Sunday, February 28, 2010

Good Links: Trip to India, Japadogs, and Veggie-Challenged Kids

 
 Mmm...homemade pumpkin pancakes with chocolate chips and a few slices of smoky tempeh bacon. After that hearty breakfast, I'm ready to curl up and read some favorite blogs. Links to things I like from this past week:
  • VegNews is offering a 12-day, all-vegan journey to Rajasthan, India. Included in the price of the trip are a stay at a Maharajah's palace, daily yoga classes, a visit to an animal sanctuary, a vegan cooking class, and much more. Oh if I only had an extra $1295 laying around...and 12 days of vacation from work.
  • SuperVegan reports on the new Terri vegan cafe in the Flatiron district. Their vegan meatball parmesan sandwich sounds pretty awesome!
  • Chow Vegan makes vegan Japadogs. That would be Japanese hot dogs. The one pictured below has teriyaki sauce, seaweed (nori), fried onion, and Japanese mayo. These sound so weird, and yet so good, I absolutely have to try them.
  • HuffPo has a video preview of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, wherein a classroom of first graders can't identify basic fruits and vegetables. Do they know what ketchup is? Yes. Tomatoes? Not a clue. 
  • And The Atlantic offers 13 Ways to Impress a Vegan. Some of these things (vegetable stock?) I'm not going to be very impressed by, but Bananas Foster? Oh yes. Yes please.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Enter the Dunkin' Donuts Contest to Make Your Own Vegan Donut!


Dunkin' Donuts has a contest to create the next new flavor of donut. The prize is $12,000, not to mention bragging rights by having your creation sold in participating Dunkin' Donuts stores. Problem is, DD doesn't make vegan donuts... which is why you should submit an entry, suggesting that they do!

My creation above is a vanilla chai creme-filled donut with white frosting and chocolate sprinkles - inspired by my favorite beverage, vanilla chai lattes. After you create your donut, you fill out a section telling the judges about your donut and how it was inspired. Use this section to emphasize that you are proposing a vegan donut, without eggs or dairy in the filling, frosting, or donut itself. Who knows, one of us might win! And I'd sure love a vegan donut to dunk in my chai latte.

Update: Check out this site! Once you create your vegan donut, be sure to email your submission to Dunkin Cruelty so they can add it to their gallery of vegan donuts.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Yum Yum! Lime Peanut Noodles with Seitan, Bok Choy, & Carrots


It's the end of a long, snowy week during which I have to confess I've eaten a lot of crap. Between the rain, snow, and general work exhaustion, I've relied on a lot of takeout, which usually seems like a good idea at the time, but is later regretted. I really needed something to perk up my tastebuds and get me out of my funk. In other words, I needed some Lime Peanut Noodles.

I got the recipe from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook, which arose from the Vegan Yum Yum blog, one of my all-time favorite vegan blogs. I followed the recipe pretty closely except that I didn't have any kale, so I used baby bok choy instead. I'm sure any kind of green would be perfectly fine with this recipe.

The sauce is very simple to make, it's a mix of soy sauce, peanut butter, fresh squeezed lime juice, sugar, chili flakes, and ginger powder. After boiling some flat rice noodles, I stir-fried a mix of seitan (I used a package of White Wave Chicken-Style Seitan), three bunches of baby bok-choy, and two carrots, shredded. Once the greens and seitan were starting to brown, I just mixed in the noodles and tossed everything with the sauce, enough to heat and coat evenly.

 
  
 

A good tip with this recipe was to reserve about a tablespoon of the sauce, then add a couple handfuls of chopped peanuts and stir to coat. This gave the chopped peanuts for garnish a good dose of extra flavor.

I love this recipe - the peanut and lime flavor combo is both aromatic and tasty. The lime juice really peps up and brightens the entire dish, making it feel light and zesty instead of heavy. It is a very mild sauce though, despite a small amount of chili pepper, so if I had to critique it in any way I would say to either serve this dish with some Sriracha sauce on the side, or mix some into the sauce before tossing it with the noodles. A handful of crunchy bean sprouts on top wouldn't hurt either. All in all, it was an excellent meal that was cozy enough for a winter evening, but that made me think of brighter, sunnier days ahead.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Vaute Couture Shoot at Lula's Sweet Apothecary


We spent this past weekend shooting the new Look Book for Vaute Couture with everyone's favorite vegan coat designer, Leanne Hilgart. It was so much fun and really incredible to work with an all vegan crew. I was so impressed at the lengths that Leanne went to in assuring that the models she works with and all other elements of her shoots are vegan and/or vegan-friendly. But I have to say that the best part of the two-day shoot was the time we spent at what has become a NY vegan landmark: Lula's Sweet Apothecary!

For those of you who don't know Lula's, it is the most charming, all-vegan ice cream (or should I say "frozen dessert"?) parlor in the East Village of Manhattan. They always have the most mouth-watering flavors to choose from, some soy-based, others nut-based, and all the cookies, candies, and other toppings are vegan too. Every single thing I've tried there has been AWESOME and yesterday was no exception.

Who needs 31 flavors when you've got these to choose from?
Trust me, they're all good.

Coming in from the cold, we all treated ourselves to a cup of hot chocolate before we started shooting. Their hot chocolate is thick and rich, with a deep, dark flavor, and comes topped with either Sweet & Sara vegan marshmallows, or coconut-based whipped cream topping. It's pretty much a perfect cup of cocoa.

After we thoroughly savored our hot chocolates, we got to work, and by work I mean we ordered some sundaes. A banana split and a brownie sundae, to be exact.
We demolished this banana split before I could get a good picture of the whole thing.

Ok, so the sundaes were technically used as props, but not wanting to waste anything (yeah, that's it) after we were done shooting we devoured these sundaes faster than you can say "rainbow sprinkles." They were HEAVENLY. I can't remember the last time I had a banana split, but I think I should do it more often.
Our model Jayce with Leanne
 The Discerning Brute himself, Joshua Katcher

And no, the madness didn't end there. After all that, I still found room to sample yet another flavor. Peanut butter and jelly, to be exact. My dad used to make homemade peanut butter ice cream in one of those old machines with the crank, where you have to add salt and ice, and so peanut butter is a pretty nostalgic flavor for me. I daresay the one from Lula's could fool - and pleasantly surprise - even my vegan-skeptic dad. Next time he comes to visit, I'm going to take him there.
But I only had a few bites of the sundae, really.

Lula's Sweet Apothecary
516 East 6th St. (between Aves. A and B)
NY, NY 10009

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Good Links: Vegeterrible, Disturbing Stuff About Meat, and Eco Fashion

Being gone for nearly a week, I have lots of catching up to do on my favorite blogs. Perfect task for a Saturday morning, with a cup of chai tea and a bowlful of granola (with Vanilla Rice Dream, or course). Here are links to some good things:
  • Serious Eats posted this animated short Vegeterrible, about a crazed avocado terrorizing other vegetables during a fiesta. That tomato totally had it coming. No good comes out of chugging tequila in dark alleys.
 
  •  Italian photographer Tommaso Ausili won a World Press Photo prize for his series of photos from within an Italian slaughterhouse. *WARNING: These images are extremely graphic, disturbing, and heartbreaking. I am posting this link for those of you who are thinking of becoming veg, or for you to forward to anyone you know who might be thinking of giving up meat. These images, like the ones of live animals in full view of other slaughtered animals, will haunt you. Just like the film Earthlings, this series could be called "the vegan-maker." Do not click on the link above if you are not prepared to see the truth of the meat industry.
  • No less disturbing is this NY Times Op-Ed about genetically engineering animals so that they feel less pain. As in less pain, before they're slaughtered. Hey Einstein, how about you don't kill them, or torture them, or force them to live in cruel and disgusting conditions, so that they feel less pain? Which is nothing to say of all the environmental destruction caused by factory farming, or the idea that people (even carnivores) don't want to eat genetically modified food. What a freaking moron.
  • On a lighter note, Ecouterre has photos from the Greenshows, otherwise known as Eco Fashion Week.  Definitely check out the beautiful dresses from Deux FM and the gorgeous, 100% vegan winter coats from Vaute Couture.
  • And speaking of Vaute Couture, we're shooting all this weekend with the lovely Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart for her new Look Book. Not only are her coats all vegan, but the models and photographer (my husband!) are all vegan as well. Photos to come from our all-vegan fashion shoot!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's Hard To Be Vegan In Cabo


We're finally back from a blissful six days in Cabo San Lucas, and I had hoped to come back and regale you with plenty of posts about all the fabulous Mexican food we had there. Sadly I have to report that it was extremely difficult, darn near impossible, to be a happy vegan in Cabo.

Who would have thought it would be so difficult to find, say, a simple plate of rice and beans, in Mexico?! Surprisingly, it was incredibly difficult. Cabo, while it can boast some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, is not very veg-friendly. Maybe it's the bad influence of all the American tourists there, but what didn't include some kind of meat/seafood came laden with heaps of cheese. Countless times we specifically ordered things "sin queso" only to be served something with a small mound of cheese on top. Or hidden within. It was frustrating.

The only saving grace was that our hotel suite had a full kitchen, so we made a trip to Wal-Mart (I know, the horror!) to buy some supplies so we could cook. In addition to finding papayas the size of footballs, we bought plenty of mangos (they seemed to be smaller, but sweeter, there), avocados, tortillas, and even found, in their one and only nod to vegetarians, some soy chorizo.
 
 Fresh papaya and mango... if only every morning could be so sweet.

What to do with soy chorizo? Make breakfast tacos of course! I was actually introduced to the magical wonders of breakfast tacos while visiting my cousin T in Austin, Texas. Breakfast tacos are GENIUS. And simple. All you need to do is warm up some corn tortillas, then top with a spoonful of some warmed refried beans (having carefully read the ingredients to make sure they don't have any animal fat or lard), then a spoonful of the crumbled up soy chorizo that you've sauteed with a tiny bit of olive oil. Top with a few slices of ripe avocado, and some hot salsa... there you have it. The breakfast of champions.
 Breakfast tacos. Make these. You'll love them.
Our breakfast spot

One restaurant we found that was particularly charming was this Mi Casa, just a short walk from our hotel. Yet again, we ordered some tortillas and beans, with emphasis on NO CHEESE, but were served a large plate of black beans with heaps of cheese on top. We sighed, took a long drink from our bottles of Pacifico, and scraped it off the top. Thank god for chips and guacamole.

Anyway, what this restaurant lacked in vegan-friendliness it made up for in color and charm. If only we could get them to make something with soy chorizo.

 
 
Mi Casa
Avenida Cabo San Lucas, corner of Lazaro Cardenas
Cabo San Lucas

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Two Moons Special: Shitake Mushroom-Cornmeal Crust Pizza


I've been holding out on this recipe for some time now. It's probably our favorite dinner to make at home, so much so that we've dubbed it the "Two Moons Special." And while I've wanted to share it with my loyal readers (are there any out there?), I've been worried that I wouldn't have any original recipes good enough to follow this one.

But I can't hold out any longer. This is my absolute favorite pizza, and it is so hearty, savory, and satisfying that it won't even occur to you that there isn't any cheese or cheese-like topping on it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Shitake Mushroom - Cornmeal Crust Pizza
Serves two people.
For crust:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

For topping:
1/2 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
6 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup artichoke hearts, cut into pieces
1/4 cup black olives, sliced or chopped (I prefer the oil-cured variety for this pizza)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade

1. Preheat oven to 450. Place all dry ingredients for crust into a large bowl, mix well. Add oil and water, then knead with your hands for about 8 minutes, until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

2. Press crust into a tart or pie pan, as shown below. I find this crust turns out best when you cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer at least as long as it takes you to prepare the topping ingredients. Even better if you freeze it at least an hour. For some reason, the scientific explanation for which I couldn't begin to tell you, this seems to make the crust come out crisper and crunchier.


3. Heat olive oil on medium-high. Saute garlic for a few minutes until softened and barely golden (do not allow to crisp). Add mushrooms and a pinch of crushed red pepper and saute several minutes until softened and browned. Salt and pepper to taste.


4. Spoon about 1/2 cup of sauce (I like a lot of sauce on this pizza, use less if you prefer) onto the crust, and spread around evenly. The bottom of a ladle works well for this. Spoon mushroom/garlic mixture evenly over sauce, then add bits of artichoke hearts and olives, evenly.



5. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until crust is golden and crispy. Before serving, sprinkle fresh basil chiffonade on top.



Sunday, February 7, 2010

In Lieu of a Superbowl Sunday Post About Chili. Or Buffalo Wings.


If I were watching the Superbowl, I probably would have made a big ol' pot of chili with a batch of my jalapeno cornbread. But I'm not watching the Superbowl. I'm watching the Puppy Bowl! And as yummy as a big pot of veggie chili would be, I've been meaning to try out this recipe for Green-Lentil Curry from the January issue of Food & Wine magazine. The recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey, whose vegetarian cookbooks are among my favorites, and whose recipes are almost always as spicy as they are delicious. This recipe was voted by Food & Wine as the Best New Vegetarian Dish, so I figured I couldn't go wrong.

Knowing this, I don't know why I doubted her on this recipe. Maybe it was the photo that accompanied it that made it look, well, pretty much like an average lentil soup. I don't know why, but even reading the ingredients made it seem like it would be a pretty mild dish. I'm very glad that I resisted my urge to "kick it up a notch," as Emeril likes to say, because this turned out to be perfectly spiced and any more would certainly have been overkill.

It calls for a teaspoon of grated ginger, which gave me a chance to pull out one of my favorite tools - this ginger grater I bought at an Asian grocery store. Usually I am averse to gadgets that are too specific - like, do you really need a corn zipper or a strawberry huller? - but this ginger grater (which could actually be used to grate garlic too) is so handy and just the perfect size. The little teeth separate away the ginger fibers, so you're left with just a nice pulpy mound of fresh ginger. You combine the ginger with smashed garlic, coriander, cumin, cumin seed, and shallots to make the curry paste that gives this dish all the flavor. The good thing about making curry is that it smells insanely good... the bad thing is that it makes your entire apartment smell really good. Like curry. Which is not always what you want your apartment to smell like, if you know what I mean.

 I stayed pretty true to this recipe with a few exceptions. One, I didn't have any green beans so I used snow peas instead. I think it turned out fine, but the snow peas being a little more delicate, they got a bit softer than I like them. I like them to still have a snappy bite. Also, I probably used twice as much kale as the recipe calls for, but I had one bunch of it and I just wanted to use it up. I don't think this made any difference. Greens cook down so much, and you can't really get too much kale, can you? And lastly, I didn't add any cilantro at all. I didn't have any, and although I do use it occasionally, I'm not that into it. I don't think it suffered any for lack of cilantro.

As I mentioned, the curry paste that you stir in after all the veggies have cooked is intensely aromatic and flavor-packed. It's a very spicy dish that is surprising in that the flavors are like a traditional Indian curry, but without any of the oiliness or heaviness that you sometimes get with Indian food. Serve this with white basmati rice and a dollop of plain soy yogurt.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good Links: Ice Cream Cake, Vegan Doggy Biscuits, and Sexy & Sustainable Lingerie

So the snowstorm didn't really hit us very hard. But I'm still pretending to be snowed in, which is just an excuse to stay cozied up on the couch and catching up with all the vegan blogs I like to read. Links to things I liked this week:
  • The Gluttonous Vegan made this awesome looking ice cream cake below. Now I have to figure out which of my friends has a birthday coming up next so I can try to make this.
  • Vegan Junk Food is holding a vegan cheese challenge: Daiya vs. Cheezly. See their 1st and 2nd round results here and here
  • Manifest Vegan made these vegan doggy biscuits that include peanut butter and carrots. Why should you be the only one to get special treats for V-day? 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Lieu of a Valentine's Day Post with a Heart-Shaped Cake Recipe

 

Valentine's Day is coming up soon, and so I'm contemplating romance and love. Passion. L'amour fou. Hearts and cupids. Chocolate, mostly chocolate.

Actually, who am I kidding? It's Thursday, The Office and 30 Rock are new this week, and I just wanted to put on some comfy clothes and reheat leftovers. But I have been thinking about Valentine's Day coming up, but mostly because that's when we'll be in sunny CABO for a much needed vacation! And the first of what will hopefully be many travel editions of Vegan Good Things.

But back to Valentine's Day. The day on which hearts abound. Pink and red candy hearts. Heart-shaped boxes. Heart-shaped baubles. Maybe even hearts on your gettin'-lucky underwear. It's easy to spot hearts when you're being bombarded with them by every outlet trying to convince you that the only way to prove your love is to spend your cold hard cash on their six-course all-caviar and truffle tasting menu or that cubic zirconia tennis bracelet that looks just like real diamonds!, or those heart-shaped gold-flecked truffles filled with champagne and crushed rosebuds (I think those actually exist).  But my long-time friend and photographer Meredith Winn, also known as camera shy momma on Flickr, has a knack for spotting hearts in the most unexpected places.

I love Meredith's photography because she has such an amazing eye for color. Rich, bold, beautiful colors. And also because she has such an amazing eye for the smallest details - the details that reveal a sense of magic, wonder, and awe at the smallest things in everyday life. Like when she finds little hearts in ordinary objects... it makes you remember that love is all around you, if you just open your eyes and see it. Love pops up in unexpected places. It's just waiting to be captured.

 









 Check out Meredith's hearts set (and much more!) on Flickr.