Book Review | Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens To Be Vegan) by Martinez & Wyse

If you’ve checked out my Instagram, you might have noticed I’ve been teasing y’all with a recipe I made the other night from a new cookbook. Well, the WAIT IS OVER. I bring you my review of Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens To Be Vegan) by Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse.

This is the first of several books I will be reviewing from Hardie Grant Publishing, which is a company based out of Australia, but also has distribution in the United States. It’s for this reason, if you pick up one of their books, you’ll notice there are both metric and American measurements for ingredients. Some might say this is confusing, but I think it’s pretty cool to have the recipes be so versatile.

Right off the bat, this book is beautiful. It’s got a sturdy spine with an enticing front cover, handy ribbon bookmark, and lots of well-lit photographs that show what the dishes (should) look like. I strongly dislike cookbooks that are all words because 80% of the time I pick what I am going to make based on the picture, even if my attempt doesn’t turn out so picture perfect.

One of the first things I noticed about the book when you open it is this beautiful picture of a basket filled with fruits and veggies. If you turn to the last page of the book, the basket is empty, implying you’ve used all the fresh ingredients while cooking your way through the book. I think this is a super clever metaphor and a sweet example of the authors’ attention to detail.

I really like how the book is set up-it starts with an introduction and the story behind Smith & Daughters, which is a restaurant based in Fitzroy, Australia. The intro includes a SUPER helpful index of “tips and facts about this book,” which I found to be extremely helpful in understanding the authors’ intentions behind certain ingredients. While I may never get the chance to visit Smith & Daughters in person, I felt like this book literally transported me down under and I got the chance to try dishes I would never find here in the United States.

My favorite quote from the book is that all of the recipes inside are “good food that happens to be vegan.” There’s no strict emphasis that vegan food always has to be healthy, or moreover, that vegan food is bland in taste. Instead, there is this overwhelming emphasis on using ingredients that taste and look good in order to come up with innovative recipes and flavor compositions not found in any other cookbook (and you can take my word on that…I’ve got hundreds of cookbooks and this one is in a league of its own).

The book itself is divided into eight parts: Brunch, Small, Big, Salads, Extras, Sauces & Dressings, Sweet, and Drinks. Each page has a giant picture of what the item should look like, or at least if your version turns out less than picturesque (but still tasty), you can always show your friends what it could’ve looked like. The ingredients and serving sides are neatly laid out on one side, while the other has a step-by-step set of instructions.

My only qualm about this book is that there is no estimated time from start to finish. As much as I love a great recipe, if I don’t know how long it will take, I might not attempt to do it if I’m short on time. The only other thing would be that some of the ingredients might be hard to find if you live in a smaller town…but with the help of the internet and some clever substitutions, this book is pretty accessible.

Most of the dishes seem like they wouldn’t take too long, but I would be the one to choose the one recipe in the whole book that took three hours. Yes, THREE HOURS…but damn was it delicious.

Now to the fun part-recipe testing! What’s a cookbook review without trying some of the food for yourself? For this review, I tried to make the Warm Mexican Corn & Blueberry Puddings. Let’s preface that I do not really care for blueberries-they roll away the second I try to snatch them and it’s just a mess when they squish bright purple juice when you bite into them.

Apprehensions aside, I made this dish and it had everyone in my house ooh-ing and aww-ing. Even though they’re called “puddings” they’re more like cupcakes, but that might be an Australian/American thing. The process includes roughly four steps-making the muffin, making the blueberry topping, making the crumble, and making the blueberry-lemon sauce.

I won’t post the recipe here because you should all go out and buy the book yourself…but let’s just say it’d be worth the investment for your next dinner party, date night, or just because you want to try something new in the kitchen.

Even though it literally took three hours, it was so worth it and I will definitely be making the “puddings” again. The ooey gooey texture of the blueberries, paired with the crumbly topping and sweet drizzle made these hands down one of the best desserts I’ve ever made (and tried).

So the short and the skinny of this review-this is a really unique cookbook that I think both beginning and experienced chefs could enjoy. Even though it’s “vegan,” there’s literally something for everyone. I tried a dessert because I wanted to try something that looked like a challenge (sorry, blueberries).

Score Card:     Cover Art 5/5     |      Content 5/5     |      Ease of Read 5/5

I was provided a complimentary copy of this text in exchange for my honest thoughts after reading it.

Step 1: Blueberries

Step 2: Topping

Step 3: Crumble

Step 4: Muffins aka Puddings

Step 5: Sauce

Step 6: Drizzle

Step 7: Compose

Step 8: Consume

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