'The First Mess Cookbook' by Laura Wright
This is the first cook from Ontario, Canada-based, award-winning blogger Laura Wright (of thefirstmess.com), whose mindful approach comes through in her clear recipe writing. It's thorough enough to hold the hands of beginners, but not too much to wade through if you're not. Chapters are broken into loosely defined categories of: Mornings and Breakfasts (with many shots of steaming mugs of coffee and tea throughout), Soups & Stews, Salads and Dressings, Hearty Mains, Energizing Drinks and Small Bites, etc.
She uses maple syrup as her sweetener of choice in many recipes.
Vegan eating can be healthy and beautiful.
The book's purpose
To show that plant-based eating can be creative, seasonal and not too tricky to make, whether you've been vegan for years or just jumped on the wagon. So many vegan recipes can be intimidating simply because many of the ingredients may be unfamiliar. For newbies, there's a list of pantry items in the front of the book, plus equipment to have on hand to cook anything, vegan or not.
At a glance
Beautifully styled and moody photos along with easy-to-digest, not terribly long recipes, this book's for someone who's looking for inspiration to amp up their vegan rut, or for someone who's curious about eating this way.
In a word
We can't wait to try
Creamy Quinoa and White Bean Risotto with Crispy Brassica Florets; Fresh, Instant Almond Milk, made from almond butter (!) and not soaked-all-night almonds; and Leaf and Stem Green Tortilla Soup, created with blended tomatillos, a variety of chopped greens and jalapeño.
Leaf and Stem Green Tortilla Soup
This comforting soup has the creaminess from the blended tortillas, zippy flavors of salsa verde, and garnishes galore. As a bonus, it's a great way to use up the often-neglected stems of greens. I usually use stems when I make fresh juice, but this soup is a warm, substantial and visually appealing change of pace.
3/4 pound fresh tomatillos, papery skins removed
8 small corn tortillas
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (divided use)
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
5 cups vegetable stock
3 cups chopped greens with stems, such as kale, collards and spinach
Salt and pepper, to taste
Diced ripe avocado
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Place the top oven rack about 3 to 4 inches from the broiler. Preheat the broiler to high. Place the peeled tomatillos on a baking sheet and slide the baking sheet into the oven. Broil the tomatillos for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly blackened and slightly oozing. Set the broiled tomatillos aside to cool.
Lower the oven temperature to 400 F. Cut the tortillas into strips and lay them on a baking sheet. Toss the tortilla strips with 1 tablespoon of the sunflower oil and some salt, to taste. After the strips are evenly coated, arrange them in a single layer, and slide the baking sheet into the oven. Bake until the tortilla strips are lightly browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon sunflower oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the white onions to the pot and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño, cumin and coriander. Stir for about 30 seconds or until the garlic is very fragrant.
Add the broiled tomatillos and vegetable stock to the pot. Bring to a boil. Add 1/3 of the baked tortilla strips and all the chopped greens and their stems. Cook until the greens are vibrant green, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
With a blender, purée the soup in batches until totally smooth. Once all the soup is puréed, return it to the pot and bring it back to a boil on the stove. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
Serve the soup hot and garnished with the remaining baked tortilla strips, diced avocado, chopped cilantro and lime wedges on the side.
Makes 4 to 5 servings.