Monday, August 5, 2013

A New Home

We got our very own, fancypants domain!

We'll be updating there from now on, so update your bookmarks accordingly!

- Crystal

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kale-Sesame Udon with Roasted Beets

Oh, hello!

We're still alive and we're still very much vegan.  Life has been a bit crazy.  I was laid off from my job recently and we've had to put a lot of life plans (including our very first trip to Europe that was supposed to happen this October...sigh) on hold as a result.  The one upside to all of this is I have the time to reassess my priorities in life, and become re-inspired to blog and share something that brings me a lot of joy: food.  The ritual of preparing it, the experience of a well-crafted plate.  

A big thing for me right now is self-care to get me through this tough time.  Forcing myself to keep a routine, get enough sleep, get dressed each day, exercise and eat properly.  Ensuring I take care of those very fundamental things to keep my going, and as Woody Guthrie put it, to keep the hoping machine running.  

We've been doing a lot of quick, easy things like this; tasty and healthy but not super involved.

For the beets, I used the tinfoil beet method from the Post Punk Kitchen.

For the udon, I did the following:

1 tbsp canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 head of kale, torn into pieces and hard stems removed
2 packages of Japanese udon (the kind that comes in individual servings and are kind of squishy like this, ensure it is vegan as I have seen them before with weird milk ingredients for no reason)
The following to taste: toasted sesame oil, sriracha hot sauce, soy sauce
Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil on medium heat in a large wok (you'll need the room, because the kale takes up quite a bit of space before it wilts).  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds just to "blonde" the garlic and infuse the oil a bit.  Carefully drop the kale pieces in, with tongs, flipping to coat in the garlicky oil.  Sautée the kale and garlic until the kale is bright green and nicely wilted, about 10 minutes.  Open the udon packages and break apart the noodles (they will be a solid block) into the pan, with tongs breaking up to coat in the oil and kale.  Cook for 5 minutes.  To taste, add soy sauce, sriracha and just a drizzle of sesame oil, again stirring to coat.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Plate up and top with sesame seeds and, if you're like me, another drizzle or two of sriracha.

- Crystal

Monday, February 4, 2013

Taro Barley Soup

Every few months, I like to take inventory of what I've got in the pantry and freezer, and make sure I'm using up all the things I've purchased for recipes and then get shoved to the side.  Sunday was inventory day.  As of today, in addition to every spice and condiment imaginable, plus staples like sugar, salt, baking soda, and the like:

scallion flatbreads
sweet potato biscuits
4 apple sage Field Roast sausages
2 portions curried split pea soup
leftover ethiopian lentils
2 blocks tofu
chunked pineapple, cherries, mango, bananas

2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
large tvp chunks
wheat spaghetti
spicy peanut butter
coconut milk
rice noodles

pepper squash
baby spinach
pomegranate arils
3 peppers
3 beets
4 carrots
1 large taro root
3 sweet potatoes
4 onions
purple kale
a grapefruit
4 kiwis

beans, peas, lentils
dried lima beans
1 cup green lentils
1/2 bag each green and brown lentils
dried romano beans

6 large tortillas

chickpea flour
vital wheat gluten
all purpose flour
whole wheat flour
corn meal
empanada flour

white rice
brown rice
pearl barley
steelcut oats

nuts and seeds
cashews (lots)
sesame seeds
almond slivers
peanuts (lots)
1-2 cups walnuts
1 cup pistachios
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds

4 firm blocks of tofu
pickled red onions
pickled asparagus
1/2 jar sofrito
niter kibbeh

This means it's time to get creative and work with what I've got instead of purchasing more ingredients for specific recipes.  I start off with what's going to go "off" first, and work from there.  I've had the taro root for a couple weeks, and a hankering for a big pot of soup, so I set to work.

The thing with soup is I feel like if you know the basics of cooking and flavour affinities, it's kind of impossible to screw up.  Infact, I'm pretty sure that soup started out as a way to use up whatever you've got, simmer it down and make it good.

Last time I was in Toronto, I went to my favourite Latin shop in Kensington Market to see what things I could bring home.  I like a good shortcut now and again, so I bought a jar of sofrito, which is basically just a thick sauce of tomato, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, peppers, to be used as a base for dishes like stews, soups, rice and beans.  I had a half jar left of it from making sofrito tempeh last week.  Terry Romero has a nice sofrito recipe in Viva Vegan.

This soup tastes just like my grandmother's lecso, which is a Hungarian stew that has yellow peppers, tomato, onion and paprika in it, and is served over what is called egg barley noodles (tarhonya).

With sweet potato drop biscuits from the cookbook Appetite for Reduction.

Simple Taro Barley Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium taro root, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 jar sofrito (Goya brand, or homemade)
1/2 cup pearl barley
salt to taste

Heat your olive oil on medium-high heat in a large soup pot.  Add the onion and carrot and sautee until the onion is pearly and translucent.  Add the garlic, taro and pepper and stir to coat everything in oil.  Add the broth and sofrito, stirring to mix everything.  Bring to a boil, and reduce to a low simmer once its reached boiling.  About 15 minutes before carrots are fork-tender, add the barley.  It's done when the barley is cooked.  Taste for salt.  The taro will be very soft in the finished soup, which is nice because it adds creaminess to the broth.
Tastes even better the next day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New York City (Part II)

(See Part I of our vegan food tour of NYC!)

Me upon arrival at our NYC apartment sublet, summarizing how I feel about the whole trip

Ahhhh...another entry to profess my love for NYC and all the vegan noms and fun things to do within it.
We're huge fans of Louis CK and the show Louie, so on Tuesday night we went to the Comedy Cellar, which is in the opening sequence of the show, and where Louis does the stand-up bits in his show.  In the opening sequence, he's walking around Greenwich Village.  

He comes up from the Washington Square subway station:

Walks down the street and gets pizza, and ends up here:

We walked around singing the song in the opening sequence ("Brother Louie") and had a grand old time laughing until our faces were melting at the Comedy Cellar (some of the comics that night were from Louie, and one of them plays Frank on 30 Rock).  

Before we got to that point though, we had dinner at Red Bamboo (West 4th St/6th Ave):

I had the "chicken" parm sandwich, which was absolutely incredible.  Following that with the oreo cheesecake was not my best idea due to how full it made me, but I don't regret it at all.  Not even a little bit.
Trevor had the Philly cheesesteak, which he didn't take a photo of but says, "It was the best sandwich I've ever had!"  Pretty high praise.

The next day, we got up bright and early, ready for what we dubbed the "Art Day".  That would include me getting tattooed at Kings Avenue in Manhattan by the talented Philip Szlosek.  Not all tattoo ink is vegan, but many of the dudes at Kings Ave are vegan (and straight edge!) so they know what's what when it comes to that.  
Also, not related to art, but we walked over to Moo Shoes and bought some kicks and pet the cats who take up residence in the store.  
We then headed back to Midtown so we could go to the MOMA and look at some of the most famous and influential art of all time:

We hadn't really planned our food for this part of the trip, figuring we could find something.  WRONG!  Turns out, the area surrounding the MOMA sucks for vegan food.  We ended up buying the most stale big pretzel from a street vendor, and our saving grace was another street stall that had fresh juices, so we got some sort of kale/celery/apple/ginger concoction which was at least some sustenance.  

After an exhausting day, and I still had a ton of leftover adrenaline and endorphins in my system from being tattooed, we got totally dressed up and headed to Candle 79, the crown jewel of vegan restaurants.  This, for me, was the highlight of the whole trip.  Located in the Upper East Side, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the world, this make-reservations-a-month-ahead restaurant is worth the trip to NYC alone.  The service was impeccable, the ambiance was gorgeous, and the food was truly some of the best I've ever eaten.  We couldn't really take photos since the whole restaurant is dimly-lit by candlelight.

We started with the steamed dumplings (seitan, shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy,
sesame-ginger soy sauce), and the chef brought over an amuse-bouche of a delicious chickpea salad.  For entrées, I had the Seitan Piccata and Trevor had the Pomegranate Chipotle-Grilled Tempeh.  We finished with Trevor having the spiced espresso (espresso, ginger-agave, cinnamon, chili pepper, mole bitters, orange twist) and I had the cannoli (chocolate chip-vanilla cream filling, coconut ice cream, chocolate drizzle).

Again, I have to say, every detail about that meal was just incredible.  After we returned home to London, I received a personal email from the manager thanking us for our business, and hoped we'd return next time we found ourselves in NYC.  Now how's that for service?


The next day was BROOKLYN/vegan meetup day.  A group of us from the PPK met up for breakfast at Yonah's, since no one else had been there yet!  See that gorgeous, rolly-polly baby in the background?  Vegan from birth, yo.  And she's just the most energetic, squishy, huggy, fun baby around.

Stuffed with knishes.  Rachel (red shirt) ordered two because she didn't believe me that they're filling and was only able to finish one!  I tried her sweet potato one and it was really good.

Next up was hopping back on the subway to head over to Brooklyn.  The Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn was probably my favourite, most-livable place we visited in NYC.  It has a really different energy than Manhattan; less manic.  Plus, vegan donuts and pizza.  Behold:
"Lunch" #1:  Two donuts each.  Mine were chocolate with sprinkles and raspberry-jam filled.    Trevor says jam-filled is gross (hater!) so he opted for cinnamon glazed instead.

Our take-home box that made it home in our luggage!   Chocolate sprinkles, chocolate, cinnamon, raspberry filled, raspberry glazed, vanilla with chocolate sprinkles

Mac and cheese pizza, soy BBQ chicken pizza

The donuts were from Dunwell Donuts (Montrose/Bushwick, Brooklyn) and the pizza was from Vinnie's (Bedford/N 6th St., Brooklyn) and they were everything I could've hoped for.   

Next up was Champs (Ainslie/Leonard, Brooklyn) for our last dinner in NYC.  We met up with more vegan friends!

No one goes away starving at Champs.

Where's the photos of the food, you ask?  Good question.  I totally forgot.  Just like I forgot to take photos of our ice creams at Lula's later that night...

Lula's Sweet Apothecary (Avenue B/E 6th St.) was going to be our first stop on the trip, but their shortened winter hours went into affect the weekend before our trip, so the first time they were open on our trip was Thursday.  It was the last thing we did, and it was really the cherry on top of the whole trip.

Everything at Lula's is handmade, and their policy is giving those of us with dietary or ethical requirements for what we eat the experience of being a kid in an ice cream shop.  You want it, you got it.  I got the banana split, and when asked what sauce toppings I wanted (caramel, chocolate or hot fudge), I asked which was the best.  The man behind the counter said, "Well, why don't you have all three?"  Yessir!  You don't need to ask me twice.

I totally failed at getting any photos, like I said.  It seems like more than enough people have captured the experience though, a quick google search tells me.

Anyway, this entry was kind of hard to write because when we took the trip, I wasn't in a blogging mode and didn't think I'd ever write this all out.  But if you have one takeaway from this poorly-written entry, it's that you need to go stuff your face in NYC.

The end.

- Crystal

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vegan Eats World

I'm super excited about this cookbook.  I finally added it to my repertoire at Christmas and I've just been blown away by everything we've made so far.  You know a cookbook is good when you read it like a novel.

I really liked Pho when I was a meateater.  Since being vegan, I've discovered it's nearly impossible to find a version in a restaurant that isn't loaded with tripe, tendon and other assorted nasties.  Yeuch.

I nearly jumped with joy when I was first flipping through the index of Vegan Eats World and saw a recipe called Sizzling Seitan Pho Noodle Soup (the recipe is in that link).  Trevor made it one day while I was working and he was off work (yeah, I'm a lucky lady, my husband makes me soup that includes broth from scratch. I know).  He said the soup was labour intensive, but the final result was out of this world.

That broth.  Holy crap.  It was sweet, spicy, sour, savoury all at once.  I couldn't stop slurping my broth.  Screw the rest of the dish, that broth!  

Those chunks are both the Coriander Seitan Cutlets from the book, and baked tofu.  Honestly, I preferred the tofu, and I think next time we make it, I'll just make it a Tofu Pho instead of seitan.  

This book also has so much more.
  • Kale, preserved lemon and pomegranate salad
  • Scrambled tofu breakfast Banh Mi sandwiches
  • Greek Creamy Lemon Rice Soup
  • Flying Massaman Curry
  • Sri Lankan Red Lentil Curry
  • Garlic Chive Seitan Potstickers
  • Edamame Gyoza
  • Sweet Potato-Stuffed Paratha
  • Yogurt Naan Griddle Bread
  • Steamed BBQ Seitan Buns
  • Pad Mee Kao
  • Korean Veggie Bulgogi
  • Roasted Gnocchi with Roasted Tomato Caper Sauce
  • Baked Punky Pumpkin Kibbe
  • Roasted Eggplant Masala
  • Pumpkin Churros
  • Vanilla Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
  • Ethiopian Chocolate Flourless Torte

I hope everyone gets this book because Terry is awesome. 

- Crystal

A Weeknight Dinner Narrative

What's a lady to do when she's had a long day at work, went to the gym, husband's working late and it's 6:30 before she even starts thinking about dinner?

Before she even solidifies her game plan, she puts on a pot of whole wheat rotini.  She hasn't had pasta in a while, and it'll come together quickly.

She assesses that her pantry and refrigerator and the first things that pop out to her are: a bag of carrots, a bunch of kale that won't be good much longer, an avocado, 1 orange pepper and 1/2 a yellow pepper, some broccoli sprouts, some garlic.

She grabs the biggest wok she can find, adds a glug of olive oil, puts it on medium heat, and sets out to chop the carrot, mince the garlic, tear the kale, dice the pepper and avocado.

She adds the carrot to the sizzling wok first, followed by garlic.  Then comes to the kale, left for a few minutes to wilt, then the peppers.  She leaves this to do its thing quickly while she drains the pasta.

Back to the wok.  Now everything is nice and bright, hot and crisp-tender, it gets doused in a squirt of lemon juice, a big pinch of dried basil, generous pinches of salt and black pepper, and LOTS of nutritional yeast.  Mmm, cheesy, cheesy nutritonal yeast.

The pasta gets added back in.  Everything gets tossed together.  Then plated.  Then topped with the sprouts and avocado.  And some hemp seeds for some protein.

And some hot sauce, of course.

- Crystal

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Orange Chick'n and Broccoli

I'm not huge on faux meats in my own cooking, since I really like cooking with whole ingredients and not premade stuff, but I am totally not above a good Chinese-style chick'n dish now and again.  We found some mock chick'n chunks at the huge Asian market that opened up in London.

What better way to use them than to put them in a Chinese take out style chick'n and broccoli dish in a tangy, garlicky orange sauce?

1 300g bag premade vegan chicken nuggets or equivalent chicken-style seitan strips
1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
~1 tbsp canola oil

The sauce:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
salt and pepper

Add any mild-tasting oil (canola, peanut) you have to a wok and heat on medium-high heat.  Add your chick'n chunks or seitan strips and sautee until golden brown.  Remove from pan and set aside.  With the remaining oil in the pan, add the broccoli florets and cook until bright green but still with some crunch.  Add the chick'n chunks back to the pan, add some salt and pepper, then coat with the sauce, stirring to coat everything.  Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens up.

Serve over rice with hot sauce on the side.  Eat!

- Crystal