We had found a couple of Bryant Terry’s cookbooks at the Watsonville library and liked them very much, so when I had the chance to review his new book, Afro-Vegan, I jumped right in.
I was not disappointed. I’ve made several of the recipes, trying to cover a variety of dishes – condiments, soups, salads – and they were all terrific.
I started off with Basil Salt, a really simple way to give your dishes a flavor kick. Fresh basil, coarse salt, and a bit of time in the oven, and you have a winner. We are looking forward to trying this on the rim of a margarita.
Next on my list was Hominy and Spinach in Tomato-Garlic Broth.
While Terry asks that you follow his recipes as written the first time you make them – and I totally support that request – I substituted yellow squash for the diced carrot in the broth, because this is California and everyone has gardens and people give you yellow squahes and you must use them. In any case, this too was delicious. The broth was rich and flavorful, and the addition of both boiled and sauteed hominy gave this soup both a nice body and texture. If you make this recipe, I highly recommend using hominy from Rancho Gordo.
Added bonus: I made the whole recipe, which was too much soup for two people, so the next day I turned it into gazpacho by pureeing it with a bit of old bread (soaked in water and squeezed out) and some olive oil. It was pretty darn close to being in Spain. And then, having leftover leftovers, we used the gazpacho to make savory waffles. At this point we had strayed from the vegan, but I loved that we could creatively extend this excellent dish.
Damian inspects our All-Green Spring Slaw, but passes it by since there’s no chicken. Damian is not a vegan.
This too was excellent. I was particularly fond of the dressing, which uses silken tofu instead of the more usual sour cream or yogurt.
Our favorite dish was Glazed Carrot Salad.
It was so incredibly delicious, and easy to make. This will become one of our regular go-to dishes.
Overall, I would give this cookbook a great big thumbs-up. Bonus points to each recipe including music to accompany the making of the dish, and sometimes a book to read or movie to watch to increase one’s appreciation of the culture or history of the region that inspired Terry to create the recipe. I made a Pandora station from his recommendations, and enjoyed listening to it as I cooked.
My criticisms are small. Some of his dishes get a bit complicated and assume that one has time to spend on great attention to detail. It would be very helpful if, in some of his recipes, Terry noted what steps could be done ahead of time. For instance, the All-Green Spring Slaw asks that you salt the cabbage and let it drain for an hour to remove excess water. On the other hand, Terry does encourage his readers to experiment (after trying the recipe his way), and I can imagine the slaw would still be quite tasty if you skipped this step entirely.
I am looking forward to exploring more of the recipes in Afro-Vegan. This book will have a prime spot on my kitchen bookshelf.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review.