- post-all girlz' weekend takeout
- I spent this weekend at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, Washington DC, chilling with some of my BFFs. Every year, we get together in a different locale for our much anticipated All Girlz' Weekend. We catch up, laugh until we feel facial muscles we never knew existed, and drink [too many] cosmos.
Once my bus from DC landed in Philly, I promptly stopped at Banana Leaf, and ordered take out: Achat â€“ veggies pickled in turmeric and spicy herbs with sesame seeds, and â€“ vegetarian Chow Kueh Teow â€“fried flat rice noodles with veggies, bean sprouts, soy sauce and [lots of] chili paste. If you order Chow Kueh Teow, ask them to also omit the eggs. Phantasmagorical, as always. Just wish my BFFs were lived closer so they could share it with me.
- the tyranny of the recipe
I often draw write notes in my cookbooks, so I can tailor recipes to my taste. Veganomicon is no exception.
When London food writer and domestic goddess Nigella Lawson talked about "the tyranny of the recipe," I related so strongly that included her quote in the introduction to my cookbook. Now, I'm not saying that [ahem!] cookbook authors are tyrants. But it's important to remember that cooking is both an art and a science. Recipes document the science of cooking â€“ and the art of writing. Recipes are usually the result of several experiments, and they list ingredients and processes needed to attain a consistent result when making a dish. It's always a good idea to follow a recipe exactly the first time you try it.
Dreena Burton's hummus recipe in Vive Le Vegan is my all-time favorite. As you can see, I renamed it "Yummus," and included notes detailing my personal preferences.
But the art of cooking is the expression of the individuality of the cook. Take 10 cooks, and ask them to make the same recipe. Mark my words, you will get 10 different results, depending on the cook's experience, mood, ingredients, and comfort with improvisation.
I included variations with many of my recipes, because I consider them a springboard to creativity, and not end-all, be-alls. Nothing makes me happier than to read someone's blog and learn how they tried one of my recipes but added "a little of this," or "less of that." That's what cooking is all about!. Recipes are merely inspiration. Each recipe you make is a building block in your own culinary architecture. So go ahead, write in my cookbook!
- eat to the beet
Growing up in the snowy Pennsylvania mountains, red beet soup (barszcz, in Polish) was a winter-time staple. This easy soup is classic comfort food: filling, earthy and just a tad musky. My mom always added sour cream, transforming the soup into a brilliant Pepto-Bismol pink, so this is the [veganized] recipe I included in my cookbook. But last week, when I was plum out of vegan sour cream, I added a bit of soy milk instead. The resulting color was a more dignified deep magenta, and the soup tasted just as warming. The motto of the recipe? Don't be afraid to modify recipes. That's often how new recipes are born.
One bit of red beet-related kitchen wisdom to share: unless you want pink fingers, wear gloves while peeling the beets.
- a wok in the snow
Al fresco dining, anyone?
With a few strategic cuts, Dr X's patio table would make a great squirrel igloo.
In case you have been leaving in a vaccum, the East Coast â€“ from Philly to Virginia â€“ got hammered Friday night with "Snowmageddon." Philadelphia accumulated 28 inches of the white stuff.
What better way to spend snowed-in evening than cooking and eating? I took a walk in the snow to the Reading Terminal Market, and bought some broccoli, portobellos, ginger and garlic ....
Then I pulled out my trusty wok and stir-fried the veggies with about a cup of seitan strips. The loft swelled with the tantalizing aroma of sweet garlic and zesty ginger, sizzling away in peanut oil.
I ate the stir-fry atop a mountain of fiber-packed brown rice ... and made myself a guilty-pleasure Lemon Drop to wash it down with. [Lemon Drop drink recipe is in my cookbook, The Urban Vegan.]
Incidentally, if you take good care of your wok, it will take good care of you. After using, scrub it down, dry it, and oil it well before you store it. Not only will it keep the wok from rusting, but it will also help create a kick-ass, non-stick cooking surface.
- classic chocolate chippers
Classic Chocolate Chippers with ice-cold soy milk
I call February "The Grey Season." All the colorful holiday lights are down. Income taxes loom over our heads, and our mailboxes are inundated with those hateful black and white W2s and 1099s. The sky seems to be one big swoosh of steely grey, and those of us in the Northeast are suffering from sweater fatigue. Is it any wonder I usually make chocolate chip cookies in February?
These are my go-to comfort-food cookies, perfect for dipping in soy, coconut or rice milk [or in chocolate soy milk, if you've had a really bad day]. I've found that melting the Earth Balance before beating with the sugar makes the whole mixing process much easier. And instead of using a hybrid of brown and white sugars, I use 100% brown: the resulting caramel flavor appeases my inner hedonist.
And even if you don't make these comforting cookies, take heart: the crocuses and primroses will be peeking out from under the frozen earth in just a matter of weeks.
CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CHIPPERS
- Â½ cup Earth Balance, melted
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 T soy, rice, coconut or almond milk
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Â½ tsp baking powder
- Â¼ tsp baking soda
- 1Â¼ cups flour
- 1 heaping T soy flour
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- Optional additions: Â½ cup nuts, Â½ cup chopped dried cherries
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookies sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper. Or spray them with non-stick baking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together Earth Balance, sugar, salt and milk until well blended.
- Add remaining dry ingredients, about Â¼ cup at a time, blending well after each addition and occasionally scarping down the side of the bowl.
- Stir in chocolate chips and optional additions, if using.
- Drop in 1 T increments onto cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with a spoon.
- Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool for one minute on cookie sheet, then use your spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack. Cool for 30 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies, recipe easily doubled
Variations: Make these using vegan white chocolate, cinnamon, espresso or peanut butter chips instead of chocolate.
- flor modular rug!
And now for a break from our regularly scheduled food posts. I just wanted to show you how much I heart my new Flor rug. I'm so sold on the modular design approach; it boasts so many advantages:
- You design the rug yourself based on your taste, the level of padding you want and the size you need to cover.
- If a square gets ruined [with 3 kitties, this is highly likely], I can easily replace it instead of having to trash the whole rug.
- Concerning cleaning, I can scrub one square at a time.
- If I get bored with the design, I can change the tiles around.
- The rug is forever scalable, if for example, one day I move into a smaller space, I can split the rug into two smaller ones. If I win the lottery and can finally buy that NYC penthouse I've been dreaming of, I can purchase more tiles to create a larger rug.
- odds and sods
A quick look at what I've been eating and doing lately.
Eating: Waffles and Deep-Fried Seitan at Mih La [good-n-greasy, guilty pleasure!]
Doing: Cooking demos. While demoing at the Broadway Panhandler in NYC, I was lucky enough to meet fellow blog buddies Christo of Chez What? and AndrÃ©a of Brazil Nut. AndrÃ©a brought me the best-smelling papaya soap [vegan, of course] from Sao Paolo.
Hanging with the kitties. This is "Buttons," sitting on my lap while I talk to Lisa on the phone. [Yes, this is the once "feral" cat who hid behind the water heater for 4 weeks.]
Dr X installed shelves so the kitties can look out the windows. Pablo especially loves them. He sends morse code messages to the cats in the windows across the street.
Bossa Nova loves the shelves, too, but she prefers to take her beauty rest on terra firma.
- memphis taproom
I finally made it over to the Memphis Taproom, arguably Philadelphia's most vegan-friendly gastro pub. Atmosphere: gregarious. Service: super friendly. Beer and wine lists: extensive. And the menu featured plenty of vegan, veg- and veg-possible options. I opted for the BBQ sandwich. The fries were sublime, but to be honest, I've had better BBQ seitan. Although tasty, the BBQ sauce was timid and somewhat watery, and the seitan's texture was one step away from synthetic.
Hold the sauce, and the deep-fried pickles are vegan
The deep-fried pickles were a nice surprise: puckery dills blanketed with a good-n-greasy, perfectly crisped batter.
The onion rings were tasty and, as you can see, plentiful.
Best of all, they offered a vegan dessert option...gasp!...other than sorbet or liqueur. They titled this super-sized confection "Vegan Chocolate Cake," but with its decadent damp, mustiness, it was more akin to "Devil's Food Cake." A hellishly tasty finish to a fun night in "Port Fishington" [In case you didn't figure it out, that's the intersection of Port Richmond, Fishtown and Kensington. Really, these ever-expanding neighborhood nicknames are getting a bit tiresome].
- come meet me in the big apple!
Meet me at New York's Broadway Panhandler this Saturday.
I'll show you how to make crepes and Easy Chocolate Mousse from my cookbook. I'll also answer all your cooking questions and will be available to sign cookbooks.
Saturday, January 16, 3PM
65 East 8th Street (Between Broadway & University Place. Subway: 8th St)
New York, NY 10003
Read more >>
In case you've never been before, Broadway Panhandler is a cook's dream. If you want it, they have it, so bring your wish list.
- wonton wrappers, demystified
Pan-fried dumplings with kale and garlic, with soy-ginger dipping sauceHow many times have you abandoned a recipe upon seeing the ingredients "wonton wrappers?" Although working with wonton wrappers may seem intimidating, once you learn to use them, they are actually the harried cook's best friend. Plus they are inexpensive and lend themselves beautifully to improvisation; you can fill them with whatever you have on hand or what's in season. Wonton wrappers come in a variety of shapes: squares, triangles and circles, and you can find them in most Asian grocery stores or in the ethnic aisles of larger supermarkets.Be sure to seal the edges well using water as your "glue."How to assemble a wonton dumpling:1. Place the wrapper in the palm of your hand, Fill it with a scant teaspoon of your filling of choice [See below for ideas]. Do not overfill! Cover remaining wontons with a damp paper towel.2. Brush the edges of the wonton with water.3. Use your fingers to make a seal and pinch the dumpling closed. Make sure the seal is tight so your filling does not ooze out.
Dumplings simmered in broth.Wonton architecture options:1. Fold the wrappers in two to make half moon-shaped dumplings. This option is best for pan-frying; or2. Fold the wrappers in two to make half moon-shaped dumplings, then pinch the ends together with water to form tortellini-like dumplings [pictured above], which you can steam or cook in broth; or3. Scrunch all the ends together to form a pony-tail of sorts, with the wonton edges. Works best for steaming.Wonton cooking options:1. Simmer the dumplings gently in broth for 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook, or the filling could ooze out; or2. Steam for 5-10 minutes and serve with your favorite dipping sauce; or3. Pan-fry in a small amount of oil for 5-10 minutes and serve with your favorite dipping sauce [This is, in my opinion, the tastiest option.]10 Won ton filling ideas:1. Spinach or kale sauteed with garlic and ginger2. Pumpkin, toasted walnuts and sauteed onions3. Ground beef style soy meat sauteed with onions and mushrooms4. Shitake mushrooms, sauteed with shallots and a splash of sherry5. Pressed and crumbled tofu, tossed with nutritional yeast, basil and lemon juice, seasoned with salt and pepper6. Tempeh, steamed first and then warmed through with your favorite BBQ sauce7. Potatoes, onions and vegan cheese. Shape into half moons for quickie pierogies! Pan fry with plenty of Earth Balance and onions8. Seitan cooked with ginger, cilantro, garlic and edamame9. Plain old vegan cheese cubes, peppered with your favorite fresh herbs10. Dessert won tons: Chocolate-hazlenut spread and bananas. Seal the wontons with sugar water. Sprinkle with coarse sugar before pan frying in Earth Balance.Please add your own filling ideas as comments. Enjoy!
- bahamas :: a photo essay
Beach near our B & B, just outside of Nassau
Happy New Year! I am thrilled to usher in 2010. Last year was the most challenging one of my life: publishing a book and working my day-job in advertising while dealing with the break-up of my marriage mid-year. [Now you know why I had not been posting as frequently as I used to.]Flash forward to much happier times...I spent a wonderful Xmas in the Bahamas. It's a lovely, laid-back country, albeit an extremely difficult place to be vegan. (One can only consume so much pasta and salad!). I leave you with a few shots of island life.Happy 2010! I hope this years brings health and happiness for everyone.View from the verandaB & B entryway. Doesn't it look like a pirates' hideaway?Flamingos chilling at Adastra GardensMe and a new Bahamian friend, relaxing on the beach"Once upon a time, there lived three little turtles, Papa Turtle, Mama Turtle, and Baby Turtle..."
- pear tarte tatin recipe
Just in time for the holidays...Pear Tarte TatinA tarte tatin is basically an upside-down pie. Showcasing the cello-like pears instead of the more traditional apples gives this French classic just the tiniest bit of haughty edge. The recipe appears in this month's GRID magazine, chock-full of recipes and of eco-inspiring articles. You can find hard copies free at businesses throughout the greater Philadelphia region. Or access the recipe and magazine online.If the idea of quickly flipping over a pan to reveal a dramatic, all-in-one-piece tarte terrifies you, take heart. It's like riding a bike: do it once and you'll never forget how. Just follow the directions precisely and be confident.
- food porn from the cookbook
A down and dirty look at what I've been eating lately...
Nasi Goreng Soup from my cookbook. To spice things up and add a bit of texture, I tossed in some spicy tofu chunks.
For Thanksgiving, Cranberry-Quince Sauce...
And my famous Tira Mi Su, for Thanksgiving dessert
Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin...
And finally, the 10-Minute Corn Consomme, finished here with sweet Spanish Paprika. (I must admit, I bought this spice, because I love the package.)
Hangawi interiorYes, I'm still commuting from Philly to NYC every day. All that traveling makes a girl hungry. Last week, I met my good friend VKO for lunch at Hangawi. This mid-town Korean eatery is 100% vegan. The decor is shrine-like: minimal, all-natural materials, sunken tables, handmade vessels...My blood pressure lowered the moment I walked in the door and took off my shoes.We started off with the combination pancakes, served with a delicate soy dipping sauce; they are pure comfort food, not to be missed. Pictured from left to right: leek, kimchi mushroom, and kobocha pumpkin with mung beans.For her main, the lovely VKO chose the spicy tofu hot pot. It came with rice and two kinds of kimchee. I had a taste: sublime and perfect for a chilly day.I opted for my all-time favorite Korean dish: stone bowl rice with sesame leaves. The hot stone bowl crisps the rice, giving it an unmistakable crunch.Thank you, VKO--for the lovely gift and for once again introducing me to another fab restaurant.
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Last Updated (Wednesday, 10 March 2010 04:06)