Friday, June 26, 2015

Vegan Chick'n and Waffles with Sriracha-Maple Syrup

Serves 2
Time: 1 hour

A few months ago, I had the chick'n and waffles in a warm maple hot sauce at Crossroads in LA and it was fantastic. Before that, I'd never had traditional chicken and waffles, but I get the allure: battered something with crispy-carby something, smothered in butter and drizzled with something sweet. It's comfort food at it's best.

Although you could make this with prepared vegan chick'n, I used cauliflower steaks which gave it a nice succulent texture and slightly buttery flavor. The ratio of crispiness to cauliflower steak was perfect, and it fried up with a beautiful golden color. But what makes this "chick'n" go from great to spectacular is dragging it through a sticky blend of spicy sriracha and sweet maple syrup that clings to the steaks perfectly and oozes and slides into all the nooks and crannies of the cauliflower once it's cut. The waffles here are stuffed with a little ginger and scallions, putting an Asian-inspired twist on this Southern US-based dish.


INGREDIENTS
for the waffles
dry ingredients
1 cup AP flour
2 TB Ener-G
2 tsp baking powder

wet ingredients
1 cup any kind of nut milk
2 TB cornstarch
1 TB canola oil
2 tsp coconut vinegar

2 scallions, chopped
1 tsp ginger, grated on a microplane grater

for the vegan chick'n
3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 TB Ener-G
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion granules
1/4 tsp white pepper (black is also fine)

1 1/4 cup fizzy water
2, 1 1/2-inch thick cauliflower steaks, cut into 2 pieces for 4 small steaks

canola oil, for frying

for the sriracha-maple syrup (double or triple to taste)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 TB sriracha

METHOD
To make the waffle batter, combine the dry waffle ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients into another. Pour the wet batter into the dry and gently stir, taking care not to overmix the batter. Fold in the ginger and scallions and set aside.

To make the batter for the vegan chick'n, combine all of the ingredients except for the fizzy water and cauliflower in a bowl. Add in the water and stir gently to mix, taking care not to overmix. Allow the batter to sit for about 10 minutes to become smooth.

To make the sriracha syrup, combine the maple syrup and sriracha together. Adjust to taste, and double if you like lots of syrup. Set aside.

When you are ready to fry the cauliflower, place several inches of oil into a heavy small pot. (I use Lodge's small cast iron pot as a dedicated fryer.) Heat over medium-high for about 7 minutes. Test the oil's readiness by throwing a pinch of the wet chick'n batter into it—if it fries immediately, you are ready to go. You can also insert a wooden spoon into the oil so it touches the bottom. If bubbles immediately form around the spoon, you are ready to fry.

Working in batches of two, dredge the cauliflower through the vegan chick'n batter and slowly place into the oil. Fry until golden brown, flipping them once or twice to ensure even frying. Place on paper towels to drain.

To make the waffles, preheat your waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions.

To serve, drag the chick'n through the sriracha-maple syrup until well coated. Serve the waffles with vegan butter and garnish as desired.








Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking | Review, Recipe + Giveaway! [closed]



One of the main misconceptions about eating vegan is that it's expensive, which can be true if you don't know how to shop correctly, use ingredients wisely and stock your vegan pantry like a champ. Like most misconceptions about veganism, the it's too expensive assumption has very little to do with veganism itself and almost everything to do with a lack of understanding about proper planning.

Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking, by Annie and Dan Shannon, authors of Betty Goes Vegan and the bloggers behind Meet the Shannons, tackles this misperception head on. MTAOVC shows you how to set up a vegan kitchen properly, organize your pantry to maximize your dollar, how to shop wisely and what produce to buy according to seasons—and why that's important. It then offers more than 200 recipes that incorporate these tips with creativity, ease and approachability. 

Making and following recipes always involves leftover ingredients that can either go bad or be forgotten, but MTAOVC cleverly tells you how to use them up by calling out other recipes within the pages of book that use them. For example, I made these Simple Korean Kimchi BBQ Burgers from the book (more on that in a minute) and MTAOVC not only tells me how much they cost per serving ($2.68), but also tells me that I can use that bottle of sesame oil that the recipe calls for to make their Sesame and Soy Marinated Mushroom Steaks and Sesame Peanut Butter Noodles (as well as what page they are on). This makes for easy, efficient and cost-effective meal planning to help you plan your grocery list for the week. 


And ... these burgers! Made with either Lightlife's Gimme Lean Beef or Match Meat Ground Beef (both vegan), they're full of salty, sweet and spicy ingredients, like molasses, ginger, sriracha, kimchi, soy sauce and applesauce. These can easily be made beforehand and brown up nicely in a cast iron pan and taste phenomenal. Kimchi gives it a little crunch and a nice spicy kick, while the BBQ sauce gives it a lovely tomato-kissed flavor that's rounded out well with a hit of liquid smoke, applesauce and agave nectar. 

Want this burger? Make it yourself! The publisher, Grand Central Publishing, has generously allowed me to share the recipe here as well as offer a free gorgeous hardcover copy of Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking to one lucky reader through this post!


To enter, just leave in the comments section below your favorite money-saving, food-related tip. I'll randomly choose a winner on Friday, June 26. Shipping is limited to US/Canada ... good luck!

Congrats to Kathy, winner of this giveaway ... thanks to everyone who entered!



Simple Korean Kimchi BBQ Burgers

Excerpted from the book MASTERING THE ART OF VEGAN COOKING by Annie and Dan Shannon. © 2015 by Annie and Dan Shannon. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Life and Style. All rights reserved.

MAKES 4 BURGERS $2.68 PER SERVING


Years ago, I had a vegan Korean BBQ burrito in Los Angeles. The burrito had jackfruit to replace the steak, and I still think about it when I’m figuring out what to have for lunch. Jackfruit is pretty pricey and hard to come by in Brooklyn, but whenever I get nostalgic for that burrito, I make these spectacular burgers. They combine the signature sweet Korean BBQ sauce with a “beefy” veggie burger and spicy kimchi (a sort of hot Korean sauerkraut usually made with napa cabbage, radishes, and green onions) to create a dinner just as good as those burritos. Plus, you’ll hopefully have some leftover kimchi as a side for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

Burger

2 cups Lightlife Gimme Lean Burger or Match Vegan Meats Burger
1 green onion, diced
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
½ teaspoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Dash of vegan liquid smoke
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 clove garlic, minced

BBQ Sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Dash of vegan liquid smoke
1 tablespoon Sriracha or Thai chili sauce
¼ cup applesauce
2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
¼ teaspoon ginger paste
1 clove garlic, minced

To Assemble:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
1 cup vegan kimchi (read labels to make sure yours is vegan; some contain fish sauce)


Method:

1. Make the burger: In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together the vegan beef, green onion, molasses, ginger paste, soy sauce, vegan liquid smoke, onion powder, and garlic until blended. The molasses is really sticky, so this is kind of messy and weird, but it’s totally worth it. Promise. Form the mixture into 4 patties about the size of your hand. Place them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the BBQ sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together all the BBQ sauce ingredients. Set aside.

3. In a cast-iron skillet or frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the burgers until lightly crispy around the edges, then reduce the heat to low and brush the burgers with BBQ sauce. Flip and coat the burgers a few times to get a nice saucy patty, but watch out for the hot oil. Repeat with the remaining burgers, adding the remaining oil after the first batch.

4. Toast the burger buns while the burger patties are cooking.

5. Serve each burger in a toasted bun with lots of kimchi on top.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen | Review, Recipe + Giveaway! [closed]



When I found out that one of my favorite bloggers, Richa of veganricha.com, was writing a cookbook, I was so excited to see what she would come up with. I've been a regular reader for years and have always had luck with cooking from her blog, which is updated often and also really gorgeous to look at.

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen is a strong reflection of her blog. What I love most about Richa's work is that she masterfully blends together her passion for and command of Indian flavors and cooking techniques while adhering to her vegan beliefs, creating her own style of cooking that's unique and inspiring. Some other things that I really admire about Richa are that:

  • she's a prolific recipe developer: Richa typically updates her site with new recipes a few times each week. Even if I'm not going to cook from her blog, I love dropping by to take a peek at what she's come up with! In her cookbook, she's extracted the best ideas and techniques to create recipes that anyone can make and enjoy;
  • I trust her recipes: In my experience, Richa's recipes are pretty foolproof. They're also approachable, usually quick to make and non-fussy—and her huge blog following is a reflection of that. The trust Richa has built up with her audience over the past several years is a result of her expertise and knack for simply creating dishes that people want to make; and
  • she's a great photographer: All of her food is gorgeous, but I especially love Richa's epic, towering and bold burgers ... take a look! I can always spot her trademark photography style on social media channels right away.

But back to her cookbook! With VRIK, Richa has taken traditional and sometimes time-consuming Indian dishes and has not only made them vegan, but also more simplified, and quicker to make, with authentic or close-to-authentic results.

Some of the dishes in the cookbook include savory lentil pastries, roasted cauliflower and radish, split pea soup with spices and coconut, South Indian chickpea eggplant stew, butter seitan curry, vegan paneer and spinach in tomato sauce, saffron cream fudge and Bengali saffron cheese dessert. VRIK also includes spice blends, Indian breads, several chutneys, as well as sauces and basics.

I started off with making Richa's Mango Curry Tofu (I subbed chickpeas which is a suggestion provided in the recipe) and we both loved it! I actually loved it more because while making it, I got to experience standing over the pot and smelling its heavenly aroma while it simmered. Sweet mango puree is mingled with rich coconut milk that's balanced out with a small hit of apple cider vinegar and scented with cayenne, cinnamon, Garam Masala and cumin.

This has easily become a great go-to dish for us, so I'm excited that Richa's publisher, Vegan Heritage Press, is not only allowing me to share it with you here, but also offering a free copy of the cookbook to one reader through this post. 

**To enter, just tell me your favorite Indian dish in the comments section, and I'll randomly pick and announce a winner on Saturday, June 20 (shipping is limited to US only). Include your email, twitter handle or IG account name or some way to contact you in case your comment is drawn as the winner ... good luck!**

The winner of this giveaway is Shelley, congrats! Thanks to everybody who entered!

Mango Curry Tofu

(Recipe from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen Copyright © 2015 by Richa Hingle. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.) 

Prep: 20 minutes | Active: 25 minutes | Inactive: 20 minutes | Serves 4 

Mangoes are abundant in India, where they are always juicy and sweet. In the United States, mangoes can be a bit tart. For desserts or curries like this one, I prefer mango pulp or puree in canned or bottled form. You can use a ripe mango, if you prefer, but be sure to puree it well before using. This is a simple recipe but the resulting dish is very alluring with its sweet and spicy sauce. It can easily be made soy-free with 2 cups of soaked chickpeas.

TOFU
14 ounces firm tofu
2 teaspoons safflower or other neutral oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/4 teaspoon salt

CURRY 
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1 (1-inch) knob of ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon safflower or other neutral oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
1 1/4 cups canned or culinary coconut milk
3/4 cup ripe mango pulp or puree (unsweetened or lightly sweetened canned)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Generous dash of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Tofu: Cut the tofu slab into 1/2-inch slices. Place them on a clean kitchen towel. Cover with another kitchen towel. Place a 10-pound (approximate) weight on top and let sit for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use pressed tofu. Cut the tofu slices into 1/2-inch cubes.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, tilt the skillet so the oil coats it evenly. Add the tofu and cook until lightly brown on some sides, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Add the cayenne, cinnamon, garam masala, and salt and mix well to coat. Cook for another 2 minutes and set aside.

3. Curry: In a blender, combine the onion, ginger, and garlic and blend into a smooth puree with 2 tablespoons of water. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, and cloves. Cook for 1 minute. Add the pureed onion and cook until the onion mixture is dry and does not smell raw. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking, 13 to 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, mango pulp, salt, and vinegar and mix well. Add the tofu and all the spices from the tofu skillet to the sauce skillet. Add a dash of black pepper.

4. Mix, cover and cook until the sauce comes to a boil, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered until the sauce thickens and desired consistency is achieved, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and tang. Add 1/2 teaspoon or more sugar if the mango pulp was not sweet. Garnish with cilantro and a dash of garam masala and serve hot.





















Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Vida Vegan Con 2015 Recap

Two years ago, I attended my first Vida Vegan Con in Portland. At that time, I still felt like I was trying to figure out social media, recipe writing and development and food styling for the blog. The conference was not only immensely helpful with teaching all of those things, but also a way to connect with countless vegan bloggers I followed regularly online. For the first time in my life, I wasn't the only vegan I knew—I was in one place with hundreds of them.

It was a profoundly inspiring, empowering and energizing feeling.


This weekend, I attended the third Vida Vegan Con in Austin, and loved the synergy, connection and sense of community I felt being around countless bloggers I respect and admire.


But it was bittersweet, because this VVC is the last one! 


Before I get into the conference itself, here are some of our food highlights in Austin, Texas:


Bac'n Cheezeburger and Street Tacos from Arlo's Food Truck! If you've had this burger, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't and are in Austin, YOU MUST. Vegan or not, this is the best damn burger I've ever had. Perfectly textured burger with seitan bacon, with slightly spicy vegan mayo, shredded lettuce and all of the flavors and textures of a big sloppy delicious burger. 


I also snuck in a second one later on: 

Vegan Brie, fig, apple and caramelized onion pizza at Counter Culture. CC makes their brie from cultured vegan yogurt! This pizza was beautiful, fresh and the brie was out of this world. 

Smoky soy curls with spicy BBQ sauce, vegan mac n' cheeze and beans from BBQ Revolution. When we first saw the plates, I double-checked to make sure we were at a the right location: these soy curls looked, smelled and tasted too real, but nope—all vegan! 

Vegan Reuben and sweet potato tamales from Bouldin Creek Cafe. A simple Reuben with beets, sauerkraut, Daiya cheese and awesome spicy dressing. It was pouring rain while we were eating this, which added to the cozy and fun experience. 

Our last night in Austin, we had a fantastic opportunity to go to the Swoop House for an amazing six-course dinner made and hosted by culinary rockstars Chefs Chad and Derek Sarno of Wicked Healthy Food. I have been a huge fan of their work for years, so attending this small dinner was such an amazing experience. 

In addition to the food and seeing the kitchen in action (which I'll get to in a moment), what made this dinner really special was the small, elegant, warm and friendly feel of it. Throughout the entire dinner, Chefs Chad and Derek presented their food with precision, humor and grace, making everyone feel welcome and excited about what was in front of them. Their enthusiasm and love for what they were doing was artfully expressed in each of the six courses, which were unique on their own, but also flowed together beautifully with an appreciation and celebration of seasonal plant-based ingredients.





(Photo and logo above from the Wicked Healthy website)

Here is a breakdown of the gorgeous dishes from the dinner! (Click on the menu item in red font to see a picture of it.) Many thanks to Chefs Chad and Derek and the Swoop House for creating an unforgettable evening!

Smoked Carrot Lox with capers, dill aioli & dark rye toasts: This was a beautiful, petite canapé with super slightly-toasted rye, topped with rich aioli that melted with the smoky carrot lox. The olive gave it a little pop of umami and salt, making it a perfect bite.

Chickpea blintze, creme fraiche, seaweed caviar: I loved this canapé. The blintze was super soft, the creme fraiche was rich and balanced perfectly with the salty vegan caviar. I'm not sure what the flower is, but it made an already pretty canapé look ever more spectacular. 

Golden beets | merlot gel, candied pecan, grapefruit, cheese with horseradish: This first course was visually stunning. The grapefruit was clean, the candied pecan was sweet and sticky, the beets were earthy and melted in your mouth and look at that merlot gel! I dragged everything through the vegan cheese and was eager for the next course. 

Ricotta & Tomatoes | San Marzano confit, charred leeks, crispy bread: The tomato confit here was tangy and perfectly complemented with the richness of the vegan ricotta, shaped into a quenelle, and served with a super-thin piece of bread and a dried tomato slice. This had a feel of a manicotti or ravioli, but shaped into a different dish altogether. 

Wicked Nicoise | Haricot vert, wicked surprises, mustard seed vinaigrette, olive dirt: This was the coolest dish I've ever seen! I've never had a Nicoise salad before. The chefs made an "egg" out of silken tofu and potato and it looked and tasted just like I remembered an egg tasted like. I am not sure how they did it, but it would fool anybody into thinking it was a real egg. Also included were poached potato, slices of heirloom tomato and vibrant green beans that tasted impossibly fresh. Underneath is "olive dirt" (dehydrated olives) with a mustard seed viniagrette. It was smoky, bacon-y—and gave every element on the plate a new dimension. 

Spring Ravioli | Fava, spring peas & herbs, sherry parmesan cream, crushed almonds: Sherry parmesan cream, where have you been all my life? What are you made of? This sauce. It was so perfect. And underneath was the most delicious pillow of ravioli with fava, spring peas and mint with crushed almonds on top. It didn't need anything else—it was beautifully simple and simply beautiful.

King Scalloped Mushroom | Grilled asparagus, buttered corona beans, sorrel pesto: This was a huge scallop (king oyster mushroom) that was wonderfully meaty, buttery and perfectly caramelized around the edges. The texture of it with the corona beans created a beautiful contrast. And I am not sure I've ever had sorrel before, but it made a beautiful pesto and the asparagus provided a nice pop of green that visually pulled everything together.

Berries, Melon & Cream | Amaretto gelato, drunken fruit, fennel, white balsamic, pistachio tuile: This was the perfect end to a perfect dinner. There was fresh fruit, a rich ice cream with a tangy sorbet and a fruit strip gel on the bottom. All perfectly plated and gorgeous.

At the end, we were full, but not unpleasantly stuffed! I tasted things I've never heard of before, and experienced seeing food presented in the most beautiful, creative and thoughtful way in a spot that was cozy, comfortable and free of the stuffy and formal feeling of most fine dining spots. I left feeling so inspired and grateful for the entire experience!



On Friday, we attended the Vegan Bazaar!

At the entrance, there was a huge display of Miyoko's Artisan Vegan Cheese. And behind it, a table full of her cheese. That's correct: a table full of her rustic alpine, double cream sundried tomato garlic, black ash, double cream herb and more. I behaved, but it was difficult to!




After that, we listened to Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary give an inspiring welcome speech on practicing compassion in all aspects of our life, and what roles we can play in inspiring others to lead a more compassionate life. Gene is a powerful speaker, and I admit I got a little emotional listening to him speak. I was lucky to get a quick photo afterwards ... Gene is so warm and friendly!



On Day Two of the conference, we started off attending speaking sessions and panels. Jackie Sobon of Vegan Yack Attack kicked everything off with a presentation on blogging etiquette and social media essentials. Jackie is an amazing speaker and knows her stuff. I left with a few pages of notes and lots to clean up and change in my social media habits!

Next, we listened to Susan Voisin of FatFree Vegan Kitchen speak about post-processing for food photography, using Lightroom and Photoshop. I have Lightroom, and never use it—but the features Susan outlined in her talk inspired me to try it out again and learn more about what it can do. Thanks Susan!

Following that, we listened to Joni Marie Newman of Just the Food and cookbook maven speak on So you want to write a cookbook? and learned how bloggers can go from blog to book, how to protect your copyright and how to be a successful as a cookbook author. Check out Joni's cookbooks here!

After that, we headed over to a panel called Let's Talk Marketing, moderated by VegNews Publisher Colleen Holland. Colleen covered all aspects of marketing for those trying to develop their brand, start a business or launch a website. Colleen rounded out her talk by asking for input from those who've succeeding in these areas: Whitney Lauritsen of Eco-Vegan Gal, Jill Pyle of Vegan Cuts and Joshua May. It was great to not only have advice from a well-respected leader like Colleen, but also have input from others in various areas of business, with different levels and types of experience.

On Day Three of the conference, we started off by listening to entrepreneur and vegan cheese wizard Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko's Cheese speak about The Exploits of a Veganpreneur: Experiences and Lessons learned Through Growing Multiple Vegan Businesses. Miyoko is such an inspiring individual and spoke about her 25 years of experience in business, including her success and failures, which has shaped her into the fearless powerhouse she is today. And we also learned what a burpee was, because Miyoko did three of them in a row, to illustrate her point of getting back up when you fall down.

After that, I headed over to Monique Koch, YouTuber at Brown Vegan speak on Honesty in Your Online Presence. Monique is an incredibly warm and genuine person who spoke openly about struggling with feeling the need to be a "perfect" vegan, and why progression is more important—and more honest—than perfection. I'll be keeping an eye on Monique's YouTube channel, because her enthusiasm is infectious!

Next, we attended Brian Patton of The Sexy Vegan's talk on Tweet Like You Give a DamnBrian is probably the funniest person I've ever met, and his dry style of humor was woven into his talk and slideshow. The way social media works is sometimes a complete mystery to me, but Brian broke a lot of it down, and cleared up how to use social media to optimize the value of the time you put into it. Good tips overall and lots of laughs throughout.

We then went over to hear Hannah Kaminsky of BitterSweet Vegan talk about On-Location Photography. If you've ever taken pictures at a restaurant and were annoyed that they turned out really grainy, Hannah explained why and offered tips on doing better for next time. As food bloggers, this is pretty important information—the urge to share beautiful food through photography in an environment you can't really control are always at odds, but Hannah helped bridge that gap to help take more beautiful pictures for sharing.

We finished up the conference with attending Whitney Lauritsen of Eco-Vegan Gal speak on How to Create Kick-Ass Vegan Videos on YouTube. Although I doubt I will ever make a video on YouTube, it was good to go and get perspective from someone who does, and has made a career out of it. Whitney is a master at her craft and broke everything down clearly and precisely, doing a great job of involving the audience as well.

By the time we left the conference, I was exhausted, but in a good way. Most of all, I felt empowered, inspired and motivated not just with the blog, but with being vegan. The old friends I saw and the new ones I met all formed great memories, and a reminder of just how many amazing vegan voices there are out there. The biggest takeaway from this year's conference is that we're all in this together, and supporting each other as much as possible not only makes veganism more visible, but also stronger and more united.

If you'd like to connect with or stay in touch with me, I'm here!

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Before I end this post, I want to give a big thanks to the Vida Vegan Con Organizers Janessa, Jess and Michele. These three ladies worked tirelessly to make this year's event amazing and unforgettable, and did it with grace. Thanks for all you did for the past three VVC's to help grow and connect the vegan community!