other). I did not need to go to the grocery store for 2 weeks, and we ate SO well! The recipes are fabulous, as are all of the tips. This is my favorite cookbook now. I also have my emergency box done and it feels so reassuring (I almost want the electricity to go out so I can dazzle everyone with how "creative" I am. LOL!).

Justine said...

Wow! It sounds like this book is a real life-saver! @Sandra: no kidding? You didn't have to go to the market for two whole weeks!?! Incredible!

Anonymous said...

OMG, that Kitchen Sink Capellini looks AMAZING! I must get this book! Thanks for the link to the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

This is perfect! I'm going to buy this book for my friend who says she is always throwing out fresh produce faster than she can consume it and uses that as an excuse not to go vegan.

Vegiegail said...

Thanks for the lovely comments everyone! I just wanted to let you know that I made Samosadillas for lunch again yesterday, and I enjoy them more every time. And if you are patient (obviously, I wasn't when I made them last time), and let the tortillas brown a bit more, they're even tastier!

VeganMarr said...

Wow, everything looks good & I love chickpeas! And those samosas look so light & fresh! In stores they are usually greasy & dried out! Pass a couple thru the computer! ;-)

Yeah the recipes sure don't sound like basic emergency situation cool!

Lauren said...

The moroccan spiced stew looks and sounds absolutely delish!

Thanks the enticing options

Janet said...

Sounds like an excellent book!

Vagabonds Mercantile said...

Thanks for posting this glowing review. Because of you I'm going to the proud owner of this book.