Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Hey Friendly Veg readers!

Sorry I haven't contributed much in December! I've been pretty crunched at work, mostly because I'm taking a bunch of vacation time at the end of the month to visit my folks in Arizona for the holidays... and of course, in order to do that, I had to get all my projects done in advance. Family time is uber important to me, and unfortunately, it meant other projects had to suffer a bit.

I'll be back in January with more recipes, and with a veggie eats report from Arizona! Thanks everyone for understanding, and as always thanks for reading my blog- it means a lot to me!

Happy Holidays and lotsa love,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

I'm turning into my mother. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially since she's quite the cookie baker.

I'm usually the pie queen around Christmas, but this year, I decided to bake a variety of cookies- some of the classic Italian recipes I've always known, as well as some vegan varieties. When I found a recipe for Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodle cookies on the Post Punk Kitchen, I knew they'd be ridiculously delish, and that I had to share this with my readers!

Spicy chocolate is my fave dessert flavor combo, and the gentle heat you'll feel once you finish chewing your cookie is perfect for a cold winter night. Dip these babies in some soy milk or make a vegan ice cream sandwich... that vegan cinnamon snickerdoodle ice cream I raved about deserves more than just apple cider.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies. Thanks to Isa Chandra Moskowitz for yet another amazing cookie recipe. I can't wait to see what else is in her cookie book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

The Whats:

For the topping:
* 1/3 cup sugar
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cookies:
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
* 3 tablespoons almond milk (Or your preferred non-dairy milk)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon chocolate extract (or more vanilla extract if you have no chocolate)
* 1 2/3 cups flour
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Mix the topping ingredients together on a flat plate. Set aside.

3) In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix in extracts. Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough.

4) Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Pat into the sugar topping to flatten into roughly 2 inch discs. Transfer to baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart. This should be easy as the the bottom of the cookies should just stick to your fingers so you can just flip them over onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, they should be a bit spread and crackly on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reviews: Dovetail and East Side Social Club

For the sake of my waistline and my cholesterol levels, it's a rarity for me to eat out twice in one day.

But for the sake of providing reviews to everyone, I'll brave the doctor's lecture.

First up: East Side Social Club, a vintage-style Italian resto in Midtown East for a holiday lunch with colleagues. Vintage, sure, I get what they're going for, but if "vintage" is when you move two tables together and the old, cheap carpeting tears off the floor, it won't be something that gets better with age. Perhaps I'm judging harshly, but on the part of the lunch menu, the food is nothing special- it's on the same level as Little Italy, and for anyone that knows Italian cuisine, it falls on the side of boring. ESSC serves a variety of Italian classics- we found not one, but three meatball-related dishes on the lunch menu- along with salads and plenty of pastas. I'll even give them credit for the very out-of-place veggie burger.

I decided on their mushroom ravioli, which our waitress insisted was made in-house. Much to my disappointment, with my first forkful I knew this was not fresh pasta. Fresh pasta has a certain bite to it, and there was just no way the ravioli was anything but frozen. Am I picky? Possibly, but don't tell me the pasta is made in-house when it likely was not. On a slightly redeeming note, the dish was topped with a generous serving of mushrooms, likely shitakes and creminis, in marsala sauce.

ESSC is managed by the same team that owns the blast-from-the-speakeasy-past bar, Employees Only- and perhaps this skewed my expectations for ESSC. I'd be willing to come back for drinks, which I'm told are excellent, but with a mediocre menu that could easily be found in any generic Italian joint on Mulberry Street, I doubt I'll be dining here again.

East Side Social Club, 230 E. 51st Street, 212-355-9442


Thank my lucky stars I had Dovetail's four course Meatless Monday tasting menu to bring me out of my dining slump. With a Michelin star under its belt, I came in with high expectations for Dovetail, and I'm delighted to report that Dovetail's vegetarian menu was everything I've wanted in a meal and more.

Dovetail appears refined, yet welcoming, with its floor to ceiling windows and drapes, and impeccable service to boot- it's what you'd expect from any fine dining establishment, but what they do for vegetables is a breath of fresh air. Their Meatless Monday tasting menu features a vegetarian/vegan menu (turnip ceviche with quinoa, a vegan offering) along with a vegetable focused menu. (like pumpkin risotto with a bit of lamb sausage on the side) Each course features 2 vegetarian options and a vegan option, even the dessert!

I started with a creamy butternut squash soup, highlighted by cranberries, fresh rosemary, and small pieces of chestnuts- it was sweet and savory, and in other words, delicious. I followed my soup with their version of winter tempura- served with a turnip kimchee and chai-spiced tofu aioli, the curry spiked tempura vegetables were wonderfully warming and deeply flavorful, but not spicy. For my third course, I scored with Dovetail's popular vegan entree, the barbeque parsnip rib- parsnip "ribs" are grilled with Caribbean spices and served with coconut rice and a mix of edamame, daikon, and cilantro. I love any veggie on the grill, and the parsnip was a perfect mix of smoky and spicy, with the right tender interior and a just crispy exterior. Simply amazing. And since no meal is complete without dessert, I'm happy to report that my dairy and egg free chocolate gateau, served with banana sorbet and caramelized bananas, was also as outstanding as my meal- as were the pumpkin cake and the chocolate souffle I sampled from my pals.

Overall, I was fully impressed with Dovetail's unique and wildly delicious flavor combinations. For anyone who doubts how creative one can get with vegetables need only make a Monday night reservation, and prepare to be amazed. A must for vegetarians and vegans looking to treat themselves, or their omnivorous friends!

Dovetail, 103 W. 77th Street, 212-362-3800

Monday, December 13, 2010

Deals and Good Reads

In the spirit of Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/whatever spins your dreidel or tops your tree, I had a few cool things I wanted to share with my readers!

Are you a fan of Groupon, Bloomspot, Tippr, or any other trendy daily deal, but wished they offered more than just discounts on chains or unhealthy grub? ethicalDeal aims to bridge the gap between wanting to do good and wanting goodies. Billing itself as part green deal site, green city guide, and green action network, Vancouver-based ethicalDeal works just like your favorite email daily and promises exclusive discounts for all things green. I'm so glad someone finally jumped on the bandwagon with this one! Because it's a new company, it's still connecting with New York City vendors for deals, but keep this on your radar- you know it'll take off in good ol' NYC!

While shamelessly perusing celebrity news rags- hey, we've all got to zone out at work periodically- I came across the current celebrity Photoshop feature on new web mag, DignityZine. Looking at Megan Fox's big un-Photoshopped pores made me sigh with relief (does this make me a bad person?) and I really enjoyed their refreshing four part series on what goes into creating the illusion of perfection. They also feature sections on travel, health/beauty, and other news tidbits. Keep up the good work ladies!

And on the note of keeping up the good work, the lovely ladies behind Healthy Living Blogs (which TheFriendlyVeg is a part of!) have introduced some new features to the collective! Each weekday will have a particular theme- Monday Announcements, Wednesday Recipes, Blog Tip Thursdays, etc- that bloggers can participate in. Great way to get more people involved! And, in their spirit of the season, you'll find a collection of holiday cookie link-ups- hungry yet?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lunch: Sun-dried Tomato Veggie Meatball Sub

I'm all veggie stuffing'ed out at this point, so it's back to basics for me.

Meaning, of course, my fave Italian standbys.

Just a short, simple post on what I made for lunch today- a whole wheat sub, with homemade tomato sauce, Daiya mozzarella, sauteed peppers and onions, and sun-dried tomato veggie meatballs. I basically followed my classic Italian veggie meatball recipe, but I added about 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes and used nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. Make a hot open-faced sandwich by putting the meatballs on one side of the bread, the peppers and onions on the other, and toast until Daiya has melted.

So very satisfying.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Cider Float

So after a long weekend of slaving in the kitchen, immediately followed by total gluttony, the last thing you want to do is spend another minute rolling out pie crust and making another sweet, fatty, yet satisfying dessert. 

But this is the lazy person's most awesome dessert EVER. That's my official nickname for my cider float.

I started making this dessert in college, when I was dorming in Manhattan and spent just as much time making an appearance at the next big party as I did cooking. I'm not quite sure how I balanced all that and schoolwork, in hindsight, but my floormates didn't call our communal kitchen "Mama Teresa's" for nothing. I wanted the Ramen equivalent of dessert- of course, if you knew me in college, my ramen was never just boiled noodles and a god-awful "flavor" packet- but I didn't want something that came out of a box or could survive a nuclear war. (a` la Twinkie urban legend) I loved hot apple cider in the winter, and when I found cinnamon ice cream at Totonno's, my fave local pizza spot at the time, I knew I had a winning combination, like Santa and Rudolph! Or Charlie Sheen in a hotel room full of porn stars. Either way :)

Fast forward to 2010- I still love making these simple "cider floats", especially since I've discovered Purely Decadent's vegan snickerdoodle ice cream. With generous chunks of frozen snickerdoodle cookie dough, I can't stop raving about it... or consuming it, for that matter. You can always use your favorite version of cinnamon ice cream- I bet ginger ice cream would also work really well in this- but now that there's a vegan version of my favorite ice cream, I can feel even better about making this for myself and for my guests!

The Whats:

* 2 mugs of fresh apple cider
* 2 generous scoops of cinnamon ice cream
* 2 cinnamon sticks

The Hows:

1) Place one cinnamon stick in each mug of cider. Heat apple cider in the microwave, a little over a minute each, until hot. Add one scoop of your favorite cinnamon ice cream to each mug. Allow a minute for ice cream to melt slightly and serve hot.

If you really want more of the ice cream float effect, you can add a shot of ginger or cranberry soda to the cider before heating it up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baked Veggie Stuffing with Mushrooms

Baked stuffing is another one of those Thanksgiving recipes that's super easy to make vegetarian or vegan, yet few ever think to substitute the eggs or chicken broth or sausage or butter, or whatever other animal-based products that really don't need to be in a veggie dish.

Luckily, substitutes are easy and your guests, I'm sure, won't even notice the difference.

For this basic baked stuffing recipe, I used a savory combo of portobello mushrooms and sage, with some day old rosemary bread that I'd bought for my Thanksgiving sandwiches. (I wish I had Brussels sprouts to add to my stuffing, they would've been great!) You could also sweeten up your stuffing by adding apples or pears with sweet vidalia onions and chestnuts.

Obviously, you'll want to use Earth Balance to make those veggies buttery, and if you want to skip the beaten egg, I found that mixing warm veggie broth and corn starch worked just fine in thickening the broth to make it "eggy". The veggie broth might sound like a lot, but you really don't want dried out stuffing.

Besides, you'll want to keep your omnivore guests guessing as to what made your stuffing so moist and delicious, right?

The Whats:

* 1 loaf of day old country bread, cut into 1 in. cubes
* 4 tbsp. Earth Balance or butter
* 3 portobello caps, cleaned and cut into 1 in. cubes. 
* 2 ribs celery, diced
* 2 shallots, sliced
* 1/2 cup walnuts
* 1 1/2 tbsp. rubbed sage
* 2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
* 1 tbsp. fig vinegar (you can use balsamic if you cannot find fig- we lucked out with this find!)
* 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 tbsp. corn starch

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13 x 9 baking dish with butter or olive oil; set aside. Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. 

2) In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, celery, shallots, walnuts, sage and thyme to the pan. Stir to coat, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies have just slightly softened. Drizzle with fig vinegar. Remove from heat. Add veggies to the bread.

3) In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable broth over medium heat. Add bay leaf. When broth simmers, whisk in the corn starch until dissolved, and simmer for an additional minute. Remove from heat, and pour into bread-vegetable mix. Discard bay leaf and toss to coat.

4) Transfer soaked stuffing mix into the prepared baking dish; lightly press stuffing into the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and continue to bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until bread cubes on top are browned and crispy. Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lunch: The Veggie Thanksgiving Sandwich

I keep seeing ads for "Thanksgiving sandwiches" in Pret, Terri, and other sandwich places around the city- you can't go wrong (unless it's real turkey of course) with that seasonal selection, so for lunch this week, I decided to make my own!

To start, I visited one of my favorite bread places, Amy's, in Chelsea Market- I knew I'd find a great selection of herbed or olive loaves, and their rosemary bread sounded like a great fit for a hearty sandwich. I made a batch of my own cranberry sauce and a crunchy, earthy mix to balance out the sweetness- I chose to mix celery, shallots, and walnuts with some sage and just a touch of Greek yogurt to bring it all together, but you can choose Veganaise, carrots, pecans, pine nuts, raisins, thyme, rosemary, whatever makes your heart happy! I've seen other sandwiches put stuffing on their Thanksgiving sandwiches, but that seemed way too excessive for me.

As far as fake turkey is concerned, plain old Tofurky slices weren't cutting it for me- it just seemed counter intuitive to have thin "slices" of Tofurky on this hearty sandwich. Whether you choose to cut up Quorn brand turk'y roast or turk'y burgers (I couldn't find the roast, so I sliced up their turk'y burgers), sliced up a packaged stuffed Tofurky (though not my favorite option because of the all the additives and the stuffing), or make your own homemade tofurky.

And just like the traditional turkey, no matter how you carve the tofu, no one pays any mind to it when they're making sandwiches the next day. Eat up!

The Whats:

* fresh rosemary bread, or your favorite hearty herbed bread, sliced
* apple-spice cranberry sauce
* 2 tbsp. olive oil 
* 1 pkg. Quorn turk'y roast, stuffed Tofurky, or your fave veggie meat
* 1 celery stalk, finely diced
* 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
* 1 shallot, finely diced
* 2 tsp. rubbed sage
* 1 tbsp. Greek yogurt or Veganaise
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) In a medium bowl, mix the celery, walnuts, shallots, 1 tsp. sage, salt & pepper, and Greek yogurt or veganaise until ingredients are well coated. Set aside.

2) In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add veggie turk'y and remaining sage to the pan and cook for 5 or 6 minutes until browned on both sides. Remove from heat.

3) Toast two slices of the rosemary bread. Spread cranberry sauce on one slice of the bread. Spread 2 or 3 tbsp. of the celery-walnut mix on the other slice. Top one of the slices with cooked veggie turk'y, and press slices together for your sandwich. Makes 4 or 5 sandwiches.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple-Spice Cranberry Sauce

I'll be honest- outside of cranberry sauce, I don't cook with cranberries too often. Unless you count mixing the berries or the juice into sangria... well, I think that counts for something! I do love those sour berries though.

I think of cranberry sauce as the "Baby Bear" of the Thanksgiving accompaniments- you don't want it tooth-achingly sweet, nor do you want it sour as a mother-pucker, but you want it juuuuuuuuuuuust right! I always thought cranberries were fantastic complements to other fruits and flavors, and for this reason, I've always made my cranberry sauce with apples or pears. You might initially think that the cinnamon and maple syrup here might be too much, or you might wonder if half a cup of sugar could possibly cut down on the full-on sour taste of the cranberries- these flavors really give depth to the sauce, and your guests will be wondering what that special something is in your cranberry sauce. If you like, you could even add a pinch of ground ginger for some added warmth.

Whether your Thanksgiving guests pair this with turkey or Tofurky, this underrated staple will have everyone wondering why you don't make cranberry sauce throughout the winter.

The Whats:

* 3 cups cranberries
* 2 tsp. orange zest
* 1/3 cup apple cider
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 2 tbsp. maple syrup
* 1 large apple, diced

The Hows:

1) In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, orange zest, apple cider, and sugar. Cook the cranberries over medium-high heat, until sugar is dissolved and cider comes to a boil; reduce to low.

2) When cranberries are halfway cooked- cranberries will just start to fall apart, about 10 minutes- stir in the cinnamon, maple syrup, and diced apple. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until cranberries have mostly fallen apart and mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, and allow cranberry sauce to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Juice from One Lucky Duck

One Lucky Duck makes me feel like I'm one lucky girl. My whole body feels better when I have one of their fresh juices.

Just a short post to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see that One Lucky Duck has a new location in Chelsea Market. (I also haven't been to Chelsea Market in awhile, so this was definitely news to me!) When I visited late Saturday afternoon, there were just a few takeaway containers of salads and zucchini-tomato lasagna left, along with some raw crackers and treats. With a small bag of crackers at $13, I decided to skip the snack and go right for their Thai Green juice- freshly juiced greens, pineapple, lime, and cilantro. The springy juice was just the vitamin boost I needed to finished running errands that day (a pre-Thanksgiving Fairway run and couch shopping at Ikea aren't quick tasks by any means!) and kept me going until I got home and devoured some pasta with broccoli rabe. A good way to end Saturday errands! :)

If you're in the Chelsea Market area and are looking to get juiced, bypass the gym and head straight to One Lucky Duck's newest outpost!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Where to Eat Vegan For Thanksgiving 2010

With Thanksgiving just a week away, you might be thinking, "Crap, this feast thing is too much work, I'm having someone else do it!" And you'd be in the good company of many New Yorkers who dine out on Food Coma Day. (I refuse to call it Turkey Day) If you haven't made your Thanksgiving plans yet, I'm reposting SuperVegan's newly published annual rundown of where vegetarians and vegans can dine out and enjoy a cruelty free meal. Eat up!


Where to Eat Vegan for Thanksgiving 2010 in New York City

New York is the best city in the world to be a vegan. Case in point: Thanksgiving. I dare any other city to match the number and variety of vegan options we have.

Here's SuperVegan's round-up of where to eat vegan in NYC for Thanksgiving. Make make your restaurant reservations quickly; these places fill up fast!

Angelica Kitchen is offering a five course prix fixe menu for $55; 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 if you're not able to make a reservation.

Place orders early for seasonal specialties from Babycakes. They'll have spelt apple pie, apple crumb cake, pumpkin cupcakes, cornbread, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin bread for all your gluten-free and agave-sweetened needs.

Blossom and Café Blossom are offering the same four-course menu for $68.

Candle 79's four course prix fixe is available from 2pm-9pm and costs $72, while sister restaurant Candle Cafe gives you four courses for $55, plus a la carte options.

Caravan of Dreams will be offering a three course prix fixe from 1-9pm for $45.

Champs Family Bakery will be offering seasonal specialties such as pumpkin muffins with cream cheese, pumpkin pie cinnamon rolls (with pie crust baked in), and sweet potato cinnamon rolls (with candied pecans and marshmallow). Place orders by Monday 11/22 at the latest for pick-up on Tuesday or Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.

Counter's got seatings from 1pm-9pm for their $50 four course prix fixe, plus an optional $25 wine pairing.

Curly's will be serving a prix fixe menu from 11:30am-5:30pm for $28.95 which includes pumpkin-lentil pate, soup or salad, roast soy turkey or maple-glazed sham, drinks, dessert, and coffee or tea. Their regular menu will also be available.

LifeThyme Natural Market will have a complete vegan holiday dinner option for $49.95. It includes a roast made from organic vegetables and tofu, along with two pounds of yams or mashed potatoes, two pounds of mixed bread or cornbread stuffing, two pounds of grilled mixed vegetables, a pint of gravy, and a pint of cranberry sauce.

The Grammercy location of One Lucky Duck will be offering raw options for take out from 9am-10pm. You'll want to call ahead to place your order and schedule a pick up time. If you want a sit-down meal, check out their sister restaurant Pure Food and Wine, below.

Organic Grill will be open from noon-8pm with a special Thanksgiving menu in addition to their regular menu.

Peacefood Cafe will have a $30 three-course prix fixe menu available from 1-9pm.

Fulfill your most extravagant raw food desires with Pure Food and Wine's four course prix fixe for $72. They'll be open from 3pm-9pm.

Red Bamboo will be serving their regular menu and a three-course Thanksgiving prix fixe menu for $21.95. The New York City Vegetarian Meetup Group will be meeting here at 12:30pm; click for more information and to RSVP.

Sacred Chow will be offering a four course prix fixe for $50. Check out the menu on their website.

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

Terri will be open from 7am-3pm on Thanksgiving. They're not sure yet if they'll have any special options, but their Thanksgiving-themed sandwich is worth checking out year-round .

Veggies Natural Juice Bar will be giving away vegan soup on Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday November 24.

Order by Tuesday, 11/23, for the WholeFoods $19.99 Field Roast Vegan Dinner. It includes four courses and can be combined with a vegan bakery package for two.

If you love to cook, want to save money, or just want to skip the formality of dining out, host a potluck! Hit your local farmers' market for ingredients, or check out one of NYC's vegan-friendly grocery stores. You'll find recipes everywhere from VegWeb to the New York Times.

We've also got more mass-produced entree options that ever before. In addition to the time-honored Tofurky, you might look into Match Meat's Vegan Stuffed Holiday Roast, Gardein's Savory Stuffed Turk’y with Gravy, Five-Star Foodies's Vegan Harvest Roast, Vegetarian Plus' Vegan Half "Chicken," or Field Roast's Celebration Roast, Hazelnut Cranberry Roast, or Smoked Tomato Loaf. Don't forget the Tofukey and Gravy Jones Soda!

If we're missing anything good, please let us know!

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 Chocolate Show!

 It's close to the "most wonderful time of the year" and chocolate is involved. I think it's fair to say that the annual Chocolate Show might be the most wonderful event of the year.

Okay, I'm a chocoholic and I'm biased.

What makes the Chocolate Show particularly awesome, outside of all the types of chocolate from around the globe that you can sample, is that it's not just about eating. There were culinary demos (featuring Dylan Lauren of Dylan's Candy Bar, Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, and Brooks Headley of Del Posto making Eggplant Chocolate Crostata), book signings, and for some visual fun, a fashion show where 70% or 80% of the costume must be made of chocolate. This year's theme revolved around saving the ecosystem- check out the spins on sun/earth/ocean goddesses!

Let's get back to the eating part!

My favorite chocolatiers were on hand, as they are every year- sweetriot, which makes low calorie, dairy-free, and fair trade dark chocolate covered cacao nibs, and Japanese chocolatier Mary's, which has creative twists on traditional chocolates and only appears in the U.S. for the Chocolate Show. If those great companies weren't enough, I've also discovered 2 new loves- first up is Gnosis Chocolate, which is the only chocolate I know of that was created by a certified holistic health counselor! It's organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free, and just plain delish. I'll admit, I've never had raw chocolate before, but I loved the still creamy texture and the flavor that Gnosis was offering up that day: Himalayan pink sea salt. It was more than just salty and sweet, it was mineral-y... and it was nothing short of fantastic. They were $8 a bar at the show, but when you find something that manages to satisfy all your snack cravings and does minimal damage to your waistline, you just have to go with it.

I love good chocolate and I love a good gimmick, so I also found myself drawn to new company 2 Chicks With Chocolate, which was named one of the Top Ten Chocolatiers in America by Dessert Professional magazine. If the chicks from Sex and the City consumed things other than cosmos, it would be these chocolates. Their spread of ganaches (in flavors like blood orange, cranberry, pear caramel and cinnamon), chocolate bark (the almond toffee and pumpkin spice varieties were especially fab), and their dangerous chocolate martini mix would make delicious accompaniments to any girls' night! I'll be sure to report back on how those chocolate martinis come out...


Or am I too late? Okay, maybe these chocolate martinis would work for the SATC girls after all... they sure worked for me! Happy indulging everybody!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Health Benefits of Black Rice

The health conscious know to always opt for brown rice with their takeout entrees, but with new studies coming out about the benefits of black rice- also dubbed "forbidden rice" by the Chinese because only emperors were allowed to eat it- you might just go black and never go back.

In addition to packing Vitamin E, fiber, and iron, black rice also contains high anthocyanin levels- that's the same good stuff found in other dark hued foods like blueberries, and with its low sugar content, some food scientists believe black rice might even be healthier than blueberries.

Other perks?Anti-inflammatory properties! One Korean study found that mice fed with 10% black rice bran feed significantly suppressed ear skin inflammation than those fed 10% brown rice bran. Read more about black rice benefits here.

And just as important, it's delish. It's nutty flavor goes well with many fall dishes, like the stuffed acorn squash I made a few weeks ago, and it would certainly make a great addition to a healthy Thanksgiving table!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thai-style Vegetable Noodle Soup

Cooks will say that in order to make an authentic Vietnamese or Thai noodle soup, I'd probably be using fish sauce, oyster sauce, or fish broth. Ha!

Well, I'm sure some foodie purist would take issue with my mix of ingredients, both authentic and not entirely authentic, but the fun part of this recipe is being able to use what you can find (I, for one, would have loved to add lemongrass, but couldn't find any stalks in my neighborhood, and wasn't venturing further out in Queens in get some)- I picked up my favorite Asian vegetables, and omitted the red-hot Thai chillies that my honey won't touch. I also scored at my grocery store with smoked garlic tofu- it was quite good, and I'm surprised any tofu made it into the soup after I opened that package! You can also feel free to add some coconut milk- I left this out because I wanted a lighter soup.

This was totally what I needed on the random cold days we had earlier in the week. I'll go back to thinking about Thanksgiving dishes once I get through this giant vat of soup :)

The Whats:

* 3 tbsp. olive oil or peanut oil
* 1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
* 1 5 oz. pkg. smoked tofu, diced
* 2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
* 3 scallion stalks, sliced
* 1 medium daikon, peeled and sliced
* 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
* 2 tsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
* 2 tsp. Thai basil, chopped
* 1/4 cup rice vinegar
* 1/4 cup tamari
* 2 tbsp. sesame oil
* 1/2 tsp. crushed chili paste
* 1 inch piece ginger, grated
* 2 large garlic cloves, grated
* 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
* 2 cups water
* 1/2 an 8 oz. pkg of uncooked rice noodles

The Hows:

1) In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and tofu to the pot and cook for 4 or 5 minutes until mushrooms have softened and tofu just starts to brown.

2) While mushrooms and tofu cook, whisk together the rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, chili paste, ginger, and garlic. Set aside.

3) Add the vegetables, cilantro, Thai basil, and half the marinade to the pot; cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and broth. Mix together and wait until the liquid simmers before stirring in rice noodles. Cook soup for 10 to 15 minutes, before veggies soften. Serve hot, with a drizzle of sesame oil if desired.

Monday, November 8, 2010


FoodParc is a whole new, futuristic approach to the traditional "food court"... and I do of course mean this in the best way possible.

Fab fact number 1- You order whatever you're craving from any vendor at one vendor, and you're signaled when you're food is ready at each location. Time saver!

Fab fact number 2- No chains- you won't find a McDonald's or Dairy Queen here! The stands are few in number, but include Fornetti, for Italian grub; The Press, for coffee, gelato, and pastries; and Red Farm Stand, for Asian inspired noshing.

Which brings me to my next point...

Fab fact number 3- The food is a hundred times better than any suburban food court I've ever been to! On one random night last week, a pal and I split a Tuscan Country flatbread salad from Fornetti with- get this- arugula, fennel, ricotta salata, figs, shaved black truffle, and oranges, served on a whole wheat flatbread. It pained me to not finish it! We also indulged in mushroom spring rolls, vegetable pot stickers, and the water chestnut, pineapple, and arugula salad topped with lotus root chips from Red Farm Stand. Though none of the vendors had an abundance of veggie options, I was definitely satisfied with the ones I sampled. To be fair, none of these items were the best of their respective cuisines, as to be expected, but certainly, they were tasty, inexpensive, and fast. And that was fine with me.

But just as important:

Fab fact number 4- There's a bar in FoodParc, along with ample seating either outside or in a separate lounge space to the back of the venue and upstairs. Most stands also offer beer. In the event those pot stickers don't leave you satisfied, know that a cosmo will!

With just four vendors, I don't know that I'd revisit FoodParc often- but for a glimpse of what a mall food court has the potential to be, it's worth a look! 

FoodParc, 851 Sixth Avenue, 212-564-4567

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rigatoni Puttanesca

Puttanesca is a tricky dish to eat out... though it calls for anchovy paste, not every place will put it in their sauce. You always need to ask the restaurant whether your pasta has some hidden fishy ingredient in it (much like you'd ask about fish sauce at a Thai restaurant) or just avoid it altogether.

So instead, how about I just share a good puttanesca recipe that's anchovy free? No compromising on this one!

I love a good briny olive, but with the amount of olives in the sauce, you won't need to add any additional salt to the recipe. Briny = win; salty = epic fail. Vary it up with your olives too- I used my favorite Italian varieties, plus Greek Kalamatas, which are a staple in our kitchen. And though I'll never share my family's homemade tomato sauce recipe online (sorry ya'll!), I will tell you this: the type of canned tomatoes you use makes an unmistakable difference to your finished product. Use real San Marzano tomatoes for real, sweet, tomato flavor!

The Whats:

* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
* 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with basil
* 1/3 cup capers, drained
* 3/4 cup mixed Mediterranean olives (Cerignola, Liguria, Kalamata, whatever you like!), drained and chopped
* 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
* 1 lb. bag of whole grain rigatoni

The Hows:

1) In a heavy skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat; add the onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in crushed tomatoes, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the capers and chopped olives, and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Set aside.

2) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until al dente. Drain and return rigatoni to pasta pot. Add the puttanesca sauce to the rigatoni and toss until well coated. Top with fresh parsley or freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Check it, Gaga: Veggies as Fashion

We all know the commotion that Lady Gaga made at the VMA's with that god-awful meat dress. Even if you do eat meat, I can't imagine you'd actually want to wear it.

But while randomly surfing online this week, I also found a great feature on Yahoo! that Lady Gaga probably should've looked at before donning a future piece of giant jerky. I think the artichoke dress on the left is way sexier than Gaga's meat dress!

Using food for fashion isn't something new for designers. There's the Chocolate Fashion Show at the annual Chocolate Show held in NYC, where the couture is required to be made mostly of chocolate. (I was lucky enough to attend two years ago, check out the photo below!)

This artichoke dress is part of the "Hunger Pains" series by photographer Ted Sabarese, which showcased garments made of the foods that the participating models craved. I could make a crack at the idea of models eating, but I won't touch that one :)

I don't know about you, but if I left the house wearing a pasta dress, I'd probably arrive at my destination almost naked!

Homemade Tofurky and Other Thanksgiving Recipes!

November is National Go Vegan Month, as well as the month in which Thanksgiving falls. Does anyone else find this ironic? 

Maybe the editors of had that in mind when they posted this awesome looking recipe for a homemade Tofurkey with brown rice stuffing! As Chow points out, it's always better to make something yourself, especially if the other option is full of artificial and/or hard to pronounce ingredients.

Looking for other sources of inspiration? Look no further than the New York Times Well blog with their recent posts on vegetarian comfort food for Thanksgiving and vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli's recipes for harvest stuffed portobello mushrooms, maple roasted Brussels sprouts, and chocolate-pumpkin bread pudding. Keep checking back for more recipes- I hope this series inspires many meat-loving Times readers!

Also serving up some great recipes, though not all vegan or vegetarian (but I bet some of them can be modified), is the most recent edition of New York magazine, where some of New York's celebrity chef's re-interpret their favorite Thanksgiving dishes. You'll find Sara Jenkins's puree of chestnut soup, Zak Pelaccio's Brussels sprouts, and Mario Batali's apple pie.

Eat up everybody!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Mushrooms, & Apricots

I've already made a quinoa-veggie sausage stuffed acorn squash on this blog, but hey, one good squash recipe deserves another!

Whenever I think of squash, I either think of pasta (haha, go figure!), or what I could possibly stuff the squash with. There are tons of ways to prepare squash, but at the same time, there are so many great combos of squash varieties and stuffings, that you might as well experiment repeatedly with your favorite flavors. For this filling, I decided to work with earthy and sweet elements- I used portobello mushrooms and dried apricots, but you can use cranberries, pignolis, carrots, or whatever other ingredients you prefer! I could only find a mix of wild and black rice in my cabinets, but you can also sub in brown rice- does anyone else sometimes forget what's exactly in their kitchen cabinets? Now that it's November and the holiday season is coming, I better get my inventory together! :)

And though I usually like to top off stuffed foods with breadcrumbs or grated cheese, I opted for a drizzle of balsamic reduction- sweet, simple, and I think it really rounds out the flavors of the whole dish! These would make a great dinner party entree- the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, each guest gets their own squash half, and if you are entertaining non-veg guests, they'll still feel like they've eaten their fill.

Actually, with Thanksgiving coming up in a few weeks, you'd better get that dinner party menu together sooner rather than later!

The Whats:

* 2 acorn squashes, halved with seeds & stringy bits removed
* 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
* 1 cup dried wild black rice
* 2 bay leaves
* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 2 or 3 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and diced into medium pieces
* 1 small yellow onion, diced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tbsp. lemon juice
* 2 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
* salt & pepper to taste
* 8 to 10 dried apricots, finely diced
* 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, plus 2 tsp. reserved for squash

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle squash flesh with balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, place squash cut side down. Roast for 20 minutes and remove from oven.

2) In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add the wild rice and bay leaves; reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook rice for 20 minutes, or until soft. Fluff with a fork, and set aside.

3) While rice cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, mushrooms, and thyme; cook for about 4 minutes, then add apricots, lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste, and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and some of the lemon juice has cooked off.

4) Stir the mushroom-apricot mixture into the rice. Stuff acorn squash halves with the rice mix, and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until squash is tender. Let squash rest for five minutes; drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.

5) To make the balsamic reduction: in a small skillet, heat the balsamic over medium-high heat; simmer until balsamic has reduced to about 1/4 cup and thickened. Immediately drizzle over stuffed squash.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Veggie Sandwiches! Baogette, No. 7 Sub

For any regular readers of The Friendly Veg, you know I'm a big proponent of NOT eating out for lunch; I like to cook large meals on a Sunday or Monday night, and save the leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week. With Halloween quickly approaching and no costume in hand, I had little time to cook this week and relied on *gasp* buying sandwiches several times this week for lunch!

I do love a good sandwich for lunch (in a pinch, I'll prepare my Tofurky special of peppered tofurky, baby spinach, tomato, red onion, avocado, and a smear of hummus on toasted Ezekiel bread), so I'm sharing two yummy veggie sandwiches that should definitely be on your must-lunch list.

Baoguette has several different locations in the city, but I recently visited the one on Lexington near Baruch College- talk about location, location, location! The tiny shop offers all of 3 vegetarian options- a Veguette sandwich or Veguette vermicelli noddle, and veggie summer roll. I opted for their Veguette, with zesty kung pao soy protein, cilantro, carrots, cucumber, and pickled daikon on a crispy baguette. For $7, I was totally stuffed, and the flavor was simple, but delish. And it took all of 5 minutes, from entering the store to exiting with generous sandwich in hand.

Baoguette, 61 Lexington Ave, 212-532-1133

Also giving big ups to No. 7 Sub shop,  on the ground floor of the much hyped Ace Hotel. I'd visited Ace several times for the Stumptown Coffee outpost, but for this trip, coffee was just not going to cut it. I chose their General Tso's Tofu sub, though to my delight, they did have several options for veggie & vegan subs (Broccoli & Cheddar, Eggplant Parm, and Brussels Sprouts & Apples). I enjoyed a very hearty portion of tofu fried up in General Tso's sauce, seaweed salad (though I found myself picking it out of my teeth at work- not the best way to eat a seaweed salad!), Asian pickles, and an edamame spread. The flavors perfectly complemented each other and I could barely finish the sub. Though I'm certainly not a fan of shelling out over $9 for a sandwich, I'll probably be back to try their Brussels Sprout sub at some point.

No. 7 Sub Shop, 1188 Broadway, 212-532-1680

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sweet! Top 10 Tasty Vegan Halloween Treats!

Since it's Halloween week, and let's be real, our biggest association with the day tends to be sugary stuff, I wanted to repost this article by Gina Telaroli on it may be a year old, but their top ten list of the best vegan Halloween treats is timeless!


Most people love Halloween for two reasons--the costumes and the treats. Unfortunately, many of those treats use animal products and other less-than-awesome ingredients. But worry not, socially conscious eaters; I've compiled a list of 10 tasty treats, savory and sweet, that are vegan and perfect for the Halloween season.
Give them a go and feel free to let me know your favorite Halloween indulgence!
10. Vegan Pumpkin Pie (from vegalicious)

This recipe sounds (and looks) amazing and it includes great pie crust directions as well! I can't imagine this doesn't taste good. Go here to the find recipes for the vegan pumpkin pie filling and a vegan pie crust and enjoy this traditional treat without any animal guilt.
*photo/pie baking by sonicwalker

9. Cajun Popcorn (from

This sounds wonderfully warm and spicy and fun to munch on while handing out candy or watching scary Halloween movies.

1 cup raw popcorn kernels
2 T. safflower oil
1 T. water
1 T. nutritional yeast flakes
1 T. Creole Seasoning
1/4 t. salt (optional)

Using a hot air popper or other popcorn popper, pop the popcorn and place it in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients, and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes to blend the flavors. Drizzle the oil mixture over the popcorn and toss well to evenly coat the popcorn with the mixture. Serve warm.

pd_snickerdoodle8. Vegan Snickerdoodle Ice Cream (from Turtle Mountain)

Ice cream season is pretty much on the outs (boo!) but before it goes away for good, why not indulge in some vegan creamy goodness with Turtle Mountain's new Snickerdoodle flavor?
Plus, you can buy it instead of make it--which sometimes is so much easier!

7. Simple Vegan Bean Dip (from Simple Vegan)

This recipe sounds so easy and tasty!

2 cups cooked pinto beans (1 15 oz can),
rinsed and drained
2 tbs fresh lime juice
1 medium-sized tomato, peeled and seeded
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
a handful of parsley
a handful of cilantro
3/4 tsp of cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
black pepper and cayenne, to taste

To peel and seed tomato: Drop it into a pan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove it, and peel off the skin. Cut the tomato open; squeeze out and discard the seeds. Chop the remaining pulp. Whip everything together in a food processor or a blender

6. Cranberry and Apple Cider (from my Mom! Seen on TakePart!)

This is one of my most favorite fall and winter recipes. The mix of fresh apple cider with cranberry juice, wonderful spices and time on the stove makes for the tastiest of Halloween treats--especially on a cold and blustery day. And if you want a little kick to your cider (or are maybe throwing a party) add a little rum to your glass!

5. Vegetable and Bean Chili (from Gourmet)

This sounds wonderfully rich and spicy and warming! And it comes from the recently closed Gourmet, where the best recipes can always be found.

* 2 large onions (1 lb), coarsely chopped
* 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 1/2 fresh jalapeño chile, finely chopped (including seeds)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 28-oz can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
* 2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 2 (15-oz) cans kidney beans, rinsed
* 1 tablespoon chopped semisweet chocolate
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

*Sauté onions, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño in oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, and salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and zucchini and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in beans and chocolate and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro.

4. Black and White Cookies (from Vegan Cookies)

These look/sound amazing and are perfect for Halloween munching. I bet you could even put cool designs on them to jazz it up extra Halloween style. The recipe, including both the wonderful black and white icing, can be found here.

3. Caramel/Candy Apples (from Dog Hill Kitchen)

A super traditional Halloween treat made vegan--YES!

Vegan Caramel - Ingredient proportions from The Glad Cow Cookbook, Makes ~100 pieces of caramel candy, will coat ~8-10 apples
1 cup margarine*
2 cups sugar
2 cups soy milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 t vanilla
*Optional: Add 1 tsp salt if using unsalted margarine

-Line an 8 inch x 8 inch pan with parchment or cover a baking sheet with parchment and ready your apples and sticks. You can cover a few apples and then place the remaining caramel in any parchment lined container to set up and make candies. I use a loaf pan for the extra caramel when covering apples.
-Place the margarine, sugar, soy milk and corn syrup in a large saucepan (4qt capacity minimum)
-Bring ingredients to a boil stirring continually.
-Cook over medium-high heat while continuing to stir until candy reaches 248 degrees F. (243-5 for softer caramels)
-Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into lined baking pan. If coating apples then let allow the caramel to cool for a minute while still stirring and then start coating. After you coat the apples place them in the fridge or eat them as soon as they cool.
-Allow the caramel in the pan to cool completely. Snip into pieces using clean kitchen shears that you wipe or spray with oil (or slice with a knife). Wrap individually with waxed or parchment paper. Makes ~100 pieces
Variation: Cook to 230 degrees F for caramel sauce for ice cream/cake. Store in a covered container.

DSCF03762. Halloween Cupcakes (from lizcondos &

I think this cupcake recipe sounds incredible and kind of like a blond Reese's cup (the ultimate Halloween candy - although full of awfulness). Likewise I think the cupcake decoration to the left is kind of to die for. If peanut butter isn't your thing check out these tasty seasonal flavors:
- ginger
- carrot
- orange ooze
- applesauce

1. Vegan Candy (via PETA)

And finally if you want to go the super traditional route, here is a list of vegan candy you can buy. The list comes from PETA and features some of my favorite sugary indulgences, including Blow Pops, Swedish Fish and Pez!  I figure if you're going to buy mass produced, unhealthy treats, they can at least be vegan!

Happy Trick or Treating everyone! Eat well and be well!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Queens Peeps: Hunters Point Restaurant Week

Hey fellow Queens peeps- if you missed Queens Restaurant Week at the end of September (like I did- I'm embarrassed to say I didn't realize it was that time of year already!), catch up on cheap eats in Long Island City/Hunters Point next week. From November 1st through 4th, get a 3 course prix fixe lunch or dinner for just $25 during Hunters Point Restaurant Week.

Participating restaurants where I've enjoyed good vegetarian dishes in the past include:

Riverview Restaurant on Center Blvd and 49th Avenue for American-Continental fare.

Shi on Center Blvd between 47th Road and 47th Avenue for Japanese & Chinese food

Testaccio on Vernon Blvd between 48th Avenue and 47th Road for Roman cuisine

Though I wouldn't quite call this area of LIC "Hunters Point", most of these restos are still just one stop off the 7 train in Queens, so really, Manhattanites have no excuse for this one :) Call ahead to confirm the prix-fixe menus, and eat up!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Featured Blog at Foodie Blogroll!

Woot! I was super stoked this morning to see an email from Foodie Blogroll, saying that I'd be named one of their Featured Blogs of the Week!!

Just wanted to share the good news with all of my readers! Thanks to Foodie Blogroll, Foodie Blogroll readers, and my readers- I really appreciate the time you spend on my blog and on my recipes! As always, if you ever have any suggestions on how to make my blog even better or any recipes that you might want to see, send me an email at I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

20 Sweet Snacks Under 200 Calories

And because one good snack deserves another, I'll give you twenty! As seen on the website, a feature on 20 low-calorie sweet snacks (most are vegetarian & vegan, or can easily be adjusted)- papaya-berry yogurt parfaits, strawberry-banana tofu shakes, walnut shortbread, and coconut-date bars. Yum! Just be sure to stick to the serving size and you'll satisfy your sweet tooth AND keep your waistline in check!

Snack Time!

I like to snack. I think most people do. So when I come across some good ones, I think it's only right that you share your goodies!

Highly recommended: V Spot's Colombian Empanadas. Yes, I'm probably biased because I think Colombian food is the shizz, but you'll enjoy these hearty, flavorful empanadas from the famous Brooklyn vegan cafe, The V Spot. You can find them in both local health food stores and in delis (I found them in both the Natural Fronter Marketplace as well as a neighborhood deli!) Salsa is included, so be sure to slather some over you TVP filled empanadas and enjoy!

Other new awesomeness? I've been on a freeze dried fruit kick lately- I'm not one to argue with sweet AND crunchy- and found a great variety in Fruitzio, also found in Natural Frontier Marketplace and other health food stores. At just 100 calories per bag, you can choose from peach, apple, apricot, even Asian pear. I liked that Fruitzio has their fruit in bite size chunks, rather than the thin slices of freeze dried fruit that I've usually encountered. I'd even chop these up and add them to trail mix. Yum!

Happy snacking!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shanghai Bok Choy

Don't you love making restaurant dishes at home? At my fave tiny dumpling shop, Vanessa's, I loved their super simple Shanghai-style treatment of bok choy (which is by far one of my favorite leafy greens!), with a mix of sesame oil and soy sauce and a hint of garlic. I decided to make this easy side dish at home- though you could easily make it a meal with some grilled tempeh and soba noodles- and of course, add onto it! With some red bell peppers for sweetness and a jalepeno for heat (though you could use any chili you prefer), it makes for a well-rounded, flavorful dish. Use baby bok choy so that you don't need to chop up larger leaves and the stalks- it'll save you some time!

The Whats:

* 4 heads of baby bok choy, washed
* 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
* 1 medium chili pepper, thinly sliced
* 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 3 tbsp. soy sauce, or tamari if you prefer
* 2 tbsp. sesame oil

The Hows:

1) In a large skillet or wok, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and peppers to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until peppers are just slightly softened. Add bok choy to the pan; drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil and saute for 3 minutes, or until leaves are just wilted. Remove from pan and serve hot.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I like surprises, especially when they're in the form of a veggie entree and they're served in a steakhouse setting. 

I'd walked past Madera on Vernon Boulevard in LIC before, and though I'd nearly been lured in by promises of mojitos, jalapeno margaritas, and a veggie stir fry that the staff would make for vegetarians, I'd opted to visit another resto on Vernon that night- having just come back from Colombia, I needed something different! But this past weekend, my honey and I were both equally curious about Madera's offerings (okay, and part of it was that we were super hungry and didn't want to cook at home) and visited the upscale-casual resto with lively Cuban music emanating from the bar.

And kudos to Madera for coming through with an entree! In addition to savory fried plantains and an avocado-pineapple salad, I enjoyed a stir fried veggie entree of yellow rice, green beans, and broccoli, with a little bit of cilantro for a kick. Very basic, but tasty!

I can't say I'll be a frequent visitor to Madera- woman cannot live on Cuban rice stir fry alone- but for any Queens vegetarians whose friends are always talking up steakhouses, just know that you can selfishly steer your pals towards Madera, and still enjoy a good night out.

Especially if you include a jalapeno margarita.Or two.

Madera, 47-29 Vernon Blvd, between 47th Road and 48th Ave, LIC 718-606-1236

Friday, October 15, 2010

TONY: Best Vegetarian in NYC

Not only am I happy to see that Time Out New York always includes vegetarian and vegan food in their Best Of NYC dining lists, but dang, they know how to spot some great dishes!

Their "Best 100 Dishes and Drinks" in this week's issue features a top vegetable dish section, and I've now got some must-eats to add to my list- hazelnut and mushroom crostini at Pure Food & Wine? Sign me up!

Also in veggie eating- the famous John's of 12th Street Pizzeria is now offering an entire vegan menu- which isn't a stretch for Italian cuisine, but it still amazes me how few restos & pizzerias really don't utilize these great veggie dishes. Check out the menu on their Facebook page- eggplant parm with Daiya cheese, seitan scallopini, and vegan panna cotta & cannoli? *Drool*

Is is time for dinner yet?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NYT: Whole-Grain Pastas That Taste Good

Melissa Clark must've read my ode to pasta last week. Lo and behold in this week's Dining section, Clark's article on the slew of good quality and equally tasty whole grain pastas making an impact on the pasta market is a great piece with more background on whole grain pastas. She mentions Bionaturae as a favorite (one of mine as well!), which you can pick up in many grocery stores. If you can, seek out brands that use ancient grains, like farro and the lesser known einkorn- turns out as modern wheat varieties were hybridized, they lost essential proteins and nutrients.

See, pasta really can be good for you! Check out some of the recipes in the article, like Pasta with Roasted Eggplant, Pepper, and Garlic. Mangia!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple Crisp

As it was a busy week and I had less time than I wanted to get creative in the kitchen, I decided my apple crisp would be the perfect, warm mid-week treat and the best way to start using those apples I'd picked. You might find this slightly time consuming- anytime I need to slice several cups worth of fruit, I find I need to keep my eye on the price to deal with all the slicing and dicing. But, as with most desserts, it's well worth it!

Be sure to slice the apples thinly- they'll melt in your mouth when the crisp is finished baking. If you prefer almonds or pecans instead of walnuts, feel free to use them in your crisp topping; you could also use some agave or maple syrup to sweeten the apples instead of brown sugar.

Either way, you'll want to sit back when this baby's in the oven and just inhale- your apartment is going to smell divine!

The Whats:

For the apples-
 * 4 to 5 cups of peeled, thinly sliced apples (from about 3 large apples)
 * 2 to 3 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
 * 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
 * 1/4 cup light brown sugar
 * 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
 * 1 tsp. ground ginger
 * pinch of nutmeg
 * 1/2 tsp. salt
For the topping-
 * 1/2 cup rolled oats
 * 1/3 cup all purpose flour
 * 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
 * 1/4 cup light brown sugar
 * 4 tbsp. butter

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees (mine runs cooler, so I set to 360). Grease a 9 inch pie plate or 8x8 square baking dish. Set aside.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, flour, brown sugar, spices, and salt; toss to coat. Spread evenly into the prepared baking dish. Set aside.

3) In another large mixing bowl , combine the rolled oats, walnuts, flour, and brown sugar. Add the butter to the mix, and using your hands (or pastry mixer, if you prefer), mix together until the ingredients are combined and the mixture is clumpy. Evenly scatter the oat mix on top of the apples. Bake for around 50 minutes. Allow apple crisp to sit 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lemon Pasta with Grape Tomatoes & Grilled Artichokes

Here's what happens when I have the last of my lemons and tomatoes to use! And pasta, of course- it's not a meal without pasta!

I sometimes wonder if anyone cooks pasta as often as I do. Other than Italians, that is. I remember eating pasta at least 3 or 4 times a week as a kid, and I still eat pasta at least twice a week. It feels like I see way too many articles and hear too much from "health experts" about how pasta pretty much needs to be eliminated from your diet in order to be healthy and lose weight. Now to be fair, I've been eating pasta since I was a baby (no really- my parents recall feeding me bowls of pastina in my high chair!) and my body's always been able to process pasta without gaining weight (my non-Italian friends hate me for this). But even then, I have this much to offer pasta-fearing individuals:

- if you're eating a giant plate of white pasta, that's a problem! Eat reasonable portions- I eat more than the recommended cup size serving (really FDA, no one eats that little!), but for goodness sake, don't eat half a box- and with so many heartier whole grain, whole wheat, and spelt varieties, you couldn't eat an entire plateful if you tried!

- watch what you put on your pasta, duh! Many store-bought jarred sauces have extra sugar added in them, and if you think that giant handful of parmesan isn't going to affect you, you're delusional. Make your own sauce, saute some veggies or beans in olive oil, make a sauce from vegetables- there are so many ways to prepare a healthy, filling pasta dinner! I've got plenty of them on this blog. :)

I hate seeing popular "diets" ragging on my beloved dish, but I'll get off my pasta soapbox and get back to the goodness.

The Whats:

* 1/2 box of whole grain spaghetti
* 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
* 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1/4 cup vegan parmesan or grated parmigiano reggiano
* 10 to 12 basil leaves, finely chopped (or 2 tbsp. dried if you can't find fresh!)
* 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
* 3 grilled artichokes, chopped
* 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

The Hows:

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water before draining the pot; return pasta to the pot.

2) While pasta is cooking, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, parm, basil, and black pepper. Set aside.

3) Add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water to the spaghetti, then add lemon-olive oil sauce; toss until well coated, adding extra cooking water to make it more saucy, if desired. Add the tomatoes, artichokes, and onion and toss until distributed. Serve hot.

Craving a heartier addition? I've also made this pasta with some veggie sausage (I like the LightLife brand!) sauteed with 2 tbsp. of rosemary. Equally yummy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Claire's Corner Copia

I'd lucked out in New Haven in the past with Thali Too, and figured I'd get lucky again during my next visit- thank goodness for college towns, 'cuz Connecticut isn't exactly known as a bastion of culinary diversity. Kudos to having vegetarian restos in unlikely places!

We stumbled on Claire's Corner Copia on Chapel Street, one of the main drags around that New Haven Ivy college, and it wasn't just packed with students- we found hospital workers, professors, and parents alike. And everyone- and I mean just about everyone waiting at the counter- took their sweet time scanning Claire's extensive vegetarian and vegan menu. I understood why- it was impossible to choose just one thing! Grilled veggie sandwiches, soy BLTs, curry chik'n salad, fresh salads, burritos, quesadillas, homemade veggie burgers, pasta, and flat bread pizzas- kind of like your typical Midtown sandwich shop, only more options.

After hiking, winery hopping, and apple picking all day, (I know, just slaving the afternoon away!) I was hungry, and nothing was coming between me and a giant buffalo soy chik'n burrito with guacamole. Only one thing did- it was waaaaaaay too saucy for it's own good. It was drowning in spicy buffalo sauce. It wasn't the heat that was a problem, but if I had wanted to overwhelm the brown rice, refried beans, and peppers in the burrito, I might as well have dunked it in a vat of the sauce. Another pal had the same issue with her Corner Copia Grande burrito. We both enviously eyed our third pal's plate, who apparently had chosen wisely- a portobello sandwich with eggplant and lentils- and we decided to drown our next treat in sugar. Snickerdoodle cookie, anyone?

Oh well. I guess you win with some dishes, you lose with some dishes. Claire's is definitely hit or miss. But I'd be willing to give it the good old college try the next time I'm in the New Haven area... provided I don't run into Thali Too first.

Claire's Corner Copia, 1000 Chapel Street, New Haven CT,  (203) 562-38888

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apple Picking!

So it's no secret that I love my summer fruit... but man, do I love me some apples in the fall! I'm excited about my giant apple stash after apple picking at the lovely Drazen Orchards in Connecticut this weekend with my bestie. (whom I fondly refer to as "the Wifey," just in case my boyfriend didn't know who my heart REALLY belongs to!)

I've got plenty of macouns, honeycrisps, and galas to choose from, but the difficult matter will be choosing how to use these beauties. Apple pie? Apple crisp? Apple cinnamon pancakes? Baked apples stuffed with brown sugar & fresh ginger?

Any suggestions? Anyone have a favorite apple based dish? :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Two-Tomato Garbanzo Salad

A super simple bean salad I made this week with the last heirloom tomatoes I could find... isn't it sad when your fave summer veggie goodies disappear? Perhaps I should call this the "In Denial Summer is Over Salad!"

Garbanzos are one of my favorite beans, and I used Follow Your Heart mozzarella-style vegan cheese for this dish. Like most vegan cheeses I've tried, it doesn't melt very well and the texture is slightly chewy, but it does hold up in a cold salad. Nothing fancy here, but it's light and simple, and like all food, is meant to be shared!

The Whats:

* 1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
* 1/2 pint of yellow grape tomatoes, halved
* 1 large heirloom tomato, diced
* 4 oz. vegan mozzarella, diced
* 1/2 small red onion, diced
* 10 basil leaves, chopped
* salt & pepper to taste
* 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tbsp. red wine

The Hows:

1) Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss until well coated. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

Like every other profession, chefs hide some dirty secrets at the workplace. In an annual chefs' survey, Food Network found that in addition to giving critics special treatment, recycling bread from the bread baskets, and spotting roaches in the kitchen, some chefs leave the term "vegetarian" open to interpretation- and to my absolute disgust, one respondent reported seeing a cook pour lamb's blood into a vegan's pasta primavera. Yuck!
Truth be told, this isn't shocking news, though the lamb's blood is an extreme story. How many of us can recall going to a burger joint, being told that our grilled vegetables or veggie burger is cooked on a clean grill, and then bit into our dinner and felt a wave of nausea as meat-infused oil overwhelmed our tastebuds? I find this less common in nicer, more upscale restaurants in New York, (though I've lucked out with hole-in-the-walls- see my last post!) but here's to hoping that publishing this survey draws more attention to the issue!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vanessa's Dumplings


My adventurous swim buddies and I needed some refueling after class on Monday night. And since we were already on the Lower East Side, I figured I could drag my burning legs a few blocks south to Chinatown, where tasty, cheap food can be found on every block.

Sometimes, hole-in-the-wall joints can be amazing foodie finds, and other times, well, you understand why they're just a hole-in-the-wall place. Vanessa's Dumplings, which has been lauded by Time Out New York and New Yorker mags, exceeded my expectations. For a whopping $5, I got a sesame pancake-vegetable sandwich, a steamed red bean bun, and a steamed vegetable bun that I ended up taking home because it was more food than I had anticipated!

My sesame pancake sandwich, with a very simple combo of carrots, cucumber, and cilantro, was enough to satisfy my post-swim appetite, but light enough where I didn't feel like I'd sink to the bottom of a pool. My bun was loaded with sweet mashed red beans, and I could barely finish it.

$5 is a safe enough price for a hole-in-the-wall, but a bargain for a tasty dumpling meal- I definitely recommend visiting Vanessa's. Gotta love Chinatown!

Vanessa's Dumpling House, 118A Eldridge Street btwn. Grand and Broome, 212-625-8008

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Coconut Rice with Black Beans and Plantains

For this post, I'm going to step back from my usual Vegeterranean inspired fare and bring it down south... to South America, that is!

I was so excited about Colombian food and how well I ate in Cartagena that I really wanted to recreate a version of the coconut rice and plantains comida that I eagerly devoured. I added some black beans for a protein boost and to make it more of a meal. This arroz coco con frijoles negros y plantanos dish can be served up for lunch, dinner, or as a dish to share at your next potluck!

I chose brown rice rather than long grain white rice, but there's a noticeable difference in taste- the heartier brown rice picks up a hint of coconut flavor, while the white rice definitely has a full-on tropical taste. Feel free to go with either, depending on how much you love coconut! You can also add more jalapenos if you want a spicier dish, but since Colombian food is relatively mild, I wanted to keep it authentic. Or at least as authentic as the Italian-American vegetarian could make it. Buen provecho!

The Whats:
 For the beans:
* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 2 15 oz. cans low sodium black beans, one drained & rinsed, one still with bean juice
* 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
* 3 tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno (or poblano, if you prefer a pepper with a little less heat)
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
* 1 tbsp. dried cumin
* 1 tbsp. dried coriander
* salt & pepper to taste
 For the rice:
* 2 cups brown rice
* 1 cup water
* 3 cups unsweetened light coconut milk
 For the plantains:
* 3 ripe plantains, green or yellow, peeled cut into 1 inch chunks
* 1/4 cup soy butter or olive oil
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) Prepare the coconut rice: In a large saucepan, heat the water and coconut milk over medium high heat until mixture reaches a boil. Stir in the rice. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover saucepan, and allow rice to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat, fluff with fork, and set aside. 

2) Prepare the beans: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, and peppers to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the beans, coriander, cumin, and salt and pepper if using, and stir to mix. Reduce heat to medium, and cook beans for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

3) Prepare the plantains: Heat soy butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When soy butter is melted and foaming, add the plantain chunks and saute until plantains are tender and golden on both sides, about 8 minutes. Drain fried plantains on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Basis Good Food Festival

Late update... blame it on work! I went market hopping last weekend- well, more accurately, market and festival hopping- and noshed all day long. Admittedly, snacking is the fun part of food blogging- after all, someone has to report back on these goodies!

My pal and I started off at the Hester Street Market, a relative newcomer to the city's weekend street markets. You'll find handmade jewelry, clothing, kids toys, and of course, belly-fillers. I enjoyed a tasty cuppa joe from Dora's, also a relative newcomer to the Chinatown/Lower East Side gourmet scene.

Maybe it was the hot coffee, but I then found myself seduced by the spicy scent of chai ice cream from Guerrilla Ice Cream. If you've never heard of Guerrilla Ice Cream or their sweet lemon-poppy or strong chai tea flavors, I'll give you one important reason why you should know about them- 100% of their profits go to marginalized populations in New York and around the world. That, and their chai ice cream was low on sugar, but big on cinnamon and clove flavor. Less sweet, more spicy- my kinda dessert!

Guerrilla Ice Cream was a clear hit... but a clear miss was the flavorless veggie empanada from La Sonrisa. I give them credit for offering a veggie option amidst chicken, beef, and pork empanadas, and you could probably do worse with frozen veggies (seriously, I know frozen mixed veggies when I see 'em!), but with no seasonings or flavor, this was one bland veggie empanada.

Ah well, probably a sign it was time to leave anyway. Hester Street Market has a lot of potential, so I'll be sure to check back there in a few Saturdays!

From Hester Street, we walked up to the Basis Good Food Festival in the Meatpacking District, where I found "fashionably late" can work for you and against you at a food tasting. Case in point: the Basis Festival offered up tastings from a variety of restaurants touting locally based ingredients from noon to 4pm... but having arrived at 3pm (okay, maybe this is a bit beyond "fashionably late"), many of the participants' stalls, like Colicchio & Sons, Ample Hills Creamery, and Minetta Tavern, were packing up for the day.

But, on the positive side, the vendors still standing were trying to get rid of the last of their samples, and so arriving at the end of the day resulted in free food! Yes, this is mooching, but really, paying $25 for 5 small tastes of food (and not all stalls offered veggie options) seemed silly at 3pm... but since it does go to a good cause, I can always donate online.

Though none of my samples were particularly creative, I sure was satisfied! (maybe this goes hand-in-hand with free food?) My first sample was a tasty salad of marinated beets with fresh goat cheese... and surprisingly, it wasn't from a farm stand, but from the Dirty Bird To-Go stand. I knew participant Dinosaur BBQ would bring something non-vegetarian, but for a chicken place to bring beets as a sampler? Kudos!

Next up with something veggie to eat was Counter- as to be expected! I enjoyed black eggplant caponata crostini- juicy, hearty, and delicious! I still have not eaten at Counter, and the crostini was a gentle reminder that I needed to change that fact. The Farm on Adderley also offered an eggplant crostini, with charred eggplant... and you know my feelings for grilled veggies. Yum!

I needed a break from eggplant, and I was disappointed that I missed the Mushroom Shepherd's pie from Scottish gastropub The Highlands- I had assumed there would not be anything veggie there either, but in these situations, I love being proven wrong. To all participants at the Good Food Festival- keep the veggie options coming!