Two Dishes From Bryant Terry's "Afro-Vegan"
My first-ever real-deal meatless cookbook—meaning, a book by a real chef, not just some random collection of vegetarian recipes I'd found at Half-Price Books—was by Bryant Terry. His lovely Vegan Soul Cooking opened my eyes to a world of animal-free recipes that were more than just marinated tofu or pasta. Before that book, I had about three recipes in my repertoire (granted, this was also when I was a college student working 30 hours a week and making a 50-mile-a day commute by bicycle—but that's another story). With my limited skills, I was somewhat intimidated by Mr. Terry's preparations, and for a long while, only had the courage to attempt one or two of them.
But that was then. It's been over a decade, and I've lived enough to fill several lifetimes in the interim. Now, I not only know how to cook more than five recipes, I actually consider myself something of an amateur chef. As a result, I've prepared and enjoyed many more of the recipes in Vegan Soul Cooking. And recently, the hubby gave me a gift that, unbeknownst to him, brought my culinary journey full circle: Bryant Terry's latest cookbook, Afro-Vegan. I immediately flagged almost every page, and made two of the recipes within a week.
I made the Tofu Curry With Mustard Greens on a chilly day, as fall seems to have settled in almost overnight in Seattle (to my delight, and to the chagrin of the natives who didn't just spend seven years in the desert). It was a perfect choice: The dish packed a healthy punch of spice, and the robustly flavored broth warmed us down to our toes. We served it with a crusty white bread to sop up some of that delicious liquid, and I highly recommend you do the same. We also threw a little brown rice in the mix.
The recipe can be found here.
I made the Dirty Millet next, which was soul-warming in a different way: with earthy, hearty mushrooms and comforting grains. I neglected to soak the millet the night before, so it took me about ten minutes longer to prepare than the recipe indicated—but it was worth the wait.
I only had a few dried porcini, and the grocery store was out, so I substituted about half of the dried mushrooms with dried shiitake. I also used a medley of wild mushrooms from my favorite mushroom guy farmer's market. It included shiitake and these small, perfectly round spice-colored beauties he called "cinnamon caps"—I'm not sure what their technical name is, but they were delicious. My celery had these huge, beautiful leaves that I couldn't bear to compost, so I chopped them up along with the parsley, and thought it gave the dish a delightful finish. Finally—since I am not, in fact, vegan—I put a dollop of creme fraiche on the plate before serving, and it was just fantastic.
The recipe for this one, however, is not available online—so you'll just have to buy the book to try it. But then, you should be doing that anyway. :)