Without a well-stocked bookshelf in my kitchen, dinner wouldn’t happen most days. Unlike people who have developed family-favourite recipes that they rely on weekly to nourish the family, without some spark of inspiration or craving to fill, I couldn’t be bothered to cook. What’s for dinner? I don’t know!
When I don’t know what to make for dinner, or breakfast or whatever, I’ll browse my cookbooks for a spark of inspiration. And because of the visual nature of social media, there are so many high quality vegan cookbooks out there. And I do find them irresistible.
But there are a few that I return to repeatedly because they fill a need. These are the six most well-used books on my shelf. If you’re vegan cooking is missing a little je-ne-sais-quoi, you may find it in one of these books. If you’re new to vegan cooking or just want to use less animal products in your kitchen, these books are great.
I’ll list them according to how long I’ve had them.
The Joy of Vegan Baking
This was one of my first vegan cookbooks and I still rely on it for traditional baking. It’s my go-to book for cornbread, applesauce, pudding, pretzels and hot chocolate to name a few. It has such a range of recipes that all turn out great. Caramel popcorn – check. Cinnamon rolls – check. Fruit crumbles – check. There’s a great variety of sweets in this book and it’s very well written.
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
I’ve had this book forever. I used to make all the fancy cupcakes when my husband and I were DINKs (double-income-no-kids). Those were the good old days when we ate well! Then we went through the birthday cupcake stage when I only made the vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing with sprinkles. But now my kids are older and my daughter is interested in the more complicated cupcakes – she had the Chocolate Cherry Creme Cupcakes at her sleepover this year with saucy little cherries dripping all over. Divine!
If you have a sweet tooth or live with kids, this is a great book to have. I can whip those vanilla cupcakes up in no time at all!
I’ve mentioned this one before in this blog. It’s my go-to for a quick pizza dough. But it’s so much more. This book’s focus is on classic Italian recipes that happen to be vegan so there’s no tofu or fake cheese. It’s authentic Italian food. I use it most in late summer when the garden is bursting with tomatoes and zucchini, the basil has to be eaten and all the freshest ingredients are cheap at the farm.
The 30-minute Vegan’s Taste of the East
I bought this book when I started commuting daily and I knew dinners would be rushed. It reliably provides dinner ideas that take less than 30 minutes to cook. That’s a life-saver for me. When I’m working from home, I love throwing ingredients into the oven and letting them roast or bake while I go back to work. But when I’m at the office, I want a good meal fast.
The 30-minute Vegan has a few different books and I have a few but I love this one because I love Asian food. It includes easy and quick meals with the flavours of India, Thailand, China, Japan and fusion recipes that are great too. And as I’ve said before, these books are also great because they offer suggestions for variations too (like: if your kids don’t like tempeh, use tofu – and here’s how). It was this book that taught me that you can just marinate tofu for 5 minutes if that’s all the time you have and then throw it in the over for 20 while you make the rest of your meal. It offers great solutions for when I’m overtired and in a hurry.
The homemade vegan pantry
When I bought this book, I didn’t think I’d use it much. I already had Myoko Schinner’s artisan cheese cookbook. But I couldn’t get the thought of making my own mustard, mayo and yoghurt out of my mind. It seemed so indulgent and I knew the only way to move on from this nagging need was to just buy the book.
I’m glad I did. I made a lot of mustard. And that’s great. But I also came to rely on this book to make great meat alternatives. The veggie burger recipe stocks my freezer with burgers that don’t fall apart in the cooler when we go camping. The vegan wings are divine and the fake pork is perfectly paired with Chinese-inspired meals. The recipes require an investment of time but provide an abundance of servings so they can be frozen. With this book, my vegan pantry is stocked with high quality vegan foods.
This book is a great resource for learning techniques that really improve the quality of food and ingredients I use.
Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen
I love Indian food but I was never good at making it at home. This book changed all that. I can now make delicious pakoras, dals and curries. And I can control the spiciness so the kids will eat dinner.
Many of Richa’s recipes involve a spice mix or sauce that is cooked separately and added to the dal or curry at the end. So I’ll take out the kids’ portion and then add the flavour. It’s like making two dinners at the same time (which I’ll do sometimes because I like a spicy curry to serve alongside the kid-friendly version).
I have other books that I love because they make me laugh, the photos are amazing or they’re new and exciting but these are the six books that have really earned their food stains and broken spines.
What about you? What are your favourite cookbooks?