Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Urban Vegan, part 2

More from Dynise's amazing cookbook "The Urban Vegan: 250 Simple, Sumptuous Recipes from Street Cart Favorites to Haute Cuisine".

It's the cold and snowy time of year that comfort meals were made for. Nothing warms the soul like stew.
Nouveau Pot Au Feu is a slow simmered dish that will make you feel cozy and nourished.

Potato Leek Soup that isn't creamy! Yay! I don't like cream soups but love potatoes and leeks. This was a big hit with Jim. He said this was even better than what his Scottish grandmother used to make.

Sloppy Joes that will take you back to your childhood. Only these ones are meat-free and even more delicious.

Feeling a bit more grown-up? Then is one is for you.

Panko-Crusted Tofu with Raspberry-Tamarind Glaze. Serve this and your guests will think they're in a fine dining establishment. Very urban, very chic and very tasty.

Snow in the Summer. This is a nice, easy side dish when you're tired of the same ol' same ol'. Wonderful textures and flavours come together in a snap.

Seitan Steaks with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce. This will satisfy (and impress) everyone, even meat-eaters.

This is now and forever will be my go-to cranberry sauce. Quince-Cranberry Sauce will be a perfect addition to your holiday table.
Remember in the previous Urban Vegan post I mentioned desserts. Here's a tease.

Berry Tart is not only pretty to look at, it's wonderful to eat! Creamy, not too sweet & all the deliciousness of fresh fruit.

I made this for Christmas dessert last year and everyone loved it. It's not too heavy, so it's perfect after a large meal.

Def-Jam Bars. So easy. So sweet. So yummy.

Layer Cake (for special occasions). This one is a lot of fun because you get to choose what kind of booze to put in it! The possibilities & combinations are almost endless. The liquor isn't overpowering at all. It's gives the cake just a subtle hint of flavour.

The cake inside is super moist and who doesn't love chocolate frosting?
If this sampling of photos hasn't prompted you to buy Dynise's book, then what is wrong with you?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dad & Ellen Go To The ACC

Just before Thanksgiving weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving is in October) my dad & stepmom came for a visit. I hadn't seen them in 6 years, so I was very excited. All kinds of planning went on behind the scenes to get Leafs tickets so we could take my dad to his very first NHL game. He's lived in New Brunswick and/or Nova Scotia his whole life, been a Leafs fan his whole life and the only time he's been to Ontario has been in the summertime. No hockey being played in the summer.

He knew nothing about it and was surprised with tickets at Thanksgiving dinner. The game was the next night.

He was very excited and didn't sleep that well. He said he kept waking up. Awww.
We caught the GO train and went into the city early in the day. We got the subway up to Maple Leaf Gardens to check it out.

When we walked by the front door, there was a security guy outside having a smoke. Inside, they were practicing for Battle of the Blades. I never did watch it, but it was like a 'Dancing with the Stars' competition, only on skates. World class figure skaters were paired up with hockey players and each week, they would do a figure skating routine and the pair with the lowest score would be eliminated. We chatted with the guy for a while, but in the end, he didn't let us in.
Oh holy shrine of hockey greatness. It was at one point going to be made into a freakin' grocery store! Outrage and protests put a halt to that. It is now going to be made into an athletic centre with the exterior remaining intact.

After a poke around there, we grabbed the subway back downtown and went for dinner at Ellen's favorite restaurant, The Keg. They do have veg options and it's possible to make a delicious meal with appetizers and side dishes. There is also a portobello entree available but it's not on the menu. All you have to do is ask. The staff was very cheery and accommodating. It made for a great dinner experience.

We made our 10 minute walk to the ACC and got there early so we could take Dad & Ellen in and let them have a look around. We muscled the doorman, roughed him up a bit and he finally consented to let us in. Actually, it wasn't that dramatic. We lied and said we had dinner reservations at the restaurant.

We met up with a security guy at ice level who loved the story of Dad coming to his first game and later brought him an official Leafs puck as a souvenir. He was also kind enough to take this picture of us at ice level.

While we were there chatting, John McDermott arrived. He quite often sings the national anthem(s) before the games. He was super nice, very friendly and when the security guard told him dad's story, he asked Dad where he was from. Then said he was doing a concert in Fredericton in November and would leave them 2 tickets at the box office. And he did!! Dad & Ellen said they really enjoyed his show and Mr. McDermott saw them after and remembered exactly who they were. My friend Michelle said it was the gift that just kept on giving. HA!

Even though the Leafs lost, I think Dad & Ellen really enjoyed their special day. They even went home with 2 free fleecy Leafs blankets.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Urban Vegan

Is there anyone still checking in and reading my blog? If you are, please leave a message to let me know. It's been a long time since I've posted and I have a feeling I don't get much traffic here anymore. I have been very lax at updating, I know. It just seems like there is always so much going on. I was getting too long with my posts and it would take me hours to put one together. It got to the point that it seemed to be such a daunting task, that I just let it fall by the wayside. So, I'd like to get back at it, but keep the posts shorter and more frequent.

This is a post I've been meaning to do for a while - over a month now, YIKES! A year ago, I was lucky enough to participate in some recipe testing for my friend, Dynise Balcavage. She is an incredibly talented woman who put out a call for help for testing recipes for a new cookbook she was putting together. I was very eager to lend a helping hand. You may remember some of my previous posts showcased some of the dishes I tested. I even made guinea pigs of my friends & family last year at Christmas dinner by incorporating some of Dynise's recipes into the repitoire.

Finally, in October, after much hard work on Dynise's part and much anticipation on everyone else's part, the book was released!

Gorgeous cover! So bright, vibrant & cheery - much like Dynise herself. This cookbook is fantastic! The layout is fun & funky. Aside from traditional chapters like salads, soups, and dessert (oh my! the desserts!) Dynise has also given us chapters "All-Night Breakfast at the Diner", "Happy Hour" & "The Melting Pot". This book is hip, not the same ol' same ol'. There is a great introduction and a list of basics for an urban vegan pantry. Variations are included for a lot of the recipes, so you can make them according to what you have on hand and your own personal tastes. There are even menu ideas. Tidbits of interesting facts & wisdom are scattered throughout the book. But the best part....the end results!

Blueberry Banana Bread

Moist & delicious!

One of the recipes Jim listed as a favorite was this one -

Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach

This was one of my very favorites and might even battle for top spot. Couscous Mosaic. OMG! This is sooo delicious!

Island Gumbo

Pumpkin Risotto with Sage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Pear-Pepper Chutney which is yummy on it's own and is also used in this -

Elegant Lunch Sandwich. So fancy! Rich & delicious. This is sure to impress.

Farfalle with Fennel - different and so tasty.

This isn't the best picture, but what it's a picture of is the best - Dijon Vinaigrette. This was such a hit with Jim & I, that it is now our "house dressing".

It lifts a basic green salad to new heights! It's also good on green beans.

I have other scrumptious photos to show you, but I'm trying to keep these posts manageable for a quick-ish read. Watch this page for more! And please, if you're still keeping up with me, just a quick comment. Even a "hi" will suffice.

By the way, if you'd like to order Dynise's book, go here if you're in Canada

Go here if you're in United States.