Monday, October 07, 2013

Cookbook Review... and Giveaway!

In keeping with my recent posts about cookbooks, I have another new cookbook to tell you all about - and give you a copy of. This one, Pies and Tarts with Heart, is by Dynise Balcavage. You may know her as the Urban Vegan from her blog, twitter account, or Facebook page. I know her as my favourite cookbook author (maybe tied with Dreena Burton, though I'm basing my love of Dynise's work on three cookbooks compared to the one of Dreena's I have). She's also one of the two people who have read and commented on my blog since it's woeful early days back in 2006. And we met in Philadelphia in 2011, and she is even more wonderful in person than she is on-screen and in-print.

It is likely that my review of her newest book will be glowing. Because she is awesome. And also because pie is awesome.

But it is not inaccurate. The book is really good.  Here are two gems we've made so far:


I brought this Creamy Chocolate Tart to share with a gluten-free friend, so the base is made with GF chocolate biscuits. For the filling, I used Whittaker's Ghana Dark chocolate, which I love. It was rich and dark and sweet and everyone loved it.


When Andy's parents were visiting, I made the No-Bake Coconut Cream Pie. This was a last-minute rush job. I got home at 4pm on a Friday and they were coming to dinner that night, along with a friend of mine. I was expecting everyone to arrive by 4.30 or 5, so I madly rushed to blend up the crust, then the filling, and get it all together. Then I looked at the recipe properly and saw "refrigerate overnight before serving". Woops. Nevermind - I put it in the freezer for a few hours and it was fine by the time dessert rolled around. And I hadn't needed to rush - no one arrived until just before 6. But this was really easy to get together in a flash. And everyone really loved it, too.

Something that long-time blog readers may have noticed is that I have a tendency to tweak and alter recipes pretty regularly. Aware that I would be reviewing this cookbook, I followed the above recipes pretty much to the letter. But the wonderful thing about pie is how mix-and-match it is.

My new favourite crust is a mish-mash between Dynise's All-Purpose Cookie Crust and her Nutty Crust. Half cookie crumbs, half ground nuts makes for a sweet but not cloying base for pretty much any filling. We filled it with vanilla custard and strawberries on another night Andy's parents were visiting, and I think they would have married it, if marrying pie were legal and they weren't already married to each other. I posted already about my passion fruit mousse tart. I also made a variation on Dynise's Banana Cream Pie, blending two overripe bananas into the pudding, instead of layering slices.

Pies and Tarts with Heart gives you a good foundation in how to do things like crusts, and makes playing around with fillings much easier. One of the things I love about it is the pictorial, step-by-step guides to crust making and shaping and decorating. In the spirit of the cookbook, here is a step-by-step to my experience with Dynise's Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Pie.

This was a recipe I tried to follow to the letter, and involved making pastry from scratch - something I have been reluctant to do in steamy Townsville. But Dynise's gentle encouragement throughout the book gave me courage, so I stuck some vegan butter and water in the freezer and hoped for the best.

I made a Basic Double-Crust Pastry, only I forgot to make it enough in advance to let it rest for 2 hours before rolling out. Freezer to the rescue again!

Tweaking my mum's practice of rolling out dough between two pieces of cling wrap, I put my pastry on  a silicon mat and put a sheet of non-stick baking paper on top. By not sprinkling with flour, it keeps the pastry moist and buttery. And then I can pick the whole mat up and flip it into the pie plate.
We have had the same wine bottle-rolling pin for years now.


Filled with sweet corn and potatoes, I then sprinkled some flour and other stuff on top before pouring over the milk. This is where things went slightly awry - I think I needed to mix the flour through, because at the end there were clumps of flour instead of a thick sauce.

 Topped, vented and trimmed, my corn pie was ready to go into the oven.


 Look, I made pastry! It wasn't a raging success, but it wasn't terrible either!


There are heaps more recipes in the book I want to try out, especially in the savoury section. I am quickly becoming the person who brings pie to things, but that's a persona I'm alright with.

Now, the part you have all been waiting for... the giveaway. Dynise's publishers have a copy of Pies and Tarts with Heart to give away to one lucky Australian! You have until Saturday, 12 October at 8am, QLD time to enter. I will choose the winner randomly and announce who you are in another post on Saturday. You can enter up to 2 times: (1) by leaving a comment on this post telling me your favourite kind of pie and (2) by popping over to my Facebook page and sharing one of my posts about the giveaway. Make sure you return here to leave a comment saying you have done so. And give me some way of contacting you so I can let you know you've won.

If you're not in Australia - sorry! There will be a few giveaways for North Americans this month - keep your eye on the blogosphere, or just get yourself a copy. It's cheap, and totally worth it. You're still welcome to comment, or to like me on Facebook - but let me know in the comment if you're not eligible!

Get commenting, and sharing, and make some pie!

20 comments:

sarahhhhhh said...

pumpkin. DUH!

Amy said...

Apple! For Carl Sagan Day every year.

Amy said...

Apple! For Carl Sagan Day every year.

Lisa said...

It's a close tie between chocolate avocado (delicious decadence) or apple (crowd pleasing simplicity)

Kate said...

My fave pie would have to be chocolate pecan pie... Your pies look delicious and your pastry looks v professional- mine is always a bit more rustic :)

Amber Boyce said...

Apricot Pie - soooo delicious!

L said...

As an Aussie, I can't really say anything but "meat" pie! Still looking for the perfect recipe.

Cyndie @ Mademoiselle Slimalicious said...

Pecan pie is also my favourite kind! I'd love to win this cookbook as I'm always on the lookout for new inspiring recipes!

veganopoulous said...

Ooooh this book looks fantastic! As for pie, probably Dutch apple pie/tart :D

JenMeister said...

Lemon curd pie... mmmmm....

Kari said...

Oh gosh, this looks wonderful! My favourite kind of pie is probably raspberry, but I may change my mind if I looked through these recipes :-)

Kari said...

Also, I just shared your post on Facebook!

Susan said...

Cherry pie or peach pie.

Sandy said...

My fav's gotta be a apple pie :-)

Mel said...

It used to be lemon meringue but most types of fruit pies make me happy these days! I'm a big fan of savoury pies too.

Carrie™ said...

Looks great! All of it. I did testing for Dynise for this book and if you like savoury pies, make the Shepherd's Pie and the Mexican one. Both are soooo good!

jennifer said...

I am a sucker for a pumpkin pie!

Jade Walker said...

This might not come as a surprise, but my favourite pie is Indian vegetable with sweet potato and peas. I love it spicy.

Joey said...

I can't enter, but I've never met a pie I didn't like! Cherry for me please!

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