I have to give this book 5 stars because of the three recipes I tested for the review, all three were absolutely fantastic, the kind of vegan food you can eat every day and not feel like you're being deprived. Just delicious.
You will need a pantry well-stocked with gourmet ingredients to use this book effectively. Artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, exotic grains, kalamata olives---you'll need all these as well as ingredients like fresh herbs, greens, avocados, mangoes, and misc. veggies. Most people will not have all the ingredients for the recipes on hand without buying them specially. I loved that the recipes generally don't call for commercially-made vegan meat-substitutes (other than tofu, seitan, or tempeh), and that they give the option of using cans or fresh ingredients (with quantities). It's very well thought-out. It would have been nice if there had been pictures.
I tested out the quality of the recipes by three random recipes, and it seems to me that a newbie in the kitchen might have trouble with them. I followed all three very closely so it would truly be her recipe, and not my creation, that I was reviewing.
The Tunisian Chickpea and Kale Stew was tasty in an usual kind of way; I thought it might be vaguely Indian flavored because of the spices, but it was very mild and, for me, off-beat. My husband called it "remarkably good"--so it was definitely a success. I had some issues with the preparation, though: it calls for "6 cups of chopped stemmed kale," which I assume meant "6 cups of stemmed kale, chopped" because to get "6 cups of chopped kale" you would need a mountain of kale. I asked someone new to cooking if she would have understood what that meant and she admitted that, no, she would have thought you needed 6 cups of kale after it was chopped. Yikes! (My interpretation was clearly right because the recipe is chock full of kale and quintupling the amount of kale would not have improved it.) It also calls for "2 cups vegetable broth, plus more if needed." Two cups was not even close to enough--it didn't even cover the ingredients, so I don't know why the recipe didn't call for the correct amount, which clearly was much more than 2 cups. (I needed about 6 cups.) It also says to simmer the stew for 20 minutes, but that was not nearly long enough to cook the diced potatoes, and I needed to cook it twice as long. Also, the portion sizes seem off--it is supposed to feed 4, but this made a lot of stew. Maybe 4 hungry vegan lumberjacks! In our family of 5, this made a main meal plus leftovers. So although the recipe turned out well, I don't know why there were so many inaccuracies.
The Chipotle-Citrus Tofu and Broccoli was oh-my-goodness wonderful. I found that the recipe worked fairly well as written, with the exception that the amount of oil called for to sauté the tofu was woefully inadequate. My tofu was sticking like crazy until I added about three times as much as the recipe calls for. But the flavor of this finished recipe was unbelievable--all of us had multiple helpings and I enjoyed every bite of mine. A true winner! I was very bummed not to have leftovers, since it was so good I was hoping to have it for lunch the next day, as well.
The Greek Gyro Salad (under the chapter "Main Dish Salads") was likewise terrific. I couldn't believe how much it tasted like a real Gyro, and so much healthier. I did again have portion-size troubles--I ended up needing to double the seitan quantity--but that just could be because we loved how the seitan came out. I was unsure about the celery (it's definitely not a part of normal gyros), but it was a nice addition for that crunch. My daughter called this one "scrumptious." Paired with a pita, it really was enough for a main dish.
Is this a good cookbook for you? You should consider whether you are comfortable with long lists of sometimes occasionally exotic ingredients, and if you're ok with modifying a recipe on the fly if something isn't working. If you can deal with these potential difficulties and want a collection of fabulous recipes, then I say, go for it!