Christmas with Candle 79

Candle 79 is one of those “dream” vegan restaurants…one that you absolutely don’t miss if you have the chance to eat there.  Sadly, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Candle 79 myself, and I have no plans to travel to New York in the near future.  However, with the Candle 79 Cookbook, everyone has the chance to experience their food!

The cookbook is a large hardback volume with gorgeous color photos and delectable sounding recipes.  Including appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, sides, sauces, brunch, desserts and drinks, there are plenty of different types of dishes to try.  What first caught my attention about this book is that it is high end, yet it doesn’t call for expensive ingredients or crazy techniques.  It’s just good cooking methods mixed with quality ingredients and interesting flavor profiles, resulting in delicious food.

I received the cookbook just before Christmas, which seemed like a great time to try out a few recipes.  We had a few friends over for Christmas dinner, and Dave made steak for their entree.  I wanted to prepare some sort of vegetable side dish, and the Wild Mushroom and Cipollini Salad with Fresh Horseradish Dressing seemed like a perfect match.

The salad starts by roasting the onions and sauteing the mushrooms.  I couldn’t find cipollini onions, so I used small sweet onions instead.  The flavorful and creamy horseradish dressing calls for sauteed shallot, horseradish, silken tofu, white wine vinegar and olive oil.  It was a perfect, rich and spicy counterpart to the fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes.  The recipe calls for pre-mixing and plating the salad, but I chose to serve it buffet style so that everyone could choose the quantity of ingredients.

The dressing also made a nice sauce for my entree, which was Gardein Beefless Tips.

After Christmas, I went to visit my family for a vacation in Anna Maria Island, Florida.  I wanted to cook a nice big fancy meal for them as a gift, making interesting vegan food that wouldn’t scare my brother away.  I chose the Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Cakes with Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce and Apricot Chutney as the entree.

(The only plates at the rental house were bright red!)

Upon searching for images of this dish online, I found out that at the restaurant they serve the cake on top of a round of vegetables, so that is what I did.  The base is Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce, which includes coconut milk, onion, tomato paste, cilantro and spices.  The sauce was very tasty, but personally I could’ve used a little more spice.  I roasted the cauliflower very simply with olive oil and salt, and even my self-professed cauliflower-hating brother liked it.  To make the cakes, you combine chickpeas, onion, celery, flour and spices, including Old Bay.  I didn’t have access to a food processor, so I just mashed everything up with a fork.  My cakes were probably a little more chunky than they’re intended to be, but they held together fine.  The apricot chutney toed the line between savory and sweet, with onion, ginger and agave nectar.  It was decidedly not apricot season, so I bought dried apricots and reconstituted them in hot water.  To top it all off, you sprinkle on some toasted slivered almonds, which provided a nice texture contrast.

This dish was a little bit of work, and it’s definitely not weeknight meal material, but I would make it again for company or a fancy dinner at home.

I wanted to try one more recipe, and I got some really nice avocados in my recent CSA delivery, so I chose the Stuffed Avocado with Quinoa Pilaf and Chipotle-Avocado Dressing.  I’m watching my fat intake, so the stuffed avocado half became more of an avocado sliver, but this dish was delicious regardless.  The recipe is technically a salad and calls for mixed greens as the base, but I had kale in the fridge and steamed it to use instead.  This turned out to be a good decision, because the kale stood up well to the somewhat heavily dressed quinoa pilaf.  The pilaf incorporates corn, bell pepper, carrot, scallions and parsley, and you mix it with the dressing of  shallot, cilantro, guajillo chile, chipotle chile powder, white wine vinegar and even more avocado.  The dressing was very strong in flavor, but didn’t overpower the vegetables, and radish and hemp seeds were nice fresh toppings.  Plus, now I have chipotle chili powder in the pantry and I want to put it in everything.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the recipes in the Candle 79 Cookbook.  The recipes are well written, and range from simple to complex, so there’s something for everyone.  Some recipes that I hope to try in the future are Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Sage Leaves,  Kale, Vegetable, and Spelt Berry Salad with Chive Vinaigrette, the famous Seitan Picatta, and Chile-Grilled Tofu with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  The words, opinions and photos here are entirely my own.

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9 Comments »

  1. allysia said

    I’ve seen a few blogs talk about this cookbook, and it looks lovely. The recipes have impressive, fancy-sounding titles which I guess is fair coming from Candle 79! I’d love to visit there one day…it’s in New York, right? Ahh, one can dream.

  2. Vegan Pinay said

    Thanks for posting this! I’ll look for this cookbook. I hope it’s available in the Philippines. YUM!!

  3. Mihl said

    I haven’t bought many new cookbooks lately, but this sounds like one I should get. I wish my favourite vegan restaurant published a cookbook. It’a always wonderful to get to know the secret to awesome food.

  4. Thank you for posting this, I’m going to try and find the book:)

  5. I would love to have a copy of this book, it’s been on my wish list after reading some other reviews. The meals you made sound delicious.

  6. Clearly, I need to revisit this book, because I haven’t hit nearly any of those delicious recipes! It is definitely a winner of a cookbook.

  7. [...] showed you parts of my Christmas dinners last time, so I figured I’d write about the rest of my holiday [...]

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