Hip City Veg’s Burger Is Worth Two Hours on a Bolt Bus

vegan burger

But really, though. It’s that good. One of my favorite things to do is eat. One of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling is eat more than I normally do. One of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling to see DMB is eat more than I normally do when I travel since I’m burning off all those calories dancing at concerts (I’m sure the added calories from booze don’t matter…).

This June, my friend Jess and I (I’ve known her since 2006 when I was in high school and she was 23 and not so tired of life….I think we met via IM through a DMB message board…), embarked on our annual when-we-can pilgrimage to DMB at Camden. As per usual, I made a detour to the incredible Hip City Veg, a take out, entirely plant-based not-quite chain in Philly (and DC too). Sure, I could be drunk and cheat with pizza or grilled cheese. But with a burger THIS good (the Ziggy Burger is made with organic smoked tempeh and special sauce)…why?

FullSizeRender(1) FullSizeRender(2)

 

Here’s How You Make 5-Ingredient Guacamole That Isn’t Boring

So many reasons to love this perfect, chunky spread that happens to be naturally vegan. We all know it’s so blah blah blah healthy your gut microbiota does a happy dance, but it also happens to be the most delicious thing to meet sliced bread on a hot summer’s day that I can think of.

Recently, I’ve been recipe testing up a guacamole storm (In fact, I’ve got so much in my fridge, I’ve started using it on pasta in lieu of tomato sauce. Pretty tasty, who knew?) for Camp Sunshine, where I’ll be volunteering later this summer. I’m looking forward to cranking out a classic rendition of it in August with the kids, but a household lime-and-red-tomato shortage (the horror!) led me to stumble upon this fun riff on the classic.

Couldn’t be easier. Here goes:

Kumato-Basil Lemon Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1 Kumato* tomato, small dice
A handful of washed, fresh basil leaves, stems removed and torn or chiffonaded (if you’re feeling fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
The juice from one medium-sized lemon, or to taste
We are not counting salt and pepper as ingredients because that will ruin the 5-ingredient wonder, but you can add these

*Pictured below, Kumato tomatoes are mildly sweet, crisp and juicy brown-red-green-purpley tomatoes that are worth checking out.FullSizeRender (7)

1. Scoop out avocados into bowl and combine with tomato, basil, olive oil and lemon juice. Mash with fork to desired consistency Add sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. A flip of cayenne pepper for heat. Serve immediately or store in fridge and squeeze lemon over it every few hours to keep from oxidizing. Or if you forget to do that, squeeze with lemon before serving and hope it de-browns.

 

FullSizeRender

Meanwhile, like in life, one good thing leads to another (or an occasional bad decision) and four avocados later, I arrived at another hit.

 

FullSizeRender (3)

 

Behold:  Spicy Caper-Spiked Kumato-Basil Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1 Kumato tomato, small dice
A handful of washed, fresh basil leaves, stems removed and torn or chiffonaded (if you’re feeling fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
The juice from one medium-sized lemon, or to taste
Cayenne and paprika, to taste (I used a dash of each)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Splash Balsamic vinegar (optional)

1. Follow the same directions as above but with this set of ingredients. I’m pretty sure you know how to make guacamole. This rendition works particularly well spread on toast or, if you’re note feeling vegan, spread out as a bed for a plan of grilled salmon.

FullSizeRender (6)

Swirl This Surprising Ingredient Into Butternut Squash

Apparently, I’m on a mashed non-potatoes kick.

When I found some organic butternut squash in my freezer, I went to work. And by work, I mean, boiled water, dumped the squash in, put a lid on it, waited five minutes, and then strained out the water and added the squash to a bowl and mashed it with my fork.

So what’s this magical go-to? Mild yellow miso paste. Just a dollop, but this umami-rich paste complements the natural sweetness of the squash. while lending a palate-popping savoriness. With a sprinkle of smoked paprika, this three ingredient lunch is as simple as it is gobble-worthy. I’m totally not on my third bowl. Totally.

Leftover Red Wine? Make This Chocolate Cake with Drunken Raspberries

I’ve always been a huge fan of Chef Chloe ever since she showed the world on Cupcake Wars that vegans do it better (oh, and cruelty and cholesterol-free). Her latest book Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen will have you salivating until the (vegan) cows come home. So it should come as no surprise that I was thrilled when the team at Chloe’s kitchen offered to share one of my favorite recipes from the book with me for my readers. In fancy speak, it’s called Torta Di Cioccolato Al Vino Rosso Con Lamponi “Umbriachi,” but you can just call it “Now, please.”

Didn’t quite finish that bottle of red wine last night? Use it to make chocolate cake! This rich and seductive chocolate cake is fudgy on the inside with a hint of red wine. Top it with wine-soaked “drunken” raspberries and a dollop of coconut whipped cream for the ultimate lovers’ dessert. 

Cake:
1½ cups all-purpose flour*
1 cup sugar
¹⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
 ½ teaspoon salt
 ¾ cup dry red wine
 ½ cup water
 ½ cup canola oil
 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 *For a gluten-free alternative, substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour plus ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum

Topping:
½ cup dry red wine
 ½ cup sugar
 1 small container raspberries (6 ounces)
 Powdered sugar
for serving Coconut Whipped Cream, like So Delicious Dairy Free Cocowhip Coconut Whipped Topping

Make-Ahead Tip: Cake layers can be made in advance and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw cakes before serving.

Makes one 9-inch round layer

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk wine, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix.

Fill the prepared cake pan with batter. Bake for 28 to 30 min- utes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry with a few crumbs clinging to it. Be sure to rotate the cake halfway through baking time. Let the cake cool completely.

For the topping: In a small saucepan, combine wine and sugar and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Let boil for 1 to 2 minutes and remove from heat. Place raspberries in a bowl and pour the wine mixture over the raspberries.

Refrigerate and let soak for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days. Slice cake and dust each serving with powdered sugar. Then, top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and spoonful of wine-soaked raspberries.

Copyright © 2014 by Chloe Coscarelli from CHLOE’S VEGAN ITALIAN KITCHEN published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
 Cover Photo: Photography by Miki Duisterhof,   Recipe Photo: Photography by Teri Lyn Fisher

Food Blog Hero Q&A with Holy Cow Vegan: Vegan Indian Food You Didn’t Know You Crave

The real title of this blog should be “Food Blog Hero Q&A with Holy Cow Vegan: Vegan Indian Food You Didn’t Know You Crave…But Must Tackle Immediately.”

Recently, I was lucky enough to pick the brain of one of my favorite food bloggers, Vaishali of Holy Cow Vegan. Her tantalizing vegan recipes (many of them Indian) run the spectrum from signature Bombay street food, Misal (If you’re not familiar, heck, even if you are, run, don’t walk) to banana coffee cake with chocolate streusel (both pictured below, courtesy of author). Her blog makes pulling off seemingly-complicated dishes approachable and fun, and her recipes never fail to introduce me to a brilliant flavor-pairing (zucchini for dessert, who knew?) or clever ways to spike a dish with not-your-average-spice-rack spices.

Misal

Banana Coffee Cake

Banana Chocolate Coffee Cake

1. What’s your favorite vegetable to cook with and why? Is there a secret-weapon veggie you use to slip into salads or soups or entrees that makes it super special? 

“I love cooking with most vegetables, but mushrooms are definitely one of my favorites. Although they’ve not been part of traditional Indian cooking, mushrooms go with virtually anything — I’ve tried them in curries, dals, sabzis (Indian side dishes) and even stuffed them in a paratha. I also love how mushrooms of all kinds contribute rich textures to vegan cooking. And they’re super-good for you, which is a huge bonus.”

2. What are your tips for ordering vegan Indian food when out? It can get tricky sometime! Is non-vegan? Any tips for decoding a menu or how to ask a waiter to make a non-vegan dish (say a stew made with ghee or dairy) vegan-friendly? Any vegan desserts on menus when eating out?

“I am not one of those vegans who will quiz a waiter about every last ingredient, especially when I am eating out with friends. The reason is that I don’t want to make a vegan lifestyle appear ridiculously unattainable to others. I usually ask the waiter if there is any ghee or cream in a vegetarian dish like a dal and if they say no, I will eat it. You might not always get dishes like dals and stews made to order because the ghee is part of the base when the dish is cooked, but with breads you have a little more leeway, since they will most often make them fresh for you and the ghee, in most cases, goes on the bread at the very end. It’s a little tough to get vegan Indian desserts in restaurants since Indian sweets are almost always milk-based, but jalebis are an option, if available. They are swirly yellow sweets made of chickpea flour and dunked in sugar syrup. They are delicious.”

3. What’s your favorite vegan Indian dish that anyone can (and should!) add to their repertoire of dinner options?

“Most vegans are really into dals when it comes to Indian foods, but I’d encourage them to try more curries made with vegetables and often a coconut and spice base, like My Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry. While dals are wonderful for adding protein into your meal, curries like this one really perk up the taste buds and are a great introduction to the rich, varied cuisine of India.”

4. What advice would you offer to aspiring food bloggers?

“I’d advise them to blog with love. There are a zillion food blogs out there today, each one better looking than the next and SEO’d to the eyeballs, but when I think of great food blogging I always hark back to the early days when bloggers wrote about foods they cooked at home for the people they loved and why they created them, rather than just cook and post the hottest thing on Google Trends. I might be old-fashioned, but I think blogs that really engage you and have a personality are the ones that pull in and retain a loyal following. And here’s one more piece of advice: Check your grammar before you hit “publish.” 🙂 You don’t have to be a great writer, but there’s nothing as off-putting as a post with spelling and grammatical errors.”

*proofreads three times*

If I had to pick, Vaishali’s grain dishes are probably some of my favorites, and she’s been kind enough to let me share the photo of one of my favorites, Tawa Pulao. A serious treat for your senses and time-saver on weeknights. Get the recipe here.

Tawa Pulao

Vibrant Veggie Vortex + Dazzling Dijon Dressing

They say the more colors on your plate, the more likely you’ll be able to curb overeating. Or maybe they don’t; but it’s sure pretty to look at a spectrum of vibrant fruits and veggies and definitely slows me down when it comes to digging in.

So bye bye simple crudités and dip. This simple salad is way easier to assemble than it looks. Just slice, dice and arrange everything on a plate to your heart’s desire…and to emulate that way-too-perfect food blogger on instagram who always annoys you with food arrangements so pretty you don’t understand how anyone’s life can be so perfect (pro-tip: It probably took them 45 minutes to assemble everything, and by the time they get to eating that warm stack of vegan chocolate chip banana nut pancakes, they are cold.)

To quote Taylor Swift, This. Dressing. Is. Sick. Mix two parts olive oil, to one part balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of nutritional yeast flakes and red chile pepper flakes and sea salt together. Transforms any blah “using up leftover veggies” salad into BOOM! Seriously.

Ingredients:
Whatever leftover veggies and fruits you have on hand

Directions:

Arrange prettily on plate and as symmetrically as possible. Try and remember to buy enough lettuce next time. Drizzle dressing on top. Pair with copious amount of crusty  French baguette.

3-Ingredient Potato-less Mashed Potatoes

Crusty French bread. Pasta. Mashed potatoes. When it comes to vices, mine aren’t shoes or nightly Sex and the City marathons (okay, maybe the latter…) but carbs. Oh man. Sign me up! For me, there’s no such thing as plate loaded too high with flaky, bready, potato-y, pasta-y goodness. Unfortunately, my snug jeans beg to differ. Luckily, these silky, creamy, rich “mashed no-potatoes”(or “potato-less mashed potatoes” as my body building boyfriend cleverly quipped) replicate that comfort food fix you crave, sans calories and the unhealthy fat you load in from butter, milk and cream.

So what’s the secret swap for those formidable balls-o-carbs? Zucchini! Just boil the heck out of it, take your fork and mash, mash, mash away. It’s texturally-perfect, nutrionally-abundant and shockingly addictive.

3-Ingredient Potato-less Mashed Potatoes
Serves 1 (adjust proportions as needed based on how much you’re making)
1 zucchini
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt, to taste
Optional: freshly ground black pepper, red chile pepper flakes

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel a few spirals from the zucchini. Meanwhile, heat a pot of water to boil.
2. Place the rest of the zucchini in the boiling in water. Boil until impossibly soft (You can check by piercing it with a fork or knife).
3.  Using a fork (or potato masher if you are feeling fancy), mash the zucchini and add the olive oil. Season to taste and top with the raw zucchini shreds. Rejoice in a guilt-free spoonful of comfort.

(flowers also courtesy of aforementioned body building boyfriend)

Easy Vegan Fall Pasta Even Carnivores Will Crave

Lately, I’ve been really inspired by this thing called carbs. Luckily, when they come accompanied by loads of wholesome goodness and veggies, you don’t have to serve ’em with a side order of guilt. Behold: Last week’s Meatless Monday’s (erm, two Thursday agos…) Pasta extravaganza at Bob & Su’s.
Su and I tossed together this simple pasta salad, while Bob eagerly eyed the prime rib defrosting on the counter. Luckily, by the end of this hearty feasty, all parties had lost interest in steak. Heck, all we could even manage for dessert was raspberries (okay, drizzled with balsamic. and chocolate. lots of chocolate-covered stuff).
As it turned out, the meal was completely vegan (also pictured: simple roasted squash, a beet-studded salad, and caramelized Brussels sprouts), but I don’t think anybody noticed. 
Pasta
1 box mini shells
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bunch bok choi
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
Whatever vegetables you have and want to add
olive oil, lots of
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Add oil to hot pan and saute onion until brown.
2. Add peppers and bok choi to mixture.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on box.
4. Add canned tomatoes to pan’s mixture and continue simmering for fifteen minutes or so. Drizzle in more oil. And then probably some more.
5. Season as desired. Pour mixture over pasta and mix thoroughly.
*Note: You don’t have to use pasta shells for this recipe, but as Su wisely pointed out to me, the sauce clings nicely to the pliable shells, likely better than it would to ziti or spaghetti. If you’re lucky, some onion-y bits and tomato-y goodness will hide in the  shells’ nooks for some of the tastiest bites.”

Spicy Paprika-Dusted Spaghetti Squash Seeds

The above is just a fancy way of saying I roasted spaghetti squash seeds and threw a bunch of good spices on them. Consider it your reward for the nuisance that is figuring out how the hell to cut a squash in half without slicing your hand off, pulling your tricep (Life-changing tip: You can roast it whole, or throw it in the oven for 10 minutes to soften up, and then cut it in half), or both.

It’s so easy, and the result is a real treat. Eat them as a snack (you’ll never pay $4 for over-salted, under-seasoned sunflower seeds again) or toss them into salads as a crunchy topper or sprinkle over warm dishes as a seasonal garnish.

The ugly before…

The prettier after…

Ingredients
Seeds of one spaghetti squash, scraped out
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Whatever other seasonings you want slash have on hand
1. Line tinfoil with spaghetti squash seeds. Pour olive oil and spices over and toss with hands until evenly coated.
2. Roast in 200° oven for 20 minutes, or until seeds have reached desired crispy-ness. 
Feel free to add to main dish, like I did below in this eggplant-onion saute, but make sure you don’t try one before stirring into the mix (because once you pop one, they’ll probably all be gone before you make it to this step)

Aunt Su’s Fall Roasted Vegetable Medley

This “forget about it” while you cook (ahem, drink wine and chat while you chop more veggies), is one of my favorites from Aunt Su’s roster of no-effort but coup de delectable dishes. Certainly didn’t hurt that this recipe came to existence under the roof of a lovely waterfront house in Quogue surrounded by people whose company I cherish.

Ingredients
Serves 4-6 people
2 pounds brussel sprouts
3 leeks, trimmed-ish
2 bulbs fennel
2 garlic bulbs, peeled
1/4 cup or so olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh dill to garnish

1. Cube vegetables and place in large mixing bowl.
2. Toss vegetables with olive oil until evenly coated. Add salt, pepper and other desired seasonings.
3. Roast in oven for an hour at 400 degrees. Add generous amount of chopped fresh dill and stir into vegetable medley. Let cool a bit before eating.
To serve: Oceanside view is preferable but not a necessary vegetable-deliciousness enhancer.

                                      

(I don’t know why but I thought these lanterns were really wonderful and loved the dancing shadows they cast on the ceiling)