Springtime Ingredients and Curried Chicken Salad Recipe

Today is the first day of spring and with so many new ingredients hitting the produce and farm stands, my mouth is already watering. I am thinking of warm pasta dishes with sprinkles of green veggies and herbs. It is almost too much for my little brain to handle!

The weather is warming up over here in the Northeast and with a gray, rainy day today with a mild 37 degree temperature this morning, one cannot help but dream of the plants pushing their stems through the ground and smell the steaming artichokes, peas, and asparagus that will be waiting on our Easter Tables. So lets talk about what is in season and drop some ideas on how to prepare it for a spring brunch or even Easter!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

What is Fresh?

pumpkin soup 5

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel
  • Green Garlic
  • Green Onions
  • Leeks
  • Lemons
  • Lettuces and Greens
  • Mint
  • Morels
  • New Potatoes
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Ramps
  • Rhubarb
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Onions
  • Turnips

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are some awesome vegan spring recipes in which to prepare these fresh spring ingredients?

IMG_2639

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Apricots: Make a Curried Vegan Chicken Salad with sliced almonds and diced dried apricots (recipe below), or a Moroccan Grain Salad, or roast the apricot and serve it as a dessert just like I did with peaches here!

Artichokes: I am a HUGE fan of artichokes! I roast, steam, or just plain old toss them into so many dishes. Add them to a marinara or a cashew cream sauce with sum sundried tomatoes and they are amaxing. Or go all out for a party and make this awesome Spinach Artichoke Dip!

Asparagus: I rarely eat asparagus but when I do they have to be fresh and either steamed and then drizzled with oil, balsamic and salt (served cold) or roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Keep it simple!

Beets: Beets are an amazing food. Try golden beets steamed or roasted with a balsamic vinegar drizzle. Heaven on earth!

Carrots: Everyone loves carrots. They are in cans, fresh, and come in every color. Purple is the original color of a carrot though. Try something new with this spiced carrot spread recipe from Martha Stewart!

Cherries: Cherries are such a wonderful ingredient that can be made savory or sweet. Try making a traditional cherry pie or some cherry chocolate brownie cupcakes to indulge!

Fava Beans: Try a twist on the average soup or standard fava bean salad with this Sopa de Habas from Saveur!

Fennel: I love roasting fennel with other veggies and making it almost herbaceous to the dish. Check out my roasted veggies from the holidays here!

Green Garlic: Green Garlic is similar in use to Green onions. I support this unusually garlic by dicing it thin and tossing it in a salad with asian dressing, dried fruits, and sliced almonds. You can even rub the oils from it around the inside of the bowl to help bring out the taste.

Green Onions: I love green onions in two particular dishes (1) is the Dragon Potatoes at the Cantina in San Diego’s Pacific Beach (you can get the recipe and cookbook here), and (2) when sprinkled over a peanut satay noodle dish like this recipe which includes lots of the other items on here. Mix it up and enjoy!

Leeks: Leeks are similar to onions. I like them for soups. Try making a simple traditional potato leek soup at Easter.

Lemons: When I was a little girl we lived in the San Jose area of California. I would sit on the railing of the back deck overlooking our pool and eat lemons with my brother. When I met my husband one of the first things I found out is he still eats lemons and LOVES them. There are a million lemon recipes out there both savory and sweet. My favorites are Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Bundt Cake and Lemon Meringue Pie though.

Lettuces/Greens: We all know how to use lettuce to make a salad but what else can you do with it? Try seasoning it and grilling it. Not sure what kind of lettuce to use. Get a free trial to Cook’s Online Cooking School and learn with videos and recipe lessons how to make them perfectly! I just did the lettuces version this past week and learned quite a bit about what flavors are in each type and when to use them and how to use them! I pay $20/ a month but more serious folks can do the $40 a month program and get feedback from America’s Test Kitchen Chefs!

Mint: I like mint in dessert but I am not much of a fan in savory dishes although it is used heavily in the Mediterranean and middle eastern cooking recipes. So try something totally different and make a mint tea with mint, sugar, and water!

Morels: These mushrooms are so rich and can be made into almost anything! Check out this website and recipe guide that is dedicated to them and start experimenting! Also look at Martha Stewart’s Morels 101 !

New Potatoes: Roasted New Potatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs are a staple. The only spring change I would make… add some edible flowers and Herbs de Provence!

Parsley: I re-blogged a great recipe that had a wonderful use of parsley the other day here with Roasted Potatoes and Avocado. Or try a Parsley Walnut Pesto for a hot or cold salad (swap the parm for Galaxy Foods Vegan Parmesan) or fun bruschetta!

Peas: My father hates peas but I grew up with them on my plate at least a few times a week. From the can with butter and salt. Yum. However with them so fresh try a variety of types and ways to make them! Steam some fresh snow peas or sugar snaps and toss in a stir fry with some tofu. Or perhaps make a minty pea dip or Pea Guacomole!

Radishes: Radishes are inherently a mexican topping. You add them raw and sliced to the top of any taco and it is instant heaven.

Ramps: ramps are a food that many are not familiar with but are part of that green onion/scallion style of food. But here on the east coast they are more common so we pickle them, put them in bread, and even toss them in the fryer! Check out some recipes here.

Rhubarb: My husband is a sucker for a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from the baked section of our Grocery Store. My mom buys them for him all the time. But when i was little my grandfather used to recite a rhyme to me every so often asking me if the “rain would hurt the rhubarb” and I thought that rhubarb was the same as rebar that was on the cement pillars of the ski lift so I would be rolling my eyes like “No they are always covered in snow”. I laugh at my 4 year old logic. However does the rain hurt the rhubarb?  The answer is apparently no, but it is obviously a common question! That being said eat some of its sweet and sour flesh in a pie (just sub the dairy for non-dairy items)!

Scallions: Scallions grew like weeds in the backyard of my childhood home. I hated the smell but now it is nostalgic. They are great on almost everything so I wanted to find an out of the box recipe for you guys. This is what I found: Avocado, Celery, and Scallion Bruscetta with Mache! Also take a look at Martha Stewart for more inspiration on Ramps, Scallions, and Green Onions!

Spinach: I use spinach mainly in salads or steamed with vinegar on them. How do you cook spinach? Also there is always the Spinach Artichoke Dip above!

Strawberries: I love strawberries. Doesn’t everyone? But its actually not a berry. Although, Pineapples and Bananas are. Make a strawberry chocolate pie for Easter by tossing strawberries with tapioca pearls and sugar and then putting them in a vegan pie crust and pouring chocolate chips in the crevices. It is really that easy. check out Magnolia Bakery’s recipe! Also I love my chocolate dipped strawberry cupcakes. They are fun and easy for kids to make too!

Sweet Onions: I could use sweet onions all day. Onion rings, purree, or in a bread. Yummy Yummy! Try my onion bread recipe!

Turnips: I have never cooked turnips. Ever. So I will rely on some experts on some interesting recipes. Here they are: RECIPES . I must say the Maple Carrot Turnip Mash and the Turnip Slaw look awesome! Some of that slaw over my BBQ Seitan Pretzel Sandwich Recipe sounds devine!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Curried Vegan Chicken Salad with Apricots and Sliced Almonds (Made for 1 person)

 Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces of Beyond Meat Chicken Lightly Seasoned
  • (1-2) tbsp of Vegan Mayonnaise like Just Mayo by Hampton Foods
  • 2 tbsp of Balti Curry Spice from Penzey’s
  • 1 dried apricot
  • 2 tbsp of sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: Sliced Bread, green salad

Dice chicken strips into tiny pieces. Toss with mayo, then season, and stir until combined. Dice the dried apricot and toss into mixture with almonds, toss lightly, and serve cold immediately. You can put it on a salad or in a sandwich as well! Enjoy!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The great thing you may have noticed is that many of the recipes use multiples of these ingredients together. That is the beauty of cooking seasonly. The flavors always jive well together. Plus you are helping save the planet by not getting your produce shipped in from a million miles away. Try buying seasonally and locally. It is pretty delicious! Happy First Day of Spring everyone!

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

Organic Garden Cafe aka Rawbert’s in Beverly, MA

I am not necessarily a big fan of vegan raw food. I think of it as something that goes a little far at times for my abilities and most folks abilities in a cold weather climate. If I lived in Costa Rica it may seem more feasible however. When I heard that a spot near my seaside home was picked as a Best of Boston North Shore (BONS) for brunch and it was vegan I was pretty excited. The write up was positive and discussed lots of good quality food. So I took a look at their website. It said that not only are they a cafe but they also do a volunteer program where you volunteer 5 times every 2 months for 3 hours at a time and you can learn a little about the raw food movement. This was very interesting to me. They had internships and other things but volunteering is my second love so I grabbed my mother, aunt, and cousin and headed over for a lunch time treat. If it was decent I vowed I would ask for the volunteering paperwork. I can always learn something more about vegan food and heck maybe raw is better than I think!

IMG_3211   IMG_3212

When we got their we realized the space itself is a bit tiny and a little cramped but very healthy-food-centric. They had plants and painted murals of veggies. Very hipster cool. It is wedged into main street with its own parking lot and next to a comic book store and around other healthy/hippie venues. It fits. The staff was nice and friendly. We were seated quickly. The food was brought out timely and we had a good meal. I loved the crackers and cheese plate we got, the quesadillas were awesome, and the the kale chips were the same flavor as Rhythm Foods Nacho flavor. My mom and aunt got soup. My aunt loved hers as it was a carrot ginger flavor and my mom thought hers was too grainy for a corn chowder. The omelette sandwich filled me up but was a bit mushy since it was some sort of Brazil nut base and reminded me of the soft cheese on the cheese plate. I was surprised at the bagel though, it was excellent. I grabbed some chocolates to go (none of us liked those, they are not sweet and actually very strong in odor like a glass of red wine). I then decided I would ask for an application for the volunteer program.

IMG_3215   IMG_3219   IMG_3216  IMG_3217 IMG_3220       

Unfortunately, I was met with some surprise on this portion.  Rawbert himself came out and seemed happy to chat. However he thought I was asking about the internship (which as a full time executive I do not have time for nor the need for). I stated no I was looking at the volunteer program. He said they didn’t do that anymore because it was too hard to get volunteers up to speed and they aren’t trained and they get in the way in an already overstaffed busy kitchen. So why then do they allow interns? Wouldn’t that be the same? It seems that interns pay for their spot. That is strange and I am not sure I like that. I grabbed a green juice and headed out. I am not sure I will go back. I have mixed feelings about the whole ordeal after that chat. If I had not chatted, I may have gone back but after seeing that the business is more than about the food and the joy and it is really about money. I felt uncomfortable. Veganism is just one of those subcultures where you feel like you are more about the food, the health, the morals and less about the business of it all. However, I guess that isn’t always the case. Plus isn’t free labor still free labor? Rawbert told me he would update his page and he has, however I am still bummed out. If you want to intern or take classes though for a fee I say go for it! I just can’t fit that into my life as a full time executive.

 

IMG_3222   IMG_3223

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

@TrueBistro : My Favorite Vegan Spot

I was at the Boston Flower Show on Sunday with my mother and my aunt when I saw that the Wynn Casino and Resort Company was hosting the event. I find this an amazing moment because here in Boston we are contemplating the possibility of a large hotel/casino/resort in the metro area. So not only are the contenders trying to sponsor events to garner attention, but they are also trying to win our favor. The Wynn Company already has my favor however, because Steve Wynn is vegan. This allows for the possibility of more vegan restaurants in the metro area that are high quality and accessible. He makes sure there is a vegan menu at every restaurant at the Wynn Las Vegas and he would do the same in the Everett, MA location. They also plan on cleaning up a large site that used to be home to Monsanto and (no surprise) they left toxic and a mess and then walked away. So the Wynn Company is becoming a fan favorite for a few reasons. However, I have one worry… my favorite restaurant True Bistro. It is an excellent restaurant in Somerville, MA that has amazing food and is high end. This is rare. How rare? They are the only high end vegan restaurant in the whole metro area. I think Candle 79 in NYC is the next closest at what 200 or so miles away?

So the reason for my worry is that a few things can happen during competition. One is that they could force them out and two is that the loyal followers slowly migrate away. I would hate that. I don’t think it will happen though and the reason is Michael the owner. I have had the pleasure of talking to him on a few occasions. He obviously only knows me as a patron, however, he is so kind and fun and chatty but also unbelievably dedicated to this lifestyle and food that I can’t help but write about his spot in detail. I would never replace a night in Somerville with Michael for a night at a large hotel but I may start going out a few more times a month because the Wynn will have convenient parking and all that jazz at larger resorts. This may be years down the road though. The interesting part is that despite all that Wynn could offer… True Bistro has not only amazing food but the are always changing it up with only a few staples and the pre-fixe menus are to die for every time (if you are lucky enough to get a reservation).

I had the pleasure of going there on Valentine’s Day this year and honestly, I think it was one of the best meals I have had in forever. Which is a compliment since I recently did a culinary tour of vegan hot spots in NYC and we go to True Bistro and order 4 desserts fairly often. My husband and I asked for one of everything this time, since there were two items in each section and the wine pairing. I was driving and I also don’t drink so my husband took a sip of this or that with each taste. I was in love with so many dishes and the waitress asked us each time what the culprit was. So I would tell her we loved this, fought over that, not a fan of this wine, etc. She would smile or laugh or absorb. Again, this restaurant is so responsive. Even their waitstaff are experts. How can anyone compete with that level of service? So we continued along and my omnivore husband ate like it was going to be taken away at any moment. He was such a fool for their menu. I was so happy to see this because it is not every day that you can get an omnivore to dig vegan food so much that they try to eat faster so their vegan wife can’t steal back a bite of a plate of seitan. I had a great time that night and the food as always was impeccable.

So where does that leave an excellent vegan four star restaurant in Boston when a huge giant resort shows up? Hopefully still on top. I wouldn’t be able to part with this family or their restaurant. I would miss Michael’s banter, his height, and his joy. He gets excited to clean off a table, he gets excited to chat about his travels, and he gets excited and laughs when he finds out we made it to dinner after having a cancelled flight on a holiday. He has an attention to detail that is unmatched from his choices in food, too his chevre cheese plates, to the fact that he could tell by my eyes I was part Mexican. You can’t compete with that, but perhaps Wynn will supplement it. I will be by sometime soon to wait in the long line for brunch. I can’t wait even though it is 19 degrees out. You should too: http://www.truebistroboston.com . Now I am hungry!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

 

 

REBLOG: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake by Lucy’s Friendly Foods

This is certainly a must to reblog. It looks tasty and beautiful for spring. I would need to make a few alterations due to the change in country but seems easy enough to alter! It also has Tofutti as a main ingredient which is a favorite of mine! I would even consider topping with sliced fruit. Enjoy… Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.

Veganized Hamburger Green Bean Casserole aka Hamburger Pie aka “Mush” over Mashed Potatoes

When I was a little kid my mom would always make a dish we endearingly called “Mush”. It was ground hamburger with green beans and milky tomato soup poured over mashed potatoes. It was one of my favorite meals. It doesn’t sound great but honestly it is borderline amazing. The soup gets thick and creamy and gives the mixture a gravy/meaty tomato sauce/chili like texture. But once it is poured over mashed potatoes… heaven. I can’t explain it but to say it is simple and wonderful and now that Beyond Meat makes meaty crumbles that actually taste like ground meat. I can make it again!

IMG_3225

 

My Mom’s Recipe for Mush (Veganized)

  • 1-2 bags of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Seasoned salt
  • 1 can of green beans (drained)
  • 1 can Campbell’s Tomato Soup
  • 1 canful of Soy Milk (poured into the soup can)
  • Mashed Potatoes ( I used the dehydrated kind for this recipe with earth balance and soy milk)

 

COOK!

  1. In a large skillet heat oil and crumbles until warm and cooked through about 10 minutes (see bag label).
  2. Once cooked add soup and then one soup can worth of soy milk.
  3. Use a few sprinkles of seasoned salt to  season to taste.
  4. Add green beans last.
  5. Cook until the soup has cooked down to a thicker consistency like chili.
  6. Serve hot over mashed potatoes with a dab of earth balance butter.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Tip(s): If you add too much soup or milk and don’t have enough meat to thicken the sauce, add bulger wheat to absorb some of the liquid. It adds a meaty chew and will not talk away from flavor. it only needs about 15 minutes to soften also!

 

Serves 4.

IMG_3224

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

Milk-Off! The Real Skinny on Soy, Almond, and Rice

thehippiegypsy:

Very interesting piece on milk substitutes. I think it is a must read…

Originally posted on TIME:

Got milk? Not anymore. In the latest sign that milk is losing the marketing battle to dairy alternatives, the industry announced this week that it would trade in its 20-year-old white-mustachioed ad campaign for a more competitive spin on the dietary staple.

Milk consumption per capita has been on steady march downward, dropping 25% from 1975 to 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, the mainstreaming of plant-based dairy alternatives like soy, almond, and rice milk has averaged annual sales growth of 10.9% since 1999 in the U.S., according to market research firm Euromonitor. The non-dairy category has also surged to more than $1 billion in annual retail sales in the U.S.

For the most part, alternatives like soymilk and almond milk are much lower in calcium and vitamin D, but these products make up for it by adding the nutrients later. So how is traditional milk trying…

View original 892 more words

Tofutti Giveaway! Starts Now Ends March 25, 2014!

101

 

I will be giving away some yummy Tofutti prizes this coming month! Today is my birthday and in honor of another year on this earth, I am giving away one of my favorite brands loot to the best recipe that is sent to me featuring their product! So send me an email at veganhippiegypsy@gmail.com with your favorite homemade Tofutti recipes and don’t forget to send a picture if you have one! I will close entries on March 25th and choose a winner within a week. The recipe will be featured on the blog as a guest blog and any pictures, blogger info, and such will also be featured. I look forward to hearing from you all and seeing how creative you have gotten with this awesome plant based product!

Food is Love.
The Hippie Gypsy.

 

IMG_2904    IMG_2728

Creamy Pesto Sauce over Whole Wheat Pasta

I love pesto. I love everything about it. The strong smell of herbs, the creamy texture, the sharp cheesiness, and the fatty oils. I used to get that Bertolli pesto in the small hummus like container and just indulge. However, that container has a whole lot of Parmesan cheese and olive oil in it. Don’t get me wrong I love olive oil and Parmesan is the world’s top cheese supposedly but I am vegan and I need to start eating less oil and more whole foods so this weekend I tried to make a new pesto recipe and decided to add some protein and make it a nice creamy version of my favorite since I already have a classic pesto recipe on here. So please make some, add a few of my optionals, and indulge in a delicious creamy pesto pasta on this cold, snowy Meatless Monday!

 

IMG_3088

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Oil Free Creamy Pesto Sauce

  • 1 container lite silken tofu
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 cup frozen basil
  • 1 tbsp pinenuts (pignolias)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp granulated garlic

Optional: (1) Add raw sliced almonds to the processor for a little texture. (2) Top with bruschetta tomatoes and a balsamic drizzle for a fresh twist. (3) Eat with American Flatbread Company’s new Farmer’s Tomato Pie instead of garlic bread or crusty bread.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Preparation

IMG_3078

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until well combined and then when you drain your pasta place the sauce in the pot over medium or medium low heat stirring often until bubbling. Add pasta and toss. Serve hot with bread or Tomato Pie!

 

IMG_3080     IMG_3083

 

Serves 4.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

Traveling Vegan in NYC Part II: Restaurant Reviews, Food, Places that Closed, and Heaven on a Plate.

 

 

 

 

 

I love New York City. It is just really one of the World’s treasures. For vegans it is a resource that is unmatched in the United States. It has ever culinary wish you could make and every creative food your palate could desire. I always talk to my husband about where I want to go eat if I were in NYC right now. He has obviously been listening because the other week he said “Let’s go away for the weekend!” I was excited but careful. For me, money is always tight and I want to budget. So I pre-planned everything, every restaurant and activity and even snacks. We left a little late on Saturday and realized halfway there that although we did plan for the dog’s accommodations, hubby left the house without her leash on. He then fell asleep for most of the ride until he woke up and told me.

IMG_2943

 

So a short stop in Petsmart (or was it Petco) in Connecticut and back onto the highway. We got there in a reasonable amount of time regardless and I was so excited to start my culinary adventure. First however, we had to check in. My dog Lola was so excited to get out of the car and into the hotel to meet everyone. Did I mention it was about 10 degrees out? Thanks polar blast for that cold wave.

 

IMG_2945   IMG_2944 (Lola arriving in NYC smelling everything and so excited to get out of the car)

 

MARRIOTT CENTRAL PARKAccommodations

 

The staff at the Marriott Central Park was equally excited. It was a beautiful new hotel that just opened and we were staying in the Courtyard Marriott section but there is also a Marriott Residence Inn section making it the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere. Very cool. The staff is great and so was the hotel. I recommend it to everyone and anyone. Can’t go wrong with Marriott especially on Broadway between Times Square and Central Park near 5th Ave.

IMG_3040 (Lola checking out the fountain at the hotel)

 

 

 

DUN-WELL DOUGHNUTS: BREAKFAST / SNACK

After the bellman brought up the luggage and the valet took the car away. We headed across the Williamsburg Bridge to Dun-well Doughnuts. I met a man in line who helped me pick his favorites and a few other fun donuts for our half dozen box while my husband ran across the street to a local Bodega to get money from the ATM. It gave him all tens which he still thinks is the most hilarious thing in the world. I grabbed a vegan hot cocoa and a coffee for the hubby and we sat at the window to begin our feast. WOW was my first words. The donuts are those spot on sweet but not too sweet yeasty dreamy fluffs of heaven. They flavors and coatings are far from average and not at all tasting of “fake” fruit flavors or funny after tastes. They are as close to perfect as I can think. I just wish they were in Boston so I could get fatter by eating them every day.

IMG_2946    IMG_2947   IMG_2948   IMG_2950  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foodswings: Lunch (closed)

Next we decided to walk the 1.5 miles over to Foodswings in Brooklyn on the Park Slope Brooklyn Bridge side of Brooklyn. This place is known for amazing home style eats. Burgers, mac n cheese, and fried chicken but all vegan all the time. One problem when we walked up the gate was down. So we saw a door to the right and walked down a long kinda shady hallway into a speakeasy door to find a girl sitting at a bar eating corn chips and salsa alone. This was not Foodswings. I walked out to find another couple doing the same thing and I agreed to check my phone Facebook to see what was up. They had announced in the beginning of the month that their lease was up and they had a fight with their landlord and would close at the end of the month. It wasn’t the end of the month but this explained it I guess. I was pretty upset that they didn’t bother and update their website, twitter, or FB when they actually closed. It was kinda a stinky move on their part. I met them at The Seed conference a few years ago and had their fried chicken and they seemed cool. But I guess time and business changes folks. oh well! (Note: I checked today on FB and they posted that a few days later (after I left a message on their twitter) they stated on FB they had been closed all week and reopened for a few days and closed again for good, thanks for telling us after you were closed a week. Really not impressed guys.)

 

PEACEFOOD CAFE: LUNCH / SNACK

We caught a cab bag to Manhattan and got ready for the dinner of the year. The vegan epicenter of high end vegan food…. Candle 79. We stopped at Peacefood Cafe first though for a snack since our lunch was now cancelled and because a twitter follower commented that she could eat her “weight” in their chickpea fries. All I know is I ordered a seitan medallion sandwich, chickpea fries, and a key lime pie to go and the seitan sandwich could’ve caused my husband and I to divorce and ask for custody over it so we didn’t have to share. It was THAT good. My only complaint. The key lime pie must have sat near onions in the fridge. The taste transferred into the tofu base. Not good but you could tell it would’ve been.

 

IMG_2953   IMG_2956IMG_2958IMG_2960 IMG_2986

 

 

Then Candle 79 after a quick trip back to the hotel to walk the dog and freshen up for dinner.

 

CANDLE 79: DINNER

I will be honest, I thought Candle 79 was going to be all talk. I had heard it was good but too pricey and that it didn’t live up to the hype. However, it is someplace you just have to go no matter what other folks say because it does have quite a celebrity following. The truth? It is actually THAT good. The menu is daunting. You want to order everything but are unsure. The prices are high but that is the type of restaurant it is. Think Morton’s or the Palm without the meat. The hostess was delightful and took our coats. A rude customer came in behind us and was quite demanding that he be seated before us (we had a reservation as did he) but she handled it with the grace of a ballerina and assured him he had a table and she would be right back. We were brought down the long thin first floor up some stairs to the second floor overlooking 79th. It was a nice view bu there was a huge flower display in the window that blocked some of it. The ceilings were gorgeous and made of several colors of wood. The staff was attentive and polite. I ordered a kola (which reminds me of coke in the Caribbean), a Caesar salad, and the Seitan Piccatta. My husband ordered the dumplings appetizer and the Rosemary-Balsamic Grilled Seitan. My salad was wonderful. I had wanted a Caesar salad since I had gone vegan but had never had one. While we waited a waited came over and told me that the chef sent out a appetizer for us to try. It was a lentil filled spoon with some jalapenos and maybe celery? Whatever it was it was fresh and a little spicy and a perfect bite. I thanked him and the chef immensely, it was an honor. When the salad came it was tangy and filling and the little Parmesan crisp were perfect. The shocker was the grilled “chicken” on it. It tasted 100% real deal like a grilled chicken. Even my husband was shocked. He ate what I didn’t finish. I tried his dumplings which were good but I should’ve dipped more sauce. The Seitan Piccatta was outstanding. They only tiny change I would made. Making it thinner and not stacking it on top of each other. That’s it. Kinda lame but it’s the little things sometimes. My husband was enamored with his seitan as it tasted like real beef. I did not like steak much before going vegan so I wasn’t shocked I did not love his dish but it was real deal beef flavored and textured. The sides were good though! Then dessert was ordered. OMG dessert. This is the best dessert I have ever had at any time in my life. Pure heaven on a plate. We got 3 desserts to share as my husband is a sugar addict. We ordered the flan, chocolate brownie, and the chocolate peanut butter truffle. The flan was heaven on earth. I would probably not have shared if my husband hadn’t just snagged a piece. The brownie was pure chocolate decadence with divine ice cream. The ice cream on the flan was also just sublime. The peanut butter chocolate truffle thing was too chocolatey for me but perfect for my husband. he loves a good death by chocolate flourless cake and this was more chocolate than peanut butter so he was happy. I would eat there every day if I could.

IMG_2961 IMG_2984 Caesar Salad

IMG_2964 Dumpling/Potstickers

IMG_2982Seitan Piccatta

IMG_2968 Rosemary Balsamic Seitan 

IMG_2969 Q-Kola

IMG_2971 Mexican Chocolate brownie

 IMG_2973 Peanut Butter Chocolate truffle

IMG_2985 Pumpkin Flan with Sugared Toasted Pepitas

IMG_2974  IMG_2977 IMG_2979 Bathroom Selfies because its fun!

IMG_2980IMG_2981Restaurant Selfie: Candle 79

 

 

 

 

Blossom Cafe: Sunday Brunch

The next morning we arose bright and early to have brunch with my old college roommate Andrea. She is one of those amazing NYC girls that is so well read and refined yet relaxed and fun that you can bring her anywhere and she will have been there or know the owner or have a story about it. She had been to Blossom but she isn’t vegan. She ordered the grilled cheese, my husband ordered the stuffed french toast (and ate half of it before I could snap a photo!), and I ordered the country brunch platter. Everyone was quiet and cleaned their plates. Like my grandmother would say, we were all part of the “Clean Plate Club”. I especially loved my chutney, scramble, and the fried sweet potato. I mean it was all good but that chutney! Yummm…

     IMG_2988IMG_2989IMG_2990IMG_2991IMG_2993IMG_2994IMG_2995

 

 

 

 

AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

We dropped off Lola with a dog walker for the afternoon so she could play in the upper east side and Central park. I couldn’t bare to leave her in the hotel all day. Then the hubby and I ran off to the Museum of Natural History on the upper west side. It is one of my favorite places in the world. It is so fun and beautiful to look at and if you can’t afford to pay it is free. We paid but you don’t have to or you can pick what you want to pay. It is pretty amazing that they do that for folks. 

 

 

 

IMG_3028IMG_2996IMG_2997IMG_3001IMG_3003IMG_3005IMG_3006IMG_3010IMG_3011IMG_3012IMG_3013IMG_3014IMG_3015IMG_3017IMG_3018IMG_3019IMG_3020  IMG_3022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V-NOTE: SUNDAY DINNER

We then embarked on a new high end restaurant and wine bar for an early 5 pm dinner. It is supposed to rival (if not exceed) Candle 79 in food, wine, and service and is owned by the folks from Blossom. It is on the upper east side and although they did have one outstanding item on the menu, I wouldn’t go back. Mainly because of service but the food wasn’t great either except for the one item. It was just barely okay. We changed our reservation from 630 pm to 5 or 530 pm and arrived early. We were seated right away and the place was almost entirely empty. There was a couple at a table and a man who looked like he worked there, drinking at the bar. That was the first not so good sign. A man who looked like his twin was our server (brothers?). He came over and was friendly enough but was slow. He didn’t refill glasses, he had a busboy bring our food, and when the rush came in at 6-630 ish he started forgetting our order but didn’t forget to charge us for what we didn’t get. When I went to the bathroom (which was not very clean), I overheard him saying that an article written on a tablet the other female server (the only two staff on the floor) had was “not good” for their business. I understood right away that they got a bad review and honestly, I wasn’t shocked. I had to bring the bill up to the female waiter to explain the bill was wrong since he refused to come back for us to pay. She said oh okay I will take it off and he came up behind me and said “What’s the problem?” I explained he had charged us for items he never brought us and he said “Well you know we got slammed”. That isn’t an excuse in my book. You are a waiter, you deliver food. I didn’t ask for anything outside of this. You will get slammed every night in NYC. You should still be able to do your job. The only good thing: the mushroom risotto. Order it to go and you will be in heaven.

IMG_3025IMG_3026 Too gingery ginger ale.

 IMG_3027 husbands wine

 IMG_3029 Corn Chowder that was watery and more like corn liquefied, also blisteringly hot. Burned my tongue.

 IMG_3030 Seitan medallion app with potato salad. Bland.

IMG_3031 Eggplant parm. appetizer. Bland and had more zucchini than eggplant.

IMG_3032 Mushroom Risotto. Marvelous.

 IMG_3033IMG_3034 Mexican Stuffed Poblano with Walnut Sauce. Not enough sauce. Bland. Poblano wasn’t roasted well or thin enough. I used to love this dish when I was not vegan. It is a quintessential Mexican holiday dish (I’m part Mexican). They killed it :( .

IMG_3035 Fondue. Tiniest amount of chocolate ever with barely any fruit and 2 cookies cut in half and two pretzel sticks for I think $16. Lame.

 

 

 

HOME

We picked up Lola after that from her dog walker and headed back to the hotel to pack and go home. The dog walker was amazing and you should use her services if you are ever in town. I will post a link soon! I was happy with the trip overall and even more happy to have picked up a vegan guide to NYC at Dun-well along the way. Although Foodswings and V-Note were a big buildup with little return. They other places more than made up for it and I have a book of new places to start trying! Please feel free to tell me more places to go next. I can’t wait for another traveling vegan trip! Maybe I will see you in your town!

 

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

Preparing Tofu the Right Way

Since I became vegan I have always been afraid of preparing my own Tofu. First it was that I didn’t know how to use the different kinds (lite, firm, silken, extra firm, huh?). Then it was that it was all watery and mushy. Last, it was that everyone told me I had to dry it out or press it down or just buy the pre-baked from Trader Joe’s (which I did). I never knew what exactly to do. Then I started reading blogs and still not completely comfortable. Then I starting asking other vegetarians and cooks that I knew. i got closer to confident. But this past month I got a free cooking school online pass. They taught me so much so fast. I feel so much more confident about my tofu skills now. So here is my simple and best way to prepare tofu successfully. The pictures are provided by my closest friend that currently is living in Florida and doing a fast in which she has to prepare vegan food but was an omnivore prior to this fast. (The fast is called the Danial Fast Click Here to learn more.) I gave her my recipe and she followed it perfectly and topped her veggie bowl with the tofu.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pan Fried and Baked Tofu

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 block of lite or regular extra firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

 

IMG_3043

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prepare!

  1. Slice tofu into sticks by dividing the tofu in half and then half each side again creating 4 slabs. Divide those slabs into half to create sticks.
  2. Take tofu sticks and place on a plate that has 3 layers of paper towels. Let tofu drain on those towels at least 30 minutes. Then take an additional paper towel and press away excess water from the top.
  3. Next sprinkle with kosher salt and make rest 5 more minutes.
  4. In a bowl mix together cornstarch and cornmeal. Dredge the tofu through the mixture. You can add salt and pepper directly to the flour to create a seasoned flour.

 

Cook!

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan until almost spitting. To test heat place a droplet of water into pan and watch it sizzle.
  2. With tongs place sticks into the hot oil moving frequently so they do not stick. Rotate each side until lightly cooked then place on a silpat for the oven.
  3. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-20 minutes until firm and not longer leaking excess water.
  4. Place on a dish with paper towels to drain excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve.

 

I eat it with a side of peanut satay sauce or over brown rice and veggies with terriyaki sauce. They come out almost with a light crisp like a tempura would but not oily. Its the perfect way to keep it moist, not oily, and crisp. Enjoy!

 

IMG_3045   IMG_3044

 

PS: I have used the following substitutions successfully: Chia Seeds instead of Cornmeal, Arrowroot instead of Cornstarch, Canola instead of Olive Oil.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.