Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creamy Tomato Soup

When I say creamy, I mean creamy. This coming from an ex-cream lover herself. This soup is a miracle. As the days are getting shorter and while the darkness and cold start creeping in, this soup could serve as your best friend. Its dairy, soy, and gluten free (so it can be everybody's best friend) only takes 45 minutes to make, and is low in fat! Can I get a "what, what".  This comes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's book Veganomicon, and when they say it's the "ultimate vegan cookbook" they mean it's the ultimate vegan cookbook.  A creamy tomato soup is the comfort of all comfort foods. Here's one for the ages... 

Creamy Tomato Soup 
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
-3 cloves garlic, chopped
-1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (crushed between your fingers)
-1/2 tsp. dried thyme
-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
-1 tsp. salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper 
-1 lb. waxy potatoes (2-4 average-size potatoes) peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
-1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not the ones packed in oil, the straight up sun-dried tomatoes)
-6 cups water or vegetables broth
-1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (the fire-roasted are especially worth it here)
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste

Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent, 5 -7 minutes. Add the garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Saute for 1 more minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. Pour in the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, lower the heat to medium, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the sun-dried tomatoes are soft. 
Add the crushed tomatoes and heat through. If you have an immersion blender, use it! If not the good ole' fashion way works as well. 
Heat again, throw some lemon zest (I didn't bother) and bam!
Instead of the lemon zest I topped mine with a nice pesto dollop and bread crumbs. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Restaurant Review : NYC's HanGawi

I am fortunate enough to have a boyfriend who's parents try their best to cater to our vegan selves. JT Howell is one who aims to please, and did just that when he picked this restaurant in NYC for a Sunday family lunch.
HanGawi  located at 12 East 32nd Street, between 5th and Madison Avenue calls itself "a vegetarian shrine in another place and time". They got it spot on. Walking into the zen atmosphere you must take off your shoes before stepping up into the dining room. The tables are 2 feet above the ground with decorative silk quilted pillows as your seat. Silver chopsticks and a floral engraved spoon are then placed in front of you. I wasn't sure if I should start meditating or to look over the menu. The peaceful servers walk around in traditional korean slippers and robes as they graciously wait to take your order and answer any questions you may have about the menu. All the dishes are vegan, some raw, and they offer organic dishes and an organic/non drink selection.
The drinks range from traditional rice wine cocktails, to sake, to fresh squeezed juice and of coarse a beautiful array of tea. John went for the carrot ginger juice and I choose the rose green tea. Both excellent.
Each choosing a mouth watering appetizer to share our selection ended with: stuffed shiitake mushrooms, vegetable steamed dumplings, kabocha pumpkin pancakes with mung beans, avocado salad with carrot ginger dressing and a combination roll plate -  some were like mini fresh rolls wrapped in a variety of rice papers, while others reached the decadence of sushi.

For our main dish, I got bean curd with kimchi and spicy vegetables. The sauce was a light slightly thickish sesame-soy-gingerish  sauce with the perfect spice on top of onions, ginger, mushrooms, and spinach. Topped with spicy kimchi (YUM!) while the bean curd was separated, each topped with a different flavor accent: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, carrots, scallions, and red peppers.

John got the spicy chili mushrooms. Similar to mine, sans the kimchi and bean curd. Instead a plethora of different mushrooms tossed in a beautifully thick spicy sauce, side of parsley, with a carrot rose, and decorative oranges.

The other main courses at our table included: crispy mushrooms in a sweet and sour sauce, kabocha pumpkin stone bowl rice, and my absolute favorite : grilled todok - mountain root strips in a ginger soy sauce. The grilled todok had a simple taste, similar to a sweet potato, but a perfect almost meaty stringy texture. Served on a stone plate that was still sizzling as it was brought to our table.

Unfortunately our time restrain didn't allow for dessert, however, I was very full from the slice of heaven I had just ingested.
If you're in the NYC area, and looking for not only a wonderful meal, but an all around wonderful experience, I would definitely suggest HanGawi, it has been by far the best vegan restaurant I have been to this year.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yam Fries with Yogurt Dill Sauce

What is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? I always thought they were the same. Some other people, including my dad, always said that it was a regional dialect, in the north sweet potatoes and in the south they called them yams. I bought this, thinking they call all "pop" cola in the south, so why wouldn't the exchange convert to vegetables.
However, I am wrong, my dad is wrong, and all the others who thought/think they are the same thing. There's all sorts of information on the good ole' reliable world wide web about the difference of these two vegetables. Region does play a part, the yam coming from latin America, the sweet potato is found more north. The yam has more natural sugars in it and can grow up to 7 feet in length!! At Home Cooking there is some great information along with links that compares the difference between the two.
Well, sweet potato fries and yam fries .... apparently there's a difference.
I picked up some yams. And they really make some delicious fries. A yogurt dill dipping sauce is the perfect accent. This 'pie will yield a giant plate of fries (more than enough for four people) and same goes for the sauce.

Yam Fries 
-2 medium sized yams - sliced into thin strips
-1 tbsp olive oil
-dash of salt
-dash of cayenne

Preheat the oven to 450. Layout the cut, sliced yams on a cookie sheet and drizzle oil over them, toss them so it gets on both sides. Sprinkle salt and cayenne over yam fries. Place in oven and bake for about 10 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 10 -15 minutes until they turn golden. If you like crispier fries, lay-off on the olive oil and bake a bit longer.

Yogurt Dill Sauce
-1 cup soy yogurt - I use the silk brand
-juice from 1 lemon
-2 teaspoon dried dill
-dash of salt

Mix all together in a bowl. Serve on the side with fries. ENJOY!

Friday, October 16, 2009


If banana and mango go great together in a smoothie why wouldn't they be just as right for each other in a muffin? My thoughts exactly.

Banana  - Mango Nut Muffins
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
-2 ripe bananas - mashed
-1 cup rice milk
-2 tsp. flax (ground)
-3 tbsp. earth balance
-1 tbsp. agave nectar
-1 champagne mango - peeled and chopped into small pieces
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease your muffin tin (yields 12 small muffins). In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda/powder, salt and nutmeg). In a small bowl mix your wet ingredients including the flaxseed nix the walnuts.  Combine the two and stir using a wooden spoon and add in the walnuts. Spoon into greased muffin slots and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells with Jalapeno Rosemary Sauce

 I found this recipe in a book I picked up at the Library - The Complete Vegan Cookbook by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Minday Toomay. I flipped right to this recipe and knew that I would be checking it out. YUM! Did someone say .. pumpkin ... rosemary ... and jalapeno? In this book, the authors have very decadent recipes but simple ingredients, no wacky stuff, with the nutritional information per serving. The layout is wonderful starting with cooking fundamentals that covers techniques, jargon, appliances, and the art of measuring. Then it includes the "essential" foods a vegan should always have in their pantry along with proper care and storage. My favorite is they have a seasonal menu section. With that its just like any other cookbook, but they've got some major stuff going on -- Caramelized Onion and Tempeh Spread, Cauliflower in Coriander Cashew Sauce, Hot and Sour Soup, Mushroom, Oat, and Almond Burgers .. I'm pretty excited to read on!

This recipe was good, but not great. I would spice it up a bit more, it was a bit bland. Granted I didn't add the dry sherry because I didn't have any, but the sauce could definitely use more flavor, I would say, more garlic, a pinch of salt, and something savory like mushrooms. Needless, it's a good meal and very easy to make, and I bet even easier to make great.

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells with Jalapeno Rosemary Sauce
yields 6

The Filling
-2 tbsp. dry sherry
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-3 cloves garlic minced
-2 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
-1 bunch fresh spinach - (i used kale)
-1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
-1/2 tsp. salt
-dash black pepper

You want to start by making the filling. In a large pan heat the sherry, oil, garlic and rosemary over low heat. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts down. Stir in the pumpkin, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

The Sauce
-3 tbsp. olive oil
-2 cloves garlic
-1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
-3 tbsp unbleached white flour
-1 1/2 cups plain rice or soy milk
-1 tbsp. minced pickled jalapeno chilies - (i used a fresh jalapeno diced..)

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and rosemary and cook about a minute. Sprinkle in the flour and continue to cook another minute stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, then bring to a simmer, and cook until it slightly thickens... about 5 minutes. Stir in the jalapenos and set aside.

In the meantime, you should bring a big pot of water to a rapid boil. Add in 12 ounces of dried jumbo pasta shells and cook until they are  al dente. Strain and run cold water over them.
Preheat the over to 350 and lightly coat a 8 x 12 baking dish with olive oil. Place a pasta shell in the palm of your hand and squeeze the two ends together to open the shells pocket. Place a spoonful of filling into each shell.
Place the filled shells into the baking dish and pour your sauce evenly over them. Cover the dish and bake for 20 minutes.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tofaking Egg Salad

Whoop Whoop give it up for tofu.  Once again this little soybean transforms itself into another mockery of a meal. Egg salad - something I never thought I would crave again ... until I started working at a deli. It's amazing how long something can sit in front of you until one day you find yourself saying .. hmm.. that looks good. Why? Why does a big yella goop of mayonnaise appeal to me? Because I'm from the midwest. That's the only excuse I can think of.
Well here's a big yella goop that I'm going to throw on a sammy for lunch tomorrow and I say you do the same now .. don't cha know.

Tofaking Egg Salad
-1/4 cup veganaise
-1 tsp. vinegar
-1 tsp. mustard
-1/2 tsp. turmeric
-1/4 dried dill
-half an onion - minced
- 1 lb. firm tofu - pressed
-1/4 tsp. cayenne
-salt and pepper to taste

When yer tofu is nice and pressed go ahead and slice and put into a bowl with the minced onion. Crumble the tofu and onion together using a fork. Once you're looking at a nice tofu consistency (egg-like) - mix in all the other ingredients. I would've added celery or pickles and paprika if I had it, but unfortunately that will have to wait until next time I have a hankering for some fakering egg salad (which I hope is quite a while....).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spicy BBQ Seitan Fingers with Basil Aioli

The Belgian Cafe  in Philadelphia has the most amazing Spicy (you gotta ask for extra spice...) BBQ Seitan Wings. I have tried to recreate them time and time again. 
Have I come close ... no ... not yet. 
But what I do get out of the attempt is always a 
finger licking lip smacking good recipe.
In this aim instead of boiling the seitan I baked it.
This recipe came from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's  Seitan cutlets or steaks recipe from their book Veganomicon. They claimed that this recipe had a more meaty rough texture ... exactly what I was going for. Unfortunately I found them to be pretty similar to the boiled seitan, which like I mentioned earlier has the smacking and the licking with the lips and the fingers, but the texture just isn't there. It turned out spongy. How!?!? I ask you... How do restaurants do it? Every time I order seitan its always extremely meaty, roughly textured ... how come mine turns out springy and squashy? Well, I challenge you and dare you to share the secret to unspongiformed seitan. Until then this will do. 

The BBQ sauce, now that's another story. This is my favorite bbq recipe it comes out perfect every time. The more time you let it simmer the thicker and more wonderfully tasty it will be. 

BBQ Sauce

-1 tbsp Earth Balance/veggie oil/ olive oil
-2, 15 oz cans crushed tomatoes
-small yellow onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/3 cup maple syrup
-dash of basil
-1 tbsp crushed red pepper
-dash of chili powder
- 1-2 tbsp cayenne (depending on your spice desire)

In a sauce pan saute the onion and garlic for a good bit in your chosen oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and just let it cook. 

Once the sauce is done and the seitan has been baked, take the seitan and dip it into the sauce, then dip in  cornmeal and fry them for about 10 minutes. While they were in the pan frying I also poured some more sauce on them, because I like them extra saucy :) 

Basil Aioli

Now let me get one thing straight before I go into this basil aioli. Aioli is traditionally olive oil and garlic .. that's it. The garlic is emulsified into the oil usually by means of a mortar and pestle. Egg has been introduced to make the mixing easier. However, it seems to me that this term is thrown around much to loosely. Basically if you can dip something in it, people tack on the fancy "aoili". I myself am guilty. I just wanted to clear things up incase anybody is ready this saying .."uhh.... that's not a real aoili".. I know. 

-bowl full of fresh basil leaves
-tbsp. olive oil
-1/4 cup pine nuts
-1/2 cup walnuts
-1/2 cup veganaise 
-juice of 1 lemon
-juice of 1/2 lime

Throw all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. A match made in heaven ... but Im asking ya .. how do you get that seitan meaty!?!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Curry Party and Everybody's Invited

A couple days ago my roommates and I decided on a veggie curry for dinner. We get this great curry paste from the local asian market for like a buck something and it always spreads itself through a number of dinners. The ingredients on the back are actually in english and there's no funny business going on: dried red chilies, garlic, shallot, salt, lemon grass, sugar, kaffir lime, and spices (coriander seeds, cumin, cardomon). The brand is Maesri and it's called "Red Curry Paste". You can get it in green and I think coconut and spicy, although this stuff is pretty potent on the spice level. 

So with this as our base, we started cooking up some jasmine rice and choppin' veggies. We started by sauteing garlic and onion in about a tbsp. of sesame oil. Then the party started. 
We had red peppers and eggplants from our garden so those would go in. We had baby carrots that needed to be eaten up, cauliflower that was about to go bad, tons of peppers, some green beans -- before we knew it we decided to just throw in whatever veggies we had. There were some frozen peas and corn .. throw 'em in! Brocolli, ginger, throw 'em in! The total count was 12 different veggies. 

      not all veggies present pictured above...

For the sauce we had the red curry paste (about 2 tbsp) mixed with a can of coconut milk. After tasting that we decided it could use a little something. Again, it was a party! We had vinegar come along with the red pepper flakes. Corn starch to thickin' things up a bit. Peanut Butter for that extra kick, and Jamie's homemade nut butter which was pistaschio, cashews, and almonds. But where was that little hint of sweetness? Agave come on in! With this our curry party was complete. We were all a bit skeptical on how it was going to taste... but it was GREAT! I ate so much that after dinner when we went biking I had to pull over and stop for a deathly stomach cramp! I couldn't even imagine what I would do if I was in a body of water ... I probably would've drowned. 

So this time it worked. Throwing everything under the sun (or at least all the veggies in the fridge) in one pot and just going for it. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Rosemary Biscuits

Known as the "Gold of the Inca's" quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") is one of my favorite foods. I'd take it over gold any day of the week. Typically thought of as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed that comes from a high in amino acid leafy green similar to swiss chard and spinach. Native to South America, quinoa is chalked full of protein - it's actually a complete protein which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. According to (which stands for world's healthiest foods) quinoa is well endowed with the amino acid of lysine, which is especially good for tissue growth and repair.
This recipe is awesome. I threw in this and that and it all worked itself out into a nice little melody. Please, do your body a favor and have yourself some quinoa!!

Acorn Squash with Quinoa
(this will serve 4 hungry people, with maybe left overs for lunch)

-1 acorn squash medium in size
-2 tbsp. earth balance
-dash of cinnamon
-2 cups quinoa
-4 cups water
-2 apples - diced
-1/2 cup almonds - diced or sliced
-1 tbsp. maple syrup
-1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
-1 tsp. red miso
-1 tsp. cayenne

Preheat oven to 400. Cut the squash in half, from the stem down. Pull out the seeds and strings. Rub a table spoon of earth balance in each half and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place facing down on baking sheet and cook for about 30 - 45 mns. You can tell if you squash is done if it is soft when you poke it.

While the squash is cooking, place the quinoa and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. AS soon as it starts boiling, turn the heat down to low and let sit for about 15 minutes. When the quinoa is done the water will be gone and it will be nice and fluffy with a pretty ring around it.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the quinoa along with the baked squash when it is done.

**the miso isn't nesessary, but I just used that instead of salt, because I'm kind-of on a miso kick.

Rosemary Biscuits

-2 cups flour
-1 tbsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. salt
-1/4 cup earth balance - room temperature
-1 cup rice milk
-1 1/2 tsp. rosemary

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together. Cut the butter in using a fork or pastry knife. Add the milk and rosemary and stir until it's all clumped together. Place onto ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

This is a wonderful seasonal meal! It's super hearty with the quinoa and squash, so you may want to serve it with some hot cider! I accidently grabbed the cumin instead of the cinnamon and sprinkled that into my cider. Once realizing (the smell gave it away) that I was sprinkling cumin into my cider, I tried to undo my mistake by also putting cinnamon in, thinking the cinnamon would over power. It didn't, but the result was actually really great! Go out on a limb and with cumin.



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Apple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ahh, fall is here. It's amazing how the humidity just stops as if somebody turned the dial from summer to fall. That's philly from september to october. The second the month turned, so did the dial. The nights became cool and tea and cider are brewing. One of my favorite seasons (along with winter, spring, and summer) I love fall. I love apples and gourds and bonfires and boots.
This is a treat completely inspired by this wonderful season. Originally this was greeted in my inbox as' s recipe of the week, and I believe that was 2 years ago. I've held onto it and changed this or that because it's so simple and easy. It's a recipe you can just have fun with! So do it.

Apple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting 

For the cupcakes:

-1 1/2 cup veggie oil
-2 cups sugar (I use 1 1/2 - 2 cups ... I think that's a bit obsessive...)
-1 cup apple sauce
-3 tbsp. vanilla
-3 cups flour
-1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. nutmeg
-1 cup chopped/crushed walnuts
-3 cups (equivalent to about 3 apples) chopped apples

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the wet ingredients with sugar (oil, apple sauce, vanilla). In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the wet mixture and stir by hand until it is thoroughly mixed. The batter should be stiff. Fold in the walnuts and apples. Pour into cupcake liners. Bake for about 15-20 mns.

For the frosting:

-1 tub tofutti cream cheese
-1/2 block of extra firm tofu
-1/2 cup powder sugar
-1/4 agave nectar
-1 tsp. lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Cool in the fridge.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for a about 20 minutes, then another 40 outside of the pan before attempting to frost them.

I just bought a piping bag and love it!! It makes everything look so much cuter. Put the frosting in a piping bag (go out and get one if you don't own one, I think I spent a total of $1.45 on both the bag ((go for the reusable - not plastic)) and tip) and top with a walnut. These keep in the fridge really well. I think that they taste better when the frosting has hardened a bit.