I have a confession. I'm a huge Twilight nerd. I read through Stephenie Meyer's vampire saga faster than I've ever finished a book series. I had the world's biggest crush on Edward (go Team Edward!). I cherished every minute of the movies, especially New Moon and the latest Eclipse film. The film version of Twilight was incredibly cheesy, and the makeup and acting were awful ... but I didn't care. Still loved it.
So when I was contacted about reviewing Love at First Bite: The Unofficial Twilight Cookbook by Gina Meyers, I jumped at the chance. It's not a vegan cookbook by any stretch, but the way I see it, all non-vegan recipes are just begging to be veganized. I figured I could make just about anything in the book without meat, cheese, or eggs.
When the book arrived a few weeks ago, I flipped through and noticed quite a few easily veganizable recipes and a couple that were already accidentally vegan. So no problem there. However, I also noticed that the book is poorly organized. Some of the ingredients in recipes aren't listed in the order they're used. At least one recipe — the Yellow Squash and Tomato Parmesan — is listed twice in the book. Some words are capitalized or lower-cased that shouldn't be. Basically, the book could use some serious editing. Oh, and the black and white photos aren't all that appetizing. Honestly, if you're publishing a cookbook with no color, you really shouldn't include photos.
Because I'm a huge stickler for proper editing (my day job is a newspaper reporter) and decent photography, this was an immediate turn-off. But I'd promised a review of the recipes, so I kept my word. And I'm glad that I did. Many of the recipes have cutesy Twilight-themed names like, "I Dare You to Eat Pizza, Edward" and "Harry's Famous Fish Fry."
I chose the Bella Bruschetta as my main course because it seemed easy enough to veganize:
I swapped out the sausage for my homemade Creole Seitan Sausages and the mozzarella for Daiya Italian Shreds. Those are combined with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and fresh garlic atop a slice of whole grain French bread spread with olive oil. The recipe actually called for one cup of olive oil to spread over the entire loaf, but I thought that sounded crazy. So I spread each slice (I got four large slices from one loaf) with about a tablespoon of olive oil each. Sadly, I forgot to top this bruschetta with the recommended fresh basil before snapping my photo.
Sure, it was an easy recipe, but nonetheless, this bruschetta (more like a French bread pizza, really) was damn tasty. Bella would be proud to serve this to Charlie on a busy weeknight.
On the side, I tossed together this Breaking Dawn Berry Salad:
It called for mixed greens, but I thought spinach sounded like a good fit to combine with the fresh raspberries, avocado, red onion, chopped pecans, and raspberry vinaigrette. I'm bad about falling into salad ruts when it comes to side salads, just tossing in whatever veggies I have on hand. So this was a nice change. I'd probably never think to combine avocado and raspberries, but it was delicious.
Though I take issue with the editing errors, the food I chose to make from Love at First Bite didn't disappoint. I'm also impressed with the book's very large cocktail section featuring drinks with names "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" and "Cullen Club Collins."
There's also a Twilight party planning guide with a strange idea for a New Moon party with an astronaut theme (what?!), a prom planner for Bella (also strange), and 101 random Twilight saga facts. For example, did you know Stephenie Meyer initially named her book Forks? The back of the book is filled with a Twilight trivia quiz, which I'm assuming would come in handy at the New Moon astronaut party.
In conclusion, I'd say the book could certainly use a little cleaning up. But it's still a kitschy, fun volume for diehard Twilight nerds like me.