Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Every once in a while a woman with great ideas meets a man with occasional better ideas. So I was planning on making some kind of version of enchiladas out of some random ingredients I picked up at the Mexican themed corner store. I got my sauce and fillings all ready to go and then when it came time to roll the 6" corn tortillas into enchilada shapes my plan went to hell. It was then that Spencer chimed in and said, "Why don't you just lay it flat and then put the stuff in it and put another flat one on top?" Well, being a woman who doesn't like to be told what to do in the kitchen, good idea or no, I was apprehensive. I soon succumbed to this amazing taco pizza idea and it proved to be a delicious decision. Behold!

For Rice
1 c. uncooked rice
3 T tomato paste

1/2 jalepeno, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed
Cook rice according to bag instructions. Add tomato paste, jalepeno, and garlic to rice and water while it cooks. Fluff and let rest after cooking. Meanwhile...
For Sauce
1 small can chipotle sauce
3 T mole
1/2 c. water

1 tomato, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Put it all in a pot and heat it up on med for about a half hour or whatever.
The rest of the business:

12-14 corn tortillas, 6"
1 can vegetarian refried beans
oil for pan
Vegan cheese, optional
Sour cream, optional
Leftover cooked chicken, optional
Spray frying pan with a little oil and turn to med/high. Spread a generous scoop of beans on warm tortilla followed by an equal scoop of rice. If using chicken or cheese, add a bit on top of rice. Top with a second tortilla and lay in hot pan. Cook until browned and then flip, spraying with more oil if necessary. When finished, place on a sheet pan and set in warm oven. Cook remaining tortillas like this. When all are finished top with chipotlemole sauce and sour cream and eat the hell outta these.

The sauce is muy caliente though, so look out. I thought I was going to die after the first bite but then i threw on some mexican style sour cream (not sure how it's any different, but it tasted good) and it turned it into something that still burned my face off but it was manageable. In fact, the sauce blew my frickin mind. I don't like hot stuff but after I succumbed to its hotness I realized there was some delicious flavor going on in this thing. I don't know how easy it will be for you all to recreate, but with any luck, yours will be as great as mine. We gorged ourselves to the point of agony and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Spencer named these, he names all my food. Also, if you don't know wtf Mole is, check it out here:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Very Special Brunch

I love brunch. It seems as though there are endless possibilities for brunch. It's more creative and daring than say lunch or breakfast, and can be just as complex and filling as a good dinner. Not to mention it makes it okay to have vodka, beer, or even champagne at around 10am. Spencer and I regularly go out for brunch on the weekend, generally to one of the pubs we frequent. This dish was inspired by a dish served up at The Royal Tavern, a tofu and tempeh scramble of sorts. I served mine wish some seriously mediocre blueberry pancakes which I won't even bother posting. Oh, and be warned... this recipe is for the patient, there's steps involved and you might just want to save this one for a nice dinner with that special someone if you're too cranky for all this prep in the morning hours.

for tofu marinade:
3 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves minced
1 t black pepper
1 t ground mustard
1/4 c. sundried tomatoes, soaked (save liquid)
1 package tofu, cubed

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, pepper, mustard and liquid from tomatoes in a shallow dish. Add cubed tofu and set aside.

1 T butter*
1 T oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 package tempeh, cubed
toasted sesame seeds

In a large skillet, caramelize onion in oil and butter. Add garlic and saute until soft. Remove from pan squeezing out as much oil as possible. Turn up the heat to high and in the same pan saute the marinating tofu until browned on either side. Add vegetables, including sliced sundried tomatoes previously soaked, tempeh, and a few tablespoons of the marinade to the pan. Saute until peppers and zucchini are soft but not falling apart. Season to taste, serve with homefries and top with toasted sesame seeds.

This was really good, I was pretty impressed with myself anyway. I think next time (once I get a box grater, hint hint) I'll make hash browns instead of fried potatoes to go with it. Also, I think chopping the zucchini into smaller pieces would have made for a little better texture and visual variation, most of my ingredients were the same size. I used the sundried tomatoes which were nice but there wasn't nearly enough of them. I think perhaps fire roasted tomatoes would make for better flavor and moisten this dish a bit more. Over all though, I could eat this again at any time of day. And trust me, if you're trying to make something special for a sexy guy or gal, they'll love it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homage to Julia - A Simple Soup

Of course I love Julia Child. Who doesn't? Why wouldn't you? If you've read her biography/autobiography, "My Life In France" then you know what a remarkable woman she really is. She had never cooked until she was married at a very late age. She went to France, tasted the most amazing thing she had ever put in her mouth and a few months later was one of the only women to enroll in Le Cordon Bleu. She proceeded to write one of the most influential and well known cookbooks in the nation. Not only did she write it, but she tested and retested every single recipe in those 700 some pages. I'm no Julie Powell here, I'm not about to go and make a beef flavored aspic with a soft boiled egg suspended in the middle, but you bet your ass I'll make a soup with 4 ingredients:

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb. leeks, thoroughly rinsed and sliced
2 quarts water
1 T. salt
5 T. butter*
3/4 c. cream*
parsley for garnish

Place potatoes, leeks, water, and salt in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil a cover slightly, simmer for about 40 minutes until potatoes are soft. Transfer soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, working in batches if needed. Add butter and cream to pureed soup mixture and top with pepper and parsley. Yum.

Ok, so brutally good soup. I wish I could take credit but this one belongs to Julia and the wonderful people of France. To accommodate both myself and Spencer I put 1 T real butter and 2 T cream in my bowl and then added the soup. For Spencer I put equal amounts of earth balance and soy cream in his bowl. We ate it with some delicious fresh bread from the bakery up the street and both agreed that it was amazingly good. And as a testament to that, he didn't even run to the kitchen for more salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes. Thank you, thank you.

A Most Cumbersome Apple Strudel

The other weekend the beau and I ventured north through the beautiful rolling mountains of New York state (and the not so beautiful factories of New Jersey) to his parents' house in Connecticut. Aside from my car basically dying by the time we arrived to our destination it was a fantastic little trip to New England. Part of the whole point of our trip was to go to a little orchard and grab some apples and pumpkins. Unfortunately, because of the state of my car and its inability to make the journey back to Philly we had to forgo the pumpkin getting but still managed to procure a nice $20 bag of mixed up apples straight off the tree. I don't really eat food that hasn't been cooked yet so of course my go to for this overflowing bag of pommes was of course an array of desserts. Upon looking through my various cook books I decided on an apple strudel that seemed very simple and incredibly easy to turn into a vegan snack. Before I waffle on any further, I'll post MY version of this recipe and then rant about what a torturous affair it was.

4 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin (appx. 1 lb or 4 cups)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. raisins
1/2 c. slivered, blanched almonds
zest and juice from 1 lemon (about 1t zest and 1 1/2 T juice)
18 sheets phyllo dough, room temperature
1/2 c. melted butter*
Powdered sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Preheat oven to 375° and prepare baking pan with parchment paper or silicon mat. In a large bowl combine apples, sugar, raisins, and lemon.
Unroll dough onto a piece of parchment or kitchen towel and cover to keep the dough from drying out. On a separate piece of parchment or on your silicon mat, lay out one sheet of dough and brush with butter. Layer dough until it is six sheets deep. Pile approximately 1 1/2 cups apple mixture into center of dough leaving a 2 inch border along the entire perimeter of the dough. Fold in one long side then both short sides then roll (it's more like a really awkward fold than a roll, but you'll get the idea) until the seam is on the bottom. If the dough comes apart anywhere just finagle it back together. Repeat this for the remaining dough and filling, you should have 3 whole strudel when finished. Place them on your pan (or pans if they don't all fit on one) and put in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. Let the strudel rest for about 5 minutes before cutting it. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Alright, now for the rant. This fucking recipe was one of the most poorly written and hard to follow instruction that I've ever dealt with. It came from a Williams-Sonoma book on baking that I got a couple years ago from the parents of a dude I was dating. It's an alright book, nothing that amazing and if I remember correctly, there's other recipes that have given me trouble in it. This is why I love the internet so much. I can go on numerous recipe sites and find out if other people ran into problems and if it's even worth doing. You don't get that from a recipe book. But, I'm a trusting lady and I thought, "Hey, if it is published and put out by a place with such a reputable name, surely it will work." Hell no! The original recipe calls for 6 large apples with no guide as to weight or measure once sliced. As I sliced my own apples once I got to apple #4 I realized my very large bowl was nearly full. I'd never worked with Phyllo before and I figured that maybe this would make sense once I got it out of the package. Much to my surprise I found some paper thin pieces of dough that measured about the size of a standard letter. Surely not big enough to contain 7 cups of sliced apples. Pissed. Whatever, I made that work to a certain degree, I still had apple mixture left over and wound up using my remaining phyllo in some tiny brioche pans with a little apple mixture. In the end, this tasted amazing and was completely unnecessarily difficult.

For the second part of my rant, let me talk about vegan caramel sauce. When I saw the apple strudel recipe I thought it'd be great with some caramel sauce, a bit of a take on the old caramel apple (which is a forbidden fruit to my animal friendly boy). I searched for something online and ran into something from the post punk kitchen, a bit of a trusty vegan recipe site. The recipe was originally posted on some vegan ice cream blog and seemed to have some pretty good reviews so I went for it. I made it the day before however and when I removed it from the fridge it looked a lot more like buttery wet sugar than caramel sauce. When I reheated it over the stove it turned into a very tasty cement. I tried using it with the strudel and it tasted pretty good but the texture was atrocious. I think I'll try a few more experiments with caramel sauce a la vegan because that's just a damn shame.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Mountain of Chili

Sorry for the lapse in posts. It's not that I haven't been cooking, lord knows I have (as does spencer and my growing stomachs). I still have yet to find my camera charger and just can't get motivated to write without some visual stimulation. However, today is the day I will delve into the depths of the dungeon which is my basement and search that rascally device out. Hopefully I'll be able to update this post with a glorious shot of my beautiful chili.

I found this recipe after a very quick search on the googinator. I'm basically copy and pasting it, so I can't take credit for much of this unfortunately.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
2 (12 ounce) packages vegetarian burger crumbles
3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and green chile peppers. When vegetables are heated through, mix in the vegetarian burger crumbles. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.
Mix the tomatoes into the pot. Season chili with chili powder and pepper. Stir in the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the corn, and continue cooking 5 minutes before serving.

So only a couple modifications to this recipe. Some of you may know my disdain for green bell peppers, the rest of you know now. I used red and yellow ones instead, much to my happiness. Green peppers taint everything they touch and I hate it. I also threw in a little brown sugar because that's just how I roll. Probably could've used a bit more. I also used just one package of fake ground meat. It was plenty, let me tell you. This makes a shitload of chili. It says 8 servings, which seems about right. The proportions are good though so I don't know how you'd half it, considering the cans of beans and whatnot. Anyway, we ate our chili with some premade cornbread from whole foods (his vegan, mine delightfully yellow and full of eggs) as well as some very convincing fake cheese.

So that's it for now. I've got an apple strudel coming up that should be very exciting for everyone, filled with mystery, passion, and intrigue. I'm also planning on making some non vegan desserts so get your senses ready for a taste explosion... or maybe just get ready for another mundane list of ingredients.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Split Pea Soup and Sammiches

I've never made split pea soup before, in fact, I'm not even sure how many times I've even had it. Let's face it, it's generally not a very pretty soup, especially from the can. Well, I had some split peas in the pantry and the rest of the ingredients are pretty standard, just a quick stop at the old Ital for some cheap carrots and I was on my way. Fortunately, my man has an appetite twice the size of his body and convinced me to stop at the market for sandwich stuffs. It was here that I decided I could compensate for lack of ham hock in the soup with a tasty Jambon beurre baguette. Well, enough chatter, let the recipe-ing begin!

3 large carrots, diced
1 medium celery root, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T butter*
2 T olive oil
1 lb dry split peas, rinsed
6-8 cups water or veg. broth
1 T old style mustard
1 cup frozen peas
Potential herbs:
herbs de provence

In a large soup pot melt your butter and oil and throw in the celery and carrots. Cook until tender but not mushy, about 7 or 8 minutes. Then throw in your onion and garlic and cook for another couple minutes until soft. Add peas and broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes (leaving the lid off will cause the soup to be thicker, I left mine on for the first half to make it a little less thick). Add your herbs in the amount you desire. Just before serving, throw in your peas, season with salt and pepper and a hand full of chopped fresh parsley. Voila!

(I'm not writing about Spencer's sammi because frankly, it looked gross and I didn't technically make it. It's some fake turkey salad he gets at WF and it looks like cat food. He likes it but wasn't thrilled about it in comparison to my fantastic soup.)

Skipping the ingredients, straight to assemblage: Slice one demi-baguette almost in half. On one side spread a generous amount of salted butter, on the other side an equal (or more) portion of delicious mustard. Lay a few slices of baked or smoked deli ham in the center and top with cheese of your choice. Toast in the oven. I actually threw in a few sliced cornichons to give it some zing...but you don't have to if you're a wimp.

So the soup pretty much RULES. I cannot think of a single thing that would improve it at all. We both had seconds and our leftovers are already gone. I cooked my peas to al dente rather than to supreme mushy pea soup consistency, but that was a personal choice. One could use regular celery in lieu of the root, but I think the root has a more interesting flavor and it doesn't fall apart the way regular celery does in soup. However, for some reason I can't seem to explain, celery root is far more expensive than celery. I implore you dearest internet, tell me why this is so. Also, it's a bit more difficult to find and maneuver. It's irregularly shaped and covered in dirt in all these crevices, so you end up cutting a lot away. BUT I STILL LOVE IT. In short, make this damned soup and thank me later.

The sammich was also quite good. And it's tangy smokiness really complimented the sweetness of the soup. I only ate half of it because the soup was so good. Over all a very cheap meal and one that I plan on adding to the regular rotation for sure. Now I just have to work on making a vegan sammich to go with this...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

BEHOLD! The Icecream Machine!

For my birthday Spencer got me a fancy new Cuisinart Icecream maker. My first try was some strawberry sorbet. I had found some super cheap strawberries at the Italian Market and it was a simple enough recipe. Not awesome and I didn't try anything exciting with it, hence I'm not including it in Le Blog.

Round Two however, complete experimentation with excellent results. Earlier this year I was deeply saddened to find out that because Nutella contains milk, my dearest had never tried it. Such an atrocity should not be forced (or willingly given up in this circumstance) upon a person and thus I have been determined to come up with some vegan friendly version of this delicious spread. Well, last week at the grocery store I was parusing the faux milk isle and found Hazelnut Milk. o_O I exclaimed! Snatched it up along with some brutally awesome and surprisingly cheap Icelandic chocolate and began my journey towards Nutella Icecream.

I'd had some insanely good Nutella Gelato at this shop in Paris earlier this year and in no way did I replicate it. It was good though, the recipe is as follows:

1 c. roasted, skinned Hazelnuts
5 oz bittersweet chocolate
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. Hazelnut Milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. plain soy yogurt
1/4 t. salt
1 egg*

Put hazelnuts in blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add 1/2 cup milk if mixture is too stiff to blend. Meanwhile, chop your chocolate into little pieces and melt in a double boiler. Add remaining milk and sugar and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove and allow to partially cool. Once cooled, add to hazelnut mixture in blender along with yogurt, salt, and egg. Puree on high until fully mixed. Refrigerate until completely cool then add to icecream maker. If mixture is too stiff after refrigeration, add more hazelnut milk.

This stuff is intense. I put more chocolate in my original recipe and it was too much honestly. So, in the above recipe I knocked it back a little bit. It doesn't exactly taste like Nutella per say but it is still nutty and chocolaty and delicious. The thing about grinding your own nuts is that they wind up like natural peanut butter. It's not completely smooth and amazing the way nutella is, but it is indeed superb. I will say, the use of the yogurt and hazelnut milk is excellent as it doesn't leave that soy icecream flavor.

p.s.- I realize this does not have a picture, which is careless and insensitive, but my camera is out of batteries and my charger got lost in the fray. Hopefully I'll find it before the icecream is all gone.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Holy Dim Sum!

Generally, I'm not big on Chinese cuisine due in part to its greasiness as well as its mystery. However, a couple days ago I got talked into going to this vegan dim sum place. I've never been to a dim sum place and really had no idea how it worked exactly but I was hungry and Spencer had actually made a decision about what he wanted for once. So off we went to New Harmony in China Town.

So there was this big menu and Spencer just named a bunch of different things off it that we would dine on. We first received a small bowl of crispy fried wanton wrappers with sweet and sour sauce. Yum. Then I got wonton soup which was quite tasty indeed, Spencer got hot sour soup or whatever. We finished our soup and an entourage of food reigned down upon our table. Cold peanut and sesame noodles, steamed pork and vegetable buns, General Tso's chicken, rice, sticky rice, pork dumplings, probably other stuff that I don't remember or even know the name of. All in all, this shit was goooood. They even gave us little fried bananas with our fortune cookies. A big thumbs up for this place. My friends Ashley and Jessica would be proud of my dim sum outing and I'll be sure to take them there when they come visit me. This is a great place for both vegans and omnivores alike.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Summer Squash Soup

A few years ago I signed up for a really awesome produce delivery service called Boston Organics. Every other week I got a big box of organic and/or local produce and had to figure out what the hell to do with it. One day I got a fairly copious amount of yellow squash and, having never really cooked with it, just made something up. It turned out quite delicious and I have since put it in the regular line up due to it's simplicity and its low cost. Here it go:

4 yellow squash, sliced
2 T. butter*
2 T. canola oil
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs of thyme
1 c. milk (soy, almond, cow)
1/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted
1 package tempeh
salt and pepper

Using half the butter and oil, saute the squash in a large pan until soft and golden. Once all squash is cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Saute shallots and garlic in remaining oil and add to cooked squash. Add remaining oil and butter to pan and crumble tempeh into the pan, cook on medium high until golden and crispy on the outside. While tempeh cooks, place squash mixture, thyme, and milk into a blender and puree until smooth. If the temperature has reduced too much, place back on the stove to reheat. Add almonds and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with tempeh and parsley for garnish.

So obviously I've made this before and thus I think it's pretty good. This go around wasn't quite as good as I've made it in the past and I'm not sure why. Could have been the use of soymilk rather than my usual cow milk and cream. I think next time I might try almond milk as it has a bit of sweetness that may compliment the dish a little better. Also, this is a good base to play around with. I'm sure it would be great with some green beans, bacon (what isn't good with bacon?), or even red bell peppers if you're into that sort of thing, which I am not. So, give this one a try, it's super easy and fast.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not Vegan

I had a hankering for some delicious animal based atrocity the other morning, and since I've got a lot of spare time during the day I tend to cater to my whims. Here we go:

2 Eggs
2 Slices fresh bread
1 T mustard
1/4 onion, sliced
2 pieces bacon
thyme, salt, and pepper

Toast the bread either in a toaster or in the oven. While it's toasting boil up some water, throw a splash of vinegar in there and start poaching your eggs. While your eggs poach, throw your bacon onto a hot pan and cook it to your preferred doneness- I like mine not too crispy. When your toast is done you can butter it, leave it dry, or spread on the mustard, the yummiest idea of all. Remove your bacon from the pan and set it on a paper towel to drain, then throw in your onions and cook until soft. Now assemble your delicious but impossible to eat breakfast creation- toast, mustard, onions, bacon, eggs. Sprinkle it with some salt, pepper, and thyme or any other preferred herb.

So this was pretty good, I've made better breakfast creations in my life but this one did the job. The thing I liked least was that the bread was incredibly difficult to navigate. You can see it was a thick cut Italian bread, this meant a pretty crispy crust and a very chewy center. Holding it like a sandwich was out of the question and cutting it like a steak just made it collapse.

Lots o Lentils

I love lentils. The funny thing is, I don't think I had ever had a lentil until I was in my 20s. But now that they're here, they're here to stay. Cheap, easy to cook, very hearty, everyone likes em. So, I cooked up a batch of tasty lentils as follows (this is approximate, so forgive my vagueness):

1 Onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
2 T oil
1 T butter*
2-3 stalks of Thyme
1lb bag of lentils, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup frozen peas
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 tomato, quartered and sliced
salt and pepper

In a large pan sautee the onion, celery and carrot until just tender in the oil and butter, about 4 minutes. Add the lentils, thyme, broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and simmer with lid off until desired firmness, about 20-35 minutes. You can add more water if you'd like a bit of a sauce with the lentils. Toss in peas, green onions, salt and pepper to taste and let it rest until peas are warm. Serve with rice and top with tomato.

I actually added a little Braggs just to deepen the flavor of the lentils a bit. If you have it around, it's good for adding a little umami to a dish, not to mention some nutrients. However, there is some question as to weather or not this shit is actually good for you...I have to say I'm skeptical and prefer soy sauce and a multi-vitamin myself.

Would I have changed anything? Yeah, it was a bit on the dry side. I think I would have added a little more liquid at some point. Maybe towards the end so that it didn't soak into the lentils more. I also served some of the leftovers with some tahini sauce, which was alright but not perfect.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Going Out

Aside from cooking for me and my boy, there are times when I'd like someone to cook for me. In fact, I really love the whole experience of going out to dinner. Apparently a lot of people do because there are tons of restaurants everywhere and, even though business may be slightly declining in this economic hardship, people still go out to eat. But, I love it for reasons other than having someone do all the work and clean up for me.
I digress.
Monday afternoon I got an unexpected call from work saying they didn't need me to come in. Given that I'd been working pretty much every single night since I started there, I was pretty psyched to not have to go in. In addition, today is my birthday and I knew I'd be working and was hoping for some night off this week to go have a nice birthday dinner.
Finding a place that can accommodate both my needs for animal byproducts and Spencer's disdain for them can be fairly tricky. Especially if he'd like to have more than a dry salad. After a little research I came across a place in Old City, right around the corner from where I work actually, called Farmicia. If you're too lazy to follow the link, they basically do what I love- New and Traditional American food, made from fresh, local ingredients, with a few vegan/vegetarian options. Oh, and lots of delicious, freshly baked bread.
I wish I'd brought my camera so I could provide some pictures on this post, but alas... just look at the website. It's restaurant week here in Philly and so they offered a Prix Fixe menu of three courses for $35. I ordered a glass of French Sauvignon Blanc and Spencer grabbed some sort of delicious alcoholic Arnold Palmer while we munched on some pumpernickle and sourdough bread. For starters I got a beet, fennel, and feta salad with a citrus vinagrette and what looked like pea shoots. For the gentleman, a noodle, tofu, nut, and roasted tomato bowl of deliciousness. We downed our apps pretty quickly and our entrees followed shortly after. A simple but wonderful meat and potatoes dish for myself- A boneless pork chop, buttery mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli. A rustic but interesting old Frenchie for the vegan- ratatouille with corn crusted risotto croquettes. I got pretty full pretty fast, as did Spencer. So we wrapped up the remainder of our meals and moved on to dessert- a flourless chocolate torte with chocolate mousse for myself and some coconut and lime sorbet for my date.
So how was it? My beet salad was incredible! The dressing was fantastic and pretty. Spencer really seemed to enjoy his appetizer as well though I didn't try it. My entree was good but not amazing. The chop was a little on the dry and also fatty side. I would have preferred a thicker cut, bone-in chop, like the one I had in Boston at Coda. The gravy they served it with was good but not plentiful, I wanted more! The potatoes were good but nothing special and the broccoli was naked. Pretty simple stuff really, nothing that wowed me. As for Spencer's meal, he seemed to enjoy it, though he didn't finish it so I'm not totally convinced. I tried it and thought it was alright. In general, I'm not big on ratatouille due to the high volume of bell peppers which, for me, taint everything...which was certainly the case in this dish. I'm also not huge on risotto cakes. It seems like all the ones I've ever tried are gluey and flavorless- again, this rang true here as well. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. Our desserts were pretty good. My cake and mousse were intensity to the extreme. I could only eat a couple bites of it. The cake was more like a slice of dry fudge (excellent)and the mousse was a lot like ice cream. So much chocolate. The sorbet was light and creamy at the same time, a nice touch. I'd like to have some more of that.
So over all, it was a good dinner. I wasn't wowed, but then again, it is restaurant week and we were there at the end of the evening. I'll probably go back some time, if only because it's a nice place that both my boy and I can eat at. Plus, their brunch looks phenomenal and drinks are half price!! woooooooooooo

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blueberry Coffee Cake

My first recipe is a coffee cake. Often, I wake up in the morning craving something very specific, french toast, muffins, pancakes, stew...all kinds of things. When I get something in my head I generally have to get it done. So, yesterday morning I awoke wanting a blueberry muffin (I knew I had some fresh blueberries in the fridge). I grabbed my vegan cookbook and parused the breakfast treats section where I stumbled upon a very doable coffee cake recipe. Listed below is the recipe with the modifications I made to it.

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 t cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
2 T melted margarine
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
3 T flax seeds (optional)
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
1 cup vegan sour cream
1 immitation egg
2 t vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Mix the first five ingredients together until marge is fully incorporated, then add nuts. Set aside. Grease an 8 inch square baking dish and preheat the oven to 350°

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, flax seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in sour cream, egg, and vanilla until just blended. Fold in blueberries. Spread into prepared pan and top evenly with streusel mixture. Place in oven for 40-50 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

So how'd it turn out? FAN FUCKING TASTIC THAT'S HOW! Let me just say that for the past few months I've been battling baking without eggs and losing the fight. My cakes have been crumbly, dry, glue-like, or miraculously all three at the same time. This has been the first success. It was slightly dense but coffee cake usually is. It held together perfectly, tasted phenomenal and, well, you can see how it looks. The modifications I made to the recipe were adding extra sour cream and the ener-g egg. I also threw in the blueberries because, well, hell yeah blueberries.

Anything I'd do differently? Yeah. That fake sour cream can have a bit of that strange "tofu taste". I know I know, "tofu doesn't have a taste," you might say. Well I say you're wrong. And so does everyone else that doesn't like tofu. That strange tofu taste that one gets when having tofu is from a preservative. Soymilk powder to be specific. Yes, it's soy too, just like the tofu, but it's what gives that sort of off flavor that turns ones nose up to the curdled bean. The soy sour cream has it, as does most packaged tofu. To avoid that flavor and get the most out of this recipe I'd make my own soy sour cream with fresh tofu. Soy sour cream is simple: puree 6 ounces of tofu with some lemon juice and canola oil. Voila. Also, this is a lot easier to find than that expensive Tofutti stuff.

In the picture you can see a nice big tab of butter on that slice of coffee cake. This is where my taste comes in. Sure, earth balance makes some damn good vegan margarine. But I LOVE BUTTER. What you're seeing is 100% delicious salted Amish butter. Aside from that little tab of butter, this is an incredibly healthy recipe. I added a few things to the recipe to up the nutrients (flax, wheat germ, blueberries) and of course left out the hydrogenated oils and cholesterol. So, it's cake...yes, but it's a great breakfast; and Mom, this would go great with your favorite Chai Tea.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In The Beginning

In a small dive bar set in Brooklyn on a chilly January evening I sat down with a Schaefer and a shot and started talking to a cute English teacher from Philadelphia. He was smart and interesting and played guitar, very cool...and then I found out he was vegan. To an average American of similar age this is not completely unusual but is certainly often met with some amount of criticism. However, due to the common lifestyle of the urban American (one whose diet often consists of processed, pre-made, packaged, and ready to eat food) it is generally merely an inconvenience or a target for jibes about ones' masculinity or sexual preference. Let there be no mistake, my vegan teacher has a beard and is at least 95% heterosexual. I am not an average American, however. I grew up in a home where, regardless of the fact that my mother was single, employed full time, and going to college full time, she made dinner every night for my brother and me. I may not have appreciated that act of selflessness at the time, but now that I'm a 20ahem year old who's too poor and too fucking interesting to have someone cook every meal for me, I'm pretty grateful to my mother for teaching me the value of cooking and sharing food. In short, I love everything about food except dishes and I particularly love cooking ridiculously elaborate meals and treats for those I love.
So brings me to the subject of this blog. Seven months after that fateful day in New York I have found myself living in Philadelphia and trying to feed not just myself, but my new vegan roommate. Rather than give up on cooking, or on my sweet boyfriend, I have decided to embrace the challenge and try my hand at vegan dining. Do not misread me though, I am in no way becoming vegan. My meat and dairy consumption will continue, which is perhaps more a challenge than actually switching my diet. I'm trying my hand at cooking for a wonderful (and luckily, not picky) metal head while fulfilling my need for a little heavy cream or rare steak.
How will I do this, you might ask. Well, that's for this blog to find out. So far, there's been a few bumps in the road, but over all I'm managing thus far. I plan on posting not just what I cooked or baked, but also the recipe and how it turned out or if I'd make any modifications.
My hope is that this is not only entertaining for myself, but also informative for those who may be in a similar situation. Not to mention, torturing you all with pictures of incredible foods. So enjoy and let the challenge begin.