Wednesday, January 21, 2015

3 Brothers Pizza Cafe in Long Island

3 Brothers is a pizza place in Long Island that is a normal Italian joint with pizza and regular Italian food, but also has an entirely different huge vegan menu. I have been to their old location in Rockville Center twice, but hadn't been since they moved to their Farmingdale location until now. We've been having ongoing car troubles over the past year and it's inspection time. We keep trying to get our car to pass and every time our mechanic does one of his "tricks" it involves us having to drive the car 60 miles until he can try again or pass the car forgodssake. Even though we just want to be done with the repairs, we have however been enjoying a couple of road trips to far away restaurants during the process, and it became literally our only reason to drive to Long Island last night. For vegan food, of course. 

I got these mozzarella sticks the first time I went to the Rockville Center one and loved them so much. The second time I went, they said they were all out, and I almost cried. This time I ordered them the second my butt touched the chair, so as not to waste any time. As soon as they arrived I ate three of the five back to back and my will to live was slowly restored. They are just daiya, but they just do it really right. Also how do you guys pronounce daiya? I always thought it was  "DIE-ya" but I heard a few people say "DAY-ya" and I was like, how silly, but then someone told me they got corrected by someone from daiya when they pronounced it "DIE-ya" and that the true way is "DAY-ya." What gives?

 Mozzarella Stick bound for Hollywood

 A perfect reproduction of a frozen food childhood fave.

The bottles of water for the tables were so fancy, they looked like they could hold angels' tears.

I ordered the seitan scarpariello, which is like a sausage-and-peppers-with-setian thing. It was okay. the pasta was undercooked and the seitan had a really weird texture. And I filled up on the bread and salad and mozzarella sticks by the time this came, so shame on me. #sorrynotsorry.

I will say that the entrees came on Italian-sized plates. That is to say that the plates the entrees were served on were the size of Italy. That was great for us, except that we forgot to bring our extended families with us to help us eat all of it. Alex ordered the seitan parmesan, which ruled. It was so good and everything you want from seitan parmesan. I wish I had ordered it -- or not ordered mine and just ate a KZ-sized portion of his. There would still be leftovers for both of us. Anyway, A+ on the seitan parm. Oh, and I love that "GO VEGAN" is painted multiple times on the front windows, and that all of the waiters' shirts have "Go Vegan!" written underneath their "3 Brothers" logo. It warmed my progressive vegan heart.

For dessert we shared the PB Bomb, which like all their desserts, comes from Vegan Treats bakery. It was a clear choice, because peanut butter, but they had lots of great options like keylime cheesecake and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and PB brownie cake and lots of other stuff too.

We could barely fit this inside our bodies. But we did. We did it. In the name of peanut butter and vegan food.
Overall I had a great meal and a great evening. It was a hefty bill -- $80 for two. We shared an appetizer and a large salad, each got an entree (that will feed us maybe two more times each) and split a dessert. So for Italian food, I'd say that's a little overpriced. But I have no real complaints, besides my entree not being my favorite. I'm sure most other things I could have ordered would have been great. We did skip the alcohol, which is what usually drives up the bill, but we did get and appetizer and a dessert, so that ain't cheap either. But I'm a young adult and it's possible one day we won't be young adults anymore, and maybe we'll have a mortgage and a million blonde vegan baby brats to feed, and we won't be able to drive 60 miles on a Tuesday night for Italian food. So I think we should get apps and zerts now. We're young. Right?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holiday in New England and Other Events

It's already post-Christmas and New Years and I am behind on my documentation of it. We celebrated Christmas with our families in New England, as usual. I did lots, perhaps too much, cooking in preparation for Wigilia on Christmas Eve and for our meal on Christmas day. I got lazy and only took a few pictures, but at least I remembered to take some. Enjoy this photo montage of all the stuff I made. 

These are golabkis, little Polish burritos, with a cabbage tortilla and lentil filling.

After you roll them up, you cover them in a tomato sauce and bake them. They were pretty easy to make. They were the first thing I made, so maybe I just had more steam and they felt easy. Who's to say.

Every year for the past several, my mom and I have been making our own pierogis to bring with us to Wilgilia. My dad took a few action shots for us demonstrating the process.

I wish I had taken pictures of the final ones. We had a ton. Also my crimping skills are on point.

I made my mother-in-law these gluten-free carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting! I am no expert at gluten-free baking and I definitely had some trouble with these cupcakes, but she still enjoyed them anyway. I will perfect my recipe for next time. Anybody have a solid gluten-free carrot cake recipe they swear by?

My mom requested my pumpkin and cranberry risotto this year. I love making risotto but I feel like I never make it anymore. I have a special designated risotto pan and it's in a hard-to-grab spot in my kitchen. Perhaps this is the reason. Anyhow, this was my favorite risotto I've made yet with lots of pumpkin, cranberries and fresh rosemary. I also added a lot of fresh sage and thyme. It's always Alex's job to pick the thyme leaves off the stem. It's backbreaking but it's necessary.

This is my plate at Wigilia. Pierogis, potato pancakes, risotto, golabkis, roasted veggies, and this really good kale salad my cousin Sarah made. Oh, and Wisniowka. I threw a few of those back quick. I had been cooking for 40 hours, so I figured it was in order. 

I made some stuffing for Christmas Day, along with some mashed potatoes and gravy. Also some chickpea cutlets and roasted veggies, all unfortunately not pictured.

Last, I made this cake. It's an "eggnog" cake, but I always use silk nog and it tastes great and no one has any clue or cares that it's vegan because it's so good. It's also so easy.

Our Christmas morning spread: leftover eggnog cake (I made 3...) gingerbread cookies, chopped pineapple and assorted pears. Pears are key.

 This is my sis modeling her new Boston Terrier socks I got her. Totally got myself a pair too. That always happens when I buy her gifts.

A couple days after Christmas we drove back to New York with Alex's dad and his girlfriend. They usually visit annually so it was nice to walk around with them. His Dad likes to visit the Times Square Area, especially after or around the holidays. Most New Yorkers would never be caught dead there, and I am inclined to agree with them, but in the spirit of the holidays and for the sake of my family wanting to see it all, we stepped slowly in a mob of people waiting to see the tree and ice rink.

There it is -- the quintessential Ice Skating Rink that is the reason so many people come to visit this city at all. But if only they knew about Roberta's Pizza...

Come on, you're not going to go all the way out there and take baby steps in foot traffic for 5 hours and NOT take any pictures. Here's us being cute without privacy.

The next day we got Roberta's with our friend Lauren from Cake Thieves and enjoyed life once more.

After pizza, we stopped at Dr. Cow and picked up some fancy cheese. I have been meaning to try their cheese for a while now, and I'm glad I did because it is great.

The kind I picked was cashew, kale, chili and tomato flavored. I chose this wedge from the case after painstakingly staring at all of the cheeses desperate for a decision. I impulsively landed on this one once it was my turn to order. There were smaller wedges and many different flavors but I had a gift card, and what better way to spend it than splurge on vegan fancy cheese?

It's not that I need to be having wine and cheese parties -- It's that I can. I shared this cheese with my lovely vegan friends and would love to try some other kinds too, though this one was great. When I one day host a vegan wine and cheese party I will find that sommelier who told me I "just could never understand the finer things in life" and tell him he's particularly not invited to my special party with artisan cheese. And wine from the corner store. Because I can't understand the finer things in life.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Vegan Cookies = The Gift Of Awesome

This is my obligatory Christmas Cookie post. I spent a very long time this weekend baking Christmas cookies for my friends, family, and coworkers. I leave town tomorrow after work and I wanted the cookies to be as fresh as possible for Christmas, so I knew it had to happen all at once on this weekend. It was mostly great, with just a few bumps along the way. I am forever indebted to my stand mixer. She's been hooking me up since my high school graduation, and churned out many a christmas cookie -- this year more than ever. I went all out this year and made SEVEN different kinds of cookies, a variety I carefully selected. Observe:

The first ones I made were Cranberry Bliss Bars. Once upon a time when I worked at the mall before I went vegan, I would always go up to Starbucks and get one of these on my short breaks during the Christmas season. Sadly it's been at least seven years since I've had one, and this is THE YEAR. I made a cookie base like I would for a chocolate chip cookie and instead of chocolate chips, I put in vegan white chocolate chips (totally ordered 4 bags online) and dried cranberries. 

If I were the only person eating them I would have thrown in some walnuts too, but someone always gives you kickback about nuts in cookies, so I left them out. Then I made a white chocolate frosting to go over the baked cookie bars, then sprinkled with some more cranberries, and then drizzled some leftover white chocolate frosting over the top of that, cut them into little authentic triangles, and that's it. Definitely the most labor-intensive cookie of the bunch, but worth the nostalgic blast.

Next, I made these shortbread cookies with chocolate fudge and cherries. I have made these cookies a few times before, and I somehow always forget that they suck to make, because the dough is too thick and too hard to push out of a pastry bag. I broke my first piping bag, then transferred all my dough to another one hoping for a new result. Broke again, then I transferred the dough back to the mixer and added more almond milk, then to a new pastry bag and they came out a lot easier. I made some ganache to put in the middle and stuck a cherry on top because I couldn't decide if I wanted cherry or chocolate. Let them have both. They are so pretty and taste really good, that's probably why I always forget how annoying the piping part is.

I made these cookies special for my Dad! He loves gingerbread stuff, and he loves biscotti, and so I knew these gingerbread biscotti from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar that are dipped in white chocolate would be perfect. I didn't have any candied ginger so I left that off and sprinkled cinnamon sugar instead. Biscotti is easy, it just takes a little longer to bake. Also, I did not cut them into the correct number of cookies. It's okay, I'm pretty.

My mom likes the snowball cookies the best, so I made some of those too, also from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, but used the almond variation because she hates pecans. These are messy and get a little sticky so I put them at the bottom of the box to keep them from rolling around sticking up the other cookies. I think they are also called Russian Tea Cakes too. I can see that. I can see them with some tea.

So I've been wanting to make NYC cookies for a while, and in theory they sound great. It's a big cakey sugar cookie with some frosting and you're done. This was not the case. It is just a cake batter that you pour onto your cookie sheet in puddles and they just came out really misshapen and too crunchy on the sides, also way too big. I baked these too close to when I needed to leave, you know, because shop-up, and I just let the cookies sit on a cooling rack, a little over-lapping, to wait until I got home to finish them, and when I got home they had all gotten too crispy or stuck together. So I decided to make a cookie ball! I processed the cookies into crumbs, made a batch of frosting, mixed it together, made balls, froze them, melted black and white chocolate and dipped! Best save ever!

I asked Alex to pick one kind of cookie he really likes and he picked the peanut butter cookies that you stick a Hershey's kiss into the middle while they're still warm. No Hershey Kisses are vegan, so I just stuck three regular vegan chocolate chips into the middle, waited for them to melt, then pressed another one on top! These are my fave. And Alex's fave. Meant to be. 

Okay I guess he requested two kinds -- the peanut butter kisses and the snickerdoodle cookies from Isa Does It. I always use a pumpkin pie spice blend instead of the chai spice blend because... you know boys. They are scared of new things infecting their cookies with new flavors or opportunities. He thinks cardamom is weird. But they are always good, nonetheless. 

I made up a box for a bunch of friends, coworkers, and some customers who are really good to me. My customer who brings me all the tomatoes, basil and arugula is obviously getting one, because he is the best. My friends are the best. My family is the best. So they all get cookies. It's only fair.

Merry Christmas to all the vegans out there! Keep on giving the gift of awesomeness to everyone who hasn't figured out that vegans are the coolest. 


KZ <33

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meatball Weekends Happen

Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and we are nearly half way into December! Life truly flies. I am impressively almost done christmas shopping, I have a large christmas cookie plan for 2 weekends from now, have begun to plan my wigelia and christmas menus and am looking forward to another New Years in NYC! While snow has yet to grace us here in this city, I caught up with several inches of it while I was back in New England for Thanksgiving. My boss has been cranking the Christmas tunes for at least a month now, and I have got to say, the Christmas Rock station on iTunes Radio is pretty good! Some Decemberists, Death Cab, and Weezer Christmas jams are a new but nice tradition. I have a teeny tiny little Christmas tree for my teeny tiny little apartment and I love it. I'm feeling pretty cheery despite the rainy weather we have been having and despite my shoulder injury, which has kept me from yoga for over 6 weeks! But I am slowly beginning to ease back into it and I don't mind the weather, I've got scarves and caps and sweaters...

You guys I made a ton of pies for Thanksgiving! They told me I didn't have to cook any food, and in hindsight, I really should have, but I figured I could at least supply the desserts. I did make a seitan roast and some cashew-creamed onions (which were an inexplicable hit) but they were so easy it was like I didn't cook at all. These pies on the other hand, weren't. I'll explain:

My family on my mom's side has a lot of food allergies. I'm vegan so I'm guilty of being a pain in the ass but we also have a variety of dairy allergies, that I suppose I willingly encompass, so that lets them off the hook. But we also have some corn allergies -- which are trickier than you'd think if you consider what contains cornstarch, corn syrup, cornmeal... powdered sugar! I've figured out how to dodge that one but that's another story. The biggest allergy offender of all is that eight of my relatives on that side of the family don't do gluten. Some of them choose to avoid it (I think?) and some of the kids are super allergic, and I could never live with myself if I made a little kid sick by feeding them something that was accidentally contaminated. So: what made this pie process so difficult and lengthy was that everything I made this with needed to be either run through the dishwasher or soaked in boiling water. It was otherwise easy, since I only had to swap out one or two ingredients to make these pies gluten free. So about six hours later I emerged with these cheesecakes and pecan pie. I served them with the new SO delicious coconut cool whip and they loved it. In fact, my little cousin put only the cool whip on her plate for dessert.

 Alive with the glory of pie...

I've been in curry mode lately. It's all I've wanted to eat, being in the spirit of winter and all... I'm pretty sure that curry was invented for the purpose of winter. There is nothing like eating a spicy hot curry on a freezing cold day, and having that heat in the back of your throat to warm you up. I still haven't made a bunch of the curries and soups from Isa Does It, so I've been digging up on that chapter lately. Above is Chandra Malai Kofta, which I have already made twice this month. It's basically these zucchini meetballs over some rice with a spicy curry sauce over the top. I like to make the kofta into mini meetballs instead of big footballs, for maximum zucchini meetball impact. I also sauteed up a bunch more zucchini and threw that in as well for some vegetable nice. It really is aromatherapy and I suggest you make it NOW.

This is truly the year of the persimmon! I had never tried them before, but since everyone keeps raving about them I decided to delve into persimmony mystery and grabbed one of each kind, a soft acorn-shaped hachiya, and a small firm fuyu. The hachiya I used in this orange/pear/hachiya smoothie above, which I ate while reading food network mag. The fuyu I just sliced up and ate with a bowl of apples. It was good, but the hachiya was more mysterious and I liked it better I think.

It is open season for chili. This is me doing what I do best, which is pile guac onto things, eat cornbread and drink beer while watching Twin Peaks.

We had ourselves a serious Meatball Weekend. Saturday we went to the first of two Holiday Shop-Ups in Bushwick, where we got beers and macarons. Five, to be exact. The flavors I picked were pecan pie, french vanilla quince, gingerbread and I also got two hot chocolate marshmallow. I ate them all within ten minutes. Okay I shared some with the BF. But I could have eaten all five. Swear.

We decided to skip the food at the Shop-Up and deliberated whether we wanted Champs for lunch or to try somewhere new. We passed Roberta's on the way to the car, and I'm like, "Hey! Everyone talks about how good that place is!" And so we went in and got pizzas! The only vegan option is the Rosso, which has red sauce and garlic -- HOWEVER, This sauce is out-of-control good, and the sauce is clearly what makes or breaks a pizza. I added mushrooms to mine along with a ton of chili flakes and this chili oil that they have on the tables. It was amazing. I ate all of it. The next day we were hanging out with a friend and mentioned we'd been there the day before and loved it, and he said he loved it too and that we should go right away for dinner. So I literally went again. The very next day and got the very same thing. Meatball.

We found the strength to tear ourselves away from beer and pizza for a quick second to eat some doughtnuts from Dunwell, too.

Sunday we did some Christmas shopping and fueled for lunch at Terri in the Flatiron area. I got the chicken caesar wrap and Alex got the vegan meatball sandwich (meatball weekend). I liked his better I think. My chicken was too chickeny. I'm vegan, so...

Monday I made a giant batch of Down Home Curry from Isa Does It which couldn't have been more perfect for warming the soul. It fed us four times each. Also I have been tearing it up on bass. More to follow.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Vegan Gives Thanks: Quinoa & Seitan Stuffed Acorn Squash

Thanksgiving for vegans? Where shall I begin… First and foremost, I'd like to begin with how thankful I am for all of the vegans around the world each day helping to inspire others to live lives of compassion and free of cruelty. I am also very thankful for my loving family who is very supportive of me and eats all the vegan food I cook! My dad even started veganizing his muffins by using applesauce in place of eggs! Thanksgiving dinner would never be worrisome for me because I've got three vegetarians on one side of my family and a sister-in-law (to be!) that's also vegan! So no matter where I end up, I'll always have some vegan company, not to mention that my fiancé is vegetarian and almost vegan by default, since I cook all of his food. I'm pretty lucky. My family is always willing to try all the food I make, but also makes sure I have plenty to eat. Without the support of these great people it would be a lot harder to maintain veganhood. Looking around the world today, it is more apparent than ever that I have way more to be thankful for than most of the people sharing this world with us to date. Now is a great time to reflect on that and give thanks!

Without further adieu, I'd like to share with you a dish I made today. It's inspired by a dish I ate earlier this fall at Hinge in Northampton, MA. My interpretation of it, is an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, seitan, and mixed veggies! It's sitting on top of a bed of lemony spinach and onions and drizzled with some tart pomegranate molasses. It would be a great main course for Thanksgiving, full of veggies and protein and all the stuff your family might ask you about where you get it. Calcium, check. Protein, double check. Most importantly, it tastes really good. Vegans care about how stuff tastes too.
I fed this to my squash-aversed BF and he actually cleaned his plate. Basically, I'm feeling like I'm on a little bit of a home-run high or maybe just high on squash. It only took me about an hour to do this start to finish, so just follow some time-saving tips and you can too. Even you, Mom.
First, determine how many portions you want! If you want only two, cut this recipe in half. If you want it to feed 8 or a very hungry vegan lumberjack, double it. 
We are going to be roasting things, so make sure you prep the veggies to be roasted first, that way you can take care of everything else while the other veggies roast.

Each squash half is going to feed 1 person. I roasted two cut-side up and two cut-side down. Why? Not sure. In hindsight, I would have roasted them all cut-side down, to decrease cook-time. Should of had hindsight...

You don't need a whole butternut squash for this recipe, but are you really going to peel and chop only a third of it? Just roast it all up and make a salad or a soup later this week. What's that? Thanksgiving is this week? Well, perfect! Use it then!

I like this rainbow quinoa because it is beautiful and colorful and interesting (like me) and it looks great in the finished product, but any kind of quinoa will work fine. 1 cup of dry quinoa makes about 4 cups of cooked quinoa, and I'm making 4 portions. So do all that math according to who you're feeding and then measure your quinoa.
This is the part where I got lazy and forgot to take more pictures.
I remembered while I was toasting almonds, so I took a pic of that so you guys wouldn't get mad.

About an hour after I started, I emerged from the kitchen all festive and housewivey with these two beautiful plates!

That pomegranate molasses drizzle really tasted great with everything and I think made it extra "holiday tasting" but you could totally use balsamic vinegar or just leave it off if you can't find it, don't have any, or just don't feel like roaming isles in Whole Foods.

I garnished mine with toasted chopped almonds. Everybody likes almonds right? No? Okay, use toasted chopped pecans. No pecans? Use walnuts. Don't like nuts? Leave them off. Everyone is happy.

When I make a totally elegant meal I get real fancy, plop it down on the table with a beer and marathon Twin Peaks. Doesn't everyone do that?

I would have at least served this with red wine if it were in fact Thanksgiving. But it isn't and I have a surplus of beer and well, we just can't have that..

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Vegans out there!! May your tables be filled with tofurkys, tempeh bacon and thanks.

Quinoa & Seitan Stuffed Acorn Squash:

2 acorn squash
1 red bell pepper
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 1/2 cups seitan, chopped small
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups veggie broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1 pound spinach, washed
1/3 cup white wine
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup chopped almonds

pomegranate molasses, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Slice the acorn squash into halves. Place cut-side down on a baking tray. Slice the red bell pepper in half and place each half cut-side down on the tray next to the squash. Peel and cube the butternut squash and roast either alongside or in a separate baking dish. Put both trays/baking dishes in the preheated oven and roast for about 35 minutes or until squash is tender.
While the squash roasts, make the stuffing. First, rinse the quinoa and add it to a 2-quart saucepan. Add the veggie broth, salt, paprika, thyme, dried basil, sage, and fennel seeds. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until there is no remaining broth. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, heat up a cast-iron or heavy pan with a little oil and add the seitan. Cook until browned and remove from pan. Set aside. In the same pan, add the sliced red onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat until nicely softened. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside. Add the spinach and white wine. Cook for 1 minute or until wilted. Add the juice of half the lemon and turn off the heat. Add half the cooked red onion to the spinach.
Combine the quinoa in a large bowl with the seitan, the remaining half of the red onion and the remaining half of lemon's juice. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Peel the skin off the peppers and remove the seeds. Slice into strips and then slice those strips into thirds. Add them to the quinoa with the cubed butternut squash and the chopped fresh basil. Stir and taste for seasonings, adding more salt as needed.
Now take a big scoop of the filling and mound it into the cup of each squash. The filling should be packed in and over-filling the cup of the squash. Place the stuffed squashes back into the oven for ten minutes. Meanwhile, toast up your almonds in a dry sauté pan for about 5 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from heat.
Once the squash are done, remove from oven. Spoon some of the spinach and onion mixture onto each plate. On top of the spinach, place a stuffed squash. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Carefully drizzle the pomegranate molasses over each plate. Serve!