Monday, December 8, 2014

Seasoned Tofu and Veggie Wontons

During the month of November, Hubbs and I had the amazing opportunity of running a pop-up organic, vegan cafe inside of an amazing bar called The Little Fleet in downtown Traverse City, Michigan.  It was called Koko's Cafe Pop-Up.  I worked for the owner of the bar during the summer season, running his food truck, and he decided to bring his food truck inside during the winter to be able to serve his customers delicious food and allow entrepreneurs to test the market with their new products.  We had an amazing month and feel very blessed to have been able to do that.  We had many great customers - a lot of whom cannot wait until we open our physical location.  And neither can we!  We are shooting for late spring to early summer.

At the end of the month we made a delicious homemade wonton soup stuffed with tofu, veggies and some awesome seasonings.  It sold very well and people were raving about how tasty it was.  It's something I have been making for a couple years at home.  I'm so glad people loved it the same way I do.

I can't give out the recipe since it will be used for our business, but I can say what the ingredients were (all being organic): tofu, green local cabbage, scallions, bok choy, carrots, tamari, toasted sesame oil, black pepper).  Check out the process below

One batch of many of the tasty wontons.

Close-up of the delicious filling.  Yum!

The finished wontons, before freezing


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vegan Chop't Salad

My birthday is coming up at the end of this month.  Yay!  Hubbs and I have always gone out to dinner and most times a movie afterwards to celebrate.  When we lived in NY we could go anywhere, have an amazing meal then walk over to one of the many theaters.  What a blast!  Now that we've moved to Michigan, the options are slimmer, but still great.  

Hubbs and I were talking yesterday about where we would go for my bday this year, and I'm still deciding.  You see, even though everything I put on this blog is vegan, I have not been vegan for several years.  I have been vegetarian for almost 13 years, but I haven't been vegan for a while.  So, eating out was quite easy.  Now that I have decided to be vegan again (about two weeks ago), the pickings will be slimmer, which is even more motivation for us to get our vegan cafe up and running next year!!  

Several years ago for my bday dinner we went to this place in Union Square in Manhattan where the Hubbs' cousin worked, called Chop't Creative Salad Company.  That place is awesome! They have a giant line of literally hundreds of items you can put in a salad to make it all your own.  Seriously delicious!  And a vegan salad can be made literally hundreds of different ways.  Check out their menu!  First, you start off with the size of the salad (we got the biggest size), then choose your base: romaine, iceberg, arugula, kale or mixed greens (we chose mixed greens).  And you choose from tons and tons of additions.  Then they put everything in their big bowl onto a fresh cutting board (every customers order goes onto a fresh, clean board), use these huge knives and chop away.  Once it is chopped to your desire, they put it in your bowl and send you off.  It's a bit expensive though - for two salads and two waters, it was over $25.  Thank goodness Hubbs' cousin worked there and we were able to use his discount - it ended up being about $13!

Hubbs and I raved about the salads we ate for a long time afterwards, so I decided to start making them at home, using any and everything I had in my fridge to make it even more interesting and tasty.  

Koko's Chop't Salad:

So tasty!

Place the following ingredients into a large mixing bowl:

several handfuls mixed greens
shelled edamame
diced tomato
sliced red onion
diced smoked tofu
chopped carrots
chopped cucumber
Diced cooked beets
couple tablespoons dried fruit and nuts
handful diced seitan or other vegan protein
diced apple or other fresh fruit

Add a hefty amount of vegan chipotle ranch dressing and toss together with your hands (I never bother with chopping up the salad - it's delicious as is).  That's it!  Change up the ingredients and dressing and you'll have a new salad every time!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Polenta with Mushroom Sauce and Sauteed Spinach

Hello everyone.  Today is the first chance I've had since beginning my job earlier this year running a food truck to sit down and open my blog back up.  I admittedly haven't been doing as much cooking or baking outside of my two jobs in the past several months, simply because I haven't had a lot of time.  Hubbs is also working two jobs, so it's been ok - we've both been crazy busy.  I think it's safe to say that the summer season has come to an end in Traverse City - I am seeing a lot less tourists, and business has slowed down considerably.  But that's ok.  Everyone has been running nonstop since the season began, and it is a nice break.  I have a lot of things coming up to work on relating to the vegan cafe hubbs and I are going to open, so we will definitely be staying busy!  Hopefully I will have time here and there to do a few blog posts and put a couple recipes up.  Until then, enjoy this tasty recipe I made a few weeks ago with the over-abundance of organic spinach I had in our garden.  

Grilled Polenta with a Mushroom Sauce and Sauteed Spinach with Pinenuts

Seriously so delicious!

4 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons earth balance

Place all ingredients in a medium sized pot and whisk together well.  Cook over medium heat till thickened, stirring frequently.  Pour into an oiled pan and refrigerate until set up (several hours).

Once the polenta has set up, slice it into pieces and either pan fry or grill (I used our panini grill).

Mushroom Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
 4 tablespoons white wine
3 tablespoons tamari
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups filtered water mixed with 3 tablespoons arrowroot

Place the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and mushrooms and saute till softened.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine - be sure to scrape up all the tasty little bits that have stuck to the pan.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook till well seasoned and thickened.

Sauteed Spinach:
1/2 cup pinenuts, toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 cups baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons white wine

In a separate large saute pan, add the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, but not browned.  Add the baby spinach and white wine, allowing it to wilt.  Once the spinach begins to wilt, add the sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.  Right before serving add the pinenuts.



Monday, May 12, 2014

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Brownies

I have recently been blessed with a second job.  I am so happy about it!  Time to start saving my money and continue working on the business hardcore!  I went from working about 16 hours per week to about 60-70.  Believe me I am definitely not going to complain.  Very thankful to have this going on.  The people that I am working for have great hearts and really want to help me out - really just great people that you genuinely want to be around.  Thank goodness for that!!

I have also been doing a lot of baking.  Including these crazy delicious gf brownies.  I found the recipe on Oh She Glows of course and after a bit of tweaking, they came out perfect (they were pretty close to perfect in the first place).  I brought them to a vegan meeting and I think they were well received.  I also had hubby take them to his job for his coworkers to sample - there are several gluten free people that work with him. They loved them!

Giant pan of Gluten Free Brownies!

Oh She Glow's Recipe

Changes I made:

-  used 2 tablespoons of ground flax
- used sorghum flour instead of brown rice flour
- used ground walnuts instead of ground almonds - it was all I had on hand
- added 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
 - didn't add the additional 1/4 cup chocolate chips
 - baked the brownies in a 9x13" baking pan so they weren't so thick

That's it!  Very good base recipe.  I love Angela Liddon's recipes and creativity.

Cut into small pieces for samples!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Country Fried Seitan Sandwich with Coconut Cheddar Cheese & Organic Baked Fries

I started a new job about two weeks ago.  It is a very interesting and fun job!  I am working at a food truck downtown and having a great time with it.  It is something I have really missed about NY - working for a place that doesn't have a ton of structure and allows me to do what I need to do, but without a ton of supervision and demands.  It's a pretty cool gig.  I am still working part time as a vegan pastry chef, which is good, but doesn't include a lot of hours.  This past week I definitely made my hours, which was great.  

The place is called Ez Cheesy, which is basically a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich truck.  Pretty cool and different menu.  Obviously it is not all vegan, but all but one of the sandwiches are vegetarian and the rest can be made vegan with the inclusion of daiya.  I love that!  This is part of the menu this year:

Tampopo: Ramen Noodles mixed with Kimchee, topped with Brussel Sprouts and Cheddar/Daiya

Old Mission Torta: Smashed Beans, Avocado, Queso/Daiya, Pickled Jalapeno Peppers, Shaved Radish, Spicy Mayo

City Middle: Local Made Donut with Goat Cheese and Fig Jam (would be great with vegan cream cheese)

Sweet Caroline: Shaved Carrot, Goat Cheese, Walnuts & Honey

There are more items on the menu, but I thought I would put a couple so you could see how different and cool this place is!

Making sandwiches all week, you would think I would get tired of them, but it actually inspired me to work more on the menu for our upcoming cafe and make a couple different sandwiches at home.  I made this tasty one as well as a couple veggie paninis.  Yum!  I found a really interesting recipe for vegan cheddar cheese, using coconut milk as the base.  It's very meltable and cheesy in texture, but I really didn't care for the flavor.  I definitely think it is something that warrants more testing and playing around with.  How cool would it be if it were actually that easy to make a meltable vegan cheese?!

This was Hubby's plate.  So Good!

To make the Sandwich:

Country Fried Seitan

 - Fresh Baguette, sliced into portions and cut in half, toasted

 - Veganaise or other topping

 - Sliced Veggies: tomato, green pepper, red onion

 - Coconut Milk Cheddar Cheese or other vegan cheese

 - Baked Fries or side of choice

1.  Toast baguette.  Slather veganaise on both sides of the bread.  Place veggies on the bottom, followed by the seitan.  Layer the cheese in there somewhere.  (I should have put it next to the seitan so it could have melted slightly.)
2.  Add fries or other side and eat!

You can barely see the vegan cheddar peeking out from underneath the veggies!



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pesto Pizza Pinwheels

Hubbs and I both love pizza.  I mean, who doesn't?  We definitely love the convenience of buying out, and when we lived in Brooklyn, we bought pizza out a lot.  Most of the pizza places we frequented were just small local stores using homemade, good ingredients, so we didn't have to worry about it. I know there are places here in Michigan, but they are not as convenient to get to as we would like.  We have to get in our car and drive to get the pizza (we just walked there on the way to our house from getting off the subway in Brooklyn), and we might as well just make it ourselves - control the ingredients and use exactly what we want.  

We end up making pizza about once every week to week and a half.  This time when I made it, I decided to try something different and fun - pinwheels.  I've seen them for years, but have never made them before.  I had some extra pesto in the freezer from last summer when we had our bountiful basil crop, so decided to use that.  These turned out really good!  We dipped them in hot marinara sauce.  Yum!  My little brother came over when I was making them and hinted that they looked great.  I gave him several of them, which he promptly dipped in ranch!  He literally puts ranch on everything - even in the sauce when he makes his lasagna.  Funny kid!  These could work with any combination.  They would also be great for a party or a get together.  
Freshly baked pesto pizza rolls


Pizza Dough (I use this recipe.  Use half for these rolls and freeze the remaining half for later.)

Pesto Sauce
Vegan Cheese

 - Green Peppers
 - Onions
 - Baby Spinach
 - Kalamata Olives
 - Pickled or fresh Jalapeno Peppers
 - Pignolis

Filtered water to seal the dough. 

1.  Prepare the dough according to the attached instructions. 
2.  After the dough has risen, punch it down.  Place the half you are not using in a freezer bag, label and freeze for later use. 
3.  Roll the pizza dough out into a large rectangle-ish shape on a floured surface. 

4.  Liberally spread pesto over the surface of the dough - leaving about an inch of space at the top bare.

5.  Sprinkle the vegan cheese over the surface of the pesto, followed by the veggies and other toppings, as desired.

6.  Top with baby spinach.

7.  Slowly roll the pizza into a cigar shape.  Sprinkle a little water onto the top of the pizza to help the dough seal together. 

8.  Use a sharp non-serrated knife to slice the pizza into rounds.

9.  Place the pizza rounds onto an oiled sheet tray.  At this point, you can decide to place a towel over the prepared rolls, place in a warm place and allow them to rise some more, then bake them.  Or you can put them in the oven right away at 375 degrees for about 15-22 minutes - which is what I did.

10.  Let them cool just until you are able to handle them safely.  Dip into warm marinara sauce or whatever else you like to eat with your pizza.  Depending on my mood, I may drizzle some sriracha over the top.  Yum!



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vegan Spicy Cheesy Potato Patties

On Sunday I made lasagna for lunch and also a full dinner, including mashed potatoes.  Hubbs always takes the leftovers from dinner with him to work for his lunch the next day.  But since he had two choices, he of course chose lasagna (who wouldn't?).  I convinced myself that I would eat the potatoes over the next couple days, but there they have continued to sit.  We have a rule that we don't eat any cooked food 7 days after being prepared and even though it has been only 4, I knew if I didn't do something with those potatoes soon, they would get thrown out.  Hubbs and I both hate wasting food, so I decided to use them to make something tasty, if a little unusual, for breakfast this morning.  How about potato patties?  I made some when we were in Brooklyn, but with sweet potatoes.  They were amazing!  Of course "regular" potatoes would be just as delicious, so that's what I did.  And they were crazy delicious!  Super simple too since the main component was already prepared.  This came together in like 10 minutes, and was on the table within half an hour - good for the hubby since he had to be to work early.  I think this would be a nice accompaniment to a dinner also.  Super quick and tasty!

Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside.  Yum!

Spicy Cheesy Potato Patties:
2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 jalapeno, minced
1 roma tomato, seeded and minced
handful cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon ground golden flax seed
2 tablespoons superfine ground rice flour
sea salt and black pepper
unsweetened almond milk, as needed
1/2 cup shredded daiya cheese
Canola or refined coconut oil to fry
To Serve:
Vegan Sour Cream
1.  Place the potatoes and the remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl: red onion, jalapeno, tomato, chopped cilantro, flax, brown rice flour, sea salt and black pepper.  Mix well until all the ingredients are combined.  Add enough almond milk so that the mixture is easily moldable, but not too thin.  Season to taste and add the shredded daiya.
2.  Place a layer of refined coconut oil or canola oil in the bottom of a saute pan over medium heat.  Allow the oil to become hot.
3.  In the meantime, portion the the potato mixture into small patties, setting on a clean plate until ready to begin frying.
4.  Once the oil is hot, place 3-4 of the patties carefully into the pan.  Cook for several minutes, or until crispy and browned.  Carefully flip and cook the other side for several more minutes.
5.  Remove the cooked patties from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. 
6.  To serve, place a spoonful of vegan sour cream on top and drizzle with sriracha. 
7.  Continue with remaining patties.