Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chocolate & Mint; made for each other, a Holiday Potluck & Cupcake Hero!

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'Tis the season for Chocolate & Mint to mingle together in deliciousness! If noshing on Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's isn't enough for you, you make have found yourself doing some baking using this combination commonly used at this time of year.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been looking for the perfect vegan chocolate cake recipe. I need depth of flavor & a bit of fluff, not like those cocoa-only based cakes out there. I believe I may have found my winner, but as a person who doesn't like to settle for second best, I have a few more things to try before posting it here. Luckily, this deep chocolate cake has been a perfect pairing with the kick of mint, so I used it in both cake & cupcake form to make treats for friends & family.

My brother Kyle turned 21 in early December & I volunteered to make him a birthday cake, of course! I recalled his fondness for Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream as a child, & used it as my inspiration for a Chocolate Cake filled & decorated with Mint Icing & topped with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache. While I'd never considered myself a "mint person" in the past, I was quickly converted & couldn't get enough of this cake's combination. Luckily, my family felt the same & the cake was quickly consumed!

I'm always looking for an excuse to gather together & eat with friends, so I hosted a Holiday themed party in my home for a group of local vegans. I know many of us don't get a full spread of options at family celebrations, so this was a chance to load up our plates without questioning the contents of anything! The food was delicious; from latkes to herbed stuffing, vegan quiche and quinoa cakes, I was impressed with the spread of food that came together! I was on dessert duty & decided a return to the chocolate mint combination was in order, but in an easily served cupcake form!

Rich chocolate cupcakes were topped with a swirl of Mint Icing & Candy Cane Joe Joe cookies hand dipped in Bittersweet Guittard Chocolate! The depth of the chocolate played off the refreshing mint, while the dipped cookies were a treat all on their own! For those who've never had a Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe, it's a sandwich cookie similar to an Oreo, but the center contains a peppermint-vanilla creme with crushed candy canes in it! While the combination may sound odd or just alright, these cookies are highly addictive & similar to the Thin Mints your local girl scout pushes.

Chocolate Dipped Cookies
While hardly a recipe, I thought some information on dipping techniques could be useful.

Ingredients & Tools:
Chocolate of your choice, chopped (I used E. Guittard Bittersweet Wafers, no chopping needed!)
Cookies of your choice
A double boiler or a water filled pot with a bowl suspended over it
Parchment paper on a flat surface near your stove top

Place the chocolate in the bowl or top of your double boiler & heat it up until it is fluid, being careful not to burn it. Make sure you have a decent amount of chocolate, so you can easily cover the size cookie you're using.

Once the chocolate is fluid, dip a single cookie in to the bowl coating each side evenly. It's likely you'll burn your fingers, especially if you touch the bottom or sides, so be cautious of this & move quickly!

Once coated, let the excess drip from the cookie & place it on the parchment paper to dry.
Sandwich cookies are great for this, as you can stand them up to dry & the chocolate that moves to the base of the cookie makes an excellent platform to keep them from falling over on your cake or cupcakes.

Let the chocolate dry completely while you tackle another project. Don't touch them, or you'll have smudges & fingerprints on them.

Once the cookie is dry, it will lift cleanly from the parchment paper. Try not to eat them all before they make it on to your baked goods or give in & make them especially for snacking on!

By the way, the theme for December's Cupcake Hero contest happens to be mint, so I thought I'd enter my Chocolate cupcakes with Mint Icing & Bittersweet chocolate dipped Candy Cane Joe Joe's, as I've never seen a vegan entry in the contest. The co-host is the awesome Natalie from Bake & Destroy, who rocks out vegan cupcakes of her own from time to time!

I hope everyone had a Happy Holiday season filled with lots of delicious sweet treats!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New York City Dessert Reviews; Part Two; Vegan Treats Edition!

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The dessert dissection continues! Many New Yorkers will tell you, there's no shortage of places to consume goods from Vegan Treats. Luckily, I took the opportunity to try a plethora of their sweets & the range of rating may be a surprise to you!

Once again, I'll keep it short & simple with excerpts directly from my notes & a star rating between 1 and 5. Be sure to check out Anatomy of a Dessert Review, so you can understand my process & the meaning of the ratings you see here.

Peanut Butter Bomb Brownie- A delicious peanut butter mousse, chocolate shell, & peanut butter drizzle a top a dense brownie, not for the faint of heart, this is dessert is intense! Peanut Butter Bomb is a specialty of Vegan Treats & you'll find it on cakes & cupcakes as well! 4 stars

Pumpkin Cake- This cake is nicely spiced & addictive, I enjoyed the frosting & found myself repeatedly going back for “one more bite". 3 ¾ stars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake- Sometimes people agree to disagree. I liked the textured chocolate & peanut butter topping, but disliked the bland, gelatinous peanut butter layer & Ryan felt the opposite! Sure, this worked out well for us, but neither of us were bowled over by this dessert. 2 ½ stars

Brownie Cheesecake- At first bite, this is a dense dessert. After digging in, I found the brownie layer to be nice, but the cheesecake portion to be a bit bland for my taste. 2 ½ stars

Lemon Cupcake- The texture of the cake was chewy & lacking lemon flavor, luckily the frosting was quite nice, but not enough to make me love this dessert. 2 stars

Hazelnut Cake- While it has a nice fluffy hazelnut frosting & tasty fudgy center filling, I found the chocolate cake to be dry & flavorless. I would give this another try, it could be better on delivery day. 3 ½ stars (I was lucky enough to share this slice with my fellow jet setting blogger, Bazu from Where's the Revolution!)

Boston Crème Donut- Ooh, lovely fluffy donut with delicious chocolate icing! Unfortunately, I found the crème filling to be a bit strange & salty. 3 ½ stars

Oreo Cookie Donut- This has a nice cream filling, but the donut & topping seem to be lacking. Can I have the Boston donut filled with Oreo cream, please?! 3 stars

Cinnamon Roll- I found this to be a bit too dense & lacking that soft gooey center people expect of cinnamon rolls. The icing was almost cream cheese-like & while I enjoyed it, Ryan thought there was far too much of it. 3 stars

Lemon-Lime Cake- A nicely flavored lime cake, but texturally it's bit dense & chewy. The lemon & lime frostings were both fluffy & delicious! 3 ½ stars

Death by Chocolate Cake- This is no joke; chocolate cake with 3 different types of filling, all held in by chocolate ganache! The cake is clearly a catalyst for all of the other components, when it’s fresh, it’s good & moist, although not particularly flavorful, a day or two later, it’s dry. That being said, all of the fillings are delicious & flavorful & help to keep the cake moist. The ganache outer shell is nice as well, although not the star here. 4 ½ stars

Overall, I was impressed by the confections Vegan Treats has to offer. They're obviously made with care & the flavors are diverse & exciting. Best of all, they look fabulous, so anyone, vegan or not, would be attracted to them!

Check out the Vegan Treats myspace page for locations!
For more photos of the Vegan Treats I tried, check out my Flickr.

Monday, December 17, 2007

New York City Dessert Reviews; Part One!

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New York City; the land of vegan desserts! I had my share of sweets (plus the share of a few others) & wanted to give you the inside scoop on the options out there. Initially, I set out to review cupcakes, but once I saw the other offerings, I decided to expand my horizons! In part one, you'll find mainly cupcakes, but coming up are items from Vegan Treats; cakes & donuts & cheesecakes, oh my!

Rather than write long paragraphs, I keep it short & simple with excerpts directly from my notes & a star rating between 1 and 5! Be sure to check out Anatomy of a Dessert Review, so you can understand my process & the meaning of the ratings you see here.

When asking folks about the cupcakes of NYC, S’nice came highly recommended. I decided to start with a meal at this cute little spot & finish up with 2 cupcakes, vanilla with chocolate frosting & chocolate with vanilla frosting, both delightfully topped with Halloween spider rings!

Vanilla cupcake with Chocolate frosting- The vanilla cupcake was dense & muffin-like, not a bad item, but it wasn't high in flavor. The frosting was cocoa based & tasty, almost like your favorite fudgy canned frosting, but with a different consistency. 3 stars

Chocolate cupcake with Vanilla frosting
- The 1st bite in to the cake seemed to have a nice chocolate flavor, but then it started to taste salty & it’s quite dense. Luckily, the frosting was thick & almost like Oreo cream filling, yum! 3 stars

S'nice: 45 8th Avenue between Jane and Horatio, NYC.

As you may recall, I took a trip to Babycakes a few months ago & was underwhelmed. I decided to give this cute little bakery another shot, as I can't imagine a place so adorable being anything less than tasty. I opted for Carrot, Lemon, & Chocolate cupcakes & a slice of gluten free Chocolate Crumb cake.

Carrot cupcake
- I found this to be a bit bland, under spiced, & muffiny, the frosting was nice, making an overall OK cupcake. 2 ¾ stars

Chocolate Spelt cupcake
- Nice depth & chocolate taste in the cake with a mild chocolate frosting, the best of the “babycakes” I’ve tasted. 3 stars

Lemon cupcake- The cake doesn’t taste of lemon & it’s a bit grainy. For some reason this cupcake seems to give me “cottonmouth”! I love lemon, so I expected more. 2 ½ stars

Chocolate Crumb Cake
- The chocolate cake was gritty, which could be due to the use of alternate flours making it gluten free, the crumb topping was OK, but I still couldn’t bother with more than a few bites. 2 stars

Babycakes: 248 Broome Street on the Lower East Side

If you know dessert in New York, you know Atlas Café; home of the display case of Vegan Treats. What you may not know is, they have vegan soft serve! On my first trip, I had plain vanilla due to being told this was their only flavor. Little did I know the list of items to accompany the soft serve are not toppings, but options to be mixed in!

Atlas Soft Serve- Creamy & rich, not “beany” like some soy creams out there. This was thicker than traditional frozen yogurt & great on it’s own, but even better with a peanut butter mix in! Thank goodness I don’t live in NYC, I could eat this often! 4 stars

Café: 73 2nd Av at E 4th St.

On Halloween, we walked down Bowery & made our way in to a place where I'd spied vegan cupcakes earlier in the week. Lucky's Café is located inside the Bowery Poetry Club & carries vegan baked goods made by a local woman with no business name. I opted for two items; a banana cupcake with vanilla frosting & a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting.

Banana cupcake with Vanilla frosting- The cake portion was dense & bland, I would consider it a fluffy muffin, thankfully the frosting was delicious, like something you’d find on carrot cake. 2 ½ stars

Chocolate cupcake with Peanut Butter frosting
- The cake was lacking flavor, although it had a nice texture & fluff to it. The frosting was fluffy, but lacking in peanut buttery flavor & I found it to be overly salty. 2 ½ stars

Café at Bowery Poetry Club: 308 Bowery

I hope you enjoyed round one; of course this is merely my opinion, so I encourage you to try these places on your own. It's important to support vegan businesses, but it's also important to produce a high quality product that can stand up to comparable items, vegan or not. Stay tuned for round two; Vegan Treats edition later this week!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pumpkin Doughnuts with Cinnamon Glaze.

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The sweet treats of NYC are coming soon, but in the mean time, here’s a recipe that somehow came together in my kitchen this weekend for the monthly Vegan Brunch Cartel. Experimentation, a little bit of this & a little bit of that seemed to pay off in the form of Pumpkin Doughnuts. I wanted to share this with you before the ingredients have left the markets, so you can have your own weekend brunch treat with friends!

Pumpkin Doughnuts (Special equipment needed; donut pan.)
1 cup AP flour
1 cup WW Pastry Flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pumpkin, freshly roasted or canned
1 1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup Earth Balance (or other margarine), softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In to a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, then add in the brown sugar.

Add pumpkin, soy milk, vanilla, margarine, & vanilla; beat with an electric mixer on low speed or whisk until just mixed.

Add the apple cider vinegar & carefully fold it in until just mixed.

Fill the wells of your donut pan almost to the brim. Bake them for 10 minutes, or till golden brown.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven & allow them to cool on a rack.

Cinnamon Doughnut Glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 tablespoons soy milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste

Whisk all of the ingredients together.
If you like a thicker glaze, add more confectioners sugar, to make it more icing-like.

After the doughnuts have cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the tops, allowing the excess to fall to parchment paper below your cooling rack.

This yields 12 doughnuts.

My Notes:
While these aren't the amazing Mighty O, these lightly pumpkin flavored little treats will satisfy your seasonal sweets craving! I was happy with the results & the VBC crew didn't seem to have any complaints!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Anatomy of a Dessert Review.

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From time to time you’ll see reviews of desserts I’ve consumed while on the road. To fully understand my ratings on desserts, I thought I should give you a view in to my process for tasting baked goods & what I believe makes a high quality item. Anyone who’s been on a tasting with me can tell you, I move slowly, love to discuss every detail, & often I take notes!

When tasting a dessert, I like to taste each component on its own, be it the cake, frosting, filling, etc. I note the flavor profile, the depth, & texture of each section; I then taste the item as a whole to see how everything works together. In my opinion, the perfect dessert needs to be delicious as separate components, but also work together to be a truly outstanding treat. I find my scrutiny is especially intense with cakes, as many times a portion will be too dry or lacking in flavor, while the other portion is perfectly fine or even good. In baked goods, I like depth of flavor, but not too dense & moistness with a bit of fluffiness. I like rich & decadent, I’m not afraid of triple chocolate or a sugary sweet buttercream. I also enjoy fruit flavors, sharp & tangy, smooth & creamy, although I do tend to gravitate towards a cake versus a pie or a crumble versus a tart!

While in New York City, I had the chance to sample desserts everyday. I plan to review them all over the course of a few posts & have decided to employ a rating system of 1 to 5 stars. Rating systems vary vastly from person to person, so here’s some insight in to mine!

5 stars- Wonderful! Craveable! These are the items my dreams are made of & they dance in my head whenever that sugar craving sets in!
4 stars- Delicious, something I’d recommend to others & would consume again.
3 stars-
A nice dessert item, not spectacular, but solid; I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat this again, but probably wouldn’t turn it down either.
2 stars-
Flawed & lacking in multiple facets, not something I’d consume again & would advise others against.
1 star-
Inedible & just downright BAD. These are the items that make people think vegan food is “weird” or “gross”; they should be outlawed!

I hope you enjoyed a look in to the madness of my mind. Stay tuned for my upcoming New York City dessert reviews, as well as future thoughts on confections around the globe!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dining Vegan in New York City!

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New York City has a plethora of Vegan options, from quick food to fine dining there’s never a shortage of options for herbivores. I made my dining wish list before I headed to town deciding to treat myself to all ends of the spectrum.

To review all of my many dining experiences would not only be time consuming, but far too lengthy to read. I managed to check out Blossom, S’nice, Candle 79, Candle Café, Franchia, Pure Food & Wine, NY Dosas, Viva Herbal, B&H Vegetarian, Caravan of Dreams, & that doesn’t even include quick stops for falafel & pizza or dessert spots like Babycakes & Atlas Café!

It seems the most useful information would be the places of note, so here are my selections for the notable vegan dining of NYC! Please excuse the photos, as dimly lit dining rooms seem to be de rigueur in the Big Apple.

Candle 79 is a beautiful restaurant on the Upper East Side, a neighborhood I wouldn’t normally spend time in, but it was well worth the trek uptown! In fact, I enjoyed it so much; I dined here twice, opting to treat a friend I was staying with, as I wanted her to experience the loveliness! First of all, the Seitan Chimichurri is amazing & must be tasted to be believed! Within the first few bites you’ll marvel at the "meatiness" & enjoy the citrus herb marinade that adorns it; Ryan took one bite & was concerned we weren't in a vegan restaurant after all. The Cornmeal Crusted Eggplant is a wonderful combination of flavors & textures, it's creamy, yet flanked with tomato sauce, & topped with crispy shiitake mushrooms. The Black Pepper & Balsamic Seitan is similar to what you’d find in a "meat & potatoes" omni restaurant, but much more refined; seitan atop a celeriac puree with a side of haricots verts & mushrooms. It was well presented, flavorful, & although not the most creative dish I’ve had, it was enjoyed thoroughly. An entrée special we had was a Dijon Lentil Stew with Collared Greens, it was topped with Kabocha Pumpkin wrapped in thinly sliced Yukon Gold Potatoes & shredded apples with a Pomegranate sauce. We marveled at the flavors & enjoyed the use of vegetables versus relying on a meat analog. Finally, the Pumpkin Seed & Sage Crusted Tempeh was wonderful & made its way to my dinner table both trips! Delicately spiced & delicious, the accompanying Garlic Quinoa Risotto with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, & Broccoli was creamy & we seemed to be fighting over the last few bites! Sadly, I found the desserts here to be lacking. The ice creams are nice, but nothing to marvel over. I would skip the dessert & revel in the fabulousness of your meal!
Candle 79: 154 East 79th Street at Lexington, NYC.

Franchia is an oasis in the chaos of midtown serving tea & Korean food. I was lucky enough to have the companionship of the lovely VKO from Lifestyles of the Chic & Vegan while dining here & we opted to share, maximizing the dishes we could experience. We started with the Combination pancakes; the Scallion pancake was a bit glutenous & while it was my least favorite, it was still enjoyed, the better options were the Corn & Cilantro pancake and Spicy Kimchi pancake, both of which were great! NYC must be on a Kabocha Pumpkin kick, as they had a dish utilizing it on the menu & it drew me in. The pumpkin was lovely & accompanied by fried tofu topped with a tasty sesame soy sauce and a side of Kimchi. The Spicy Kimchi fried rice on Lotus leaf was also enjoyed. Can you tell we wanted all things Kimchi?! Yum yum!
Franchia: 12 Park Avenue between 34th & 35th Street, NYC.

Pure Food & Wine is a raw foodist’s dream! My dining companions were both non-veg & have culinary training. Due to their appreciation for food, we decided to go all out & had the 5 course tasting menu. At the tasting, everything is chef’s choice & each member of the table is given different menu items, as to maximize your dining experience. We shared everything & tried so many dishes, it’s hard to review them all, but many were noteworthy! The Spicy Thai Lettuce Wraps with Tamarind Chile sauce are a fresh & flavorful starter. The Biriyani topped with Coconut Curried vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, & cucumbers in a saffron oil and the Chanterelle Mushroom and Kalamata Olive Ravioli were both beautiful second course selections. The entree of choice by all parties was the White Corn Tamale with Cacao Mole sauce, mushrooms, salsa verde, & avocado! We had a hard time sharing this dish & I would definitely order this in the future.
The desserts at Pure Food & Wine are outstanding! Stephanie, a former pastry chef, marveled at the 3 desserts we tasted, even noting she enjoyed the use of chocolate, something which is not normally her first choice. Vanilla Pink Peppercorn ice cream was paired with Chocolate Molten Lava cake, Mint ice cream was layered with a center of Raw Cookie Dough to form a cake slice, then drizzled in chocolate. Once again there was a stand out dish in the Classic Sundae; vanilla & chocolate ice cream with cherry framboise, chocolate sauce, bananas, and candied almonds! All in all, I love this format for raw food, it’s fresh, creative, memorable, & not drowning in new age gimmick.
Pure Food & Wine: 54 Irving Place at East 17th Street, NYC.

Not everything has to be fine dining, S’nice is a cozy little spot in the West Village with sandwiches, salads, baked goods, & a coffee bar. It's a great place to bring your laptop, sip coffee, & grab a bite to eat! Although not my taste, Ryan enjoyed his Smoked Tempeh Wrap with spicy chipotle dressing. I had a Black Bean, Corn, & Quinoa salad; which at first glance, I was not thrilled with, due to multiple items I dislike flanking the top, but once I dug in, I was more than happy! The avocado dressing turned out to be fabulous & is still stuck in my mind, which is surprising, as it's not something I'd normally select. Rumor has it, I missed out by not having the Tofu Panini, but there’s always a next time! In a future post, I'll review the house made vegan cupcakes S'nice carries along with other desserts I consumed on my trip.
S'nice: 45 8th Avenue between Jane and Horatio, NYC.

Other casual options I enjoyed were NY Dosas, as I noted in, “Do you know the Dosa Man?”, Mamoun’s Falafel on St. Marks for filling late night fare & the pizza from Viva Herbal. I thought I should have pizza, being in NYC & all, but one place I'd tried was nothing to write home about. Luckily, the suggestion of Viva Herbal was made by multiple friends & it paid off! I had the delicious Santa Rosa slice, a thin whole wheat crust topped with Miso Tofu, Sun dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Garlic cloves, & mushrooms. They also have multiple other veggie loaded slices on both spelt and whole wheat crusts. They claim to offer non-dairy cheese, but buyer beware, it contains casein- ick! Luckily, their shredded miso tofu resembles cheese, tastes quite good, & does the job, so there's no need for dairy derived additions!
Viva Herbal: 179 2nd Avenue between 11th & 12th Street, NYC.

Thankfully, nothing I consumed on my trip was horrendous, although I would recommend you give Caravan of Dreams and their soggy tempeh a pass. Additionally, I think Candle 79 is worth the $5 - $10 more per plate versus Candle Café, the dishes are far more creative & they don’t utilize any casein cheese like the café does.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a fun city to visit with vegan options galore, look no further, NYC is a vegan mecca!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cookie Mania & an important cause!

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This post is lacking recipes & I'm lacking motivation to wade through New York photos & food notes, but one thing it's definitely not lacking is COOKIES!

I've never considered myself a cookie person. Sure, cookies are tasty & as a child I consumed them in mass quantities, but these days if I'm going to be naughty, I tend to go all out & reach for decadent cakes. I've been recipe testing for Kelly & Garrick who have an upcoming cookie cookbook & with all the cookies hanging out around the house, the tide may be changing!

I love how quickly a batch of cookies can be thrown together, not to mention, they're portable, easy to share, & people love them! Ryan has been taking various desserts to work & the cookies never last long. I think there's a nostalgic feeling people get from biting into a homemade cookie; hooray, you're a kid again! Cookies are versatile as well, a decorated sugar cookie is a canvas for so many options, it's insane!

Some of the cookies I've made so far are Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bakes, Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins or Chocolate Chips, Amazingly Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies, Snickerdoodles, & Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip! These have all been tester recipes, but I've been checking out various cookbooks for other options, especially with the holidays coming up. Let's face it; the holidays are meant for cookies!

So, what's my favorite cookie? Right now it's SNICKERDOODLES! I thought I'd be all about chocolate, but the cinnamon sugary soft & chewy 'doodle has a hold on me. The recipe from Kelly & Garrick's book is phenomenal & will be a staple in my house hold for years to come!


On a serious note, I'm currently volunteering for Californians for Humane Farms. Better conditions are needed for the farm animals that provide to our nation, they should be able to lie down, turn around freely, stand, & fully extend their limbs with ease in their enclosures, which is not currently the case.
The Humane Society, Farm Sanctuary, & many SPCA chapters are working together to move this initiative to the ballot for next year. We have to gather 650,000 signatures from California registered voters! If you're registered to vote in California, I urge you to sign the petition, consider circulating a petition in your area, post about this on your blog or myspace, & do whatever you can to help these animals. Please visit to learn more about this exciting ballot initiative for farm animals!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Do you know the Dosa Man?

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I’m back from New York City with a plethora of information to share! While it may take me awhile to sort through all the photos, collect my thoughts, & catch up on blogs & comments, I thought I’d start with a post about NY Dosas!

In Washington Square Park on West 4th Street & Sullivan, there’s a man who sells delicious dosas & other South Indian goodies, cooked to order, all from a curbside quick food cart. This is not quick food though, these are dishes made with care, kindness, & a smile from the generous Thiru, owner & chef of NY Dosas. Best of all, it’s all Vegan! It thrills the hell out of me to see a street cart selling Vegan dishes to the public & there was no shortage of people enjoying them!

On my first visit, I had the most popular selection; the Special Pondicherry, a rice & lentil crepe filled with vegetables & spiced potatoes. The first thing I noted was the freshness of the vegetables, lightly cooked & crispy in the delicious crepe. A coconut chutney & spicy sambar accompany the dosa, all for only $6! In addition to dosas, a small selection of lunch specials, veggie uthappam, and quick bites such as samosas, veggie roti, lentil donuts, and veggie drumsticks are available.

I decided to make NY Dosas my final meal before heading home from my trip. I left my selection to Thiru this time & was not disappointed! He loaded my container with a dosa, uppthapam, a portion of the idly meal, AND a veggie drumstick in addition to the standard sides! I was in shock, very, very full & toting leftovers.

I look forward to next time I’m in NYC, a trip (or three) to NY Dosas is definitely in order! Go support the “vegan dosa cart guy” & enjoy some fun & fresh food!

By the way, in response to NaNoWriMo, a Vegan Month of Food project has been formed called VeganMoFo! While I lack time to participate, there's a lot of great entries being churned out by the many vegan bloggers out there. I'm not sure if there is a complete listing of participant, but check out this listing from Isa & find a new favorite recipe or blog!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

October Celebrations, a trip to Seattle, & delicious Peanut Butter Caramel!

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Oh Fall! I’m not sure I’m ready for you, but here you are! It’s odd, in San Francisco the temperature seems to rise in October giving us 70 degree days, then they drop off to the consistent 55 degrees we’ll see for the next few months. I’m in New York City right now & it’s definitely Fall. We started with some rain & now the temperature has dropped to the mid-40s. I would almost say the heated subways feel good!

Another installation of the brunch cartel occurred awhile back & once again there was no shortage of amazing food! I utilized the apples I picked & made an apple crumble with a toasted hazelnut topping. I made sure to include all the varieties, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, & Fuji. The crumble was great & with the toasted hazelnuts, I was very happy with the outcome! In fact, I wish I had some right now for this cool fall day! I also used the apples to make a vinegar-based slaw with apples cut into matchsticks, plus cabbage & other vegetables. The rest of the crew spoiled us with Vegan McMuffins, Pumpkin Waffles, a Frittata, Home Fries, Biscuits & Gravy, Blueberry Mousse, & Poha, an Indian puffed rice snack. Needless to say, my plate & belly were quite full!

Ryan & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary at the beginning of October. We kicked off the celebration with a night at Millennium Restaurant for the Aphrodisiac Dinner, which was fabulous! We shared a butterscotch pecan tartlette that seriously rocked my world. On our anniversary, Ryan had to take a business trip, but he was able to get home late that night, so I made a Chicago-style deep dish pizza, inspired by Bazu. For dessert, I made Isa’s Smlove Pie, a rich bittersweet chocolate pie, layered with peanut butter caramel, candied pecans, & drizzled with chocolate. While we loved the whole thing, the peanut butter caramel was the stand out in the dish! It was excellent on the pie, but would also be excellent on ice cream or anything you’d use a caramel sauce for. Additionally, it’s easy to make & you should do so, right away.

Peanut Butter Caramel
1/3 cup peanut butter at room temperature, preferably natural.
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup

Add all of the ingredients to a small sauce pan.

Gently heat everything over low heat, stirring constantly, just smooth & heated through.

The consistency should be somewhat thick, but fluid & will fall from a fork in ribbons. If it's too stiff, turn the heat off & add a bit more brown rice syrup. Different peanut butters have different moisture content, so adjust accordingly.

As I mentioned, we loved the peanut butter caramel & men love peanut butter, so I used it in birthday cupcakes for Ryan’s brother. I’m always trying to think of new cupcake combinations & settled on rich chocolate cupcakes filled with peanut butter caramel & topped with chocolate ganache! They turned out quite well & were quickly devoured by all I offered them to.

That being said, I’m a perfectionist with my baked goods, so I’m still trying to find my favorite chocolate cake recipe. I think I’m quite close, but I’d love suggestions from others as to their favorites. I’m looking for something with deep chocolate flavor, but not too dense in texture, even a bit fluffy. So far, the cocoa based cakes I’ve made & sampled have been a bit bland, but maybe I haven’t had the right recipe. Bring on the recommendations, please!

October also brought on a job in Seattle, a great Vegan friendly city. I made sure to squeeze in some extra time there, so I could eat my way across town. I went to my favorite spot, Sidecar for Pigs Peace to pick up some groceries for workdays. I also went to Carmelita, Araya Thai, & seriously enjoyed a snickerdoodle cookie at Cinnamon Works in Pike Place Market. I was thrilled to see I had food options, even when the crew stopped at Bainbridge Island on the way to Olympic National Park, although Elise & I were content with lovin' on some broccoli!
Of course, no trip to Seattle is complete without going to donut mecca, Mighty O! I couldn’t resist the many types, so I bought a large assortment & brought them home to enjoy in bed with Ryan on a cold Saturday morning. Does it get any better than that?!

Well, I’m back to my insane food fest in NYC. I’ve sampled goods all over town & I’m preparing to bring you the low down on the best eats & treats of NYC in a future post. Until then..