Monthly Archives: October 2008

Veganmofo 13: I’ll take one Vegan please (and goodbye ‘mofo)

Id add watercress to everything if you let me

I'd add watercress to everything if you let me

Secret vegan sandwich alert. Well not really secret or an alert, but if you’re lost in Manhattan amidst a sea of Burger King and Quiznos and feeling spendy then high-end NYC sandwich chain ‘Wichcraft hears your call.

‘Wichcraft saves the day with a forward-thinking, luscious sandwich that’s worth the occasional forgetting to pack lunch for. Known to the public as the Chopped Chickpea sandwich, the staff end of the receipt reveals it’s covertly known as the VEGAN. I had to beg my slightly confused sandwich server to let me have her receipt, the one she uses to locate which sandwich belongs to whom.

After almost overdosing on this lovely creation within the first few months of not one, but two of them open near my job I’m now back in the habit. Two slabs of peasant bread nestle tangy chopped chickpeas, Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers and paper-thin slices of preserved lemon. That’s right, preserved lemon makes this a work of art. I typically customize my order with the addition of watercress (no charge!), but I’d happily pay up another dollar for my favorite crunchy green thing.

I adore this brilliant move on the part of ‘Wichcraft. It excites me when I see mainstream companies, even this “niche” upscale chain, unexpectedly cater to vegan needs.

This sandwich is just an occasional treat, with its recession-unfriendly price tag and dripping with abundant oil. Then again an almost healthy, veggie-laced lunch in midtown Manhattan is usually designed to clean out your change purse. And after a week of eating from the same giant pot of homemade beans or soup for lunch a splurge is inevitable.

And so ends my experiment in Veganmofo today too. It’s been great in many ways and it’s given me the inspiration and motivation to join the vegan blogging masses, who are always good company. I jumped on late but it’s better than not doing anything at all, and that means you too, other late-joining Veganmofoer. Cheers and hurray to everyone that participated and blogged like hell along the way. Go bake a dozen pumpkin cupcakes to celebrate if your fingers haven’t fallen off from all that typing just yet!



Filed under NYC Eating, Veganmofo

Veganmofo 12: Poll: Seitanic Confessions (set puns to stun, possibly ouch)

Like a brat out of hell...newly born seitan ain't pretty

Like a brat out of hell...newly born seitan ain't pretty

Seitan worshippers out there, by what method do you oversee the preparation of everyone’s favorite devilishly delicious wheat meat? With Halloween near let us gather in mass to sing the praises of our high protein, low-fat overlord!

Did you discovered the pleasures of steaming your homemade seitan and convert after one too many boiled “brainy” lumps? Is baking in broth the way you get your kicks, or does your hand-me-down slow cooker seethe with fiendish gluten delights? Or are you a devote member of the ancient cult of (almost) boiling atop the stove, always getting perfect results every time in an eerie way that confirms what your mother said about you being possessed by vegan cooking demons (she did say that, no?).


Filed under Veganmofo

Veganmofo 11: Ice (can’t stop) Screaming

As previously confirmed by your responses, it’s always ice cream season. Friggin’ cold weather be damned. Just through on another hoodie and you’re ready to take ice cream eating to the fall-weathered streets.

After an excellent dinner at Angelica Kitchen on Friday, maybe the best I’ve had there yet (a fall-themed vegan bisteeya served with roasted turnips that were as mellow, juicy and sweet as grilled zucchini), we headed over to Lula’s, the brand spanking new all vegan ice cream parlor in the LES.

Sign of the times

Sign of the times

So many times after having a fabulous vegan meal in the East Village have I thought how great would it be to get a little scoop of something sweet to round out the meal. The shiny and new Lula’s is a dream come true, an adorable slip of a store with stylish exposed brick walls and shelves of shiny jars filled with truly vegan treats and toppings. Most of the ice creams are house-made and the soft serve is good old Temptation. Also on tap that evening was Temptation Fair Trade Green Tea hard ice cream. And how can you not love an ice cream shop that serves up the goods with shovel-shaped spoons that insures maximum cool creamy goodness gets into your mouth even faster?

If only this cone was as big as my head

If only this cone was as big as my head

Thanks to an uber-healthy dinner I was stuffed with vegetables and could only muster a single dipped wafer cone. Peanut butter chocolate cookie ice cream sans topping was the perfect choice for savoring slowly. Lula’s ice cream chefs look to expand beyond the realm of soy dairy into nut-based ice creams and this soy-free flavor had a luscious dense texture similar to gelato.

Still life in ice cream perfection

Still life in ice cream perfection

Eppy made us regret all our choices with his old fashioned ice cream sundae. Let the picture do the talking.

On my way over to dinner I walked past the Top Chef trailer right off of Union Square. I don’t get much time for television these days but I can’t stop watching if Top Chef and I cross paths. Top Chef-heads out there, what are you looking forward to in this new NYC season?

This isnt Top Cab pal. Try next season.

This isn't Top Cab pal. Try next season.


Filed under Soy Dairy, Veganmofo

Veganmofo 10: Freezerburn Friday

I know you don’t need me to remind you what day it is with frightful blog post titles. TGIFreezerburn Friday only once a ‘mofo, lucky you. Grow-Peace tagged me (and hence my freezer) and now it’s open season on the sad contents that lurk within.

Not so long ago this past spring I was singled out by Vegnews for a similar study, that time being the whole enchilada, both the ‘fridge and freezer. If you’ve been wondering since how a girl manages to operate in the kitchen with bushels of fresh kale brooming from from her fridge well I’ll let you in on a little secret. I was preparing to move and with less that two weeks to spare in the apartment the fridge was mostly emptied. So a last minute shopping trip of what I would typically have stocked was made, a little artful arrangement and fridge life was beautiful for a few hours before resuming it’s regularly scheduled chaos.

Since then it’s been five months, a new place to live and a mortgage later and still the freezer is looking empty. In the tradition of NYC food shopping I haul home myself only as much as I can carry, so takes a while to really look busy in there. We do have an aging car but out of laziness, gas prices and the dread of finding a parking space we almost never make one big shopping trip. And the sushi place across the street has peanut avocado rolls so that makes putting off making dinner all the easier.

That being said I now present my new freezer au natural. No airbrushing or makeup and just tumbled out of bed, here she is:

Two blue things that go straight in the freezer together

Two blue things that go straight in the freezer together

Frozen blueberries make my world go ’round in smoothies (see frozen bananas). Love Rice Dream but the Gingersnap flavor is less than lovable.

Slab o carob, suspended in time for when we need it most

Slab o' carob, suspended in time for when we need it most

The most extreme carob anything you’ll ever hope to try, even if it’s just me hoping for carob. Basically a slap of liquified Cypriot carob with some sesame seeds tossed in, trapped like bugs in amber for eternity. Sounds delish? I put it in the freezer with the idea it would end up something like a frozen Charleston Chew. I never even liked Charleston Chews.

Not your moms B&B

Not your mom's B&B

Health nut bagels full of definitely un-bagely things like hemp seeds and sprouted wheat. Frozen bananas and oh look, more ice cream, this time a lovely sangria sorbet.

Ancient ice creams lay dreaming...

Ancient ice creams lay dreaming...

A shelf of just ice cream? I can’t really justify this ice cream ghetto that invaded my turf over the summer. It’s just how things unfolded over last few months of my life. Note that the vanilla soy delicious is actually doctored up with fresh pistachios, almond extract and a little green food coloring and was absolutely brilliant when it was still fresh and tasty. The yogurt container actually is stuffed with a friend’s homemade mango sorbet. And the glowing plastic container underneath it all contains the remnants of homemade ice cream (vanilla chai and green tea)…left over from Labor Day, gah! Now I’m starting to feel silly about all this. One day you open the freezer and it’s like a wicked vegan ice cream elf took up residence in your home without you knowing. Maybe I should look around the apartment so I don’t end up like this guy.

Veggie scraps and ice cream tub, not necessarily in that order

Veggie scraps and ice cream tub, not necessarily in that order

There are also decided non-dessert things like veggie burgers and frozen vegetables, so take a moment to imagine those. The bin to our right harbors frozen veggie scraps awaiting the composter, above more veggies and in the foil a lone homemade pupusa filled with beans and something. Why yes that’s the ice cream freezer tub, trying to look inconspicuous. Mocking me daily when I reach for those virtuous smoothie ingredients.

Sounds like it’s high time to dump the freezer burned and bring in the new. Why fight the obvious choice, so how about some fall-themed ice cream?

Help me decide from the following three:

-Maple Pumpkin Something (something crunchy or caramel included for textural good times)
-Pomegranate Ice Cream with Chocolate Cookie Crunch or Choc Chips
-Molasses Gingersnap (let’s show Rice Dream how it’s done right)


Filed under Soy Dairy, Veganmofo

Veganmofo 9: A little Thursday baking shwag

Gather ye knights around the Round Dish

Gather ye knights around the Round Dish

Nothing special to report, unless you’re a flour snob like me and can’t get enough of the King.

Well over a year ago Paula so wonderfully gave me a little bag of black cocoa from KA flour. Black cocoa being what it is, so intense and more of a flavoring than an ingredient, it lasted me through a year and beyond of cupcakes and holiday cookies. Until the summer that is. A plague of pantry moths spurred by the intense heat proceeded to decimate anything beany, nutty or floury in the cabinets, always before I could do anything about it. My precious bag of black cocoa went down with the best of them. Life goes on without making deeply dark Oreo-esque treats, but can we really call it living? Enough is enough already.

Blackest of the Black Cocoa, what started it all

Blackest of the Black Cocoa, what started it all

For some reason black cocoa in annoying elusive during my daily NYC travels. Isa of course had it magically stocked mere minutes away from her at the local Key Food or whatever in Brooklyn, but that’s Isa for you. For the rest of us there’s mail order and the joys of internet shopping.

Online shopping leaves me defenseless at times and I couldn’t resist picking up a few extra things. With the price of shipping being what it is might as well go bananas. Or in this case lemons. Lemon Powder claims to deliver maximum lemon flavor to baked goods beyond what fresh lemons can do. I also like the idea I can make things really lemony without upsetting the delicate liquid balance of the recipe.

Continuing the quest for flavor I threw in a bottle of baking emulsion, which apparently ain’t your mother’s baking extract. “Princess Cake” flavor, something citrus/vanilla/nutty, appealed to the six year old in me. Just opening up the bottle made my kitchen smell like a fantasy bakery owned and operated by both Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobby and My Little Pony. A little fake and intensely sweet but entirely yummy.

Along with the black cocoa I picked up some richly hued natural cocoa that has not been Dutch processes. Dutch processing is the most popular form of cocoa I find in stores here and usually the only kind. While Dutched cocoa has less natural acidity (and deeper color), its cocoa flavor somewhat mellowed unlike natural cocoa. I’m looking to make high voltage chocolate biscotti soon with a combo of both cocoas.

And what’s a kitchen splurge without a few gadgets? Not a gadget really, the huge stoneware deep dish pie plate was on-sale pie plate and screamed “buy me”! Just look at that baddass scene on it’s surface of King Arthur and his boys chillin’ by the Round Table. You just know they’re discussing import matters of the kingdom like the pros and cons of ground flax seeds vs. blended silken tofu.

The dough whisk, looking like modern art and reminding me of something I found flattened by the side of the road once, promises to be able to stir batters and dough of any strength. I use a rubber spatula to stir things 99.9% of the time, but I have to stay open minded. And if it fails to impress at least I hang it from the Xmas tree or beat a rug with.


Filed under Baking, Veganmofo

Veganmofo 8: Weekend Review, better late than never

A long sleepy Monday and a forgotten camera cable has me putting my weekend write up on Tuesday. That’s how the ‘mofo unmofos sometimes I’m afraid.

This entire spring and summer passed me by without having a proper picnic with my nerdy friends, so this weekend after about a month of agononizing about the weather (which seems to almost always suck on the weekends of memory lately). Last Monday foretold of rain and gloom, but this Saturday proved otherwise. Gorgeous sun and cool crisp fall proved excellent picnicing weather in Brooklyn’s gorgeous Prospect Park in my book, or until about 4pm when everyone was freezing.

Veganomicon Muffuletta in the great outdoors

Veganomicon Muffuletta in the great outdoors

Just because it was a picnic it gave me the perfect excuse to throw together one of my most favorite sandwiches ever, the Veganomicon Spinach & Eggplant Muffaletta. Dubbed “Dagwood” worthy by Eppy, I was up before 8am Saturday running around the neighborhood to find that right crusty round boule of bread and get a tender young eggplant a-roastin’. Time was not on my side so I needed a shortcut: a jarred bruschetta mixture of chopped olives, sundried tomatoes and capers (the “Mediterranean” flavor of whatever brand it was), served up as a instant substitute for olive salad. I did doctor it up with more thyme, oregano and the all important celery seed. And some more Kalamata olives, garlic-stuffed olives and sun-dried tomatoes, which of course made me wonder why I didn’t just go ahead and make the olive salad.

I do recommend you bring a sandwich like this at least once in your life to a picnic. Literally traffic stops as everyone just ooooos and ahhhhs and looks down at their soggy PB & J or wrinkly hot dogs.

Cowboy cookies wrangle them in every time

Cowboy Cookies wrangle them in every time

But do make them feel a little more secure about their picnic food choices by sharing some homemade cookies. Like some Cowboy Cookies (from a recipe for you guessed it, the upcoming cookie). What tons of coconut, pecans and chocolate chunks have to do with cowboys is a question for the ages. I just know that these cookies can kick the ass of beef jerky (stereotypical cowboy food I know) every time.

Later on that night the Robot Uprising wrapped up it’s last performance to a full house, and even more deliciously the bake sale was a raging success. Humans and androids alike flip over peanut butter chocolate dipped binary balls, robotic red velvet cupcakes and chocolate dipped CPUcakes. I anticipate our vegan-nerdy baking crew will be ready to do it again the next time Figment Theater calls us to arms.

Chickpea cutlet and rejected then hoarded roasted Brussels

Chickpea cutlet and rejected then hoarded roasted Brussels

Last but not least on the menu for today’s lunch is the venerable chickpea cutlet, accompanied mustard sauce (not shown), all of Veganomicon fame. This is the special family night dinner that I try to make happen once a week, usually on a Monday night before our traditional viewing of RAW vs. Smackdown. Yes, that’s wrestling to you. Typically all that cooking makes me a little sleepy by 10:30, but that’s okay because usually the most entertaining matches are just a fond memory by that point. And all those Brussels sprouts? My partner attempted one, made horrid faces and refused to go near me till I brushed my teeth. He losses and I cruise with all the sprouts!


Filed under Veganmofo

Veganmofo 7: Chili Relleno day parte dos y metal show recovery

A Poblano pepper vs. the blue flames of hell. Cue metal guitar

A Poblano pepper vs. the blue flames of hell. Cue metal guitar

I promised you a chili relleno recipe, not a rose garden. If I could provide both you better believe I would. Until they create a smelly flower widget for the interweb you’ll have to image just that while cooking up this recipe for filling, very rich but totally worth it comfort food this weekend or whenever you have a million hours to spare cooking.

I had all good intentions about posting this yesterday but I was dragging through my day, recovering from the most truly evilest night ever of The Blackest of the Black Tour. I only caught the tale end of Norwegian carnival-in-Mordor rockers Dimmu Borgir but my intentions were to see the little angry one himself Danzig, who I think I’ve been waiting since senior year high school to finally catch. It was a little sad because his crooney-Elvis voice seemed stricken with sickness and/or touring. It was downright painful to hear him speak, but he could still belt it out at the all the right moments when need be. The show wasn’t even really that late, but due to crappy subway antics our train took an extra half hour to get home. All I can say is that these old bones can’t party like they used to. At least it makes me totally sympathetic with Danzig’s bald spot.

But I digress. This recipe admittedly is still in the works, but it received rave reviews from all that tried it. Like I’ve mentioned this is stick-to-your ribs eating, at least hearty enough for the meat n’ potatoes (at it does have potatoes covered) crowd. I’m toying with turning the chili batter into a rightful beer batter, but then again there are plenty of elements in this recipe to keep one occupied. And besides rather than eating that beer wouldn’t you rather drink it cold after a long bout with frying on the stove?

Chilies Rellenos con Papas y Alemdras
Serves 8-4, depending on size of chilies and portions served

There are a few schools of thought regarding chili relleno batter, including those veering toward thin and crisp and something that’s more like a puffy omelet. For obvious reasons we’re not going near the omelet incarnation, but this batter is somewhere in between those two, a puffy tender texture with a little crispness on the edges.

Depending on the size of your poblanos you may have leftover filling. If those chilies seem a bit small pick up a few extra to stuff.

8 poblano chilies, average about 4-5 inches long

1 lb waxy yellow potato, such as Yukon Gold
1 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste

Cornstarch for dusting (about 1/3 cup or more)

Cornmeal batter:

1 cup soy milk
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Peanut oil for shallow frying

Shallow Frying Tip: I like to do my frying in a cast iron pan, as the thick metal provides even heat conduction, not to mention the heavy pan lessens the worry of accidentally tipping a skillet full of hot oil.

For ease with frying the battered chilies have handy 2 separate sets of long handled tongs and a metal slotted spatula. Use one of the tongs just for dipping and to coat chili with batter and use the other to maneuver the frying chili in the pan. The metal slotted spatula is essential for gently flipping the frying chili. To flip, make sure to gently slide it under the chili to minimize any tearing of the cooking crust. I find that using the frying tongs and spatula together when turning chilies over ensure that each side of the chili is cooked to perfection. Try it out and see what works for you.

Prep cook’s tip: Because this dish can murder you with all of the prep work I do not recommend attacking the whole thing from scratch all at once, especially on a week night. The easiest thing to do in advance is to roast, skin, seed and prepare the chilies for filling up to 2 days in advance. Just store prepped chilies in a tightly covered glass or plastic container.

The filling can be made also in advance, but be sure to warm it (in the microwave with a sprinkling of water if it seems a bit dry). This ensures that the dense interior will be just as warm as the quickly cooking fried exterior.

Now for the recipe!

Roast the poblano chilies first. For the sake of trimming down this post use whatever method you prefer. I’m a on-the-gas-stove kind of girl (see pic) After chilies are cool enough to handle, remove charred skin and with a sharp paring knife make an incision running down 3/4 of the way from stem to bottom. Remove seeds. Set aside and prepare potato filling.

Have ready at least 2 quarts of cold water in a large heavy pot. Peel and chop potatoes into 1 inch chunks, place in water and bring to a boil, cooking 8-10 minutes till very soft and tender. Remove from heat, reserve about 1/3 cup cooking water, drain chunks and set aside.

In a heavy large skilled heat over medium heat olive oil and chopped garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle and become fragrant add sliced almonds, stirring till almonds just start to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add corn kernels and cook another 2 minutes. Add cooked potato, cumin and oregano, stirring and mashing potato a little for 2-3 minutes. If mixture seems very dry add 1 tablespoon of reserved potato cooking water a time till mixture appears moist and chunky but not as creamy as regular mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. Taste mixture and adjust with more salt, pepper and lime juice if needed. Allow potatoes to cool to touch.

With a small spoon or your finger very gently push potato mixture into each of the chilies. Be generous and with a little gentle pressure you’ll find that the filling can coalesce into a nice firm mass inside the chilies. I like to leave a little space near the opening so that it’s easy to overlap just a little the two sides of opening on the chili. Use one or two sharp toothpicks to secure the chili flaps, weaving the toothpick in and out of the chili flesh. Remember where those toothpicks are though as you’ll need to find them later on a thickly battered and fried chili relleno!

While you’re stuffing your chilies it’s a good idea to start heating up the frying oil. Use a heavy bottom skillet and fill with enough peanut oil to have at least 2 inches. The oil is ready when a small chunk of potato rapidly fries and starts to turn golden within 30 seconds of hitting the oil.

Prepare the batter. In a large bowl pour soy milk then sift in corn meal, flour, cumin, baking soda and salt. Whisk till a thick batter forms.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (or any “keep warm” setting) and have ready a baking sheet inside.

Dust stuffed chilies with a little cornstarch on both sides. With one pair of tongs carefully dredge chili in batter, turning to coat all sides. Carefully lower in hot oil. See frying tips above. Depending on the size of your pan and the filled chilies, stick to frying no more than 2 chilies at a time, as they should have plenty of room to be turned without touching one another. Fry till all sides of the chili are golden, which should take less than 4-5 minutes in total. Keep them warm in that pre-heated oven until ready to serve. Remember to remove toothpicks from finished chilies!

Serve with warmed salsa (if you’re not going to cook anymore) or chili sauce, rice, guacamole and a simple tomato and lettuce/cabbage salad. A small side of refried beans wouldn’t hurt either.


Filed under NYC Happenings, Vegan Latina book, Veganmofo