Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays from The Friendly Veg!

It's been super busy at my end, but just a heads up that I'm taking a two week hiatus for Christmas and New Year's. Hope everyone enjoys the holidays, and finds (or brings!) a delicious veggie dish at whatever holiday party you may attend! See you in 2010 and thanks so much for reading!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hearty Vegetable Sauce

Sauce- it runs through my veins. Not literally, of course.

I'm always trying to come up with creative ways to spice up my beloved pastas, and this recipe was a matter of taking the veggies I already had in my refrigerator and making something heartier than your average marinara. As long as you've got that solid tomato base, you can substitute with whatever veggies you have on hand. It's an easy way to slip extra nutrients into your dinner- parents, take note, you could easily puree veggies that your kids won't eat and mix it into a sauce! On a personal note, I've found it's a great way to slip veggies that your significant other swears he won't eat into his dinner, and still have him throw complements your way. Deceptive? Nah, not when it tastes that good. :)

The Whats:

* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 small yellow onion, diced
* 6 roma tomatoes, diced
* 1 eggplant, peeled and diced
* 2 bell peppers (I used green and red), diced
* 6 basil leaves, chopped
* leaves of 1 small sprig of rosemary
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) In a large skillet or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, herbs, salt, and pepper to pan and mix. Cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce consistency is reached.

Toss with pasta (I chose rigatoni), top with parmesan, and serve hot.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

This super easy side dish would be a colorful complement to the carrot beet soup and the fiery sweet potatoes that I just blogged about.My inner child still adores the color purple, so I've chosen to use purple cauliflower for this dish; but you can bring it down to earth with herbs like thyme and tarragon and make it easy for that inner child to get the nutrients it needs too! You can also substitute the onions for shallots if you like.

The Whats:

* 2 heads of purple cauliflower florets
* 2 heads broccoli florets
* half a large red onion, sliced
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 1 tbsp. thyme
* 1 tsp tarragon
* squeeze of lemon, if desired
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the cauliflower and broccoli florets, red onion slices. olive oil, thyme, tarragon, lemon if using, and salt and pepper until veggies are coated.

2) Spread veggies over a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but still firm. Serve hot.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lifted Recipes: Carrot Beet Soup & Fiery Sweet Potatoes

I found these great winter vegetarian recipes in last issue of Gourmet (*tear*) and in the New York Times- they were so tasty and made such a great addition to a winter feast that I had to share!

Carrot Beet Soup

The Whats:

* 2 tbsp. coriander
* 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1 cup sliced shallots
* 3 large thyme sprigs
* 2 bay leaves
* 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
* 3 lbs. carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
* 1 lb. trimmed beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
* 4 cups vegetable broth
* 4 cups water
* 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) Heat olive oil in heavy pot over medium heat; add shallots, thyme, bay leaves, and red pepper and cook until tender. Add carrots, beets, coriander, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

2) Discard bay leaf and any tough thyme stems. Puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in vinegar, salt & pepper to taste, and additional water if needed to thin soup. Serve hot. Garnish with herbs, or with sweet potato chips, as I have in the photo!

Fiery Sweet Potatoes

The Whats:

* 5 lbs. sweet potatoes
* 1 cup coconut milk
* 1 tbsp. chili paste
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 4 tbsp. soy butter

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake potatoes on a baking sheet for an hour, or until very soft. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash.

2) In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk with chili paste over low heat. Mix coconut milk mixture, half the sugar, and half the butter into the potatoes.

3) At least 30 minutes before serving, heat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover potatoes, dot with remaining butter and sugar, and broil until brown and crusty on top.

As you can from the photo above, I never made it to step three- the sweet potatoes were just too yummy!

Happy cooking!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Get Better Banana Smoothie

Smoothies have this innate ability to make you feel good when you drink them- maybe it taps into your inner child, or maybe it's the fact that you can throw a smorgasbord of ingredients into a blender and still come out with something tasty. Either way, when battling a tough cold, I knew I needed a powerful shot of something to help me get better- after all, NyQuil shots only do so much! If you're like me and you tend to lose your appetite when you're sick, add some silken tofu to this smoothie for some much needed protein; if you're in need of some good ol' vitamin C, feel free to add more orange juice to the mix.

I can't say this smoothie magically healed me, but I sure felt better after a few of these!

The Whats:

* 1 pkg. silken tofu
* 8 ice cubes
* 1 pint pineapple cubes
* 2 mashed bananas
* splash of vanilla extract or orange juice, whatever your preference
* 1 tbsp. agave nectar

The Hows:

1)  Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend for 2 to 3 minutes, until all ingredients are incorporated. Serve cold.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kyo Ya

Sushi places are a dime a dozen, so when we learned that all the tables at our favorite Japanese resto, Sakagura, were filled, we were determined to find another authentic Japanese place for my honey's birthday.

After reading about another hidden (I'm noticing a theme for Japanese restos in the city!) spot in the East Village with similar menu items, my hungry honey and I decided to embark on search for the new place. Kyo Ya, on East 7th Street, is tucked below an average apartment building- not cleverly hidden, but with no obvious signage, it is easy to pass by. We were seated at the bar, where our friendly and attentive bartender took our sake and dinner orders. If you're a fan of Sakagura, you might initially be surprised by Kyo Ya's smaller menu, which is divided into hot and cold appetizers, entrees, and specials- since all had at least 2 vegetarian selections in each, I didn't mind, as sometimes Sakagura's menu and sake list can be overwhelming!

I started with a homemade tofu "cocktail"- served in a stemless martini glass, my homemade tofu found a home with some hot peppers, shiitake mushrooms, and broth. I had no words for the homemade tofu, just a delighted gasp- it did not crumble, but stretched over my chopsticks like Jello, and it's earthy, chewy bite was a perfect match for the mushrooms and peppers. Amazing! I also sampled the sweet potato tempura, which, unlike other tempuras that are served in small bites, was brought to me as a large chunk of white sweet potato to be eaten with a knife and fork. The sweet potato was tender and not overly sweet, and were complemented by the sea salt and soy sauce presented with it. I ordered cold udon noodles for my entree, and it could have easily been any old pot of cold noodles. Luckily for me, bonito broth was served on the side (phew!) instead of with the udon, and I was also given a platter of garnishes to customize my small noodle bowl- chopped mushrooms, grated fresh ginger, scallions, and even a little pot of sesame seeds. Thoroughly enjoyable! Birthday dessert of black tea ice cream and egg custard followed- though not particularly inventive, all were delicious nonetheless!

To potential diners- meals are very reasonably priced, but be warned, once you start ordering bottles of sake (and you should!), your tab can easily increase to Mt. Fuji-esque proportions. 

It would be easy to compare Kyo Ya and Sakagura, but don't. Both are standout restaurants with masterful chefs from Japan- and even if Sakagura is not completely booked, I'll certainly be visiting Kyo Ya again.

Kyo Ya, 94 E. 7th Street (downstairs), 212-982-4140

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Joanna Krupa's New PETA Ad

To the Catholic Church, Anna Wintour, major fashion houses, obese people, dairy farmers, and whoever else PETA ads have targeted as of late- you are giving them the exact reaction they're looking for, so why are you continuing to fuel the fire by flipping out?

Model Joanna Krupa certainly isn't the first model to photograph naked for PETA, and I'm sure she won't be the last. But the Catholic Church is up in arms about the use of a Crucifix in the ad, claiming the ad is inappropriate and disrespectful.

Some sects of Christianity actually promote vegetarianism, stating that in the Bible, animals were not created for consumption and that God calls on people to care for animals. Guess the Catholic Church ain't one of 'em.

Check out the Huffington Post's slideshow on past PETA ads featuring Joanna Krupa.

The Priciest Foods Ever

Just skimmed through this Huffington Post slideshow posted this past weekend featuring the priciest foods on earth... though I'll never understand the appeal of wagyu beef or caviar, I sure do think white truffled mashed potatoes are the bee's knees. But not at $2,700 a pound.

I found this interesting, so I'm reposting for you all to check out!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Events

Here's this month's listing of veg-friendly events in NYC worth checking out!

Saturday, December 5th

South Bronx Food and Film Expo- 12pm at The Point, 940 Garrison Avenue, Bronx. A free event (with a free vegan lunch) with screenings of Bronx films about urban farming, seminars on growing your own food, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. Donations of food or clothing are encouraged.

Tuesday, December 8th-

GreenDrinks Annual Holiday Party- 7pm to 11pm at the Prince George Ballroom, 15 E. 27th Street, $50 in advance. What gives, you might ask, with $50 tix? An open bar, that's what! Join fellow-green minded drinkers to network and raise money for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Wednesday, December 9th

Tastee Vegan Launch Party- 7pm at Angels and Kings, 500 E. 11th Street, free.  Tastee Vegan Catering's kickoff party features free vegan munchies, drinks, music, and fun all-around.

The Green Salon- 5:30pm at Klavierhaus, 211 W. 58th Street, $20 tax deductible admission. A series of ongoing salon-style discussions on energy efficiency, this month's theme is climate change legislation and features opera singers with piano accompaniment.

Thursday, December 17th

Vegan Drinks- 7pm at Angels and Kings, 500 E. 11th Street. Connect and drink up with fellow vegans around the city at this monthly meetup.

Friday, December 18th

Raw Possibilities: Incorporating Raw Food Into Your Diet- 6pm to 9pm, Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center, 95 E. Houston Street, $55. A demonstration and hands-on raw food class, where you'll take on cream of zucchini soup and chocolate mousse with strawberries.

Saturday, December 19th

Greenpoint Food Market- 12pm to 5pm at Church of the Messiah, 129 Russell Street. Support small, local vendors and pick up some yummy vegetarian goodies- they've got sandwiches, soups, vegan kimchee, jams, and vegan desserts as well!

Sunday, December 20th

New Amsterdam Market- 11am- 4pm on South Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip. Find all the artisanal goodies you need to whip up a vegetarian feast!

Cookie Takedown- 6:30pm at The Bell House, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn, $10 admission. You know the drill- 30 cooks, 30 varieties of cookies for competition. Satisfy your sweet tooth and vote for your favorite, all while enjoying spiked egg nog!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cocoa V

Because one can never have too many vegan chocolates, be sure to check out new vegan chocolate shop and wine bar, Cocoa V. Written up in today's New York Times, the new Chelsea spot from Blossom owner Pamela Blackwell serves up wine, vegan cheeses and quiches, with a shop next door that sells the vegan chocolates and pastries. Sounds delish!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vegan Fare... In Long Island

Hope you all had delicious Thanksgiving weekend filled with lots of veggies and dessert! I enjoyed some twice baked sweet potatoes, a pear & walnut salad, sauteed beet greens, spanakopita (I'll have to post the recipe in the near future!), apple upside-down cake and a lemon ricotta cake. Yum!

As seen in the New York Times this weekend, you've got better luck trying to dine vegetarian or vegan in Long Island! NYT provides a rundown of restaurants in Nassau and Suffolk counties where a vegan diner can feast, like Three Brothers Pizzeria in Rockville Centre, which serves up seitan scaloppine piccata and vegan pizza, and Moo-Clucks in Babylon, which makes vegan cheesecake and vegan creme-filled cupcakes to order.

I'll have to keep this list handy next time I'm on Long Island!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NYC Vegetarian/Vegan Thanksgiving

For those of you who'll be in town this Thanksgiving weekend and are avoiding the blood pressue spike caused by stressful dinner prep, I'm reposting's annual list of vegan Thanksgiving specials around New York City. Save the turkeys, stuff yourself!

Happy Thanksgiving to all you awesome veggie readers! I'll be out of town for the next few days, but will be back on Monday with more vegetarian and vegan goodness to report on!


Angelica Kitchen is offering a five course prix fixe menu for $50; BYOB to save money. Thanksgiving is the only night Angelica takes reservations, so folks won't have to queue up in the cold like usual. The dinner will also be available for take out from the juice bar. Say hi to SuperVegan's own Olivia Lane, who will be hostessing in the afternoon.

Blossom and Blossom Uptown (the former Cafe Blossom) are offering the same three-course menu for $68, with reservations available between 3-9pm.

Candle 79's four course prix fixe is $70, while sister restaurant Candle Cafe gives you four courses for $52, plus a la carte options.

Caravan of Dreams will have Thanksgiving options in addition to their regular menu.

Counter's got seatings from 12pm-9pm for their $50 four course prix fixe, plus an optional $25 wine pairing.

Curly's will be serving a four or five ("depending on how you count them") course prix fixe menu for $26.95.

Hang out with Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Peter Max, and Ally Sheedy at Farm Sanctuary's Celebration FOR the Turkeys this Sunday at Tavern on the Green. You can even get the latest word on author Jonathan Safran Foer's not-quite-veganism from the man himself. The event is currently sold out, but you can call to get on the waiting list.

NYC's all-vegetarian grocery store, Integral Yoga Natural Foods, has many prepared vegan Thanksgiving foods. It's currently offering a 10% discount on holiday desserts, pies, cakes and brownies (most are vegan; they've got a list with ingredients on their website).

Organic Grill will have a special Thanksgiving menu in addition to their regular menu.

Chef Ouiya has both prix fixe and a la carte options for delivery or pick up. Check out the menu here and make sure to get your order in by Saturday the 21st.

Perelandra Natural Food Center has a selection of prepared vegan Thanksgiving foods.

Pure Food and Wine will once again be serving the most expensive vegan Thanksgiving meal in NYC. Their four course prix fixe is $72; select items from their regular menu will also be available.

Red Bamboo will be serving their regular menu and a $21.95 Thanksgiving prix fixe menu. Red Bamboo Brooklyn will offer a three course prix fixe after 4pm at an as-yet-undecided price. (Jeez, people, Thanksgiving is less than a week away!)

'sNice and 'sNice Brooklyn are both closed Thanksgiving day, but we recommend you stop by in the days before or after to try their awesome Thanksgiving Leftovers sandwich.

WholeFoods has their same old Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner for one. At $19.99, it includes curried apple pumpkin soup, a stuffed holiday roast, green beans with almonds, and mushroom gravy. Dessert is now sold separately, packaged with bread.

You already missed the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary's 2009 Thanksliving, but you can sign up for their mailing list to make sure you don't miss out next year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa Stuffing

Does anybody else feel like you can enjoy a stuffed pepper, but you can really savor a stuffed squash? There's something so sweet and indulgent about butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash, but squash are guilt-free because they're a great source of  fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene. For this recipe, I'm using versatile (and filling, I might add!) quinoa as a stuffing. If you serve this to an omnivorous guests, you can proudly tell them that your veggie stuffing has plenty of protein and is low in fat- I bet most people can't say that about their Stouffer's!

The Whats:

* 2 acorn squash, halved
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 2 cups vegetable broth
* 1 cup dried quinoa
* 1 bay leaf
* several small saffron strands
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 yellow onion, diced
* half a package of soy sausage, like Gimme Lean brand
* 1 bunch beet greens, chopped
* 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
* 1 tsp. nutmeg
* 1 tsp. black pepper.
* pinch of salt
* pecorino romano cheese for sprinkling, if desired

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scoop out seeds and stringy bits from acorn squash halves. If desired, rub the inside of the squash with just a little bit of olive oil and cinnamon. Cover a baking sheet with foil or  parchment paper, and roast squash cut-side down for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

2) To make the quinoa: bring 2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil; add quinoa, bay leaf, and saffron to the broth and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally until broth is absorbed and quinoa is soft, between 10 and 15 minutes.

3) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add veggie sausage to the pan, using a fork to crumble sausage as needed; cook for 5 minutes, or until sausage starts to brown. Add nutmeg, black pepper, salt, and chopped beet greens to the pan, and cook until greens begin to wilt. Bring heat to low, and stir in quinoa. Remove from heat.

4) Fill each half of roasted acorn squash with quinoa stuffing; sprinkle with grated cheese if desired. Bake stuffed squash for 15 minutes and allow squash ten five minutes to cool before serving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Greenpoint Food Market

 Every market weekend, I swear that I'll get up on Sunday and visit the New Amsterdam Market.... and though the comfort of my bed on Sunday morning yet again proved to be too difficult a hurdle to overcome, I did manage to visit a smaller, up and coming market in Brooklyn on Saturday, the monthly Greenpoint Food Market. Organized by Greenpoint resident (and pal from college, I'd like to add!) Joann Kim, the market boasts a variety of local vendors, many of whom are startups and make their goodies at home, and provides them with a wider audience through the market.

These are my fave type of markets, because I'm always impressed with the creativity of NYC's food community, and I love finding something new, delicious, and vegetarian to take home with me! Among the goodies I sampled: Anarchy in a Jar's jams and chutneys. The last jar of their addictive strawberry balsamic was sold just as I sampled it, but their sweet Plum Nugget with Port and Ginger has now become a breakfast fave- I mix it into some thick Greek yogurt with some Fairway ginger snap granola. Yum! Also some big ups to Mama O's Premium Kimchee, which is made in small batches with natural ingredients, unlike the average commercial kimchee. Founder Kheedim Oh was eager to share his latest Mama O's variety- a vegan kimchee! If you're a fan of all things hot and spicy, be sure to pick up a batch at the next Greenpoint Food Market on Saturday, December 19th.

I'll be back and ready to sample some more!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Animal, Vegetable, Miserable"

Check out the "Animal, Vegetable, Miserable" op-ed in today's New York Times, written by a philosophy professor at Bucknell University, on what it means to be a vegan. Though it's not particularly thought-provoking (at least for those of us who are already in the know about ethical eating), it is a thoughtful piece on how most people, especially around food-centric holidays like Thanksgiving, tend to ask themselves if their choice animal was raised ethically instead of asking if it's in fact ethical to consume the animal to begin with.

I think we already know the answer to that.

Check out my Thanksgiving article in!

Shameless self-promotion, but plenty of other bloggers make a career of it: check out an article I wrote about vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes on The recipes are, of course, from this blog, and hopefully it'll inspire you to get creative in the kitchen this Thanksgiving!

My favorite Palin-ism yet...

According to her new book, not only is Sarah Palin an expert in foreign relations because she can see Russia from her backyard, she can give the U.S. Surgeon General a lesson in nutrition. Thanks to a pal who posted a link to another veggie blog with the following comment, I've discovered my favorite Palin-ism yet...

"If any vegans came over for dinner, I could whip them up a salad, then explain my philosophy on being a carnivore. If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?"

Really Sarah? Animals made out of meat? Wow. Last I checked, all animals, including people, were made of meat... well, if that's how you feel, you can be the first one into the grinder, though I'm quite sure most people don't buy Grade F meat. Apparently the USDA accidentally passed over you in the inspection line.

Sorry, but someone had to make the joke first!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pumpkin shortage?

Other than the startling fact that Nestle dominates 80- 90% of the canned pumpkin market (wow, serious monopoly!), you might be surprised to see fewer cans of pumpkin on your grocery store shelves this holiday season. Nestle has reported that because of heavy rains in Illinois this season, where most of their pumpkins are grown, a portion of the pumpkin crop has deteriorated and they might not be able to meet the demand for canned pumpkin this season.

Interestingly enough, the company also reports that sales of canned pumpkin have increased in recent years, citing recent studies that tout the health benefits of pumpkin, which is high in free radical fighting carotenoids and lutein, zinc, and iron.

For the locavores reading this blog, it's just another reason to skip the canned pumpkin and buy local NY/NJ pumpkins for your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. For kitchen slackers, making pumpkin pie from scratch may be time consuming, but not difficult- carve your pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, and roast with the hollow side down until the pumpkin flesh is tender. If you're not using your pumpkin for pie, it's just as amazing in pancakes, breads, and mousse- yes, pumpkin mousse!

I'm going to try this myself, but I'd be curious to hear how this comes out for other readers!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Winter CSAs? You bet!

Fresh berries, crisp green beans, juicy tomatoes- the perks of summer are in the produce. And as much as I love a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I'm quite sure nothing would combat those winter blues better than a fresh berry cobbler.

Though frozen fruits and veggies aren't as embraced with the enthusiasm reserved for fresh produce, Winter Farms is offering up a new CSA concept that hopes to change that idea- a winter CSA (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, if you didn't know!) where members can enjoy reasonably priced, sustainably grown local fruits and vegetables from upstate New York, frozen at their summer peak and delivered to various locations throughout NYC. A typical share might include red and yellow heirloom tomatoes, green beans, broccoli florets, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, bell peppers, corn, and carrots. Imagine making a light gazpacho instead of a heavy vegetable stew during the winter!

Sounds like a fresh berry cobbler isn't out of the question just yet.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vegan Maple Cream Tarts

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I know I'm not the only one who gets even more excited about pies, cakes, and other desserts just as much as delicious veggie options. Creamy desserts are generally not vegan-friendly, but that doesn't mean you can't whip up your own milk and egg free confection! After looking at several different vegan pastry cream recipes online, I improvised this one- it's a bit thicker than typical pastry cream (which is definitely a positive if you prefer thicker cream!), but it's still big on taste- for some fall flavor, I added some cinnamon and maple syrup. Serve this with some vegan whipped cream, and you'll have some satisfied vegans & vegetarians surrounding your dessert table.

The Whats:

* 1/4 cup unbleached flour
* 1/4 cup corn starch
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 cups vanilla soymilk
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 2 tbsp. grade A maple syrup
* pinch of sea salt
* pinch of cinnamon, plus extra for dusting

The Hows:

1) In a small bowl, whisk together flour, corn starch, and 1/2 cup soy milk. Set aside.

2) In a medium saucepan, whisk together remaining soy milk, sugar, vanilla extract, pinch of cinnamon and pinch of sea salt over medium heat. Slowly stream starch-flour mix into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until mixture thickens, about ten minutes.

3) Remove from heat. Whisk in maple syrup and an extra pinch of cinnamon, if desired. Place plastic wrap over surface of pastry cream, and allow several hours to cool.

4) To serve: remove plastic wrap and stir cream before serving. Spoon into Keebler Ready Crust Graham Cracker mini pie crusts (believe it, these are vegan too!) and sprinkle with cinnamon. For a crispier crust, follow instructions on the Keebler box to bake the mini pie crusts.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekend Fun!

As if the Veggie Calendar didn't have enough goodies, here are a few more fun things happening in the city this weekend:

Friday, November 13th

Eco-Conscious Cocktails - 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Astor Center, 300 Lafayette Street, $75. Put a new spin on a classic Friday night by sampling organic spirits and mixing cocktails- you can feel good about saying "Bottoms up!" Well, maybe not the morning after.

Sunday, November 15th

The Brooklyn Chocolate Experiment- 1pm to 5pm at The Bell House, 149 7th Avenue, $25 at door.  Brooklyn sure loves it's food throwdowns, and when they involve chocolate, I love them even more! Amateurs take their shot at glory in a chocolate recipe contest, with both sweet and savory dishes. Free Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream afterparty to follow.

Monday, November 16th

Toast With Hot Bread Kitchen- 6pm to 9pm at Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave, $50 advance tix. Technically it's no longer the weekend, but start your work week in a toasty way with this fundraiser for Hot Bread Kitchen Bakers, which assists immigrant women in obtaining culinary jobs. Enjoy wine, baking demos, and goodies from Bar Boulud.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009 Veggie Awards

As I'm sure a number of you have already seen, fave vegetarian/vegan resource, VegNews magazine, has released its annual 2009 Veggie Awards, a plethora of ideas, people, products and trends that have shaped the veggie scene this past year.

New discoveries on the list include Daiya Cheese, a vegan cheese that actually melts like real cheese (it's about time!), and vegetarian iPhone apps, like VeggiePassport. Old favorites were also given the usual shout outs, like Babycakes NYC vegan bakery, MooShoes vegan shoe store, and online vegan store, Vegan Essentials.

Check out the list today and see which of your veggie favorites got their well-deserved props.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Cell phone snapshots can't do justice to food (that is, if you're a dinosaur like me and do not have an iPhone), but it goes without saying- or viewing, in this case- my discovery of the spicy tofu bun at Mantao, a Chinese sandwich place in Midtown.

The recently opened Mantao bucks the popular bahn mi craze by offering traditional steamed Chinese bread with both meaty and veggie fillings- vegetarian sandwich options include spicy tofu and a shiitake and portobello mushroom mix, with sides of kimchi, Chinese pickles, salads, spicy tofu noodles, and pan-fried vegetable dumplings. The spicy, firm slices of tofu were a great contrast to the soft, sesame flecked bun- with the slight crisp of picked cucumber and the fresh bite of cilantro leaves, this was the perfect twist on a perfect sandwich. I love when restaurants pack on the heat, so if you're sensitive to spicy dishes, I'd recommend sticking with mushroom mantao.

And with my meal topping out at a little over $5, I'm ready to place bets on Mantao's showdown with banh mi. If you're in Midtown and looking for a light lunch, Mantao is worth a visit!

Mantao, 235 E. 53rd Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, 212-888-2490

Friday, November 6, 2009

November Events

A listing of all the fun vegetarian-friendly and eco themed events going on in NYC this November:

Friday, November 6th through Sunday, November 7th

Cook. Eat. Drink. Live.- at La Venue, 608 W. 26th Street, $65. Uber foodie event that spans three days with modern cuisine and wines from across the globe.

Tuesday, November 10th

Green Drinks NYC-
6pm to 10pm at The Park, 118 10th Avenue at W. 18th Street, $15 at the door. This monthly meetup is sure to have green networkers on their feet- they're presenting singer-songwriter Mikey Wax.

Food Writing Forum with Judith Jones- 6:30pm at New School University, 66 W. 12th Street, room 510, $5. The VP of publishing house Alfred A. Knopf and published cookbook author, Judith Jones, reads from her new book, The Pleasures of Cooking for One.

Wednesday, November 11th

Fowl Play Screening presented by Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and Mercy for Animals- 6pm to 9pm at NYU Law School, Furman Hall Room 216. A free screening of the award-winning documentary Fowl Play with free vegan food.

Thursday, November 12th

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Sides That Even Carnivores Will Love- 6pm to 9:30pm at Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center, 95 E. Houston Street. $65. We all say we don't care about those carnivores at our holiday table, but in reality, we vegetarians and vegans love taking the opportunity to showcase great meat-free food! Learn some new Thanksgiving recipes at this hands-on demo.

Saturday, November 14th

Veggie Conquest- 7pm in Flatiron District, $20. Because everyone loves competition! A new, monthly vegan cooking challenge requiring contestants to utilize a secret ingredient, and for spectators to come with an open mind. This sounds awesome!

Tuesday, November 17th

The Green Salon- 5:30pm at Klavierhaus, 211 W. 58th Street, $20 tax deductible admission. Part of an ongoing discussion series on energy efficiency, the topic on the table is the new environmental markets, plus featured piano selections, networking, and Q&As on this interesting topic!

Thursday, November 19th

Center for Communication at the New School: The High Cost of Cheap Food- Theresa Lang Community and Student Center at Arnhold Hall, 55 W. 13th Street, 2nd Floor. A screening of the documentary Food Inc, followed by a panel of food scholars and activists which include Peter Pringle, author of Food Inc, and Marion Nestle, NYU professor and author of Food Politics. Should be a fascinating discussion!

VeganDrinks- 7pm to 9pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street. A monthly social networking event with drink specials and vegans galore!

Sunday, November 22nd

New Amsterdam Market- 11am to 4pm at South Street Seaport between Beekman Street and Peck Slip. It's like the ultimate farmer's market. With over 80 vendors that sell directly from their farms or wineries, you'll find some of the best in local, fresh produce along with cheeses, jams, pickles, and olive oils.

Thursday, November 26th

Thanksgiving Day- encouraging Obama to pardon ALL turkeys isn't the only thing to do on Turkey Day! Be sure to check your local vegetarian/vegan meetup groups for fun, ethical Thanksgiving eats, and be sure to keeping checking this blog for some delicious holiday recipes!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mexican Black Bean and Veggie Chik'n Salad

Another quick, easy, and protein-filled Mexican-style salad for your eating pleasure! This one keeps it light and fresh with the addition of lime and cilantro, but it's packed with black beans and pieces of Quorn veggie chicken to make a satisfying appetizer or meal. If you haven't been clued into Quorn, I can't recommend it enough- it's a mushroom protein based meat substitute, and it's texture is phenomenal- just ask the carnivores I've fed it to! Serve this as it is, or wrap in tortillas.

The Whats:

* 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 pint of grape tomatoes
* 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
* 1 medium red onion, diced
* 1 cup of Quorn veggie chicken tenders, heated through
* juice of 1 lime
* 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix. Place in the refrigerator for one to two hours to chill and allow flavors to blend.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jicama Salad with Pineapple and Cucumber

I have to admit that until I made this salad,  I've only had jicama occasionally at Mexican restaurants. I love its crisp, apple-like texture and the fact that it takes on the essence of the other ingredients that it's prepared with. But there's a reason that I only ate it in Mexican restaurants- taking the time to peel the thing was never on my agenda.

It was sure worthwhile though, once I finally left the store with a large jicama, peeled through the rough skin, and diced it. I thought it would make a refreshing, sweet salad for a Dia de Los Muertos dinner- with some diced pineapple (I bought a small container of fresh cubed pineapple and added the pineapple and it's juice to the salad), cucumber, and cilantro, it's definitely a festive dish that will balance out a spicy entree that you might prepare!

Alright Jicama, maybe you've got me convinced that you're worth the wait.

The Whats:

* 1 jicama, peeled and diced
* 1 hothouse cucumber, diced
* 1 cup of diced pineapple
* 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
* 1 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

The Hows:

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Allow one to two hours in the refrigerator to chill and allow flavors to blend before serving.

Dia De Los Muertos

So instead of a typical "it's November and it's Vegan Awareness Month!" post, I'm going to start a new  tradition of posting Mexican recipes for Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It coincides with All Saints Day and is a Latin American holiday (celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador among others!) to remember family and friends who have passed on.

It's also a day celebrated with food... and how can you not write about holiday food? Especially when it can be made vegetarian!

Though traditional goodies include chocolate skulls and pan de muerto sweetened bread stamped with a skull pattern, I'm posting a few Mexican-style dishes to help celebrate!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

World Go Vegan Week

I'm a little late in posting this, but as vegans probably already know, this is the 4th Annual World Go Vegan Week!

World Go Vegan Week runs from October 25th through October 31st... and it's a great reason to host a delish vegan dinner for non-veg pals, or check your favorite veggie/vegan restaurant to see if they're offering any specials this week!

Go Veg!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kolache Mama

Definitely not your Czech grandmother's kolache. The traditional Eastern European savory pastry gets revamped at Kolache Mama in Midtown- with fillings like Spinach, Feta, and Olives, and Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil, you've got some fun, NYC-style stuffings.

Vegans beware: there are no vegan fillings offered, and the dough doesn't taste vegan either. Vegetarians will find a separate Veggie Mama menu with the aforementioned fillings above, as well as a Sweetie Mama menu with dessert kolaches like Cherry Crumble and Chocolate Ganache.

At $2.99 a pop, or 2 for $5, they're a quick, easy meal when you're dashing around midtown. But outside of that, Kolache Mama isn't anything special. As I visited Kolache Mama after work, the kolaches had been sitting there all day and were microwaved to slightly warm them- granted, this might be bad timing, but I was unimpressed. The pre-filled kolache stuffings were dry, and were just spooned into the roll- they're not quite stuffed throughout the roll, as they're advertised. The heavy white flour dough is slightly sweetened, and at first mediocre bite, you know that little kolache isn't doing anything to help you stay in those skinny jeans.

If you're still intrigued by Kolache Mama, try to visit during the day, as I'm sure the kolaches are much fresher, though still medicore. If you're looking for a quick, cheap bite after work, save your $5!

Kolache Mama, 45 E. 45th Street, between Vanderbilt and Madison Aves, 212-922-1856

Monday, October 26, 2009

OMG Cupcakes

Free delivery of VEGAN cupcakes? OMG indeed!

Check out OMG Cupcakes, a recent startup by a mother/daughter team with a mantra of "a bakery where everyone could eat something." Which is certainly a welcome change if you're vegan. In addition to your garden-variety cupcakes, OMG makes vegan AND gluten-free cupcakes with sinful sounding names like Agave Vanilla, Caliente Hot Chocolate, Maple Cinnamon, and Red Velvet with Marzipan Hearts. Yum!

At $3.50 each, they're not cheaper than any other cupcakes in the city, but at least you're not being overcharged because they're a vegan/gluten-free specialty. You can order vegan OMG Cupcakes online; they're also found at Cafe 1 (140th and Amsterdam), ELM Natural Foods (1st Ave and 88th Street) and Bruno Ravioli Specialty Foods (2nd Ave between 23rd and 24th Streets).

Forget Halloween candy, I know what I'm noshing on later this week!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yummy Thanksgiving Veg Recipes

The vegetarian Thanksgiving feature immediately caught my eye while reading through the final issue of Gourmet magazine that arrived in my mailbox yesterday *tisk*

Pick one up at your local newsstand for some delish sounding recipes like Vegetarian Shepard's Pie (made with seitan), sauteed green beans and brussels sprouts with chile and mint, and even a vegan chocolate cheesecake, which I'm all too eager to try out! also features a number of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes from past issues, but be sure to save 'em or print 'em out before the site is shut down!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Riverview Cafe

Have you ever walked by a cafe or restaurant near your home or job and thought, "I really should try that place sometime" and then a year later, you realize you've still never made that reservation?

Riverview Restaurant/Lounge in Long Island City is that restaurant for me. It's always on the way home, and though I've checked out the menu, I still kept walking. On the last night of Queens Restaurant Week and its $25 three-course prix fixe menus, I decided it was about time I picked up the phone and made that reservation.

It tries to be a lounge and restaurant all at once, and it actually does a decent job- the lounge section is towards the front of the space, and with tall decorative walls and cushy seats separating the lounge and the cafe, Riverview does a great job of keeping the loud music away from diners' conversations and in the lounge where it belongs. Drinks were unimpressive at Manhattan prices, but with plenty of offerings for their Restaurant Week menu- my pals and I were able to select from half of their regularly offered appetizers and entrees, a much wider variety than the usual two or three selections given during Manhattan's Restaurant Week- I was willing to let the drink list slide.

I ordered Riverview's soup of the day, a vegetarian butternut squash, and the perfectly creamy soup hit the spot after coming in from the cold. For my entree, I chose a hearty vegetarian risotto. Riverview was very generous with their risotto- not only in overall portion size, but in the amount of tender mushrooms and asparagus in the risotto. With just the right amount of herbs that didn't take away from the fresh veggies in the risotto, I'm only half ashamed to say I cleaned my large plate. Dessert was also a delicious surprise. Tiramisu can vary so much between restaurants, but Riverview's was delightfully firm, the savoiardi not completely soaked in espresso, and the mascarpone was lightly sweetened and amazingly fluffy. Too good for words!

Outside of Restaurant Week, Riverview reflects Manhattan prices instead of Queens, but since the restaurant is extending their extensive Restaurant Week menu through the end of October, you need only take the 7 train one stop into Queens for an outer borough treat.

Riverview Restaurant/Lounge, 2-01 50th Avenue, Long Island City, 718-392-5000

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I wish the pictures on my camera phone were better lit so I could at least show you the amazing variety of desserts at this weekend's Food Network Wine and Food Festival.

The lucky girl that I am, I signed up to volunteer at the festival and was assigned to the SWEET event, a dessert version of the festival's Grand Tasting. Featuring a champagne room, a Kahlua bar, and samples of decadent treats from high-end restos, like chocolate-covered olive oil gelato balls from Del Posto and sweet goat cheese mousse with raspberry gelee from Park Avenue Autumn, to more commercial names and their dessert offerings, like samples of chocolate truffles from event sponsor Godiva and pomegranate baklava from beverage maker POM. Vegans were even treated to chocolate chip cookies from Babycakes. I, for one, shared a giggle with another volunteer about how all the model-wannabe men working for Godiva apeared way too slender to be working for a chocolatier!

Taking tickets at the door was a small, but sweet, price to pay for free admission and so many wonderful desserts. If you've got a serious sweet tooth, this event is a must for you next year!

And, if you can't wait until then, the Chocolate Show is the last weekend of October :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kaese Spaetzle

Sausage and schnitzels and wieners, oh my! Oktoberfest isn't the most vegetarian friendly of foreign food feasts. As vegetarians, you already know that you've got to do your own version of pre-gaming before going to an Oktoberfest party, because what are the chances that you'll have anything more than pretzels and pickles to munch on?

But wait! A less commonly known Oktoberfest dish is the decadent German version of mac and cheese: kaese spaetzle. I was inspired by the fabulous version served at Zum Schneider on Avenue C, and in the throes of a kaese spaetzle fix, I bought a bag of dried spaetzle and a bag of shredded gruyere and swiss cheeses fondue mix at Grand Central Market- it was quick to prepare and equally delish, but if you like, you can also make your own spaetzle with a colander or a spaetzle plane. I've included a spaetzle recipe below. Bring this along to your next beer bash and watch how quickly everyone abandons that rubbery sausage and watery sauerkraut.


The Whats:

For the spaetzle:

* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup milk
* 1 tsp. salt
* 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

* 3 tbsp. olive oil (you can also use butter or soy butter, if you prefer)
* 2 cups shredded Emmentaler cheese, or use your fave fondue mix.
* 1 medium onion, diced
* optional: 3 strips of veggie bacon, crumbled
* 1 tsp. nutmeg (if using packaged spaetzle)
* salt & pepper to taste
* several slices of day old baguette, crushed into breadcrumbs

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a small baking pan.

2) If making homemade spaetzle: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and nutmeg. Add flour and mix until a thick, sticky batter forms. Place a colander with large holes over the pot of water and using a spatula, press the dough, cup by cup, through the colander directly into the water. Cook spaetzle until the noodles rise to the surface and remove with a slotted spoon; transfer to a bowl. Mix in one cup of cheese. If using dried spaetzle, cook according to directions on package, then transfer to bowl and mix in one cup of cheese and nutmeg.

3) In a large skillet, heat olive oil or butter; add onions and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until browned; if using veggie bacon, add about halfway through cooking the onions so that that the crumbles do not burn.

4) Stir in spaetzle, remaining cheese, salt, and pepper into the skillet until well-blended; add the spaetzle and onion mix to the prepared baking dish and cover with fresh breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until breadcrumbs are crisp and cheese bubbles. Serve hot.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Goodbye Gourmet

Could it really be that food media institution Gourmet is shutting down?

According to Conde Nast, plummeting ad sales have forced the closure of Gourmet, along with parent magazine Cookie and Modern Bride. Newer in-house rival food mag, Bon Appetit, will continue to publish; the last issue of Gourmet, which has been turning out issues since 1940, will be cease publication in November.

It may not have been VegNews or Vegetarian Times, but I still found a lot of inspiration in that magazine, especially with their beautiful food photography and well-rounded selection of articles. Be sure to pick up that November issue, I'm sure it will be a good one!

Agua Dulce

As soon as the perfectly spicy habanero margarita emerged from the bar, I knew I'd be in good hands.

Granted, a resto can have a great bar and not-so-great food, but I had a good feeling that I'd have at least a couple solid veggie options available at Agua Dulce, a new trendy Latin eatery in Hells Kitchen.

Though none of the entrees were vegetarian, my server was happy to make my salad an entree... which more than made up for the rather bland guacamole we started out with. With plenty of frisee, some asparagus tips, chayote (a Mexican squash in the gourd family), and some thin slices of Roncal cheese, my salad was a well balanced mix of salty, sweet, and crunchy, and it was a perfect complement to the gentle heat of the habenero margarita. Kudos to the kitchen for being flexible! Also worth sampling while you're there: large, gently battered yucca fries and crispy potatoes with a paprika aioli on top of them.

Did I mention sampling a margarita while you're at it?

Agua Dulce, 802 Ninth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Street, 212-262-1299

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mayor: Baked Sales Banned

Also in the Times' dining news, it's been announced by Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education that bake sales are effectively banned from NYC public schools during lunch hours in another effort to cut excess fat and sugar from students' diets. This rule is part of the same wellness policy that stipulates what can be sold in school vending machines and in student-run stores.

When about 40% of the city's elementary and middle school students are obese- yeah, I thought that was a depressing statistic too- this sort of action makes perfect sense. But since NYC schools have little funding for team sports and after-school activities to begin with, taking away bake sales makes it that much more difficult to raise the extra cash needed for trips or new uniforms. I'm a bit torn on this one, honestly.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More on School Lunches...

A few entries earlier, I posted the link to a graphic on the nutritional value of a traditional school lunch and a healthier version of that lunch tray. With that in the back of my mind, I felt cheered after reading an article in this week's dining section of the New York Times about actual cooking at M.S. 137 in Ozone Park, Queens.

As those of us who endured hot lunches at school already know, school kitchens are equipped to reheat pre-packaged lunches, and not cook real food. According to the article, more than 80% of school districts in the U.S. cook fewer than half of their entrees from scratch, so here's to hoping that M.S. 137 is leading a new trend where, as it's kitchen manager simply states, "if you would not eat it yourself, don't serve it." I wish my NYC alma maters had a salad bar and a curry station, which are popular in this school... proving once again that if you give kids edible, healthy options, they will take them.

October Events Calendar

There's so many happenings this month and I couldn't bear to leave any out! Behold, an extensive October calendar of events:

Sunday, October 4th

Ninth Annual NYC Pickle Day- in the parking lot on Broome Street between Ludlow and Essex. An LES street festival fave, pickle places from across the city (The Pickle Guys), upstate New York (Grey Mouse Farms in Saugerties), and the world (picked mangoes from Kalustyan's and kimchi from Korean Agro-Trade Corporation!) present pickling demos, costumes, and of course, plenty of pickles to sample and purchase.

2009 Walk for Farm Animals- registration begins at 10am, walk begins at noon; meet at Merchants Gate at Central Park West and 59th Street. This annual walk, organized by Farm Sanctuary, helps raise funds and awareness of the plight of farm animals in the U.S. If for some crazy reason that this noble cause isn't enough to get you going on a Sunday morning, then come for vegan goodies, raffles, and to see Joy Askew perform!

Ecofest 2009- 11am to 6pm in Central Park, free. An all-day, outdoor eco festival featuring an eco-fashion show, yoga workshops, an energy efficient vehicle demo, games for children, and some Pete Seeger!

Monday, October 5th through Thursday, October 15th

Discover Queens Restaurant Week- see website for full list of participating restaurants. Prix fixe meals cost just $25 at a variety of restaurants all through Queens, including Cavo in Astoria, Cascarino's in Bayside, Delhi Palace in Jackson Heights, and Tournesol in Long Island City. I'll be more than happy to support my borough's local dining scene!

Wednesday October 7th

Vegetarian Hors D'oeuvres Everyone Will Love- 6pm to 9pm at the Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center, 95 E. Houston Street, $55. A hands-on demo where you'll take away some tips and recipes that will wow your carnivorous pals at your next party.

Thursday, October 8th through Sunday October 11th

Food Network's New York City Wine and Food Festival- various locations throughout Chelsea. Though the smaller events boasting Food Network celebrity chef demos sold out over a month ago, there's still opportunities to check out a wine making class, a vegan culinary demo by Alicia Silverstone, the Grand Tasting as well as their dessert expo, SWEET. Though tickets can be pricey, proceeds go to the Food Bank of New York and Share our Strength... and more selfishly, alcohol, celeb mingling, and lots of eating.

Friday, October 9th
Tofu 101 with Peter Berley
- 7pm to 9pm at the Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center, 95 E. Houston Street, $25. Author of The Flexitarian Table, Berley demos how to cook silken/soft, firm, and extra firm tofu, followed by a tasting of some delicious tofu treats.

Sunday, October 11th

1st Annual Brooklyn Bakeoff
- from 1 to 4pm at East River Bar, 97 S. 6th Street in Williamsburg, $20 tix. Benefiting New York Cares is one of the best reasons to check out this new food competition out, along with entry categories like "Sexiest Baker" and "Best Green Goodies"- there's bound to even be some vegan goodies here as well!

Tuesday, October 13th

Green Drinks NYC-
6pm to 10pm at Gospel Uptown, 2110 7th Ave/Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, $15 at the door. A new twist for the monthly eco meetup- gospel music!

Friday, October 16th

Farm Sanctuary Dinner Night at Blossom- 187 Ninth Avenue. Dine at Blossom or at their Upper West Side outpost, Cafe Blossom, and a portion of your tab will go to benefit Farm Sanctuary, which aids in animal rescue and educating the public about the plight of farm animals.

Wednesday, October 21st

The Green Salon- 5:30pm at Klavierhaus, 211 W. 58th Street, $20 tax deductible admission. Part of an ongoing discussion series on energy efficiency, tonight's theme is socially responsible investing... because sometimes, when doing the right thing isn't enough, money will always be there to cement the message. An interesting topic, for sure!

Sunday, October 25th

New Amsterdam Market-
11am to 4pm at South Street Seaport between Beekman Street and Peck Slip. It's like the ultimate farmer's market. With over 80 vendors that sell directly from their farms or wineries, you'll find some of the best in local, fresh produce along with cheeses, jams, pickles, olive oils, and even popsicles.

Tuesday, October 27th

Fowl Play Screening presented by Mercy For Animals- 7pm to 9pm at the Downtown Community Television Center, 87 Lafayette Street. A free screening of the award-winning documentary Fowl Play, in which a group of activists sets out to expose the factory farming of chickens, and the real truth about cage-free eggs. An eye-opener, for sure, and the opportunity to learn more about the mission of animal activist group, Mercy for Animals. RSVP to

Wednesday, October 28th

2nd Annual Taste of the Greenmarket- 6pm to 10pm at Studio 450, 450 W. 31st Street, $150 advance tickets. An event so nice, they're doing it twice. Some of New York City's culinary giants gather for a locavore-inspired tasting, using ingredients from the Greenmarket. In addition to fresh, delicious cuisine, all proceeds go to the Greenmarket's Youth Education Project, which allows NYC kids to experience regional farming and eating locally produced food.

Thursday, October 29th

VeganDrinks- 7pm to 9pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street. A monthly social networking event with drink specials and vegans galore!

Rockin Out for Farm Animals II- 7pm at Kenny's Castaways, 157 Bleecker Street, $10 at the door. Also organized by Farm Sanctuary, this fundraising concert features Debra from Devi, HERE, and Athena Reich. Proceeds benefit Farm Sanctuary's animal rescue.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Walk for Farm Animals

Be sure to check out the Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals this Sunday, October 4th, and help out a good cause!

October 1st- World Vegetarian Day

Happy World Vegetarian Day! Whether you're an out of the closet veg, or just soy-curious, make a pledge for Vegetarian Awareness month to go vegetarian for one week in October- you'll be surprised by how good you feel and how satisfied you can be with meat-free dishes!

As always, I'll be posting delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes all month- and with the weather sadly turning cooler every day, I'll include some hearty, warming recipes too. Stay tuned for more veggie events and ways to do your part in helping animals and the earth through vegetarianism.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This picture of my leftover paella vegetariana from Sofrito does not do any justice to this dish. Lacking my camera at this Puerto Rican restaurant in East Midtown, I couldn't capture the colorful presentation of green and red peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, asparagus, carrots, corn, peas, olives, and onions that decorated the steaming mound of seasoned rice.

I really do think Latin American food is fantastic, minus the fact that it's not the most vegetarian-friendly cuisine this side of the hemisphere. I usually get a raised eyebrow from waiters at Mexican, Brazilian, Colombian, and Puerto Rican restos, who can't believe that I don't at least want some chicken with my rice & beans, plantains, and sorry-looking array of obligatory peppers and onions that are the only vegetable accompaniments to some meals. Though the only vegetarian entree at Sofrito was the vegetable paella, ordering it didn't elicit any strange stares or any "you sure that's all you want, mami?" (yes, I've heard this before!) from the waiter.

But I was thoroughly impressed! For just $15, I was given a heaping bowl of that delicious paella, and even after I'd eaten my fill, it still looked as if I hadn't put a dent in that generous pile of rice and veggies. In addition to my satisfying meal, albeit a bit lacking in protein, the restaurant had a fun, modern look to it, with silver square panels on one wall of the main dining room. And though the live band was just too loud at times to hear my pal across the table from me, the dining room soon returned to audible levels after the band packed up at 9pm-ish. Vegetarian diners also have their choice of veggie empanadas, a watercress and avocado salad, and a white bean and vegetable soup if veggie paella isn't your thing- and that's it. Limited options aside, which is to be expected, Sofrito's veggie options are solid and a great value; and for guzzling very generous glasses of sangria and laughing loudly with friends, I'd visit Sofrito again for a good time!

Sofrito, 400 E. 57th Street, between 1st Avenue & Sutton Place, 212-754-5999

Yay for October!

I know it's September 30th, and it's not officially October just yet, but after a busy month and time away- and subsequently, fewer blog posts- but there's so much to look forward to in October!

With several food festivals, like the one from Gourmet Magazine and the Food Network, National Dessert month, and a number of veggie-friendly fetes tied into World Vegetarian Day on October 1st and Vegetarian Awareness Month too, I'm excited about posting an extensive October events list by the end of this week.

In the meantime, I was amused by a long listing on the Healthy Vegan Kitchen website of all the designated national food days and food weeks in October. If you don't feel like reading through the entire list, I'm including a few of my faves below!

Oct 1st- World Vegetarian Day, and the kickoff of No Salt/Low Sodium Week
Oct 4th- National Vodka Day- rally your pals together for this one!
Oct 6th- National Noodle Day
Oct 9th- National Dessert Day
Oct 13th- National Pumpkin Festival
Oct 27th- National Potato Day
Oct 28th- National Chocolate Day, and Wild Foods Day

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Greek Salad Skewers

I originally saw a version of these skewers online by Giada di Laurentiis, but after checking out the ingredients, it wasn't full of the authentic components that make a delish horiatiki salata (i.e. vinegar, which I found that the Greeks don't often use). To be fair, I'm no Greek chef, but having indulged in authentic Greek food and in my recent cooking endeavors with Greek cuisine, I'm taking the liberty of improving this recipe!

Anything on a skewer is a foolproof party snack, in addition to a good dip, like the tzatziki recipe below perhaps! You can purchase any of these ingredients in your local grocery store- the amount of ingredients depends on how many skewers you'd like to make, and I'm providing more of general guideline in my recipe. Though the skewers will take a bit of time to assemble, they make for a party-perfect presentation... even if it's not a more traditional presentation.

The Whats:

* 1 pint grape tomatoes
* 2 medium cucumbers, sliced
* half a large red onion, sliced
* 1 cubanelle peppers, thinly sliced
* 1 pint of mixed kalamata olives, pitted
* half of pound of Greek feta, sliced into cubes (don't use the pre-crumbled cheese for this!)
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* juice of half a lemon
* 1 tbsp. oregano
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) Place all the vegetables in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag. Pour olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings over veggies. Seal bag, and shake bag until veggies are coated. Allow one hour in the refrigerator to marinate.

2) Remove veggies from bag. Using large wood skewers, spear vegetables and feta cheese onto the skewer, in whatever order you like. Use care in spearing the feta cheese, as it might crumble. Place skewers on a large serving plate and drizzle with the remaining seasoned olive oil from the marinating bag. Serve chilled with tzatziki and pita chips; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not serving skewers right away.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


A party isn't really a party without some kind of carbs and dip: tortilla chips and salsa, pita chips and hummus, crostini and spinach-artichoke dip. They're super-easy to make and everyone always makes a beeline for the dip!

Of course, having come back from Greece earlier this month and determined to serve something more waistline-friendly for a girls night in, tzatziki was naturally my dip of choice.

Choose a fat free, strained Greek yogurt, found in most grocery stores, to make your dip- traditional tzatziki requires draining the yogurt overnight, so you'll save yourself some prep time, and you'll give yourself an extra protein boost that comes from strained yogurt. Authentic tzatziki, like the recipe below, is full of garlic, but if all your guests are partaking, will anybody actually notice?

From personal experience, that answer is a resounding no!

The Whats:
* 2 cups plain, strained Greek yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
* 1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded.
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
* 1/2 tsp. dill
* salt & white pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) Finely chop or julienne the cucumber; allow cucumber to drain on paper towels.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir gently to mix. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving to allow flavors to blend. Serve with pita triangles and crunchy vegetables.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What's In a School Lunch?

Check out this post on school lunches on I'm a huge fan of graphics, because while some of us can read statistics and put them into perspective, others rely on visual cues to understand the information we're given. And this blog entry's graphic, which depicts a typical processed food lunch (seriously, a soft pretzel as an entree?) that still falls under outdated USDA guidelines and a healthier alternative to the scary school lunch we've all experienced as kids, puts the school lunch dilemma into perspective.

How do you feel about it? I may not be a parent yet, but I would not want my child eating some of the undercooked, fatty crimes against real food that I remember in our cafeteria. Aside from preparing your child's lunch every day (which, lucky for me, my mother was able to do for us in elementary school), contact your local Congressional representative and petition them on this issue. With a renewed interested in reforming the American diet, thanks to the President and First Lady, now is the time to put this issue on the agenda for change.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Black Eyed Peas & Spinach

When I think of black-eyed peas, I'm more likely to think they're fergalicious rather than a delicious Greek dish. I like being proven wrong though, and this saucy combo of beans & spinach became one of my favorite dishes while in Greece. As someone who regularly cooks Italian-style tomato sauce with basil, adding dill to this sauce was a springy, aromatic treat! You can serve this dish on its own with a pita or rice accompaniment, or you can make it part of a larger Greek vegetable spread.

The Whats:

* 1 cup dried black-eyed peas (or to save time, use 2 cans; drain & rinse peas)
* 1/2 large onion, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 4 or 5 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
* 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a few extra tbsps for drizzling
* 1 large bunch of spinach, leaves washed and torn into bite size pieces
* 3 tsp. dill
* 1 tsp. oregano
* salt and pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) If using dried beans: in a medium saucepan, bring two cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the black-eyed peas to the boiling water; cover and let soak for three hours. Drain and rinse beans. In the same saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil; add soaked beans. Turn heat to low; cover and simmer until beans are soft and ready to cook.

2) In a large skillet, heat several tablespoons of the olive oil; add onions and garlic and cook for two to three minutes. Add the tomatoes, remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and dill and cook for about 10 minutes until more sauce-like in consistency.

3) Add torn spinach leaves by the handful, allowing each handful to wilt for a minute or two before adding the next handful. Add black-eyed peas to the skillet with several tablespoons of their cooking liquid and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings as desired. Serve hot; drizzle with extra olive oil if desired.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm back!

Just got back stateside yesterday, and aside from lounging on the beach and exploring mountain villages in south Greece, I'll miss the delicious food and the atmosphere of the tavernas!

I mean, you've got to respect a waiter who, when asked what the fresh fish of the day is, matter of factly answers, "We have none, you're better off going with something else."

The veggies were fresh and simply prepared- lemon juice, some dill, garlic, and tons of olive oil. With our proximity to Kalamata, olive trees grew wild and, as I was told, there's so much olive oil produced here that no one knows what to do with it all except douse everything- from the fish, beets, boiled greens, salads, meats, et cetera- with that olive oil. A vegan or vegetarian would have no problem finding plenty of lunch and dinner options in Greece, and the portions are generous- the picture above is just some of our meal at Argo taverna in Kalamata. And like anywhere else in the world, there were some restaurants that were better than others, but I didn't have one bad meal during the entirety of our stay in south Greece. Seriously, not a single one.

If you're in Athens, however, you're more likely to fall into tourist traps (like the Plaka restaurant that served ketchup with frozen fries, as opposed to the fresh cut potatoes fried in olive oil down south, and a tzatziki made without garlic- blasphemy!). Zorba's Tavern in Plaka, outside the Acropolis, is more authentic and definitely worth a visit if you are in Athens!

Until the next trip, however, I'll spend my time trying to replicate some of those fantastic Greek dishes on this blog for you, my dear readers! Kali Orexi!

Monday, August 31, 2009


After a busy August, the Friendly Veg is embarking on a much needed vacation for two weeks... to Greece! Before I started dating my Greek-American honey, I had the ill-conceived notion that I might only get by with Greek salad and tzatziki... probably stemming from the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Toula's aunt gasps at John Corbett's character, "Vegetarian?? Okay, I make you lamb!" Coming from an Italian family, I already knew it could be tough for some people to understand what I will not eat and the reasons for it.

However, after a culinary revelation at the authentic Taverna Kyclades in Astoria (if you've never been, you're missing out on the best Greek food in New York!), I can't imagine my diet before eating yigades (giant beans in a tomato based sauce), zucchini balls, fried kolokithia and melanzani (zucchini and eggplant), black eyed peas & spinach, and horta (dandelion greens). Well-rounded, vitamin-packed, and mostly vegan, the Greek palate has definitely become one of my favorite cuisines.

And now, off to Greece, and here's to hoping I'll have lots of vegetarian tid-bits to report back on! See you in two weeks readers!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"The Real Cost of Cheap Food"

This week's Time magazine cover got my attention of course; while one of the biggest critiques of the organic food industry is it's cost, one must ask themselves what's the real cost of cheap food on their health. And Time just does that. With a number of fascinating interactive features included in the web article, and a sad graphic in the magazine about how many calories a dollar can purchase (1,200 calories of potato chips as opposed to 170 calories of fresh fruit- thanks Big Food for royally screwing the American public!), this is worth a read for anyone interested in food politics... and might just sway you to start buying more organic food, if you don't already do so.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spring Street Natural Restaurant and Bar

You've seen some of Manhattan's village-fabulous (you know the types!) sipping on organic coffee outside the Spring Street Natural Restaurant and Bar and probably wondered if it was those scenesters' coffee and cigarettes or the resto's natural food that keeps them looking as if they really don't dine out (or dine, period).

After visiting the restaurant this past weekend for an early dinner, I assure you, it's neither. With plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on Spring Street Natural Restaurant's menu, it was just the satiating meal we needed after running errands around the city. We were seated in the corner window in the warm, bistro-like setting- though I initially felt that it would be a great people-watching spot, I soon realized that I was more the watched on the tourist-filled corner of Spring and Lafayette. Slightly uncomfortable, sure, but not worth fussing and changing tables over.

We started with the grilled seitan with Korean soy-sesame sauce- though the soy-sesame sauce wasn't particularly flavorful as other soy sauce-based seasoning I've had, the seitan was fresh off the grill, and I savored even the more charred bits of the soft, chewy pieces of protein goodness! The Asian-style appetizer didn't necessarily mesh well with my identity crisis entree of tofu-cashew croquettes in a tomato-carrot sauce, served with mango-jicama slaw and sauteed pak choy, but hey, I'm up for experimenting.

And even though I'm all for mixing things up, the comfort food croquettes and sauce seemed out of place with the vibrant slaw and mild mustard-like flavor of the pak choy. I can rave about my light, crunchy, refreshing slaw and the wilted and simply flavored pak choy, but my croquettes were a bit bland, and the tomato-carrot sauce, which was decidedly more carrot than tomato, didn't do anything for the dish- in fact, it overloaded the soft croquettes, which were also composed of carrot and sweet potato shreds. Had the croquettes been drizzled with another type of sauce, this dish might have fared better.

Despite the salmon, my honey's French lentil salad looked delicious- fresh greens, tomatoes, olives, and caramelized shallots with a generous portion of lentils atop the salad- and seemed to be a good indicator of the quality of salads served here.

The resto has been serving up healthy, organic cuisine since 1973, before such dining became as trendy as Soho itself. Many of Spring Street's menu items don't stray far from your average health food restaurant or quaint bistro's menu, which might bore some diners, but they've got their solid staples, and really, it's probably better than waiting on that long line for the calorie-laden dishes at Balthazar anyway.

Spring Street Natural Restaurant, 62 Spring Street at Lafayette Street, 212-966-0290

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PETA Billboard: Is it Actually Controversial or Are People Afraid to Face the Facts?

And on another note about provocative ways to bring attention to unhealthy eating habits...

PETA's new billboard campaign in Florida (coincidence?) this week has feminist groups and fat acceptance groups up in arms, saying that this billboard is derogatory to women and shames overweight people. PETA, however, argues that this billboard is a reminder that vegetarianism/veganism is an excellent way to lose way and still maintain a healthy diet.

I don't understand why this particular ad is any more or less offensive than PETA's previous "Pro-Life? Go Vegetarian" billboard or "Don't Pay for Two Seats" billboard with a fat torso jammed into an airplane seat or "Three Stages of a Wiener" which suggests that eating meat can make men impotent. The facts and the studies that support these claims are there, but with a third of the population considered obese, apparently people aren't doing their research. So is it the ad itself that has people angry? Or are people angry because they don't want to face the facts?

I think it's the latter.

Certainly, I'm biased in my opinion- as a vegetarian for over 8 years, I've had to put up with Big Food industries pushing agendas and lies on TV and on billboards that I don't agree with, so I don't feel much sympathy for people who claim that this is "offensive." And isn't the whole country used to seeing in-your-face PSAs from PETA by now?

Get over it and go vegetarian.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fla. Doc Fired Over "Doughnuts Equal Death" sign

I really got a chuckle from this title at first, and then I realized it wasn't a joke.

While reading the Huffington Post's article about a former Army doctor turned Bay County Florida Health Department head, I thought Dr. Newsom's funny but true "French Fries = Thunder Thighs" and "America Dies on Dunkin" signs should not be all that surprising... after all, the dude is the head of the health department! What kind of sad health department would it be if Dr. Newsom didn't promote the truth about these fatty foods or ban candy bars in the BCHC vending machines or doughnuts from staff meetings? Come on people!

And the fact that people protested about these messages enough to get Dr. Newsom fired? It just goes to show how sad the unwavering power of denial is over these sugary, fatty comfort foods. But, as he states in this article, "My method was a little provocative and controversial, but there wasn't a person in Bay Country who wasn't talking about health and healthy eating." Here's to hoping that the doc, who resigned his post and has subsquently reapplied, continues to bring attention to his cause.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heirloom Tomato Salad, Mediterranean-style

Heirloom tomato salad may be a standard on every restaurant's summer menu, but there's no one standard way to prepare it. Those big, beautifully juicy tomatoes have so much flavor, it's hard not to think of other equally delish flavors to pair them with! Heirloom isn't just an excuse to charge more for a tomato- varieties of heirloom seeds are generally passed down for generations. When you taste the difference between a regular tomato and an heirloom, heirlooms will have you saying "they don't grow 'em like they used to"... in a good way!

I took a bit of Mediterranean inspiration and added cucumbers and red onions, similar to a classic Greek salad, and topped it with a honey balsamic reduction- you can use any variety of balsamic you like, and I bet fig balsamic or lemon balsamic would be great substitutes for honey balsamic.

The Whats:

* 10 heirloom tomato slices (from one large heirloom tomato, or two small ones)
* 8 cucumber slices
* handful of mesclun greens
* 1 small onion, sliced thinly
* a handful of basil leaves, cut into slivers
* 4 oz. or half a stick fresh goat cheese, crumbled
* salt & pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup honey balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar

The Hows:

1) Plate the handful of mesclun greens on a large plate. Layer the tomato slices, cucumber slices, and crumbled goat cheese, consecutively, over one another; surround with red onion slices. Crumble remaining goat cheese over the vegetables, and top with the slivers of basil.

2) In a small skillet, heat the honey balsamic over medium-high heat; simmer until balsamic has reduced to about 1/4 cup and thickened. Remove from heat, and drizzle over the tomato salad. Sprinkle with salt & pepper if desired, and serve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More on Veggie Trader

Too funny! The day after I post more about bartering websites, the New York Times finally decides to mention Veggie Trader in this week's Dining Section. Don't get me wrong, I'm so glad this is getting coverage, but why wait so long to post some good info?

You heard it here first! :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

10 Ways to Barter for Food

My inner hippie loves the concept of bartering with your friends, neighbors, or local businesses, and in addition to my June post about the Veggie Trader website, I'd love to share with you the latest installment of's The Ten list- 10 Ways to Barter for Food. You got fruit, veggies, soup or a couple spare hours to volunteer? You want fruit, veggies, soup, and even beer? The websites listed are your avenue to the people that want to connect and trade with you too!

I love this idea! And in channeling that inner hippie of mine, I personally would like to try #8 on that list, working at a farm booth and bringing back some vegetables as the fruit of my labor... okay, terrible pun, but it's a small price to pay- or barter- for the helpful tidbits on this site :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August Events

A listing of cool veg-friendly events happening across NYC- this is bound to be a fun filled month!

Tuesday, August 11th

Green Drinks NYC- 6pm to 10pm at Hudson Terrace, 621 W. 46th Street, $20 at the door. A fave networking event of NYC greens who will be enjoying complimentary organic cocktails and hoping the weather stays sunny for their monthly meetup at this rooftop bar.

After-Work NYC Backyard BBQ- 5pm to 7pm, the parking lot between Spring, Varick, Hudson and Vandam Streets. Barbecues can be tricky for vegetarians, I know this very well, but this event, which bills itself as a music and wine festival, boasts wine and food from City Winery (which does have some veggie options) as well as a farmer's market style vendors in the aforementioned parking lot. You're bound to find something to nosh on, or if you're like me, you get excited because wine is vegetarian and the music is free!

Wednesday, August 12th

Tastebuds NYC Happy Hour- 6:30pm to 9:30pm at BackForty, 190 Avenue B. Locavores will love this meetup- people who work in the food biz or who just love to eat network over drinks and locally grown veggies!

Thursday, August 13th

MadCrush Popup Bar- 5pm to 10:30pm at the Museum of Art and Design, 2 Columbus Circle- because you can check out art with other lushes and foodies. This Thursday, and every Thursday in August, enjoy $6 glasses of wine from Crush and $6 small plates from guest chefs (this week features dishes from Scott Conant of Scarpetta) from a winebar designed from... guess what, wine boxes.

Friday, August 14th

Earth Days Screening- 6pm at the Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th Street. An official Sundance 2009 selection, thisdocumentary chronicles the birth of the modern environmental movement- eco-minded folks looking for some history and what's sure to be an interesting Q&A with filmmaker Robert Stone should check out this event!

Sunday, August 16th

24 Hours, 24 Million Meals: Feeding New York
- 2pm at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, free with museum admission. A documentary produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about the complexities of food distribution in New York City. Interesting!

Tuesday, August 18th

Tomato Celebration at Wave Hill- from 8/18 through 8/22 at Wave Hill Cafe, W. 249th Street & Independence Avenue, Bronx- Locally grown, organic tomatoes are the star of this show at Wave Hill, a beautiful 28 acre public garden in the Bronx. Enjoy tomato-based dishes by Chef Mark Spooner on the 22nd.

Thursday, August 27th

Vegan Drinks- 7pm to 9pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street. A monthly networking event for vegans, indulge in some drink specials and meet other like-minded people!

Ongoing in August:

New York Botanical Garden's Edible Garden
- Bronx, NY. A summer-long exhibition devoted to growing your own vegetable garden. Check out exhibits on seeds, a beginner's vegetable garden, and research stories on plants and fungi, as well as their Edible Evening Events featuring Sara Moulton and Anne Burrell of the Food Network and Saturday hands-on cooking demos with New York City chefs. Check the Botanical Garden's site

Restaurant Week, Extended through Labor Day
- if you couldn't score a table at Le Cirque, you probably still can't (they do have vegetarian lunches though!), but take comfort in the fact that you still have a number of high-profile NYC restaurants to choose from.