Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Some summer food scores

Here are three summer food scores that I've enjoyed recently. First, the fine slice of tomato pie (above) is from Jojo's Pizzeria in Ocean City, NJ. It's still difficult to find vegan slices on the boardwalk. Luckily, this spot, located at 1214 Boardwalk, and Primavera Restaurant, which I posted about last year, continue to offer tomato pie options.

Next up, from Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, a constant provider of great vegan food, is the Cookies 'n' Shake soy milk shake. Shakes are new on the WDC bakery menu and this decadent flavor is totally worth the $6.75. It came with a whole cookie on the bottom! Sweet touch.

Finally, here are some more beautiful fermented foods from Number 1 Sons, our expert local purveyors. On the left is the Acapulco Kraut, a sweet and tropical mix with cabbage, carrots, and onions. On the right is pickled beets with onion slivers. These beets rival my Mom's. 'Nuff said.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

A trio of summer dips

I've called Canadian cookbook author Dreena Burton the "Queen of Hummus" but now I need to up that to the "Goddess of All Dips, Spreads, and Sauces." Here's a trio of fast, delicious, and versatile recipes that I've made from the July VegCookbook Club pick: Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan. (The poll for August's club cookbook is already here.)

Olive & Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
Another great hummus recipe, this time with tahini instead of raw nuts. Although the tahini amount is a controlled single tablespoon. This imparts some flavor but doesn't drown the main attractions. The real stars in this hummus are the olives and sun-dried tomatoes. It's a good excuse to visit your grocery's olive bar. And it's sure to win "The Battle of the Hummus" at your next summer potluck.  

Smoky Avocado Sauce
What a beautiful, silky smooth sauce! Two types of citrus and a little liquid smoke are the surprise notes to the creamy avocado. I'm going to make this every time I want to class up burritos. It'd be an impressive addition to a savory brunch too.

Warm & Cheesy White Bean Dip
This is the only recipe that required heating and only briefly on the stovetop. I would rename it "Noochy" instead of "Cheesy" dip because the nutritional yeast flavor is its own thing. Cashews give this cannellini dip extra richness. I used almond milk rather than rice milk and doubled the garlic (natch). The dip worked great drizzled on pizza, as Dreena Burton suggests. Makes loads of leftovers.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chicago bites - A Taste of River North and Lakeview

Here is the second part of our foodie adventures in Chicago. Yesterday I featured Loop eats. Today's pics are from the River North and Lakeview neighborhoods. And the view (above) is from the John Hancock Center's bar.

In River North, we enjoyed a lovely and enormous dinner alfresco at Karyn's Cooked, 713 N Wells Street. This was our only visit to a Karyn's location in Chicago but I'd love to check out the others someday. We started our meal with two appetizers: the deep-fried Soy Buffalo Wings (above) and the messy, delicious Thai Skewers (below) in peanut sauce. I'd never encountered a flat Thai skewer before. They were challenging to maneuver but inventive to behold.

Our main dishes were the Flautas for me (above). These were tasty deep-fried, veggie-filled tortillas with great sauces and delicious sides. And then there was the Poached Haddock (below). Yes, my boyfriend went with the soy cod. Blech!--was my reaction. However he enjoyed the strong fishy flavor and strange texture. The broccoli was the real monster on that plate.

In Lakeview, we were planning on stopping at the famous Chicago Diner but the crowds and a movie showtime propelled us to Kitchen 17 instead. Located at 613 W Briar Street, this newly opened 100% vegan restaurant was the oddest spot that we visited. The menu seemed reminiscent of something that you'd make in college, probably late at night. However the counter staff was friendly, it was BYOB, and they offered free (!) self-serve lemonades, teas, and water.

We started out with the Loaded Nachos (above on left). I enjoyed the homemade vegan cheese and sour cream best in this mound. They weren't overpowering, as Daiya, Tofutti, and other popular brands tend to be. And I ordered a Philly Cheesesteak (above on right), which again was pleasant with the mildly-flavored faux cheese and peppery, flaked seitan. The rather stale bread could use some work. I guess there is no equivalent of Amoroso's rolls in Chicago?

My boyfriend also got the Supreme Pizza (below), which had a thin crust but was nothing to write home about. I think the sauce was jarred or simply bore a strong resemblance to Ragu. I hope this place keeps working on their menu and one day gives Chicago Diner a run for their clientele.    

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chicago bites - Loop eats

Here are some food highlight photos from a recent trip to Chicago. Wow, Chicago is way more veg-friendly than the last time that my boyfriend and I visited, which was admittedly over 10 years ago. I've been neglecting the Midwestern foodways. We ate mainly in the Loop area, which is featured below. Next up, I'll post our Lakeview and River North finds.

First we visited Native Foods CafĂ©, which largely seems to be a West Coast chain but has outposts in Colorado and Illinois, including the one at 218 S Clark Street. The food was over-the-top indulgent. Piled-high, slathered, "cheesy," and fried seems to be how Native Foods serves things. However we didn't order anything remotely sensible.

Pictured here are the Native Chicken Wings (above) and two types of sandwiches. The Classic Deli Reuben that I ordered was greasy seitan bliss (below on left). And my boyfriend deemed the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger a must-try item for its brazenness (below on right).  The accompanying ranch dressing was rather insipid, sadly. Otherwise we were pleased with this "fast-casual" vegan chain.  


The darker photos (below) are from Haymarket Pub & Brewery, located at 737 W Randolph Street. This vegan-friendly brewpub had a fine vegan chili and truly excellent vegan burger made with beets, oats, and black beans. I feel bad to post this sloppy, half-eaten burger pic but the veggie burger was really that good. It's always surprising and delightful to find solid vegan bar food.    

Finally, we found a treasure-trove of Soul Vegan to-go items (below) at the Bockwinkel's grocery store near our hotel. We were hoping to score some plain old hummus. Who'd have thought that mixed-in with the potato salads and coleslaws we'd discover 100% vegan soul food entrees, salads, and wraps?  This deli case became our go-to spot for picnic items to take to the many inviting parks of Chicago. In fact, these vegan items were among the best stuff we ate on our trip. The tangy and spicy Jerk Steak Wrap was my particular favorite.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan for July

July's VegCookbook Club pick is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan: Everyday Vegan Recipes Worth Celebrating by Dreena Burton. Unlike many of this year's other club selections, I actually own this attractive and colorful volume. So I have no library wait to endure.

Because I have been on vacation to Chicago, I have only made two recipes thus far. I do wish that it wasn't summer and that I could fire up the oven again because Dreena Burton's desserts are killer. However, there is plenty to look forward to in this cookbook without baking.  Did I mention that this book has a whole chapter devoted to hummus?  

Roasted Red Pepper & Almond Hummus
Dreena Burton is the Queen of Hummus. This red pepper hummus is much tastier and fresher than the brands that you can buy from the grocery store. In place of tahini, the almonds impart a subtle, nutty flavor that matches nicely with the sweet and smoky roasted peppers. I imagine that kids might enjoy this hummus. However I tripled the garlic for adult palates.

"But Where Do You Get Your Protein?" Smoothie
I usually forgo nut butters in my smoothies but this one calls for two types, which is interesting. I went with peanut butter and sunflower seed butter and used almond milk rather than soy. I also skipped the protein power because I'm not worried about extra protein. I did add ground flax. The blueberries and bananas provided sweetness to this creamy, nourishing drink.