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!