I bow down to Bryanna Clark Grogan. She's a Kitchen Goddess, or at least Super Woman!
Bryanna Clark Grogan carries on her vegan cookbook writing, recipe development and workshop activities from her tiny kitchen on a little island accessible by boat.
Bryanna has four grown children, 2 stepsons and nine grandchildren who live nearby, and a day job. In her spare time, she socializes and exercises.
I've known about Bryanna Clark Grogan for a long time - she's a famous Canadian! And about her blog of course, but World Vegan Feast is the first of her cookbooks I've had in my hands. I was blown away!
Bryanna is a skilled, adventurous, innovative cook with a finely honed instinct for what people love to eat. She makes it seem effortless and fun, plus her recipes are easy to follow and fool-proof, with many gluten free, soy free options.
Not only does Bryanna have great recipes, she has a vast store of knowledge about vegan cooking, which she freely shares. That to me is worth so much more than recipes.
Reading this book is like being granted a boon - whatever you want to know about vegan cooking, here it is!
In the first chapter, World Vegan Kitchen Essentials, Bryanna Clark Grogan includes foundational recipes such as seitan and vegan mayonnaise, meal planning and cooking tips, special seasonal and holdiay menus, and exhaustive, detailed information about ingredients.
I've filled in quite a few gaps in my knowlege from World Vegan Feast. For instance, on page 11, the many questions I had about miso - all thoroughly answered. Likewise on page 17 - functions of egg replacers. And agar, which I've used a few times, but was still a Mystery Ingredient. Not now!
Even if you don't make a single full-on recipe from World Vegan Feast, it's a must-have cookbook for the basic recipes alone. It's extremely fulfilling to be able to make my own vegan cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas etc. And it's not just me! Visitors to the Savvy Veg FB page rioted when I talked about that.
One of the commenters on that FB post went looking for the recipe online, and found it in a vegan food forum. Someone had posted the recipe from Bryanna's cookbook '20 Minutes to Dinner'! Copyright issues aside, information that everybody wants always goes viral. I've posted the Suisse Melty Cheese recipe on Savvy Veg, and I figure it'll fly around the web again.
Over the many years that vegan cheese in grocery stores was just a dream, Bryanna developed many vegan cheese recipes - 11 of them are featured in this cookbook.
The next 'cheese' recipe I want to try is Vegan Gruyere, made with agar and another seaweed thickener which is necessary so the cheese will melt properly.
Bryanna tells where to find Kosher Gel and other goodies in her resource section, which includes US & Canada sources, plus a US to Metric Weight Conversion chart.
And all that is before the vegan culinary world cruise! Bryanna skillfully translates traditional meat based recipes from many countries into vegan, without sacrificing taste, appearance or that mysterious elusive quality, mouth feel.
Any of the World Vegan Feast recipes will appeal to meat lovers or transitional vegans, and are suitable for both gourmet and beginner cooks.
Many of those sumptuous crossover recipes rely on seitan, tofu, nuts and seeds, nutritional yeast, and something called soy curls, skillfully disguised and artfully seasoned. Umami triumphs in World Vegan Feast.
Most of the time, I eat the same simple healing Ayurvedic diet as my husband does. It doesn't include the nightshade family, the onion family, mushrooms, hot spices, wine, vingegar, sugar, fried food, gluten, soy foods, and various veggies & fruits. Basically all the foods everybody loves!
So it's a bit of a challenge to find recipes we can eat in World Vegan Feast. But they sure make my mouth water! I'm busy trolling for ideas and recipes I can convert - for instance, I think I can make Italian Rustic Squash and Kale Tart gluten free. Or Golden Cauliflower Dal Soup, mildly spiced. Perseverence furthers!
I stopped thinking of animals as food a long time ago, and at first I was a little put off by all the references to meat, chicken and fish in this cookbook, as if vegans miss meat so much they have to make their food look and taste like "the real thing".
But I realized I was missing the point, which is vegan food that looks and tastes familiar, that everybody will love, and food fit for feasts where vegan and omnivore can mingle and enjoy. Bryanna Clark Grogan feeds everybody well, and doesn't seem to care whether they're vegan or not. Applause!!
One thing you should know about World Vegan Feast is that it's well done, but fully packed. It could easily have run to 400 pages, but instead it's 255 pages. There are long sections of single space text as in a novel or even a text book. Except in this book, every word is worth reading!
The recipes are back to back, broken up with the occasional grey box containing gems of cooking wisdom. There are pictures in the middle of the book, but nowhere else. It reminds me of The Joy of Cooking.
Just as the Joy of Cooking is an essential all-purpose teaching cookbook, I think that World Vegan Feast is an essential vegan teaching cookbook. And I also think that it would be worthwhile to own the complete set of Bryanna Clark Grogan's cookbooks! Visit Bryanna's blog
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian