Monday, October 7, 2013

Soba Noodles with Miso-Glazed Tofu & Vegetables

This is the BEST thing I've eaten in a long time. The photo probably doesn't do it justice, you'll just have to believe me. I had some tofu and asparagus in my fridge that I wanted to use, and came across this recipe from the May issue of Cooking Light. It was a perfect use for my tofu and asparagus and, amazingly, I already had all the other ingredients as well. If you cook Asian food on a semi-regular basis, you'll probably have the staples like rice vinegar, miso, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil as well. If not, you should, because those are all delicious good things to have on hand!

The other bonus was that the recipe was already vegan, so I didn't have to change a thing. These noodles are light and savory, with just the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and umami flavors. It was also super easy to make. The miso glaze gives the tofu a perfect golden sear on the outside, I imagine that it would turn even the most skeptical tofu-phobe into a true believer. This dish is simply delicious. Go to the recipe at the link and make it now!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Potato, Poblano, & Vegan Chorizo Tacos

Well I had been preparing a new post recently, I was going to share with you some excellent vegan eats I'd had recently in Brooklyn, like from my new favorite place Clementine Bakery. It's been open over a year already, but we just hadn't made it over there yet for some strange reason. Now that we've been, I'm going every chance I get. They have a variety of vegan sandwiches and baked goods - we tried savory pastries, brownies, a peach blackberry cheesecake, and a sundae made with the amazing DF Mavens ice cream. This bakery is absolutely adorable, with the friendliest and cutest kitchen staff, and everything we have tried so far has been 100% delicious.

I was also going to share with you some eats we had at the Sunday Smorgasburg in Dumbo. We love this food market, adjacent to one of our favorite parks and Jane's Carousel, as it is a true foodie heaven. I even spotted Gail Simmons from Top Chef there once, so there you go. What is especially amazing is the number of vegan and vegan-friendly food vendors there. On our most recent visit, we had a seitan "steak" sandwich from the talented people at Monk's Meats, a bahn mi sandwich from Regal Vegan, and a jaw-droppingly delicious scoop of chocolate chai-spice ice cream from Alchemy Creamery.

But now we get to the sad part of the story. Why am I not posting food porn-tastic pictures to go with my recap of all these incredible eats? Because about two weeks ago, my iPhone was stolen. The phone can be replaced, but what disappeared along with it was about four months of photos and video of my son that I stupidly had not backed up to my computer. Oh yeah, and all the food pics I'd taken as well. Losing that many baby pictures was devastating and I could just kick myself for not being more diligent in backing up all my info. Always back your stuff up people!

So yeah, I lost a lot of food pics that I wanted to share with you, so that sucks. But when life hands you lemons, you make tacos. Or... whatever, you know what I mean. I made some awesome tacos. Which reminds me that if you are unaware, Vegan Mofo is in full swing and one of my favorite themes of this year's Mofo is Lazy Smurf's Taco Cleanse. Now that is my kind of cleanse. Screw you, juice!

But back to my tacos. I tore out this recipe from the May issue of Cooking Light, and thought it would be a good way to use up some end-of-summer corn that I had. I veganized it using Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo (although there are other brands available), and vegetable instead of chicken stock. I didn't add any vegan cheese because I thought these were hearty and flavorful enough without it, but something like Daiya cheddar or pepperjack shreds would be perfect with these, if you feel like it. Here's my version of the recipe:

Potato, Poblano, and Vegan Chorizo Tacos
serves 4 (2 tacos each, with 2 lime wedges)

2 poblano chiles 
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil 
2 cups white potato, diced
1 cup onion, chopped  
1 cup fresh corn kernels 
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper 
3 garlic cloves, minced 
6 ounces (1/2 package) vegan chorizo 
3/4 cup vegetable stock 
salt and pepper 
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas  
1/4 cup sliced green onions 
About 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional) 
8 lime wedges

1. Preheat broiler to high. Cut poblanos in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place poblano halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil for 8 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel; coarsely chop.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add potato; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove potato; place in a large bowl. Add onion to pan; cook 3 minutes. Add poblano, corn, red pepper, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion mixture to potato. Add chorizo to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Return potato mixture to pan. Stir in stock, season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until potato is tender and liquid almost evaporates.

3. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, heat tortillas over medium-high heat directly on the eye of a burner for about 15 seconds on each side or until lightly charred. Arrange about 1/3 cup potato mixture in center of each tortilla; top with 1 1/2 teaspoons green onions and 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese, if using. Serve with lime wedges.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cookbook Review: The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour at Home (with recipes!)

The Starburst Cocktail. Photo Credit: Dan Boissy

This is a loooong overdue post. I've had my copy of Brian Patton's (aka The Sexy Vegan) Happy Hour at Home for many months now, but as I mentioned in my last post, the arrival of my copy of Brian's latest book coincided with the arrival of a three month bout of morning sickness. While I still won't be drinking any cocktails for the foreseeable future, I've been getting my cooking (and eating) mojo back, thanks in large part to this new book.

I reviewed Brian's first book last year, and it's no secret that I'm a big fan of the guy. He's totally hilarious, and the fact that he floated the idea of naming his second book Sexy 2: Electric Vindaloo means that we are kindred spirits, because if you find a way to toss this particular movie reference into a conversation, I will totally be your BFF. But hilarity aside, the best part of Brian's cookbooks are, naturally, the amazing recipes. Happy Hour at Home is divided into themed menus, each serving four people (more than four is a dinner party), and each accompanied by suggested cocktail/drink pairings. I also really, really appreciate that Brian gives you shopping lists for each menu, and advice on shortcuts like using store-bought pizza dough if you don't have time to make his recipe, for example.

There are so many recipes that I have flagged to make, but the first one I did was the Stromboli. I did use store-bought pizza dough from Trader Joe's, because I don't have time for all that kneading and rising business. This recipe is packed full of veggies - broccoli, mushrooms, olives, peppers - and plenty of vegan cheese (I used Daiya). It was absolutely delicious, and surprisingly easy to make. Although it is meant to serve four people, between my husband and this pregnant woman with pizza cravings, it was more two and a half servings.

These Cannoli Cups are part of the "Holy Stromboli" menu and you wouldn't even believe how easy they were to make. The hardest part was finding the little phyllo dough cups, which we eventually got from Whole Foods, because my neighborhood grocery store really sucks. The cashew/cream cheese filling takes only seconds to whip up in your blender or food processor, and the result is an elegant, not-too-sweet, tasty little bite-sized dessert. Perfect after that not-so-dainty stromboli feast.

I also made these Tamale Bites with Tomatillo Salsa Avocado-Walnut Puree, which have all the flavor of tamales with none of that pesky cornhusk assembly and steaming drudgery. The base is simply baked rounds of prepared polenta, topped with a spicy lentil mixture and the aforementioned salsa and avocado-walnut puree. These were spicy and delicious and again, we stuffed ourselves so much that we were glad we didn't invite over two more happy hour guests. We were plenty happy on our own.

Like I mentioned, there are so many more recipes I'm excited to try out in this book - like the New England jackfruit "Crab" Roll, Samosa Pizzas, or the portobello mushroom version of Unagi Nigiri (my favorite kind of sushi when I still ate seafood). But if you're looking for a recipe to try from this book, you can't go wrong with the Stromboli, which Brian's publisher has been kind enough to let me publish here, below. And as a bonus, you even get the recipe for the Starburst cocktail (pictured at the top of this post), which is Brian's recommended drink to go with the Stromboli, in nostalgic remembrance of his college rager days. Enjoy! And be sexy!

This Stromboli recipe is from the Holy Stromboli Happy Hour Menu that also includes recipes for Quick Giardiniera and Cannoli Cups.

There also is a video for this recipe here

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups bite-size broccoli florets
Unbleached all-purpose flour for dusting the work surface
1 pound store-bought pizza dough or Basic Pizza Dough (recipe follows), at room temperature
8 ounces mozzarella-style vegan cheeze, shredded
1/4 cup sliced pitted black or kalamata olives
2 cups marinara sauce, warmed

Preheat your pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven for 1 hour at 400°F. Yeah, you have to — just open your windows and stop whining about the heat.

In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, oregano, basil, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, until the mushrooms are tender, then add the broccoli. Once the broccoli is tender, about 4 more minutes, season the veggies with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the veggies to a bowl and let cool.

On a floured surface, roll the pizza dough into an oval that is approximately 13 to 14 inches long and 9 to 10 inches wide. Transfer the dough to a floured pizza peel — one of those giant spatulas they use to put the pizzas in the oven at pizzerias. You have one, remember? I told you to buy one in my first book; therefore, you did.

Fold the mozzarella and olives into the bowl of veggies — this is your filling. Place the filling in an elongated pile in the middle of the dough, making sure that there are 2 to 3 inches between the edges of the dough and the filling on all sides. Fold in the short sides of the dough so that they cover a couple inches of the filling. Then take one long side of the dough and fold it in half so that the long sides meet, completely covering the filling. Pinch the edges of the dough together.

With a paring knife, make three 1-inch slits in the top of the stromboli to release steam. Brush the top of the stromboli with a generous amount of olive oil. At this point the dough might be sticking to the peel, so gently run your hands under the stromboli to make sure it’s not sticking. Just before transferring the stromboli to the pizza stone, give it a little shimmy shake to make sure it will slide off. Then with one easy motion, thrust the peel forward over the stone, then quickly pull back to let the stromboli slide off.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the top is browned and crisp. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut crosswise into 4 pieces. Serve with the warmed marinara.

Basic Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water
One 7-gram package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat the dough and bowl
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Healthy pinch of salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

In a bowl, combine the water, yeast, 1 tablespoon oil, agave nectar, and salt. Gently mix it all together and let it sit for 5 minutes, until it starts to froth. This ensures the yeast is active and has not expired. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix it up (I do it by hand, but you could use a stand mixer with a dough hook). Continue to slowly add the rest of the flour until you have a slightly sticky ball. Then knead the dough by hand or in your stand mixer. You can add a little flour if the dough starts to stick to your hands. You’ll need to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic; this will take about 10 minutes by hand (or 5 minutes on medium speed if you’re using a stand mixer). After kneading, form it into a ball.

Coat a large bowl with olive oil. (The dough is going to double in size in that bowl, so make sure the bowl is big enough.) Also coat the dough in olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl, cover it with a damp kitchen towel, and stash it someplace warm for 90 minutes for its first rise. I find that turning my oven on to 200°F for 2 minutes,
then turning it off, creates the perfect environment for rising dough. After the first rise, give the dough a couple of light, open-handed slaps to make it collapse so that it’s flattened out. Then let it rise for 40 more minutes.

Now your dough is ready to use and is the equivalent of 1 pound of store-bought dough.

The Starburst
Makes 1 cocktail

Ice cubes
1 1/2 fluid ounces (1 shot) strawberry vodka
2 fluid ounces fresh carrot juice
2 fluid ounces fresh orange juice
Splash of pineapple juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 fluid ounces club soda
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge

Fill a tumbler halfway with ice cubes. Add the vodka, carrot juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, agave nectar, and club soda. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and lime wedges and drop the wedges into the drink. Stir with a long spoon.

Both recipes excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home ©2013 by Brian Patton. Published with permission of New World Library

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Vegan Good Things is Back!

Photograph by Dominic Neitz for Laika Magazine
Hello friends. Vegan Good Things is back after a very extended absence. I hope you will forgive me for my blog neglect, but you see, I have spent the past three months, I'm talking a solid three months, suffering from severe nausea, vomiting, and basically wanting to die if I even thought about or looked at food. If you haven't guessed the cause yet, it's a pretty rough case of morning sickness that I've been experiencing. Yep, I'm pregnant again and we've just found out that it's a little girl I'll be having this December!

Announcing that we have another vegan baby on the way is a great segue to tell you about the newest Summer issue of Laika Magazine, in which we are featured in their Plant Based Since Day One spread about vegan families and parenting. I am SO VERY PROUD to be included in this feature, which also includes an essay I penned titled Birthday Parties, which shares my thoughts on the ethics, hopes, and fears that I have as a vegan parent. If you haven't discovered Laika yet, you must immediately order your digital or print copy or find a newsstand near you that carries it. It is absolutely beautiful in its layout and design, full of thought-provoking writing, and 100% vegan. This is their second issue and they deserve our support. Please check it out and read my essay!

Now that my morning sickness has mostly subsided, I have big plans to get back in the kitchen and try out some new recipes that I've had flagged for a long time. I also have some new cookbooks to review, including my current favorite, The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour at Home. Full of fantastic menu ideas, each paired with a cocktail that I would pretty much give my left leg to be able to taste right now, this book looks amazing. It's going to be quite a while before I get to savor any cocktails, but I am excited to test out some of his recipes. Please check back soon for some new posts, and thanks for not forgetting about me after so many months of silence! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cafe Blossom, Smorgasburg, and Nyl Skincare

Hi all. I've been neglecting my blog lately, but I've been working on another project that I'm not quite ready to announce, but am very excited about. When I make a little more progress, I'll let you know what it is. But it is vegan, and it is food related. And it might have something to do with Thai recipes. Shhhh.

In the meantime, I'll share with you some recent eats. It's not often I manage to get out without the baby, so it was wonderful recently to have a ladies-only brunch with a couple of my best gal pals. We went to the wonderful Cafe Blossom on Carmine St. and it was just as delicious as what I have come to expect from their sister restaurant, Blossom in Chelsea.

We started with these tasty bite-sized treats, the black-eyed pea and potato cakes, served with chili pepper aioli. Crunchy, savory, with just a little bit of spice, absolutely addictive. 

My friend got the banh mi sandwich, which includes marinated tofu, kimchee, sunflower sprouts, cucumber, kimpura carrot, mayo, avocado, cilantro, basil, and mint, on a toasted baguette. Some Sriracha sauce on the side was the perfect addition to this amazing sandwich.

There's no way I could NOT order the Southern fried seitan with an herb and cheese biscuit, gravy, and sauteed kale. It was crispy, savory, everything a (half) Southern gal could dream of. To be honest, the biscuit wasn't as light and fluffy as I like my biscuits to be, but it tasted really good all the same, especially smothered with the sage-y, herbaceous gravy. Yum.

My other friend ordered the quinoa spaghetti, chock full of spiced tofu, artichoke hearts, carrots, leeks, roasted fennel, kalamata olives, sauteed bell peppers, asparagus, and basil marinara. Very, very tasty.

And then, because this is how we roll, we shared an order of the french toast for dessert. Covered with maple syrup, caramelized banana, candied pecan clusters, and vanilla crème, I definitely ate more than my share of this one.

Since the weather has finally started to warm up, we made it over to one of our favorite parks in Dumbo recently, to take Bodhi for a few rides on Jane's Carousel and a stop by Smorgasburg. If you haven't experienced Smorgasburg yet, in any of its locations, you must check it out. There are plenty of vegan options to choose from the myriad vendors there, the hardest part is stopping yourself from ordering EVERYTHING. On this most recent visit, we stopped by Bombay Sandwich Company. All of their sandwiches are vegan, but they were also selling non-vegan masala chai at their table. Thinking everything on their menu was vegan, we ordered a chai, took a big gulp, and realized it was full of milk. The guy at the table was very apologetic to us and switched our chai for a refreshing and delicious mango lemonade, but just note that the chai is not vegan if you stop by.

The Original Bombay Sandwich: potatoes spiced with dried mango powder, tomatoes, ginger, green chili & lime:

The Sweet Potato Sandwich: sweet potato with dried cranberries, carom seed, cilantro & ginger:

And then we couldn't resist getting a sampler from Taste of Ethiopia. I loooove Ethiopian food. And by the way, they are now selling these packaged spicy collards and lentils in Whole Foods, in the prepared foods/deli section. So delicious! 

And something else I've managed to sample recently is more products from Nyl, the all vegan, all natural skincare line. I tried their gentle sugar body polish recently when it arrived in my Vegan Cuts box, and now I've also tried their whipped hand & body lotion, transformative serum, rosewater face wash, and foaming castile hand soap. Everything is delicately scented, which is a huge plus for me because I am hyper-sensitive to fragrances and perfumes, and leaves your skin feeling dewy soft and silky. I especially like rubbing a few drops of the transformative serum around my tired, haven't-slept-in-over-a-year-eyes. Anyway, Mother's Day is coming up, and any of these products would make a great gift, just sayin'.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sunchoke, Kale, Oyster Mushroom & Farro Hash

Well it's still chilly and rainy here in NYC. I'm really looking forward to some springtime produce, like artichokes and asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, peas, ramps, and the like, but last weekend I went to our farmer's market and all they had were a bunch of apples, potatoes, and carrots. Booooring.

Sunchokes, however, are still in season, though not for long. This recipe from the March issue of Food & Wine caught my eye, it looked so hearty and satisfying, was nearly vegan except for the butter and was a perfect opportunity to try out two new ingredients that I'd never worked with before: farro and sunchokes. I have to confess that I've eaten but never cooked farro before. It's super easy, you just boil it like you would pasta. It doesn't absorb the water like you would expect a grain to do, so you simply drain it just as you would pasta. Sunchokes were completely new to me. If you don't know, they are tubers that are related to sunflowers. The knobby, gnarly looking little guys have a texture similar to potato, but are milder and slightly sweet. You can pretty much cook them just as you would potatoes - boil, steam, bake, saute, roast, puree into soup, etc., or you can also eat them raw.

Sunchokes. They look like if a potato and a ginger root mated.
 Which brings us to this hash recipe. The sunchokes are prepared pretty much as you would potatoes - they are peeled, sliced, boiled just until tender, and then fried in the pan with the other ingredients. To be honest, this recipe has a few more steps than my usual recipes, but it all comes together beautifully in one pan and is delicious enough to be worth the effort. If you're short on time however, it is also possible to prepare the farro, kale, and onion a day ahead, and then finish the hash the next evening. At any rate, I omitted the butter and reduced the amount of oil from the original recipe. Also, the original one made 10 servings, so I adapted it, because, well, it's not Thanksgiving for crying out loud.

Sunchoke, Kale, Oyster Mushroom & Farro Hash
makes 2 large main portion or 4-6 side servings
1/2 cup farro 
1 pound large sunchokes, peeled and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound Tuscan kale, tough stems discarded 
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick 
1/4 - 1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, tough stems removed and halved if large 
Salt & freshly ground pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, cover the farro with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat until the farro is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the farro. 

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the sunchokes with water and add a pinch of salt. Boil until the sunchokes are tender, about 10 minutes; drain.

3. Fill the large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the Tuscan kale and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the kale and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the kale leaves and then coarsely chop or tear them. 

4. In a small skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 12 minutes. 

5. In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add the sunchokes in an even layer and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. (*Resist the urge to stir them around. Leaving them undisturbed will get them to brown nicely.) Turn the sunchokes, reduce the heat to moderately high and continue cooking until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Push the sunchokes to the side of the skillet. 

6. Add 1 more Tbsp. of the oil and the oyster mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 3 minutes. Add the farro, kale and onion and cook, stirring, until hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Somebody thinks it looks good enough to try!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

March 2013 Vegan Cuts Snack Box!

Have you signed up for a Vegan Cuts monthly snack box yet? It's the gift that keeps on giving! I recently got my first of these boxes of goodness, and I have to say that it is a brilliant way to discover new vegan products, easily delivered to your door each month so that you don't have to, you know, go out or anything. The March snack box had a whopping eleven different sample-sized treats for me, none of which I had ever tried before. Check out what I got:

Eli's Earth Bars - an organic "milk" chocolate, peanut butter crunch and caramel "Treasure" candy bar. This was scrumptious. Right up there with the Go Max Go bars, which is mighty high praise in my book.

Earth Balance Aged White Cheddar Puffs - Vegan. Cheese. Puffs. Need I say more? I inhaled this whole bag. I love Cheesy Poofs.

Beyond Eggs - the vegan egg replacers just keep getting better and better. I can't wait to make a batch of cookies with this.

Vbar - a delicious whole-foods snack bar

Ultima Replenisher - an electrolyte drink powder to boost up that glass of water

Sjaak's Organic Chocolate Eggs - perfect for your vegan Easter basket

Barre - I got the one with pecans, coconut, and spirulina. Looked "healthy" but tasted great.

Equal Exchange - delicious fair-trade chocolate

Cocomo Joe Cocomocorn - another highlight of the box! Vegan caramel corn! Totally addictive.

Nyl Gentle Sugar Body Polish - all natural skincare products because you need to treat yourself on the outside, too

Flamous Falafel Chips - every vegan has to declare their love for falafel (as well as hummus) in order to earn their membership V-card. These taste just like falafel, but thin and crunchy!

So if you haven't discovered Vegan Cuts yet, they have great discounts on all kinds of vegan products - food, accessories, fashion, and more. And these monthly snack boxes for only $19.95/month. So get yourself on over there and sign up for one. And get another one for a friend. And maybe one for your mom. And for your hot vegan lover.