Thursday, February 28, 2008

Broccoli Soup

Once again we have to give props to our local library for ordering a book we requested. This time it was the Real Food Daily Cookbook. I had seen other bloggers mentioning this book and I had flipped through it in bookstores; now I'm anxious to try more recipes from our borrowed copy. The first thing we tried was the broccoli soup with red pepper crème. It's a fairly basic soup with broccoli and spinach, but the red pepper crème really makes it pop. It's a snap to make too - just buzz a roasted red pepper, 1/4 c. raw cashews, 2 Tbs. soy milk, 1 Tbs. lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. salt in a food processor until smooth and creamy. There are some interesting seitan recipes in this book too so maybe we'll try one of those next.

Monday, February 25, 2008

NYC and More

We're back from the big city and there's only so much you can do in a day and a half but we did get some awesome food while we were there. We ended up staying within walking distance of the Upper West Side apartment of Darlene's aunt and uncle where we stayed but we still found plenty to do (and eat). It snowed 6" the day we got there and it was a little treacherous walking around but we did make it to Cafe Blossom for a wonderful lunch and later to the Museum of Natural History. For those of us who don't have any vegan restaurants nearby it's a little overwhelming to be staring at a menu where everything there is fair game for us to order. But after much hand wringing we settled on the Mixed Mushroom Pesto Pasta for Darlene and the Cajun Seitan Sandwich for me. Both were excellent, though the hastily-taken pictures don't do either plate justice. The sweet potato fries that came with my sandwich were especially scrumptious.

The next day we ended up going back to Cafe Blossom for lunch after the Ethiopian restaurant we went looking for turned out to not be there anymore. This time I had what I think was called the Harvest Casserole - a big slab of polenta in a red pepper sauce topped with a tofu spread and lots of fresh veggies. Despite the fact that the polenta wasn't quite heated through all the way it was still fabulous. And Darlene's Portobello Panini was excellent too - she especially enjoyed the delicious crusty bread. (The picture I took of my polenta dish turned out even worse than the ones above so I've unfortunately left it out.)

Later that day we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and quite enjoyed the Egyptian art in particular, as well as the fashion exhibit and the relatively new (since we were last there some 15 years ago) modern art wing. Here we are in front of the Temple of Dendur - quite an impressive structure considering it was built over 2,000 years ago.

We left the Met right around dinner time and headed over to Gobo. At first I really wanted to go to Candle 79 but we had already had somewhat similar food at Cafe Blossom (twice), and Gobo seemed slightly less expensive and like something a little different. It has a much more Asian flair and though not completely vegan, our server was happy to inform us which dishes on the menu were not vegan (as it turned out, only 2 dishes with casein-containing soy cheese and one with a honey-containing sauce). The lighting was very low and I don't have pictures from here either but the food was outstanding and I think I'd give it a slight nod over Cafe Blossom. They have a number of appetizers and "small plates" so you can potentially sample a number of different things. We ended up sharing the spinach dumplings, lettuce wraps and tofu with kale and black bean sauce (and a little bit of the grilled oyster mushrooms that Darlene's uncle had). I don't know how many different ways I can say YUM! Fabulous. Delectable. Delicious. etc., etc.

On the way home today we were passing through the DC area around lunch time and we stopped at one of our standbys in that area for lunch, Woodlands. We don't have a South Indian restaurant around here any more so it's a treat when we travel somewhere we can get a monster masala dosa like this.

I wish we had time during our trip to see more sights and sample more vegan food but it was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tofu-Spinach-Olive Calzones

That's really just a fancy way of describing how we used up some leftovers. For the baby shower Darlene made a huge batch of kalamata olive tapenade and we still have plenty left over. Plus we had some spinach/tofu filling left from the puff pastry turnovers. So tonight I mixed up a basic pizza dough then I added about a quarter cup of the tapenade to the dough and we made it into calzones filled with the spinach/tofu mixture. We had marinara sauce left from the chickpea balls too - just right for topping a calzone.

Tomorrow we're off to Delaware and then to New York City where we're sure to find some good vegan food. So if you don't hear from us for a while know that we're still eating well.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Baby Shower!

We've been looking forward to this day for quite a while. Darlene's sister organized a baby shower for us and today was the big day. The idea seemed a little odd at first but we decided to have it at our house and to make all the food ourselves. We thought about restaurants or various catering options but this was a way to ensure we had plenty of good vegan food prepared just how we like it. It was a lot of cooking but worth it in the end. Darlene started making a few things on Thursday and Friday, then yesterday we spent at least half the day cooking, and finally we had a big blitz this morning to finish everything up. I had a slight panic in the last 15 minutes or so trying to finish everything up on time but otherwise it was all very smooth (oh, except for when I was making cupcake frosting and I microwaved the chocolate chips too long and burnt them... but we had more). Menu and photos from the big event are below. (The food pictures were taken hastily just as the first guests were arriving in low light with a flash so they're not exactly fine art quality...)

- Orange Sesame Tofu Lollipops - recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan; presentation idea from What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway.
- Barbecued Tempeh - very simple - Trader Joe's barbecue sauce poured over tempeh cubes and baked.
- Chickpea Balls with Marinara - sort of a cross between the Chickpea Cutlets and Spaghetti and Beanballs recipes from Veganomicon.

- Puff Pastry Turnovers with Tofu and Spinach - the Spanakopita filling from Vegan with a Vengeance wrapped with puff pastry.

Spring Rolls with Apricot Dipping Sauce

Artichoke Dip, Kalamata Walnut Tapenade (from Vive le Vegan), Mushroom Caviar (like what we did for the roulade filling last Thanksgiving). We had crackers and various breads with these.

Tamari Almonds, Chili Lime Cashews (both store-bought), Roasted Pepitas (from Vegan Lunch Box)

Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

The punch (not pictured) was quite tasty and very easy - mix 2 quarts each pineapple juice and water, then add a cup each simple syrup and lime juice and throw in a couple of sliced limes.

Here are the organizers of this shindig, Darlene's sister Kristen and her husband Ryan.

Darlene enjoying some good food.

And a couple shots of the two of us opening some of many wonderful gifts we received.

In all it was a great day - lots of good food, lots of good friends and lots of beautiful gifts for our baby boy on the way.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Creamy Pasta, Valentine's Cake and more

It was round 2 from Vegan Express tonight, with the Creamy Pasta with Asparagus and Peas. We were thinking this would make a good Valentine's Day dinner but then we decided to go out on Valentine's Day so we made the pasta tonight. This one was a snap to make too - sautéed garlic; steamed asparagus, yellow squash and peas; sun-dried tomatoes and parsley; and a simple sauce of Silk creamer, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Tossed with pasta, it was divine.

And since it's almost Valentine's Day we broke out the heart pans again for a special dessert treat. This is essentially the Sexy Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but baked in the heart pans. We didn't have enough powdered sugar for the icing but there was enough for a nice dusting and that was all we needed. We've got two more of these for tomorrow night too!
Now for some thoughts on veganism in the news. Why is it that any article about vegans or vegan food has to take a subtle (or often not-so-subtle) swipe? Last night we were thrilled to find our blog mentioned in an article in our local alternative weekly. It was cool enough to read about local pizza joint Mellow Mushroom adding vegan cheese to their offerings (we really must go back there soon). Then lo and behold there's our blog mentioned, along with a list of local restaurants taken mostly straight from our restaurant post. It's really a nice article, but still they have to get in a little dig at the end by dissing cheese-less pizza. I know... it's all in good fun, so I'll move on to a much worse example.

I thought it was cool to get a mention in a local weekly, and then I see none other than the Urban Vegan with her picture in the New York Times. The article, about dietary differences in relationships, is interesting but there are some choice tidbits. Like the mention of a quote comparing vegans to militant terrorist organization Hezbollah, then enforcing that ridiculous notion by suggesting that vegans wouldn't kiss "someone who has even sipped honey-sweetened tea".

Then there's the “picky eaters are remarkably unsexy” quote too. It's not necessarily aimed straight at vegans but I've seen that suggestion made elsewhere as well. To me anyway, there's nothing more unsexy than eating wild game and foie gras.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vegan Express Blog Tour

So many new cookbooks, so little time. But Vegan Express, the latest offering from Nava Atlas is made for those who have little time. And with a baby on the way I'm sure we'll have much less time for spending in the kitchen in just a few more months. So when Nava graciously offered to send us a copy of her new book to check out, we couldn't refuse. We cracked it open tonight for the Quesadillas with Black Beans, Broccoli and Portobello Mushrooms. These are baked quesadillas, stuffed with black beans, salsa, broccoli and portobellos. On the side were Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Black Olives, and I also made the Instant Roasted Red Pepper Sauce to go on top. Nava suggests that you could also use extra salsa instead of the red pepper sauce but the sauce really is a snap to make and it was the highlight of the meal - it's just silken tofu, roasted red peppers, lime juice, parsley and salt all blended together in a food processor. At first glance it seemed a little involved to make all of this stuff but it came together quickly - less than 45 minutes from start to finish (and I got a few dishes done during the last few minutes of baking too). Plus there's enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Which I'm quite looking forward to because this was all D-lish!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Dr. Ho's Humble Pie

This dates to last weekend but better late than never right? I wanted to get this up on our restaurant round up. Dr. Ho's Humble Pie is an eclectic pizza joint south of Charlottesville near the town of North Garden. We read a review of this place several months ago where we saw that you can get tofu on your pizza. We never made it there since it's a little out of the way, but last weekend we were traveling home from points south and we were passing right by Dr. Ho's at dinner time. And you can indeed get tofu on your pizza. They only have one vegan-friendly special but it's a good one. The Buddha is overloaded with veggies and has no cheese but has tofu instead. This thing was smothered with all the veggies - spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, olives, roasted garlic, pineapple (I know, that's a fruit... but good on a pizza!). They use silken tofu which seemed to be a good choice for pizza, and the crust was thin and crispy and delicious. The lack of cheese meant the toppings were falling all over the place but that was a small price to pay for such a good (and vegan) pizza.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tofu and Broccoli with Hoisin-Ginger Sauce

Prolific cookbook writer extraordinaire Robin Robertson is back with a new book, Vegan Fire & Spice, and she was generous enough to send us a copy to check out. Her collection of spicy international recipes is organized by geography and we've already bookmarked quite a number of pages. This tofu/broccoli stir fry is probably not the most sexy dish in the book but we started there because it looked like something simple and delicious for a quick weeknight meal. Many of the recipes are about kicking up the heat level, but even so, in most cases it's easy to adjust the spiciness in either direction. In this case Darlene wasn't too into having anything spicy so I just left out the chili paste and then the sauce was just hoisin, soy sauce and water - it can't get much easier. The ginger and scallions give it a small kick and I dashed some hot sauce on top of my portion for good measure.

I'm sure you'll be seeing more references to this new book here in the near future. In the meantime go give Robin's blog some love.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

More ED&BV

Our copy of Eat, Drink & Be Vegan had to go back to the library but we managed to try a couple more recipes before the due date. The Lentil "Sniffle" Soup was excellent and came together quickly thanks to the red lentils. Plus I'm always open to any recipe that uses fresh rosemary since the rosemary bush outside our front door is now about 6 feet wide and 3 feet high. We made bread sticks with store-bought pizza dough and started with a big salad and that was all we needed.

We also made the Cashew Ginger Tofu. Dreena's books all have some inventive baked tofu recipes and this one was particularly yummy. For this one we experimented with the tofu lollipop method (shamelessly taken from here). Darlene's sister is organizing a baby shower for us in a couple weeks but it will be at our house and we'll be cooking the food so we thought something like this would be good party food. Though it was good for dinner too, especially with steamed kale on the side.