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.