Friday, March 30, 2018

Eggplant Roll Ups With Cashew and Tofu Ricotta (From Coco Verde Vegan)

Although I've eaten eggplant at various restaurants in roasted vegetable salads, in Baba Ganoush (my absolute favorite), and as fries, I've never worked with eggplant before last night. The moment Coco Verde Vegan posted an enticing picture and recipe for Eggplant Roll Ups on Twitter (posted here), I was blown away, desiring at last to experiment, bring the vegetable into the home kitchen at last..

With a fulfilling side of Lotus Foods Forbidden Black Rice (which had been out of stock for quite a while), the roll ups are completely simple to make and incredibly delicious. One great trick from Coco Verde Vegan is if not having time to soak cashews overnight, you can boil them for twenty minutes instead. This makes cashews susceptible for traditional blending method in a quicker fashion. Thick, luscious cashew tofu ricotta cheese and chunky tomato sauce topping deliver a pleasing reminder of stacked lasagna flare. I had leftovers for lunch-- still impressive and beautifully composed.

Eggplant Roll Ups With Cashew and Tofu Ricotta Ingredients and Preparation

1 large eggplant

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Cashew and Tofu Ricotta

1 cup cashews

extra firm tofu

2 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/4 cup aquafaba (canned chickpea water)

2 teaspoon garlic

1 teaspoon salt

tomato sauce (I used a jarred vegan Portobello Mushroom sauce)

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice eggplant vertically as thinly as possible-- about 1/4 inch a piece.

Coat slices in olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Bake for 35 minutes, turning them around about 18 minutes in.

Whilst eggplant is roasting, cook cashews in water for twenty minutes. Drain. Pulse them in blender or food processor with tofu, aquafaba, garlic, and salt until rich and creamy.

Take eggplant from oven, which should be soft and "rollable," spoon a generous bit of cashew tofu ricotta and roll. Repeat for each.

Heat up tomato sauce and pour over top of eggplant roll ups. Sprinkle Italian Seasoning.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Royal Tavern, Govinda's, & Dizengoff: Something New, Something Old, Something.... Pink

On Friday night, started the weekend off right with co-worker gal pals. They drank specialty beers. I gulped iced water. We discussed all the things loved and despised. Quite frankly, it felt nice letting out the steam. Plus, one of them recently had a milestone birthday (speaking of which the other co-worker's birthday is today). Hilarious coincidence right? Still, in the dark, with a few lit candles containing real fire, we ate vegan together-- they both ordered vegan cheesesteaks-- one had without onions and the other without mushrooms. I was blown away by PhillyVeganMonster's Instagram post of Royal Tavern's special of the week-- a massive chickpea burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Of course, apologizing to arteries in advance, I had to try it out for myself.
Served with hot skinny fries, a juicy pickle, and vegan mayo, the unique "cheeseburger" also contained tomatoes, lettuce, onion (a little too much onion), and seitan ba'con. Naturally, this colossal sandwich had to be eaten with fork and knife. It was just so massive. I believe the cheese is Violife's original version (or mozzarella as PhillyVeganMonster suggested). It has that rich, mild flavor that Daiya just doesn't have. The thick, well-seasoned chickpea burger, held together with little crumbling, was superb.
On Sunday, my roommate and I stopped by Govinda's for dinner. It was her first time there. I love the place, especially when they have an assortment of vegan donuts. I ordered my usual chik'in cheesesteak on a whole wheat roll. She tried out the chik'in burger.
One can never go wrong with a slice of Vegan Treats dessert. This carrot cake is a definite favorite. It's moist, contains a yummy balance of fine, grated carrots, and memorable spice blends from childhood and the cream cheese frosting isn't a sugary, overpowering catastrophe. My roommate enjoyed the chocolate peanut butter cake. She said something along the lines of, "I usually don't like peanut butter things, but the peanut butter flavor wasn't too extreme."
At a Saturday afternoon work function, a sweet co-worker saved me Dizengoff Hummus and pita bread inside of their trademark hot pink bag. It was an incredibly good meal-- the right balance of lemon juice and garlic flavoring the creamy, tangy whipped hummus goodness. With the soft, chewy pita bread long devoured, I've included this delicious hummus in pasta and rice dishes, experimenting to heart's desire.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Tale of Two Pizzas

Homemade mushrooms, red onions, cheese, and tomato pizza pie.
Yesterday was the big 3.14 aka "Pi (or Pie) Day."
What is better than making one's own pie? And quite frankly, it was also ironic that at PAFA's Wednesday lunchtime lecture the featured multidisciplinary artist, Cosmo Whyte, explained a sculpture incorporated The Jeffersons theme song, "Movin On Up," distorting specifically the line "finally got a piece of the pie." Albeit the track was also played backwards-- still yay pie! Or yippee pie yay!
I haven't made pizza in a long while, but I haven't forgotten how to concoct my own dough. 

Or red onion and cheese on tomato pizza pie. 
For these two pizzas, the toppings are simple, nothing fancy-- mushrooms, red onions, tomato sauce, remainder of So Delicious Mozzarella Flavored Shreds. It was imperative to not overwhelm the flavor profile of the crust, a laborious process most adored. 

Standard Pizza Dough Ingredients and Preparation

2 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon Italian Seasonings
3 cup flour
3 tablespoon olive oil

Mix yeast, sugar, and water together. Set aside for five minutes.
Add garlic, salt, and Italian Seasonings.
Stir in flour a cup at a time. Knead after all is in the mixing bowl. Massage olive oil into the dough, adding more if needed.
Cover into a lightly oiled bowl and let rise for an hour. 

Footage of risen dough. I pinched and punched it down a bit.

Topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms, red onions, So Delicious Mozzarella Flavored Shreds and nooch is the first pizza (half of the dough spread on a five inch by eleven inch baking sheet.

Baked and ready.

This is the simpler pizza pie of tomato sauce, red onions, So Delicious Mozzarella Flavored Shreds, bac n bits, nooch, and extra Italian Seasonings and crushed black pepper.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mac N Cheese With So Delicious & gardein

"Hamburger" Helper macaroni.
gardein makes an impressive burger. Last week, I just tried out their Ultimate Beefless Burger and believe it is one of the best versions existing right now. It is also reasonably priced, at about one dollar and some change per patty, while others are astronomically higher. Also, on the product front, I'm absolutely enjoying So Delicious alternative cheeses more so than originally conceived. I wasn't sold on the idea, having been stuck on Field Roast Chao forever, claiming that as grocery store winner. Yet, my social media pals are singing the praises and I caved, attractive to the green packaged mozzarella.

gardein's ultimate beefless burger is amazing!

I first made the burgers piled with Field Roast Chao Tomato Cayenne, mushrooms, red onions, and lots of ketchup.
So Delicious Dairy Free Foods have stepped up the bat with this tasty cheese that truly does melt great.
It only made sense to blend these two products together in a sensational macaroni and cheese dish that reminds one of simple childhood pleasures-- mashing a pan seared patty to smithereens and joining it with creamy macaroni and cheese.

Mac N Cheese With So Delicious & gardein Ingredients and Preparation

1 1/2 cup macaroni
1 cup broccoli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup So Delicious Mozzarella Style Shreds
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 gardein ultimate beefless burger, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian Seasonings
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare macaroni to package directions.
Add cooked broccoli.
Mix in olive oil, So Delicious mozzarella, almond milk, and nutritional yeast until melting evenly.
Combine remainder of ingredients together and serve.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Books and Intersectional Feminism: 'Aphro-ism' and 'Sistah Vegan'

International Women's Day came and left. Women's History Month remains.
My paternal grandmother would have turned eighty-five-years old today. She was one of the first women to encourage me to follow my dreams, to pursue creative avenues that I had yearned setting up for myself. Although I have yet reached cusp of those familiar desires, they are close and attainable, not some distant fictional realm. For now, I continue writing on this six-year-old blog discussing food and art-- the things that matter.
Thus, I haven't branched into personal reading. First of all, there are two imperative books that should be alongside everyone's library among usual suspects of Oh She Glows, Terry Bryant, and other vegan staple reads. Vegans should peruse other challenging roads this topic can steer, especially when these curved, seemingly uncomfortable roads pertain to matters of feminism, black identity, animal compassion, and pop culture.

I appreciate the work of Aph and Syl Ko immensely. They are smart, outspoken, and brave.
Their amazing jointly authored Aphro-ism came out last year. It is a container of thoughtful, intelligently crafted essays that pertain to life's many intersections. From the way we eat, how we exist and grow in respective environments, the explosive racism that undeniably reveals itself in different components of veganism's "public face," and seeds implanted in the entertainment industry often told in voices that are not our own, are these detrimental conversation points that Aph and Syl dissect. With concise language and profound insight in their personal writings, they offer eye opening tools that work the wheels behind our ways of thinking about layers of our daily interactions, our accessibilities. Most importantly, the sisters ask, "how does a black woman vegan see herself in the stratosphere that slowly, very slowly offers granules of inclusivity?"

Sistah Vegan's Dr. A. Breeze Harper's curated Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society, a classic among black women vegan literary circles, is an incredible body of various voices that entail each woman's path to discovering veganism whether through love, family, interest, health, etc. Each story is unique, a spoon full of plant based delicious goodness meant to provide the ravenous soul of sweet medicinal healing satisfaction that simply cannot come from murdered animal flesh. This compilation of wise words, moving poetry, guttural heartache, harrowing manifestos, and sincere compassion soothes my frustration on roughest days, those days that are filled with bacon "jokes," "what about protein," Bible stuff, and other annoying meat eater interferences. Before finding this book's existence, I felt alone, isolated in the world. I rarely saw myself in the vegan brochures or on peta or on the very products purchased at Whole Foods. I also didn't see black vegans on television or black vegans voted as Most Beautiful Celebrity. Yet when I found, acquired, and began reading Sistah Vegan, I was reading from companions located in various parts of the globe, entailing their own isolations and turmoil, finding solace and comfort in their words and recipes.
So yes, vegans need to read black women vegan's prose and writings on our struggles and triumphs of this travel we've all decided to embark upon together. Read the Ko sisters and Dr. Breeze's tremendous efforts. With beautiful, valiant dignity and precious grace, they offer strength and courage necessary to carry forth our message of attaining freedom for all nature's sentient beings.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Philadelphia Flower Show: Please Go Chasing Waterfalls Edition

It was a real treat to experience Philadelphia Flower Show -an eight-day event held every spring since 1829- for the first time ever.
Headed by the Philadelphia Horticulturist Society, with theme "Wonders of Water," the downtown Pennsylvania Convention Center had been transformed into an eye opening floral decadence. Sporadic corners of enchanted glory brought out the inner horticulturist gardener growing wondrously inside. From lush tropical rainforest designs to soothing serene splashes of tranquil waters flowing in various artfully crafted arrangements, the whole place sparked engaging interest and provided much needed TLC.
Although crowded at times, the Flower Show featured great highlights: flowers hanging from ceilings, ribbon prize winning plants, cacti, orchids, hyacinths, roses, topiaries, demos, garden teas, and various vendors selling soiled pots, seeds, fountains, and so much more.
Next year's theme is "Flower Power," a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock-- sounds like that'll be funky outrageous fun! It would be wild to see a Jimi Hendrix piece sculpted from flowers....
For the "Wonders of Water," I took many pictures and these are my curated favorites:

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Flourless Chocolate Coconut Cake

Imagine a bad day. A terrible day. The most vicious.
First of all, personally speaking, I rarely have smooth time of the month orbits. Some vegan women do. They have discussed that their cramps go away among other painful side effects of these three to seven day body things, even going as far as saying that they no longer have them or what else comes with Mother Nature's arrival. Again, that is not me. I suffer. Not every month, however.
Last month, I hadn't had one. Yesterday it came on top of the horrific bad day of snow fall and bus cancellations and likely no refunds for the planned journey to Baltimore for Njideka Akunyili Crosby's solo show at the Baltimore Museum of Art (which closes this coming Sunday) and lunch at the pristine black owned vegan restaurant Land of the Kush.
I was miserable and teary eyed and in emotional, mental, and physical anguish throughout, angered and disillusioned, having waken up at 6AM, made it to the bus station, and being told that no buses were going out. It sucked.
Chocolate saved the sadness. I found a recipe for chocolate cake on Eggless Cooking and altered it a bit. I didn't take pictures of the batter of beets and chickpeas. The pretty pink had an effect on me, this lively pink like that of some color on an oil paint palette, seemed to uplift my dwindled spirits.

Flourless Chocolate Coconut Cake Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup beets
2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup baking cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate chips

In a medium saucepan cook beets and chickpeas together for 5-7 minutes.
Drain a little bit of the water and blend the beets, chickpeas, and coconut oil inside food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and coconut flakes.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Add vanilla and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into desired pan. (I used a 10 inch foil pan from the dollar store)
Bake for 40-50 minutes.

It won't rise much and it's pretty dense and moist. More like a fudgy brownie than a cake.

Topped with So Delicious Coco Whip on a colorful flower plate.

Chocolate cake heaven.

Snow may be the foe of the day, but chocolate almost saved me.