Cooking in Bushwick

While I was on hiatus, I did a lot of cooking at my sister’s apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. My sister works a ton, but was able to take some time off while I was visiting (and hey, thanks for something, Sandy), and it was so much freaking fun planning and cooking meals together in her tiny kitchen, as the pseudo adults we’ve become. Jenny’s not vegan, but she’s pretty cool, so we made it work. We cooked Cambodian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, and American South-inspired, in addition to throwing together New York dill-style picklebacks and plenty of creative cocktails

For our first night in New York, J. Legume, Jen and I went grocery shopping in Chinatown (fun note, where I just happened to run into the long-ago winner of Portland’s first Vegan Iron Chef competition), and picked up the ingredients for a curry noodle soup.  My sister knows that I’m still talking incessantly about being inspired by my time in SE Asia last winter, and basically, wanted to see me put all this talk into action, on her dinner table. Somehow, Jen had yet to use the Cambodian amok powder from Siem Reap I had sent her, so that went in as the curry base. J. Legume picked out the lovely yu choi that was steamed with a drizzle of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.

Cambodian-inspired curry noodle soup with baked tofu, carrots, potatoes, rice stick noodles and sesame steamed yu choi

Admittedly, we spent much of the next few days dining out for dinner, as this was J. Legume’s first visit, and it had been two or years since I’d last visited. While J. Legume was there for the first part of my hiatus, we dined at Pukk (home to possibly my favorite meal of the trip), Vinnie’s, the Vegetarian Dim Sum House, Foodswings, Maoz, Champs, and ‘sNice. We also picked up bagels and tofu cream cheese from a couple of different spots, along with surreal vegan crossaints and pain au chocolat at Blossom’s bakery, took in a taping of The Chew, hit up the Natural History Museum, a show at the Bowery, some galleries, and even made it to a wedding in the Catskills. To name a few things.

J. Legume and I had intended to do a bit more cooking, but our combined excitement to sight-see the city, and its dining selection, was far too strong. We did manage to stay in, once more, for her final evening, and made a giant pot of lemony Syrian Lentil Soup, which I think my sister is probably still making her way though. For dessert, we baked a batch of chic-o-stick studded chocolate chip cookies, which were very mysteriously, not photographed by any of our party. 

Syrian Lentil Soup from Bean by Bean, from the 100 Days Homemade photo gallery

During the remainder of my hurricane-extended hiatus, it was much easier to settle in and cook with, and for, my sister and her boyfriend. The strangest meal we made had to have been the following Pad Kee Mao. The flavor was right on, with a dark & mushroom soy-based sauce and heaps of Thai basil, and the ingredients made sense, but once you broke them down, well, we had a heck of a time finding fresh, flat rice noodles in Chinatown, so we were faced with frozen. I don’t think that’s ever a good idea. To make matters more interesting, we went with two different proteins: tofu chicken, which was fine, and basically compressed tofu, and an impossible to resist, roasted duck-style gluten sheets. This was an utterly fascinating, multi-layered gluten, stuffed with spiced mushrooms. I must say, I somewhat enjoyed its salty incorporation into our mushy, tossed noodles, while the other two thought differently. To each their own.

TGI condiments & bok choi

Hey, we may have demonized the noodles, but everyone ate a bowl.

Pad Kee Mao: we made it through.

My sister and her boyfriend work late, so they dine late. So, it makes sense that their nightcaps come before the meals, right? Sure thing.

Passionfruit Whiskey Sours

The recipe for the Passionfruit Whiskey Sours was posted during MoFo over here.

Pickled red fresno & green jalapeño peppers

There’s a funny story with these pickled peppers. I’ve clearly been obsessed this past summer and fall with five jars remaining in my own fridge. While my sister pokes fun at this, saying she’s never heard of anyone actually ordering the pickled peppers at a deli, and certainly wasn’t as excited as I was about the late season black jalapeños I brought with me from the Lents farmers market for her very own supply, she was even more horrified when the newly pickled jar smashed out of the fridge. After a few days of her very first bout of pickled pepper withdrawal, we were stoked to find local hot peppers at Whole Foods, and made an even more eye-fetching new jar for her fridge.

Now, let’s talk tacos.

Winner winner, taco dinner

You see, the chipotle butternut sauce from Artisan Vegan Cheese was such a hit with my sister and her boyfriend that we made it twice during my hiatus. The first time for tvp tacos, and the second, for the simple dipping of tortilla chips, and of course, tator tots. Those little bits of crispy love.

Late night snacking

Can one do any better than sitting down to a spread of tator tots, chipotle cheese dip and New York’s finest pickles with their little sister? Nah.

Perfection.

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Jen’s baked tortilla chips

Pad Sie Ew with actual fresh rice noodles, baked tofu, broccoli, carrots & fresh lime

My sister also requested I make her a batch of seitan, to which I was happy to oblige. I went with the savoury recipe for No Cluck Cutlets from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.

Lake Seitan

Since we had all this roasted butternut squash floating around – that we picked up from a farm in the Hamptons during a pumpkin picking adventure, no less – we had the Roasted Butternut Alfredo from the PPK blog for dinner one night. I skipped the soaked cashews and subbed in soaked sunflower seeds, due to my no-longer-so-new allergy, and served it with cavatappi over sautéed Spigarello broccoli, balsamic roasted creminis & brussel sprouts, and smoked paprika-spiced squash seeds, for garnish.

Roasted Butternut Alfredo

It may have been during this meal that my sister incredulously posed the question:

“Is this what real people eat?”. 

The mushrooms, broccoli greens and brussel sprouts were from the Union Square farmers market and the sage was from my sister’s patio garden

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Local squash, continued

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Aslan and their pumpkins

For the very last dinner effort on my hiatus, I thought it only appropriate to combine Jen’s request for grits, the remaining produce in the fridge, and the homemade seitan into something Portlandy: Bowls.

The grits themselves were flavored with lots of garlic and nutritional yeast (another thing my sister now has on her shelf) and every time I make them, I wonder why I don’t more often. I mean, pan-fried, leftover grit cakes are part of the experience.

These garlicky grits  were topped with even more roasted brussels – this time, with alder smoked salt, maple roasted carrots, spiced cornmeal-coated seitan, and Portland’s own Secret Aardvark hot sauce, the number #1 thing my sister and her boyfriend continuously request from the great Northwest.

Gritsy.

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A lesson in garnish with Jen.

Courteously not pictured: the pickleback experience.

To be continued…sooner than expected.

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