Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What You're Craving Now: Vegan Pad See-Ew

I can't believe it is finally the last day of Vegan MoFo. It's been an incredible experience, I've discovered and made contact with many new vegan bloggers, but it's also been exhausting trying to post something new every weekday. I'm really proud of how much I did manage to post, but I can't keep up with this pace anymore. You were fun, you were inspiring, you were chockful of vegan foodie porn, but I bid you adieu, Vegan MoFo. Until next time.

So this last day of November not only marks the last day of MoFo, but it's also my birthday! After enjoying a long holiday weekend and still stuffed from all the Thanksgiving food, I think we're just going to have a quiet evening tonight, and maybe grab a quick bite to eat somewhere nice & casual after work. I am officially moving on from the Thanksgiving food. I love it so much, but I've reached my limit. Now I'm craving Asian food. Case in point: this Thai Pad See-Ew that I made last night.

Pretty much everyone loves Pad Thai (and who wouldn't? it's freaking delicious!) but Pad See-Ew might not be as familiar to those who don't eat Thai food on a regular basis. Pad See-Ew is one of my absolute favorite dishes, and is made with broad, flat rice noodles stir-fried in soy sauce. The distinctive flavor, however, is created by a combination of sweet dark soy sauce and light soy sauce, which you can order online or find at most Asian groceries. Using Chinese broccoli makes this recipe more "authentic," but regular broccoli is perfectly acceptable. Another tip: use the highest heat possible in your wok, and plenty of oil. Resist the temptation to stir your noodles too much, letting them sit in the pan until they start to brown and caramelize is another secret to authentic flavor. This is harder to do if you're using a nonstick pan, so really let the noodles sit in there until they smell like they are beginning to brown.

Vegan Pad See-Ew (Thai Soy Sauce Noodles)
serves 4

8 oz. wide, flat rice noodles
1 package firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
vegetable oil for frying
2 Tbsp. sweet dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp. vegetarian oyster sauce
2 tsp. light soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups broccoli florets

1. Place rice noodles in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Soak about 5 minutes, until soft.

2. Fry tofu cubes in vegetable oil (enough to coat bottom of pan) until browned on all sides. Remove from wok and set aside.

3. Combine soy sauces, oyster sauce, sugar, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl. Heat 4-5 Tbsp. vegetable oil to wok over high heat. Add rice noodles and give a quick stir to coat. Add sauce mixture and stir quickly to coat evenly. Let noodles sit in the wok several minutes until they start to brown.

4. Add tofu and broccoli to noodles. Stir fry until broccoli is tender but still crisp. Serve with Sriracha sauce, if desired.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Holiday Breakfast for Lazy Mornings: Soynog French Toast with Cranberry Sauce

We're taking the day off from work. We had a nice long Thanksgiving weekend, capped off with an incredibly long, slightly treacherous hike in New Paltz yesterday. This morning we were feeling slightly sore and lazy, and wanted another day to continue basking in the holiday cheer.

This recipe is for lazy mornings because I didn't actually have to do much work. I bought this French Toast mix from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe and was excited to test it out. It's a mix of brown rice and garbanzo bean flours, baking powder, egg replacer, and leavening, but also has maple sugar and vanilla powder to give it a wonderful flavor. I simply followed the instructions on the package, but used Silk Soy Nog as my non-dairy milk. This Soy Nog is one of my favorite things. I get ridiculously excited every year when it finally comes out. The delightful combination of the maple, vanilla, and eggnog aromas was almost enough to make me start singing Christmas carols in the kitchen. I said almost, because I can't stand Christmas music.

As you can see, this French Toast mix really fries up and browns nicely in the pan, just like "regular" French Toast would. To serve, I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on top, gave it a dollop of some cranberry sauce, and of course a drizzle of maple syrup. Yummy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

ThanksLIVING at Angelica Kitchen

Happy turkeys.
Image from Farm Sanctuary.

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the past few years we've had several friends over for Thanksgiving and I've done almost all of the cooking, but this year we've been incredibly busy and therefore decided to keep it simple and go out to eat, and let someone else do the cooking for a change.

Hearing the laments from veg friends forced to spend their Thanksgivings in the presence of a turkey carcass, I felt very blessed indeed that even after we decided to eat out, we still had several vegan options to choose from. It was incredibly difficult deciding between Candle Cafe, Blossom, Foodswings, and Angelica Kitchen, to name only a few places that had incredible looking all-vegan Thanksgiving menus, but after weighing all the factors we decided on Angelica Kitchen. 

Angelica Kitchen gave us a beautiful, very satisfying meal to remember. I was really happy to see that the restaurant was absolutely packed. So many people having vegan Thanksgiving feasts!

The meal started off with a plate of Jerusalem Artichoke-Black Olive Pâté, served with sage-onion crackers and these beautiful watermelon radishes. It was almost too pretty to eat. We also got a small dish of pickled vegetables - cranberry balsamic baby beets, Szechuan cauliflower, and minted green beans. It was as colorful as it was tasty. I even enjoyed the beets, and I don't normally like beets, so that's saying a lot.

For the second course we shared both of the soups. One was a rich, dark mushroom broth with escarole, roasted garlic, and seared shiitakes. It was amazingly complex and had a deep, concentrated mushroom flavor. I loved it. The other soup was a delicious celery root bisque with roasted apples and "autumn spices." It was rich and creamy and reminded me a lot of the celery root soup I made recently from Tal Ronnen's cookbook.

Next we had a salad course of endive and baby lettuces with shaved fennel, radicchio, pear miso dressing, and rosemary toasted pecans. It was good, but it's salad. What else can I say about it?

Then we came to the main courses. There were two options, so of course we got both and shared them. One was a seitan en croute (didn't I just have some of that?), served over roasted garlic horseradish cauliflower puree, with sauteed spigarello and a red wine porcini mushroom reduction. This was fantastic, but my only complaint was that they went a bit overboard with the sage. There was almost a full layer of sage leaves wrapped inside the phyllo pastry crust. I like sage, but not that much. Actually I have one other small complaint. Alongside our entrees, we got a side of maple roasted root vegetables and Dijon roasted brussels sprouts. The flavors of the side vegetables were very good, but they were totally overcooked and mushy. Not the way I like my brussels sprouts, but it was a very small mar on an otherwise spectacular meal.

The other main entree was the heirloom bean tamales, with a filling of swiss chard, almond cotija cheese, and Rio Zape beans, topped with a creamy pumpkin pipian sauce and finished with grilled poblano chili crema and pomegranate seeds. I don't know what most of those words mean, so maybe you can Google them, and get back to me? All that I do know is that these tamales were perhaps the best tamales I have ever tasted. The flavors were seasonal and yet totally unexpected, a wonderfully pleasant surprise on the Thanksgiving menu. From now on, I think that tamales should be included at all holiday meals. These were mind-blowingly good.

Speaking of mind-blowing, we still had our dessert course to work our way through. There were three choices, so we didn't get a picture of the poached pear with cranberry caramel sauce, opting instead for the pumpkin pie and the chocolate truffle tart with pistachio crust, vanilla bean cream, and black cherry coulis. The pumpkin pie was flawless, the texture and spices were perfect in this classic Thanksgiving dessert. And the chocolate truffle tart... I don't know how they got it so perfectly rich and smooth. It was so good, I was completely stuffed at this point but I just couldn't help going back for yet another bite of this chocolate tart. It was heavenly.

I really hope that you all enjoyed a wonderful, loving holiday, full of delicious vegan eats. I'm thankful for the beautiful meal that we had, and I'm thankful for all of the kind, thoughtful, and compassionate people out there - like you - with whom I've had the honor of connecting with thanks to this blog.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who Needs Homemade When You Have a Stuffed Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute?

This is my final taste test before the big T-day, and I purposely saved it for last. It's the Field Roast Stuffed Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute, and doesn't the name alone make your mouth water?

Described on the Field Roast site as "a sumptious rich grain meat seasoned with toasted hazelnuts and rosemary stuffed with a sausage style mixture of Field Roast, cranberries, apples, and crystalized ginger. Wrapped en croute with a rich vegan puff pastry, it is perfect as a center piece for a delicious, gourmet holiday meal." They had me at "puff pastry." Swoon!

As a huge fan of all the Field Roast products I have tasted thus far, I had high expectations for this roast, and was not disappointed. I absolutely love the savoriness of "meat," together with the subtle sweetness of the fruits and ginger. It is hearty enough to feel indulgent, but also elegant enough to serve at any holiday feast. I dare any omnivore to not want to devour this delicious vegan creation. I dare them!

About a month after I first met my now-husband, we spent our first Thanksgiving together. I remember that we bought a Tofurky Feast, complete with the gravy and the dumplings... is it true that they swapped the dumplings for chocolate cake now? Anyway, this was six years ago, and as I remember it, the Tofurky Feast was pretty much the only veggie option that I knew of then. It's amazing to me how many incredible vegan options we have readily available nowadays. It's a good time to be a vegan. And for that I am deeply thankful.

That said, this Field Roast En Croute is by far my favorite of all the holiday special products I have tried. If you still haven't decided on your vegan main course for Thursday, then you should run out immediately to get one of these. As for me, I'm one step ahead of you, because I'm already thinking about how I'm going to eat the leftovers...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let's Lighten Things Up a Bit: Roasted Sweet Potato, Walnut, & Pomegranate Salad

I have a confession. I still haven't posted my traditional sweet potato casserole dish, topped with Sweet & Sara mini marshmallows, but to be honest, I don't know if I'm going to get to that this year. I've been eating Thanksgiving food for at least a month now, and I never thought I'd say this, but I'm kind of reaching my rich, Thanksgiving food limit. I'm craving something lighter and healthier.

It might also surprise you to know that despite having thrown a Thanksgiving feast at our place for 10-12 friends for the past three years, we've decided to take this year off (gasp!) and let someone else do the cooking for us. Yep, I won't be slaving away for days, spending hundreds of dollars, to serve the big meal this year. I'm tired. We've made our reservations at Angelica Kitchen, which will be serving their special Thanksgiving prix fixe menu, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I will certainly post photos of our meal there.

That said, I still wanted to share this recipe for a roasted sweet potato salad with you. It is, quite simply, the prettiest salad I've ever made. It is also full of flavor and would be a perfect salad course for Thanksgiving. It is possible to serve sweet potatoes without the marshmallows on top, you know?

I clipped this recipe out of a NY Magazine a few years ago, and it stuck in my mind for its beautiful simplicity.

Salad of Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Walnuts, and Pomegranates
from Chef Charleen Badman, published in NY Magazine

For Salad:
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls arugula
2 handfuls frisée
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For Dressing:
1 large shallot, peeled and diced
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Wash and peel sweet potatoes and cut into one-inch pieces. Toss with thyme and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast sweet potatoes in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for twenty minutes or until light brown and soft when pierced with a fork.
3. To prepare dressing, soak shallots and a pinch of salt in champagne vinegar for five minutes. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season to taste.
4. After potatoes have roasted, they may be combined warm or cold with greens, walnuts, and dressing. Season and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Casual Thanksgiving for Two? Try This Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk'y

Savory Stuffed Turk'y with Green Beans & Sweet Potato Puree with Cranberries

I'm a big fan of Gardein, so I was excited to see that they added a seasonal item to their products, this "Savory Stuffed Turk'y." It comes frozen, and there are two breaded turk'y roasts per package. The stuffing inside each roast includes celery, onions, and cranberries, and a packet of gravy is also included.

I really did enjoy this stuffed turk'y - the breading on the outside stayed nice and crispy, while the inside was tender and moist. It was all very flavorful, including the gravy, and tasted just like Thanksgiving with all the herbs and seasonings. 

Does it have enough of the "wow" factor to serve on Thanksgiving? Probably not, unless it's maybe just two of you, and you're going for a casual thing, in which case, sure, why not? But it was definitely tasty, and I would recommend it as a pre-Thanksgiving warm-up meal, or maybe an after-Thanksgiving dish, to go along with all the leftover sides. Or pretty much any other time. You can figure that out for yourself. But get this, because it's a good thing. 

Everything Tastes Better in Puff Pastry: Mini Chick'n Pot Pies

I'm slightly obsessed with puff pastry. It's a magical thing, that puff pastry. It can transform a normal dish into something fancy, and make it look like you did a lot of work, even if you bought your puff pastry instead of making it yourself. Because come on, seriously, who has time to make their own puff pastry? I'm not Superwoman.

These Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells fall into the category of "accidentally vegan." For one of my first vegan Thanksgivings, I filled these with a wild mushroom ragout (sauteed wild mushrooms, plenty of garlic and fresh herbs, and a touch of vegan sour cream), but you could also use these for desserts, and fill them with a sweet custard and berries, for example. They are very versatile and work well with sweet or savory fillings. And I guarantee your guests will say, "ooh, fancy," and be all impressed and stuff, even though it's really quite easy to make these.

I saw this recipe for Tal Ronnen's Chick'n Pot Pie on the Gardein website and had been wanting to try it. I made the filling according to the directions, but instead of pouring it into ramekins and covering with puff pastry sheets, as Chef Tal suggests, I just spooned the filling into these shells. Simply bake the shells according to the package directions, then spoon the warm filling inside and serve immediately.

Another note: these pastry shells come 6 to a box. The Pot Pie recipe made probably enough for 10 - 12 of these, so you could either cut the filling recipe in half, if you only want to make 6, or you can make the recipe as is and use 2 boxes of the pastry shells. The puff pastry doesn't reheat all that well, though, so I recommend making the exact number that you're going to serve.

These were so delicious, and I felt like they were just the right portion size, as the filling and the pastry shells are both rather rich. These would make a very nice first course/appetizer for your holiday menu, or even a main course along with all the sides.

Bake the shells according to package directions.

Use a fork to gently lift the top off of the shell.

Fill and serve. Oooh, fancy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegan Cookbook Signings & Other Good Things in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Last night I went to the second book-signing party for Melisser Elliott's The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life. The first one was at Moo Shoes, and the second one at the new(ish) all-vegan Champs Family Bakery in Williamsburg. Also there signing her new cookbook was Kelly Peloza with The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. I bought a copy and am already flagging cookie recipes I want to make for the holidays.

As excited as I was to see Melisser again, (and to also spot Moby at the second event in two weeks) I was also really excited to finally get to check out Champs. We were lucky enough to get to sample lots of treats that they had out for the party, including their now famous pumpkin cinnamon rolls (sorry no pictures of those!), brownies, and even savory scones with Daiya cheddar and sundried tomato. Everything was fantastic. And look at some of these gorgeous treats in their bakery cases:

I'm a sucker for carrot cupcakes.

Look at these beautiful S'mores cupcakes!

 I don't even like scones, but these Strawberry Pecan scones caught my eye...

...as did this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Coffee Cake!

And so I had to bring them home with me:

I'm not exaggerating when I say this was the best scone I ever had. Just look at those bits of strawberries!

And this pumpkin cream cheese coffee cake, quite simply, blew my mind. Run out and get this now, while they have it. That is all.