A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn


Tacos à la Inwood
January 21, 2011, 1:50 pm
Filed under: Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , ,

I have not been very good lately at making big, creative, ambitious meals. What? It’s winter! I can hardly bring myself to schlep through vast reservoirs of slush puddles to get to the local crappy bodega, much less muster the energy to be a master chef. That said, on Friday, starving, cold, and idea-less, a friend and I stopped into Whole Foods to find inspiration for a quick meal.

Ultimately, I had him as soon as the word “tacos” was out of my mouth. Now, my template for a taco meal at home comes from my childhood, where it would be hard shells, ground beef with packaged seasoning, tomato chunks, and iceberg lettuce. Not bad, of course! But I wanted to see if we could make something a little more “baja,” like the tacos I loved getting from California taco trucks before I went vegan. Here’s what happened … deliciousness!

Ingredients:

Whole Foods small flour tortillas, in white or wheat (I’m telling you, this is important: They are cheap and hold together real nicely.)
Package of vegan ground beef (like Lightlife Smart Ground)
Can of black beans
Spices! This is very important. I don’t think you need the packaged taco seasoning when you can throw in generous dashes of cumin, ground red pepper, pepper, salt, chili powder, and hot sauce.
Vegan cheddar cheese (like Daiya, or shredded almond or rice varieties) Tomatoes
Red onion
Avocado
Lettuce (iceberg, if you must)
Bunch of cilantro
Vegan sour cream (like Tofutti)
Lime

So, the process here is pretty intuitive. I sautéed the ground “beef” and black beans together and spiced to taste with the seasonings suggested above. Meanwhile, I warmed the tortillas in some oil on the stovetop, but you could warm them in the microwave (I don’t have one) or the oven (I didn’t have the patience for that). Also, you should dice the tomatoes and red onion, slice the avocado, and chop the lettuce and cilantro in advance so it’s ready when the meat and tortillas are warm.

When it’s all ready, layer the meat and veggies in whatever order suits your fancy. (My boyfriend and I had slightly different theories of this. Mine are above, his are below—both tasted amazing!) Plop on some sour cream, sprinkle on cilantro and squeeze on some lime. Yay, easy vegan fiesta!

* As you can see, we enjoyed our tacos with the ever-tasty Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a nice steel-barrel-fermented Chardonnay we got from Paumanok vineyards while wine tasting on Long Island. Just in case you’re looking for pairing ideas. 🙂

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Easy Weeknight ‘Chicken’ Club
December 13, 2010, 9:17 am
Filed under: Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , ,

The other night my boyfriend and I needed a quick vegan meal made from a few items we could pick up at a just a normal, slightly terrible NYC grocery store (read: nothin’ fancy and not a lot of specifically vegan items). Turns out we threw together these incredibly delicious chicken club sandwiches.

The recipe, generally:

Boca Chick’n Patties
French rolls
Vegan mayonnaise
Ketchup
Pickle relish
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Smart Beat Non-Dairy Slices

Bake, fry, or nuke the Chick’n patties, melting the non-dairy cheese on top toward the end; mix the vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise or Nayonaise brand) with a bit of ketchup and relish to make a tasty sauce, then spread it on good French rolls; top with lettuce and tomatoes and voilà! I can’t believe how good these were, seriously. Mmm mm mmm. Who says being vegan is difficult?



Delicious Veggie Enchiladas
November 22, 2010, 2:23 pm
Filed under: Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , ,

Last night I made really stellar vegan enchiladas. Yup, they were that good that I feel secure in crowing about them. The best part was dreaming up the recipe myself. I think using your past experience in the kitchen to whip up creations all your own is the most satisfying—and often successful—way to cook. So here’s what I did, but I could see substituting all kinds of other elements for the filling. These turned out pretty spicy, too—my fave!

1 zucchini
1 package button mushrooms
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
1 can black beans
1 small can diced green chilies
Dashes of spices:
     Cumin
     Paprika
     Ground red pepper
     Chili powder
     Salt
     Pepper
Small corn tortillas
Dairy-free cheddar cheese slices (e.g., Smart Beat)
1 can enchilada or taco sauce
1 jar of chunky salsa
1 small can sliced olives

Chop the zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion into smallish pieces. Place in a hot, oiled wok or skillet and add the seasonings. Be liberal here, because this is where a lot of the flavor comes from. Sauté until cooked and soft, stirring in the black beans and chilies for the last couple minutes.

Combine the enchilada sauce with half a jar of salsa.

For each enchilada, place a slice of cheese in the middle of a tortilla, top with a spoonful of the salsa sauce. Spread a large spoonful of the vegetable-bean mixture over that. Roll up the sides of the tortilla and place seam-side down in a 13X9 baking dish that has been sprayed with oil. Repeat until all the veggie mixture has been used up. Place more slices of cheese on top of enchiladas and drench with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle sliced olives over the top.

Cover and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 minutes more or until heated through and cheese is melted.

 Enjoy!



Weekend o’ Vegan Delights

Ah, Monday. Time for me to gaze dolefully out across the prospect of a long workweek but also to fondly recall all the great vegan meals I had over this past lovely, happy weekend. Highlights!

► A vegan meetup in Williamsburg where we sampled treats from three eateries: the “Tom Hanks” pizza from Vinnie’s with vegan barbecue chicken, bacon, mozzarella, cheddar and barbecue sauce (above); a cubano and the “Merckx Werkx” sandwiches from Boneshakers (the latter featuring: “tofurky, sham, olive tapenade, chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, on a ciabatta hero”); and an outrageous selection of cookies, cupcakes, pastries, and pie from the new Champs vegan bakery. Besides the food, the best thing about the meetup was I got a slew of recommendations from fellow vegans on restaurants I am now dying to try. (Just more for me to share with all you Lotus readers!)

► Stood in line at Babycakes on a busy Saturday afternoon for their apple cider doughnuts, one dripping in delicious caramel sauce. Small and expensive, but totally worth the wait. (Sorry no pic, we were too eager to indulge and I forgot to snap a photo.)

► And best of all, brunch at Life Café in Bushwick, where I had the Eggless Rancheros pictured above, which was every bit as delicious as it looks!

And now, back to my regular workday diet of fruit and hummus. Sigh. 🙂



World’s Best Vegan Reuben
October 13, 2010, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , ,

Okay, maybe it’s not the best, but it’s certainly the best that I’ve ever made. Delish! Warning, this melty hunk of buttery vegan goodness is pretty decadent, so you might want to share with a friend. Or plan a nice long jog for the next day. But it’s worth it!

Vegan Reuben

Rye bread (We used the sourdough rye from Bread Alone, a Hudson Valley organic bakery, and it was perfect.)
Tempeh strips (you can get pre-flavored or plain)
Seitan (packaged strips)
Teriyaki sauce
Spices of your choosing (salt, pepper, red pepper, chili powder, garlic powder … )
Vegenaise
Ketchup
Pickle relish
Daiya mozzarella-style vegan cheese
Sauerkraut
Vegan buttery spread (I like Earth Balance)

Step 1: Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet and sauté the tempeh strips and seitan, turning occasionally and seasoning with your favorite spices. Add a dash of teriyaki, which I think lends a rich, meaty flavor.  Cook until slightly browned.

Step 2: In a small bowl, make thousand island dressing by mixing about ½ cup of Vegenaise with dashes of ketchup and pickle relish to taste.

Step 3: Assemble the sandwich by spreading the dressing on a slice of bread and layering on tempeh, seitan, sauerkraut, and a sprinkling of Daiya cheese (a little goes a long way). Smoosh sandwich down a bit to help prevent precious ingredients escaping. Spread ‘butter’ on top of sandwich.

Step 4: Heat a skillet and carefully place sandwich butter side down. Cook until golden brown on bottom. Butter top side, then gently flip it over and brown the other side.

Voilà! This would go great with some potato chips or, if you’re feeling fancy like we were, some home fries*. But that’s a whole other post.  🙂

Okay, and one more photo, in case your mouth wasn’t watering enough already.

 

* Thanks to Scott for cooking up the delicious potatoes, for being an integral help in the preparation of the World’s Best Vegan Reubens, and for being an open-minded and adventurous omnivore.



Our Hen House Launch Party
October 4, 2010, 1:38 pm
Filed under: LGBT, Photography, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , ,

Longtime readers of this blog know that I pretty much never miss a party at MooShoes, a vegan shoe shop on the Lower East Side. This past Friday was no exception, as I trotted down to the launch party for Our Hen House, a nonprofit working to improve the treatment of animals. This party was particularly well-attended, and I saw a lot of familiar faces from other vegan events. Small but vocal community we are!

Now, the highlights in pics!

The crowd perusing the very desirable raffle prizes

Lovely wines provided by Frey Vineyards, an organic winery. The rosé was particularly good, I must say.

 I’m not much of a chocolate person, but I do appreciate the concept behind Rescue Chocolate, which donates all net profits to animal rescue groups.

 My fave munchable of the evening: “faux gras,” a walnut lentil pate that was mad good. Provided by the chef and caterer The Regal Vegan.

Always, always good: Sweet & Sara s’mores. (And always good when I don’t have to pay for them—you can get their vegan marshmallow treats at Whole Foods but they are a smidge pricy.)

 The ladies behind Our Hen House, Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan.

Victoria Moran, a very sprightly raw vegan speaker and author of The Love-Powered Diet.

 Jasmin Singer’s mother, talking about being in a family of vegetarians. Cute!

Well, that’s it. I had a great time and look forward to the next time I can stop by MooShoes, get free food, and mingle with all you lovely vegan folk!



The Only Pasta Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need
August 2, 2010, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , ,

I think I’ve finally perfected the pasta salad. My life is now complete.

I made a pasta salad for a barbecue last month that was creamy (thanks to Vegenaise) but ultimately a bit bland. This weekend, I made one that eschewed the ‘naise and used a great vinaigrette to tie it together instead, and I tell you, it’s wonderful. Here’s the approximate recipe, which I made up on the fly (always the best way to cook).

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Pasta, half a package. I like spirals but penne would work too, and I prefer veggie kinds (tomato, spinach, etc.) to plain ol’ pasta. The color and flavors are much more interesting.
Asparagus, half a bunch
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper

Artichokes, marinated, one jar
Handful of grape tomatoes, halved
Olives, sliced, one can
Soy feta, quarter to half a round
Salt and pepper to taste
Herbs to taste (basil, oregano, thyme)
Vinaigrette of your choice (I suggest something with some punch. I used the sun-dried tomato and garlic flavor from Organicville. Highly recommend!)

Boil the pasta per package directions, drain, cool slightly.
Quarter the bell peppes and arrange with asparagus on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and broil in the oven until the asparagus is tender and the peppers are just about to brown/blacken. (I had to remove the asparagus before the peppers—you don’t want to overcook it.)
Chop the artichoke into quarters.
Combine all ingredients, crumbling the feta as you add it. Let sit for at least half an hour to let the flavors get to know each other.  Serve chilled or room temp.

I’m seriously, people. This pasta salad got a rave review and I think it would be a great addition to your next picnic or cookout. Cheers!