October 18, 2009

The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen

Though a dedicated carnivore, I was tempted by the offer of a review copy of The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless recipes that will change the way you eat.

According the book jacket, cookbook author Tal Ronnen is among the most celebrated vegan chefs around. A glimpse at his full-color cookbook confirms why. Ronnen is renown for applying traditional French culinary techniques to vegan food and this book shows the results. His original recipes for hearty corn chowder (thickened with cashew cream), a satisfying salad (with tofu ricotta), Gardein "chicken" scaloppini, are all pictured in tempting glory.

The book contains a primer of the vegan lifestyle and includes commentary from guest chefs like Chad Sarno, as well as seasonal menus and a listing of Ronnen's favorite vegan restaurants.

I have no doubt if Chef Tal were to cook nearly any of these meals for me, he'd have a good chance of turning me on to a vegan lifestyle. As for getting it on myself, well, I'm not quite ready. Many of the recipes called for ingredients we didn't have on hand like nutritional yeast flakes, the aforementioned cashew cream, or seitan. We could easily pick these on a trip to Whole Foods, but we're lazy like that sometimes.

Ultimately, this book is little more than vegan food porn for me. I'm going to pass it along to a vegetarian or vegan-curious friend who will surely be intrigued by the stunning photos, the gourmet recipes and the encouraging words related to a vegan lifestyle.

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