Friday, February 07, 2014

Review (and Drool-Worthy Pictures): Dynise Balcavage's "Vegan Pies and Tarts With Heart"

Blueberry Pie
Note: This post was actually all set to post two weeks ago, and for some reason the "auto-post" function didn't work, but that's OK, it's actually PERFECT timing for this week.

Seriously, ....have you forgotten?
Friday is VALENTINE's day.

And, since many of you have forgotten, (I see the panic in your eyes) what better Valentine's gift for that foodie-vegan (or NOT vegan) person in your life, than Dynise Balcavage's fabulous "Pies and Tarts With Heart"!

Look^ HEARTS! 
Better yet, impress the HECK out of your sweetie; Go buy the cookbook and then make him or her a PIE from the book!! The cover even has HEARTS on it - How can you go wrong people, it's PERFECT! You can thank me later.

That said, let me tell you about the book itself:
I recently received a copy of "Pies and Tarts With Heart", the latest cookbook from Urban Vegan Dynise Balcavage.

I was super excited about this book because, ironically, even though many people find them intimidating, pies are truly the ONLY dessert I can make without a complete disaster in my kitchen.
AND because I LOVE, LOVE pie. Any kind. Any time.

Sweet Potato Pie/
Coconut Whip
So, first off, if you're one of those that's immediately dismissing this book, saying "Oh, pies are too hard/tricky/fussy/complicated", STOP!

This book is PERFECT for you.
Dynise starts with the easiest, simplest basics and walks you through every step in making crusts, fillings and toppings for all sorts of pies, sweet and savory.

Apple Pie
The recipes are beautifully illustrated; directions and tips are clear, concise and easy to understand; even the crust is easy to make, and best of all, everything we tried was FOOL-PROOF! (I know this because my NON-pie-making daughters have used this book several times with great success!)

The ingredients are all easy to find in your standard supermarket, if not in your cupboard right now. She explains everything in a straight-forward manner, and even the more 'complicated' recipes end up being perfectly manageable.

MORE Apple Pie/Coconut Whip!
And if you, like me, can practically make pies blindfolded, you will STILL find much, so much, to LOVE about this book! I discovered a number of new "favorite" pie recipes, and also new versions of old favorites, adding ALL of them to my regular pie-baking rotation. (Yes, there is such a thing!).

But the best thing about it? Of course, the fact that all the recipes in this beautiful book are VEGAN!
How can a fruit+crust pie NOT be vegan, people ask? Sadly, traditional pie crusts are often made with butter or (gack!) lard, but Dynise provides some delicious, flaky, tender crust recipes using plant-based oils like olive, coconut and vegan margarine.

Yes, Pizza is a type of PIE! 
There's more than one crust recipe too, so if you find certain ingredients work better for you or are easier to find, you can take your pick!! She also includes a few recipes for non-flour crusts made from nuts, potatoes, or cooked grains like millet, brown rice, quinoa, or barley. Her pizza crust recipe is phenomenal as well.

The 'cream' or custard-style pies use tofu, plant milk or nuts to achieve their creaminess and I PROMISE you'll never miss the dairy.
One of my favorite recipes out of the entire book however, is the whipped coconut milk topping. I make this stuff to top EVERYTHING.
My kids' favorite is probably the pizza crust.
Because pizza crust, OF COURSE = PIZZA!

Coconut Whipped Topping!! 
 There is a lot to love about this book and an equal number of REALLY good reasons to run out and get it (even without Valentine's Day looming).

It has recipes for beginners and advanced bakers, raw vegans, kids, gluten-free folk, those with a sweet-tooth, those without and everyone in between. The pictures are colorful and well done. The variety is wide enough to include something for everyone, and you'll find yourself reading through (and drooling!) again and again, whether you're planning on baking a pie tomorrow (like me) or not.

Disclaimer:  Dynise Balcavage is a fellow blogger and acquaintance, (yes, we've met in real-life even!) and I received a free review copy of Pies and Tarts with Heart. However, no compensation was exchanged for this review, and the opinion posted here is my own (and my kids').