Archive for the ‘Caitlin’s Meals’ Category

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Vegan Gnocchi Poutine

May 13, 2011

Watch out—this is poutine with a twist!

Of all the food blogs I regularly follow, Closet Cooking is one of the few that are non-veg*n. Yet despite the many meaty dishes it features, the blog is still well worth it for veg*n readers, simply because it offers so many tasty and inventive recipe ideas. Honestly, some of my all-time favorite recipes have come from Closet Cooking: for example, Kare Pan, Okonomiyaki, Apple Chutney, Dak Bulgogi, and Corned Beef, Cabbage, & Kimchi Burritos, to name but a few. Many of these recipes have required some tweaking on my part to veganize them, but that’s part of the fun! Reading Closet Cooking has definitely made me a better and more versatile chef.

Recently, Closet Cooking posted yet another inventive dish idea that I immediately fell for: Gnocchi Poutine. Living in Canada now for almost two years, I’ve come to acquire a strange reverence and awe for poutine, the gravy-soaked, cheese-curd-punctuated pile of french fries which, for lack of a better option, is what I most often think of as the Canadian national dish (in the same way that I most often think of a Tim Hortons Double Double as the Canadian national drink). Unfortunately, most poutine served in Toronto is not vegetarian, as it usually involves a meat-based gravy—although there are, thankfully, some notable exceptions, such as Utopia Cafe‘s vegetarian poutine, Burger Bar‘s saag poutine, Live‘s raw spin on poutine. However, the better option would be just to make poutine on my own at home—an option that, surprisingly, I never really considered doing until a few weeks ago.

It was Closet Cooking’s recipe that gave me the extra motivation I needed, for his recipe was not just for poutine, but for gnocchi poutine, an idea I had never heard or thought of before, but which immediately struck me as brilliant. Gnocchi is one of those foods that I get these periodic cravings for, but as much as I love it, I had never tried making it myself before. However, after watching Top Chef All-Star Fabio Viviani handroll delicious little balls of gnocchi by hand several times last season, the whole process looked like too much fun not to attempt at least once. And with that, Caitlin and I decided to create some poutine magic! Ready? Then let’s go!

poutine preparation is under way…

As mentioned above, poutine has three basic components: gravy, cheese curds, and potatoes in some form or another. For the gravy, Caitlin and I decided to go with one of our perennial vegan favorites: Vegan Dad’s amazing mushroom gravy, which is unbeatable and fairly simple. You start by roasting some mushrooms, garlic, and shallots…

And then simply mix those things with some liquids and simmer to make a super delicious gravy.

For the cheese curds, we needed to get a little more inventive, but our efforts turned out to be a huge success! Our basic idea was to cut up some tofu cubes and then bake them in a cheesy sauce, for which we used this vegan mac and cheese recipe (we only needed to make a third of the original recipe). Here was our tofu before going into the oven…

And here it is after coming out!

This really came out awesome—much better than I was expecting to be honest—and made for a scrumptious poutine in the end.

Last but not least, our potatoes. Now, for those playing at home, you don’t have to follow us in making gnocchi; this basic veg*n poutine guideline would work just as well, if not better, with some baked potato wedges or what have you. But gnocchi really aren’t that much more work to make—and it’s fun! We followed Closet Cooking’s simple recipe, which was very easy to follow, and came out tasting pretty good. After baking and mashed a couple potatoes together with some flour and flax eggs, all you do is roll and cut your dough into little gnocchi balls, like so:

Once your little balls of gnocchi are all set, you then just boil them like regular gnocchi! Simple!

Here they are up close:

Finally, assemble your poutine by placing some of the gnocchi in a bowl or on a plate, and then lather it with gravy and tofu cheese curds to your liking.

So all in all, a very fun and satisfying recipe! Hope you all enjoy this one. Here’s to poutine, Canada, and vegan creativity!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Irving Farm Coffee

March 12, 2011

When I first moved to New York, it was pretty easy to get overwhelmed by it all. I don’t just mean its whole ever bustling metropolis vibe, but the small comforts that make me feel at home were hard to find. As you may have read in my Kiva Han post, having a welcoming place to go where I can sit and read, foamy latte in hand, is, for me, an important one of these comforts.

It can be hard to avoid the ubiquitous green mermaid, but New York has no shortage of alternatives. Irving Farm was one of the first cafes I came across in Manhattan. There’s no question that its 14th street location, less than a block from Pratt, is a major plus.

All of their tea and coffee options are wonderful, their pastry case is almost always stocked with a good selection of vegan (and non-vegan) baked goods and their staff is incredibly friendly.

While the space is not really designed for people to hang around or get work done, I would highly recommend stopping in on a sunny day and taking your drink and snack on a walk to nearby Jackson Square and enjoying some time among the greenery!

Until we eat again,

Caitlin

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Caffienated Paradise

March 10, 2011

In the city of champ-yinz, just around the corner from my old apartment, is my favorite place in the world to get all twitchy on caffeinated beverages. I sorely miss sitting in Kiva Han writing essays all morning over a delightfully sweet iced chai or spending a rainy afternoon crosswording with a curry. Before I get all self indulgent and let myself wax nostalgic, I should really give you, dear readers, the vital statistics…

Kiva Han is located on the corner of Forbes Avenue and Craig Street just between the Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh campuses. It has just about everything I look for in a cafe: steady wireless internet, a good selection of food* and beverages, plenty of comfy places to sit, great staff… I could go on, but I should probably get on with more more food pictures…

This is the hangover cure burrito, one of Kiva Han’s more popular menu items. Essentially, it’s the best breakfast burrito ever conceived. Cheddar cheese, egg, hot sauce and potatoes all conveniently wrapped up in a tortilla.

Just a close up for good measure. Are you sold yet? Good.

I wish I had pictures of a wider range of their menu options, but, unfortunately, when I was a regular, I was not yet the food blogger you know today.

I’m so glad that I finally got around to writing this small ode to my favorite Pittsburgh cafe.

Stay tuned for a short series of posts on my quest to find a new cafe upon my move to New York!

Until we eat again,

Caitlin

*The menu is largely vegetarian with some solid vegan options.

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It’s a delicious vegan soup kind of week.

December 15, 2010

It’s a well-established fact that I am a complete wuss when it comes to cold weather. I know that I don’t really live in a frightfully cold city and Willie likely has it much worse than I, but nothing will keep me from complaining about having to wear two pairs of tights under my jeans.

And, of course, all of this complaining about frigid weather is naturally tempered by some simple panegyrics on some wonderful winter foods. Namely, soup.

Before I go into all of the reasons why you need to make this soup, I’ll give you the vital statistics. The recipe for the coconut dhal you see above comes from nami-nami, a wonderful blog about delicious food. There aren’t many blogs that I can honestly say I always make sure I keep up with, but nami-nami is definitely one of them. As for the soup, it’s quick, simple, vegan-friendly and leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. So, next time you are feeling that December chill, coconut dhal might be the perfect way to get your warm and cozy on.

 

Until we eat again,

Caitlin

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American Thanksgiving in Canada

November 29, 2010

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, all American readers! And to all Canadian readers, Happy Belated Thursday of last week!

As you regulars will already know, Caitlin and I live in two different countries, both of which celebrate the fall holiday known as Thanksgiving—although one of which doesn’t seem to understand that it’s actually in November. This means that Caitlin and I celebrate two Thanksgiving in a year: I come down to New York over the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday and we celebrate it there, and Caitlin comes up to Toronto over the American Thanksgiving holiday and we celebrate it here. And over the past few years, as I’ve been cooking up my own Thanksgivings, this holiday has quickly been turning into one of my favorites, so I greatly enjoy having the excuse to celebrate it twice.

This year, Caitlin and I whipped up a sizable feast for ourselves and a few friends. When we were brainstorming menu ideas, Caitlin had the brilliant idea of having a Southern-style Thanksgiving meal, and I readily approved of the suggestion. This theme let us try out some really tasty recipes that Caitlin had found, all of which felt very American, if a bit untraditional for Thanksgiving (but when your Thanksgiving is already vegan, tradition is not something that you worry too much about). So here now is a run-down of our American Thanksgiving dinner! But since this meal was held in Canada, I’m obliged by the Canadian government to list all menu items in English and in French—and warning: I do not know French.

Beer-Battered Collard Green Fritters // Beignets de choux cavalier à la bière battues

As a tasty little appetizer, Caitlin fried up some collard greens in a beer batter made with the Polish beer Żywiec. I loved these: they were nicely crisp, not too greasy, and tasty! Caitlin said they worked better with Guinness, but I thought they were plenty good just as we had them.

Broccoli Stuffed Muffins // Muffins farcies avec du brocoli

Caitlin found this great recipe for broccoli stuffed muffins, which are exactly what they sound like—savory muffins with a whole broccoli floret hidden inside! (See the recipe page for more explanatory photos.) I really really liked these—they were possibly my favorite part of the night’s meal—and can’t wait to make them again.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts // Choux de Bruxelles rôtis

This was probably the least Southern item on our menu, but it’s Thanksgiving, and what better time is there to enjoy a heaping platter of tasty roasted Brussels sprouts? We kept this one pretty simple, tossing these little cabbages in some oil, salt, and pepper and letting the oven do the rest, but they still were great in my book.

Mac & Cheese // Mac au fromage

Is mac and cheese Southern? Is mac and cheese Thanksgiving-y? I don’t know and I don’t care, because this mac and cheese recipe really is to die for. (As the Recipezaar Food.com recipe title says, it’s the “best vegan mac and cheese ever”, and it’s right.)Caitlin and I had made this macaroni recipe before and loved it, and we thought it would be a simple way to fill out our menu, and surprisingly, it was the biggest hit of the evening—extra surprisingly, since none of our guests were vegans, and I was not expecting them to take to the nootch-y flavor of this pasta platter. I guess it’s just all the more evidence that this really is an amazing mac and cheese recipe.

Mole Skillet Pie with Greens // Tarte poêle taupé avec les verts

Our centerpiece of the evening was this skillet pie, which we did not actually cook in a skillet (due to lack of skillet). The recipe came from the Veganomicon, and was basically a mix of greens (we used kale) stirred up with some beans and chili-chocolate mole sauce, and then topped off with a layer of cornbread. It was a fun main, which I really enjoyed. And to get a better picture of what it all looked like under the cornbread, here’s a photo of my full plate:

I love Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well (or, for you Canadians, a pleasant weekend). I’ll be back soon.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Café Review: Athom Café (Brooklyn)

October 28, 2010

Happy Thursday all!

Today I’m here to tell you about this little gem of a café located in Bushwick, the Brooklyn neighborhood that Caitlin calls home. Anyone who’s been to Bushwick knows that there isn’t much there in the way of hip eateries, especially when compared to other Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Park Slope, Fort Greene, or Williamsburg. But this is slowly beginning to change, and Athom Café (located at Broadway and Dekalb) is leading the pack in helping to transform Bushwick into a future foodie hotspot.

Athom Café is a French style café, run by a genuine (and very friendly!) French baker. The fare is thus very typically French: croissants, scones, danishes, a variety of coffee drinks, and so on. The Frenchness of the menu also makes it quite thoroughly non-vegan, and the non-breakfast menu is mostly non-vegetarian. But breakfast is really where it’s at in my opinion, and with baked goods this good, I’m willing to break vegan once in a while. Here are some of the tasty treats Caitlin and I have enjoyed:

This plate includes some of my favorite things at Athom. At twelve o’clock is their classic plain croissant, a two-dollar slice of heaven in my opinion. The outside is crispy, the inside soft, and although I’m a huge fan of croissants whenever they come by way, Athom’s truly are something special.

Of course, the plain croissant may be a little simple for some, and for those who want a little more variety, Athom has plenty of other croissants on offer. On the bottom left of the above picture is one of their savory croissants: the Tomato, Herb & Goat Cheese. Wow is this good, and I’m not even that much of a cheese man. The croissant itself is as good as their plain, and the filling ingredients are the perfect compliment. What’s more, it’s not even overly filling; it’s just an all-around great breakfast treat.

Finally, on the bottom left of the picture is their apple strudel. I picked this on my third visit to Athom because I had never seen it on offer before, and although it was good, it wasn’t quite on the level of their croissants. But maybe this was one of the first times Athom’s baker was trying this out, and so for all I know, their apple strudel could be improving in my absence. But if you’re looking for a sure bet, get a croissant and save the strudel for later.

Athom also has sweet croissants, and many with nutella fillings! This is their Nutella Pear croissant, which is super good. This was actually the first thing I ever tried at Athom, and it made a great first impression. However, now that I’ve tried more of their menu, I definitely prefer their plain and savory croissants more. This sweet one is just a little too big with all its sweetness, and left me pretty stuffed. But for those with a sweet tooth, these sweet croissants are a dream.

Athom also has scones! This cranberry scone is simple but well executed, and while not as impressive as the croissants, still stands up well on its own. And though I haven’t tried their other varieties, I would bet they’re just as good.

Finally, Athom also has Yogurt Granola! This huge bowl, served with honey and raisins on the side, is quite the breakfast, and is a good alternative when you’re not in the mood for bread or other baked goods.

Before I sign off, I should add a note about Athom’s space and atmosphere. First: it’s cozy. Some would say small. May even cramped. There are only a couple tables available for eating in, but people don’t seem to hog them forever and so the turnover is pretty fast. But I definitely wouldn’t recommend going to Athom to do work, or really even to have a long chat with a friend. That being said, the space itself is pretty cute, and I always feel welcomed when I come in. So if finding delicious food is your main objective, nothing should stop you from visiting Athom; if you’re looking for an all-around café experience, you may have to lower your expectations. But now that you’re forewarned, you should definitely definitely check it out. (Did I mention that it’s also cheap?!) Happy eating.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Canadian Thanksgiving in NY

October 10, 2010

Hi guys and gals and everyone in between (and by that I mean puppies) (puppies who can read of course)!

While all you Americans are busy enjoying Columbus Day, Canada is busy with its own holiday this weekend: Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s right: Canadians don’t know when Thanksgiving is. Why do Canadians even have Thanksgiving, you ask? Well, it’s because Columbus never discovered Canada, since it was too cold (leaving it instead to the French), and the Canadians, being jealous of their Americans neighbo(u)rs always getting the second Monday of October off, needed some other reason to get a long weekend. And, since by the end of November everything in Canada is already frozen, the beginning of October seemed the perfect time for a harvest festival. And that’s the history of Canadian Thanksgiving.

Okay, I jest. I love Canada, even with their silly versions of American holidays. And Canadian Thanksgiving gives me the perfect opportunity to go down to New York for the long weekend and visit Caitlin, which is precisely what I did this year (and what I did last year). And Canadian Thanksgiving gives us the perfect excuse to make a festive autumnal dinner (as if we really ever need one). And that’s what I’m here to share with you today: two Americans’ take on Canada’s take on an American holiday.

(Actually, I just checked Wikipedia, and it appears that Canadian Thanksgiving may have actually started before American Thanksgiving, but, like the Canadian origins of Labo(u)r Day, I think everyone has well forgotten this by now, in true American, culturally imperialistic spirit.)

For our small Thanksgiving dinner, Caitlin and I prepared a simple three course meal. We got a lot of help from the wonderful Canadian food blogger Ricki and her wonderful Canadian food blog Diet, Desserts and Dogs, which conveniently featured a list of tons of amazing Thanksgiving recipes yesterday. So thanks Ricki—we couldn’t have done Thanksgiving this year without you!

Our appetizer for the evening was inspired by DD&D’s wonderful recipe for Potato Bruschetta. Both of us were quite taken away with the idea of making bruschetta out of potato slices, and we decided to do our own little twist on the original recipe: Instead of a traditional tomato or pesto topping, Caitlin had the excellent idea of using cheese and English pickles. Here she is at work:

And here’s the finished product up close:

What a combination! The red potatoes we got at Whole Foods worked incredibly well for roasting, and the English Cheddar with Caramelized Onions cheese from Trader Joe’s Caitlin had left in her fridge was wonderful, and the perfect complement to the English pickles (which, if you haven’t tried, you should—I really can’t explain them except as delicious). I loved these, and Caitlin agrees. I will definitely be keeping this recipe in my pocket for future dinners!

Our main course was Ricki’s excellent Nut Roast Extraordinaire, which is indeed extraordinary—so extraordinary, in fact, that it was also our main course in our American Thanksgiving in Canada dinner last year. This is probably the best vegan loaf recipe I’ve ever tried, so I’m always happy to revisit it. And to change it up a bit, we made this year’s loaf in a cake pan:

Of course, this really didn’t change the loaf that much in the end. In other words, I still ended up with an absolutely delicious slice of loaf on my plate!

In addition, we had the pleasure of using some genuine French wine from France that I recently received from a friend, both in the loaf itself and alongside the loaf in nice big wine glasses. And it really was some really good wine:

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much more about this wine, except that it was a 2005, since the label is all in French (and all the French I know I learned from Pierre Escargot).

And last but most certainly not least, we had some dessert on hand: a delectable box of Jacques Torres chocolates!

For those not in the know, Jacques Torres is a maker of super delicious chocolates and has several shops around NYC. We picked out this make-your-own box of a dozen chocolates, which included fantastic varieties such as: Love Potion #9 (dark chocolate ganache), Grand Cru (made with red wine), Ménage à Trois (made out of three secret flavors), Heavenly Hazelnut (self explanatory), Earl Grey (yeah, with tea), and Golden Espresso (with a piece of gold on top!). These were really excellent, and the perfect way to close our pleasant Thanksgiving evening together.

And that’s all I’ve got to share for today! To our Canadian readers, I hope you too enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving this weekend! And to American readers, I hope you’re now geared up for real Thanksgiving, which is only a month and a half away! And in the meantime, Happy Columbus Day.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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