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Fresh at Home: Everyday Vegetarian Cooking

by Ruth Tal Brown and Jennifer Houston

The bill of fare at Fresh, a chain of three popular vegan juice bar/restaurants in Toronto, is the basis of this cookbook, the second for the authors, who co-own the chain. The recipes appear in standard divisions of soups, salads, rice, noodles, sandwiches, brunches, and desserts. Because vegans use no animal products or by-products – no fish, meat, poultry, milk, eggs, or honey – there are challenges, as the brunch menus with their tofu scrambled eggs and tofu omelettes show.

The chief delight of the book is its focus on bold sauces, spreads, marinades, and salad dressings. Another strength is the appealing section on lassis, shakes, and other health drinks, and the soy substitutions: tofu for dairy products such as sour cream, whipping cream, and ricotta, or egg products such as mayonnaise, and soymilk for desserts.

The difficulty of remaining true to the restaurant taste and still being realistic about the limitations of the home kitchen is not resolved in this book. Of the nine ingredients for Ninja Rice Bowl, five refer the reader to recipes on other pages. Even the soups require Roasted Vegetable Stock as a prerequisite. The prepared stock, the Marinated Tofu Cubes, the Wasabi Dill Dressing, and the Ninja 2 Sauce may be readily available in the restaurants, but the hungry home cook must start from scratch.

Although the authors suggest their book might be a resource for people just starting to consider vegetarianism, it doesn’t really provide enough detailed nutritional information, or enough variety of menus and recipes for a serious beginner. This is a cookbook for experienced vegetarians looking for new recipes, and for satisfied customers of the restaurants.