6 Days of Vegan Cookbook Reviews {#1: Celebrate Vegan + A GIVEAWAY}

Post image for 6 Days of Vegan Cookbook Reviews {#1: Celebrate Vegan + A GIVEAWAY}

by JL Fields on December 1, 2011

Welcome to “6 Days of Vegan Cookbook Reviews!”

One of the unexpected outcomes of blogging is that I am now invited to review vegan cookbooks.  A few weeks ago I noticed that my review copies were piling up. Why? Because I like to make at least one dish from a book I review so that I can share a photo and brief commentary on my experience.  I wasn’t finding the time I needed in the kitchen. Then I had an idea.  Why not kick off December — holiday season for many — with six days of reviews? These reviews might help you decide on holiday gift purchases or, perhaps you’ll add one, two or six cookbooks to your own holiday wish list!

I’m going to tease you and make you wait each day for the title of the new cookbook I will review but this is what I can tell you:

  1. Each review will include a recipe from the book!
  2. The first post, today, will include a GIVEAWAY. One lucky reader, anywhere in the world, will win their own copy of today’s review book.
  3. The last post, day six, will include a GIVEAWAY. Two lucky readers, in the U.S. and Canada, will win their own copy of the final review book.

Please check back each day to learn about new vegan cookbooks in bookstores now!

***

I’m delighted to kick off this vegan cookbook review series with Celebrate Vegan:  200 Life-Affirming Recipes for Occasions Big and Small.  I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Dynise Balcavage, at Vida Vegan Con. You know Dynise as The Urban Vegan.  She led a writing workshop for bloggers and I learned so much.

Her writing skills, and ability to weave a story into a recipe, are wonderful elements in her latest cookbook.

Dynise is smart, funny and she has created recipes that an average Jane like me can understand.

Here’s how the book is laid out.

  • New Year’s Celebrations (crossing religions and cultures)
  • American Celebrations (think MLK, Jr. Day to Mother’s Day to Kwanzaa)
  • International Celebration (from Earth Day to Barbados Independence Day)
  • Religion-Based Celebrations (you had this Buddhist at Christmas)
  • Milestone Celebrations (birthdays, weddings, etc)
  • Everyday Celebrations (from girl’s night in to endurance events — let’s hear it for marathoners!)

I love the diversity of celebrations and the information Dynise provides for each event.  For instance, her Seitan with Prunes recipe is for Nowruz (Persian New Year):

In Farsi Nowruz means “new day.”  This first-day-of-spring celebration markes the Persian New Year — and a symbolic fresh start.  Families exchange presents after the exact moment of the equniox…

Recipes range from Irish Soda Bread to Penne with Vodka Sauce to Crepes with Bananas and Giandjan and are really quite simple — and for someone like me, that’s key. If the recipe is complicated I probably won’t make it.

I’m a fan of any cookbook that kicks off acknowledging the animals and Dynise does exactly that. She frames her book as a way to celebrate “kinder, gentler, healthier holidays.”  She provides some basics, such as her favorite kitchen tools, using egg alternatives in baking and ingredients to avoid. She also provides cooking notes about her recipes–all vegan is sugar, flour is half whole wheat and half spelt (unless noted) and Earth Balance is the only vegan margarine that she uses.  Dynise denotes recipes with icons–Fast, Frugal, Kid-Friendly, Make Ahead and Omnivore Friendly–which I found really helpful.

For this review I decided to make one of Dynise’s Christmas Eve recipes, as it is December 1!  I opted for a frugal icon:

These recipes won’t bust your budget since they are built on a foundation of cheap-and-cheerful pantry staples.

It’s true! I had everything on hand!

This is my new favorite dazzle-the-omnivores-with-deliciousness recipe

Polenta-Kale Cutlets with Basil Aioli
from Celebrate Vegan:  200 Life-Affirming Recipes for Occasions Big and Small by Dynise Balcavage
Reprinted with permission from the author

INGREDIENTS (Makes 6 – 8 servings)
Polenta Cutlets

  • 1 T olive oil, plus oil or cooking spray for frying cutlets.
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bunch kale, trimmed and finely chopped — and bout 3 cups (you may substitute spinach, collard greens or chard; frozen, thawed, and drained is fine, too)
  • 2-3 T water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup soy or rice milk
  • 3 cups veggie broth or water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal

Basil Aioli

  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 slice bread, crumbled
  • 3 T coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS (edited at 8:20 a.m. EST on 12/1/11)

  1. To prepare the greens, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick sauté pan. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes over medium-low heat until garlic is translucent, taking great care not to burn.  Add kale (or other greens) and cook until soft, 20 – 30 minutes (5 to 10 minutes for spinach or chard).  Add water or broth as needed to help steam-cook the veggies.  Set aside.
  2. To prepare the polenta cutlets, mix greens, milk, broth , and salt in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Whisk in cornmeal, a bit at a time, taking care that no lumps form.  Turn heat to low and whisk continually until the mixture is extremely thick. Switch to a wooden spoon when the whisk becomes unmanageable.  Stir until virtually all of the excess moisture evaporates, about 20 to 30 minutes. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch greased pan and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.  This will make it easier to form into cutlets.. Score into 10 or 12 even sections.
  3. To prepare the aioli, mix and ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Set aside if you’ll eat after frying the polenta or refrigerate and bring to room temp to serve.
  4. After the polenta has set, heat some oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan.  Remove 2 polenta squares.  Place them in pan and using a spatula, lightly tap them down into a cutlet shape. Fry until golden brown, about 5 – 10 minutes, then carefully flip and cook the other side about 5 to 10 minutes, then carefully flip and cook the other side about 5 to 10 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining polenta. Serve immediately with Basil Aioli or the sauce of your choice. (Other sauce recipes in the book include Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Cumin-Harissa Sauce.)

I used fresh kale and followed the recipe exactly. It was so much fun to make! The cutlets are fantastic and the aioli is slightly addictive.  I felt like a wizard in the kitchen–simple to make but I felt oh-so-fancy!

Dynise Balcavage offers a recipe index by category at the end of the book which I found incredibly helpful:  appetizers, breakfast, breads & crackers, cakes, candies, cookies, desserts, drinks, entrees, pies, salads, sauces and spices, sides and soups.

As you can see, you can find any dish for any special celebration in Celebrate VeganAnd one lucky reader will win their own copy!

There are three ways to enter:

  1. Tweet this:  “Enter to win a copy of @theurbanvegan’s Celebrate Vegan on @JLgoesVegan http://bit.ly/rFgMIf”
  2. Like Dynise on Facebook.
  3. Like ME on Facebook.

Leave a comment for EACH entry. This giveaway is open to anyone in the world. I’m taking entries until December 5, 11:59 p.m. EST. I will announce the winner on day six of “6 Days of Vegan Cookbook Reviews.”  Good luck!

A note of thanks to Dynise for writing an inspiring, informative and delicious cookbook!

  • Sherry

    I already like you on FB 🙂

  • Sherry

    I like Dynise on FB

  • Sherry

    Tweeted! Thanks for the cookbook reviews and giveaways!

  • Gayle Pollick

    I tweeted @MonkeyThreads!

  • Gayle Pollick

    I liked you on FB!

  • Gayle Pollick

    I liked Dynise on FB!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve tweeted the message!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve liked you for a while now! 🙂  Thanks for sharing your inspirations!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve liked Dynise for a while, but now it is FB official! 🙂

  • KellyC

    I tweeted!

  • KellyC

    I already like Dynise’s page on Facebook!

  • KellyC

    And I already like you on Facebook too!

  • Selina

    I tweeted about this giveaway. (taskette)

  • Selina

    I followed Dynise on Facebook (Selina Garman).

  • Dacia

    I tweeted!

  • Dacia

    I ‘liked’ dynise on FB!

  • Dacia

    I already liked you on FB!

  • MGSUCH

    1lice bread? Tir 20-30 minutes or OVERNIGHT?!? I can’t stir that long.

    • JL

      That’s one way to ask if I made in error in typing up the recipe for you. 😉  I cracked your code, though, an updated the instructions!

  • Esther Oakley

    Tweeted.  🙂

  • Esther Oakley

    Tweeted again.  🙂 (@ABCVegan)

  • This recipe looks delicious – I’ll have to give it a try! I just tweeted about the giveaway too. 🙂

  • I liked Dynise on FB!

  • Already like you on FB!

  • eva @5FruitsNVeggies

    your wish is my command on facebook! did both things….i tweeted also, and i was tickled that ricki keller retweeted my tweet–he he he….

  • Cassandra Greenwald

    The shelf is bursting, but I could always use another cookbook.  Ha!  Great idea to do reviews!  Thanks!

  • The shelf is bursting, but I could always use another cookbook.  Ha!  Thanks for posting reviews — great idea!

  • Awesome review, JL! I tweeted about this giveaway!

  • I like you on Facebook!

  • I also liked Dynise on FB!

  • Hungryvegantraveler

    I like you on Facebook!

  • Hungryvegantraveler

    I like Urban Vegan on FB!

  • Susan

    I tweeted!

  • Susan

    I like Dynise on Facebook.

  • Susan

    What if I already Like you on Facebook? And you know I LOVE you in real life. 🙂

  • Tweeted!

    This is so awesome of you!  That book looks very interesting.  I’m always looking for unique international holidays to celebrate and this book would definitely fit me! 

    Those polenta cakes look AMAZING!

  • I like you on FB! 

  • Annnd I like Dynise.

  • I liked your on facebook. Great recipe! I love that you make the polenta from scratch and kale is one of my fave winter foods. Can’t wait to try it. 🙂

  • I liked your on facebook. Great recipe! I love that you make the polenta from scratch and kale is one of my fave winter foods. Can’t wait to try it. 🙂

  • Ritz0411

    Tweet: Done!

  • Ritz0411

    Dynise: Liked!

  • Ritz0411

    You: Liked! 🙂

  • Tweeted your contest!

  • Following you on facebook

  • Following the urban vegan on facebook

  • Tweet-Tweet! The giveaway has been tweeted!

  • Casileigh

    I liked you on FB! 🙂

  • Casileigh

    I liked Dynise on FB too.

  • tweeted 🙂

  • Haley O

    Urban Vegan ‘liked’ on facebook – check

  • Haley O

    JL ‘liked’ on facebook a looong time ago

  • Haley O

    I don’t have twitter 🙁

  • My husband made polenta like this last night. Although I am sure this recipe is better. LIke you on FB

  • liked urban vegan on FB

  • tweeted @cherrycobbler:twitter

  • Anonymous

    First of all, that looks delicious, and the little elf is So.Cute. Second of all, I tweeted for a chance to win! Woohoo! 🙂

  • elise

    i have the same issue with cookbooks…i have SO many that i want, so i buy them, then i get more for the blog to review, so now i have a mega pile up.  its my 2012 goal to get on top of these starred/flagged/bookmarked recipes. 

  • Rebecca

    I just tweeted! @rebeccaablock:twitter

  • Rebecca

    I’m following you on facebook!

  • Rebecca

    I liked the Urban Vegan on facebook!

  • those cutlets look amazing!  but really, you had me at kale.
    oh, and i follow you on fb.

  • Saraguts84

    I like you on FB!

  • Esther Oakley

    I liked Dynise on facebook.  🙂  Seriously can’t wait to make these, so I bet the cookbook is amazing.

  • I like Dynise on Facebook 🙂

  • I like YOU on Facebook 😀

  • I tweeted <3 <3

  • Amy

    I liked your page on Facebook!

  • Amy

    I liked the Urban Vegan on Facebook!

  • I tweeted!!!

  • I like Dynise on facebook!!

  • I like you on facebook!

  • yay for some awesome book giveaways! i already like you on fb!

  • like dynise too!

  • Pingback: 6 Days of Vegan Cookbook Reviews {#2: Eat Vegan on $4 a Day}()

  • Kelly Garbato

    #1 – I tweeted about the giveaway! (I’m @theppp on twitter.)

  • Kelly Garbato

    #2 – I liked Dynise on FB!

  • Kelly Garbato

    #3 – I liked you on FB too 🙂

  • So glad you acknowledged Dynise’s intro with her words about animals and compassion. I can always get behind an author who loves good food and animal rights! I tweeted 🙂

  • And I like you on Facebook!

  • Ashley

    I tweeted! Thanks so much for the giveaway 🙂

  • Ashley

    I like Dynise on FB!

  • Ashley

    I like you on FB

  • Bonnie

    I already follow you on Facebook. 

  • Lynette

    I liked you and dynise on FB! Nice giveaway!

  • Pingback: 6 Days of Vegan Cookbook Reviews {#3: Superfood Cuisine}()

  • Krista

    I like you on FB!

  • Krista

    I like Dynise on FB!

  • Parsleypurrs

    I liked you FB

  • Parsleypurrs

    I liked Dynise on FB

  • Parsleypurrs

    I tweeted about this!

  • Lauren

    I already like and follow you! 🙂 This looks great – I struggle with vegan cookbooks that are too heavy on specialist/superfoods that are out of my budget and just not everyday food to me – and yet I still want some creative ideas that are tasty and nutritious. I’ve been eyeing this one, it looks great and ticks all my boxes!

  • I just tweeted your give-a-way @veggie_v

  • I already like you on FB. And subscribe to your blog. And follow you on Twitter 😉

  • I tried to like The Urban Vegan on FB, but the like or subscribe button was missing! I’m sure it’s a glitch on my end (stupid computer!), but I left a comment anyway, and I shared the give-a-way on my blog page.

  • Lauren C

    I like you on Facebook!  

  • Lauren C

    I like Dynise on Facebook!

  • Angela Jones

    I tweeted this,  I love following your tweets

  • MizzB

    Hey JL – already liking you on FB. Thanks for the givaeaway.

  • MizzB

    Already liking Dynise on FB. Polenta recipe rocks!

  • Maria

    Tweeted 🙂

  • Guest

    Liked Dynise on facebook. cweikleATyahooDOTcom

  • Alisa

    I “liked” you on FB!  This book looks fantastic!  I really want to try more vegan recipes!
    Thanks for the chance at a giveaway!

  • Alisa

    I “liked” Dynise too!

  • I’m so happy that I saw this post just in time :), I think you know by now how much I adore (vegan) cookbooks! 
    I already like you on FB, so this counts as numero uno! 

  • I liked The Urban Vegan on FB!

  • And I tweeted about it 🙂

  • D Oven

    Tweeted thank you xx

  • Pingback: 6 Days of Vegan Cookbook Reviews {#4: Vegan Holiday Kitchen}()

  • Susan

    I already liked you on Facebook 🙂 mwah!

  • Susan

    I liked Dynise on FB, not sure how I wasn’t already a friend after VVC. Thanks for the pointer!

  • Susan

    I tweeted!

  • Susan

    I would REALLY love to win this cookbook as I work to spread delicious vegan love to all my non-vegan family and friends and help them find a more compassionate and healthy way to live without sacrificing flavor.

  • Misty

    Okay – I don’t tweet, so I did the next thing and “liked” Dynise on FB. Love the blog – will definitely be reading more!

  • Rachel Jacobs

    I tweeted the giveaway (@rachelkyle0402)

  • Rachel Jacobs

    I “like” Dynise on Facebook (as My Naturally Frugal Family)

  • Rachel Jacobs

    I “like” you on Facebook (as My Naturally Frugal Family)

  • sarah

    Liked you on Facebook!

  • sarah

    Liked Dynise on Facebook!

  • sarah

    Tweeted the giveaway.

  • I like both of you on FB already but would adore a new cookbook!

  • Alicen Adams

    I like you on FB.

  • Sonnet

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway. I adore Denise and can’t believe I haven’t seen this cookbook before. I liked you on Facebook! 🙂

  • Pingback: Two tipsy winners + A vegan cookbook shopping list()

  • JL

    THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED!  THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING!

  • I’ve” liked” you and Dynise on FB for the longest time and don’t Twitter. Does that disqualify me from the contest?

    Even if it does, I still like you both. : )

  • Cindysotheremail

    Wondering why step #1 instructs you to “set aside” cooked greens mixture of you immediately use it in step #2…?

    • JL

      No idea. It’s how the recipe reads in the book.  I just moved from step 1 to 2 when I made them.

  • Pingback: Kale & Collard Green Polenta Cutlets « The Vegetarian Pact's Blog()

  • Gail

    JL, this looks tasty. What would be good to have with it?

    • JL

      I serve it with a big salad for dinner and I’ve also made it for breakfast, @disqus_p2rN690zj6:disqus!

Previous post:

Next post: