Sunday, November 29, 2015

Heidi Ho's Chia Cheeze

I love catching a new vegan product on sale! That was the case when spotting Heidi Ho's Creamy Chia Cheeze, a 10 oz container at Whole Foods for $4.99 (originally $6.99). The ingredients were especially pleasing: vegetables such as red potatoes, carrots, and onions blended with cashews, lemon juice, chia seeds, and other tasty recognizable things easy to pronounce.
The flavor combination truly made my tongue go wildly mad. It has that surprising bell pepper spice kick and a piquant flair in the midst of thick, chunky creaminess. The starring feature in hot pasta and rice dishes, Creamy Chia Cheeze easily melted right in, blending beautifully for a quick, hearty dissolve. There were no flickers of chaos. Just like the best vegan butter, it turned every dish into a ray of golden sunshine.
As far as the cheeze business is concerned, this Heidi Ho delight is definitely high on the recommendation list.

Simple directions.
Amping up farfalle pasta.
Amazing topper of black rice and broccoli too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fried Brussels Sprouts

Twice cooked Brussels sprouts are a perfect last minute addition to a vegan (or not) holiday feast.
I was all set out to make pumpkin pie bread for today's gift idea, but it must wait. I didn't realize my vanilla extract had disappeared into pantry abyss. Now Friday is our scheduled weekly column.
Oh well. Stuff happens.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow- my first year without family. I have to make due being alone and creating art. I am fortunate that the school has 24/7 access to private studio. At the same time, I feel bad for the security guards having to work the front desk. We're missing out on the food being prepared since dawn, the extended family probing questions, the football (yuck! not a fan), the passing out on the couch, etc. 
I do wish everyone a pleasant holiday and remember to love your bellies. Plates should not be beach ball portions....
I'm sharing a simple dish that could complete the no animals harmed buffet-- fried Brussels sprouts. The addiction started with Whole Foods Market's hot food bar. Every time I saw the fried Brussels sprouts I reached for those little green cabbages instantly.  That irresistible charred crunch gives so much flavor depth. The texture switches from a crisp exterior to a pliant, tender bite that is just very pleasing to eat.

Fried Brussels Sprouts

1 16 oz bag frozen Brussels Sprouts
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of nutritional yeast

To boiling water, add the entire bag of Brussels sprouts. Let cook until soft and tender. Drain.
In a skillet, combine Brussels sprouts with olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, and nutritional yeast. Keep stirring until there is a nice sear on each side.

Let them fry for 7-9 minutes.
Turn off heat. Enjoy the aroma.
Serve alongside any pasta-- delicious with farfalle.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Little Choc Apothecary's Vegan Crepes & More

In the heart of Brooklyn lies something unique.
A few Thursdays ago, I came straight off the train and walked down Havermeyer Street. Excitement and eagerness kissed the warm day as I imagined phenomenal vegan crepes everyone was raving about-- including a non-vegan artist chick I recently met. When a non-vegan raves about a vegan restaurant, it's definitely a good sign.
Speaking of crepes, the last time I had a crepe was six years ago in France.

Throwback Thursday: Paris, France, March, 2009. Hideous red glasses and not a complimentary glass bottle of water.
This was one of many vegetarian crepes I had consumed. I ate crepes every single day in Paris-- both savory and sweet.
I liked the setting of Little Choc Apothecary. The interior has an earthy aesthetic with its pleasant bare wood grain beauty, live juice bar in active motion, and fresh fruit and plants popping around in random nook and crannies. Plus sitting at the stools to see fall leaves and feel the warm air breezing on a smiling face is pure rapture.
Plus, I entered at the tail end of Serge Gainsborough and Jane Birkin's highly sensual song, "J'Taime' Moi Non Plus" (listen at your own risk!). That was a surefire sign that a tantalizing experience-- with food-- awaited. The impressive menu made decision making hard, but I settled on a pizza crepe stuffed with coconut bacon and mushrooms, a chocolaty scone, and almond milk hot chocolate.

Great thing to note: afternoon tea with a pastry menu! Perfection.
Pumpkin rooftop view from across the street.
Pizza shaped and pizza scented. Nothing beats that basil aroma.
Close up.
Perfect lunch set up.
Almond milk hot chocolate and out of this world scone (not the title but should be).
Digging in the crepe. The cashew cream was exceptionally flavored well and the smooth texture contrasted nicely against the sweet tomato sauce, the crunchy flair of coconut bacon, and the meatiness of the mushrooms. As for the crepe-- soft and pliant, fork tender, nice balance between pancake fluff and thin airiness. Plus the basil made the day! So delicious. I made sure to devour slowly as to enjoy each bite affectionately.
The scone. Soft, and moist with crumbly texture, this sweet dessert cookie, muffin-y treat had a rich, dense chocolate melting on the tongue, tasty shredded coconut, and an interior that had some note of banana flavor.
I loved the French music, the food, the earthy atmosphere, but....... I wish the staff was nicer and made the place more welcoming-- to everyone, not just their regulars. I would love to come back and try out the other crepes. In fact, I mentioned this all vegan creepy to a friend today. Yet it is a question of wanting to return back to that unsettling hostility...... *sighs*

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gift Idea: Raw Cashew Cheeze Sauce

It's that time of the year-- yummy present ideas galore!
There is truly nothing more splendid than the specialness of a homemade gift whether it be a drawing, painting, or a foodie treasure. For the first part of my new Wednesday series, I share a recipe that can be a potentially delicious holiday twist.
Raw Cashew Cheeze Sauce is one of my favorites. I wanted to make a batch for my friend. Simple to concoct. Just twenty four hours until bliss. One of the greatest benefits of such a sauce is that it can be used in pasta (mac n cheese especially!) and rice dishes, top broccoli or potatoes, cream up soups, and make for a unique grilled cheese sandwich. The savory possibilities are endless.  
Raw Cashew Cheeze Sauce lasts 7-10 days and can be refrigerated. After refrigeration, however, it does stiffen, so leave it at room temperature again if wanting to use.

Raw Cashew Cheeze Sauce Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup cashews, soaked overnight in 1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Drain just a tad bit of the cashew water.
Add all ingredients into blender/processor and puree together.
When sauce reaches a creamy thick consistency, it's ready!

Whipped and smooth like butter.
Handmade labels are always fun!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

World Vegan Day Creamy Mixed Vegetable Soup

All the veggies in one bowl.
Happy November and Happy World Vegan Day! Also, did you set your clocks back? That extra sleep felt so wonderful this morning. Funnily enough, however, I did wake up at 5:54 AM which would have been 6:54-- a mere six minutes before my two alarm clocks usually beep together.
For today's recipe I cannot help remembering the blender explosion. That seems to happen a lot. I'm naturally clumsy. It's a gifted trait to be honest. I had taken the blender off and accidentally opened the wrong part of its bottom, spilling scalding liquid everywhere including my hand. Let's just say ot was the very definition of the phrase "a hot mess." The photographed beautiful green soup is what was managed to be rescued in the aftermath. I held back a tear as most of my hard work sank inside the kitchen sink garbage disposal.
Mixed Vegetable Soup may have come with a disaster story, but still the best part is the delicious taste-- the reaping of a worthwhile effort. Rich, creamy consistency brings an air of supreme satisfaction and warm joy to the devourer. Frankly that is all one asks in a soup.

Creamy Mixed Vegetable Soup Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup lentils
4 large carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup broccoli
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of salt (or Liquid Aminos)
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Bring water, vegetable broth, veggies, turmeric, cumin, basil, oregano, garlic, paprika, black pepper and salt to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes-- covered (keep checking though, veggie water likes to boil over even at lowest heat setting). Pour into a blender and liquify.
Top with nooch and eat.