Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More to Come in April

Sorry for the lack of posting in March... between work and vacation, there wasn't much time for anything else other than sleeping... okay, that's a lie, I went to the gym and played soccer too. But there will lots of recipes to come in April, along with plenty of events celebrating Earth Month!

Roasted Spring Vegetable Quiche

This is likely an unorthodox way to start a blog on quiche, but... I dislike eggs. Lack of vegan-friendliness aside, I can't stand the texture and the smell of scrambled eggs, sunny side up eggs, poached eggs, you name it, I avoid it. But quiche, however, is a completely different story. It doesn't look like an egg dish; it doesn't smell like an egg dish; heck, depending on what you add to it, it doesn't even taste like an egg dish!

Quiches are also a great choice if you're looking for a breakfast or brunch dish with lots of flavor and a bit more protein than a crumbly, carb-y scone or muffin. Some studies show that eggs might not be as bad for you, in terms of fat and cholesterol, than previously thought- until I get some of that research to post, I'll go along with this tasty experiment.

The Whats:

* 1 bunch thick asparagus, ends trimmed
* 1 large red bell pepper, halved
* half a zucchini, sliced in half
* 1 frozen 9-inch pie crust
* 4 large eggs
* 1 tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
* 1/4 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 cup fat free milk or soy milk
* 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp. paprika
* 1 tsp. parsley, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
* salt & black pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or soy cheddar), shredded

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the asparagus, red bell pepper, and zucchini over a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with olive oil, and salt & pepper if desired. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft and caramelized. Allow veggies to cool before slicing into bite-size pieces.

2) Bake pie crust for 15 minutes until set. Remove from oven and set aside. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.

3) In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Beat in flour, baking powder, milk, and seasonings. Fold in the roasted veggies and shredded cheese.

4) Pour quiche mix into pie shell; garnish with parsley if desired. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until quiche is set and firm; a knife inserted into the center of the quiche should come out clean. Serve hot.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pasta Fagioli

With the rain today, I definitely wanted some sort of soup, and for it's abundance of beans and pasta, I decided on pasta e fagioli... or, more commonly pronounced, pasta fazool! It's more soup-like when it's first made, but after you pop the leftovers in your fridge, the pasta tends to absorb more water and the dish becomes more stew-like. Yum! Serve this up with some parmesan if desired, crusty bread (if you don't mind the carbs, that is!) or some roasted spring veggies, like zucchini or asparagus.

The Whats:

* 1 cup tubettini pasta
* 2 cans white beans (I used navy instead of traditional cannellini)
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tbsp. rubbed sage
* 1 tbsp. rosemary leaves, chopped
* 1 small can tomato paste
* 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) In a medium saucepan, boil tubettini pasta until partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Mash one can of the white beans, with their liquid, in a mixing bowl until relatively smooth; set aside. 

2) In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the tomato paste, 1 tbsp. sage, and half the tbsp rosemary leaves to the pan, and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until softened and ingredients incorporate. Add the mashed beans to the pan and stir until incorporated. Add the vegetable stock, remaining can of beans (drained), salt, pepper, and remaining spices and stir. Allow soup to simmer for 10 minutes.

3) Add the pasta to the soup and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Adjust salt & pepper if desired, and add 1/4 cup water if needed to thin the soup. Serve hot.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Some say not to live by labels... I, for one, am a believer in labeling, especially when it comes to food! These two headlines, both related to labeling, are on my radar: 

Can you really trust those calorie counts on your packaged treat of choice. According to an article on faulty food labeling on Yahoo, you might not. You might've already guessed that the calorie counts on chain restaurant entrees are probably low-end estimates, but a recent report showed that many products have about 18% more calories than listed. Ick! Most people want to believe the low-calorie/low-sugar/low-fat version of their favorite treat really is what it claims to be, but until the FDA steps up it's game and hires more staff to monitor the products on the market and crack down on the faulty product labels, this definitely won't be an overnight change.

And speaking of labeling menus, the NYC Health Department just added another type of labeling that diners will be most interested in- cleanliness. Starting this July, restaurants will be required to post signs in their windows with letter grades, from A through C, that match their level of cleanliness, as per DOH standards. The New York State Restaurant Association is protesting the move, calling it misleading, but let's be real- if you're worried about a bad grade, do your business a favor and keep your restaurant clean!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Veggie Pot Pie

Happy St. Patrick's Day! To answer your first question, no, I am not making Shepherd's Pie or corned beef and cabbage. To answer your second question, I'm making my own version of savory pie- a root vegetable pot pie! With a variety of fresh root veggies from the Greenmarket, veggie pot pies are only too easy to make up! I used some soy milk to create a creamy sauce for the veggies, but you can feel free to cut some of the calories and use some olive oil instead.

When you realize that the concept behind Shepherd's Pie was to rescue rotten meat, root vegetable pot pie makes so much more sense!

The Whats:

* 2 large parsnips, cut into half inch pieces
* 3 medium turnips, cut into half inch pieces
* 1 large yellow onion, sliced
* 4 medium carrots, cut into half inch pieces
* 1 medium sweet potato, cut into half inch pieces
* 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1 1/2 tbsp. rubbed sage
* 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped thyme
* salt & black pepper to taste
* 4 tbsp. soy butter
* 2 cups soy milk
* 1/4 cup all purpose flour
* 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg

For biscuit topping:
* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. baking soda
* 1/2 tsp. sea salt
* 2 tsp. nutmeg
* 7 tbsp. cold soy butter, in chunks
* 3/4 cup soy milk

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss the parsnips, turnips, onion, carrots, and sweet potato with olive oil and 1 tbsp. each sage and thyme until coated; lightly season with salt & pepper, and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through roasting. Remove vegetables from oven; lower heat to 375 degrees.

2) While vegetables roast, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking for about 2 minutes, until golden. Add soy milk to the pot; reduce heat to low and whisk often until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in remaining sage and thyme, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper. Fold sauce into the roasted vegetables.

3) Spoon vegetable mixture into a 9-inch Pyrex pie pan. Top with unbaked biscuit mix. Bake pie for 15 to 20 minutes, or until biscuits are golden and risen and the vegetable filling bubbles. Allow pot pie to cool before serving.

To make the biscuit topping: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and nutmeg. Using your hands, or a fork, crumble the butter into the flour mix until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add soy milk and mix until dough just comes together. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead several times until smooth. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, and top pie with pieces of rolled dough.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Events for March

Beware the Ides of March... mostly because it means that March is half over! But never fear, there are still a number of veggie-friendly events that are worth checking out for the last half of this month!

Monday, March 15th through Thursday, March 25th

Dine In Brooklyn- check website for participating restaurants. It's the Brooklyn answer to Restaurant Week! Three courses for $20 (lunch) or $25 (dinner) in a borough with one of the most diverse dining scenes. You know I'll be checking out some of these restos!

Saturday, March 20th

HSUS 24th Annual Genesis Awards-  tune into the Humane Society's star studded annual fete in Beverly Hills to honor members of the news and entertainment media who raise public awareness of animal issues.

25th Annual Meatout-  A day designated by FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) to kick the meat habit and educate others about the benefit of a vegetarian or vegan diet. Go veg!

Go Green Expo- 10am to 6pm at Pier 92, $10/day pass. With panels on the state of the environment, greening your business, green workforce initiatives, and living the eco-lifestyle, you'll network with lots of other green-minded individuals and participate in some interactive seminars!

Monday, March 22nd

3rd Annual Village Voice Choice Eats Tasting Event- 6:30pm to 9:30pm at the 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue (@26th St), $45. Over 50 restaurants reppin' cuisine from all over the globe, plus complimentary drinks- proceeds go to Slow Food NYC programs. Veggie participants include Dirt Candy and Counter!

Tuesday, March 23rd

Muzzling a Movement- 7pm at NYU Vanderbilt Hall, 214 Sullivan Street, room 220, free. Presented by the NYU Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and The Sparrow Fund, a discussion with the authors of the book "Muzzling a Movement," on the suppression of speech and the First Amendment protected protest within the animal defense movement. Fascinating!

Wednesday, March 24th

New York State Humane Lobby Day- Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Meeting Rooms 2 and 3, Albany, NY- Get on the bus and lobby your local reps to take a stand for animals! Buses leaving from NYC will bring potential lobbyists to our State Capitol- you'll get a crash course in lobbying and a briefing on current humane issues and legislation, and meet with state reps to discuss these issues. If you've never lobbied before, this a great opportunity!

Thursday, March 25th

Vegan Drinks- 7pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street, free. The monthly meetup where you can connect with- and drink with- fellow vegans and promote vegan activism.

Sunday, March 28th

The Brownie Crawl- 3pm at Jackson Square (Greenwich Avenue and 8th Avenue)- Spend the afternoon OD'ing on chocolate- this monthly food crawl ventures through Chelsea to find the best brownie!

The Brooklyn Brunch Experiment- 12pm to 4pm at The Bell House, 147 7th Street, BK, $20 in advance/$25 at the door. I love events at The Bell House, and I'm putting this one down with some caution- it's bound to be full of bacon and eggs and breakfast meat, but there's a potential to sample lots of veggie-friendly crepes, pancakes, and French toast. Call ahead to find out what can/cannot be consumed.

Time Out for Hunger- An annual partnership with Time Out New York and The Food Bank of New York. Dine at any of the participating restaurants and 10% of the proceeds go towards feeding hungry New Yorkers.

Ongoing in March

4 Course Vegan- location available to those who RSVP, $40. The concept is simple- bringing together both vegans and non-vegans for dinner and discussion at an underground dinner party in Williamsburg. Chef Matteo Silverman elevates the notion of vegan fine dining (check out the lush sounding menus!) and it sounds like a great way to meet other compassionate diners.

Dovetail's Meatless Mondays- 5:30pm to 11pm at Dovetail, 103 W. 77th, btwn. Columbus and Amsterdam. Now that's my kinda meal! A $38 prix-fixe menu delivers a delish four course meal, both vegan and vegetarian, without the usual "is this made with vegetable broth or chicken broth" worries.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

FoodNYC- A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System

 I'm a bit late in posting this- blame it on vacation time- but kudos to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for taking initiative and proposing some more ideas for changing how us cityfolk eat. The 45 page doc, called "Food NYC: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System," suggests more space to be  used for urban agriculture, to flip the traditional grocery store model and fund farmers' market infrastructure, and most importantly (well, at least to me!) to include a food/nutrition curriculum in public schools and institute Meatless Mondays in public schools as well.

You know which item I'm already a fan of! Meatless Mondays, in conjunction with a food/nutrition curriculum, is a great way to open kids' minds to infinite possibilities of veggies and eating healthy! Click the link above and read more on the proposed initiatives!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Savory French Toast Park Deux

Since there's a number of ways to prepare French toast, I'm adding another savory recipe to Friendly Veg collection- here, the brunch staple balances out an herb-y batter and a slightly sweet, crusty walnut bread. (which we picked up at the Acme Bread Company in SF's Ferry Building Marketplace!) Fruit jellies and maple syrup didn't seem like the right way to top off this French toast, so I decided on buttery, caramelized leeks, though I'm sure a chutney of some sort would also be a great accompaniment too!

The Whats:

* 1 loaf crusty walnut bread, cut into thick slices (if you can, leave these out overnight until they harden slightly)
*1 1/4 cups milk or soy milk
* 2 eggs
* about 5 large basil leaves, chopped
* leaves of 3 sprigs of parsley, chopped
* 1 clove garlic, crushed, then minced
* salt &  pepper to taste
* 3 tbsp. butter/soy butter
* 1 large leek, white part only, sliced

The Hows:

1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, basil, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper until blended.

2) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Soak each slice of bread in the herb batter for about a minute, covering both sides of the bread, and add to the skillet; cook for several minutes on each side until bread is golden brown and crisp.

3) Meanwhile, as French toast cooks, melt butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat; add leeks and stir until coated. Lower heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until leeks brown and caramelize. Top the cooked French toast with hot caramelized leeks and extra parsley, if desired, and serve.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Foodgasms in California

You know those vacations where you eat like royalty (or at least relatively healthy royalty!) for an entire week, get plenty of time outdoors, eat some more, and come back sans nasty vacation weight gain?

Yeah, this was it!

I spent a week in Cali (a couple days in L.A. and the remainder of the week in San Francisco) and never ate better; Frisco in particular gives NYC a run for the foodie capital crown. While NYC restaurants still have to toss around "organic" and "local" to lure in customers, these adjectives are simply the norm in San Francisco, as are the separate recycling and compost bins in restaurants, stores, and public spaces. Ah NYC, you have much catching up to do!

And the veggie eats? Awesome! I've got a few musts for any Friendly Veg readers traveling to Cali:

Real Food Daily, a hip vegan restaurant in Beverly Hills, elevates hippie vegan cuisine to L.A. chic- my pal has spotted celebs like Bruce Willis dining here! With an extensive menu where even carnivores can find a mock meat sandwich that they'll enjoy, I can see why this place is popular! We ordered (and subsequently, all sampled) the March special- a wonderfully spicy kung pao tempeh with lotus root, broccoli, snow peas, and cashews over pineapple rice, RFD's classic tempeh burger, and the satisfying classic club sandwich in a wrap. Also worth seeking out in L.A. is their Farmer's Market- the outdoor, tented venue with plenty of space and plenty of vendors is open every day. Featuring not just your typical fruit and vegetable vendors, the Farmer's Market is home to The French Crepe Company (where I brunched on a savory mushroom and spinach crepe), Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts (not for the doughnuts silly, but for a great, smooth cup of espresso!), Sushi A Go-Go, Ulysses Voyage for Greek cuisine, and Singapore's Banana Leaf - all venues had several vegetarian options to choose from! The Farmer's Market is a must.

In San Francisco, we were lucky enough to be just a five minute walk from the Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero- smaller than the L.A. Farmer's Market, and yet still more space than Chelsea Market (an unfair comparison I suppose, since real estate is scarce here in NYC!), the Marketplace also offers up some of the most awesome gourmet shops- Far West Fungi has the widest variety of mushrooms I've seen in any shop, and Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop was filled with the loveliest and stinkiest cheeses made in Cali- and plenty of places for a vegetarian to munch happily. We visited The Slanted Door's takeout window, Out the Door, and enjoyed generous servings of Vietnamese vegetarian buns and lemongrass tofu with rice; Imperial Tea Court not had a huge variety of teas to choose, but some of the most authentic spicy noodles I've had since visiting China; Il Cane Rosso offered a ricotta and broccoli rabe sandwich on foccacia, and a to-die for roasted carrot and parsnip salad with currants.

After ravaging the Ferry Building, we also visited Underdog, a sausage/hot dog joint serving up organic sausages and vegan hot dogs near Golden Gate Park. A vegan chorizo dog with organic homemade tater tots sure felt great after a day in the park! O Izakaya in Japantown didn't have quite the extensive small plate menu as my fave NYC Japanese places do, but I enjoyed their vegan ramen with a generous amount of firm shiitake mushrooms. Pagan Burmese and Thai outside of Lincoln Park didn't disappoint either- they were very generous with the amount of spicy tofu kebat and their vegetable samusas. Tiny resto Weird Fish in the Mission District used to be completely vegetarian/vegan, but now offers fish entrees (along with their daily "Suspicious Fish" dish) in addition to their veggie items. After waiting in the chilly night air for a table, I was immediately warmed up by their vegan sweet potato-coconut soup, and their vegan chorizo tacos:

I can't wait to go back and eat! Ah NYC, you'll get it someday...
In the meantime, I'll be visiting the new outpost of SF's Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg, opening today.