Sampling ruby-red organic berries at a farmers’ market, comparing thirty varieties of rice noodles in a Vietnamese food store, ordering “good and greasy” vegetarian rotis from a street cart… this is the life of the urban vegan! “The Urban Vegan: 250 Simple, Sumptuous Recipes, From Street Cart Favorites to Haute Cuisine” by Dynise Balcavage is one of our absolute favorite new cookbooks!
Dynise brings fresh cuisine to life with 250 original animal-free recipes inspired by the colorful culinary landscapes of urban areas. Whether you are a dedicated herbivore or someone seeking a healthy, varied, and delicious diet, this gorgeous new book provides mouthwatering inspiration no matter which city market, restaurant, or corner store you visit… and it looks damn good on your countertop.
What makes it different? Recipes are organized by themes including cafe culture, breakfast at the diner, lunch cart, pasta, urban garden, haute cuisine, “just desserts,” and happy hour. At-a-glance icons signify which recipes are low-fat, fast, omnivore-friendly, kid-friendly, and frugal. Also included are interesting tips covering vegan cuisine, an overview of the vegan pantry, and numerous menu ideas that will please even the staunchest gourmands! Accompanying the 250 well-tested, original recipes are tips on recipe variations and customization, timesaving shortcuts, entertaining ideas, wine pairings and menu themes that will please even picky carnivores. This is a perfect holiday gift for anyone on your list, but first buy yourself a copy!
Don’t believe us? Test out these three delicious, and very different recipes that Dynise herself picked out especially for readers of GirlieGirl Army!
Hearty Adzuki Bean Soup
Adzuki beans are petite red beans that are usually used in Asian dishes. They are subtly sweet and are amazingly filling. Here, I’ve paired them with dried mushrooms, toasted almonds, and a flavor-packed drizzle of black sesame oil. One small bowl of this healthy, fiber-filled soup will keep even the busiest city slicker energized until the next meal.
- 5 1/2-6 cups vegetable broth (depending on how thick you
- want the soup)
- 1 1/2 cups dried adzuki beans, rinsed and picked over
- 1/2 cup dried mushrooms (shiitake or other Asian variety)
- 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 2-inch piece kombu (optional)*
- 1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds, for garnish
- Sesame oil, for drizzling
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Kombu infuses soup with a very subtle hint of the sea, but it also adds important nutrients.
Bring broth to a boil. Add all remaining ingredients, except almonds and sesame oil, and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, or until beans are very soft. Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. Drizzle with sesame oil, garnish with some toasted, slivered almonds, and serve. Serves 6. Wine pairing the salty-sweetness of this soup pairs exceptionally well with a dry Pinot Grigio.
Millet-Crusted Mushroom-Leek Pie
Even if you don’t live in the UK, these days, most large cities have at least a handful of authentic British and Irish pubs. But what do you do when faced with an after-hours pub-grub craving? Make this hearty pie, of course. Drawing on millet’s inherent malleability, I use it as the base for my pie crust -much healthier than what you’ll find in a pub. But you’ll still want to wash this down with a pint of bitter.
- 2 cups leftover cooked millet or brown rice
- 2 heaping tablespoons plus 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 leeks, sliced thinly (Wash them well. They can be annoyingly sandy.)
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- Lots of fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- Healthy pinch nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (aka gram flour)
Preheat oven to 375 °F. Spray a pie pan with cooking oil. Using your hands, mix the millet with the 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Press the millet mixture into the pie pan to form a crust. Set aside. In a large domed pan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the leeks and cook a few minutes until bright green. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook down until both the mushrooms and leeks are very soft, about 25 minutes. Add the parsley and a healthy pinch of nutmeg and mix well. Remove from heat. Carefully transfer the cooked vegetables into the food processor (be careful not to burn yourself). Pulse a few times, and then add the chickpea flour, 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Mix until it forms a fairly firm mousse. If it seems too wet, add a bit more chickpea flour and nutritional yeast, in alternating tablespoonfuls. Transfer the mousse into the prepared pie shell. Use your spatula to flatten the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until firm. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Use a very sharp knife to cut. This is also good served room temperature. Yield: 4 servings.
Real Hot Chocolate
First, let’s get one thing straight: Heated chocolate soy milk is NOT hot chocolate. You haven’t tasted hot chocolate until you’ve made it from scratch, without so much as a smidgen of cocoa powder or chocolate syrup. This decadent version harkens back to the thick, creamy hot chocolate you’ll find in a Madrid cafe on a cold December morning. It’s comfort in a cup, but if you need a little extra, add a glug of spirits, just before removing from the stove. For most recipes, soy and rice milks are interchangeable. But this is one instance you need the fat and creaminess of the soy milk to help this steaming winter drink achieve its fully decadent potential.
- 1 cup full-fat plain soy milk
- 3 tablespoons best-quality dark chocolate buttons or chips (at least 65 percent cocoa solids)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2-1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon rum, brandy, or Kahlua (optional)
- Whipped cream or vegan marshmallows for garnish
In a small saucepan, gently heat milk, chocolate, vanilla, and agave nectar over low heat until the chocolate is completely melted. If you’re using the alcohol, stir it in just before removing from the stove. Serve plain, with a dollop of vegan whipped cream, or better yet, topped with vegan marshmallows. Yield: 1 cup. Variations: For a mocha hot chocolate, add 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder while heating the other ingredients on the stove. For peppermint hot chocolate, add 1 or 2 drops of peppermint extract while heating the other ingredients on the stove.
FIVE LUCKY READERS WILL WIN A COPY OF “THE URBAN VEGAN” – SIMPLY SIGN UP FOR THE GIRLIEGIRLARMY MAILING LIST HERE (IF YOU AREN’T ALREADY A MEMBER) THEN LEAVE A CREATIVE COMMENT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW (MAKE SURE YOU INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL WHEN FILLING IN THE COMMENT FORM) TELLING US WHY YOU WANT A COPY OF THIS COOKBOOK, AND WE WILL CHOOSE 5 OF YOU TO RECIEVE THIS FABULOUS NEW BOOK FOR FREE! DYNISE WILL CHOOSE THE WINNERS ON FRIDAY NOVEMBER 27TH 2009 AND THEY WILL BE NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL BY US.
Even more good news? Author Dynise Balcavage, who has been cooking since age 7 and writing professionally for the past 16 years, is the newest Guest Blogger addition to the GirlieGirlArmy.com team! Expect regular Recipes from this dazzling, wonderful Chef. Dynise has written 11 books for young readers and for VegNews, Herbivore magazine, and Vegetariens magazine. Dynise’s blog, (http://urbanvegan.net), details life as a city vegan and features recipes, news, and observations.