Friday, August 19, 2011

Countdown to Vida Vegan Con...

Well folks, I'm off.
Heading out west tomorrow to begin my vacation before the Vida Vegan Bloggers Conference. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this conference is going to be. I'll be rubbing elbows with some 200+ fellow vegan bloggers,  as well as authors, activists, chefs, and all around awesome people.

Expect new and exciting things to happen here in the near future.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lasagna: A Layer by Layer Tutorial

I scoured the entire city today for some damn Daiya mozzarella shreds. Yes, really. Unbelievable, I know. To top it off, it's a crappy day today. Just pouring down rain, windy, muggy, nasty day. What a perfect night for comforting lasagna.

Everyone knows how to make lasagna, right? I don't know, maybe not. I'd like to give you a simply lasagna tutorial today. All while watching Extreme Couponing! (I am just bewildered by these people. It's crazy!)

  • 1 lb lasagna noodles (not the "no boil" kind)
  • 1 batch of pasta sauce (or jar sauce, if you must)
  • 1 batch tofu ricotta
  • 1 bag Daiya mozarella shreds
  • ~1 cup fresh spinach (optional)
Preheat oven to 350ยบ. You'll prepare the noodles first, and no, you're not boiling them! I repeat, do not boil the noodles. Instead, soak them in hot water for 5 minutes. I do this by filling a separate lasagna pan with about 2" of hot tap water. (Note: my tap water is extremely hot.) Then I layer 4-6 noodles in the hot water for 5 minutes. When the first batch of noodles are ready, begin layering.

Lay 3-4 noodles in a lasagna pan. Spread a layer of tofu ricotta over the noodles followed by a layer of sauce. Next sprinkle the spinach over top (if using). I just tear the spinach with my hands, no fancy chopping needed here. Last, sprinkle a nice layer of Daiya mozz. That's it! Now, repeat so you have 3 complete layers. Once finished, pour the remaining sauce over top and cover the top with a final layer of mozz.

Cover loosely with foil, and bake 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-10 more minutes. When it's finished your Daiya will be incredibly melty and delicious. If you let it sit for a few minutes, it will hold together a little better when you cut slices.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tofu Ricotta

I love(d) ricotta cheese. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it was with a sprinkle of sugar mixed in, on top of a big bowl of pasta. Those days are behind me but when a dish calls for a creamy ricotta like ingredient, it's easy to substitute with a quick homemade tofu ricotta. Here is how I make mine...

Tofu Ricotta
  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Crumble the tofu into a bowl. (Tip: I use a potato masher to mash the tofu.) Your tofu should have the consistency of ricotta cheese (duh). Mix in the spices until completely combined. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Well by now you know I moved to NYC. Yay!

Back a few months ago we were visiting NY and had our own veg restaurant crawl which ended in an all out schmorgasboard! Mind you, at this point we didn't even know we were moving!

So here is my very, very delayed post on our NYC eating experience, surely with many more to come. (Edit: I'm practically at Curly's everyday.)
It all started at Franchia.

This was just a quick stop for lunch before we went to the Affordable Art Fair (which was fantastic as well.) We started with tea, iced ginseng for me, and iced pomegranate for T. 

Accompanied by a plate of assorted (fried) dumplings. Then for T was a a platter of sushi containing the mountain greens and roots roll and the California roll.

 I had the pumpkin noodles salad, which may be the best salad I've ever eaten. Seriously, I've not only pondered for hours how they make these pumpkin noodles, but also have had dreams about this salad! I also had a hand roll, the crispy tofu skin in teriyaki sauce. Wow, I love this place. Needless to say, we left pretty full.

The next day we got a little indulgent...

Angelica Kitchen was supposed to be a small lunch. Well... our small lunch was made up by the Agrarian Salgado as a starter as well as the famous Angelica cornbread. Then I had the Tempeh Reuben Sandwich and T had a salad... which one I can't quite remember/figure out but it was loaded with beets, lentils, onions, tomatoes (I think) and lord knows what else. It was huge. Everything was delicious, and when it was all done, I had to be rolled out the door.

 We strolled around a little, at least I think we did. I may have been in a food coma...
Anyway, dinner was very exciting. We had reservations at Pure Food & Wine. Oh my gawd, it's exciting even just thinking about it...

We sat in the garden and it could not have been more perfect. After tons of debating we decided on the tasting menu. I just wanted everything on the menu, and well, this was the closest I was going to get in one sitting.

Let me tell you... so worth it!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to take any photos of the food because the sun went down and the lighting was too dim. Plus at least half way through I couldn't even think about anything except what was coming out next. I did, however, manage to scribble what each dish was onto a random receipt that I found in my purse. Let's hope I can still read all this chicken scratch, here it goes...

-Heirloom tomato & fennel salad w/ honeydew vinagrette & cashew cheese
-Spinach strawberry salad w/ pistachios
-Portabella crostini
-Kabocha squash soup w/ maple burbon syrup & clove oil
-Pad thai kelp noodles w/ peanuts & cilantro
-Avocado asparagus rolls w/ wasabi aioli, fresh ginger
-Spanikopita w/ cauliflower, grapes
-Vegetable lasagna w/ zucchini & heirloom tomato & macadamia pumpkin seed ricotta, sundried tomato ricotta & spinach ricotta
-Orange limonata sorbet
-Lemon cheesecake w/ strawberry rhubarb sorbet
-Trio of dark chocolate

This was easily the best meal I have ever had in my entire life. Nevermind the fact that I had to be wheeled out in a gurney because I was so full that I could not even stand on my own two feet. Ok, well maybe that didn't actually happen, but trust me, we could both barely walk.

Please, please do me a favor and the next time you have something to celebrate with someone special, take them to Pure Food & Wine, sit outside and get the tasting menu. Trust me!

Polenta Fries

Since the move, I have been working my way through some pantry staples, in an attempt to, well, avoid food shopping. At least it's making me be a little creative...

Exhibit A... polenta fries. Now children, I realize these are not new to veganland, but they are new to my kitchen. So here we go...

Polenta Fries
(should serve 4-6 as a snack, but the 2 of us easily finished off one batch)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dry polenta
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dry Italian herb blend
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. When your water is boiling add the oil, turn heat down, then slowly whisk in the dry ingredients. Make sure no clumps form, and continue whisking until you have a very thick mixture. Spread your mixture out into a greased baking pan (I used a 9" round, just use what you have). Refrigerate until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Turn out the polenta onto a cutting board and cut into fry shapes, mine were just shy of about 1/2" thick.

Heat a lightly oiled skillet or cast iron pan (highly recommended) over medium high heat. Fry your, um fries, in a single layer, a few minutes on each side, until just turning a light golden brown.

It is absolutely essential that you devour these immediately out of the hot oil. It is the only way to truly savor these babies. Take note of the perfect bite... a light, crispy, salty crunch followed by a warm smooth, creaminess in the middle.

These are certainly delectable all alone, but I decided to whip up a quick little side dip. The sundried tomatoes really add a little extra salty kick.

Sundried Tomato Pesto
  •  1 heaping cup, loosly packed basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 sundried tomatoes packed in oil
Combine all ingredients except tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until you have a crumbly mixture. Add tomatoes and process until smooth. Slowly add olive oil by the teaspoon if needed. 
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