Thursday, September 29, 2011

Worldly Vegan

Confession: I've never traveled outside the U.S. Well, except for a quick cruise stop in Mexico last year. I'd love to travel across the globe. But that takes serious cash, and I don't have serious cash. For now, I'll have to pretend to be a jet-setter, and thankfully, there's a new vegan cookbook on the market that can help me do just that.

Cookbook goddess Bryanna Clark Grogan, whom I had the pleasure of dining with at Vida Vegan Con, just released her latest tome, Vegan World Feast: 200 Fabulous Recipes from Over 50 Countries.

I was sent a review copy, and although I've only had time to test a couple of recipes, I wanted to go ahead and gush. This book is amazing! Upon my first flip-through, I got all giddy when I saw a recipe for Vegan Poutine in the Universal Comfort Foods chapter (of course, you know I'd go to the comfort foods chapter first!)

Poutine, a popular fast food dish in Quebec, is made with French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. I'm a sucker for cheese and gravy, and I've attempted to make poutine once before. But Bryanna's was better:

The fries are actually hand-cut oven-baked Russet potatoes. They're topped with her Rich Brown Yeast Gravy, an oil-free gravy made with nutritional yeast, chickpea flour, and gravy browner. But the real star of this dish is the Tofu Cheese Curds. Using Bryanna's recipe, you congeal silken tofu with agar in the fridge for several hours, and then you crumble it with your hands. The texture is exactly like that of dairy cheese curds!

Next, I tried the Fresh Pineapple Noodle Stir-fry, also in the Universal Comfort Foods chapter:

This was an Asian fusion dish "with a touch of Hawaii" (Bryanna's words), and for something so simple, I was blown away by the intense flavor.

There's sauteed portabella mushrooms, tofu, garlic, ginger, fresh pineapple chunks, and Swiss chard in there, and because I really like the heat, I used a package of Olio Fresca Habanero Linguine (a gift from Rick of the Health Sleuth) for the pasta in the recipe. I also added a fresh habanero from our front yard pepper plant, even though it wasn't called for in the recipe. On top of all of that, the recipe calls for a couple of tablespoons of sriracha.

Let's just say I kept the tissues handy for my runny nose, and I washed it all down with a cold glass of soymilk to calm the heat. The linguine was uber-hot, just like I like it. If you're ears aren't burning and your nose isn't running when you eat spicy foods, you need to add more heat. :-P

But for all you spice wussies, this dish can easily be toned down by not using hot pepper pasta and not adding a chopped habanero. FYI: My boyfriend and I actually challenge each other to eat straight raw habanero peppers from our plant every once in awhile to see who can go the longest without taking a drink of "milk."

Outside of Bryanna's comfort food chapter, there are chapters on brunches from around the world, soups, salads, beans, soy and seitan mains, and of course, sweets. Other recipe highlights I've bookmarked include vegan Scottish pot haggis, seitan steak au Poivre, cheesy potato galette with Bryanna's homemade vegan gruyere, pyrogies, and sweet 'n' savory Afghan squash.

I'll be trying these dishes and others over the next few months and posting about them here as I go.

What one dish from another country would you most like to see veganized?

13 comments: said...

I would happily eat both of those dishes! The noodle dish looks amazing though, I'll definitely be picking up a copy of this book.

The Health Sleuth said...

omg two things:

1. i'm SO HAPPY you like the habenero linguine! literally, as soon as we saw it at the market, we thought "BIANCA!"

2. i was talking about fiending for a vegan version of poutine, and we decided we knew what we'd do, and it's literally nothing like the recipe you posted. now i have to try THAT poutine, per your recommendation, before we experiment with our own ;)

vijita said...

I LOVE this book! I'm so impressed that you made the cheese curds. I did make the poutine gravy which was incredible, especially in its simplicity, but I copped out and used Cheezly (still delicious). I'm so looking forward to using this book more!

Kari said...

Okay I want this book.

I'd really like to see a vegan version of spanish tortilla (egg and potato pie, basically)- it's probably out there somewhere but I've never found one that cuts it.

Amber Shea @Almost Vegan said...

Bryanna's range of expertise is dazzling!

I'd like to see a vegan pad thai or fried rice that has convincing scrambled "eggs" in it. Not scrambled tofu, but something actually resembling scrambled eggs.

Leslie R. said...

Those dishes look excellent!

Babette said...

I got that book a few weeks ago and I'm loving it. I come from the province of poutine, and I'm curious to try Bryanna's recipe, although I've tried the gravy to top some burgers, but I wasn't overly impressed by it... it's simple and easy to whip up, but not delicious, at least for my taste buds.

The chickpea flour omelets are very nice (I made the swiss variation) and the poor man's pudding, also from Qu├ębec, is to die for.

The pie crust is also incredible... a new staple in my home.

James said...

Your "habanero challenge" with your guy sounds cute. I remember in high school a friend came back from the Caribbean with scotch bonnet peppers and we did one of those. It was a painful memory.

I'm Canadian and lived in Quebec for a few months and I love poutine. It's a huge craving, and the combination of living in Japan and no cheese/meat makes your poutine recipe look insanely good. Cause Japan doesn't do cheese curds (thank God) but they love their tofu! I want this cookbook.

urban vegan said...

Isn't Bryanna wonderful? Her cookbook is like a free trip, no passport required.

VeganLinda said...

Another cookbook I can't wait to buy!We have a family of spice lovers and have been known to eat chilis off our plants. Lots of fun!

Kyleigh said...

Both of these dishes look amazing! I just heard about this book the other day, but after reading this post I’ve put it on my x-mas wish list. I’m Canadian, but have never liked poutine but your picture and description of the recipe really makes me want to try it out!

moonsword said...

Italian arancini please. :)

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

Your description of the curds has sold me. Must get this book!