After my very enjoyable visit to tibits in London a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been leafing through the restaurant’s cookbook, tibits at home: stylish vegetarian cuisine, which I was kindly sent to review.
When this book was first launched in its native Switzerland, it became the best-selling cookbook of that year – which gives some indication of how much the concept is loved over there. The English version has been available since October 2012, and offers 50 vegetarian recipes that have all been tried, tested and given a hearty thumbs-up by loyal tibits’ fans.
It’s a beautifully presented cookbook, with sections handily split into the four seasons. Much of the photography has been done at the homes of four of tibits most loyal customers, which is a really nice touch. They all seem to have super trendy homes, or that might just be the very clever styling and photography!
So, to the food. Most of the recipes contain a short list of ingredients, accompanied by simple, brief instructions. Just the way I like a cookbook to be. There’s a lot here for vegans, too, and if you’re a healthy eater, you’ll most likely have a lot of the base ingredients in your store cupboard already.
In Spring, you’ll find Peppered Tofu with Cucumbers, Coconut and Peanut Fritters (high on my list to cook) and White Asparagus with Orange Sauce (which looks particularly refreshing). In Summer, there’s a nice selection of picnic-type, sharing foods like Mini Calzones, Indian Samosas and Mediterranean-style Quiche, plus some nice ideas for homemade antipasto (Mixed Vegetable, Mushroom, and Aubergine).
Things start to become more grain and lentil-based in Autumn, with a Vegetable Jamabalaya, Yellow Pea Vadai (Indian dumplings) plus there’s an unusual pasta dish which has a light curry sauce. The recipe for tibits’ best-selling Dried Green Bean Salad (owner Reto Frei tells me they just can’t take this off the menu – people love it so much!) has also been included. For Winter, there’s a Spinach and Feta Lasagne (again, high on my list to try) and a warming Spelt Risotto with Mushrooms.
I’m happy to report that all the desserts look really easy to make. While I love puddings and cakes I’m often put off if they involve long, complicated instructions. For savoury things, I’m a big fan of one-pot cooking (especially on weekdays), and if anyone’s going to persuade me to make dessert, it has to be equally straightforward. In the cookbook, you can choose from such goodies as a London Cheesecake, made with Blanc Battu, which I can only guess might be similar to Quark or fromage frais (I sampled this dish at the Heddon St restaurant), Coconut Chocolate Pudding, Berry Crumble, and Banana Crème with Vanilla and Turmeric (which I’ve tried out below).
There were a couple of sandwich recipes that were probably unnecessary (namely the Feta and Cucumber sandwich and the Olive and Tomato sandwich). Nobody really needs a recipe for a sandwich do they? Inspiration perhaps, but not a recipe. Those pages could perhaps have been better filled with another couple of recipes from the restaurant’s large collection.
Apart from that, this is a very nice, dip-into-and-see-where-it-leads cookbook, and the recipes won’t require endless hours in the kitchen or extensive shopping beforehand.
The tibits back story is also very inspiring. It involves three brothers from Switzerland – Reto, Christian and Daniel – all vegetarian for ethical reasons, who were taught to cook by their non vegetarian, Italian mother. Their dream to open a vegetarian restaurant became a reality when they fortuitously met and later teamed up with Swiss husband and wife team, Rolf and Marielle Hiltl, from Hiltl, which is named in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world (established in 1898). This, incidentally, also looks like a really cool place to visit if you ever find yourself in Zurich.
Their joint venture concept became tibits, which in Switzerland can be found in Zurich, Winterhur, Berne and Basel, with London their first, and currently only, international site.
You can read my review of the London restaurant here.
RECIPE – Banana Crème with Vanilla and Turmeric
This recipe caught my eye because of its vibrant colour. I had all the ingredients to hand, and while it certainly isn’t low calorie, it feels light to eat and makes a perfect dessert for kids. I felt the need to finish it off with a crunchy topping. In the picture below I’ve used some cacao nibs, but some toasted almonds, cashew nuts or coconut flakes would also work well.
50g raw cane sugar
1 tsp turmeric
2 vanilla pods
2 tbsp cornflour
300g peeled bananas (about two medium bananas)
120ml whipping cream
Bring the milk, sugar, turmeric and scraped out vanilla pulp to a gentle boil. Mix the cornflour with the water and stir into the milk until it thickens (a minute or two). Leave to cool and then put in the fridge for an hour.
In the meantime, mash the bananas, and whip the cream until stiff. Mix the bananas into the chilled milk mixture, and then gently fold in the cream until fully mixed. Chill well before serving.
I was a bit timid and only used half a teaspoon of turmeric as it can be bitter, which is why my dish is not quite as dazzlingly yellow as it appears in the cookbook. However, I’d put in the full teaspoon next time, as the cane sugar and bananas ensure a sweet taste.
A nice little dessert that would make a perfect end to a spicy meal. Be sure to serve it very well chilled as it may wilt a bit at room temperature.