Book Info: Robb Walsh | Ten Speed Press | 15 October 2015 | 200 Pages | Hardback
You might be thinking that this may be a rather strange book for a non-meat eater to be reviewing, but you’d be mistaken. Chilli is something I always enjoyed making when I was a meat eater, and I still make it now, albeit a meat free version. Its a dish that, for me, is more about the flavours than the meat, and it’s highly adaptable. Added to which, there are plenty of meat alternatives out there, the challenge comes when you decide to experiment with a recipe, and that’s half the fun of cooking after all, isn’t it?
There are plenty of recipes in this book that are vegan already. Stone-ground corn bread for example. Fairly easy to make and not a whiff of a dairy product. Fresh Corn Tortillas, which may not sound vegan when you first scan the list of ingredients and spot the creamed corn, but there are plenty of quick and easy recipes to make your own. There’s also a recipe for Frijoles Refritos or Refried Beans. Something I’ve only ever seen in a tin filled with lots of preserving nasties. So I was really excited to see this one, although I’ve yet to give it a try.
What’s nice about the book is that every recipe has a personal connection either to the author or it’s a family recipe that he’s been given permission to use. There’s a home cooked feel about it, which gives it a warm, comforting feel. Even better for the non-meat eaters. Most of the recipes only require very slight adjustments. Several recipes really stood out for me. Obama Family’s Chili, Cocoa Bird Chili (which I’d probably tweak by using carob, as it has a smoother feel to it than cocoa), Spicy Hungarian Goulash (a recipe that actually reminded me of a holiday in the Austrian Tyrol back in the early 90’s), and Goulash Cannon Chili; taken from a recipe created by German restaurant owner, Ken Weber.
This is a book that showcases how diverse a bowl of chilli can actually be and I loved it for that reason. Now granted its target audience is the omnivores among us, but that shouldn’t deter you from considering dipping into it if you aren’t. Consider it a challenge. Flicking through the pages, I immediately found myself considering the different ways that I could adapt the recipes that I wanted to try. I’ve never been one for treating a recipe as being set in stone and the perfect cookery book for me, is one that inspires the user to put there own twist on the culinary ideas it presents. This is a book with much to offer.