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Monday, December 20, 2010

Grasshopper and Gizmo meets Santa

Grasshopper is definitely the vegan restaurant I visit the most when I am in the Boston area. The portions are huge, the prices are decent, the food is always cooked to perfection and service is QUICK! The atmosphere is a little lacking and I'm always really cold when I am in there but it's a small price to pay. A lot of people I talk to either love it or could care less about it, but me, I obviously love it. Now that I think about it, I can't think of a vegan restaurant I've been to that I haven't loved. I am starting to think I am really easy to please, I always thought I was difficult. Moving on...

I recently purchased some CoupMe coupons for Grasshopper which gets your $15 worth of food for $1. Seriously? Even if you don't love the restaurant, that is a deal! I bought 5 of them, they can only be used for dine-in and it is 1 per visit, but hey, $15 is $15.

Since Jeremy and I were heading into Boston the week before last, we decided to stop over on our way home. We were both starving due to excessive drinking the night before and this is definitely the place to go for some delicious Asian comfort food. It's comfort food, to me at least.

My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach because we ended up ordering so much food. Jeremy of course finished his entire plate, plus everything I couldn't from my soup or appetizer. I took my leftover entree home though.We definitely had ourselves a feast.




We started out with the House Special Assorted Appetizer plate. That could have been a meal in itself, it had Vermicelli Rolls, Fried Wontons, Fried Dumplings, Fried Bean Cakes and Fried Spring Rolls. It was a lot of fried, but that's just what I want when I have a hangover. Everything was great, with the exception of the Bean Cake. I didn't really know what to make of it. It looked like a muffin but was really dry and didn't have much flavor.



Next was the Wonton Soup. I could have probably guzzled a gallon of the broth. It had plenty of wontons, carrots and potatoes in it. I'm not sure what they were filled with but they tasted good.


Jeremy got the Eggplant & Tofu Surprise which was really good. It reminded me of a dish we usually get at our local Thai restaurant. There were tons of eggplant, tofu, peppers and baby asparagus. The portion was so huge, I can't believe he ate the entire thing. Including his side of rice. And the rest of the appetizer and soup I couldn't finish. He is a garbage disposal.



Last but definitely not least was my entree. The dish that most people know Grasshopper for. The No Name. It is a bunch of little chunks of battered gluten fried and tossed with sweet and sour sauce, steamed veggies and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It is the perfect balance of crispiness and chewiness and is SO filling. I barely made a dent in it but I definitely took it home. It didn't last the night though, I ate the rest of the No Name when we got home a few hours later and Jeremy ate the rice.







Before our trip to Grasshopper we did stop of at the MSPCA Angell to have Gizmo's picture taken with Santa.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Faux Tuna Salad

This is going to be a quick post because I'm tired, being lazy and watching The Veg Edge on The Cooking Channel. Finally, a cooking show focused on vegetarian and vegan cooking! So far it's been really great, it has focused on 5 cities and some really great veg chefs, including Isa Chandra Moskowitz

I've been trying to get better about making things in advance to bring to work for lunch so I can start eating healthier(I haven't been the healthiest vegan lately) and stop spending as money on takeout. On of my favorite lunches as an omni was a tuna sandwich and when I went vegetarian I came to terms with the fact that I wouldn't be eating them anymore and went on with my life. I have googled vegan versions of just about every favorite dish I had as an omni and I almost always found a recipe that seemed good. I always thought any tuna alternative would probably be gross so I never bothered looking into it until I stumbled onto one. It was awhile ago so I can't remember how and where I heard about it but I decided to look more into it. I found so many recipes using chickpeas as the base and mixed with veganaise, some even had nori to help give it a "fishy" flavor. I decided to forget the recipes and just run with the idea and see what happened. The first time I made it I think I only mixed some mashed chickpeas, veganaise, salt, pepper and garlic powder and I fell in love. I instantly knew this was something that could make its way into my lunches and it was even better with pickles mixed in!

I've been having to get up earlier lately so I don't have the time in the morning or the energy at lunch to prepare lunch for the next day. It had been awhile since I had a faux tuna sandwich so I decided to make a big batch of it to keep in the fridge at work. I threw one can of drained chickpeas into the food processor to chop them up and mixed them in a bowl with veganaise, salt, pepper, garlic powder, a pinch of cayenne and shredded carrot.


This is the perfect quick lunch to throw on bread with a slice of Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack and some sliced pickles and a side of chips.

Honestly, I am too tired to write anything else so that's it for tonight.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Homage to Root Vegetables.

 Ok, so I clearly sucked at Mofo. I lost my steam, got busy, got sick and just got lazy. Next year I will definitely be more prepared. And motivated. I still have TONS of back reading to do on the MOFO blogs. The short time I did participate was really great though, I got to read a million new blogs, chat with some really amazing and talented bloggers, got some new readers and bookmarked some really great recipe ideas that I am excited to try out in the weeks and months to come.

I really am going to make more of an effort to keep up with consistently blogging because it is my baby. I love it, but I have definitely been neglecting it. Instead of feeling guilty and not doing anything about it, here I am. I'm back and I'm not going away again!

Moving on...

I love the Boston Vegetarian Society. This is not my first blog post about an event I've attended and it will certainly not be the last! It really is a great group aiming to promote a vegetarian way of life(all of the events I have been to have been all vegan.) They organize tons of events at local vegetarian and vegan restaurants, have monthly speakers, cooking classes, holiday outings and more. They are also the group that organizes the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. It's really great to see such a diverse community of vegetarians and vegans gathering to enjoy one of the things we are most passionate about, food.

Last night's dinner was being held at Veggie Planet, a really great veg restaurant in Harvard Square. I met up with my lovely mother and brother's girlfriend(both vegetarians, yay! Gillian is part of the reason I ended up going veg myself. More on that in another post.) and took the subway to Harvard Square. When we walked up the steps to the street and I felt the first snow flakes of the season gently falling down I experienced the same excitement that kids do when they wake up to so much snow that school gets canceled. I love snow but I can't remember ever feeling like I did tonight. In the crowd of bustling people I enthusiastically exclaimed, "It's snowing!" to which a random person with equal enthusiasm replied, "It is!" I literally did a little jump, threw my arms up in the air and shouted "It's Christmas time!!" Ha. There is something about being in Boston during a light, beautiful snowfall that I can't explain, but love. Sadly the snow stopped during dinner and there was no evidence of it ever occurring as we walked back to the train.

On to the food...

They weren't serving their normal menu(which I love), instead it was an all vegan Homage to Root Vegetables. It was a 4 course prixe-fixe menu all featuring a root vegetable as the main ingredient. The first course was Four Onion Soup with Olive Compote Crostini. I don't know how to describe the soup without sounding confusing but it was a very light soup with very few ingredients yet very hearty, if that's possible? It also had a slight tang to it that I can't figure out but it was a great flavor. On top of the soup was the crostini. It was perfectly toasted and piled with the olive compote with almonds. The mixture of the soft, salty olives with the crunchy almonds was amazing. After sitting on top of the steaming soup for a few minutes the crostini went from perfectly toasted to perfectly chewy, they way a good piece of bread should be in soup. I could have had have definitely had another bowl or two...

The second course was Roasted Fennel and Golden Beets with Roasted Garlic Dressing and Mixed Greens. Wow. I love beets so much but have never had golden ones, I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't know if they would taste the exactly like red beets or something completely different. I am very happy to say that they taste just like the red ones, but without all the red staining! Fennel on the other hand, until this plate, I could have gone the rest of my life without having it ever again and been happy. I hate licorice and everything that has even the slightest licorice taste to it but the fennel in this dish was great. It didn't have the flavor I was expecting, and that is a good thing. I am going to give fennel another chance. They were both roasted perfectly and slightly warm on a bed of mixed greens.
 

 The third course was supposed to be Baked Potato Gnocchi with Cashew Sour Cream Sauce, Chives and Fried Crimini Mushrooms. I say 'supposed to be' because the chef had come out to announce there was a problem with the gnocchi when they dropped it in the water, it was falling apart so they had to toss it out. Luckily they did have whole wheat macaroni elbows so they cooked those up and tossed them with the cashew sauce, chives and topped with the mushrooms. The sauce was nice and thick, it clung perfectly to each elbow. It also had this citrus-y background flavor and while we couldn't figure out what it was(I'm assuming lemon) it added the perfect amount of zest to the sauce and made it feel a little lighter. We all agreed that even though it was delicious, and quite possibly one of my personal favorites of the night, we were glad it was only a small serving. Otherwise, we could have, and probably would have eaten mountains of it.


 The last course was Sweet Potato Pie with Brown Sugar Ice Cream. I've never been a fan of sweet potato pie but this was pretty good. The best part was the ice cream, especially when I mixed it all up with the walnut crumble on top of the pie. I can't remember but I am pretty sure it was a rice milk ice cream.


 

All in all it was another successful BVS event and I am really looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Now on twitter!

Vegan Food Rocks is now on Twitter. I don't know how to work it yet but follow me!  @VeganFoodRocks

Friday, November 19, 2010

Teese me, please

Seriously. Teese Vegan Cheese is, to date, the best vegan cheese I have ever had. While I was nursing a massive hangover with my sister at her house in California Jeremy was at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival trying out tons of delicious vegan food, including Teese. They don't carry it at stores near us so he bought a package and has been saving it to make nachos. Well, tonight those nachos happened and I am so glad I was invited to eat them with him.
Normally I like my nachos piled high with tons of shit but tonight's didn't have much too them, which in this case is a good thing, much more would've taken away from the cheesiness. They were perfect with the 'cheese', leftover chili and some jalapenos that Jeremy pickled a month or two ago(definitely the hottest jalapenos I've ever had). When I first tried the 'cheese' my senses were overwhelmed with nostalgia. I'm not naming names but if you remember and used to love that block or packet of orange processed goodness that was supposedly cheese and all you had to do was mix it with some hot macaroni or a jar of salsa you will absolutely love Teese. I wish there was somewhere a little more local for me to get it but coincidentally I am going to be in Cambridge on Sunday for Food Not Bombs and the co-op there happens to carry it. I can't wait to try the other flavors with the drool-worthy recipes on the Teese website.

Monday, November 15, 2010

MoFo Mish Mash Veggie Soup

So after my last post(all of like 2 hours ago) I was really beating myself up over not regularly posting for MoFo (how else am I going to become a famous vegan blogger?!?! I kid, I kid) so what did I do? I headed straight into the kitchen to make something. The thing was, I didn't feel like actually cooking anything or making a mess but in addition to wanting something to blog about, I actually needed to eat dinner too. I had (and still have) a ton of leftover broth from a batch of seitan I made the other day and some veggies that really needed to be cooked so I decided a little chopping wouldn't be so bad.

I wasn't sure how the combination of the different flavors was going to be but it was perfect. The sweetness of the potatoes, the buttery cauliflower, the kick of the poblano combined with the "meatiness" of the beans really was surprisingly delicious and definitely hit the spot.

I am really proud of myself for also actually writing it down as I went along so I can remember what I did in the future. I apologize in advance for the terrible photo below but to be honest, my camera is in my car, it's locked and the keys are upstairs, I can't find my slippers and I don't want to get my favorite purple tube socks wet and dirty so using my cell phone was really the only option.. Okay, I'm just lazy.

Anyways, on to the soup:



The great thing about this soup is the freedom of substitution if you don't have one or some of the ingredients. This was literally a soup I made just to clean out some of the stuff in the fridge. This would be really great with green beans, kale, diced tomato or whatever other veggie you like in soup

2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 poblano pepper, chopped
2 tblspn olive oil
1 14 oz can of beans(your preference, I used kidney)
5 1/2 cup veggie broth (I used the leftover broth from making Seitan the night before)
1 lg sweet potato cut into bite size pieces
1/2 head of cauliflower cut into bite size pieces
Salt
Pepper
Other seasonings to taste.

Heat olive oil in soup pot and add garlic, shallot and poblano. Cook until garlic and shallot are tender and translucent.

Add veggie broth, veggies and beans. Cook until sweet potato is fork tender, about 15 minutes.

Scoop out about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of veggies only and put in Vitamix or food processor and puree until smooth. Add back into soup and stir to combine. You can do this with more veggies if you like a thicker broth, just be sure to use more veggies than the recipe originally calls for otherwise there won't be much to the soup.

Serve.


 

I suck at MoFo. And a survey.

  Wow, I suck. I haven't blogged in a little over a week. So much for posting 5x a week for MoFo... I am going to try my best to get back on track this week. For now here is a survey that was put together over at The PPK. If you want to do it too, feel free to take it from my blog or from the Google Doc I saved it in. Epic Vegan MoFo Survey.


What's your favorite spice or spice blend? Garlic. Or Chili Powder. I can't choose just one. That's like choosing a favorite pet or child to me.

You have $20 to spend on fresh groceries and produce for the whole week (with a fairly well stocked pantry of dry goods, legumes, grains, and spices). what do you buy?
Almond Milk, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots, red cabbage, tofu, coconut milk yogurt

What's your favorite way to make tofu? Baked balsamic glazed

Vegan guilty pleasure? I'm becoming a cupcake addict

If you could make anyone vegan, who would it be? Probably Ted Nugent, he's a pretty obnoxious omni

If you could only read one other vegan blog, what would it be? I'd take the PPK forums over one single blog any day! I wouldn't be able to choose.

Were you always interested in cooking, or did veganism change the way you saw and interacted with food? I've always loved to cook, veganism has just made it better. It's more of an adventure now.

Excluding analogues, what new things have you tried that you probably wouldn't have as an omni? Quinoa .It freaked me out a little at first

What is the one vegan staple that everyone seems to love, but you can't get behind? I can't say there is one.

What was your first "wow, I'm such a stereotypical vegan" moment? Oh god, I don't know. Probably when I was getting ready to go to my first protest.

First recipe you veganized? Stuffed Shells. Mmmmm I love tofu ricotta

What would you like to veganize, but haven't yet? The KFC Double Down. It looks disgusting but part of me wants to know how gross it really is. And a friend requested I veganize it for him

Favorite kitchen utensil/appliance? My kitchenaid stand mixer. I've had it for 9 years and I would die without it

Most disastrous kitchen failure? The chickpea cutlets I made the other day, I ground them to finely so no matter how long I cooked them they were crispy on the outside but raw and doughy on the inside.

First vegan cookbook? Vegan With a Vengeance

What question about being vegan do you HATE answering? "Where do you get your protein?"

If you could tell the world one thing about vegans, what would it be? We aren't the crazy ones...

Funniest vegetable? I can't say that I find humor in veggies, unless they are a freak of nature that looks like a penis

What is a family recipe you have veganized? We don't really have family recipes but my mom does make some AMAZING stuffed mushrooms that I am going to veganize this holiday season

Weirdest food combination ? Nothing is too weird for me

Is there something you wish you could veganize, but can't/couldn't? Nope, if it isn't already vegan or can't be veganized, I don't want it

Favorite ways to prepare tofu, seitan, tempeh, any other vegan proteins? with BBQ sauce

Are your pets vegan? if so, what do you feed them? tell us about having vegan furbabies! Yes, Gizmo is vegan. She is on a mix of homemade food made up of grains, sweet taters, veggies, fruit and beans mixed with a little Natural Balance for crunch. She also gets all the Vegedog supplements mixed into her food as well.

Favorite non-dairy milk? Unsweetened Almond Milk all the way.

What’s one “vegan myth” you’d like to squash? That we are all dirty hairy hippies.


 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vegan MoFo - BBQ Seitan and Ice Cream Sandwiches

I've been going nonstop all day it feels good to finally sit down and blog! My day started an hour earlier than I would have liked it to thanks to the Daylight Savings Time stuff. I thought clocks switched tonight but apparently it was last night. I had my alarm clock set for 8 so when it went off and I started getting out of bed I looked at my cell phone and realized it was really only 7. I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn't. Usually if I wake up earlier than I need to, or just don't feel like getting up, I can stay in bed and Gizmo will stay sleeping. The second I lift my head, sit up or make any noise she is wide awake and in my face ready to go. That's what happened this morning. I'll just go to bed a little earlier than normal tonight to make up for it.

Even though I've been going going going all day, I've been home and in my sweats so that was a plus. And I got to spend a lot of time with my dogs, even bigger plus. I started my day with a few small buckwheat pancakes that my mom made. I was a little hesitant because I always imagined buckwheat as a bland starchy thing but I was wrong. These little pancakes she made were great. Even just plain, which is how I had my first two. My third had a little smear of Earth Balance and a drizzle of agave nectar. I am definitely going to be looking more into using buckwheat now!

After breakfast I decided to make use of the new running gear I got so I leashed up my 12 year old bloodhound and went for an hour long walk/jog/run. It was really cold out, he's old and I'm out of shape so we alternated. Hopefully if I/we keep up with it, it will be more running than walking!

I spent the rest of my day cooking, doing dishes, making Gizmo's food for the next month and stoking the fire for Gizmo and Dain to lay in front of it all afternoon.


While Gimli followed me everywhere I went, ALL day.


Today was the day I decided I was going to face my seitan fears and just make it. I didn't want to do anything too complicated with it since it was my first time so I went with the Simple Seitan recipe in Veganomicon. After I mixed everything together I started getting a little discouraged because it didn't look appetizing, at all, but I was determined to see this through.



After I got it boiled, simmered, strained and cooled I took a cutlet out of the fridge and sliced it up


While I had the seitan simmering, I was also making the Backyard BBQ Sauce from Veganomicon. It has been years since I have made homemade BBQ sauce so I was really excited about this. I did make a few changes though. I used shallots instead of onion, I added wayyyyy more garlic than the original 4 cloves, I used brown sugar instead of white, apple cider vinegar instead of white, no liquid smoke, can of diced tomatoes with zesty jalapenos, and a healthy squirt of ketchup. I let that simmer for the entire hour the seitan was cooking and when it was done I threw it in the Vitamix to smooth it out. This is a really versatile sauce that can be changed however you like, mine came out more of a sweet and spicy version which is just fine with me.





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I wasn't really hungry for a meal but I was really anxious to try the seitan so I took my slices and lightly fried them in a skillet. When they were heated through I gave them a coating of the BBQ sauce and cooked for another minute or two. While that was cooking I grated some Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack and warmed a pocketless pita in the microwave. It made the perfect little snack wrap. The seitan was perfectly firm but still tender. And also slightly chewy and meaty. I will definitely make it a few more times exactly as the recipe is to make sure I have the hang of it before I start changing and adding things. All in all my first time seitan was a sucess. I don't what I've been so afraid of!



Prior to eating my snack wrap, while the the BBQ sauce and seitan were still cooling in the fridge I decided to make some ice cream sandwiches. I started out with the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar but added a little dash of cinnamon to the dough. Usually when I make these cookies I am able to roll them into little balls in my hand so I figured these would be perfect because I'd be able to control the size and shape better than a regular drop cookie. For some reason todays batch did not want to be rolled at all. It was a gooey mess when I tried. I quickly gave up and grabbed and ice cream scoop. I did my best to make sure they were all the same size and shape even though I knew they were going to spread alot more than normal due to the wetter than usual dough. They still came out great, albeit a little thinner than usual due to the spreading. After the cookies cooled I pulled a pint of my favorite coconut ice cream out of the freezer and went to work scooping the ice cream and pressing the cookies together. Once they were pressed together I rolled them in flaked coconut, wrapped them up and tossed them in the freezer. I just had one and it was the perfect little dessert. Two cookies and a small serving of ice cream all together in a sandwich? Yes, please.


That, my friends, was the perfect end to a long day in the kitchen.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vegan MoFo and True Bistro

Oh Vegan MoFo how I love you. I have so many ideas for you in the upcoming days and weeks, I hope I can find the time to cook it all and blog about it. Although another day not having to cook anything was great!

The Boston Vegetarian Society often hosts vegan dinners at various vegan and vegetarian restaurants all over the metro Boston area. For the event today they were invited to attend a soft opening of a new all vegan restaurant in Somerville with the entire menu 50% off. True Bistro is an upper scale all vegan restaurant located in Teele Square. I say 'upper' because it's not super expensive and I didn't get the vibe that it is going to be a fancy shmancy place where you would feel uncomfortable wearing jeans and a hoodie while everyone else is in much less casual clothes. The restaurants official opening is Tuesday November 9 so I jumped at the chance to be able try it out before the general public, especially only having to pay half price!

Jeremy and I got there around 11:15 in the morning(they were only open from 11-2 today for the BVS event) and were able to choose where we wanted to sit as there were only a few other people there before us. I have only been to a very small amount of BVS events so we didn't know anyone other than Evelyn who runs all of the events and we were a little antisocial(aka cranky because we were starving and when I say we, I mean me) and sat at an empty 4 person table. The space itself looks like it is only able to accommodate about 30 patrons at a time and had a very clean, modern, minimalist design. The walls were painted a very light gray, all of the tables and chairs were black and there was some black and white artwork on the walls. I think it may have been a photograph but I can't remember. In the windows were a few awesome planters with what looked like some ornamental grass with this huge thing in the middle. I'm not sure that the "thing" was but from where I was sitting(not close to a window) it looked like a big artichoke.

While the small staff was very friendly you could tell they were a little nervous and overwhelmed. We did have to ask a few times for things that had been forgotten, like my salad which never came so I got it to go, and the staff sometimes had to go back into the kitchen to ask about a menu item for us or another party. They were all very sweet, willing and apologetic. The somewhat chaotic service definitely did not detract from the experience and will not prevent me from going back in the future. It was the first day they were serving actual paying customers so of course there will be questions and the occasional forgotten item. I am very confident that once they are open to the public and they get into the hang of things, service will be excellent. Ok, now to the good stuff....

The food. Wow. What the service lacked(which really, considering it was their first day ever, wasn't a whole lot) the food certainly made up for 100 times over. The menu isn't very extensive but it does have some excellent choices. Choices I had been agonizing over since I received the email about the event on Thursday.

I started with a pot of tea and it came out in a plain, yet adorable little pot with a strainer for my cup because it was loose leaf and a small bowl of sugar. I have no idea what kind of tea it was, all I know is that it was decaf. I wish I had asked now because it was awesome.


To start I ordered the Soup du jour which was Cream of Parsnip soup with cracked black pepper and an oregano oil drizzle. It was so creamy and perfectly seasoned that I would've had a few more bowls if I could have. The oil drizzle on top really did take the flavors to a whole 'nother level as well. I am going to have dreams about that soup.

As my soup was came out so did Jeremy's salad. He ordered the Local mesclun greens and he loved it. I took one bite of it and other than the fact that it had green olives in it(I hate them) it was a great salad. The whole Marcona almonds were a great touch because they are much more tender than their standard grocery store counterparts. The dressing was a lemon-caper vinaigrette which definitely had a really light, refreshing flavor. I definitely tasted the citrus but not the caper, then again, I did only take one bite. I was trying my hardest not to get full since I still had my own salad and entree coming.




Next came our entrees. I ordered the True's seitan cheeseburger which has really inspired me to finally try my hand at making my own seitan. Something I have been putting off for quite awhile now but it's gonna happen, soon. The flavor of the "burger" itself was almost like a barbecue sauce but much lighter and not saucy at all. Topped with avocado, sauteed mushrooms and melted Daiya, I really was in heaven. I think there were also some roasted red peppers tucked inside. I only ate half of it because I was still hoping that I would actually get my salad "in just a sec" like I was promised a few times. I'm almost glad they forgot about my salad because after eating only half my sandwich, half of the fries(which were delicious by the way), a bowl of soup and a pot of tea I really didn't have much room left for anything else.The bread looks a little extra toasted in a few spots in the picture below, but they actually gave the bread a better flavor, not burnt tasting at all.

J got the Mesquite burger and I'm really not still sure what the burger was made of, but it was pretty damn good. His sandwich had pickled red onion(yum), lettuce, tomato and aoili. I only took one small bite of it but like I said, it was pretty damn good. I'd still choose my sandwich over his anytime though.

After we were done eating, we were still waiting for my salad and since I was having my leftover half sandwich wrapped up I asked them to do the same with my salad. I got the Baby arugula salad which had pomegranate, green apple, a vegan version of queso fresco and a lime-cumin vinaigrette. I finally just ate the salad, 10 hours later but I am dead serious when I say this is the best salad I have had since I gave up cheese. I was a goat cheese junkie and that is what held me back from going vegan for awhile. I couldn't imagine a salad without it. The "queso fresco" on this salad was amazing. It had a really creamy, mild taste and texture while having a similar tanginess to goat cheese. I have no idea what it is made of but I need to find out so I can try and recreate it in my kitchen. If I can figure it out I will be one happy vegan. This salad was so good that I am going to give you two pictures of it.



All in all, even with somewhat chaotic service, I really can't wait to go back to try some of the other items on the menu and maybe ask some questions to find out what is in that queso. Meals like this make being vegan more awesome than it already is!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

THE Vegan MoFo Quiche

Not only have I been slacking on my blog in general but I have already starting slacking at MoFo. It's day 4 of Mofo and this is only my 2nd post. I am going to blame it on my lack of eating blog-worthy food for the past 2 days in addition to my awful jet lag. Adjusting back to East Coast time sucks. My first post was in California and I was half asleep so I'm a little disappointed in the beginning of my first ever MoFo, but the quiche I made tonight will totally make up for it. And I dedicated it to Vegan MoFo, keep reading, you'll see.

I was cruising around the PPK forums like I normally do all day and saw that someone had posted questions about a quiche. Then a ppker suggested the Broccoli Quiche from Vegan Brunch. I check out the recipe and decided that I needed to make it. I love making vegan versions of things I used to love as an omni and vegetarian, but for some reason quiche never crossed my mind. Maybe it's because I get weird about tofu? I mean, I love it and eat it all the time, but sometimes it just creeps/grosses me out. Whatever the reason was that I had never made or even thought to make one is beyond me but now that I have experienced the greatness that is vegan quiche, watch out world, I'm gonna go quiche crazy!!!!!

For the pie crust, I just used a basic recipe that I have no idea where I got it from, I printed it out on a Word doc awhile back and just now got around to actually using it. For this I also added some garlic powder and black pepper. For a sweet version for desserts add 1 tblspn powdered sugar.

1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tspn salt
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
3-5 tblspns ice cold water

Mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening using either food processor or two knives criss-crossing until you have small pea size lumps of dough.
Add water 2 tablspns at a time until dough stays together when pinched.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 20 minutes.
Remove and roll to size and shape needed.
Pre-bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes before adding filling.

 
I used Isa's recipe but changed a few things. Well, added is a better word. I added a handful of nooch. Yes, a handful. I keep it in a HUGE Tupperware container so I can scoop or grab however much I need. That, and it's the only Tupperware big enough to store the massive amounts I buy at a time. You can never have enough nooch.

I also doubled the mustard and added a layer of halved grape tomatoes inside of the quiche. I put about 2/3 of the quiche mix in the crust, put the layers of tomatoes and then another layer of quiche.



The letters were much thicker then the actual crust and for some reason the letters didn't want to brown up, even after a few minutes under the broiler so I gave up, but they came out perfectly crisp on the outside and flaky on the inside.
My dedication to you dear MoFoers!

I couldn't find my pie plate so I used a square one, but it worked out really well. I also made a nooch sauce to drizzle all over the piece on my plate. Just some veggie broth brought to a boil with a small amount of cornstarch mixed with cold water, a handful of nooch, salt, pepper and garlic powder. By the time I was done cooking I was so starving that I couldn't let it cool. I had to cut right into it. Now my tongue is burnt but it was definitely worth it!

I promise I will get to my Halloween post sometime before MoFo is over! For now, I have a few blogs to check out and then I need sleep! Hasta luego peeps!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan World and Vegan Mofo!

Hey peeps! Long time no blog! My laptop is hating me lately so it's with the IT guy at my office being fixed. I am currently blogging from my sister's laptop in sunny California! I am so excited to be here, this trip is years overdue. I flew in Thursday afternoon and after a 6 hour flight I was definitely ready for some food.

We started Thursday with a quick meal at Vegan World in Studio City. The inside is a little rundown looking but still very clean. When I say rundown I mean that it could certainly use a coat of paint, some new counters, and a fresh look. Also, they have a picture menu up on the wall with very poor and outdated photographs. It certainly doesn't do the food any justice at all. But, the menu is pretty large and very cheap.

I got the Beef Burger and added avocado and soy cheese and my sister got the Pepper Steak Burger. They were both a little salty but very delicious. The "beef" was little pieces, not a patty like you would expect.



I spoke with the owner because I wanted to know what kind of meat alternatives they were using because I went to an Asian vegan restaurant here in Mass before and the "meat" was very similar and they purchase from May Wah. She told me they get it from USA Soy Meat. I couldn't find anything online about them and she did have a very hard to understand accent so I could also be mistaken.

The burger was so good but the Thai Iced Tea we got was even better. I love going to Thai restaurants and the one thing I miss is being able to have it because it's made with dairy. Today is my last full day in LA and I have lots planned for it. I am hopefully meeting up with a fellow PPKer for lunch, doing some shopping and spending some quality time with my sis when she gets out of work. I do have a Halloween post that I am going to do but not until I get back to the East Coast.



Also, today is the beginning of Vegan MoFo! For the entire month, vegan bloggers like myself blog at least 5 times a week but many aim for everyday. This is my first year participating and I am very excited. I have some awesome things planned so stay tuned!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The blog formerly known as Some Like it Spicy.

It's got a new name and it much less of an eye fuck now! Don't get used to it though, I'm still playing around with things. Although the name will stay because I love it. Stay tuned for a post tomorrow on the cupcakes I baked and the pumpkin seeds I roasted today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The beginning of a love affair

With Vital Wheat Gluten. Whoa that shit is amazing! I had a box sitting in the cabinet for a while and my intentions had always been to attempt making seitan for the first time. To be honest, seitan really intimidates me so it's something I keep putting off.... Someday I will get to it. But until that day comes, I have cutlets. Chickpea Cutlets. TVP Cutlets. And whatever other types of cutlets I can dream up. When the vwg is kneaded in with whatever you are making cutlets out of you can see the gluten strings forming and it gives it an amazing and slightly chewy texture.

I saw a post on the PPK about 2 weeks ago about Chickpea Cutlets. The recipe is in Veganomicon, which I did not own yet. Luckily for me, and you if you don't own it either, the recipe is only a short Google away. I read the reviews and the recipe and decided I HAD to give it a try. I can only take so many store bought faux meats. I made them a few weeks ago with a nooch gravy(nooch is nutritional yeast for all those who don't know the term) and veggies. The recipe came out fantastic even though I didn't follow the recipe exactly(i changed the spices around but that's it), but I didn't take any pics and forgot to blog about it. The very next day I went out and bought my very own copy of Veganomicon as well as Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and The Uncheese Cookbook.

Fast forward a week and I was craving those delicious, crispy, chewy cutlets again. This time my mom and I made a big dinner out of it for us and my dad. I forgot to photograph alot but I did get one good one.
That's the uncooked cutlet. You can see the minced bits of garlic and even though I just ate, it's making me hungry. We pan fried them til they were nice and crispy on the outside and served with a side of sweet potato fries, nooch gravy and green beans. Even my dad loved it. He is mostly vegetarian but I don't think he is big on faux meat unless it's a veggie burger.

All I have been able to think about for the past two days is what else can I make cutlet type foods out of. And then I remembered the bags and bags of TVP sitting in the cabinet with the vwg.

When tvp is rehydrated it has a smiliar texture to the chick peas when they were all food processed up so I figured, why the hell not? That idea literally consumed me ALL DAY. I couldn't get home fast enough to test it out.

I couldn't find any recipes on line for the creation I had in my head so I modified the Chick Pea Cutlet recipe which resulted in a serious party in my mouth. Here is my recipe for TVP Cutlets:

1 cup dehydrated TVP
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 1/4 boiling water
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic and/or any other combinations of spices you like - to taste
olive oil for frying.

In a mug or bowl mix the boiling water with the vegetable bouillon cube and stir until dissolved. (Normally you are supposed to do i cube for every 2 cups of water but I wanted the flavor a little more concentrated since tvp is virtually tasteless)
In a medium bowl mix the tvp, bread crumbs and spices together. Add 1 cup of the hot liquid and stir until everything is moist and all the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the vital wheat gluten and remaining liquid to the tvp mixture. Knead with your hands until everything is mixed and you can see the gluten strings forming

 Gather all of the mixture into a ball and form it into a rectangle log and cut into 4 sections.
Take each section and flatten out on cutting board.
Heat oil in skillet over medium to medium high heat.Add cutlets. Fry about 5-8 minutes per side until nice and crispy. Serve with whatever sides you want and devour!



I had them with some Road's End Organics Mac & Chreese topped with some cut up grape tomatoes, leftover mashed cauliflower and left over gravy. It really was the perfect comforting meal for a chilly, rainy New England night.




 I can't wait to keep modifying this recipe to see what I can come up with. Maybe half chick pea half tvp, black beans with Mexican spices, an Asian cutlet, buffalo, bbq?!?!!? The possibilities are endless!!!!!!!!!!!

Gizmo and Gimli waiting very patiently for me to drop something.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baking Success!

So after my big fail from last week(see previous post) I was more motivated than ever to bake something delicious. Especially because I had already offered up baked goodies to a bake sale for today, I had to come through.

I spent the majority of the morning and afternoon in the kitchen yesterday, baking, mixing, washing, testing, tasting and obsessing over cookbooks and cookies.

My first batch of cookies were the basic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I followed the recipe exactly and it says to roll the cookies in your hand and flatten them. My dough was a little too oily for that. Since I had a seemingly endless amount of time and supplies I decided to just drop them onto the cookie sheet with spoons and see how it came out. If they tasted good, than I didn't care.


Well taste good they did. They spread out a little more than I think they should have during cooking but whatever I did, they were the perfect amount of crisp on the outside and an even more perfect amount of soft chewiness on the inside.

The second batch was the exact same recipe except I added a dash, or two, of cinnamon to the batter. It's something one of my best friends, Janine, taught me years ago. She always used to do it in her cookies and it made the cookies 100x better than plain chocolate chip.  This dough seemed more like it was supposed to. I was able to roll it in my hand and flatten it. I made them sort of small to get the most cookies possible out of the batch. They came out much more round and even looking.They too were the perfect amount of crisp on the outside as well as the perfect softness and chewiness on the inside.


My third batch of cookies were the Peanut Butter Crisscrosses, also from VCIYCJ. There really isn't a lot I can say about this recipe. It has very common ingredients, takes minimal time to prepare and bake, is very easy, and tastes delicious. The recipe called for using the dark metal baking sheets for crispiness. I prefer soft and chewy(and I don't have dark metal) so I stuck with the light baking sheets. It isn't a fancy recipe, but definitely a basic worth keeping around and one that I will certainly go back to again and again.


My baking skills magically reappearing weren't the only success of the weekend though. According to Beth(a PPK peep) so far the amount made on bake sale items(all of my stuff sold!!!), raffles, donations and table fees for the craft fair (some of the crafters are donating portions of their sales so those amounts haven't been factored in yet) was $2,500. This all goes to the Milton Animal League. They are having a new shelter built because the one they are in now was originally built as a temporary shelter in the 1970s. This shelter is run entirely by volunteers and because they are a 501 C3 non-profit they receive no funding from the government at all. Every animal that goes through those doors is taken care of until they are adopted into their forever home. No animal is ever put down because it has been there too long, or may need expensive medical treatment. If they need it, they receive it. If you would like to make a donation to help this local shelter meet their goal and achieve their dream of a new, modern building that will allow them to greater serve these animals while they are in the care of the shelter, please visit Milton Animal Rescue. There are several ways to help. Become a volunteer(if you live in the area), send items from their wish list, adopt an animal or make a donation.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Baking Fail

This post is a week overdue but I've been running around like a mad woman all week. I suck at getting this blog going.

When I was an omni and a vegetarian I was always good at baking and used to do it alot, but in the past 2 years I think I have baked a total of 4 times(mainly because I was living with my [ex]bf and our oven was broken, I cooked in a toaster oven, not fun.) And the times I did bake were all before I was vegan. This is my first fall as a vegan, and fall is when I do alot of cooking and baking(asides from the 2 years mentioned) I decided that it was about time that I get back into it. Of course I couldn't just start out with something quick and easy like cookies to boost my confidence. Nope. I had to start with cupcakes and pumpkin brownies. Big mistake.

The cupcakes I made were the vegan vanilla cupcakes from Crazy About Cupcakes. I followed the directions exactly with the exception of adding a handful of confetti sprinkles to make them "Funfetti" cupcakes, so I don't know where I went wrong but they came out like dense little pound cakes. They were heavy too. The flavor was o.k. but nothing I would serve to anyone else. I also made the vegan frosting in the same cookbook which called for cooking some of the ingredients together. I think I let it boil for 1 second too long because instead of a smooth creamy frosting I ended up with a lumpy bowl of what looked like man juice, you know what I'm talking about...... That had to go in the trash. I also tried veganizing a regular frosting recipe subbing vegan butter for dairy butter and soy milk for cow. This frosting ended up just like a glaze, I beat in a ton more confectioner sugar to get more of a frosting consistency but once it was piped on to one of the cupcakes it went from a perfect little spiral of frosting to a melted goopy mess all over the counter... I think part of what my problem was that I used Smart Balance Light, according to some peeps over at the PPK forums, Earth Balance is the way to go when baking and make frosting.

The recipe for Pumpkin Brownies was the one from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Another fail, but only a semi-fail. The brownie batter tasted amazing and cooked up nicely too, they were fudgy and moist. The pumpkin layer however was a mess. It was really liquidy when I put it and and it stayed that way throughout the cooking. I am not giving up on that recipe though, I will try again, and I will succeed.

After all of that, I felt like I was not meant to bake as a vegan. But I had already offered a fellow PPKer to donate some baked goods for a bake sale at a craft fair that benefits the Milton Animal League so I couldn't give up. The bake sale is tomorrow so of course I waited until today to try baking again. Luckily this time I used different recipes and everything came out delicious. I'll save that for another post though. And I actually took pictures of stuff this time!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Short & Simple

Normally a single 26 year old like myself would never stay in on a Friday night but after the long week filled with endless car problems and little to no sleep I barely had energy to take pre-made frozen food out of the freezer and put it in the oven, never mind showering, getting dressed and going out. And normally I wouldn't take the time to blog about pre-made frozen food unless it was something new and exciting, which is what is happening in my mouth as I type.

Tonight my dinner is consisting of good ole' Boca Chik'n Nuggets and some AMAZING sweet potato fries. Don't get me wrong, I love sweet potatoes but they aren't anything special, unless they are the new Spicy Sweet Potato Fries by Alexia. They are the perfect balance of sweet potato flavor and spice. I mean, really perfect. They are made with chipotle peppers to give them a little kick. They are fabulous on their own but phenomenal when dipped in Veganaise mixed with some pureed garlic. I have always used Alexia's regular sweet potatoes when I am too lazy to cut and bake a fresh sweet potato and they never disappoint. I didn't have any expectations when I put them in the oven other than it was a quick meal for a lazy night. If I did have any other expectations, they surely would have been blown away. I'm pretty surprised at how impressed I am with a frozen food as simple as this. This is definitely something I am going to be recreating with fresh sweet potatoes next time.

You can just see the chipotle goodness speckled all over them!

You can also see a very patient but disappointed lab/bloodhound(clearly not my 7lb vegan dog) who was waiting for the bite that never come. Yup, I ate dinner on the couch with my feet up and my laptop where it belongs, on my lap. 

That's all for tonight. I need to rest up for my exciting day of vegan baking with my brothers girlfriend tomorrow. I will be test driving some recipes for the bake sale portion of a craft fair that benefits the Milton Animal League next weekend. I haven't baked in awhile so I gotta make sure my stuff is good right? Or am I just looking for an excuse to bake?You'll never know..... muah hahahaha(that was my evil laugh) Anyways, expect a sweet(pun intended) blog on the treats either tomorrow or Sunday.

Also, expect a post soon on Gizmo's homemade vegan dog food. 

Hasta!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Coconut Curry

I never thought I would like curry, I always found the smell very overpowering, until I tried a green curry coconut dipping sauce filled with veggies for scallion pancakes at my favorite local Thai restaurant. It definitely changed. I decided to try and recreate it as a main dish. I don't have an exact recipe, I usually never follow them completely so I scoured the web and combined quite a few of them to make the amazing meal that was dinner last night.

Here is my basic recipe
4 cloves garlic minced
1 shallot minced
1 tblspn minced fresh ginger
1 onion chopped
1-2 tblspns oil
Green curry paste to taste - I think I used about 2 tablespoons.. I add it by the teaspoon and taste
2 cans coconut millk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb tofu drained and cubed.
1/2 head cauliflower chopped into bite size pieces.
1 butternut squash peeled and chopped
1 lb fresh green beans broken into pieces.
1 red bell pepper chopped

Heat oil in wok and stir fry tofu until lightly browned, remove from pan.
Add garlic, ginger and shallot and cook for a minute or two.
Add coconut milk and a teaspoon or two at a time of curry paste and bring to boil.
Add cauliflower and squash and cook 10-15 minutes until they are almost perfectly tender.
Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until just about done.
Add tofu and cook until heated through.

Serve over jasmine rice.



The flavor of the sauce was so light but flavorful, it had just the right amount of spice with the flavor of the coconut coming through. I was nervous about the squash with the sauce but they matched perfectly. 
Luckily I made enough to feed an army so I can eat it all week for leftovers, unfortunately I am a slob in the kitchen so the aftermath is still sitting in the sink and on the counter.


Make it! Eat it! Enjoy it!