Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Your Birthday, Go On, Get Zesty Now!


Zucchini Pasta with Pesto and Marinara Sauce
One of the Best Zucchini Pastas I've Had
     It’s been a few months since Veg News declared Salt Lake City the reigning champion of vegan friendly cities over the venerable, but weird Austin. Given the recent changes, the salty citizens have nothing to fear and can keep strutting around wearing their crown of kale. Union Street Eats closed for a while, but will be back on the streets, Frisch, a new vegan café featuring the most amazing kale salad ever opened, and an all-vegan sandwich shop called Buds opened this week, which will feature some Union Street favorites. I promise to put reviews of these places soon, but wait the best is yet to come.
Jalapeno Cucumber Margarita
The Perfect Summer Drink!
     From the ashes of W Lounge and Union Street Eats rises Zest Bar and Restaurant. Not only is it salt lake’s newest offering in healthy eating, but it sets the bar pretty high. The atmosphere is industrial chic. As you enter, a huge chandelier greets you as you check in with the hostess, followed by the impressive center piece bar contrasted with unfinished ceilings and dotted with wooden tables. There is even a couch where you can and drink at for the perfect lounge experience. On the walls are pictures of purple kale, a pomegranate and this took me a while (actually, it was the table next to me), a photo taken from the inside of a bell pepper. It’s one of the most thought out restaurants that I’ve been to in this city, and the closest competitor would be Vedge in Philadelphia. I’ll be honest I was expecting a small café with a few tables and a homey feel similar to Sage’s Cafe, so I was blown away with the scale and how well thought out the atmosphere is. After years of owning W Lounge, Casey really knows the service industry and created, what would be my dream restaurant and bar. But, you’ll just have to take my word for it as I didn’t take any pictures. But don’t worry, I’ll be back so maybe I’ll add some. Oh, and as if the atmosphere couldn’t be better local musician Zach Moon strummed the guitar with some soulful songs that wouldn’t be out of place on a Sons of Anarchy episode or opening for Rocky Votolato. For the first song, I was a fan, and would’ve grabbed a cd if I had one less cocktail!

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Ginger Spice
If You Could Bottle Xmas, This Would Be It!
     For many months, Casey has hosted Vegan Drinks at W Lounge and he broke nearly every rule I have about mixed drinks, like don’t use fruit juice or soy milk as a mixer. I’ll be honest; I’m a craft beer guy. Belgium, IPAa and funky beers are my drinks of choice. Each month, Casey would slowly steer me away from the barle malt with creative cocktails, from bing cherry mojitos, white Russians and others too numerous to remember, since he would always change things up. With Zest, he pulled out all the stops, in what is one of the most impressive cocktail menus in town. The first two drinks that stuck out to me were the Ginger Spice and the Jalapeño margarita. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of ginger, but as the special one said. This is what she would want to drink while decorating the xmas tree. Using fireball whiskey (cinnamon flavored) and ginger beer, this drink was warming and exciting. Oh, it had a piece of candied ginger in it, too. I can’t think of a better cocktail. The jalapeño margarita had muddled cucumber in it along with patron tequila and citron. I was expecting a spicy bit, but it was really subtle by the cucumber. My own change would be Don Julio tequila, which I think is the hands down the best tequila.
Asian Salad
Simple, Yet Delectable. The Dressing Is What Makes This
     When Union Street Closed (ever so briefly), I knew not to fret because the chef behind the cart would be on to bigger and better things. I’ve written about Chef Larayn before as she launched Union Street, but I’ll repeat some of it again. Along with hosting Vegan Drinks for almost three years now, Larayn has been one of the most underrated chefs in the Wasatch. Not only a trained chef graduating from The Natural Gourmet Institute, but she sharpened her knife at Sage’s Café, and then moved onto Union Street Eats as well as private catering events. The menu is a vegetable forward, putting the subtle of the vegetable at the forefront of the dish represents the menu.
     As we were admiring our drinks, our awesome server brought out the fresh crudité vegetable sampler with an avocado and cilantro and an almond butter dipping sauces. The picture doesn’t do it justice, because the presentation was impeccable and brimming with color. From slivers of purple, orange and yellow bell peppers, carrots and parsnips, it was simple yet delicious, especially when dipped into avocado cilantro dipping sauce. The special one and I both agreed that this was the best sauce. I liked the almond butter, but thought it paired best the celery and maybe fruit.
From there we moved on to the Asian salad with spinach and mung bean sprouts and topped with black sesame seeds, which featured a savory salad that didn’t have any bitterness, but a nice savory flavor. The watermelon gazpacho provided a perfect complement with a subtle and crisp flavor. The freshness of the watermelon really shined.
Veggie Cruddite Plate
The Avocado-Cilantro Sauce Was The First To Go. This Stuff Needs To Be bottled!
     In the interest of journalistic integrity and to provide readers with complete picture, we decided to sample some more cocktails. The cello driver was a new twist on the screwdriver with a lemon flavored vodka, fresh orange juice and basil. Orange juice is sacred to me, so it should never be mixed with alcohol, but again Casey won me over. Between the kombucha bomb (vodka and the kombucha flavor of the day) and the Nutty X and the beet sangria, I had a difficult choice, but went with the beet sangria. I’m not sure if there was a mix up, but the beet sangria was just a glass of wine without any fruit. The only hiccup of the day, it was still a decent glass of wine.
Cello Driver
Move Over Screwdriver, There's A New Fellas In Town!
     The zucchini pasta arrived topped with a fresh pesto and surrounded in marinara sauce. If you don’t know me, I spent perhaps the first decade of my vegan years eating pasta, because I didn’t know how to cook, so I know pasta. Generally, you’re not fooling anyone with zucchini pasta; they think they are eating a cleverly designed salad. I’m not sure if the folks at Zest marinade it or if it was the pesto, but this dish was perfect and even had a hint of butter coming through from the fresh zucchini. After all the zucchini that I had from my CSA (Bell Organic Gardens), this is what I wish I was making with it. Zucchini is a delicate vegetable and its impressive how they put its buttery and creamy texture to use. I can’t wait to sample more items from the large plates menu, especially the beet raviolis stuffed with cashew cream.
Watermelon Gazpacho
That's Another Word For Cold, Yet Delicious Soup!
     Although mostly vegan, just one sampler and one large plate isn’t vegan, only two of the five options are vegan. Unfortunately, the herbs de Provence sorbetto was not being featured on the day I went, but I’ll have to have it. It must be done. My only complaint and it’s more of a personal preference is that I wish they featured some more meaty dishes, ala the wings at Horizons or the grilled seitan from Vedge. I mean if I had my druthers I would open a vegan steakhouse, but it’s also because I know how awesome Larayn and Casey could conjure up. Just look at how amazing Union Street is. Regardless, Zest is one of the most exciting dining options I crossed the Mississippi many many moons ago. I look forward to sampling everything off their menu and watching their evolution.
Bring On The Nutty X
Might Be The Best Mixed Drink I've Ever Had! The Dude Would Abide!
   As I mention, the dessert weren’t vegan, so it was okay to have another drink, right? Don’t judge me. This is for you the readers. I had to go with the Nutty X, a triple espresso martini made with almond milk and Frangelico. I don’t want to betray the ginger spice but this cocktail had serious wow factor. It’s like a white Russian, but elevated. The almond milk and the Frangelico really make it pop. I highly recommend this drink.
Their grand opening will be on October 2nd from 5 pm until 1 am with their full menu. You're a little weary about zesting on a weekday, the next slc vegan drinks will be at zest on Friday October 5th starting at 7. Go on, get zesty now. And Austin, we’re keeping the crown and might even take on the big apple soon!  






Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bringing The Ruckus With Rambling Rose

Raw Pad Thai
Featuring Locally Grown Rainbow Carrots!
     Well, I know I'm way behind, I promised this post a while okay, but I've been behind the stove instead of a computer screen. I'm so far behind, I haven't posted about the awesome food in Vegas, think Wynn, Ronald's and Pure Vida, so stay tuned and like or follow, depending on your social media allegiance, on facebook or twitter to get the latest posts!   
          Anyway, it's no secret that I love the farmer's market, I love sleeping in late, grabbing my puppy and heading out to Pioneer Park, depending on my level of preparedness I might even have a cup of cold brewed coffee in my hands. If not, I can always visit Jack Mormon Roasters for a cup of me. Since this is an early morning/afternoon adventure and I cook like a snail, I tend to leave brunch in the hands of the vendors. There's a whole slew of vegan friendly vendors, like Tiffin Bus's dosas, Tankinz Noodles, bike powered smoothies, and some more that I'm forgetting. Most days, I head to the Rambling Rose Cafe, which is just two spots away from Jack Mormon Roasters. Convenient, I know. 

Meet Rose

She's Stationary For The Moment...
     She's quite the looker, right? So many people stop and gawk and admire her 1967 Camper Frame, further proof that with age comes beauty. Inside, you'll find two sisters cooking up a storm. The best part everything is 100 percent plant based so no guessing games, if something is or isn't vegan!  Much like Rose, the menu roves week to week with  3-4 made-to-order items dished up each day, usually one raw item as well as a thirst quenching beverage is featured. On this sunny Saturday day, the menu was Avocado Toast, Raw Pad Thai, and a Mint Julep, using fresh local mint. Other days, I've had veggie gumbo, fresh pina colda served inside a young coconut, apricot and cherry raw tart & watermelon agua frescas.Unfortunately, I did not have a camera to document this all, so you'll have to take my word, especially on that apricot and cherry raw tart, that was delicious and even came slathered in a cashew cream. Okay, I guess a picture is really worth 1,000 words, but I'm not that ambitious so I'll stop trying to compensate.


Mint Julep
Getting Minty With It! Nah, Nah, Nah!
     Each week, I buy some fresh mojito minty at the farmer's market to perfect my mojito recipe, but I keep falling short. It could be that I made the mistake of buying dark rum, but I'm not sure. As long as the sun is shining and summer is here, I'll keep trying. Though, I could learn a lot from the gals at the Rambling Rose. This was alcohol free, of course, but was perfect to sip as I sauntered around the park perusing the various vendors. 
Moonrise Kingdom Menu
It's Not An Easel, But A Menu!
    Okay, so that's not the best shot of it, but the menu chalkboard was inspired by Wes Anderson's latest and awesome movie, Moonrise Kingdom. You'll just have to see the movie to understand it, so head to SL Film Society's Broadway Theater, grab some amazing Rosemary Truffle Popcorn from Salt Lake's PopArt, and you'll understand. Or, you could just head to The Rambling Rose's facebook page, where they posted a photo comparison. You should like them on facebook anyway, to get a heads up on what's on the menu and find out where she'll be since Rose is known to wander. I'm not sure if she wants to be found or not, but I caught her leaving a crumb trail so this is my best guess at her current whereabouts. Confirmed sightings at  SLC's downtown Farmer's Market inside Pioneer Park, in the middle of the park at the food village from 8 am until 1 p.m. on Saturdays. On Sunday's, she prefers the cool crisp mountain air at the Park Silly Market from 10 am until 5 p.m, and Thursday's she needs the city life and heads back to her stomping grounds of Pioneer Park for the Twilight Concert Series from 5 pm until 10ish. Hopefully, you can track her down, cause it's worth the visit, and bring cash she's old fashioned! Good luck! 



Rose In Action
Taking Orders And Names!




Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Bounty Of Farmer's Market Food, Fun & Fresh Finds!

Getting Local With It: Sesame Garlic Tempeh with Bell Organic Spinach, Wymotaotes and Laziz Hummus on a Whole Wheat Roll from Rudi's Bakery
Okay, So The Roll Isn't Actually Local, 
But From Colorado. You Got Me! 
    I used to think the farmer's market hype was overblown, the first time I went, a few years ago, I wasn't impressed because the market had more of a festival feel and there were way more products, food vendors and crafts than farmers.  And the farmers I did see weren't organic. Instead, I decided to go the CSA route. I researched and found the awesome Bell Organic. Organic and local so my values wouldn't be compromised.  Since then, I thought the farmer's market to be an extraneous affair since I get a weekly share of venerable veggies from the Bells.
     Oh Boy! Oh Girl! Was I wrong. The special one and I (and our little dog, too!) decided to give the farmer's market a go this year. I wish you could've seen us. We hit the ATM up not once, but twice. (Apparently, you only get hit with ATM fees once per day when visiting the same ATM!) Our bag was overflowing with goodies. We've been going back each week now.I'm addicted now.
     Here are some of my awesome vegan finds. I'll have a post up soon about one of the food vendors, Rambling Rose, in a few days. But before, here are my tips, take your dog, he/she wants to go, too! It's a super dog friendly place and it's is a great way to socialize your dog. Bring cash, most of the vendors accept cash only, a few of the vendors do accept plastic, but you don't want to be caught wanting something and not having cold hard currency. Take UTA's Trax, there's a stop on the Blue/Green line at the Planetarium that's maybe a block away from Pioneer Park. One more thing, bring a big appetite not only are the food vendors awesome, but most of the packaged food and even some farmer's gives samples. That's how they won us over! 
     Oh, and if you're not familiar with it. It's a weekly affair every Saturday from 8 am until 1 p.m in Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park, 300 South and 400 West, right by the old Union Street location. Starting August 8th, they're also open on Tuesday from 4 p.m. until dusk. I haven't been on a Tuesday, but it's more of a farmer focused ordeal than the one on Saturday. Got it? Good, now we can move on to the goodies!
                  Woodyatt Cherry Farms
Cherries! Cherries! Oh Me! Oh My! 
     Few things in life sounds a magical as a cherry farm. Well, unless it was a cherry, peach and ginger farm. But what's not to love? They have montmorency tart cherries in six ways til Sunday. They have them dried,  cherry juice, concentrate, pie filling and even jam. If you thought of it, they have it. Plus, this sweet old man (we call him grandpa cherry) runs the whole show. He's the one who won me over, sprinkling dried cherries in my hand as I walked by. Plus, the montmorency tart cherry is being researched for all kinds of health benefits like helping gout and arthritis. Reportedly, the melatonin helps you sleep better, too. I mean who doesn't want a glass of cherry juice at night? Usually located on the North west side of the park. They're so old school, they don't have a website or facebook, but someone made this cool video. To be honest, this makes me like them even better.
                        Butcher's Bunches
The Apricot Peach Ginger Featured on Sprouted Cinnamon Raisin Toast
     Get your jam on with Logan's Butcher's Bunches. Not only are they award winning, taking home Utah's Best in 2010 and Utah's Healthiest food in 2001, but those delectable delights feature 98% ingredients from local sources. Oh, and they come in awesome flavors so it'll be a hard time choosing. As far as I can tell, just two flavors have diary in them. The other vegan friendly  flavors include "Sunbeam 4 You" which has whiskey from Park City's own distillery High West. The "Back in Black" has Orem's award winning and crazy expensive Amano chocolate in it as well as what must be a nod to the always awesome AC/DC. Well, with Butcher's Bunch, Brian Johnson might need that hearse cause the jams are to die for. Butcher's Bunches is usually found on the east side of the park, every other week. They're also found throughout the valley. Each jar costs $8 beans, but they do a three for $20 deal that got me. How can you have just one jam? Follow them on facebook or visit their site: http://www.butchersbunches.com/
 Laziz Authentic Lebanese Hummus

Hummus: Doing The Chickpea Dance
     I would be lying if I knew what the different between Lebanese Hummus and others out there. What I noticed was a strong tahini flavor and a subdued garlic flavor. For a garlic lover like me, Laziz has more of a mellow flavor, but is still awesome. It's a great replacement for vegenaise on sandwiches and packs a much stronger punch. It's hard to give up the infamous vegenaise, but this just might do it. Not to mention their commitment to organic ingredients and a post consumer recycled plastic container. Sustainable and succulent, now that's what I'm taking about. Rumor has it that the owner would like to open up a Lebanese vegan cafe someday, just another excuse to buy his hummus and help make that happen. Usually found on the west side of the park every other weekend. Follow on facebook.



  Pop Art Popcorn
Rosemary Truffle Popcorn
     Rosemary Truffle Popcorn. Those three words should be enough to drop your computer or fancy phone and head out on a sojourn to find this stuff. It's that amazing. A recent study found that popcorn contains a boatload of antioxidants, even more than berries. I know it's crazy! And I just thought I was being lazy cause I would throw a handful of kernels into the air popper and get a quick snack. This stuff is so good that it's more than just a snack though it's an art. Just to prove it, they get two pictures. Yes, they're that good. I would give them four, but the other two flavors have cheese in them. Maybe we'll get a vegan cheese flavor someday. Added points for using organic corn, GMO free oil and mostly organic spices. Seriously, what could be better than this? Usually found on the east side of the park, but also can be found at Cali's Natural Foods and best of all (and the best move theater in the valley) Salt Lake Film Society. Just go watch the best movie I've seen in a decade, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and open up a bag. You'll thank me later.  If you ask nicely, I might even send you a bag or just visit their page and order a bag yourself. Follow on facebook or check out their website: http://www.popartsnacks.com
Thai Coconut Curry Popcorn

I Can't Decide Which One Is Better. Can You?

 Mountain Town Olive Oil Company
18 Year Old Balsamic Vinegar
     There's a few things I learned in life. The first and perhaps most important is that life is too short to drink crappy beer. After tasting this balsamic vinegar, I'm going to include balsamic vinegar to the list. This stuff is just amazing. It has this thick, almost maple syrup consistency and the flavor is mind blowing. I thought I was splurging buying a bottle of organic 5 year old from Napa Valley Naturals. This stuff blows away anything I've tasted. It's so good you don't even need oil to drizzle on salads, a great way to cut some calories without sacrificing taste. Plus, you might develop a salad eating addiction, just so you can have an excuse to break out the bottle, as if that's a bad thing. In the future, I want to make some kind of balsamic ice cream or sorbet, like the winner of the last Chopped Round. I am a little nervous outing myself, because I stop at their booth each week and try the different varieties. Everything from blood orange olive oil to lavender balsamic vinegar, they never stop amazing me. Usually found on the East side of the park, near Butcher's Bunches and Pop Art so bring a big bag. They also have a storefront in the Gateway and Park City as well as  mailorder on their website. Follow on facebook to find out about their awesome flavors. 

 Terrapin Station Smoking Company  
Applewood Smoked Pistachios
     Smoked nuts? I've had smoked almonds before that make an excellent gravy from Vegan Brunch, but these things are just damn smoking! Sorry, I couldn't resist. Seriously, those nuts are beyond nutty! Okay, I'll stop. I'm not sure what it is, but smoking really makes everything awesome. Plus, they add their own spice rub, which adds to the smoky flavor. The cashews even have jalapeño added to them It's like have a perfectly spiced campfire in your mouth. Now, if only I could figure out if you put the whole pistachio in your mouth to suck out the spice or crack and just eat the meat. Currently, I'm on the former, but might need another bag for more research, right? Usually, located on the north side of the park, just a couple of booths down from Woodyatt Cherry Farms. Visit their website: http://www.terrapinstationsmokinco.com/
                  Wood Fired Jalepeno Cashews
Notice The Bag Is Nearly Empty...
 Grandma Sandino's Sicilian Sauce
Vampires: Beware!
      There was a sign asking, "Do You Love Garlic"? Ummm, Yes, please! Then there was another that said vegan and dairy free. Woohoo! No more playing twenty questions! From there, it was like following the yellow brick road, but instead of rainbows and unicorns was this sauce. And I wasn't disappointed. They must know it, too. I mean their tag line is, You'll Love It Or Else. What food comes with a promise followed by a threat. If you love garlic, you won't need to find out what they mean by "or else". It's so good I'll even forgive them for misspelling vegetarian on the bottle. Plus, it comes with an awesome bottle ala Dr Bronner's with all kinds of writing on it. Fun to read while fending off vampires. Usually located on the east side of the park, near Butcher's Bunches, Pop Art and Mountain Olive Oil. Visit their website: GrandmaSandinos.com or follow on facebook
  Fresh Goji Berries (D&L Enterprises)

Go! Go! Goji Power!
     Goji Berries are that mystical berry that I see in the store, but only rarely bought. The price tag is what generally keeps my away. Not to mention that they're generally dried, which gives a bark like consistency. Fresh ones are completely different. Come to think of it, I've never had a fresh one, but after getting one sample I bought a pack. Fresh goji berries have a nice tang to them. I haven't done anything exciting with them, but just pop some in my mouth and chomp away, reaping the awesome health benefits from them. Apparently, they grow well in the Utah/Wasatch region. I thought they were some mystical fruit only found in Tibet, but a friend schooled me saying he had a bush in his front yard. I've only seen them once at the market on the northside near Terrapin Smoking Co, Woodyatt Cherry Farms, so hopefully they'll be back because I'm running low. I might have to resort to goji bush hunting, if they don't reappear. Who's with me?
Wilkerson Farms
Just Eat It: Roasted Beet!
   One of the few farms that are certified organic (there's also an organic garlic grower that I found last week), they are located out in Orem and grow a lot of root vegetables, like beets and varieties of potatoes, such as yukon and red. They also had some awesome greens, like kale and the intriguing purslane, which has loads of Omega 3s. Since I'm running pretty full with my CSA from Bell Organic, I tend to supplement my share with random things like beets that I used in the last round of Vegan: Chopped. Last week, I saw a box of apricots, too! Usually located on the North East corner of the park. Really friendly, folks. Please support them! 
Wyomatoes    
One Tomato, Two Tomato, Three!
     Coming from the East Coast, Jersey tomatoes were all the rage. I mean they have a point. They are pretty delicious, but maybe that's because tomato flavor has been on a downward slope over the past couple of years. I mean, someone even wrote a book about the downfall of the modern tomato. Out in the west coast, I mainly serve up the heirloom varieties that I get in my CSA, but these Wyomatoes are perfect substitute until those heirlooms start showing up. They might even start an east coast/west coast feud over who grows the best tomatoes, New Jersey versus Big Piney, Wyoming. Choose your side wisely. Now if Barry Estabrook had one of these, he might not have written a book. Best of all, the tomatoes are organic and they used to sell blemished ones for just $2 a pound. Too bad, I haven't seen them in the past few weeks.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chopped Vegan Round Deux: Just Beet It!

Orange Zest and Beet Ice Cream In A Toasted Coconut And Crispy Brown Rice Coating, Topped With Mango Coulis
Photograph Taken By The Special One!
     Is it just me or is there just one ingredient that makes this competition difficult? In Round Uno, it was the bittersweet chocolate. This time it was the beets. The previous installment, I danced around it, shaving some chocolate over the dish. Now, I wanted to pull the beets from the ground per se and take it on full force, so I went with the orange zest and beet ice cream. I made several homemade ice creams before (cake batter, pumpkin & green tea) but wanted to get a little wacky with the flavors, which is why I bought Jeni's book, hoping the veganize the recipes inside. The beet ice cream makes sense since I'm residing in Utah. Here, in the Beehive State, we take our beets seriously. I bet you don't believe me but there's even a school football team named the Beetdiggers. There's probably some historic story that goes along with it, but I haven't been here long enough to here it.
Jordan Beetdigger Logo
I Tell No Lies

      Anyway, I was hoping for some beets from my CSA, but I missed the pick-up this week. So I headed to the downtown farmer's market and got some glorious organic and local beets from Wilkerson farms in Orem. One of my newest and greatest finds at the farmer's market, along with fresh goji berries. I'll be doing a post some about the awesome farmer's market finds and some great eats sometime this week, I promise!
Mystery Ingredients: Beets, Mango, Coconut and Crispy Rice Cereal
No Secrets Here!
     I was nervous about making the beet ice cream, but apparently I'm (or Isa is) pretty hip since NPR just aired a story about how awesome beets are with some great recipes, like a beet smoothie. Me? I've always loved beets, especially roasted beets. They add great flavor and color to salads. But ice cream, I bet (beet?) you're asking have I gone to far? No way, jose! The beet ice cream had a great flavor and went awesome with the orange zest. The toasted coconut complimented the flavors as well and the crispy rice gave that I'm kinda like a jimmie, but not as colorful texture. I learned from Vegan Brunch that coulis is just a fancier way of saying sauce, so that's why it's not just a mango sauce. Originally, I started out with the brown sugar mango coulis, but ended up shelving it because the brown sugar took away the bright yellow color that I wanted. Since I adapted the recipes from other places, I'll post them below.
Beet Ice Cream Ala Mode
Gotta Love Ice Cream That Color!
Beet Ice Cream Ingredients:
2 medium roasted beets, peeled
2 cups soy milk
1 TBS, plus 1 teaspoon tapioca starch (corn starch is okay, but make sure it's organic so it's GMO free!)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 Cup (One can) of coconut cream (the full fat stuff, dessert is not the time to go on a diet, folks)
2/3 Cup sugar, plus 2 TBS of sugar
2 TBS light corn syrup
zest of one organic orange

Directions:
Wrap the scrubbed beets in tin foil and set them in an oven at 400 degrees for one hour. Once slightly cooled, peel the beets and put them in the food processor with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Set aside. Now take 2 TBS of the soy milk and mix with the tapioca starch in a separate bowl. Place the rest of the into a pot and bring to a boil, boil for a few minutes, being careful not to burn it. Remove from the heat and gradually mix in the starch and bring back to a boil until thickened, about 2 minutes or so. Then, mix in the orange zest and the beet puree and put into the fridge for at least two hours to chill. Then, place into your ice cream machine and follow directions.

Roasted Beet
So Delicious, Watch Out! Beet Ice Cream is Here!

Mango Coulis Ingredients:
1 cup of chopped mango
2 TBS fresh squezzed organge juice
1/2 teaspoon of tapioca or corn starch
1/4 teaspoon of vegan secret spice aka tumeric (optional, but not really)

place everything into a small pot over low to medium heat and stir, making sure the starch coats everything. stir occasionally and heat for 10-15 minutes. place in the fridge to cool. Note: this makes about a cup, which isn't a lot if you're serving for friends so you might want to double or triple it. 

now to assemble everything, take a scoop of the ice cream aand roll into each parts toasted coconut and crispy rice cereal. and topp witht eh coulis and feel special that you're serving a dish with the word "coulis" in it! and just as a note and to earth balance up the judges, cooking with beets is messy business. I ended up with beet juice over my Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary "Eat Kale, Not Cow" shirt, which is exactly why I need that apron, just saying. Not that I'm trying to influence the vote or anything...



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chopped Vegan Style: This Is How We Do It!

Pistachio Toasted Coconut and Mint Crushed Tempeh with a Drizzled Blackberry Mint Reduction, Lemon Mint Sugar Snap Peas and Mojito Black Eyes Peas, Topped with Shaved Bittersweet Chocolate
Vegan Chopped Competition
     Just one short year since I started this thing and I'm entering a cooking competition. That's just how I roll. But before I began and no matter how this turns out, I want to thank some people. Of course, my mom for showing me how delicious vegan food could be in the first place. Kevin & Brett of veganbrew.com for inspiring to cook with their awesome meal ideas, even if their site is lacking in updates. Beth for being my arch-nemesis (and sending me award-winning cupcakes) in our informal cooking competition and telling me about this awesome competition. The special one for allowing me to cook for her and try out new meals, not to mention cleaning up my mess! Thanks! Most importantly, however, I wanted to thank Isa. It was her cookbooks, specifically Vegan Brunch, that really made me a believer in cooking. And now, she's the reason, I'm entering this competition. Thanks, Isa! 
     Mystery Ingredients: Blackberries, Mint, Black Eyed Peas, Bittersweet Chocolate 
Organic And Fair Trade Ingredients!
    When the ingredients were announced, I must have bite my nails down to the cuticle. I was so nervous thinking about how to combine everything into one entrée. It happens whenever something "creative" is required. I've had some practice combing different recipes together for what would be an awesome meal, like THIS and THAT. After some brain simmering, I had that aha moment. The results? I was definitely impressed by how everything went together. The blackberry mint reduction went perfectly with the crusted tempeh.
     The biggest question mark was how the black eyed peas would work as a rice replacement to serve the tempeh over. Needless to say, even I was impressed. It's exactly what I expect when I go out to a meal, but sadly only Vedge/Horizons (I'll post my review soon! I promise!) exceed that expectation. Since I adapted some of the recipes, I'll post them below in case you want to give it a whirl. As for getting to the 40 minute mark which this comes right up against, I switched out tofu for tempeh to avoid the pressing and used one of those food choppers to save time on chopping because I take forever with a knife.You'll also have to be quick and have three burners and a stove going at the same time! I also made blackberry mint mojitos to serve with the meal as well, but this took outside the 40 minute time, but it's worth it! Oh, and I had to use jam that I acquired from the farmer's market, instead of the fresh berries that I wanted. To be honest, the plating and picturing taking took me over the 40 minutes, but plating and photographing doesn't count, right?

Pistachio Toasted Coconut & Mint Crusted Tempeh
Adapted from Mark Reinfield's 30 Minute Vegan
Ready To Be Cooked

Ingredients: 
8 ox box of tempeh ( I recommend Turtle Island's/Tofurkery
1 tbs Shoyu, Soy or Tamari (I used Shoyu)
1 tbs Toasted Seaseme Oil (don't substitute!)
1 tbs Water

Tahini Marinade:
2 tbs Tahini
1 tbs Shoyu, Soy or Tamari
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbs water

Crust:
1/2 cup pistachios
2 tbs toasted shredded coconut
2 teaspoons cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon seal salt (I recommend Realt Salt from Redmond, Utah)
1/4 black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon dried majoram
2 tbs chopped fresh mint

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Now, slice the tempeh in half, then hold the blocks up again and slice those in half so you have four equal sized blocks. Place them on a cookie sheet and combine the marinade of oil, soy sauce and water and brush onto the tempeh cakes. Let stand for 5 minutes, flipping sides. Now, prepare mix the marinade ingredients together and set aside. Place the tempeh into the oven for 6 minutes, per side. It should have a nice carmelized color when it's ready. When it's cooking, prepare the crust. Use the food chopper (or a knife if you have the time) to chop the pistachios. Combine everything else. Now move onto getting the Black Eyed Peas together. When the tempeh is ready (12 minutes), dip both sides into the marinade and then into the pistachio mixture and then cook for 5 minutes each side. 

Mojito Black Eyed Peas
Adapted from Kathy Hester's The Vegan Slow Cooker

Ingredients:
1 Can Black Eyed Peas ( I recommend Eden Organic or Fig Foods, both are BPA Free!)
1 small onion, maybe a cup or so
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup rum
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoon of veggie stock powder
1 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
Juice on lime (2 tbs of lime juice)
zest of a lime
1/4 cup of mint leaves, plus more for garnish, if you wish.

Chop up the onion and pour everything else into a pot and simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes or until everything else is ready. You're just trying to reduce to liquid. Now that this is set, move onto the blackberry mint reduction sauce.

Just What Summer Ordered!
Blackberry Mint Reduction Sauce
The Perfect Couple, Mint And Blackberry!
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of blackberry jam (I used Utah's Weeks Berries of Paradise)
1/2 cup of packed mint, the more the merrier
3/4 cup vegan beef broth (I used Edward's & Son's Not-Beef)
1 tbs of balsamic vinegar (optional, I forgot it and then added it afterwards and liked it without)
1 teaspoon of corn or tapioca starch 

mix everything together and simmer for just a few minutes until the mint wilts or until everything else is ready. Now move over to the sugar snap peas.


Meal With Mojito
A Very Minty Meal
Sauted Lemon Mint Sugar Snap Peas
From Bell Organic
Ingredients:
1 bag of sugar snap peas from your CSA (or 1lb from the farmer's market)
3 tbs of fresh chopped mint
juice and zest of a lemon
3-4 green onions
olive oil for cooking
salt and pepper
sugar, maybe 1/2 teaspoon

heat up the oil over medium heat, throw the sugar snap peas in and toss to coat. sprinkle with some salt, then some sugar. cook for a minute or two. Turn off the heat then throw in the mint and the lemon juice/zest and toss to coat. 
One Dirty Kitchen
Controlled Chaos, I Say!

Now plate everything up, make it look pretty top it all with a beautiful sprig of mint and a few bodacious blackberries and then shave some bittersweet chocolate over the tempeh and beans. now eat and enjoy! hopefully, you exhibited more controlled chaos than I and ended up with less burns! I have lots to learn before taking stone from master, Isa! 

Just Two Burns
Battle Scars!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scraping By With Garlic Scapes!

Garlic Scape Walnut Pesto with Braising Mix, Soy Curls, Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta and Lemon
Pesto Pasta Power!
     I love Bell Organic. Not only are they the nicest people in the world, but they grow the best produce in the Wasatch Front. And just like the name implies, it's all certified organic! Last year was my introduction to joining a CSA through Bell Organic. Not only did I get an education of in the wide world of veggies, but I learned about and fell in love with new plants, like arugula. Now, I can't get enough of this spicy salad green! 
Soy Curls and Braising Mix
What More Could You Ask For?
      I feel pretty confident around greens. When collards are in the bag , I'll be making citrus collard greens with raisin redux. Green beans means pad prik king will on the menu. However, every now and again, the Bells like to switch things up with a curve ball.  Last year, I had a choice between kohlrabi or beets. Feeling adventurous, I went with the kolrabhi (I ended up making THIS). This year, garlic scapes appeared, along with a recipe for the garlic scape pesto. Garlic scapes are these snake like plants that resemble a more curvy, less rigid green onion. The taste is a much milder version of bulb garlic. Unfortunately, I didn't grab a photo before grinding them up so I'll have to rely on the internets. 
Garlic Scapes
Photo from Floyd The Guy (floydthefoodguy.com)
     While the original recipe called for chicken and Parmesan cheese, I decided to veganize it with soy curls. I've already written about how much I love soy curls. Quick, easy to use and versatile, they are my go to for making meals. Plus, I have a 12 lbs box that I'm cooking myself through. Yup, I don't mess around. For the Parmesan cheese, I went with the Galaxy foods one, however I bet it would be amazing with the new Parmesan cheese alternative from Parmela, It got a glowing review from Vegnews saying it was "dead on".
Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta
No Semolina Flour Here!
      Just one more tip before I post the recipe. It does call for extra-virgin olive oil, something that I skimped on. I went with walnut oil because I was out of olive and had it in the cupboard. It's about what you have, folks. So don't judge me! Plus, I was using walnuts as the base, so in my defense, I thought it would complement it. It wasn't bad, but it would have been banging with some organic unfiltered cold-pressed olive oil. More modifiers make it more better, right? Even plain ole extra-virgin oil would have been better. Just learn from my mistakes or at least stock your cupboards better.
     Oh, one final tip, if you're lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe's pick up these spices below, the lemon pepper and south african smoke, they go perfect with everything, especially this pesto. My mom showed me the light on my last visit and I was able to smuggle some back to our Trader Joe's less state. Now I'm just crossing my fingers that they will last until the end of the year when we'll get our own Salt Lake Trader Joe's! I'm craving some of that cookie butter, too! 
Lemon Pepper and South African Smoke 
Trader Joe's Awesome Spice Grinders

Garlic Scape Pesto with Braising Mix, Soy Curls, Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta and Lemon Recipe (adapted from Bell Organic)

Ingredients:
1 lb pasta, choose your favorite shape, silly. whole wheat or regular
10 large garlic scapes
1/3 Cup nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, or pistachio)
2-3 TBS vegan parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt (I recommend Real Salt from Redmond, Utah)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 Cup extra-virgin olive oil (try not to substitute)
4-6 oz of Soy Curls, rehydrated and drained
1 bag of Braising Mix, preferable from Bell Organic (though you could get away with a bunch of another bag of greens, like Bok Choy, Collards, Arugula or even Kale)
1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon Italian herbs, your choice.
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Lemon Pepper or Smoked Grinders from Trader Joes (optional, but not really).

     Directions:
     Okay, now start boiling the water. Throw some salt in and cook the pasta according to the directions. But really, you can cook pasta, right? You could use the leftover water to hydrate the soy curls, if you wanted to be ecologically conscious. Next get out the food processor or if you're like I used to be, thinking that I could just use a blender for everything, you can get away with that, too. You're life will be easier with a food processor, though. trust me. Well, unless you have a high-powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix. Anyway, throw the garlic scapes (I didn't even cut them up), nuts, vegan parmesan, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 pepper and get crazy. Blend until smooth. This will be your pesto. Love it embrace it.
     Now, get out a large cast-iron skillet (another worth while investment, trust me) and heat that sucker up. Saute the braising mix and hydrated and drained soy curls together until the greens are wilted, maybe 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle some salt, red pepper flakes and the Italian herbs while it's cooking. Once, it's done combine it with the pasta then combine that with the pesto and then juice a lemon into the mixture. Depending on your level of pesto loving, you could just use 1/2 to 2/3 cup of the pesto and freeze/save the remaining pesto or be like me and just use it all. Choose your own adventure, folks! Top it with some tomatoes, a sprinkle of more vegan paremsan and a twist or two of the grinders. Enjoy and share!