Sunday, September 14, 2014

Saturdays are for Shopping Up

Since our move to NYC, we've been present at the monthly shop-up markets in Bushwick nearly every month. By now, we've had a chance to meet and become friends with a bunch of people there, and always look forward to hanging out on a Saturday with a bunch of cool, smart, vegan-minded people. I think the winter shop-ups are my favorite, when you trek all the way out there in a blizzard, and inside you just sit at the bar and drink some great beers and eat a bunch of chocolate and get toasty/toasted. This Saturday it was perfect fall weather, with a tiny bit of rain that we seemed to be lucky in missing. People kept walking into the bar soaked and we were dry walking in, and dry walking out. I scored some Mac and Cheese from Cake Thieves, some macarons from Sweet Maresa's, and a chocolate from Lagusta's Luscious. I was unable to eat the large quantities for food that I usually consume for whatever reason yesterday. It was probably for the best, considering the celebratory drinks we had for Alex's birthday on Friday. 

 Just two more couldn't hurt. Plus Pumpkin Beer is Back!

I have been putting off making stock for a long, long time. The thought of boiling a bunch of vegetables in my kitchen this summer made me cringe, and I accumulated 3 or 4 gallon-sized freezer bags full of vegetable odds & ends by the time fall arrived. I have this really giant stock pot that I like to make huge batches in. I filled it to the brim.

It's really huge. When it boiled, it boiled over and I had to put some in a separate pot. Now, I have 30 cups of stock, which means I have ten mason jars in my fridge. Do you want some?

Alex had a stroke of brilliance and suggested we make chowder for dinner. I love the Glam Chowder recipe from Isa Does It, and so does he. Plus, it's one of the only ways to get him to eat a ton of mushrooms happily. Me? I will eat my weight in mushrooms happily, in any way, any kind of mushroom, on an vehicle, so you can gather that this chowder is my jam. Plus, I'm from New England, where the chowder is abundant. But you don't have to be from New England to love this chowder. You don't have to be vegan to love this chowder either, but I heard that if you love it, you should go vegan, because it will taste better. Someone told me that.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Birthday Cookies, Chocolate and chocolate

After Alex's birthday dinner, I made chocolate hazelnut chip cookies and hot chocolate. These cookies are the kind I make almost every time, but often rotate which nut butter I use. This recipe will work with peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sun butter, maybe even coconut butter? I don't know, I haven't tried. Coconuts are a sort of erroneous nut, though. Right? 

My hot chocolate recipe goes like this: Pour almond/soy milk in your vitamix. Toss a handful of chocolate chips in. Turn on. Let rip for like 6 minutes until it's hot. Drink.

 It doesn't hurt to live 10 blocks from the vegan marshmallow factory either...

Chocolate Hazelnut Chip Cookies:

2/3 cup chocolate hazelnut butter, I used Justin's
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup chocolate soy milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or sub with more brown sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon hazelnut extract (or sub more vanilla)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (enjoy life brand is easy to find)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line 2 baking sheets with silpat or parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk together the nut butter, sugars, soy milk, cornstarch, and extracts.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Mix together with a fork, and then knead in the mini chips.
Form into 1 tablespoon-sized balls and place on prepared sheet, about 2" apart.
Bake for 9 minutes and let cool for 5 before moving them to a wire rack.
As they cool, they get crispier on the outside but stay soft in the middle.

Friday, September 12, 2014

KZ, Spoon, Birthdays, and Seitan

I have been too busy for life this week! Unfortunately that means I have been too busy for mofo, but I hope to post a couple small ones so that I still total 30 posts this month. Anyway, yesterday was Alex's birthday, which means mine is close to follow... This is the first birthday he's complained about his age, which is good, because I started complaining about mine since I turned 22. So he enjoyed the past five years a little more with the idea in his head that he was still in his youth. Party's over and we're 27 this year. Just kidding, party's not over. We just party'd by staying in and cooking instead of going out and drinking. 

I will explain all of this plate in a moments time, but first, we went to see Spoon on Wednesday in Central Park! I have never seen a show in Central Park, so it was nice to see a new venue, and outdoor shows are always fun-- in that people don't blow their joint's smoke directly into your face, they blow it up and the beautiful night air carries some of it away. The rest smells, to me, like stale B.O. but that's over now, so: Spoon. Amazing. The first time I saw them I was a senior in high school, and skipped "spirit night" or some peppy event to go and see them with Alex. It was on their Gimme Fiction tour, but the set was still ripe with tracks from Kill The Moonlight. We saw them two more times between then and now, and have loved every release to date. They Want My Soul has been no different, as we are in love with it and are so glad Spoon continues to drop such real material even after all these years.

 We got close, I swear.

 Okay, back to food. Alex always requests something meat-and-potatoes-y. He requested it last night and I went to the store thinking, "Okay, how about a cacciatore-style seitan, with capers, peppers..." And he says, "No peppers." And so I am like WTF, why not?! and "What is the seitan supposed to be like?" and he says, "Make it American." And so I had been thrown into loop, where I couldn't visualize my dish, the palate I wanted it to accommodate, and thought, "there's no theme?? What kind of seitan dish follows no path? WHO IS IT VERSUS??"

Under the spell of someone's brief stroke of genius, I decided to press the seitan into breadcrumbs and pan-fry the cutlets, then slice them before plating.

He also said he wanted onion gravy, which is a lengthy process, requiring lot's of not-acquired veggie stock, so I made a caramelized onion ju. What is a ju? Ask someone French. Anyway, this hybrid meal suited it's purpose, as Alex said it was exactly what he wanted. So next time I requested that when he wants this, he ask specifically for Seitan a la KZ. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Tale of Vegan Convenience

September is packed with stuff to do in NYC. Saturday night, we saw a show at Irving Plaza, Sunday night we saw a show at The Bowery Ballroom, and tomorrow night, we are seeing a show in Central Park. Thursday is Alex's birthday, and Friday we are going out for birthday drinks! Saturday is of course the Shop-Up, and Sunday.. well maybe we'll want to sleep for 24 straight hours after all that. Anyway, Sunday night we found ourselves indoors the whole day, exhausted and broke, not planning to go out until the show at the Bowery. We didn't leave ourselves much time for dinner, so we needed something close, cheap, and quick! We tried Two Boots for the first time, after a friend of ours urging us to try the one in Jersey City with her many times. Two boots has locations all over NYC, and also in other cities too. It offers vegan pizza in two variations, a thick crust and a thin.

This has mushrooms, artichokes (my fav), onions, pesto and red pepper sauce. It has daiya on it too. Now, I like daiya. I used to not like it. But over the last year I've come to enjoy daiya every now and then when I'm out to eat and it's a choice between a cheeseless pizza and a pizza with daiya. I think it does the trick. Alex, on the other hand, complained for the duration of the time it took him to begin and finish this slice. He hates daiya, it doesn't taste like mozzarella, it's too tangy....blah, blah, blah... I am, after listening to him complain while I ate two slices of daiya-y pizza, inclined to agree that it might be too tangy to enjoy in the same quantities that one would enjoy mozzarella. HOWEVER-- I would  much rather eat daiya than eat animal cheese, and am so very grateful that a product like daiya exists, if simply only to help other people stop eating animal cheese. 

The slices were decent, though not Vinnie's quality, and not their selection either. While in a pinch, they did the trick, I don't think we'll be making any more special stops out to Two Boots any time soon.

The show was great! Our favorite band, Into It. Over It. played first. We mostly went to see them, but the headliner was an old emo band called Mineral. I never got into them, but they are part of the big "emo revival" that has been going on. Some of the bands of that era I really dig (like Braid!), some not so much. But if bands like Into It. Over It. exist because of old emo bands like Mineral, then I'm happy they are around to inspire tunes that are more my style. Into It. Over It. puts on a great show and since I'm familiar with their whole catalogue, it was super enjoyable knowing every song they could possibly play. He's so prolific, and a great writer, musically and lyrically. This is my third time seeing Into It. Over It. in the last year, actually! I'm pissed I missed out on tickets to their show in October, but they are opening for another emo band that I never really liked, so I guess it's virtually all the same. Sigh.

You guys it finally feels like fall is here! I am way over summer. Team Fall! I love the weather, events, produce, and flavors it brings with it. I am 100 pumpkin-flavored food items away from a chilly but charming winter in this wonderful city. 
To all things autumn!
<3 KZ

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mac And Cheese-- What Vegan Dreams Are Made Of

The story goes: You see your cousin that you never see except on Christmas, she asks how your life is going, you tell her about your job, your yoga class, your vegan blog... Then she goes, "Oh I could never go vegan! I love Cheese too much!!" And you debate whether or not it's worth it to tell her that the hormones in cheese are what are addicting her to it... but you decide-- it's not. Then you come home, and cook up one of eight zillion recipes for Vegan Mac and Cheese that paper the internet and fill your cookbooks, which fill your shelves, and sit down. Take a bite. Laugh. Maniacal laughter. How dumb is the rest of the world? This is the best tasting food ever. Not only do you disagree on multiple levels with the ethics of animal cheese, but there are so many question marks as to WTF is in there and what it could be doing to your body. All of that aside, because Who gives a shit, this mac and cheese is all you are ever going to need, crave, or want to eat ever again. 

Now everybody has got their favorite mac. Some people are all about the baked-in-a-casserole-dish mac, some people want it to taste as close to the kind that came from a blue box as possible, and some people will really just eat anything and like it. Mine varies from time to time. Current favorite? It's the Roasted Red Pepper Mac from Isa Does It, but you could have guessed that, couldn't you?

I sprinkle it with a little extra salt, add a bunch of extra nooch, and do a bunch of chili flakes. This is just what I do, do what you like. You can put chili powder on it, paprika, gummy bears. Do what you will. You're the one who is eating it-- Customize your mac!

I also love mushrooms. The BF leaves town like all the time, which is alright by me as long as it gives me license to cook all the food he doesn't like and eat all the mushrooms I've been missing out on since the last time he went out of town. We in mushroom town now. 

Guys I think Magic Hat replaced their Octoberfest beer, Hex, my FAV, with this pumpkin beer! It's good but not as good as Hex. It does have a cool title and cool picture on it, so I'll allow it. BF doesn't like pumpkin either, so I'm obviously guzzling this in my moment of solitude. So anyways, what's your favorite Vegan Mac recipe?? I've tried like 1 of the 8 zillion, but I'm always open to new ones!
Happy Fall/Mac/Monday!
<3 KZ

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ropa Vieja

I've been noticing a trend this year in mofo themes... A  lot of bloggers are cooking from their cookbooks that they bought and barely ever use! I, too, am guilty of this as well. Yesterday, I pulled out all of my cookbooks, of which I have 27 (more like 30 after I retrieve a few that are out on lease!) and bookmarked one recipe from each book. That will keep me busy next time I get uninspired. I go through periods where there isn't enough time or days to cook everything I want, and then periods where I think all day about what I should make for dinner, but still come home empty-brained about what to make. Now I have about 30 recipes at my finger tips for the next time I am uninspired.
This recipe came from Viva Vegan, by Terry Hope Romero. It's a cuban dish called "Ropa Vieja" which traditionally is made using shredded meat in a tomato sauce. This recipe uses seitan. I made her steamed red seitan recipe first, but I recommend making the seitan a day in advance, because it's a lot harder to shred when it's warm. It needs that night in the fridge to help it firm up, so that you can shred it, or even slice it into really thin strips.

Alongside, I made her Venezuelan Black Beans, which required "sofrito" which is mostly just an aromatic base of cooked veggies. I chopped for a while...

And then I had vegetable confetti! You can celebrate something with any leftover vegetables. Just kidding. Don't throw vegetables.

I used my bamboo steamer to steam the foil packets of seitan for this, but they wouldn't all fit nicely inside. After this, I bought a huge steamer pot suitable for tamales and steaming anything else the size of or smaller than a regulation-size basketball. So now I'm set up in steam-town.

The beans just had to be soaked overnight, but other than requiring a labor-intensive sofrito, they were the easy part.

I served it over her Yellow Garlic Rice, with a huge scoop of guac, and a Mexican beer, you know, for authenticity...

Ta-da. Dinner for 20. People-- not dollars.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pizza-- In a bowl!

Do you ever wish you could eat a pizza-- with a fork?? 
Maybe you wish you could eat a pizza without dough? Maybe even without tomato sauce? Well it seems like I am not really describing pizza at all anymore, and I guess I'm not, because I'm talking about the Pizza Bowl from Isa Does It

I've made this and dozens of recipes from this book many times. This one is a favorite. It doesn't require you knead dough, let said dough rise, or preheat your oven to 500ºF on a hot summer's night.

So you've got your starch, mine is brown rice, your green, mine is kale, your pizza protein, here it's seitan sausage (you can make your own, but I bought some field roast italian sausages), some red onions and garlic, because what is a pizza without garlic? All of that drowned in a sauce made of roasted red peppers and tomato paste with a couple of other things thrown in for pizza-y perfection.

Scatter a handful of olives on top with a few shakes of chili flakes, and you've got pizza-- in a bowl! What is your favorite recipe from Isa Does It? I have yet to make a few that look amazing, but only a few remain! It's definitely one of my all time favorite cookbooks.