Saturday, April 25, 2015

Recipe Round-Up: Veganomicon

All hail the mighty Vcon!

Beanball Sub and salad with Mediterranean Olive Oil and Lemon Vinaigrette: This recipe is a conglomeration of a few others - beanballs (based on kidney beans), marinara sauce and pine nut cream. Unfortunately I could only get some standard soft white rolls, which ended up going a bit smooshy. But it was still pretty amazing! I just made a half quantity of the balls, sauce and cream which was enough for four rolls. The dressing for the salad has a very strong taste, and was a bit gritty due to the dried herbs.
Rating: Sub :), Dressing :)

Beanball Sub with salad with Mediterranean Olive Oil and Lemon Vinaigrette

Beanball Sub

Blue Flannel Hash: a fun and simple brunch dish using blue potatoes (though mine were more purple), tempeh, onion and seasonings. It goes nicely with a salad for brinner! Served here with a Caesar from How It All Vegan.
Rating: :)

Blue Flannel Hash; Caesar Salad (HIAV)

Pumpkin Saag and Poppy-Seed Cornmeal Roti: This saag has a subtle flavour but it is really lovely. It makes fairly small serves, however it was a nicely rounded out meal with some carby sides. The poppy seed-cornmeal roti is a bit rough to look at, I haven't had much experience making them, but they were fun and yummy! Also served with some basmati rice and some homemade chutney (from Vegan Planet).
Rating: Saag :). Roti :)

Pumpkin Saag; Basmati Rice; Poppy-Seed Cornmeal Roti; Five-Spice Pear Chutney (VP)

Manzana Chili Verde and Jalapeno-Onion Skillet Corn Bread: This is a great tangy chili, filled with potatoes, tomatillos, beans and apple! I made it also be nice and mild by only using one jalapeno and no poblano. I also can't find fresh tomatillos here so I used tinned ones. The cornbread is great, I particularly love the way the onions and chiles on top go so sweet. I don't have a cast-iron skillet to bake in, so I just used a baking pan.
Rating: Chili :), Corn Bread :)

Manzana Chili Verde; Jalapeno-Onion Skillet Corn Bread

Grilled Yuca Tortillas, Guacamole and Tropical Avocado Salsa Fresca: This fun combination makes great party food or a first course. The yuca tortillas (I had to use frozen yuca as I can't find fresh) were a little bland on their own, but with the guac and salsa become amazing! The guacamole is a fairly basic recipe, with a series of optional add-ins. I liked to add chopped tomato. The tropical avocado salsa fresca is amazing! Tomato, paw paw (you can also use pineapple or mango), avocado and cilantro. Yum! My mum is avocado allergic (tragedy), so I made some for her with cucumber instead of the avocado.
Rating: Tortillas :), Guac :), Salsa :D

Grilled Yuca Tortillas; Guacamole; Tropical Avocado Salsa Fresca

Grilled Yuca Tortillas

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip: This dip is based on lots of sun-dried tomatoes, almonds and white beans. I found it a bit too strong in the sun-dried tomato flavour on it's own, but when served with some cream cheese or cheese I preferred it.
Rating: :|

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

A Hummus Recipe: Straight forward hummus, this is a good recipe with a lovely texture. The recipe calls for using a blender for a really creamy texture, but unless you have a super power blender I recommend just some extra time in the food processor as it is very thick.
Rating: :)

A Hummus Recipe

Snobby Joes: This sloppy recipe is lentil based, and makes four satisfying sandwiches. Skip the capsicum, add some chopped celery.
Rating: :)

Snobby Joes

Escarole with Capers and White Beans: This is a simple dinner served over brown rice. I used two heads of baby endive and a whole tin of white beans (rather than just one cup). It made two servings. And is excellent with nooch!
Rating: :)

Escarole with Capers and White Beans

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim is alert

Dim Sim is eyeing me off from the desk in my room. I was in bed and reading, she was PAYING ATTENTION and wondering if I might want to play with her ribbon. She got what she wanted.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pride and Prejudice and Potbellies

Unfortunately I am referring to our potbellies, no cute little potbellied pigs will appear in this post.

A few weeks ago I have a Pride and Prejudice viewing day with some friends. Pete had never seen P&P, and we had to remedy this because it is awesome. If you are wondering 'which Pride and Prejudice did you watch?', then I need to remind you that there is only one Pride and Prejudice worth watching. There is only one Mr Darcy, and his name is Colin Firth. The end.

Of course, six hours of viewing requires sustenance! And we decided to have a 'high tea' for lunch and then a roast dinner for dinner because it seemed like the English thing to do. We are all vegan, but Sarah is also gluten free, so this was a completely gleegan spread!

Our high tea style lunch was all cuteness and charm. Also, can you believe how adorable Sarah's tabletop is? So perfect for the theme as well!

High tea

Sorry for this blurry pic! I love tiny sandwiches. I had planned on trying my hand at gf bread, but I just ran out of time. So I bought some Orgran crackers for these cute little bites. Plate one has cream cheese, cucumber and dill on it (my favourite!) and plate two has Tartex pate, tomato and chives.

High tea

Sarah made these amazing stuffed cherry tomatoes from Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer. Oh my gosh these were so good. I couldn't stop eating them!

High tea

I provided the sweets. Fresh grapes, strawberry muffins, stuffed dates and Table Of Plenty dark chocolate coated mini rice cakes.

High tea

The muffins are the Strawberry Shortcake Muffins, also from Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer. These are quite dense, in the way of gf goods, but were quite lovely. And very pretty!
Rating: :)

Strawberry Shortcake Muffins

I also made the Walnut Stuffed Dates from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson, except I stuffed them with cashews instead. They are dipped in chocolate, making them a pretty indulgent little treat.
Rating: :)

Chocolate Cashew Dates

Several hours later we were ready for dinner!

Roast dinner

Roast dinner

Roast dinner

Pete made the lentil and walnut loaf from Oh She Glows, which was a big deal because Pete almost never cooks. But we were able to talk him into it. ;) Sarah made the vegetable sides - I believe the leeks, carrots and asparagus are from Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats, and there were also sauteed mushrooms and roasted potatoes and pumpkin. I also made a super fast gravy to bring it all together - some nuttelex and flour made into a roux with Massel beef-style stock and a splash of soy sauce. It was all so good!

Of course after all of this we were SO FULL! And Pride and Prejudice was wonderful, of course. It was an excellent day. :)

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sarah's kitties

Sarah is a huge cat lady, she has fostered kittens and more than one or two have become her permanent companions. This photo is pretty old, but check out these cuties playing in her kitchen. These kids are much, much, much bigger now!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Recipe Round-Up: Vegan Without Borders

I am not sure what happened yesterday, but for some reason Blogger re-posted an old post from my 2011 travels in Portland. Silly Blogger! So no, I haven't done any unexpected travels, and we haven't time traveled back four years. So back to the regular scheduled programming.

Vegan Without Borders is the newest offering from Robin Robertson. This beautiful book (which includes colour pictures of some of the recipes!) is clearly a labour of love for Robin, the joy and emotion in her writing is evident. The book doesn't cover region (she doesn't cover everywhere, I am still waiting for Robin to take on Australian cuisine, hee) and is a carefully selected collection of recipes Robin has chosen to highlight each area. So let's go travelling with our tummies!

Easy Boston Baked Beans and Three-Corn Cornbread (The United States): This is a sweet and saucy baked bean recipe that comes together super quickly before baking. The recipe calls for molasses, I used blackstrap because that is what we commonly have here, any lighter sort of molasses would have made it even sweeter. Next time I would probably just add a sprinkle of sugar rather than whole tablespoon. This says it serves four to six, but I would say more like three and a half! The cornbread is triple due to cornmeal, corn kernels and a can of creamed corn. It is a very thick batter, but bakes up well in the time. I used the 8 inch baking pan option. All served with some broccoli.
Rating: Baked beans :), Cornbread :)

Easy Boston Baked Beans; Three-Corn Cornbread

Fattoush Wraps and Baharat-Spiced Baba Ghanoush (Middle East) with Mojito Roasted Sweet Potatoes (The Caribbean): These are some super fresh wraps that are great for summer. A thick and (very) lemony chickpea and herb (including mint) spread is smeared onto 'flat breads' (OK, I just used large wholemeal wraps because that is what I had) and topped with fresh salad (I skipped the cucumber). The baba ghanoush was a little bit bitter, I suspect because the homemade baharat spice blend was a bit bitter. But it mellows with some time in the fridge and with the addition of more lemon (also because I only had half the amount of option yoghurt). Sometimes you just through borders to the wind and mix your cultural boundaries, otherwise known as 'I had a bunch of mint to use up'. The sweet potatoes have a sauce made of rum, agave, lime and mint, and are actually very saucy. I served leftovers with some brown rice, which soaked it up great!
Rating: Wraps :) , Ghanoush :), Sweet Potatoes :)

Fattoush Wraps; Mojito Roasted Sweet Potatoes; Baharat-Spiced Baba Ghanoush

Coconut Spinach and Lentil Dal (India): Dal and Saag blend together here for a tasty dinner. I used brown lentils (the recipe just calls for dry lentils), and I also only used a 270mL tin of light coconut milk made up to 400mL with stock (too much coconut oil makes me sick). I used the frozen spinach option here, and skipped the chile. It gives 4 good sized serves over brown rice.
Rating: :)

Coconut Spinach and Lentil Dal

Tamarind Chickpeas with Green Beans and Cauliflower (India): This had a good flavour, but I would have liked a fair bit more tamarind in it because I love tamarind. I got nearly 5 serves out of this one, and like many curries it gets even better as leftovers.
Rating: :)

Tamarind Chickpeas with Green Beans and Cauliflower

Tofu and Jackfruit Curry (India): Before making this recipe, you make a Sri Lankan Curry Powder (I totally cheated though and dry roasted pre-ground spices, and I also only used a fraction of the chili powder because I love things mild). I sauteed the tofu first rather than just adding raw for some extra texture. This is only the second time I used jackfruit, the first was slow cooking, and it added a nice extra texture and flavour. I also added frozen peas and left out the chile.
Rating: :)

Tofu and Jackfruit Curry

Kung Pao Seitan and Eggplant (China): This was the first recipe I made from this book. Seitan, eggplant, snow peas and carrot (instead of capsicum) with a delicious sauce. I served it over brown rice and baby spinach. I only got about three and a half servings from this.
Rating: :)

Kung Pao Seitan and Eggplant

Sesame Noodles with Tofu (China): I love tofu and noodles. In this recipe I used 8 ounces of pasta instead of 12 and an extra cup of cabbage. It made three big servings. This sauce uses black vinegar, which is my favourite vinegar of all, though it didn't come through very strong in the finished product.
Rating: :)

Sesame Noodles with Tofu

Pineapple Fried Rice with Edamame (Thailand): I like pineapple in savoury dishes, yes I do. I love pineapple in Thai-style fried rice! I skipped the grotty capsicum and used mint out of the options of the herbs. The recipe called for Thai chili sauce, I suddenly realised I only had sweet chili sauce but that all worked out fine. I got three big servings out of this.
Rating: :)

Pineapple Fried Rice with Edamame

Chilled Somen Salad (Japan): I LOVE chilled noodle salads, and somen is my favourite. My mum used to make very non-vegan chilled somen salads when we were growing up. This has a stack of colourful ingredients (tofu, cos, carrot, edamame) with a lovely dressing. I used Australian TBS to make the dressing because I knew I would want extra dressing to make sure it got everywhere. Such a pretty salad!
Rating: :)

Chilled Somen Salad

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Meowy kitty on the street

This sweet little face belongs to a friendly kitty I met on the street when I was walking from a health food shop back to the clinic. They wouldn't let me leave for a good few minutes of winding around my ankles! Look at that cutie!!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

USA 2011: Portland Part 5

My final day in Portland, and I was looking forward to some brunch. Before brunch I needed a snack. Please do not judge me. There were things I had to eat up. I really should hide this part of my trip, but here it is.

Don't judge me!! *hides* Well, I had to eat these or they wouldn't get eaten. One was a vegan twinkie I had bought in Seattle that was getting a bit too smooshed from frequent travel. I've never had an actual Twinkie before, but to be honest I don't think I would miss them. Fakey-tasting cake with fakey-tasting-super-sweet cream. Sorry America, if I am dissing one of your great cultural food experiences, but there it is. The other part of my pre-brunch snack was a Rice Dream Ice-Cream Sandwich. This I liked! It was creamy but not too sweet.

Poor K had been sick during the trip, and had spent the night before coughing and getting not much sleep, so I headed out to brunch on my own with plans to meet up with them later. I hopped on a bus (by this point I was super awesome at getting around PDX on their awesome, cheap, reliable public transport - are you listening Brisbane??) and headed out.

On the way to the bus stop, I discovered and awesome store that sells vintage toys, and I could see some first generation My Little Ponies inside. Now, I love My Little Ponies. I have a collection of the first generation ponies. But the store was closed! Oh, how my heart did wail and weep in devastation. I have had dreams about finding thrift stores full of My Little Ponies, and now here was my dream so close to coming true, but denied! Woes! I took my shattered little heart off and tried to console it at this place.

I had heard so much about brunch at Blossoming Lotus, and their day or brunch had arrived, so I was there. I ummed and ahhed at the menu for a bit, before making my final decision.

This is the Lotus Benedict. The website seems to have a lunch menu instead of the brunch menu, so I will try and describe it as I can remember. An biscuit sliced in two (tasted like a nice scone, actually!), with maple-baked seitan (or something similar), tomato, steamed kale, homefries and a butternut hollondaise sauce. This was delicious and filling, and exactly what I needed after so many sweet breakfasts! I much prefer a savoury start to my day. Yum! One thing I had really wanted to get from here, but didn't in the end, was the peanut butter banana smoothie. I mean, it sounds amazing, right? But I was feeling pretty full and all that sugar for breakfast had made my stomach a teeny bit touchy, so I did did not. I am sure I can make a PB banana smoothie here in my kitchen, once the price of bananas drops down to at least pretend to be affordable!

After brunch I made my way back into town, going through a shopping centre with its own ice rink on my way to the MAX. I MAXed back in to go to the Portland Saturday Market, which is also open on Sunday. And meandered around until I was able to meet up with K and Toby.

Someone was walking their miniature pony! I went bought a necklace for a friend's birthday and looked at some cool cat toys that I couldn't buy because they all contained catnip (customs in Australia does not like dried herbs) and then met up with my PDX vegan buddies. A new Voodoo Doughnuts had just opened up near the markets (their soft opening), and the line out was huge. Honestly, PDXers are mad for donuts!

K hadn't eaten, and we couldn't find much in the way of vegan g/f food at the markets, so we went wandering. We had hoped that the Sonny Bowl food cart would be open, but no luck, so we ended up back at Prasad. I was still full from brunch, so I just ordered a peppermint iced tea. Refreshing!

I felt that I could not leave PDX without experiencing the Bye and Bye, a vegan pub. K and Toby were up for the trip (especially given that it would put us in close proximity to a little place called heaven), so off we went.

I ordered the Weeping Tiger sandwich - tofu cutlets, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeno, Sriracha and Vegeaise - after someone on the PPK said that this sandwich completes them. I confess, I got the chili stuff on the side so I could have just add a bit and have a wimpy, not so weepy, lunch. Remember that time I ate ice-cream and twinkies for breakfast? My stomach sure did. This was really nice, though I am not sure it completed my life, but I did enjoy it. Whatever they did to the tofu cutlets was delicious! It came with a choice of sides, so I chose some collards to try, as I hadn't yet had the chance to try these magical vegetables that do not seem to exist in Australia. They were nice, but I still like kale the best!

Toby ordered the Meatball Sub, which was also really nice. I would probably consider this above the sandwich next time. Noms!

K was still a bit full, and was saving room for heaven, so she snacked on some chips and salsa.

Toby also ordered a vegan white russian, because he could and he had to. There are lots of cocktails there, including vegan bloody marys and their signature Bye and Bye, which is pink and served in gigantic mason jars. Given that I haven't had a drink for over a year, I am pretty sure one of those would slay me, so I stuck to some water. There were lots of people enjoying a Sunday afternoon cocktail, though. It was a great atmosphere!

But not as good an atmosphere as heaven. *sigh* Toby went off to look at music or drink coffee or something... who could know when K and I had in our sights the most magical of places - Back To Eden Bakery. Have I mentioned that this place is seriously like a magical wonderland? I want to live there. I could eat croissants and cake and cookies and ice cream every day!

Last time I showed you loads of photos of their sweeties. Here are some photos of their savouries in the case.

K ordered a beautiful looking gluten free Hazelnut and Strawberry (I think?) cupcake, and also enjoyed a berry flavoured milk shake.

I had this gorgeous Strawberry Vanilla Tart. It was perfect. The pastry was just right, not at all gluggy or thick. The custard was smooth and creamy, and the strawberries were not to sweet and not too tart. It was heavenly! If I could marry a shop, I would marry Back To Eden. Seriously. I am so sad I didn't get to eat more there, and I never got to have a banana split! Oh, the humanity!

After our eating, we went back into town. K and I took a walk through downtown Portland. I wanted to see the Portlandia statue. We followed the directions on our map, but couldn't find her. We asked locals where she was and they didn't know. Eventually, we found her.

She was up above, looking down from a building! Our hearts skipped a beat, as from that angle she is kind of terrifying. Like she's about to swoop down and carry you off to somewhere not nice. I can totally imagine parents in PDX telling their kids to be good or Portlandia will come and get you! Once the initial shock wore off, she was pretty impressive though!

We had hoped to find some stores that K wanted to look in, but the maps seemed to lie to us and we could not find them. We ended up wandering around the streets a bit. There were lots of very cool statues and sculptures.

Predictably, I really liked the statues of critters, like these sweet little deer.

Afterwards, we split up and I went into Powells Books. This place is amazing and huge and has possibly every book ever. And cute stationary to boot! I had already spent some time exploring in here, as it was just down the road from our hotel, but today I had the intention to buy. I carefully selected some new vegan cookbooks to add to my collection - Heart Vegan Meals For Monster Appetites and Vegan Desserts. I am bummed I did not remember to get American Vegan Kitchen! I did feel pretty cool though, because I had a lot of the cookbooks that were there already. Vegan cookbook addicts unite!

I met up with K and Toby again to go out for dinner (K had already snacked on some g/d goodness from Wholefoods) at Sizzle Pie. This is an omni place with vegan options, that sells pizza by the slice. A friend had raved and raved about it, telling me to get there as soon as I arrived in Portland. I got there, though it was my last stop.

I got a slice each of the two vegan pizza's available in the cabinet. There was the special, which seemed to be some sort of cashew cheeze with onion, spinach and some sort of faux meat, and also the pepperoni and cheeze (Daiya), cutely named Thunder and Lightning. I definitely likes this one the best.

The slices were HUGE. Here is a demonstration, see the size of the slice compared to the size of my head. Americans like their pizzas gigantic! (Also note that I am actually wearing one of my three My Little Pony t-shirts, thus making the inability to buy vintage My Little Ponies even more tragic).

After dinner, with bulging bellies, we strolled across the Burnside bridge to get back to the south west, where our hotel was. It was a lovely walk. During our stay, we named each of Portland's four quadrants. SE was Serious Eats, home of Hungry Tiger Too, the mini-mall, Portobello, Gorditos, Potato Champion and so many others. NE became Nice Eats, Nothing Else, home of Native Bowl, Ruby Dragon, Bye and Bye, Vita Cafe, Back to Eden and Dovetail among others. SW, where our hotel, Home Grown Smoker and Prasad were located, was So Weird... I am not sure why. And the NW was No Where, because we had no reason to go there ever!

On the way back across the bridge from Serious Eats to So Weird, I noticed this nifty Portland sign for the first time. It kind of reminds me of a christmas reindeer. I am going to blow this photo up and make it the first page of the Portland section of my scrapbook.

Once back at the hotel, I had some serious packing to do as I was leaving at stupid o'clock in the morning for San Francisco. K and Toby came for moral support, peppermint tea and an ice-cream party! K and I had wanted to have an ice-cream party for some time. It ended up just being two flavours, the Cherry Nirvana that I had previously bought and also some Hazelnut Fudge from Luna and Larry's that K brought along. The second was definitely the winner. So delicious!

Eventually I bid K and Toby goodnight to get some sleep before the final leg of my journey. I am so thankful that I had these two awesome people to travel and eat my way around Portland with! Thank you!!

K and Toby have also blogged about their experiences on this day, as well as the two other days the spent in Portland afterwards, here and here.

So, final thoughts on Portland? The food is amazing, though I really found that was all there was to do. I loved Seattle more. I do want to go back to Portland for a couple of days though, so I can finally get the Macnocheeto Burrito from Home Grown Smoker, get another Mississippi Bowl from Native Bowl, get dinner at Portobello and spend an entire day, from open to close, at Back To Eden eating everything that they have! Oh, and buy My Little Ponies, of course!