Urban Vegan for a Country Bumpkin
Hey, guess what, Dynise Balcavage! Your book, Urban Vegan, has a lot of awesome looking recipes in it, but I can’t find a bunch of the fancypants ingredients here in little ol’ West Virginia. Oh well, I made do. (Warning: a bunch of the photos I took this week are crazy ugly. I’m not sure what happened…whether the food is hideous or I just wasn’t on my game. It might be a combination of those two things.)
You know, I’m a staunch cauliflower hater. But I’m one of those people who keeps trying things I hate, in the hopes that someday I’ll find a recipe or method that makes that thing delicious. (Sorry eggplant, I’ve tried enough…sometimes you just really do hate things, at the most basic level.) I found that recipe with this cauliflower-chickpea tagine. Cauliflower has been redeemed! It turns out that if you cook the crap out of it with some tasty spices and liquid, it gets good. Hurrah! I really did like this, though. It was hearty, savory, and just a teensy bit sweet. I served it over couscous, which soaked up the juices nicely. And that’s the scallion flatbread from Veganomicon on the side of the bowl (also yummy!). After I snapped this photo and was halfway through my (first) bowl, I remembered the almonds I had toasted up for garnish. It’s even better with them! I’ll make this again, for sure.
I’m really putting off getting to the ugly photos. This is my conciliatory act: this beautiful spinach salad with strawberries and pistachios. It’s even relevant, because the dijon vinaigrette from the book is on it. Man, that was a good dressing. I’d reduce the vinegar by a tablespoon next time (I’m a wimp), but it went really great on this salad. And it was ready in, like, 5 minutes. I never make my own salad dressing because I’m always afraid it’s going to be tedious, but it’s really so easy. I should be doing it more often.
This is a slap in the face, huh? That monstrosity is the millet-crusted mushroom-leek pie. It tasted better than it looked, but damnit I could not get a good picture of it. It just got worse when I sliced it. So let me describe it for you. This is a mousse. It’s creamy. The millet got nicely crunchy. Uh… Man, that millet. It made me so mad. You’re supposed to press it down into the pie pan to make a crust, right? Except it’s sticky, so it just kept sticking to my hands (and 2 different kinds of spoons!) and coming back up out of the pan. I eventually got a decent crust going, but it took way longer than I wanted it to. And then the filling uses chickpea flour to thicken it up. I really like chickpea flour, but the flavor of it didn’t mesh here. It overpowered everything else. I wanted to taste leeks! So next time I’ll just use regular flour. I realize the chickpea flour was probably to make it gluten-free, but I love gluten, so I don’t care. Anyway, this was pretty good all mushed up together on my plate.
These lemon scented carrots with capers and coriander were the best thing I made all week. I love carrots, and lemon, and capers, so that’s a no-brainer. But they were also easy, which you know I like. I didn’t even peel my carrots (never do). These are wonderful though. I’ll definitely be making them again. I served them with the mushroom pie monster thing, and that went well. They’d also just be great in a giant bowl, eaten with a spoon.
In theory, this lemon poppyseed tempeh is delicious. It has lemon. It has scallions. And poppyseeds, yum! But it was a little too sweet for me, so next time I’ll take out the sweetener. You know what really made this delicious though? When I made a lunch out of it that looks nothing like this. I sautéed some leftover tempeh with some capers, and mixed it all up with some whole wheat spaghetti. That was awesome. Capers, people. Capers fix everything.
I’m sorry. I know that’s the grossest picture I’ve posted in a while. But I’m always determined to document, whether the food is ugly or pretty and whether I’m drunk or sober. See if you can guess which combination of circumstances happened when this photo was taken. Sigh. And this polenta was just ok, but that’s my fault. I added the full half cup of nooch (I love nooch!), but then it got too noochy (fail!). And although I don’t think it needs a sauce, like the recipe suggests, I topped it with some pesto. Which would have been nice, except I way oversalted my pesto (how? I’m still at a loss). And it was kind of gross. I had some leftover polenta with some of the tempeh and just a touch of the pesto, mixed it all up, and that was tasty though.
So all in all it was a weird week. I have a few recipes from Urban Vegan that I really love (curry cashew casserole, orecchiette con broccoli), but the whole challenge for me is to use recipes I haven’t made before. And since I can’t make a bunch of the recipes from this book because I can’t find so many of the ingredients, my choices were limited. But I think I picked a couple of winners that I’d make again.
Stay tuned for next week where you can read about my adventure with Vegan with a Vengeance. I’m already off to a good start with it, and I’m hopeful for the rest of the week! And I’ll try to take better photographs this time around.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I also made the harissa from Urban Vegan. I couldn’t find those special chiles she calls for, so I just used habaneros. It’s good! I can always use another spicy condiment, and this one has a lot of flavor, to boot.
Ok, the end.