Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stromboli For Everyone

Stromboli! The thing your mom makes for the superbowl that you can't eat! OR-- If you're from New Jersey, and are familiar with College Avenue, you have surely been to Stuff Yer Face, an accredited beer emporium and junk food eatery serving up 'bolis and beers to abundant undergrad bros. We brought our Swedish friend here on one of his first nights in America, and when he got his boli asked, "How does the sutff get in there?" I explained in detail to my precious new Swedish friend, and we all enjoyed our bolis all the more after understanding the anatomy and craft of the great stromboli. It was also at Stuff Yer Face that I became a beer drinker. I was all wine all the time before I moved. But then I got poor, beer was cheaper, and Stuff Yer Face has a LOT of beer, and good beer at that. And so KZ transformed into her current form, and that's the story of me, my Swedish friend, and Stuff Yer Face.

The desire to make bolis for vegan mofo immediately besieged me upon seeing Veganopoulous's strombolis. Hers look pretty serious, and mine came out a smidge sloppier, but tasty and authentic nonetheless. These might look a little ambitious, but they are totally doable! It's Wednesday, after all. How hard could it be? I have made, shopped, eaten and cleaned this up and am writing this post with at least an hour to spare before bedtime. I'll show you:

It all begins with yeast. Proof you some yeast! To activate, mix sugar and yeast in a bowl and add hot water. You can hover and watch the "fireworks" as I've described to you that I do, or you can just let it do it's thing for 20 minutes while you run to the bodega and get an eggplant. I was out of eggplant.
Then you can just make your dough, and prep the tofu and eggplant while it rises.

Breaded eggplant is a special, special thing. It has been saving cheeseless pizzas from boring staleness at chain restaurants for eons. However-- BF hates eggplant. So I breaded some tofu and used a mix of both. That way he wouldn't notice. An emoji with it's tongue out goes here. 

To bread, I used the standard breading procedures from Isa Does It from her crispy tofu. It's somewhere in the book, don't quote me on where. But anyways you just have to dip your tofu/eggplant slices in soy sauce, then into a plate of breadcrumbs. Shake off the excess and drop it into a hot pan with olive oil.

Pan-fry until golden brown on both sides. Add more oil if they aren't getting golden, and just sort of burning. This isn't a low fat dish... I'll explain later. 

By the time you are done going to the store, dredging and frying all your tofu and eggplant, an hour might have passed. You can roll out your dough now! This recipe makes 2 big huge bolis, and serves about 4-5. Roll the dough into a long rectangle and add a bunch of your sauce. You can make your own- IF ITS SUNDAY. It's Wednesday, I got off work at 7, and I made a yeasted dough and shopped for groceries. I'm not about to make my own sauce too. Don't judge me.

Place the tofu ad eggplant in an alternating and overlapping stripe down the middle of your dough. 

I added some basil leaves on either side. Marvel at my fanciness.

On my boli, I added some Go Veggie vegan mozzarella. I've never tried it and saw it at Whole Foods, so I had been meaning to try out a new meltable option. I left the BF's without, since we all know by now how he feels about vegan cheese...

Roll them up by folding the sides together and pinching all the seams so that no boli filling is left exposed! Slice a few slits in your dough, rub with olive oil, and sprinkle with some coarse salt. These baked for 15-20 minutes at 400ºF. They were perfect!

These are much more massive than the personal-sized bolis at Stuff Yer Face, but hey, making extra is a bonus of home cooking. There's beauty in leftovers.

View of mine with the cheese from the inside. Like I said, a little sloppy, but aint nobody care. Each boli is unique and beautiful in its own special way, or something to that effect.

Here's an inside view of Alex's, with no cheese. It looks a little cleaner. But as I said, he cares not about how well it photographs. He had about 6 slices of his.

These are not a low fat food. I ate only one slice of mine and had a huge salad alongside. One slice was pretty sufficient to bring me back to age 22, eating my first eggplant boli with my first Hop Devil beer, with a bunch of my new friends in my new state. Food is nostalgia. That's how I feel. Also, I have dough stuck in my rings. Goodnight.

The New Tuna

As a child, I never liked tuna. My parents would make tuna salad by mixing together cans of tuna with, you guessed it, miracle whip. I never got past the smell. I think if macaroni noodles were mixed into a tuna salad at a potluck or shared meal, I probably dealt with it, because macaroni. But overall, tuna was a no-no for me growing up.

Isa, in her book, Isa Does It, and I think in her other books too, talks about how she misses tuna sandwiches. This chickpea tuna salad places tuna power back into her own hands and reminds us all that vegans don't have to miss anything. I normally wouldn't jump to try a recipe that mocks a dish I never used to like, but I found myself with all (most) of the ingredients on hand and no desire to go the store for new ones, and I made this.

It doesn't photograph especially well, and I just ate it on some pumpernickel toast, but it's super good! As you know, I have a surplus of chickpeas on hand, and I had some celery leftover from chowder. No carrots were available, and it calls for sunflower seeds, but I didn't have any not in the shell, so I left them out. I chopped up a cucumber and threw that in for any missing crunch the carrots would have provided. I also mashed an avocado in there. I used half chipotle vegenaise, the other half pesto vegenaise. I always have 4 different kinds of vegenaise in my fridge. That's totally normal, right?

Still under the weather, I caught up on some reading and enjoyed myself some new tuna. All the kids are doing it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Difference Between Saying You Eat Healthy, and Eating Healthy

I like to think of myself as a healthy person. I eat a strict vegan diet, and to most people, it appears that I am super healthy. Though I don't eat prime rib, or lobsters drenched in butter, I still indulge. And fairly often, I feel kind of gross. I don't like eating chips, french fries, and stay away from greasy things like chinese food most of the time. Eating those things make me feel awful-- and if we're going back to basic principles of veganism, I always believed that how good something tastes shouldn't be the reason I eat something, especially if it's hurting someone or something. Vegan foods aren't hurting animals, but sometimes they're hurting me. If I'm not feeling good a lot of the time, I'm not eating the right way. 

I want to take baby steps to becoming a truly healthful person. If you dive right into a diet that requires you to count your calories and eat no cooked food, you are probably going to fail. I have failed a lot when it comes to sticking with a diet. I think I need to figure out what is going to work for me and be sustainable, and that won't make me want to scream all the time. 

I've been sick this weekend, and it's uncomfortable and annoying. I am trying to eat foods that heal me, and energize me. I don't simmer my own beans often, but I can remember the first time I boiled my first batch of fresh chickpeas. The taste of them when they are first drained is so fresh! I remember eating them by the handful. So I made some this morning  and they were just as fresh ;)

I have had a bag of chai spices on my counter for the whole summer just waiting for the first day of fall. It's finally chai time! I simmered 2 teaspoons of chai spices in 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk and added 2 teaspoons coconut sugar. The longer you simmer, the stronger the chai. I missed chai this summer. Iced Chai just isn't the same.

This is my trough of fresh boiled chickpeas. It was about a pound and a half dried beans that I soaked overnight, then boiled with a strip of kombu and a pinch of salt for and hour and ten minutes. I tried peeling them, then realized they taste no different and the vitamix doesn't care if you peel them or not. 

I decided to make a tonic to try and "cleanse" my body today. I used this recipe with a few modifications. I made 55 ounces of it last night, and drank it all. Feeling slightly better today, but still no where near perfect. So I made another batch. I just called it "spicy lemonade" and it made it more fun to drink.

It's the juice of 2 lemons, which I juice over the blender container so that I don't have to worry about seeds. As you know, the vitamix doesn't care if there are seeds. There's a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger that I sliced, and about 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. The ginger is supposed to "detoxify" you, and the cayenne pepper is to keep your sinuses clear. The lemon is supposed to help with digestion. I feel like people are too polite on the internet about what this food is going to make your body do sometimes. The people need to know.


I put in about 1 tablespoon of agave nectar. It's not fair to make yourself drink straight lemon juice without a little something in it..

I put some coconut water ice cubes in there, that I had left from making smoothies from my book that is all about bananas. If you don't have any coconut water ice cubes, use regular ice. I just put them in there to seem fancy.

 I filled it to the top with purified water and poured some into a glass. The end.

I had a long chat with a friend who eats super healthy and said he eats pasta as a special treat a few times a month. That made me feel shitty, since I eat pasta several times a week. He isn't vegan, but he seems almost more health-conscious than I am, somehow. I think focusing on meals that are full of healthy items most nights is a good place to start.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Saturdays are for Shopping Up

Since our move to NYC, we've been present at the monthly shop-up markets in Bushwick nearly every month. By now, we've had a chance to meet and become friends with a bunch of people there, and always look forward to hanging out on a Saturday with a bunch of cool, smart, vegan-minded people. I think the winter shop-ups are my favorite, when you trek all the way out there in a blizzard, and inside you just sit at the bar and drink some great beers and eat a bunch of chocolate and get toasty/toasted. This Saturday it was perfect fall weather, with a tiny bit of rain that we seemed to be lucky in missing. People kept walking into the bar soaked and we were dry walking in, and dry walking out. I scored some Mac and Cheese from Cake Thieves, some macarons from Sweet Maresa's, and a chocolate from Lagusta's Luscious. I was unable to eat the large quantities of food that I usually consume for whatever reason yesterday. It was probably for the best, considering the celebratory drinks we had for Alex's birthday on Friday. 

 Just two more couldn't hurt. Plus Pumpkin Beer is Back!

I have been putting off making stock for a long, long time. The thought of boiling a bunch of vegetables in my kitchen this summer made me cringe, and I accumulated 3 or 4 gallon-sized freezer bags full of vegetable odds & ends by the time fall arrived. I have this really giant stock pot that I like to make huge batches in. I filled it to the brim.

It's really huge. When it boiled, it boiled over and I had to put some in a separate pot. Now, I have 30 cups of stock, which means I have ten mason jars in my fridge. Do you want some?

Alex had a stroke of brilliance and suggested we make chowder for dinner. I love the Glam Chowder recipe from Isa Does It, and so does he. Plus, it's one of the only ways to get him to eat a ton of mushrooms happily. Me? I will eat my weight in mushrooms happily, in any way, any kind of mushroom, on any vehicle, so you can gather that this chowder is my jam. Plus, I'm from New England, where the chowder is abundant. But you don't have to be from New England to love this chowder. You don't have to be vegan to love this chowder either, but I heard that if you love it, you should go vegan, because it will taste better. Someone told me that.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Birthday Cookies, Chocolate and chocolate

After Alex's birthday dinner, I made chocolate hazelnut chip cookies and hot chocolate. These cookies are the kind I make almost every time, but often rotate which nut butter I use. This recipe will work with peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sun butter, maybe even coconut butter? I don't know, I haven't tried. Coconuts are a sort of erroneous nut, though. Right? 

My hot chocolate recipe goes like this: Pour almond/soy milk in your vitamix. Toss a handful of chocolate chips in. Turn on. Let rip for like 6 minutes until it's hot. Drink.

 It doesn't hurt to live 10 blocks from the vegan marshmallow factory either...

Chocolate Hazelnut Chip Cookies:

2/3 cup chocolate hazelnut butter, I used Justin's
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup chocolate soy milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or sub with more brown sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon hazelnut extract (or sub more vanilla)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (enjoy life brand is easy to find)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line 2 baking sheets with silpat or parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk together the nut butter, sugars, soy milk, cornstarch, and extracts.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Mix together with a fork, and then knead in the mini chips.
Form into 1 tablespoon-sized balls and place on prepared sheet, about 2" apart.
Bake for 9 minutes and let cool for 5 before moving them to a wire rack.
As they cool, they get crispier on the outside but stay soft in the middle.

Friday, September 12, 2014

KZ, Spoon, Birthdays, and Seitan

I have been too busy for life this week! Unfortunately that means I have been too busy for mofo, but I hope to post a couple small ones so that I still total 30 posts this month. Anyway, yesterday was Alex's birthday, which means mine is close to follow... This is the first birthday he's complained about his age, which is good, because I started complaining about mine since I turned 22. So he enjoyed the past five years a little more with the idea in his head that he was still in his youth. Party's over and we're 27 this year. Just kidding, party's not over. We just party'd by staying in and cooking instead of going out and drinking. 

I will explain all of this plate in a moments time, but first, we went to see Spoon on Wednesday in Central Park! I have never seen a show in Central Park, so it was nice to see a new venue, and outdoor shows are always fun-- in that people don't blow their joint's smoke directly into your face, they blow it up and the beautiful night air carries some of it away. The rest smells, to me, like stale B.O. but that's over now, so: Spoon. Amazing. The first time I saw them I was a senior in high school, and skipped "spirit night" or some peppy event to go and see them with Alex. It was on their Gimme Fiction tour, but the set was still ripe with tracks from Kill The Moonlight. We saw them two more times between then and now, and have loved every release to date. They Want My Soul has been no different, as we are in love with it and are so glad Spoon continues to drop such real material even after all these years.

 We got close, I swear.

 Okay, back to food. Alex always requests something meat-and-potatoes-y. He requested it last night and I went to the store thinking, "Okay, how about a cacciatore-style seitan, with capers, peppers..." And he says, "No peppers." And so I am like WTF, why not?! and "What is the seitan supposed to be like?" and he says, "Make it American." And so I had been thrown into loop, where I couldn't visualize my dish, the palate I wanted it to accommodate, and thought, "there's no theme?? What kind of seitan dish follows no path? WHO IS IT VERSUS??"

Under the spell of someone's brief stroke of genius, I decided to press the seitan into breadcrumbs and pan-fry the cutlets, then slice them before plating.

He also said he wanted onion gravy, which is a lengthy process, requiring lot's of not-acquired veggie stock, so I made a caramelized onion ju. What is a ju? Ask someone French. Anyway, this hybrid meal suited it's purpose, as Alex said it was exactly what he wanted. So next time I requested that when he wants this, he ask specifically for Seitan a la KZ. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Tale of Vegan Convenience

September is packed with stuff to do in NYC. Saturday night, we saw a show at Irving Plaza, Sunday night we saw a show at The Bowery Ballroom, and tomorrow night, we are seeing a show in Central Park. Thursday is Alex's birthday, and Friday we are going out for birthday drinks! Saturday is of course the Shop-Up, and Sunday.. well maybe we'll want to sleep for 24 straight hours after all that. Anyway, Sunday night we found ourselves indoors the whole day, exhausted and broke, not planning to go out until the show at the Bowery. We didn't leave ourselves much time for dinner, so we needed something close, cheap, and quick! We tried Two Boots for the first time, after a friend of ours urging us to try the one in Jersey City with her many times. Two boots has locations all over NYC, and also in other cities too. It offers vegan pizza in two variations, a thick crust and a thin.

This has mushrooms, artichokes (my fav), onions, pesto and red pepper sauce. It has daiya on it too. Now, I like daiya. I used to not like it. But over the last year I've come to enjoy daiya every now and then when I'm out to eat and it's a choice between a cheeseless pizza and a pizza with daiya. I think it does the trick. Alex, on the other hand, complained for the duration of the time it took him to begin and finish this slice. He hates daiya, it doesn't taste like mozzarella, it's too tangy....blah, blah, blah... I am, after listening to him complain while I ate two slices of daiya-y pizza, inclined to agree that it might be too tangy to enjoy in the same quantities that one would enjoy mozzarella. HOWEVER-- I would  much rather eat daiya than eat animal cheese, and am so very grateful that a product like daiya exists, if simply only to help other people stop eating animal cheese. 

The slices were decent, though not Vinnie's quality, and not their selection either. While in a pinch, they did the trick, I don't think we'll be making any more special stops out to Two Boots any time soon.

The show was great! Our favorite band, Into It. Over It. played first. We mostly went to see them, but the headliner was an old emo band called Mineral. I never got into them, but they are part of the big "emo revival" that has been going on. Some of the bands of that era I really dig (like Braid!), some not so much. But if bands like Into It. Over It. exist because of old emo bands like Mineral, then I'm happy they are around to inspire tunes that are more my style. Into It. Over It. puts on a great show and since I'm familiar with their whole catalogue, it was super enjoyable knowing every song they could possibly play. He's so prolific, and a great writer, musically and lyrically. This is my third time seeing Into It. Over It. in the last year, actually! I'm pissed I missed out on tickets to their show in October, but they are opening for another emo band that I never really liked, so I guess it's virtually all the same. Sigh.

You guys it finally feels like fall is here! I am way over summer. Team Fall! I love the weather, events, produce, and flavors it brings with it. I am 100 pumpkin-flavored food items away from a chilly but charming winter in this wonderful city. 
To all things autumn!
<3 KZ