I may not have promoted it here but I am a complete fan of Happy Cow. When travelling, I consult the reviews (and then leave my own) to find the best vegan eats around the world. Not only across Canada and the US, I chronicled my eats while travelling in Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and South Africa. Rightfully so, there are zero entries for Madagascar.
In any case, I was thrilled when I heard that Eric Brent and Glen Merzer were creating a cookbook featuring recipes from top-rated vegan restaurants, The Happy Cow Cookbook.
The neat part of this compilation was each restaurant’s profile, highlighting their popular and favourite dishes, important lessons as a restaurant owner/chef, and the future of plant-based food movement. Each restaurant shares one, two or more recipes, along with some photographs. As expected with a compilation, the recipes vary with respect to level of difficulty, recipe instructions and photographs. On the whole, the recipes seem solid. Millenium’s Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon is way too complex for me to recreate, but makes me want to visit this San Francisco eatery. There is also a recipe for Coconut Tofu and Blackened Tempeh with Grapefruit Yuzu (courtesy of Green in Tempe, AZ) that definitely beyond my reach. However, Lettuce Love Cafe’s Tempeh Reuben looks easy to recreate at home, as well as Netherlands’ Veggies on Fire’s Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce.
The book is ordered alphabetically, based on the name of the restaurants, which makes it difficult to find recipes. However, the breadth of recipes seems vast with little repeats (although you will certainly find many recipes for vegan cheese!). Recipes vary from Kimchi Nori Maki Rolls and Peruvian Leftovers Pie to Avocado Apple Tartare with Walnut Bonbons to Chicken Fried Tempeh and Carrot Cake with a Vegan Cream Cheese frosting. Sadly, what I was most disappointed, was the abundant use of vegan substitutes (ie vegan cream cheese, sour cream and Vegenaise), although that probably helps prep time for restaurants.
While I have never been to Peacefood Cafe, I was itching to make their “Award-Winning Chickpea Fries” which is basically an Indian-spiced baked fry made with chickpea flour. They were quite easy to make although I regret adding the bay leaf to the spice mixture. It became a predominant flavour and bothersome since I didn’t grind it to a fine powder. I didn’t make the Caesar Dipping Sauce as the recipe perplexed me. I was not sure why there was fermented bean curd in the sauce without directions to pulverize it with a blender. In any case, the recipe below is as seen in the book. Enjoy.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what your favourite vegan-friendly restaurant is (and where). Bonus entry if you share your link to your review on HappyCow. The winner will be selected at random on November 7, 2014. Good luck!
PS. HappyCow Cookbook recipes spotted elsewhere:
Beet Salad with Shallot-Thyme Dressing (from Blackbird Pizzeria in Philadelphia, PA)
Cherry Royal (from Veggie Grill in Hollywood, CA)
Granada Chai (from El Piano in Malaga, Spain)
Kimchi Nori Maki Roll (from Real Food Daily in West Hollywood, CA)
Moroccan Tajine (from SunCafe Organic in Studio City, CA)
Nutloaf (from Wayward Cafe in Seattle, WA)
Pasta with Pumpkin Curry Sauce (from Counter Culture in Austin, TX)
Pickled Beets (from Zen Kitchen in Ottawa, ON)
Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon (from Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, CA)
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon-Brown Sugar Cream (from True Bistro in Boston, MA)
Quinoa Tabbouleh (from Chaco Canyon in Seattle, WA)
Raw Lime Parfait (from Plant in Asheville, NC)
Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Cauliflower, Garlic and Mashed Potatoes with Porcini Mushroom Gravy (from Peacefood Cafe in New York, NY)
Skillet Cornbread (from Cornbread Cafe in Eugene, OR)
Spicy Cha Cha (from The Loving Hut in Houston, TX)
Swiss Bircher Muesli (from Luna’s Living Kitchen in Charlotte, NC)
Other recipes from restaurants I have made:
Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole with Black Beans, Millet and Cinnamon-Miso Sweet Potato Mash
Fresh’s All-Star Salad
Fresh’s Miso Gravy
Gorilla Food’s Strawberry Bliss Up Shake
Live Organic Cafe’s Raw Pad Thai
Peacefood Cafe’s Raw Key Lime Pie
I am sharing this with the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.
Welcome to my latest obsession: fried capers.
If you have yet to try them yet, try to imagine how they would taste. Crunchy, salty little nibbles. It surprised me how much they taste like popcorn, I kid you not. Combined with the pickled currants (tart and sweet), and the avocado (creamy!), this salad was perfectly balanced. I know I say that a lot here, but this salad rises above its peers. It could possibly be my best salad of the year. I thought my Cali-Coco BLT Salad was the best so far, but this week I switched allegiances. It could possibly usurp the former champion, crowned in 2011: The New Best Salad Ever aka Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and a Mango Salsa.
I am no stranger to quick pickled dried fruits, but the benefit of pickling dried currants instead of raisins, is that you don’t get the goopy juicy raisins that don’t particularly appeal to me.
My inspiration for this fascinating combination was the ever-fabulous Deb of Smitten Kitchen, although I changed many things, including adding the much maligned leafy greens. I also chose to roast my cauliflower and added the fantastically creamy avocado. I look forward to trying her riced fresh cauliflower in the warmer months. The fried capers? Completely her idea. Her poetic prose made me stock up on capers pronto:
Crispy fried capers are one of my favorite garnishes, ever. They are way more interesting than bacon bits — yes, I said it. When you drop capers (that you’ve patted out on paper towels as best as possible) in a little puddle of oil, magical things happen — their layers curl out and crisp, like the world’s tiniest blooming onion. Like all fried, crunchy things, they don’t keep long under the weight of dressing; I recommend adding them only right before serving. I usually use brined capers for this, but both brined and salt-packed will work.
Um yeah, totally try them out. Please.
I hope all my Canadian readers enjoyed their long Thanksgiving weekend. My small contribution to this year’s Thanksgiving spread was my silky smooth braised cabbage. Mostly because it is so easy to make. Also because I remade it last year and it wasn’t as good as I remembered it, so I wanted to try it again. This time, I read the recipe more carefully. I have to cook it for at least 2 hours and 15 minutes. I think I missed a whole hour last time, but this time, 2.5 hours later, we had glorious braised cabbage. Vindicated.
Although while searching for my cabbage recipe, I came across Ottolenghi’s new recipe for miso-braised cabbage. With half a head of cabbage leftover, I vowed to make his version when I returned home. Although, I fell victim to not reading the recipe. Or became confused. I mistakenly cooked it at 400F for 20 minutes and then 200F for another 3.5 hours. As such, my cabbage wasn’t as crispy golden as my other recipe for braised cabbage, but still silky tender, without a drop of oil. I probably could have roasted it for a final 15 minutes at 400F for a crispy exterior but I was quickly running out of time. I kept the original temperature in the directions below for your next attempt.
I often have troubles when I halve or double recipes, so I always make sure to write down the math for every ingredient, but this time the C and F conversion tripped me up. Too much information! How do you usually mess up recipes?
Despite what you make believe, I haven’t eaten any winter squash recently. I bought a colourful carnival squash but haven’t made anything with it yet. I have this recipe I made while in Houston. The giveaway? The frozen roasted corn. I can’t say I have seen that since returning to Toronto.
This is a perfect end-of-summer, beginning of fall soup, as the last of the local corn arrives and the first winter squashes arrive. Or perfect for the dead of winter, too, using frozen corn kernels.
The Three Sisters, referring to the dietary staples of the Mesoamerican diet: corn, beans and squash. They often grow together, each plant benefitted from the others. The lankly corn husks provided a structure for the beans to latch onto. The squash covers the ground, preventing pesky weeds from appearing. And like all beans, they return nitrogen to the soil to help nearby plants. It makes sense that meals would also center around such foods, equally creating a balanced meal. This meal is simple but elevated by choice herbs and spices (cilantro, chiles, smoked paprika, garlic) with a heavy hand of lime juice. I used the full amount in the recipe and even I, the lover of all things tart, found it off-putting. Please start with less and taste as you go.
The recipe comes from a cookbook I have been meaning to write about for a while, Extraordinary Vegan. I can see Allan is a partial kindred spirit in the kitchen as he realizes a few choice ingredients can elevate meals to become extraordinary. Like I have said, some of my favourite, albeit unusual ingredients, are Aleppo chile flakes, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika and miso. These are a few of the ingredients Allan uses to create his meals. I had a few of these in my Houston kitchen, but still piecing together my larger pantry here, and now looking forward to trying other recipes. Many recipes are simple but a few use a few hard to find ingredients. Here are a few other recipes I have spotted around the web from Extraordinary Vegan.
Are the squashes out in full force in your kitchen yet?
You are too nice. I ran into the same low-light problem when photographing this salad after work. I wanted my standard front view and top view, but it was too blurry and grainy to work. I suppose that is when fun filters hide photographer faults? ;)
In any case, I decided the salad was too sweet not to share. Who knows how long my avocados will keep!
My inspiration came from a meal I shared with Gabby at a hipster restaurant with a few vegan-friendly options. They veganized their Cali-Coco BLT sandwich which had a thick layer of sliced avocado, coconut bacon, tomato, arugula and vegan mayonnaise on a ciabatta bun. Apparently, avocado + BLT = a California BLT. I also had a side of dal frites (yes a curry and fries poutine!), which was positively too much food.
I was still excited about recreating this at home, though. Unsweetened coconut chips were tricky to locate but my Mom helped locate these wonderfully shaped coconut slices. I am used to smaller coconut chips, so this was great. While I used mine with a salad, I think these bigger pieces would work better in sandwiches, too.
I used my previous recipe for coconut bacon, added half an avocado, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a mound of arugula and then fortified it with cooked quinoa and smoked tofu. Rob thinks the smoked tofu looks like cheese, but I swear it is not. Mash up the avocado with each bite but I will admit I scooped a bit of garlic-infused mayo aioli with each bite as a quasi dressing. Delicious!
Sorry for the blurry photo. Temperatures are dropping and the days are getting longer. We seemed to have misplaced my tripod in our whirlwind of a maze home still being unpacked so I am working with what I can.
This was a delicious bowl of goodness. Brown rice at its base, with a side of lemony chickpea spread and a hefty helping of lemon-miso braised Swiss chard.
The dressing is more puckering than my typical hummus and uses lots of lemon juice instead of balsamic vinegar (which I used in my previous hummus dressing). I was almost worried it was too lemon-heavy but it was nicely balanced when added to the brown rice.
I was channeling my mustard-hummus rice bowl with roasted cauliflower and truthfully, I was not really thinking of macrobiotics originally. However with the touch of nori in the Swiss chard, it reminded me more of my previous macro bowl with the miso-tahini sauce.
I also ended up adding peanuts for a nice crunch, so feel free to add something similar.
The miso-braised greens was adapted from Plant-Powered for Life, quite an gem of a cookbook. The original recipe was Miso-Braised Collard Greens with Cashews, and you can tell I adapted it by swapping chard for collards and peanuts for the cashews. The cookbook is filled with healthy plant-based recipes, each attached to a healthy eating tip. This recipe was found under tip 7: Aim for at least six servings of veggies every day. The tips range from Make variety your motto to Remember fresh isn’t always best and Pay attention to heritage foods. With such variety of the tips, the resulting haphazardness of the order of the recipes is the unfortunate result and make this an unwieldly cookbook unless you sport an electronic copy. Otherwise, you have a good novella to skim through, picking up small tips to help eat a bit better.
I just might need a very pretty picture to knock me out of a bloggers block. A simple recipe, I really only gave directions for the salsa baked tofu and told you what else I included in my salad. No measuring, just plating and eating.
I tried a bit harder to make this salad pretty.
I had been meaning to write this up in my final days in Houston but only now getting around to polishing up my recommendations. You will notice that most of my recommendations are not for vegan-only establishments. Those are few and far between in Houston and let’s be honest that most of my friends are not vegan and I like it when we can all enjoy our company and all enjoying eats together.
Without further adieu, here are my favourite places in Houston for vegan meals where there are also options that will satisfy serious non-vegans.
I originally encountered Green shortly before I switched to eating only vegan after a trip to San Antonio in 2011. Perhaps it was their scrummy dishes that reinforced I could totally eat vegan that made it easier to switch. Who knows, but what I do know is this Houston outpost is a vegetarian restaurant offering delicious vegan eats. They opened early in 2014 and I had many repeat visits. I recommend their sweet potato pancakes for brunch and their BBQ sandwich. I loved the filling so much, I would usually get the filling as a side to a protein bowl. YUM! In retrospect, my recent hankering for BBQ sauce may have been spurred by a Green craving.
Thai restaurants are usually friendly for vegan eats but this Thai eatery excels with fresh, flavourful and light fare with a whole vegan section on their menu (including vegan coconut ice cream). It was their seitan mock duck larb that inspired me to make these delicious Laotian Larb Tofu Lettuce Wraps, so at least I will have the ability to make this from miles away.
They may have changed their name to dgn factory, but they still serve healthy dosa stuffed with your favourite worldly combinations. Not just Indian masala, they have cauliflower Manchurian and even Mexican-inspired options. My standard order was the not-spicy spring veggie dosa hold the cheese with the vegan kheer for dessert. Yes, it was their kheer that inspired me to make this Chai-Spiced Rice Pudding. My friends raved about their authentic AYCE sambhar.
I loved going to Hugo’s. Mostly because my guests would positively rave about their food. They serve traditional but inspired upscale Mexican food. Think nopales and huilacoche. This is not standard TexMex. I think my friend still talks about the mole-stuffed cornbread. And that was a side. In any case, they have a vegetable-heavy vegetarian sampler platter (from their old menu so off-menu) that can easily be made vegan. Plus, once they know you are vegan, they will tailor the dishes for you. The churros: totally vegan but they will make sure there is no milk in the side of hot chocolate. If you call ahead they can make their refried beans vegan as well.
5. Radical Eats
This is a vegan resto that went omni after relocating to my former neighbourhood. They offer an overwhelming multi-course Sunday brunch which is a great way to sample their food. Meat options are available but I think the vegan meals would satisfy even the serious meat lovers. Comfort Mexican-inspired treats, I found their vegan desserts were stellar. Call in advance to see what they have available. For a while we tracked down their vegan tres leches cake until Rob was more content with the non-vegan but best tres leches in Houstin from El Bollilo. They also offer free drop-in vegan cooking classes on a monthly basis so pay attention to their Facebook feed for details.
This restaurant was already in Rob’s good books before we moved here as it was a favourite amongst our Houston friends. They have a handful of vegan options (I was partial to their uttapam and beet and barley salad since they were not too spicy). They serve fusion Indian food with options for everyone.
Have I missed your favourite restaurant serving vegan meals? Tell me more!
While it still feels like summer in Toronto, it is hard to believe Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. And as I was writing up my recipe for raw macadamia vanilla cream, I realized I never shared this fabulous recipe with you.
It still makes me smile that one of my co-workers, Abby, made a vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie with me in mind for last year’s Thanksgiving. Abby graciously let me take home all the leftovers which I enjoyed. Sadly, I was hoping to get better photos. I don’t think these do it any justice but figured I should still share the great recipe with you.
Pumpkin pies are ubiquitous in the US around Thanksgiving but this pie was better than your traditional fare. A mixture of both pumpkin and sweet potato purees with a custard texture from tofu worked really well here. It was perfectly sweetened with a hint of savoury notes from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The recipe will make more filling than you need for one pie, which might work out nicely if you have a vegan friend who really wants all the leftovers. ;)
The crust was awesome, too, just a bit on the brown side, but with a spiced pecan background that worked well with the pumpkin pie. As I pay more attention to the recipe, it looks like Abby took some inspiration for the crust from my pecan-shortbread crust I used with a lemon-cheesecake. You may not even need to pre-bake the crust like Abby did, so keep that in mind.
Are you ready for fall yet?
Part of the allure for travelling to Madagascar and South Africa, other than the interesting animals (LEMURS! elephants! giraffes! rhinoceroses!) was the plant-life as well. I don’t like to scope out flowers (much) but I was excited to visit a tea plantation. Sadly, we were not in the right areas to visit vanilla plantations (Madagascar is the world’s top producer of vanilla) or cocoa plantations but we serendipitously stumbled upon fields and fields of macadamia trees in South Africa. Turns out South Africa is the second largest producer of macadamia nuts, after Australia where it is indigenous.
So in addition to the chocolate, vanilla pods and tea, Rob allowed me to bring home some macadamia nuts too. A nice change from cashews, they bring a brilliant white to its sauces and possibly more creamy with all its fat. This is great news for those without a high-speed blender: silky sauces are just macadamias away.
While the blogosphere feasts on the beginning of the fall produce (apples, pumpkin and my favourite: brussels sprouts), enjoy this berry-filled salad spruced with mint and topped with a creamy whipped macadamia cream. The vanilla is a pronounced flavour which countered the sweet berries well. Feel free to use it on top of your morning oats (see below), or as part of a parfait, or perhaps, more in keeping with fall, on top of a vegan pumpkin pie or fall-spiced hot beverage (pumpkin latte, pumpkin chai tea or hot chocolate, anyone?).
Are you ready for fall yet?
WOAH! Stop the presses. Where have you been all my life?
I always thought barbecue sauces were tomato-based. This barbecue sauce has no tomato in sight. Instead, the base is from mustard and vinegar. It is amazing what a little blackstrap molasses can do to herald a sauce into the barbecue family.
The ultimate barbecue sauce is probably a very touchy/personal topic for many, especially in the US, with each region having their own spin on their special sauce for grilling. While in Texas, I didn’t go for barbecue, but I seem to be homesick for my time in Houston and bringing the barbecue back to Toronto.
However, this is not Texas-style barbecue sauce, it hails from South Carolina. Mustard-loving Germans added a barbecue twist to their local sauce and it is wonderful. Not too sweet, a heavy hand with the vinegar and a perfect punch from the savoury spices. A perfect mix for me and my love of all things mustard.
I haven’t quite decided what to do with this sauce yet. I was originally going to toss it with some tofu and veggies and then bake it, but now all I want to do is keep it. Why use that all in one go?
What is your favourite barbecue sauce and what do you like to do with it?
Do you remember the soba noodle debacle? The time I bought oodles of soba noodles and then proceeded to leave them in the pantry and slowly, slowly eat through them. Yeah, I still have soba noodles and still eating through them. A true hoarder.
However, when the cooking rut continues, I get less picky in the kitchen. I have little energy to refuse the noodles. Plus, they are quick and easy to make. I added the cold leftover sauce to warm noodles and it melted right in. A little green garnish might be nice, too. Consider adding fresh chives, as recommended in the original recipe. Because you know, I would never suggest eating parsley. Yucko.
Nothing like a blog tour from a fabulous cookbook, to get me moving in the kitchen again. It also helped that the recipes are super easy and still delicious. I already told you all about OATrageous Oatmeals earlier but I am back for Kathy’s blog tour. This time sharing her recipe for Mushroom Ginger Congee.
Traditionally congee is made with rice to make a porridge-like consistency and flavoured and garnished with as much or as little as you want. I noticed Kate Lewis’ photo in the book had additional mushrooms and green onions as garnishes, so I added that to mine. Not merely photogenic, it added a nice depth of flavour, too. I think a bit of toasted sesame oil would be lovely, too. I was never super convinced oats could hold savoury flavours so well, but this was delicious. I used Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats because I knew I wanted them to have a bit more texture. They were delicious here.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what you like to do with oats. I will randomly select a winner on September 28, 2014. Good luck!
Allow me to be honest with you. I may have lost my cooking mojo.
I haven’t really been too interested in cooking lately. My life has slowed down a lot (physically, mainly) and my heart no no longer sings in the kitchen. One must still eat, so I am still cooking… although finding it a challenge to continue to blog consistently.
And then I made this hummus. I knew I had to share it right away.
I am no stranger to strange hummus concoctions but this one was really good. Spiced with sriracha with a depthness from red peppers, I really liked it. It wasn’t too spicy (for me!) so feel free to add more sriracha for your palate. I found this had a taste reminiscent of cheese but without any nooch, I think it was from the red pepper paste. This was nice and silky straight from the food processor. Sadly, it stiffened slightly as leftovers so either eat it all at once or add some more liquid as needed.
One of my more popular salads is my spin on Whole Foods’ Detox Salad. I used lime and cilantro to complement the riced vegetables. I named mine “Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lime and Cilantro” because I cringe when I hear the name “Detox Salad”.
In general, I always assumed that the enzyme myth was in fact, just a myth….. until I saw this video. (That long pause is Dr Gregor’s hallmark, at least in my mind).
In this other video, De Gregor highlights the presence of sulforaphane in broccoli which enhances liver enzymes, as the most potent natural phase 2 enzyme-inducer. However, since sulforaphane is only created when two components interact, until you crush the raw cells (ie, with chewing or chopping), you miss out on sulforaphane. He later mentions that this needs to be done prior to cooking broccoli. Yes, the “enzyme myth” is true. Cooking is not as good for the broccoli’s sulforaphane levels.
But who likes raw broccoli?
To get the best of both worlds, a fun solution would be to chop your broccoli, wait a bit for the enzymes to work and then cook it.
And yes, this was my round-about introduction to this lemon-cilantro chickpea salad with almost riced broccoli, which I actually steamed for a gentler taste. Although, you are completely free to try this with raw broccoli rice, too. The lemon juice would make it tender, too, with time.
Poll time. Raw or cooked broccoli: which do you prefer? :)