Minimalist Baker was one of the first food-blogs I got into when I first delved into vegan baking. I’ve been following the blog ever since and have made a ton of recipes from it. Needles to say that I got pretty excited about them bringing out their first printed cookbook.
When I first held the book in my hands and flipped through it, I got even more excited. Each recipe features a beautiful large picture, the same great quality as on the ones on the blog. Dana, the author, says that she aimed to create a practical cookbook that you can use on regular weekdays and that doesn’t require crazy ingredients or creates a mountain of dirty dishes. Simple but delicious food that is all vegan and mostly gluten free.
Here are the recipes I’ve put to the test:
1. Ginger Colada Green Smoothie
This is a smoothie with ginger, lime, coconut milk, pineapple, banana, spinach and kale. Since I can’t get my hands on kale where I live, I just replaced the kale with more spinach. When I first tried the smoothie, I fell totally in love with it. This was the first time I ever loved a smoothie so much. I then went through a period of drinking this smoothie almost every day. Addicting. Then, because I had been drinking it so much, I got a little sick of it and stopped making it. Now that the weather is so cold, I crave warm breakfasts, but when the sun picks up again, I might go through another phase of addiction with this one.
2. Mango Coconut Lassi
This is a thick mixture of yoghurt with mango, coconut and some other bits. I had ordered a few mango lassis from a local restaurant before, so I really wanted to try to make my own. It was lovely. The recipe calls for cardamom which compliments the mango well and gives it an Indian feel.
3. Pizza-Stuffed Mushrooms
The name of the recipe appealed so much to me that I just had to make it. It tasted just like you would expect it to, creamy, tangy and olive-y. My only gripe with this recipe is that it calls for 8 ounces of vegan cream cheese which, in Belgium, is really expensive. The book has quite a few recipes that require this $$$ ingredient. I don’t know, maybe it’s cheaper this USA?
4. Rustic Garlic + Asparagus Tofu Quiche
I work in a restaurant where we make somewhere between eight and twenty large quiches a day, so I am a bit of a veteran when it comes to quiches. I really liked the texture of the creamy filling of this one, but found that there was not enough filling to make a decent quiche. The next time I would double the filling and add more spices and veggies to make the whole more interesting.
5. Blackberry Custard Pie
The texture of the filling of this pie was, again, spot on. It had that melt-in-your-mouth quality about it that just wins hearts. This recipe also called for expensive vegan cream cheese, that I successfully replaced by silken tofu.
6. Garlic “Cheddar” Herb Biscuits
These biscuits were pretty good when eaten freshly baked. They dried out soon though. I remember them being okay, not bad, but not amazing.
7. Scalloped Potatoes
My opinion of this recipe was about the same as that of the biscuits, it was good but not great. I didn’t find it to be creamy enough.
8. Better-Than-Restaurant Vegan Nachos
This is the stuff. An extremely delicious Vegan Queso on top of straight-from-the-oven nachos, paired with warm black beans, salsa, avocado and black olives. Amazing comfort food. A new addiction.
9. Spicy Braised Tofu Tostadas
This was an okay recipe, better than the one from Vegan Slow Cooking for Two, but still not great. Maybe I’m not a taco/tostada-kind-of-girl.
10. The Best Vegan Enchiladas
This recipe was, again, not completely convincing to me. I much prefer the Nirvana Enchilada Casserole from Isa Does It.
11. Raspberry Spinach Ribbon Salad
I made this salad on a hot day and it ticked most boxes for me. The dressing looked like poop but tasted good. :). It was a refreshing salad with enough different textures and flavors to keep things interesting.
12. Butternut Squash, Kale + Quinoa Bake (kale replaced by spinach)
Liking all of the ingredients from the recipe, I thought this one would be hard not to like. And I did like it. I would have liked more different spices though, it was a bit on the bland side.
13. Coconut Red Curry Vegetable Soup
This was good. It was creamy, spicy and warming. I made it for the first time when it was pretty hot outside, big mistake. It is on my list of things to make again soon.
14. Super-Thick Three-Bean Chili
I would call this ‘your average chili’. Palatable, bean-y, spicy.
15. 1-Bowl Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies
Minimalist Baker has always excelled at desserts and this one is no exception. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Your perfect basic chocolate chip cookie.
So some recipes were amazing, like the smoothie, nachos and cookies while most others were somewhere between okay and good. I dislike none of the recipes I’ve tried, but some were just lacking a bit in flavor and complexity. I honestly expected a bit from the cookbook, but I found that weeding through the ‘okay-to-good’ recipes was worth it to find those keepers.
My advise would be to check out the Minimalist Baker blog. Start off by making the One Bowl Vegan Chocolate Cake (I’ve made it about twenty times), the Peanut Butter Cup Pie or as a savory option, the Garlic Alfredo Pasta with Brussels Sprouts. If you like those, and you most likely will, move on to some other recipes to get the feel of the blog. If you want more, or prefer holding an actual printed book in your hands, make the plunge and buy or borrow the cookbook.