Monday, October 31, 2011

Vegan Chicago: Restaurant Review of Borrowed Earth Cafe

Haunted Trail
For a weekend trip, my friend (check out her website about teaching kids empathy) and I went to a family farm called Kuipers Farm in Maple Park, IL. It was a nice fall trip for us city dwellers here in Chicago. This farm was a great place for kids (and adults!). We specifically picked out a place to go that treated their animals in humane ways. A lot of the places we looked into had things like pig races and exotic animals. One even had a white tiger exhibit. Kuipers Farm had a corn maze, a nature walk, a haunted trail, a small farm area (where the farm animals had a lot of room to live and enjoy their lives - even an adoption program for the few cats there!), a hay wagon ride to the pumpkin patch, and kid-friendly areas with giant pumpkins and tractor truck tire playgrounds. They have duck races, but never fear... it is with plastic ducks! For adults, there is an apple orchard where one can pick their own apples and a large store with all sorts of local products including their apples and pumpkins. It was a very impressive place! They sell Christmas trees during the winter which I think would be a great outing for a family in order for children to see where their trees come from and the ecology behind it. The process of seeing where the tree is chopped to your living room I think is an important one because we often don't think about how items get from a to z (similar to factory farming and the meat at your grocery store).
Hanging Out With Goats
Corn Maze

Cheese Perogies
On the way back to the city, we stopped in Downers Grove to have lunch at Borrowed Earth Cafe. This place is a small raw, organic vegan restaurant. My experience with raw vegan restaurants has only been Karyn's Raw and raw. The meal was satisfying and the dessert was exceptional. For starters, we had the cheese perogies. It is a "cheese" filling with a jimaca wrapper. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a pierogi, the filling was creamy and scrumptious. 

Spinach Quiche
Egg Salad Sandwich
Oreo Cookie Ice Cream
For entree's, we shared the spinach quiche and the "I Can't Believe It's Not An Egg Salad" sandwich. The quiche wasn't really a quiche as I remember them, but the same concept was there. It had a base of nuts and chopped veggies combined with "cheese" to create the rest. The egg salad sandwich was creamy but not really an "egg salad". I made a vegan version a while back with tofu which I thought was better mostly due to texture. It had the same kick, but the texture was just too silky in this sandwich. It definitely wasn't bad, though, so I would get it again. It was wrapped in a zucchini flax seed wrap which was great. Both entrees came with three types of salads. One was a mixed greens, another a cabbage, and lastly a collard greens salad. The dressing was sweet yet not too cloying. My favorite was the collard green salad.
Raw Chocolate Cheesecake
For dessert, we split two different treats. My friend got a chocolate cheesecake and I had an oreo cookie ice cream sundae. I've had raw cheesecakes at the Chicago Diner, but this cheesecake was something to be said. It was amazing! The base was made of nuts and dates, while the cheesecake part was made of coconut meat, coconut oil, and other ingredients. I've never had raw ice cream, but I've seen pictures before. ...So tasty. It was also made of coconut meat, coconut oil, dates, etc. Everyone should go to Borrowed Earth Cafe just for desserts alone!
Your Blog Doll In a Pumpkin Patch

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chocolate Beetle Cupcakes w/ Bloody Cherry Butter Filling & Chocolate Dirt Frosting

Well, I wanted to make a Halloween dessert and I saw this beetle cupcake idea on Craftster. I figured I could make some vegan cupcakes and go from there. These turned out wonderful, but they're timely to make. Give yourself a few hours to make them leisurely. I modified the cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (which if you do not own, you have to). The frosting recipe is the exact one out of the book. I figure let the experts in baking give me their recipe - it would turn out much better than my own. This didn't let me down!

Chocolate Beetle Cupcakes w/ Bloody Cherry Butter Filling & Chocolate Dirt Frosting
* Prep Time: 1-2 hours
* Cook Time: 20 minutes
* Ingredients (for chocolate cupcakes): 
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk*
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar*
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp chocolate extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
* Ingredients (for chocolate buttercream frosting):
  • 1/4 cup margarine, softened*
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* Ingredients (remaining):
  • 1 9 oz. jar cherry butter*
  • 1 box food dye (red, blue, green, yellow)
  • 7-8 Oreo cookies (or other vanilla cream sandwich cookies)*
  • 1/2 8.8 oz. box marzipan*
  • gold luster dust, to taste*

* Recipe (for chocolate cupcakes):
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and milk. Set aside.
  3. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and combine well.
  4. Combine all wet ingredients in another bowl including vinegar milk mixture and beat until foamy.
  5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until no lumps remain.
  6. Pour into lined cupcake tray three-fourths of the way full in each.
  7. Bake for 18-22 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely.
* Recipe (for chocolate buttercream frosting):
  1. Cream together margarine and shortening until combined.
  2. Add the cocoa powder and mix well.
  3. Next, add the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time adding soy milk as you go. Mix between each 1/2 cups of sugar.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and combine until fluffy and no more lumps are seen.
* Recipe (for rest of cupcake):
  1. In a bowl, combine cherry butter with red food dye. Add as much red food dye as necessary to make it "blood red".
  2. Using a melon baller, scoop the center out of the cupcake and take out some of the middle. Be sure you don't go too far down so as not to get the bottom of the cupcake.
  3. Add 1-2 tsp of cherry butter to the center of the cupcake. Replace the top back on the cupcake.
  4. Frost with the buttercream frosting.
  5. In a blender, combine Oreo cookie tops (not the side with the centers) until they are thoroughly pulverized. Put the cookie dirt in a small bowl.
  6. Roll each frosted cupcake in the cookie dirt and pat more with your hands. Shake the cupcake to take off stray cookie dirt.
  7. In a bowl, add 5-10 drops of all four food dye colors. Mix. Add the marzipan and mash with a fork until combined.
  8. Follow the directions here to make beetle marzipan figures.
  9. Dust each beetle with gold luster dust.
  10. Top each cupcake with one beetle.
* Note: For non-dairy milk, I used almond milk. Use any sort of non-dairy milk you prefer. Make sure your sugar is vegan. For margarine, I used Earth Balance soy-free variety. The cherry butter was a brand I found at Whole Foods called American Spoon. The Oreo type cookies I used were Back To Nature Classic Creme Cookies. For marzipan, I use Stramondo brand. Luster dust is edible glitter, more or less. You can find it in the baking section of JoAnn's or Michael's craft stores. You should use a paint brush to apply it, but I didn't have one handy so I just brushed with my fingers.

Have a spooky Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Curry Soup

I wanted to make an adult-friendly recipe to go along with my kid-friendly Halloween posts. I do love gourds and squash, so I picked up an heirloom pumpkin. Pumpkin curry soup was born (plus getting some fresh pumpkin seeds to roast too!).

Pumpkin Curry Soup
* Prep Time: 15 minutes 
* Cook Time: 1 1/2 - 2 hours
* Ingredients: 
  • 6 cups of one small-medium sized heirloom pumpkin, roasted
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Granny apples, diced
  • 1 leek, white parts, diced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk*
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar*
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • curried pumpkin seeds, toasted, to taste
  • whole wheat bread, crust removed, cut in ghost shape, toasted, to taste
* Recipe:
  1. Roast the pumpkin for 45-60 minutes according to these instructions.
  2. In a large pot, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the onion. Sweat until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, apples, and leek. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  4. Next, add the vegetable broth, non-dairy milk, pumpkin, sugar, and all the spices.
  5. Cook for another 30 minutes or so.
  6. While soup is cooking, take about 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds, combine with 1 tbsp olive oil,  and 1 tsp curry powder. Roast in oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Puree in batches.
  8. Serve with roasted pumpkin seeds and ghost shaped whole wheat crostini.
* Note: For non-dairy milk, I used almond milk. Feel free to use whatever you wish. Make sure your sugar is vegan!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Liebster Award

Vegan Miss was honored with the award given out during Vegan MOFO, the Liebster Award, by the RA Vegan! Thank you! I am continually humbled and slightly shocked that people read my blog. It has grown so much in the last one to two years. Thank you all for your continued reading and support. It inspires me to keep coming back to the kitchen and blog about it!

“Liebster” is German and means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’.

The idea behind this award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers and show your support during Vegan Mofo!

The rules of winning this award are as follows:

1.       Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.

2.       Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3.       Post the award on your blog.

4.       Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!
My top picks:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vegan Chicago: Restaurant Review of Ian's Pizza

Ian's Pizza has several locations. One is here in Chicago while the others are in Milwaukee and Madison, WI. I love this place because it is one of the few places one can get a vegan pizza without going to a vegan restaurant specifically (they even deliver seasonally!). Other places I know of that carry vegan pizza are Mista, Moonshine, Pie Hole Pizza Joint, Piece, and Pick-Me-Up Cafe. These places all have vegan cheese and some carry vegan "meats" to top.
Ian's is known for their odd variety of pizzas like mac 'n cheese pizza and lasagna pizza. For vegan options at Ian's, there are a slew of veggies such as artichoke hearts, onions, spinach, basil, portobello mushrooms, button mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sliced tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, kalamata olives, pico de gallo, and pineapple. Other toppings include french fries and pasta noodles (penne, lasagna, macaroni). Ian's proudly carries local Chicago vegan companies, Chicago Soydairy and Upton's Naturals. They have Upton's Italian-style, chicken-style, and soy-pepperoni style seitans. They also carry CSD's mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Lastly, Ian's has a build-your-own salad option with all of the said veggies above.

For the pizza we ordered, we got the Italian-style seitan, mozzarella cheese, basil, onions, artichoke hearts, and button mushrooms. This was really good! The crust was a bit try for me, but I added some homemade giardiniera. Ian's is a great place to either sit down and get a pie or take it to go. I also love that they support local vegan companies!

This week is World Vegan Week. Ian's is having a special in honor: Chili Cheese Fries. Everyone in Chicago should go out and get an order to support vegan week and this great pizza joint for their continued vegan options!

Mummy Pizzas

This idea was stolen from Marla over at the Vegan Feminist Agitator (who also runs Chicago VeganMania [free vegan festival] which everyone in Chicagoland should go to on November 5th, 10-5pm, Pulaski Park Fieldhouse). She tagged me in a photo of the mummy pizzas she made last year as I love me some cute looking vegan food. I decided to recreate them for a kid-friendly Halloween post. They're very simple, yet tasty, to make! The serving here is just for one English muffin (which makes two mummy pizzas). Replicate the instructions per English muffin to make more.

Mummy Pizzas
 * Prep Time: 5 minutes
* Cook Time: 10-15 minutes 
* Ingredients:
  • 1 English muffin, split in half
  • 6 tsp pasta sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 8-10 thin slices vegan mozzarella*
  • 1 Kalamata olive, sliced
* Recipe:
  1. Spread 3 tsp of pasta sauce over each inside part of the English muffin. Add half the Italian seasoning on each and evenly spread.
  2. Layer the vegan mozzarella in "mummy-like" fashion. Leave spots peaking out where one can see the pasta sauce.
  3. For "eyes", use sliced Kalamata olives.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees, then broil on high for another 30-60 seconds to get the cheese to melt thoroughly.
* Note: For vegan mozzarella, I used Follow Your Heart because it is in a block shape and it was easiest to make strips for "mummy wrapping". If your kids don't like olives, one could get some vegan pepperoni and cut holes in the middle of the slices for eyes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ginger, Carrot, Beet, & Sweet Potato Soup Revisited

Every week, I get a box of organic vegetables from Door-To-Door Organics delivered to me (they even carry Upton's Naturals seitan which can be sent to your house too). Last week, they gave me beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. I already had ginger and the rest of the ingredients, so I thought back to one of my first recipes on this blog back in early 2009. I remade it with better pictures this time, though!

Ginger, Carrot, Beet, & Sweet Potato Soup
* Prep Time: 15 minutes
* Cook Time: 45 minutes
* Ingredients:
  • 1 large beet (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 of a medium onion (chopped)
  • 3-4 large carrots (diced)
  • 2-3 small sweet potatoes, diced 
  • 1/3rd small ginger root (minced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • dash of onion powder
  • dash of garlic salt
  • dash of all-purpose seasoning
  • dash of oregano
  • dash of dried dill weed

* Recipe:
  1. Add olive oil and all the spices to medium pot. Add chopped onions and sautee until translucent.
  2. While onions are cooking, peel the beet, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Dice all.
  3. As the onions begin to cook, add the garlic and ginger root to the pot.
  4. Add the carrots, cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Put the beets and sweet potatoes in and the vegetable stock. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  6. When done cooking, put in a blender to make a puree. Serve hot.
* Note: I did not throughly puree. I wanted a few chunks of vegetables in there.

This is a great cold weather soup. The combination of ingredients doesn't make it too earthy (as beets tend to taste in soups), but hearty instead.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy 5 Year Vegan Anniversary to Your Blog Doll!

My "vegan anniversary" was apparently just a bit ago. Looking through old journal entries, it seems I went vegan around September/October of 2006. Happy 5 Year Vegan Anniversary to Your Blog Doll!

It surely doesn't feel like half a decade has gone by and in that time, I've never regretted or questioned my decision to go vegan. It has brought so many positive things into my life. Veganism has given me a new set of eyes regarding food production, animal agribusiness and agriculture, health concerns, and moral beliefs. I've also met many wonderful individuals, experienced so much great animal activism with Mercy For Animals and Vegan Outreach, tried all kinds of food I never would have even dreamed of prior to being vegan (and expanded my palette so much), started this blog of mine, and have had the peaceful experience of volunteering at farm animal sanctuaries and interacting with species that probably have more in common with us than humans believe. To me, it is a blessing to wake up everyday knowing I am directly withdrawing myself from such horrible cruelty made by factory farms and being natural and healthy in the process. 

The best action one can do is practicing what you preach. Think about your actions and what effect it will have on others, big or small. It gives you a sense of personal accountability that I think people tend to ignore. Veganism is living by my values and appreciating all walks of life.

If it weren't for veganism, I would have never been so moved to help others reach the conclusions I have made regarding factory farming, the environment, and health. I learned so much about myself and my abilities to lead, open up and share, and accept (whether it is confrontation or unbelievable support). It has made me a better, more well-rounded person. For that, I'm entirely grateful. My friend wrote a great article on her website, "The Wrong Kind of Activism", that I urge people to take a look at.

One of the proudest moments in my life was when I won the Youth Activist of the Year award during Mercy For Animals Celebrating Compassion Gala here in Chicago in 2009. I think most of the award winners probably feel as I do. I will leave this entry with the short, but sweet, speech I gave that night that I think signifies the point:

"Thank you to Mercy For Animals. Thank you to everyone that is here tonight. Without your support, Mercy For Animals could not continue their life-saving work. We are the voice for the voiceless. Any of our efforts, big or small, show our collective work for the animals. These acts of kindness are immeasurable in value. Each of you here tonight show that a group of people who believe in one unselfish goal is beautiful and has the power to build a better tomorrow. Because of this, I feel that we are all award-winners. For that, please give yourselves a round of applause. You truly deserve it. Thank you!"
SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary in Michigan

So, thank you to those who read this blog. I'm glad that my decision five years ago has helped others try new vegan food and get involved with animal activism.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vegan Chicago: Restaurant Review of Munch

Vegan Chicago is a vegan network for like-minded folks to get together and have fun on various outings like dining at restaurants or bars. I've been to a few events in the last couple years. Truthfully, big social events like that are just not my thing. I'm much more of a lone wolf, if you will. But, I saw that they were having a dine-out at a newer vegetarian restaurant in Oak Park, IL (suburb just outside Chicago) called Munch. I was excited to see this as I have been looking for an opportunity to go out there and check it out. My friend who lives in Oak Park came with and we had a great time trying several items off the menu. Here are some photos from the meetup on Vegan Chicago.

Spicy "Beef" Nachos
To begin, we had the spicy "beef" nachos made vegan. It was topped with Daiya and Upton's Naturals chorizo. It could have been a bit warmer, but there were probably 30 people at this little cafe so I don't blame them for the heat factor. It was a pretty filling appetizer so I would get again. The radishes were a bit confusing, though. I'm not sure why they were on the nachos.

Vegan Lasagna
Soup of the Day

For entree's, my friend had the vegan lasagna with the soup of the day. I had a bite of each. The soup was excellent. Perfect for a fall day. The lasagna was also very good! I would definitely get this again as it looked like a filling entree portion. I ordered the Philly "steakless" sandwich. They use Upton's Naturals gyro style seitan which one can only get wholesale through the company. I've had it before by ordering bulk and freezing with the Chicago Vegan Co-Op. I really love Upton's Naturals wholesale products (even more than the retail seitan they have). You don't see it too often in restaurants, so I was really excited to see it on Munch's menu. I'm also glad that they're supporting a local vegan company like Upton's. The sandwich was a bit salty for my taste. Again, this could be because they were rushing to fill so many orders. It was filled with Daiya and sauteed mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers. The side I got was sauteed greens. These were really exceptional. I'm a bit of a dark leafy green freak (I eat raw kale salad 4-6 times a week), so I always go for the greens when I see 'em on the menu. The meal was so big, I took half the sandwich home for later. We were much too full for dessert, but the cafe offers vegan milk shakes, cookies, and brownies. 

Philly "Steakless" Sandwich
It's great to see new vegetarian restaurants popping up all over the city. I mentioned in a previous post about other places that have opened: Urban Vegan Chicago, the various new Native Foods Cafe locations, Quesadilla Mexican Vegetarian Cuisine, and Earth's Healing Cafe (raw). New York Deli has started serving a permanent vegan menu at their place too. Items include a vegan chick'n parm, vegan gyro, SLT (seitan, lettuce, tomato), the John Lennon (hummus sandwich), and vegan desserts.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Herb Roasted Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are a great source of protein, calcium, and dietary fiber. I'm a huge fan. When I was in Hawaii, I had some roasted macadamia nuts with fresh herbs at 22 North restaurant. So good! This inspired me to make my own from my organic balcony garden. I didn't have fresh sage or oregano, otherwise I would have used it.

Herb Roasted Macadamia Nuts
* Prep Time: 10 minutes
* Cook Time: 30 minutes
* Ingredients:
  • 2 cups salted macadamia nuts*
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
* Recipe:
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a small baking pan, combine all ingredients with hands until mixed.
  3. Cook for about 30 minutes until the nuts have a nice brown.
  4. Serve hot. 
* Note: One could use unsalted and add their own salt level to the dish or not have it at all.
    This is a great quickie recipe and the fresh herbs bring out a lovely elegance. I would use this for finger food if company is coming over or an appetizer with drinks.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Lemon Ginger Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling & Cream Cheese Frosting

    I am by no means a master baker. I'd like to think I'm a pretty good home baker, though! My frosting skills are not exactly the best, though. Any tips? I leave the pretty looking cupcakes up to local favorites, Canary Confectionery & the Mixing Bowl Bakery. This cupcake is inspired by my friend who really likes ginger. Lemons seem to go well with ginger, so I kind of just went with that theme. The cupcake is filled with lemon curd while the batter has fresh grated ginger, limoncello, and lemon zest. The frosting has limoncello and lemon zest and topped with chopped crystallized ginger.

    Lemon Ginger Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling & Cream Cheese Frosting
    * Prep Time: 10 minutes
    * Cook Time: 25 minutes
    * Ingredients (for lemon ginger cupcakes):
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar*
    • 3/4 cup vegan butter*
    • 2 "eggs", prepared by box instructions*
    • 3 tbsp limoncello*
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
    • 1 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup non-dairy milk*
    • 1 tbsp distilled vinegar
    • 2 oz. vegan cream cheese*
    * Ingredients (for lemon curd):
    • 1 tbsp lemon zest
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3 tbsp cornstarch, mixed with water until smooth
    • splash non-dairy milk
    * Ingredients (for frosting):
    • 6 oz. vegan cream cheese
    • 1/4 cup vegan butter
    • 2-3 tbsp shortening
    • 3 tbsp limoncello
    • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • crystallized ginger, to taste, minced, to top
    * Recipe (for lemon ginger cupcakes):
    1. In a measuring cup, combine the milk and vinegar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
    2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixer. Add in the milk mixture and combine well.
    3. If mixing by hand, combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another. Add the wet to the dry, then the milk mixture. Combine well.
    4. Place batter 1/2-3/4th full in each cupcake spot on the tin.
    5. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
    * Recipe (for lemon curd):
    1. Over medium heat, combine the first four ingredients. Stir occasionally until smooth and bring to boil, about 10 minutes.
    2. Add the milk and stir over heat.
    3. Set aside and let cool. It should have a thicker consistency once cooled.
    * Recipe (for frosting):
    1. Combine all ingredients but ginger and mix well. It shouldn't have a soupy consistency. If it does, add more sugar.
    * Recipe (for cupcake construction):
    1. Once cupcakes are cooled, dig a small well out of the middle with a melon baller.
    2. Fill the well with lemon curd and place the top back on the cupcake.
    3. Frost and top with minced crystallized ginger.
    * Note: Make sure your sugar is vegan! For vegan butter and eggs, I like Earth Balance soy free variety and Ener-G for egg replacer. Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that you can find in most alcohol sections of a grocery store with specialty stuff like bitters. Feel free to use any non-dairy milk. I used hemp milk. For vegan cream cheese, I used Galaxy brand.

      Friday, October 7, 2011

      Product Review: Rawtella Stuffed French Toast

      A vegan coffee shop here in Chicago sells rawtella in their cafe. I've heard about this product before so I thought I would try it out. I don't have much to compare it too, though, because I've never had Nutella before (shocking, I know)! Of course, one could always makes their own vegan Nutella. There are several recipes floating around out there that I hear are pretty delicious.

      The flavor I tried out was the original chocolate hazelnut. I completely understand why people put this on toast now or with bananas. It's good! I imagine rawtella is similar to Nutella and making it would be pretty fun. If you're feeling lazy, though, this is a neat product to have in your cupboard.

      Speaking of things I have never tried... I've never had a meal of "real" french toast either! I was never fond of the prominent taste of egg and french toast was always too egg-y for me. The Chicago Diner has vegan french toast which I've had there. With this rawtella, I decided to make a vegan stuffed french toast. It was really tasty! It definitely is missing a certain taste of that egg wash feel, but it's a pretty good replacement.
      Rawtella Stuffed French Toast

      * Prep Time: 10 minutes
      * Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
      * Ingredients:
      • 2 tbsp vegan butter*
      • 4 tbsp corn starch
      • 1 cup non-dairy milk*
      • 4 tsp vanilla extract
      • 2 tsp sugar*
      • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
      • pinch salt
      • 2 slices vegan challah bread, cut in 1-1.5 in. slices*
      • 2-3 tbsp rawtella or vegan nutella
      • 1 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
      • powdered sugar, to taste
      • maple syrup, to taste
      • vegan whipped cream, to taste*

      * Recipe:
      1. Heat the vegan butter in a medium sized skillet over low-medium heat.
      2. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and non-dairy milk well until all clumps are gone. Add the vanilla extract, sugar, flour, and salt. Combine until a smooth batter is formed.
      3. Spread rawtella on one side of each piece of bread. Press together to form a sandwich with the rawtella on the inside.
      4. Coat one side of the sandwich with the batter. Fry in the skillet until golden brown.
      5. Pour batter over the other side of the sandwich and flip over. Allow to fry until golden brown.
      6. Dust with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Serve with maple syrup and vegan whipped cream.
      * Note: I used Earth Balance for vegan butter. For non-dairy milk, I used hemp milk as that's what I had. Feel free to use whatever you like. Make sure your sugar is vegan! I found vegan challah bread at the store (which really surprised me). Use any sort of thick, fluffy bread you can find. You want it to be similar to brioche (sans all the eggs in the bread). Soyatoo makes a canned vegan whipped cream that's pretty awesome. They carry it at the Whole Foods near me, but you can order it online too.

      Wednesday, October 5, 2011

      Vegan Chicago: Restaurant Review of Northdown Cafe & Taproom

      Tucked in between stores, other neighborhoods bars, and the busy hub-hub of Lakeview is this wonderful place called Northdown Cafe & Taproom. It is a vegan hidden gem. From the outside, one would never assume they have an extensive vegan menu. They pride themselves on homemade food from scratch with local ingredients and they certainly live up to this standard. Even their pickles are homemade (which I terribly appreciate as a person who pickles regularly)!

      I enjoy a place where I can get great vegan food, a good beer, and not have to scream across the table to talk to the person I'm with. This is where you go to do all that. They have a full bar and seating in the back as well plus some pinball machines.

      Garlic & White Bean Dip
      The menu is marked what can be made vegan with a (v). To start, our option here is a roasted garlic and white bean dip. So good! Someone could make a meal out of just this. For lunch or dinner, the options include a portobello salad, seitan Philly sandwich, roasted spring veggie sandwich, mac and cheese, open face meatloaf sandwich, and a vegan cassoulet. For dessert, they make pies from scratch. There are usually two to three vegan varieties. When I was there, they had raspberry peach and blueberry. 

      Mac & Cheese
      Meatloaf Sandwich
      My friend and I shared the roasted garlic and white bean dip for an appetizer. This dip is awesome. The toasty bread it came with was a great pair. Highly recommend this! For our dinners, I had the seitan Philly sandwich and he had the open face meatloaf sandwich. We also asked for a kids portion of the vegan mac and cheese. They make the cheese out of almond and cashew creams and while you can definitely taste the nutty flavor, it wasn't that bad at all. My Philly sandwich was huge! Oh my goodness! And really good too. The cheese sauce on it was the same used for the mac and cheese. The seitan is homemade and you can definitely tell. I really appreciated that as a home cook that makes a lot of seitan from scratch. I got a side of fries that was a mile high. We poured malt vinegar on it and it was the perfect pub food. My friend had the open faced meatloaf sandwich which really did look like what it was meant to copy. I find sometimes veganized versions of things fall short on how they are supposed to look. Not this. The seitan was stuffed with celery, carrots, and other things one would find in a meatloaf. It wasn't chewy, but moist and easy to cut as a "meatloaf" should be. It came topped with mashed potatoes and a beer gravy. Feast for a Sunday early dinner, let me tell you.

      Seitan Philly
      We were far too full for a dessert (actually, we boxed half of all the stuff we got aside from the appetizer), but the pies looked really tasty. Next time I'll be sure to save room.

      For a vegan wanting to try a new place or if you're taking an omnivore friend out to eat but don't want to suffer in your own dining choices... go to Northdown Cafe! I give this place a 4.5/5 stars. I found my new place to frequent.

      Sunday, October 2, 2011

      Go-To Seitan Recipes

      Deli-Style Seitan
      Going through old blog entries, I have realized I have a lot of various seitan recipes that I have used and posted. Some have made it back to my go-to seitan recipe list and others I have decided are not as good. So, because of this, I decided to make a post clarifying which I like the best.

      For a meaty pot roast sort of texture and feel, I like this one I used for my Chicken and Buckwheat Waffles recipe and my Country Fried Seitan Steak recipe. It soaks up liquids nice, so it goes well with a gravy. 

      If you are looking to make more of a deli-style sandwich, this recipe for the seitan on the Italian "Beef" Sandwiches is what you'll want. It slices very well!

      If you have made any of Vegan Miss' seitan recipes, I'd love to hear how they turned out. Thank you. xoxo
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