Lisa Vegan's Reviews > The Vegan Table: 200 Unforgettable Recipes for Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion

The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
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's review
Feb 18, 10

bookshelves: cookbook, vegetarian, vegan, gr-a, reviewed, non-fiction
Recommended for: everybody; those who cook & entertain; cookbook collectors; all vegans & veg friendly cooks
Read from February 03 to 18, 2010 — I own a copy

First, I want to say that this might have become my new favorite cookbook (it’s amazing!) and I have read about one hundred 100% vegan cookbooks, and many vegetarian and other cookbooks, so that’s saying a lot. Also, I borrowed this from the library but once I started reading, I immediately purchased it. I’m buying books only very rarely so this is significant. It is about to go on my kitchen bookcase in an easy to grab location.

I read almost all my cookbooks cover to cover, and some might think that’s weird, but this is one cookbook I can imagine most readers wanting to read. Yes, the recipes look delicious, but the book is also well written and laid out in such a friendly way, and it contains a great deal of interesting information; it’s a page-turner. In fact, it’s challenging for me to write this review because I didn’t stop to take notes the way I usually do when I read cookbooks. I was just too engaged and didn’t want to be distracted with note taking, so unfortunately this review will not be as well organized as the book I’m reviewing.

No fair! I know a couple of the “tasters” and would have loved to be a taster for these recipes or a guest at one of the many meals/parties that this author gives.

This is a “how to entertain” book as well as a cookbook, and the author is a hostess extraordinaire. There are so many terrific ideas given for creating many different types of meals and meal sharing experiences.

This is a wonderful book for everyone from experienced cooks and party givers to those such as myself who lack confidence in the kitchen and feel ill at ease preparing meals for other people.

One thing I greatly appreciated is the author stating that the recipes are guidelines. I often change things in recipes: less or no salt, more garlic, leaving out the vinegar, etc. etc. I love it when a cookbook author explicitly gives permission to play with the recipes.

I tend to read cookbooks but not use them. This is one of about a dozen cookbooks that inspire me to try out some of the recipes. When I review most cookbooks, I generally list a bunch of recipes I most want to try, but there were too many appealing ones here to do that. However, I will have to try the pasta and green beans with peanut sauce because it looks so easy and delicious, and the hummus because it would be much more inexpensive than what I buy at the store and would taste better too, and I’m very tempted to try the red velvet cake. I was so happy to see that this book includes desserts. Because this author also wrote The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks' Recipes for Sweets and Traditional Treats I was afraid no desserts would be included here, but there are many mouth watering dessert recipes throughout the book. I also really, really want to try the matzoh ball soup, as that’s one of the few dishes I haven’t had since I’ve been vegan, maybe even since I was vegetarian. Even though I’ve seen other vegan versions, this one looks the easiest to make and tastier than any of the others. The purple potatoes with cashew cream (one of the foods at the author’s wedding) look absolutely scrumptious.

This is a cookbook but because of its content, when I finished reading it, I was tempted to add it to my philosophy, social-culture, and animal-rights shelves as well as my cookbooks, vegan, vegetarian, gr-authors,non-fiction, and reviewed shelves.

I love the way this book is structured!

There’s an introduction, chapters on romantic dinners for two, casual meals for four to six friends, formal dining for six to ten, menus for special occasions, feasts for the holidays, party foods (buffets, appetizers, and finger food), and there are also resources and recommendations in the back of the book, and a handy index too. The index includes the recipe ingredients, which is helpful. I’d have appreciated a separate index for the ancillary information because those pages would be easier to find again. The only other thing that would have enhanced this cookbook would have been to have at least one photo of every single recipe on its page(s) but many lovely photos are included.

Throughout the book, the recipes are recommended by season: spring, summer, autumn, winter. The recipes have nutritional information: whether or not they’re oil free, wheat free, soy free, and amount of calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, cholesterol, and sodium are listed. Of course, every recipe has zero cholesterol because cholesterol is in animal products only. Other cooks (recipes published in slightly different form in other cookbooks and unpublished ones made by friends of the author) are given credit for some of the recipes. There are suggested menus too.

There are entire pages of information such as Chocolate is Vegan!, Creating a Traditional Vegan Passover Sedar, reclaiming food traditions steeped in animal exploitation, deconstructing our plates, survival tips for vegans, and for friends and families of vegans, and so much more. Scattered throughout there are little blurbs in boxes: Food Lore, Compassionate Cooks’ Tip, and Did You Know? They’re all interesting and informative and make for a fun reading experience. (I just loved finding out the probable reason for how strawberries got their name.) Also given are toasts for various occasions, tips for stress free entertaining, and more. (Really, just get this book; it’s jam packed with fascinating and helpful information and the recipes alone would be worth it.)

This is a beautiful book. I love the way color is used. The photos are gorgeous. The recipes look wonderful and special but they look easily accessible for the average person, although those who use this book frequently will probably appreciate having a food processor. This author is an amazing hostess as well as a creative cook, and she generously shares some pertinent personal information and so many helpful tips, as well as providing the recipes. She writes how she was reluctant to write both this cookbook and her first cookbook, The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks' Recipes for Sweets and Traditional Treats. I am so grateful that both of these books are available. They do much for veganism because they make it so obvious that a 100% plant based diet is completely satisfying.

This is a perfect book to give as a gift: for birthdays, weddings, or for any occasion.
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Reading Progress

01/14/2010 page 1
0.33% "will read this as read novel(s)"
02/17/2010 "I'm reading my way through this book & I can tell that for me this is a new favorite cookbook."

Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

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Lauren I hope you like it - I use it all the time!

Lisa Vegan Lolly, I am sure I will. I love her other book and I really like her. Unfortunately, this is a library book, but I will read the whole thing and, if I want to really use it I guess that I can keep borrowing it from the library. I'm going to try to resist buying a copy; I will see how that plan goes.

message 3: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I looked too quickly and thought the title was 200 Recipes for Entertaining Every Forgettable Guest... I'm not sure how I got that. Looks good, in any case!

Lisa Vegan Ha! Funny.

Sharron I checked it out of the library and loved it. I also read cookbooks like novels and this one has lots of stories and helpful hints. When I received a gift certificate, this was the book I got. I've been a vegetarian and recently decided to become vegan and this book has been a great tool. Hope you enjoy it as well.

Lisa Vegan Thanks, Sharron.

Yes, cookbooks as novels: definitely. Yes, I haven't made much progress yet with this book or the other cookbook I'm also currently reading. BUT, I'd taken it out of the library and liked it enough to buy it too. So, now I'm reading my own copy.

I love all the little boxes: Compassionate Cooks Tip, Did You Know?, and Food Lore.

Congratulations on going vegan! I hope this book is very helpful. There are so very many great vegan cookbooks out there. This does look like one of the good ones.

message 7: by Kathryn (last edited Feb 18, 2010 01:55PM) (new) - added it

Kathryn This sounds like one I'll definitely have to get, Lisa! I'm sure I will have to skip a lot of the recipes for now, but I am going to see if I can get it from the library just to peruse in case something does work for me now. For sure I'll add it to my TBR shelf for when my current nutritional/health issues allow me to act upon my vegetarian beliefs more fully :-)

Lisa Vegan Kathryn, Definitely worth the purchase for me. Yes, my library had it and I hope your library does so you can check it out first. She encourages playing with the recipes so you may be able to customize them to work for you, but the book will be more useful and fun for you if you can use many recipes as they're presented. I really hope your health issues clear up. I have some (different) ones of my own and it is such a drag.

Lisa Vegan In the meantime, you can at least enjoy all the fun facts and tips in the book!!!! They won't bother your gut!

message 10: by Kathryn (new) - added it

Kathryn Lisa wrote: "In the meantime, you can at least enjoy all the fun facts and tips in the book!!!! They won't bother your gut!"

Aww, thanks! And I wish you the best of health, too. It's hard when we already restrict our diets for philosophical reasons to have other restrictions for health reasons!!! :-/

message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Too true. I should eat a better for health diet than I have. I'm up & down in terms of eating for health.

message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Lucky to have no known health issues that force me to eliminate foods. I hope that's true for you someday soon!

message 13: by Kathryn (new) - added it

Kathryn Thank you! :-)

Lindsey I have owned this book since last summer and am so ashamed that I haven't used it yet. It makes me so happy and excited to look through this book!

message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Isn't it a great book?!

I hardly ever cook using recipes from cookbooks, but this is one I hope I use. I don't have a food processor but there are plenty of recipes I could make that don't need one.

message 16: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chandra wrote: "Wow!! Glad to see your endorsement Lisa! This is actually the first vegan cookbook we purchased. It just *looked* the best!"

Chandra, Oh, I hope you enjoy it and find some delicious foods to make that all three of you will enjoy. It's a great book. Unfortunately, there are so many. Fortunately, my library is carrying more and more of them and friends own others, so I can check out books before buying.

If you make anything from the book and like or don't like it, it would be wonderful if you'd feel comfortable posting about it in the cookbooks group. I can't believe nobody has started a thread for it yet, but feel free to do so. Just use the vegan cookbooks folder and put book title & author in the subject heading and post away, even if it's to say it's the first vegan cookbook you've bought but you haven't used it yet. But, only if you feel comfortable doing so.

I love Colleen. She's local. Wish I knew her. It sounds as though she has these incredibly fun dinner parties, with tasty foods, decorations, nice companions, etc. And gifts to give guests. How sweet is she?!

message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chandra wrote: "I will definitely post in the group about our adventures with this book. I want try at least half of the recipes like today!"


I do love this book, but as far as kid friendly recipes go, there are many others you (and Izzy) might enjoy.

I hope you enjoy the food. For me, that's crucial!!

message 18: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I know I've read some vegan cookbooks that specifically have kid friendly icons or are otherwise highlighted as good recipes for kids. I need to try to search my reviews. And Lee will obviously be a good resource. I know you'll be able to get all sorts of ideas from many people. As far as dairy subs you might have to experiment with many before you find the ones that appeal to you. I don't use milks (except occasionally in a recipe) but I know many people like Silk brand soymilk. Re cheeses, I've found that unlike dairy cheese, less tastes better than more. I like Follow Your Heart, especially the cheddar, but most like the newer cheeses, especially Daiya, which I don't like. I never liked cream cheese or mayo but Vegansisse mayo and other soft vegan cheeses apparently are well liked. Plan on playing around for awhile. When I first went vegan, there were very few dairy subs and I just did without, and for health reasons some vegans I know don't use them. There's nothing about them that are necessary for health. But if they help with cravings and you find some you find tasty, enjoy!

message 19: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I don't like anything that reminds me of meat but I have vegan friends that are huge fans of the vegan faux meats. Some of the hot dogs you can't tell the difference. Great for kids' bsirthday parties. And my dog was completely fooled by them. She LOVED them. ;-)

message 20: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I didn't like peanut butter as a kid either. There are vegan deli meats, by the way. Apparently tasty and definitely healthier than their animal counterparts. Does Izzy like pasta, casseroles, rice & bean dishes, etc? Nuts as snacks or in dishes? I didn't like peanut butter sandwiches (still don't) but like spicy peanut sauce, chocolate peanut butter desserts, etc. Loved pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and macadamia nuts when I was a kid. And remember, most foods have protein, not just beans and soy and animal products. Quinoa, a grain, has all the essential amino acids. I didn't like it the first two or three times I tasted it; now, it's a staple in my house and I love it. Wheat/pasta/bread has protein. Vegetables have protein. Most foods do. Beans are great sources and you can make Mexican dishes/Tex-Mex. Texan. ;-)

Sharron My daughter doesn't like any of the faux meats either. I prefer veggies myself so don't really buy them. We tried a lot of the recipes in this book together and one of our favorites was the pannini sandwich. As for cheese I really like Daiya cheese. It melts really well so is great in a quesadilla or pannini. My daughter is now 22 but as a child she was picky. I remember a certain time when she wouldn't eat anything but french fries and ketchup. Things have changed and she's now a vegetarian who eats pretty healthy. She also didn't like the spicy foods but now eats Thai at a level 8 or so. Good luck Chandra with your daughter. You seem to be on the right track by introducing her to a lot of different choices.

message 22: by Lisa (last edited May 15, 2011 11:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan There are good vegan yogurts. I've heard second hand since I've never liked any.

Cheese was my biggest weakness. Sharp cheddar cheese. That and a few other foods was why it took me 6-1/2 years to go vegan and what I had cravings for for another three years. Thank goodness they finally went away. For me, being vegan has been easy for the last 13-1/2 years.

A book that explains well why certain foods such as cheese are so addictive is: Neal D. Barnard's Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings---And 7 Steps to End Them Naturally

Grrr. My phone wouldn't let me past the above.

What I wanted to say also is I think it's really common for kids to not like spicy foods. Younger people have more taste buds than older people and taste everything more strongly, probably why they like fewer foods and tend not to like strongly tasting and spicy foods. I didn't like jalapeño peppers as a kid, or even black pepper. Now, I'm a spicy food fanatic. Izzy's tastes will broaden over time.

I also wanted to say you are already most of the way there, it sounds like. Your adjustment will be easier than those people who eat meat 3 x a day and never eat vegetables or fruits. There are quite a few people like that.

message 23: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Sharron, Just saw your post. Yes, most people like Daiya cheese so it's definitely worth it for people to try. I can taste coconut/sweetness/something in it I don't like, but most people I know do like it. Thai 8: yum!

message 24: by Kathryn (last edited May 16, 2011 10:15AM) (new) - added it

Kathryn Chandra--Have you/Izzy ever tried almond butter? We use that all the time and love it! I like peanut butter, too, but Tyler can't eat it and so I've just become used to almond butter. You might try it if it's the flavor vs. the consistency of PB that Izzy doesn't like.

We also use almond milk almost exclusively and love it. You can do the vanilla flavor for cereals or beverages and baking, or the original. We buy the unsweetened kind and you'll probably want to do that, too, since you're trying to avoid sugar. (Though I admit nothing tastes the same as cream for tea/coffee!) I've never done especially well with too much soy and try to save it for tofu if I'm going to do any soy. Rice milk just doesn't have the same substance and flavor for us, but it's also another alternative. Anyway, just an FYI. I have not had any trouble substituting almond milk for recipes that call for soy milk.

As for the cheeses, that's a really hard one as I was a big cheese snob before I went vegan and have yet to find anything that compares, but Daiya is pretty tasty (if a tad sweet and salty) and it melts great so would be good for grilled cheese or pizzas! ;-)

message 25: by Kathryn (last edited May 16, 2011 11:35AM) (new) - added it

Kathryn Aww, too bad about Izzy not liking nuts. Well, as someone who has always absolutely hated the taste of bananas, I certainly cannot fault her for disliking a food that most people seem to think is absolutely wonderful! ;-)

One think with the soy/almond/rice milks, not all are created equal! Some brands are really yucky, IMO. But, obviously I guess other people like them since they sell! So, I wouldn't write off one kind of dairy substitute until you try a few brands.

I agree that it's terrible how addictive the junky foods can be and how much our body craves it. Even though I think I'm eating much healthier than I ever have in my adult life, I started gravitating toward baked goods when I went vegan (I think because of all the other "comfort foods" like cheeses and such that I could no longer eat) and I still do more than I *ought* to do, though at least it's all made at home and I can monitor, use whole-wheat, substitute some applesauce for oil or agave for sugar, etc. But, yes, it's hard to stop craving that taste and comfort! At least your family is lightyears ahead in actually liking fruits and veggies--I do, too, and it certainly helps when going toward a plant-based diet! ;-) Hooray!

message 26: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Cheese is like crack. It took me nearly 10 years to stop craving it, a very unusual length of time. The same is said about salt added and sugar, etc. etc.

I'm the same way, Chandra. I love veggies & fruits but even though I've been vegan for decades/vegetarian for most of my adult life, I eat fewer of them than I should, and at times I eat processed food/junk. Working on it!!! When I eat the healthy stuff (beans, soy, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, spices) I'm usually satisfied and don't crave the other stuff, unless I see someone eating a delicious looking vegan cake with frosting, then I can still get those cravings. Luckily, for me, it's only for vegan foods now/for the last 13 1/2 years or so, but there are so many vegan junk foods and processed foods now. Easier to go vegan but harder to eat healthfully, at least for me.

So, Izzy does not like whole nut or nuts in cookies either? They're not necessary, but they can be healthy. Maybe her palate will change. It probably will for some things. There were three vegetables I didn't like until I was an adult and many other foods I liked as a kid that I don't now and other foods I like now that I didn't then.

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