Nice Matin Restaurant – New York City

IMG_0757    For our first vegan breakfast in New York City, we ate at Nice Matin, which is located directly next door to The Lucerne hotel, where we were staying.   Now, Nice Matin is decidedly not a vegan restaurant, but in the interest of time, we made do very nicely there.  First, we walked directly across the street to the little Duane Reade and bought some Silk soy milk and walked it right back to the restaurant.  They welcomed us in and ushered us to a table with no complaints.  I got the Bowl of Ripest Fruits and Berries and the House Toasted Granola, which was chock full of nuts.  Also on the breakfast menu are McCann’s Steelcut Irish Oatmeal with Sliced Bananas, Raisins and Brown Sugar.  Or Perfect Grapefruit Segments with Sliced Apples and Granola.   They also had fresh melons, toast with jams,  juices, etc.  Nice Matin has open-air seating in nice weather and a nice atmosphere–slightly deco, slightly French.  You can also order off their menu for room service if you are staying next door at The Lucerne hotel.    Portions were generous and they even brought us extra fruit for some reason.  We stayed at The Lucerne because it’s within easy walking distance of 3 or 4 vegan restaurants and you can even get vegan food delivered!  This would be a good place to meet friends or family for breakfast in NYC.  One more photo below.

IMG_0762  They let us bring in our own soy milk.

Peacefood Cafe – New York City

IMG_0863    We walked to Peacefood Café for dinner on our last night in New York City.  This is the location on the Upper West Side at 460 Amsterdam Avenue.  Right from the get-go, it was a pleasant atmosphere.  Light and clean with some fresh touches, such as a blooming potted azalea, little oil paintings, and colorful fruit stacked for juicing.  This place was a bit casual, which we liked.  I would come here in my jeans, or in a dress after work.  Also, this was the one place where the food came out piping hot, I was so impressed with that.  The service was great.  Our waitperson was a young woman who kept an eye on us, and there was no annoying delay for the check when we were finally ready to leave.  I liked that she served with no pretense, she was just friendly and efficient.

IMG_0866  I got the PFC Un-Chicken Basket with an aioli and a chipotle sauce.  Excellent and enough for at least three people.

IMG_0867  Chickpea Fries with House Dipping Sauce.  These are actually more like little bricks, and have a hint of Indian spice.  Very good and filling.  These literally had steam coming out when we cut into them.

IMG_0860  Juice anyone?  Yes, please!

IMG_0859  Peacefood pastry case.  We got a Raspberry Jam Spelt Bar, which was big enough for two, for $4.  To make your own amazing raspberry bar, go here.

IMG_0857  The back of the restaurant is a bit quieter.

IMG_0858  The front half of the restaurant.

IMG_0861   Outside the door.

Maple Glazed Walnuts

IMG_0893    These quick and easy Maple Glazed Walnuts are perfect for the Autumnal salad, alongside bitter greens, dried cranberries, etc.  If there are leftovers, I sprinkle them on a bowl of hot oatmeal, granola or vegan yogurt.  These take 5 to 6 minutes to make, literally.

MAPLE GLAZED WALNUTS

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup raw walnuts
3 Tablespoons good/pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS
In a medium-size skillet, toast the walnuts (occasionally stirring) over medium heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn heat to low, drizzle the syrup over the walnuts and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until walnuts are glazed and there is no wet syrup left in the bottom of the skillet, about 3 minutes.  Cool on a plate and store in a jar.

Cilantro Chutney

IMG_0882    You might think of chutney as a chunky concoction, but many are velvety smooth, like this one.  There are at least hundreds of recipes for the favorite Indian Cilantro Chutney, and many are similar.  Some have peanuts or cashews, or lime juice instead of lemon, coconut meat instead of oil, garlic or green apple, etc.  I adapted this one by Indian chef, Vikas Khanna, and fell in love.  The salt, sugar and oil melt down the pungent onions and spicy ginger while they’re being whirled in the blender.  What really hit me was the fresh brightness of the lemon.  This tastes as good as it looks, the flavors are complex, but it’s so simple to make.  I cut the salt and oil in half, and it’s still amazing.  I also decided to freeze the leftover chutney in an ice-cube tray and keep it in the freezer, it’s that good.

CILANTRO CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS
1 large bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped  (I discarded most of the stems)
6 scallions, coarsely chopped  (both white and green parts)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
one knob of ginger, chopped  (I chopped a 1″ by 2″ piece of peeled ginger)
1/4 Cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS
Place all ingredients in a blender, and start on low.  Slowly increase speed and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as you go.
Store refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Freeze any leftovers in an ice-cube tray.

Notes:  To save time, I used Lakewood Organic Pure Lemon Juice.   The original recipe calls for 2 hot chilis, such as Serrano or Thai chilis.  I often do not have such a thing in the house, so I substituted the cayenne, and then I put Sriracha on the table, because I like it hotter than Lars.

IMG_0889  If you want to elevate a bowl of Nissin Top Ramen (Oriental Flavor is vegan), this is the ticket!   If you find you like this, then you might also go crazy for this chunky Ginger Scallion Sauce.

Candle 79 Restaurant – New York City

IMG_0786    Vegan Mofo 2013.  For our first lunch ever in New York City, we went to Candle 79, on the Upper East Side, at 154 East 79th Street.  It was a gorgeous September day, around 75 degrees out, so the bottom of the restaurant was open-air that day.  We arrived when they opened and were seated promptly in a quiet spot.  We were unable to get any caffeinated “regular” iced tea, but a hot tea was poured over ice for me.  The service was great–our waiter was pleasant and attentive without hovering.   Later, one of the managers, Christine, came by our table to see how we were doing and she was so friendly and helpful, gave us some directions around town.  A wonderful lunch, all in all!

IMG_0795  Lars got the BBQ Seitan Burger with avocado, chipotle aioli, red onions, polenta fries and mesclun.  It was kind of excellent!

IMG_0793  I got the Falafel Sandwich on whole wheat pita with Israeli salad, minted tahini, mesclun greens and quinoa tabouleh.  Good and filling.  I especially liked the salad.

IMG_0799  I was dying to try their carrot cake, but we had ahead of us a long walk back to the Upper West Side, through Central Park, so we kept it lighter and split the Housemade Ice Cream and Sorbet Sampler.  From left, the flavors were vanilla cinnamon, peach sorbet and huckleberry.  So delicious.  We really liked the cinnamon one, which surprised us because the flavor was slightly intense, but it was the perfect complement to the creamy vanilla base.

IMG_0789   The upstairs seating was fairly comfortable.

IMG_0800  The kitchen is on the ground floor, semi-visible.

IMG_0787  A fun greeting at the door.

Candle Cafe West – New York City

IMG_0734   Vegan Mofo 2013.  Please excuse my absence from Mofo, but I’ve been in New York City for a few days, just got back last night.  On our first night there, we had dinner at Candle Café West, at 2427 Broadway, on the Upper West Side.  I booked our reservation through Open Table, which I do recommend.  We arrived at 6 p.m. and the restaurant was not busy yet.  There was no caffeinated iced tea on the menu, but our waitress poured a hot tea over ice for me.  Lars got a nice glass of wine, so he was happy.  We ordered two appetizers and split an entrée.   The food came out of the kitchen within 10 minutes after ordering!   I just wish I could go back and order some of their juices and salads (next time).   Let’s just get on with the review and photos below.

IMG_0737  The restaurant inside is sort of warm, cozy, clean, low lighting, lots of wood, wait staff in all black.  Do not wear your pajama pants here, but you would be fine in jeans and a decent shirt, or even all dressed up.

IMG_0739   Fried Seitan Dumplings appetizer.  The seitan was sort of ground up, very good.  I especially liked the still-slightly-crisp baby bok choy in a very light sesame-ginger soy-sauce.  You could also get these dumplings steamed instead of fried.  I liked these.  $13.

IMG_0743  Summer Rolls appetizer.  Pickled cabbage, carrots, zucchini, cilantro, BBQ-ginger seitan wrapped in rice paper with spicy peanut sauce.  Lars liked these.  $13.

IMG_0745  Seitan Piccata entrée with creamed spinach, mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes, white wine-lemon-caper sauce.  This is their iconic dish, so we had to try it.  Lars said this was the best thing he ate the whole time he was in NYC.  I liked it too and the texture was pretty spot-on, just like a classic paillard.

IMG_0750   Lars got the Berry Crumble dessert.  Seasonal berries, almond crumble, vanilla ice cream, berry coulis.  This was fine, and a nice finish, but it honestly could not touch my crumble.  $13.

 IMG_0752   Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Pie dessert.  Chocolate mousse and peanut butter, berry coulis and salted peanuts.  Not quite enough peanut butter for my taste, the peanut butter was overpowered, but the texture is amazing!   Surprisingly light but still rich.  $10.

IMG_0753  This is what you see as you come up the stairs from the restrooms.

IMG_0744  A view from our nice, quiet table.

Chia Fresca

IMG_0709    I’m late to the party on Chia Fresca, but here’s how I like it.  Now, if only I could run like the Tarahumara Indians!  Vegan Mofo 2013.

CHIA FRESCA

Makes 2 Cups

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups Water
1.5 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons agave syrup

DIRECTIONS
Mix all in a container, and shake or whisk.
Let it sit for 30 minutes, shaking or whisking every now and then.
Drink as is, or chill first.
Store any leftovers in the fridge overnight.

Notes:  You can find lots of info. on chia fresca online, on sites like this oneWhole Foods and health food stores usually have chia seeds now and they’re much cheaper in bulk.  You can also buy organic chia seeds.

Vegan Yogurt Biscuits

IMG_0721    Vegan Mofo 2013.  These quick Vegan Yogurt Biscuits work out to about one gram of fat apiece, which means we can crack them open and slather them with some vegan butter!  They’re really Southern style, if you follow the simple technique below.

VEGAN YOGURT BISCUITS

Makes at least 6.

INGREDINTS
1.5 Cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 oz. container So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt, Plain flavor only
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter and a pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt the one Tablespoon of vegan butter, stir the pinch of salt into it, and set it aside.
Whisk the 1.5 Cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.
Add the yogurt to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.
Sprinkle counter with extra flour, and turn dough out onto the floured countertop.
Sprinkle a bit of flour onto the dough and fold it in half 3 or 4 times, adding a bit more bench flour as you need it, but be sparing.
Pat dough until it’s no more than a half-inch-tall round.
Dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into flour and cut out biscuits without twisting the cutter.
You can use a thin drinking glass if you don’t have a biscuit cutter, no worries.
Place biscuits 2 inches apart on baking sheet, and brush them with the salty butter, do not skip this step!
Bake 10-14 minutes, until golden.
Serve hot.

Notes:  These are best served hot and fresh.  For me, nothing compares to Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread.  My friend Jan hails from North Carolina, and years ago (before I went vegan) she taught me to brush Southern biscuits with a buttery, slightly-salt glaze, it makes all the difference.

Old Virginia Heirloom Tomato

IMG_0673    Vegan Mofo 2013.  Behold the Old Virginia heirloom tomato.  This is my first time growing this particular variety.  I’m a wicked tomato snob, and one year grew eleven varieties of organic heirlooms, which is no easy feat because if you plant one heirloom variety near another, they can easily cross-pollinate and hybridize.  I planted these seeds on April 14, here in my backyard on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Lars told me I should have started the seeds indoors 4-8 weeks prior, which I knew, but with the new podcast, lots of things fell to the wayside this year.  Old Virginia is supposedly a mid-season tomato but I started late from seed, and my two 12-foot-long raised beds are behind the garage and don’t get maximum sunlight.  I didn’t even pinch any axil buds this year, something I always do.  Anyway, I think we must have picked the first tomato right around September 1.  And now, of course, they’re coming on like gangbusters.  I figured with a name like Old Virginia, this cultivar could take the heat of a Maryland summer, and it has.  This beautiful tomato is also crack-resistant and has fewer seeds than many varieties.  I got my seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Saving seeds is worth it to me, but only if I’m growing heirlooms where I know they’ll reproduce true to the parent.  And it’s important to me to always get an organic seed, especially if I’m going to all the trouble to grow something from seed, and then save the seeds from harvest.  Also, I don’t want to grow GMO.  The flavor of this cultivar is good, although not the best of any heirloom.  However, heirloom tomatoes are often stingy in their production, and prone to cracking and other problems.  I’ve had summers where I have the most delicious heirlooms, but a low yield.  Of course, this beats any restaurant or supermarket tomato to Hell, and the other benefits make this a good, reliable addition to the heirloom tomato catalogue.

On the last episode of the Peaceful Table Podcast, I mentioned a few of my favorite tomato recipes.  Roasted Cream of Tomato SoupFried Green Tomatoes, and a lovely Indian salad called Timatar Ka.
IMG_0697  Fewer seeds than many other tomato varieties.

Vegan Salty Oat Cookie

 

IMG_0662     Vegan Mofo 2013.  People are crazy for the Salty Oat cookie at Teaism in DC, so here’s a vegan version of that famous confection.  We can be conscious of suffering and still eat amazing sweets, and these wicked-good cookies are proof of that.  In my head, I’m calling them Be-ism cookies, because they let the animals be.

SALTED OAT COOKIES

Makes 36 to 45 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1.5 sticks Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, at almost room temperature
1 Cup light brown sugar
1/2 Cup sugar
pinch cinnamon  (1/16th teaspoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Ener-G Egg Replacer to equal 2 eggs  (1 Tablespoon Ener-G plus 1/4 Cup water)
1.75 Cups flour
2 Cups rolled oats
1/2 Cup golden raisins
fine sea salt for sprinkling  (not kosher salt)

DIRECTIONS
Dry whisk the baking powder and baking soda into the flour.  Then dry whisk the oats into the flour mixture, and set aside.  In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high for about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, add the sugars, cinnamon and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well mixed, at least 2 minutes.  Add egg replacer and beat another 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture and raisins, just until incorporated.  Cover dough and chill for at least one hour, or overnight before baking.  If you’re putting the dough into a container for chilling, do not pack the dough, just put it in there gently.  Do not skip the chilling, or the cookies may spread on the pan during baking.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a Tablespoon for a measure, scoop out the dough and form gently into flattened balls (fat discs).  Do not pack the dough in your hands, be gentle.  Sprinkle each dough ball with fine sea salt, just as you would sugar.  Bake one sheet at a time, for 13-14 minutes, until cookies are beginning to turn golden.  Transfer to wire rack and cool completely before storing.

Notes:  I made these cookies smaller than some.  I like the cookies to have a little bit of a crispy edge, so I bake them at least 14 minutes.

Platanos Maduros – Sweet Fried Plantains

IMG_0654    Here we have Platanos Maduros, or sweet fried plantains.  Maduros means “mature” and we’re looking for the almost-black plantains here.  So delicious, and so simple that anyone could do it.   Part of the fun of this is going to the Latin market, but you can now buy plantains at most grocery stores.  I found three good YouTube videos on how to cook plantains.  One by Puerto Rican Style, one by Latin Kitchen, and one by Adriana Lopez (from Venezuela).  Each video has something different to impart.  In the last video, the Platanos Maduros demonstration begins at 5:20.  My friend from Guatemala assured me I didn’t need all that oil–she just uses some cooking spray in a non-stick skillet.

PLATANOS MADUROS – SWEET FRIED PLANTAINS

Serves 3 to 4

INGREDIENTS
2 very-ripe plantains, with a lot of black on them
2 Tablespoons peanut oil  (or safflower oil)

DIRECTIONS
In a non-stick skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons of peanut oil, over medium heat.
If you want less oil, simply spray the non-stick skillet with cooking spray.
Cut both ends off each plantain.
Make a shallow cut from one end of the plantain to the other, following one of the raised ridges running the length of the plantain.
Using the cut you just made, peel the plantain.
Slice the plantains diagonally, into half-inch-thick pieces.
When the oil is hot, gently place about half of the plantain pieces in the pan, and fry and flip them until they are golden brown.
Immediately place on paper towels and blot them with another paper towel.
Repeat with the 2nd half of the plantain slices.
Serve immediately.  I like to serve these with Vegan Mexican Crema.

Notes:  I’m guessing you could keep these warm for a bit, in a 175 degrees Fahrenheit  oven.  If you buy the plantains very, very ripe (mostly black), you can store them inside a brown paper bag, in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator for another day or two. I do not use canola oil because I don’t like the taste of it when frying things.

Plantains offer many nutritional benefits, including beta carotene, Vitamins C, B1, B3, B6, B12, E, K and folate.  Minerals include iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iodine, phosphorus, chloride and selenium.  They also have Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  Half of a plantain has about 2 grams of fiber and one gram of protein.

Sesame-Orange-Glazed Tofu Nuggets with Broccoli and Red Bell Pepper

IMG_0643    Here’s a link to a great review of this recipe by Your Vegan Mom.   This recipe is from The Chinese Vegan Kitchen cookbook by Donna Klein.  I’ve made this entire recipe and we liked it a lot.  It’s surprising how you roll the tofu cubes in the sesame seeds before you dredge them, and they do stick, and they don’t burn.  But, as an aside, they do benefit from a sauce–the sauce in this recipe being the perfect one.  However, today, for a quick lunch, and let’s be honest, for mofo, I decided to see how quickly I could get this together.   So, I improvised–I left out the tofu, and just cut up some vegan General Tso’s chicken from Whole Foods.  This saved a lot of time, and you could just throw on some cashews or walnuts instead of the General Tso’s.  I made a packet of Nissin Top Ramen (Oriental flavor, which is animal-free), drained the noodles and split them onto two plates.  I did steam the vegetables, and consider this important.  But people, it’s the sauce that makes this dish, it’s a winner!  I did not deviate from Donna Klein’s sauce, and it doesn’t take long to make.  With this sauce, you can elevate any stir fry!  I probably only used half a teaspoon of oil to sauté the veggies before I added in the sauce.  I used Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce (because I love it), instead of the chili paste called for, but I did cut it down to teaspoons because Lars is a lightweight when it comes to spicy.  Excellent meal in under one hour.   The sauce is mild but very flavorful, with the gentle sweetness of the orange, and the kick of the chili.  I’ve eaten at my share of upscale Chinese restaurants and this dish is comparable.  You can riff on it too, add some fresh grated ginger, mix up the veggies, use some fancy Chinese vinegar, etc.  I can’t wait to try several other recipes from The Chinese Vegan Kitchen cookbook, including the Velvet Corn Soup!

Seitan Bacon

IMG_0623    This Vegan Bacon Seitan is adapted from a combination of two recipes–this one from Vegan Nosh,  and this one from Veggie in Milwaukee.    You make two simple doughs that are easy to work with, stack them atop each other, bake and slice.   We had BLTs on sourdough bread with Old Virginia heirloom tomatoes, and we agreed this tastes more authentic than the store-bought vegan bacons we’ve tried.  It’s been years since I had a piece of bacon, but I remember it well.  I tweaked the original recipes–added some smoked paprika, changed amounts, added some oil (it is bacon, after all), etc.  This is meaty, smoky and chewy, and the best part is, nobody got hurt.

VEGAN BACON SEITAN

Red Dough
1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup soy flour  (or garbanzo flour)
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
2 teaspoons regular paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2/3 Cup warm water
3 Tablespoons Tamari
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 Tablespoons peanut oil

White Dough
1/2 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
2 Tablespoons garbanzo flour  (or soy flour)
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon peanut oil

DIRECTIONS
Red Dough:  In a medium mixing bowl, dry whisk together the dry ingredients.
Separately combine all the wet ingredients and stir or whisk until well blended.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until mixed.
Shape red dough into a fat log and cut into three equal pieces.

White Dough:  In a small mixing bowl, dry whisk together the dry ingredients.
To the dry ingredients, add in the water and oil, and stir with a spoon until mixed.
Divide the white dough into two equal pieces.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and put one piece of red dough on it.
Cover the red dough with another piece of plastic wrap.
Gently roll out dough until it’s about 1/4-inch tall.  I suggest making it approx. 6″ x 7″.
Spray a piece of tin foil with cooking spray and transfer the flattened dough onto it.  I did this by picking up the piece of plastic and flipping it onto the foil.
Repeat the rolling process, alternating the white and red doughs, and stacking them onto the first piece that you laid onto the foil.  Don’t try to make them perfect.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the stacked doughs.
Rest a medium-heavy book on top of the plastic for about 20 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap, and wrap the whole slab of bacon in tin foil.
On a baking sheet, bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.
Your seitan will be a bit undercooked, but this is good because it will be easier to slice, and it will pan-fry better.
Cool and slice.

When you’re ready to use the bacon:  pan fry in a non-stick skillet with a bit of vegan butter and a few sprinkles of seasoning salt.  I used McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning for some extra bacony kick.

Notes:  It’s my understanding that you can switch up the soy and garbanzo flours.  The red dough won’t look red until you add the liquid.  Once baked, you can freeze this bacon, and it’s good crumbled on casseroles, on mac and cheeze, in tofu breakfast sandwiches, etc.
IMG_0617  After pressing, before baking.

Freezing Herbs – Frozen Herb Cubes

IMG_0607    Vegan Mofo 2013.  I saw this excellent idea for freezing herbs on Pinterest, so looked around at various methods.  I chose this simple recipe for frozen herb cubes because the herbs are slightly blanched in the process, which keeps their colors bright, and kills any little bugs or germs.  Now, when I buy a bunch of parsley or cilantro for a recipe, none of it will go to waste!

FROZEN HERB CUBES

INGREDIENTS
old-fashioned ice cube tray
herbs of choice  (basil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, lovage, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme)

DIRECTIONS
Rinse herbs.
Strip leaves away from stems, and discard stems.
Mince herbs finely.
Pack minced herbs into an ice cube tray, each 3/4 full.
Slowly pour boiling water into each cube compartment, just until water comes to the surface of the herbs.
Freeze.
Once the herb cubes are frozen, pop them out of their compartments and quickly into a freezer container, and put back in the freezer.
Use as needed.

Notes:  Here’s a two-minute YouTube video on how to remove leaves from herb stems and how to mince herbs.  Packing the fresh herbs firmly into the ice cube tray will help reduce the amount of water you add to each cube compartment.  When thawing, be mindful of any additional water in the herb cubes.  You may wish to let the cubes thaw and drain off any excess water.  For most dishes, though, this small amount of water won’t matter.
IMG_0605

Easy Fig Jam with Lemon and Sesame

IMG_0598    Vegan Mofo 2013.  For weeks, we’ve been having a contest to see who could get to the figs first–me or The Squirrels.  As you can imagine, the Squirrels are way ahead, but I did manage to snag a pound a half of these White Italian Honey Figs, and make some easy, vegan fig jam.  This fig jam is great with salty crackers on a vegan cheese board.  You can double this recipe, and you can use any type of figs–I’ve also made it with Brown Turkey figs.

EASY FIG JAM WITH LEMON AND SESAME

Makes about two 8-ounce jars.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup sugar
1.5 pounds ripe figs, rinsed
zest from one organic lemon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (no more)
1 Tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

DIRECTIONS
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds, shaking the pan gently until seeds turn golden.  Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, simmer water and sugar, until sugar is dissolved.
Cut each fig into about 8 pieces.
Into the sugar-water, add zest and lemon juice and figs.
Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, 1.5 to 2 hours.
Stir in sesame seeds.
If you want to, you can now use a potato masher to break up some of the fig pieces.
I like a mixed consistency.
Let cool a bit and then ladle into heavy little canning jars.
When fully cool, cap the jars.
Keep in fridge for one month, or put in freezer for up to six months.

Notes:  I’ve tried making this with stevia, and did not like the flavor at all.  One time I added extra lemon, but that made it taste kind of like Pledge, so keep it subtle.  I also tried adding more sesame seeds, but it was too much, threw the balance off.  This fig jam is great with salty crackers and vegan cheeses.  If you need to collect figs over 2 or 3 days, gently rinse and dry them, and keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator until you get enough.
IMG_0579  White Italian Honey Figs

IMG_0510  Here’s my haul from day one.  It took me two more days to steal enough from the squirrels to make jam.

IMG_0591  The picture of health, but not ripe yet.

IMG_0589  This fig tree gets cut back each Spring and then it grows about 4-6 feet in one season.  You can see it towering over our one-story garage roof here.  This fig tree faces SW, and is protected from wind by the garage.

Ramen Salad with Slivered Almonds

IMG_0576    Vegan Mofo 2013.  This fun salad is popular in Hawaii.  The almonds and noodles are toasted, and provide a great contrast with the cool, crunchy cabbage and sweet carrot. The dry broth packet helps to flavor the simple dressing, along with some rice wine vinegar and a bit of sugar.  From what I’ve read online, it seems Top Ramen in the Oriental Flavor does not have any animal products in it.  (one more photo below)


RAMEN SALAD

Serves approx. 4-6,  depending upon how much cabbage you use.

INGREDIENTS
1 pkg. Nissin Top RamenOriental Flavor only
1/4 Cup slivered almonds
1 pkg. slaw mix,  or shaved fresh cabbage and 1 or 2 grated carrots
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar  (I use the un-flavored one, such as Marukan)
2 teaspoons sugar

DIRECTIONS
Break up dry ramen noodles and put on baking sheet with the almonds.
Put under broiler on 2nd rack from top, to toast for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes until golden. Stir.
These can burn quickly, so don’t walk away.
If you don’t have a broiler, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 10 minutes, baking first for 5 minutes and then checking every couple of minutes.

In small shaker jar put oil, vinegar, sugar and dry broth packet from Ramen. Shake.
Or you can stir it in a glass.

Wait until ready to eat, then toss vegetables with the toasted noodles and almonds.  Drizzle on the dressing by the Tablespoon, and toss and taste to see how much you like.
Serve immediately.

Notes:  If you toss the salad with the dressing too early, the salad will wilt and be limp.  I use a little latte frother for salad dressings like this.  I like to start breaking up the noodles before I open the ramen packet, just by bending it gently between my hands.   I think I normally use about 1/4 to 1/3 of a green cabbage and grate one large carrot.  It makes a lot!  I’m guessing this dressing is enough for about 1/2 of a medium green cabbage.  I guess the Chili flavor also has no animal products, but I have not tried that one.
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Bangkok Street Cart Noodles

IMG_0437    This recipe for vegan Bangkok Street Cart Noodles is slightly adapted from the March/April 2012 issue of VegNews.  To me, it tastes like a good Pad Thai.  If you make your sauce and chop all your veggies ahead of time, it’s much quicker to throw together at dinnertime.  Both Lars and I loved this dish.  Instead of cubed tofu, I sometimes just use the vegan General Tso’s Chicken from Whole Foods, which also saves time.

BANGKOK STREET CART NOODLES

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1.5 packages Kame brand Japanese curly noodles (Chuka Soba)
(or thin rice noodles, maybe vermicelli, not sure)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Sauce
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce  (I use Mae Ploy brand, a Thai brand w/garlic already in it)
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon tamarind concentrate
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice  (or juice of one lime)
¼ Cup soy sauce or Tamari
1.5 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
½ Cup vegetable broth  (I use Better Than Bouillon, the organic/vegetable base one)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (safflower or peanut or grapeseed oil)  (not canola)
12 oz. pkg. Tofu, pressed and cubed into ½” dice.   (or General Tso’s vegan chicken from Whole Foods, slice pieces in half)
2 bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips or tiny dice
1 Cup of some other vegetable here, such as snow peas, fresh corn off the cob, chopped kale, etc.
4 green onions, sliced into thin rings.  Use all the white parts and only half of the green parts

ESSENTIAL TOPPINGS
plenty of fresh lime wedges, at least two limes worth
3/4 Cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
Fresh cilantro, chopped.  About ½ Cup.
Sprouts, rinsed well and dried.  About 1 Cup  (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Cook noodles according to package.   Rinse noodles in cold water, drain well and toss noodles with 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and set aside.
In a jar, combine chili sauce, hoisin, tomato paste, tamarind, cornstarch, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, tamari, ginger and broth.  Mix well and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tablespoon oil, and fry tofu cubes until browned.   Remove tofu from skillet and set aside.
Add all sauce, seitan (if using), bell pepper, any other vegetables (if using), and green onions, and stir fry one minute.    Add noodles back into skillet and stir to coat.
Serve immediately, with lots of fresh lime wedges, chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, and optional bean sprouts.

Notes:  Prep as much as you can.  I make the sauce ahead to save time, and keep it in the fridge.  I think the original recipe just called for “rice noodles” but am not sure.  If the cooked noodles sit too long, they can clump together, so don’t prepare them more than an hour ahead.
IMG_2668  My favorite tamarind concentrate

Caramelized Green Beans With Pine Nuts

IMG_0516    Vegan Mofo 2013.  This fast, easy dish is also a little bit elegant.  The skinnier beans get a bit more caramelized while the fatter beans stay closer to their original state.  Creamy pine nuts are thrown right in with the beans to toast in the last five minutes of cooking–no separate pan to wash or take up a burner.  I reduced the fat, and substituted in Earth Balance Buttery Spread.  This is a good dish to make while you’re working on other food in the kitchen, because it cooks in the pan for about 30 minutes.  Prep time is minimal.  This is adapted from an old Martha Stewart Recipe.   p.s.  My photo shows more pine nuts than the recipe calls for.

CARAMELIZED GREEN BEANS WITH PINE NUTS

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoons Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 pounds green beans, washed, stem ends removed
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
sea salt
pepper (if desired)
lemon wedges  (optional, this was not part of the original recipe)

DIRECTIONS
In a large skillet, heat vegan butter and oil over medium-low heat
Add green beans, partially cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until beans are tender and brown in spots, about 30 minutes.
Add pine nuts, and cook until nuts are toasted, about 5 more minutes.
Season with sea salt and pepper.
Serve with lemon wedges.
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