Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A snow day, some pancakes

This post is all kinds of late considering the snow day in question was over a week ago, but I've been hella busy, so just humor me. Last week Colorado was hit with a pretty ridiculous snow storm and, since no snow day is complete without a hearty, lazy brunch, I made banana pancakes, the perfect start to a day of reading comic books, drinking warm beverages, and watching the never-ending snow accumulate outside. This sudden winter storm in October pissed a lot of people off, but the Florida kid in me still gets a little giddy at the sight of snow. The weather in Colorado is notorious for constantly changing, and I rather like it. Last week we received 15 inches of snow, and today, as I type this, it's in the 70's and gorgeous outside.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Birthday Gluttony

My husband's birthday was this past Sunday, and it's the one time of year I'll cook whatever he wants regardless of how unhealthy or expensive it may be. On that note, he requested his usual cheesecake (only on his birthday can I justify buying three tubs of Tofutti products at once) and double bacon cheeseburgers. I considered making homemade burgers and tofu bacon, but Shawn wanted a more authentic burger experience, so I used Boca burgers and LightLife bacon strips. I did, however, make a homemade cheese spread, using the grilled cheese recipe from Vegan Vittles. The burgers were served with sweet potato oven fries, of course.

Messy and deliciously gross - just how a good burger should be, I say.

Blueberry cheesecake. Recipe from Delicious Choices, though I made a different crust.

For Shawn's non-edible gift, I bought him a keyboard stand so he could finally stop playing keyboard on the coffee table.
Without getting too mushy, I'd like to take a moment to gush about the birthday boy in question. My husband is my favorite person in the entire world. We were best friends for two years before we started dating, so when I say that he's my best friend, I mean it. He is smart, silly, compassionate, nerdy in all the best ways, supportive, impossibly handsome, and hilarious. We are endlessly compatible; he's basically me with a penis and a higher IQ (so really, he's the perfect man*), and I can't imagine my life without him.
*Except that he snores.
Happy birthday, Shawn Michael!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Fishies = Happy Bellies

So, there's an Asian restaurant within walking distance of my apartment that serves this Vietnamese char grill bowl, which consists of rice noodles, grilled tofu, cucumber, lettuce, bean sprouts, tomatoes, and a chili-lime sauce. The tofu in this bowl sets it far above similar dishes served at many other Asian restaurants. It is charred to perfection and has a smoky, sweet flavor. There's just one problem: I recently found out they put fish sauce in that shit, and apparently cannot make it without. Really, it's my fault for not checking sooner, but when I learned this I was devastated - for about two minutes. Then I was simply inspired to make my own.

I marinated the tofu in soy sauce, mirin, maple syrup, a tiny bit of sesame oil, and crushed garlic, and then grilled the shit out of it. The chili lime sauce consisted of sweet chili sauce, lime juice, and fresh mint. I included the same veggies that are in the original dish, and it was perfection: every bit as good as the restaurant version, and certainly better for the fish, the ocean, and my conscience. I can definitely see it becoming a regular in my kitchen.

This was fairly easy to recreate at home, but it can be frustrating to learn that a favorite food contains animal products. However, one of the many things I love about veganism is the ingenuity it catalyzes. Sometimes you are forced to take matters into your own hands and into your own kitchen, and the result is often far more satisfying when it is a product of your own culinary toil and, of course, is cruelty free.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Daily Victuals (and Michael Chabon)

It's that time again. I know how excited you must be.

- Toast with Earth Balance and nooch. I usually have cereal for breakfast but was craving something more savory.
- Romaine, grilled portobellos, grilled red pepper, tomatoes, and cucumbers with miso-tahini dressing (dressing recipe from Veganomicon. It's super easy, creamy, and flavorful. I added some fresh parsley since I had it on hand.)
- Banana
- Tangelo
- Stirfry with edamame
- Vanilla So Delicious with sauteed apples and caramel sauce (caramel recipe from Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk)
- Nachos, split with Shawn for a late night snack whilst watching reruns of The Office. Tortilla chips, nooch sauce, Tofutti sour cream, lettuce, salsa, avocado.

On an entirely unrelated note, Shawn and I got the chance to meet and hear speak one of our favorite writers, Michael Chabon, at a book signing tonight at Tattered Cover, a large indie bookstore here in Denver. He is most noted for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which is indeed superb, but my favorite work of his will always be Wonder Boys. (When I told him as much, he said that he probably agreed. OMGwehavesomuchincommon.) He was just as witty and articulate as I expected him to be, but was also warm and kind and, I might add, rather fetching.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Denver is Delicious

And to honor this fact, I've made a list of my five favorite dishes from restaurants in this fair city. Denver really is full of delicious vegan food, so narrowing it down to five proved to be a rather difficult task. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Biscuits and gravy topped with tofu scramble, Watercourse
This is hands down the best biscuits and gravy I've ever had the pleasure of shoving into my gob. The biscuits are savory and fluffy and the gravy is thick and seasoned just right. You can order the b&g with or without the tofu scramble on top, but not getting it would just be...stupid.
There are delicious biscuits hiding under there somewhere, I promise.

2. Salt and pepper golden tofu, L'Asie Fusion Bistro
Crispy, spicy salt and pepper tofu served on a bed of sauteed peppers and onions with a ginger sesame dipping sauce. A delicious appetizer or a delightful late night snack (well, L'Asie closes at 10 so it's more like pre-late night, but the point is my husband and I sometimes just get an order of this to go as a snack because it is so. damn. good.)
Little zesty nuggets of heaven

3. The Dona Lee, Watercourse
Crispy seitan, avocado, tomatoes, and vegan ranch dressing wrapped in a warm pita. Yeah buddy, just ponder that for a little while. And then, you know, wipe the drool off your chin.

4. Seitan buffalo wings, City, O' City
You can also find these wings at Watercourse, which is City O's sister restaurant, but I associate them more with City O' since it's a bar and this is bar food. I've had various vegan incarnations of buffalo wings from a couple of different restaurants around the country, and these are by far the best. Likewise, the creamy, herbed ranch dressing they are served with (the same dressing found in the aforementioned Dona Lee) is the best I've had anywhere. City O' City also has teriyaki wings which are coated in a faintly sweet, gingery teriyaki sauce. While not quite as good as the buffalo wings, the teriyaki wings definitely stand on their own and are a milder alternative. Like their spicy counterpart, the teriyaki wings are served with ranch dressing, which is kind of ridiculous and doesn't really work as a flavor profile, but the ranch is so good I usually dip the wings in it anyway. And then I feel I so very American.
Spicy seitan buffalo wings and cool, creamy ranch dressing: 2gether 4ever

5. BBQ Chicken Pizza, The Rebellion
I've gushed about this delicious pizza twice already on this blog, so I'll spare you more of the same. And the truth is that virtually any pizza from Rebellion would be worthy of a slot on this list because the combination of that fluffy, organic crust and perfectly-melted FYH can do no wrong. (But seriously, the bbq chicken is the best. Go get some right now.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mofos at a Potluck

On Sunday Shawn and I hosted a fall-themed potluck in honor of VeganMoFo. I didn't take many pictures because I was too busy having fun, stuffing my face, and drinking hot toddies, but we met some really awesome people and ate a lot of delicious food.

The few pictures that I did take came out fairly horrible (um, did I mention that I drank a lot of hot toddies?), save for this one of Abbie's beautiful phyllo pockets filled with winter vegetables and rice:

The rest of the spread consisted of:
- My butternut squash lasagna (recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes)
- Molly's mac & cheese, garlic and herb cheeze spread, and pumpkin pie
- Raechel's curried potato soup and apple crisp
- Lacy's chili
- John's tofurkey
- Abbie's caramel corn
And, of course, the apple cider hot toddies, which were a surprisingly big hit - apparently the key to a good toddy is cheap-ass whiskey, who knew?

Big thanks to everyone who came out. Few things are more enjoyable than the combination of good company and good food. And booze. Cheers!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's that time of year again...

Time to start putting pumpkin in nearly everything, that is. Last week I made pumpkin cupcakes and pumpkin cookies, and when I awoke yesterday to snow on the ground and record low temperatures, I knew a seasonal brunch was in order. I had already planned on making french toast, so pumpkin french toast was an obvious choice. I considered making Isa's recipe, but didn't have enough pumpkin left over and also wanted a more traditional, dip-and-fry batter, so I improvised my own recipe. The results were delicious and it was the perfect start to a lazy, cozy day spent indoors keeping warm. Like this:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Daily Victuals #1

What's that you say? You're dying to know every item of sustenance that I shoved into my pie hole yesterday? Well boy howdy, are you ever in luck!

Left to right:
- Kashi Autumn Wheat with almond milk; English Breakfast tea with soymilk and a little sugar
- Leftover tamale pie
- Celery sticks with peanut butter. Yes, I am eight years old.
- Tangelo (there were more plugs than this, I just forgot to snap a pic until it was half eaten.)
- BBQ 'fu, sauteed spinach, grits
- Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The picture only shows four, but I had, um, way more than that.

I'm going to try to start doing this more often. It's a good way to stay accountable, and I actually really enjoy seeing what other people (well, vegan people) eat on a daily basis. I realize not everyone shares my fascination with the palates/eating habits of others, though, so I shan't bore you too much.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Downhome Deliciousness and a Revelation

Baked BBQ tofu, sauteed spinach, and grits

Why, in all my years of vegetarian cooking, have I never tried freezing tofu before? I've always heard that freezing it creates a chewier texture and allows the tofu to absorb the marinade better, but I had never bothered to try it until this week. Well, guess what? It totally it creates a chewier texture and allows the tofu to absorb the marinade better! I know, I'm sure I'm eliciting a collective "duh" from the online vegan community at large.

I used the tofu to make the barbecue 'fu pictured above. Barbecue sauce is one of those things that I never, ever buy from the store, it is so easy and cheap to make at home. For this tofu I threw together a lazy, no-cook sauce with tomato sauce, molasses, liquid smoke, and a few other ingredients I had on hand. It was delicious, and can I just say that the combination of bbq+greens+grits is an automatic mood lifter?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Ghosts of Pizzas Past

Shawn at It's A Beautiful Pizza in 2007. Also: beer, the best possible accompaniment to any 'za.

I can't think of a single person who doesn't love pizza. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good, even - nay, especially - when it's stale and cold and eaten standing in the kitchen by the light of the refrigerator. There is a pizza for everyone; it's a food that lends itself to versatility and customization. I personally prefer a thicker crust to a paper-thin one, but beyond that the toppings and sauces depend on my mood.

I recently discovered that I have a myriad of pizza photos stored away, so let us reminisce, shall we?

My standard homemade pie: dough recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and a noochy cheese sauce.

From ZPizza in metro Denver: Daiya cheese, capers, roasted peppers, and caramelized onions. Daiya's pretty good, but for me it was the caramelized onions that were the star of this pizza.

From It's a Beautiful Pizza in Portland: not bad, but what's up with the non-melted Follow Your Heart?

From Amici's in San Francisco: Cheezly, green pepper, and pineapple. I am pro-pineapple on pizza.

Another homemade 'za: VwaV crust, tofu ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes, banana peppers, and other stuff. I love banana peppers and think they are highly under rated as a pizza topping.

From City, O' City: cashew ricotta, mushrooms, and BBQ tofu. City O' also has house-made vegan mozzarella, but I always opt for the ricotta because it is amazing. I would gladly swim in a vat of the stuff.

Also from City, O' City. Remember how I said that pizza is still good even after it's old and stale? Well, here you go.

From Rebellion: BBQ chicken pizza (barbecue sauce, vegan chicken, onions, and FYH. It also comes with vegan Canadian bacon, but I don't like that much faux meat on a pizza so I sub it with green peppers.) I've posted this picture before, but it would be sacrilege not to include it here since it is the best pizza ever. When it comes to 'za, I'm all about the crust, and biting into Rebellion's crust is like sinking your teeth into clouds of delicious, fluffy dough floating in the sky amongst baby angels and flying unicorns.

This concludes our carb-tastic trip down memory lane. Flour Riot cannot be held liable for any insatiable pizza cravings the reader may now harbor.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MoFo Survey

1. Favorite non-dairy milk? Almond milk foreva. Specifically Almond Breeze Original.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook? BBQ tofu, french toast, and punkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn? I usually just go with salt, but my favie is melted earth balance.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? I can't remember the last time I made something that was totally inedible. I will generally find a way to salvage anything unless it is, like, actually covered in turds.

5. Favorite pickled item?

6. How do you organize your recipes? Theoretically, in a folder. In reality, I don't.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal? Usually trash.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)? Peanut butter, pesto, and sweet potatoes.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood? My older brother making me hot chocolate every Christmas morning before the rest of the family woke up.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream? Peanut butter cookies and cream from Sweet Action. HOLY BALLS. Favorite store-bought ice cream is So Delicious Mint Marble Fudge.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance? I am in the midst of a torrid love triangle with my griddle and my grill pan. Neither one knows, and must never know, about the other.

12. Spice/herb you would die without? Garlic. I consider "too garlicky" to be a blasphemous phrase.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time? Pasta For All Seasons

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? Raspberry

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend? Pfft, like I'm friends with omnis.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh? Tofu

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? Brunch is my favorite meal, though my favorite time of the day to cook is probably night.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? Cereal, dog biscuits, and lots o' tea.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. A knob of ginger, Boca burgers (don't judge me), and several ends of loaves of bread, which I save for making bread crumbs and croutons.

20. What’s on your grocery list? Whatever I need for my planned meals on any given week, plus almond milk and bananas.

21. Favorite grocery store? I love my little neighborhood Whole Foods. It's within easy walking distance from my apartment and it has a small, personal feel. It's less overrun with yuppies and more with bike kids/punks/hippies. I must also give props to Publix (and miss it dearly now that I no longer live in the south), and was very impressed by Earthfare when I visited Asheville a few years ago.

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet. My dad's stuffing, though I suspect it will just be a matter of using EB instead of butter. So that doesn't really count.

23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3?
It's hard to say. The one I browse the most often for recipes is Fatfree Vegan.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Chocolove! And it's local to me.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately? A box of Purely Decedent Chocolate Almond ice cream bars.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with? It's not an ingredient so much as an accessory, but I have an irrational fear of the cheesecloth.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Snickerdoodle Blondies

This recipe is so simple I almost feel silly posting it. Cinnamon sugar tops a soft, vanilla-kissed blondie for a slightly new take on the snickerdoodle experience. They're also fairly low in fat, because when you have the ravenous sweet tooth that I do, some kind of damage control is in order. Curl up with these bars and a cup of tea or some soymilk for ultimate coziness. Or, you know, eat them with a PBR tallboy while playing video games. Whateves.

1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix the wet ingredients and the sugar. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Spread into a lightly-oiled 8 inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake for 20 - 22 minutes.