Posts Tagged falafel

VeganMoFo: Appetite For Reduction

Happy VeganMoFo!  Technically, VeganMoFo began on Saturday, but my goal is to post every weekday so I’m right on time.  Head over to VegaMoFo HQ and check out the blogroll or rss feed!

For the first week, I’m going to feature some vegan cookbooks that I’ve been cooking from recently.  First up is Appetite For Reduction.  I’ve posted about this cookbook before and have already professed my love for it; the style of cooking is how I cook when left to my own devices – low fat, lots of whole foods and lots of flavor.

Baked Falafel & Hummus Wrap.  I love these baked falafel – all the flavor and crunch without the deep frying.  I actually over-baked my falafels, so they were extra crunchy.  The hummus recipe is low-oil and tahini-free, and to be honest I missed the tahini flavor so I added a tahini sauce to my wrap.  Next time I’ll add a bit of tahini to the hummus, or try one of the suggested hummus flavors such as pizza hummus.

Hottie Black-Eyed Peas & Greens and Creamed Corn, served with patty pan squash and red onion.  The peas and greens are a one-pot dish, which is great.  I found it wasn’t quite hot enough for me, so I added more hot sauce.  The creamed corn is made from blended fresh corn, and packs so much corn flavor without much added fat.  The patty pan squash were a great, buttery complement to round out the meal.

This is Caldo Verde with Crumbled Tempeh.  Caldo verde means green soup, and the tempeh stands in for sausage here.  The recipe calls for chard or kale, but I used cabbage because I had some in the fridge.  I liked this recipe but didn’t love it, and I think the cabbage was to blame.  Between the cabbage, tempeh and fennel seeds there was a bit too much bitterness going on.  I think with some chard or kale though, it would be great.

A Bee Ell Tee, from the sandwich section.  The sandwich and bowls sections of Appetite For Reduction are a great addition, as they give you more ideas for using the recipes, and make the style of eating seem more realistic and accessible.  The Bee in a Bee Ell Tee is eggplant bacon, which I’ve posted about before.  It may not look like much in this picture, but eggplant bacon is smoky and chewy and wonderful.  I could eat a whole eggplant worth of it.  The other standout in this sandwich is the Cashew Miso Mayo.  It’s not really like mayo, but it’s a salty, tangy spread which really made the sandwich.

Here we have Buffalo Tempeh with potatoes, asparagus and Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce.  I’m in love with the buffalo tempeh and have made it multiple times now, which says a lot, since I usually only make a recipe once unless I really like it.  The cheezy sauce is easily the best quick cheese sauce I’ve had.  It comes together really quickly but doesn’t taste raw like some sauces can.

This is a Mediterranean Bowl with quinoa, spinach, chickpeas, roasted cauliflower, Caesar Chavez Dressing and a sprinkling of ground seeds.  The original bowl combination calls for bulgur, and quinoa was a good stand in.  The spinach was my addition to get something green in there, but it would have been better if it was cooked down a bit.  And of course, the Caesar Chavez Dressing tastes good on everything.

I’ve been branching out to other cookbooks recently, but I know I’ll keep coming back to Appetite For Reduction until I’ve tried almost everything.  If you’ve cooked from Appetite For Reduction too, what have been your favorites?

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Good Times in Gainesville

Back in June, I traveled to Gainesville to attend a wedding and hang with some old friends.  The groom was my old band mate, and rather than a rehearsal dinner, he wanted to get the band back together.  Between family, friends, wedding guests and old fans who were still in town, we were expecting a sold out show!  We hadn’t played together in years and needed a few practices before we were ready to play, so I arrived a few days early and ended up spending four nights in town.  I hit some of my favorite food spots, and tried some new ones too.

I got into town on Wednesday night and met a few friends at Reggae Shack Cafe.

I like a lot of their vegetarian dishes, and this time I went with the Vegan Steak – handmade seitan simmered in a sweet Carribean sauce with vegetables.  The dish came with cabbage, rice and beans, and fried plantains.  I love this sauce; it’s sweet, savory and spicy.

Festivals, which are like sweet fried hush puppies.  Not very good for you, but they’re so tasty that I order them every time.

I didn’t even know Red Stripe Light existed!

On my way to visit my parents the next morning, I stopped at my absolute favorite coffee shop in Gainesville, Coffee Culture.

Vanilla soy latte.  None of the baked goods were vegan, but the guy at the counter said that they were planning to open their own bakery soon, and would have vegan options in the future.

Needing some solid fuel, I stopped by Bagels & Noodles on University Avenue.  This place used to be called Bagels Unlimited, but it seems they’ve made the odd move of also serving noodles for lunch and dinner.  Regardless, this whole wheat bagel with hummus and lettuce was exactly what I wanted.  The bagel was toasted and chewy, the hummus was garlicky and warm, and the lettuce added the perfect crunch.

Still fairly full from the bagel, I met my parents for lunch in Ocala.  Our go-to restaurant in Ocala is Amrit Palace, but my mom had heard of another Indian restaurant getting good reviews, so we gave that a try instead.

Bay Leaf Indian Restaurant has a buffet for lunch and a full menu for dinner.  After confirming that some of the buffet items were vegan, we sat down and helped ourselves.  I got veggie pakoras, mint chutney, rice, dal, potatoes and peas and tamarind chutney.  The dishes were well spiced and slightly spicy, and very delicious.

Coming back to Gainesville, I was in a rush to grab some food before our scheduled practice, so I grabbed take out from my very favorite falafel place, Gyro Plus.

Bad lighting, delicious pita – falafel, lettuce, tomato, pickles and tahini sauce, with a big side of fries.

I knew it was going to  be a long night of practice, so I also picked up a spinach pie which I ate in the car during a break.

I needed to fuel up the next morning before heading to another practice, so I grabbed a friend and headed to 43rd Street Deli.  They used to have a location on 13th street which was great because they always had vegan items on the menu.  That location closed a few years ago, and I was hoping there would be something I could eat at the original location.

They had vegan pancakes on the menu but were sadly out of them, so I ordered the tempeh scramble with rye toast.  The scramble was more oily and salty than I would have made at home, but it was a nice, hot plate of protein and veggies, and it helped get me ready for more practice.

We practiced during the afternoon, and I don’t know if everyone knows this, but June afternoons in Central Florida are HOT.  It was possibly the hottest I’ve ever been.  I went back to my friend Janeen’s house where I was staying and was getting ready for the show that night, when Janeen came home with this:

Raspberry sorbet!  She must’ve been reading my mind, and got the sorbet for me when she stopped for frozen yogurt.  It was the perfect cold treat to keep me going.

To get a little more family time in, I met my parents, brother and sister-in-law for dinner at The Top.  I have a few favorites at The Top but selected a special that sounded really good – Tempeh Chimichurri with steamed broccoli and roasted fingerling potatoes.  The chimichurri was much more thick than those I’ve had in the past, but was herbey and citrusey and very delicious.

The show went really well, considering we hadn’t played together in years.  I was made to wear a cowboy hat because we covered a Mley Cyrus song.  Don’t ask.  Don’t ask about the other costumes either…

The next morning I met a few friends for brunch at The Jones.  I went to The Jones once or twice when I lived in Gainesville and was never that impressed, but over the past few years I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews so I figured it was worth another try.

The breakfast menu says that almost any dish can be made vegan, and I chose the Blackhawk Burrito – soy merguez, onions, bell peppers and jalapenos in a flour tortilla with organic black beans, topped with salsa fresca and avocado.  Served with homefries, organic black beans and brown rice.  This was a hugely filling and delicious breakfast.

I wasn’t sure what kind of food would be available at the wedding and was getting peckish by mid-afternoon, so I met Janeen for one last ladydate at Karma Kreme.  Karma Kreme opened soon after I moved away, which is probably a good thing.  Having freshly made vegan ice cream available that close to home could’ve been bad for my health!

An entire half of the ice cream case is dedicated to vegan ice creams, and they boast a variety of soy, rice and coconut-based ice creams.

Before I got to the sugary stuff, I needed some real food.  Not all of their sandwiches are available daily, and I felt very lucky that they had the Tofurkey Reuben that day.  Tofurkey slices on rye with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and vegan cheese, pressed and served hot.  This sandwich was gooey and fatty and wonderful.

You can’t really see how amazing this sundae is, what with the chocolate ice cream, coffee ice cream, cookie pieces, caramel and housemade coconut whipped cream.  It was so good!  If I still lived in town, I think I would be giving Karma Kreme plenty of business.

The wedding was great.  It was actually at the same venue Janeen’s wedding was at last year, and it was really interesting to see what two different couples did with the same space.  It was wonderful to see so many old friends, and the wedding was complete with 40’s brought in from Georgia and a nacho cheese fountain.  As my British friends said, “brilliant”!

Me on the right, with two very pretty lady friends.

reception aftermath

Sadly, I had to head home the next day.  I picked up another hummus bagel on the way to the airport and called it a trip.  I always said that it was very easy to be vegan in Gainesville, and it’s even more so now with restaurants like Karma Kreme and Boca Fiesta around, and mainstays like The Top, Reggae Shack, Gyro Plus and Satchel’s still in business.

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On The Road Again, Part II

For the second leg of our tour, we were away from home for four nights.  This was the part where I got to go to Portland for the first time, and I was pretty excited for that!  We got up Monday morning and headed for Eureka, CA.  Once you get past Santa Rosa there is really not very much on the way, so my lunch was what I could scrounge up at the freeway corner store.

Yum.  Actually, I had never tried the Naked gold machine before, and it was quite nice.

When we arrived in Eureka it was like a ghost town.  It was Memorial Day, and nothing seemed to be open.  We checked in at the venue, and the bartender recommended that Eureka Natural Foods might be open, mentioning that they had a deli-style area including vegan options.

I had a hard time choosing, so I got a few things.

Hugely stuffed sandwich – horseradish vegenaise, spicy mustard, carrot, cucumber, pickles, tempeh, sprouts, avocado, tomato and lettuce on sprouted wheat bread.  The sandwich guy mentioned that they marinate the tempeh in soy sauce then saute it, and he cooked it again while making the sandwich so that it was nice and crispy.

Curry tofu samosa.  This was fine, but I think it would’ve been better warm.

Corn chowder, with carrot, potato and cauliflower too.  It was rainy outside, and the soup was hot, well-seasoned and comforting.

I’m not sure I would purposefully go to Eureka again, but if I did I would make a point to stop at Eureka Natural Foods.  They had a cute little area to eat the prepared foods, and walking around I saw lots of products that I would normally buy.  They had flavors of Zevia I had never seen!

For breakfast the next morning, I tried Artisana’s Cashini Butter.  We had stayed at a Hampton Inn, so I even had the luxury of toasting my english muffin!  Cashini, which is a combo of cashew butter and tahini, is delicious!  It tastes great on its own, but would probably be even better with some jam.  I felt really healthy eating something that said “high in calcium & iron” on the package.

We stopped over for lunch in a random commercial area and settled on Pita Pit.  I lived near a Pita Pit in college and ate it a bunch (admittedly, usually the tuna, before I was vegetarian), so going there is kind of nostalgic for me.  Although they have a new spicy black bean patty which is apparently vegan, I went with the old stand-by of falafel and hummus.

We arrived in Portland and sought out a sports bar to watch the A’s game, and managed to find probably the one restaurant in the city with nothing vegan on the menu.  Even the veggie burger had egg in it.  So, plans changed and we headed down the street to La Sirenita, a taqueria with decent online reviews.

The woman at the counter helped me figure out what was vegan, and I ended up with a very tasty fajita burrito with black beans.  I know the inside of a burrito isn’t very pretty, but this one was good enough to warrant showing!

After dinner we went to the hotel, and I started narrowing down my Portland must-do short list.  We only had one day there, and you can be sure I was planning to make the most of it!

With the help of The PPK forums, I decided on Junior’s for brunch.  Junior’s is a cute little hole-in-the-wall diner in the southeast quadrant which purportedly has lines out the door on weekend mornings.  I knew the boys wouldn’t want to spend quite as long as me in the city, so I hopped on public transit and went on my own adventure.

After reading this post I had a hard time deciding on the superhero scramble or the potato plate, but I went with the scramble in the end.  I think the sausage component won me over.  This scramble had “garden sausage”, tomato and spinach, and the potatoes were well cooked and crispy.  The toast came with earth balance, and I had a happy tummy.

My next stop was walking distance from Junior’s.

The vegan mini mall!

Cute stuff from Herbivore – a tote, a t-shirt and Papa Tofu.

Haul from Food Fight – white chocolate chips, Dandies marshmallows, bulk soy curls, Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed Peace Bomb, and a Jokerz candy bar.

While I was shopping the mini mall, the boys called and said they were on their way into town, to go to Prost!, a German beer bar and restaurant.  While Prost! sounded excellent in and of itself, it also happens to be next to the food carts where Native Bowl is located, so it was a double win for me.  I picked out some goodies at Sweetpea Baking Company and hopped in the van.

On the way, I ate this amazingly delicious apricot danish from Sweetpea.  I don’t think I’d ever had a vegan danish, and this one didn’t disappoint!

The super-flaky crust was more salty than sweet, which played perfectly off the sugary jam and glaze.

I drank a delicious wheat beer and willed my stomach to have more room in it…Around 3PM, I decided I could handle lunch before the carts closed.

Because I wasn’t very hungry, I had a hard time deciding on what to choose.  The guy working the cart helped me narrow it down, and I went with the Alberta Bowl – jasmine rice, garlic tofu, Fire Breathing Dragon Sauce, housemade furikake, shredded green cabbage, carrots and scallions.

I knew the bowl was going to be good, but didn’t know it would be THIS GOOD.  The rice and tofu were cooked perfectly, the sauce was creamy and spicy, and the raw veggies gave it the perfect crunch.  I am in love with this bowl and can’t stop thinking about trying to recreate it at home.  The bowl was so good, in fact, that Dave chose to get one for himself over the other meaty food cart options.  He said his Couch Bowl was maybe a tad too spicy, but other than that he enjoyed it.

After some time driving around and checking out Powell’s (which might be the biggest bookstore ever), we decided to go back to the hotel to rest up before the show.  I had one more item on my short list of must-dos to take care of first.

Homegrown Smoker, ya’ll.  I couldn’t possibly fit anything else in my belly at that point, so we took it to go.

The entire menu looked fantastic, but their sandwich special made ordering easy.  (I did not get the fried oreos.  Even on vacation, I’m not sure I could let myself get fried oreos…)

This sandwich was seriously amazing.  The bread was really sturdy and somehow held all the fillings together.  The smoked soy curls were possibly the closest thing to meat that I’ve had since being vegetarian/vegan, texture- and taste-wise.  The mac and cheese was really good; it seemed like they sauced it once when making it, then sauced it again when plating, which made it really creamy.  I would compare the flavor to Souley Vegan’s mac.

My stomach was starting to protest at this point, but I couldn’t not eat this peanut butter brownie that I had bought at  Sweetpea earlier.  That would just be ridiculous.

After eating my way through Portland I was pretty pooped, so I got a soy latte at Stumptown Coffee Roasters before the show.  Even though it was ordered to go, the barista poured this cute little soy heart on top.

As expected, I pretty much fell in love with Portland and can’t wait to go back in August for Vida Vegan Con!

Breakfast on the way to Seattle was Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter on Good Seed bread.  Separately they are wonderful, and together it was the best breakfast ever.  I’m pretty sure you could ice a cake with the hazelnut butter, it’s so sweet and rich.  The bread is chunky with seeds and whole grains, and almost tastes buttery on its own.  I want to hire Dave to live in my house and bake bread every day.

Arriving in Seattle after a few hours, it was high time for lunch.  We drove by the venue just to check it out, and as you so often do on tour, we ate at the closest decent-looking restaurant.  This one had a big Pho sign in the window, which was enough to draw us in.

I started with fresh rolls of fried tofu, sweet potato, carrot, noodles and lettuce, with peanut sauce.

Tofu pho – I was excited to see actual vegetables in the bowl!  This was pretty good for your standard veggie pho.

A few of us had never been to Seattle, so of course we had to check out the Space Needle and Pike’s Market.  We had a very confusing bus ride back.  There was a sign over the place where you pay that said something to the effect of “pay as you get off”, but then nobody ever asked for money.  If Seattle doesn’t want my two dollars, they’re not getting it!

photo by Eric Atria

Most of the gang had pizza by the slice for dinner, and I convinced Stacie from Morningbell to take a hike with me to check out Cyber Dogs, a vegetarian internet cafe serving international gourmet hot dogs.  Intriguing, right?  I couldn’t decide between two dogs, so I just got both!

(iPhone pictures because my memory card was full)

Chicago-style dog – brat with dill pickle spear, tomato, pickled peppers, celery salt and mustard.  We realized after being served that these were not hot dogs you pick up and eat.  Stacie ordered a chili cheese dog, and couldn’t even see the dog under all the chili!  This dog was really tasty and I loved the pickle spear.  My only complaint is that there was a whooole lot of mustard, and I am generally a mustard lover.

Hungarian Goulash Dog.  I really only needed one dog for dinner, but this one was too amazingly weird not to try.  Potatoes, “beef”, celery, carrots and noodles stewed with Hungarian spices and topped with “bacon” and kraut.  There’s a hot dog and bun under all that, and there were actually lasagna-style noodles and veggie bacon lining the bun, and some sort of liquid pooling in the bottom.  Despite the wackiness, this actually tasted really good.  I couldn’t tell the potatoes from the beef from the vegetables, but I forged on and got through about half of it.  I would say it’s worth trying if you’re looking for something different.

We had a place to stay in Seattle, but decided to drive home through the night instead.  We just wanted to get back home.  The snacks I had packed came in handy, especially the ProBar.  Tour isn’t always the most convenient form of vacation, but I had a great time, saw some new places, and ate some great food!

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