catch up: weekending with chloe’s kitchen, nacho scramble & thai

Farmers market haul: rangpurs, collard raab, kale raab, brussel raab, flat leaf parsley, red beets, baby bok choi and tulips from my girlfriend.

The weekends have been treating me well: the dawn of the Spring farmers markets and seemingly endless varieties of raab and rapini, the ever-more frequent dry days, a growing trend of old fashioned cocktail bars in Portland, new cookbooks and creative supper dates with a special someone.

I’ve been making relaxed, but focused meals from Chloe’s Kitchen, May Kaidee’s Vegetarian and Vegan Cookbook, The Sexy Vegan (more on this later), Isa’s current test kitchen, and whatever else calls out with ease.

Using a little flexibility, I give you, a sort of deconstructed nacho scramble lunch.  The spicy pickled jalapeño were picked up at the Gathering Together stand at the farmers market, and the beer is Emma Amber Ale by local brewer Captured by Porches.

Vegan Mom's scrambled tofu, Ctate's queso, chips, jalapeño & fixings.

Julia's amazing plate o'scrambled fu.

Zelda, my nacho guard cat, briefly ignoring her duties

A couple of weeks ago, giant chocolate chip cookies were featured on an episode of GRIMM, (more Silas, pls!) and I made my own bloodless versions the following day:

Chocolate chip cookies, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

On the final full day of my December travels, I attended a class at May Kaidee’s Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking School on Khao San Road.  I am so glad I did – it was a definitive, education and fulfilling way to wrap up my time in Thailand. Perhaps, one day, I’ll finish my post on the matter, but for now, I can share that  every time I open this book, I find a smile on my face and fresh curry or noodles on the table. Below, I paired a test recipe from Isa Does It with vegetable-loaded fried rice and a Thai beer from Fubonn.

Test Kitchen Pad Thai (withholding cilantro) with roasted peanuts and fresh lime, soy sauce, Srichacha and Yellow Curry Fried Rice

May Kaidee's Yellow Curry Fried Rice with red bell pepper, gai lan, green cabbage and creminis

Next up, one of the dishes I’ve been trying out from The Sexy Vegan

BBQ Tofu 'Ribs', Smokey Mac & Cheese from The Sexy Vegan. Paired with sauteed collard raab.

Slow, Sunday night dinner preparation has become a positive experience on a dwelling evening. The last meal was my first from Chloe’s Kitchen.

Local pink potatoes in an ice water bath

Julia and I have spent some time thumbing through this book, deciding what to make first. There’s a lot of cashew cream, which I must avoid these days [insert tears here], and a wonder of sweets and tempeh, seitan, vegetables and salads to start with. Last night, we went with something classic:

Drive Thru Burgers with special sauce and fixins, tasty sea salt and vinegar fries with organic ketchup, sparkling wine with sliced rangpur

I baked the wholesome burgers with coconut oil spray vs. pan-frying since I had the oven warm for the fries. They were served on bread from one of my favorite neighbors, Little T, and fixed with Chloe’s special sauce, green leaf lettuce, red onion (for her! not me!), more pickled jalapeño and sliced dill pickle.

Which brings me to the following important question: Why is it so hard to find local pickles that maintain their crunch in this city?!

Drive Thru Burger on sliced baguette

In conclusion, this has been a rare Get Sconed! update that includes actual scones.

Scones with wild blueberries (organic, frozen from Whole Foods) and chocolate chips, Vegan Brunch

Veggie Grill Weekend, Day Two: Avocados & New Menu Items

The following is a continuation of menu food porn from my recent Veggie Grill weekend. This post hereby includes upcoming Veggie Grill menu items of the ‘fork and knife’ variety (brief pondering: Do you call it ‘knife and fork?’ Or is that phrasing simply more carnivorous?), a morning visit to the Hollywood Farmers Market, strolling the Venice Beach pier, more silly photos, and further anticipation for the Beaverton opening, just over a week away. Never before have I muttered a similar sentiment for this suburb, but I like to think I returned from my December travels lighthearted, open-minded, prepared to take public transportation wherever it may go (and in any language), and certainly, craving American-style vegan cuisine.

First up, I appreciate a hotel with a chilled pitcher of soymilk, ready to go.

You know, I should have gotten my hopes up (and denied my bladder) when I passed by this publicity poster in an upstairs room. I missed out on a Dolly Parton lobby-walk-by, by mere moments.

My time visit to the Hollywood Farmers Market.

Oh, California.

I picked up two new-to-me varieties of avocado: Bacon and Zutano.

We were serenaded by a Michelle Williams look-a-like in between produce stops.

Branded iced tea shots from a Ghostbusters-style backpack. So LA?

Moving on, we made it to the West  Hollywood Veggie Grill, which I had lunched at last fall on my first visit to LA, for our second lunch tasting.

The full menu is here.

Here’s what we all came  here for, the food.

Most importantly, we started again with nachos. Most definitely, I did not complain. I may have applauded. I’m not normally one for the D-cheese, but Veggie Grill uses it as a base in their nacho sauce, and it really works.

Uptown Nachos [Daiya-based sauce]

Sweetheart Chili Cheese Fries [Daiya-based sauce]

NEW: Bayou Chickin’ Caesar Wrap

Chillin’ Chickin’ Strips, Sweetheart Fries, Ranch and Sweet & Sour for dipping

Wait a minute!

Chickin’ nuggets, Chipotle Ranch (how I dig thee) and BBQ sauce

NEW: Buffalo Chickin’ Sandwich

Fun tidbit: all sandwiches are available wrap-style or served on a bed of kale

NEW: Chicken Fried Steak Plate [Gardein] with Mashed Potato & Cauliflower (aka Caulipots! Name credit: Isa Chandra Moskowitz), Steamed Kale and Porcini Caper Gravy

NEW: The Gluten-free Urban Plate with Grilled Portobello, Grilled Tempeh, Caramelized Onions, Steamed Kale (aw, yeah!), Chipotle Ranch (yeahyeahyeah!), Tomatoes with Basil and Guacamole

NEW: Chocolate Pudding Parfait with Crushed Oreos and Sour Cream Frosting

Our Sunday tasting club: Terese from Veggie Grill, Janessa, Webly, myself and Veggie Grill ‘s “Food Man” himself, Ray.

One last look – surely, that’s a celebrity power couple clandestinely dining on the patio. It would be almost exciting as realizing Daryl Hannah was sitting behind  us the day before in a series of ridiculous pudding photos.

Farewell, Hollywood!

Hello, Venice Beach…

After a week back in rainy Portland, I admit, I missed reading on the beach.

If only there was a rum-based cocktail in a coconut available in place of $3 PBRs. Isn’t this the land of $2 buck Chuck?! The red is vegan-friendly, btw.

With that, we were on our way back to Portland -

Avocados & lemons in tow

I also had some Nicobella chocolates in my bag to sample back home.

On the downside, the mysterious Michele’s take out did not make it home with her.

More discussion coming soon to Stumptown Vegans, in addition to photos and menu tales from next week’s pre-opening event in Beaverton. Check  out their website and facebook for Portland AREA opening information. I’m out.

As for me, I’ll be in Chicago for the first time with the VVC gals this weekend (please share any tips!), and I’m focused on hushing my inner New Yorker about the idea of an authentic, deep dish pizza.

Pumpkin! Whiffies, Lattes, Donuts, Pie & Beer

Fall’s the best.

I remain broken-hearted that I was too busy to stop by the Portland Nursery for the Apple Tasting for the first time in years and years, so I’ve been consoling myself with autumn’s other BFF: pumpkin. I don’t take a knife to its face anymore, but I will scoop out the insides to get my pie and latte on.

And everything else appropriate.

Pumpkin Soy Lattes with cinnamon and nutmeg, Rain or Shine Coffee House

Pumpkin-filled, cinnamon crunch donut, Acme Donuts

I’ve given this SE Powell donut shop a hard time in the past, but things have improved with this pumpkin pudding-filled, lemony glazed donut.  I say this lovingly, but honestly, the standards for vegan yeasted donuts aren’t that high as it is! And as someone who spent a few years in Boston, they charmed me with their new (to me, at least) slogan.

With the recent release of Terry and Isa’s latest cookbook, no one’s going to object my insistence that it’s the year of the pie, right?

Butternut Pumpkin Coconut Cream with a Bittersweet Chocolate Swirl


It’s a store-bought crust, but cut me a break – it was my third pie of the weekend, and the first two crusts were homemade. I couldn’t stop. Pies for all!

Speaking of, seasonal Whiffies remain one of my favorite things about the cart scene.

Pumpkin Creme filled Whiffies

It’s precious and deliciously fried. Like I could resist an inside shot.

The Whiffies’ Menu. Yeah, you see that asterisk.

The only thing better would be pumpkin chocolate chip. I’ll give it some time.

The following slice is from take 1 on a Heartichoke development. Next up, adding the ricotta-factor, a currant swirl and candied carrots.

Spiced Pumpkin Millet Teasecake with a Poppy Walnut Crust

In additional autumnal latte developments, two more spiced pumpkin creations from around town, one surprisingly more lovely than the other:

Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte, Peet’s Coffee and Tea

Pumpkin Spice Latte, Common Grounds Coffee House

It’s like the rest of Portland knew just how I was feeling.

Portland Farmers Market, PSU Park Blocks

In conclusion, I have tried three pumpkin beers so far this season. The first up was the Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale carried by Trader Joe’s. The verdict? Light, but weak.

Next up, Silver Moon Twisted Gourd Pumpkin Ale, from Bend.  Getting closer.

Silver Moon Twisted Gourd Pumpkin Ale; kale in the sink


Lastly, we have our winner of the season, and my heart and tastebuds, thus far…

Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking Ale, New York

My friend Janessa shared a bottle of this rich pumpkin ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company with me a couple of weeks ago, and this is the reason I have been judging all others so harshly. It was so good I assumed it came from the Northwest!

It costs a pretty penny, around $8-9 for a 22 ounce, but hey – my neighbors, the Beermongers, had it on tap while I was there over the weekend. Now you know what to do next time you’re waiting for a table at Portobello.

soy curls & margaritas

Portland’s had a weirdo summer all right. I blocked out most of the spurts of humidity (shades help), but it seems like it’s back with a vengeance for my goddamn birthday. I don’t plan on doing much today besides listening to Billy Joel, waiting to see if my second sibling remembers to call and imbibing on a refreshing cocktail or two, so I suppose I’ll manage.

The following watermelon margarita, inspired by Lauren Fitzgerald’s (of Millennium and Portobello) “market-driven” mixology demo at the Montavilla Farmers Market this past weekend, is totally in the running for 2011′s birthday cocktail:

Watermelon Margarita test run: fresh yellow watermelon juice, fresh lime juice, clementine liquor (subbed for Harlequin), silver tequila and a sea salt & cayenne rim

Learning how to make cocktails at the Montavilla market with the lovely Lauren Fitzgerald and her assistant.

Speaking of markets, I hit up three over the Labor Day weekend. This mini haul is from the Hollywood market, with a couple of bonus additions and the Sunny Day Farms zine for inspiration. Come to me, heirloom tomatoes!

My weekend also included a long-awaited date with the Flavor Vegan over cocktails and dinner at Sweet Hereafter.

I’ve caught myself joking more than once about how Soy Curls are so three, if not four, years ago, and I take it back.

The Buffalo Sub at Sweet Hereafter changes everything. It features hot soy curls, lettuce, tomato, tangy ranch dressing and creamy miso chive cheese in a crusty baguettewich (yeah, I said that) and blows every other tasty option I’ve tried at this bar away. Plus, you know, Chelsea is adorable, and we got to catch up on life and that con thing.

 Sazerac & Buffalo Sub from Sweet Hereafter: There’s a Soy Curl revolution in my life.

Pasta at Heart

White pasta fans, you’re in luck.

I’ve spent much of the past 2 days on the phone with my sister, who just returned from a 3 week vacation in Italy. She spent her days working on small farms and her evenings sipping red wine. I’m so proud, and my kitchen has been thinking of her as I recall the brief Sicilian wanderings of my early 20s.

Cashew miso alfredo over fusillata casarecci with sauteed morels and fresh parsley.

This isn’t the first nut-based alfredo that’s come my way, and barring any further, emerging allergies, won’t the be the last. And I just can’t put into words how stellar and succulent the Earth Balance sautéed morels were with this. Wait.

Cashew Miso Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soaked raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2-3 cloves worth of sliced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch fresh thyme
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon white miso (less can be more – same goes for the garlic)
  • salt & pepper (preferably white), to taste
  • fresh parsley
Directions:
  1. Saute the sliced garlic in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Remove from heat, and carefully add to blender, along with the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the parsley.
  3. Gently reheat in a small saucepan, and whisk in more water if needed.
  4. Serve over pasta or other entrée, and sprinkle with fresh parsley and additional pepper, if desired.
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Next up, a vibrant edition in the never-ending, clean-out-the-fridge series. It’s a take on this recipe, which was inspired by the smokey mac at Bang Bang Cafe in Seattle. I left out the (pointless – I was simply out of oil?!) bit of packaged vegan cheese this time around, and skipping the cashews, incorporated both roasted red peppers and coconut milk into the pureed sauce.

Smokey Roasted Red Pepper and Coconut Mac & Cheeze

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Tomatoes are having a slow start this summer. Sadness. I finally spotted some at the Montavilla Farmers Market  a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve grabbed a pint at every market since then. Fast forward a couple of more weeks, and I’m impatiently expecting true sweetness!

Orrechiete with sautéed red and sungold cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, purple and roasted garlic, olive oil, fresh basil, crushed red pepper and fresh black pepper. Served with balsamic roasted green beans, with a pinch of brown sugar. The pasta dish was inspired by a similar meal from a downtown food cart last week.

spicy yellow curry noodle soup & inspiration from chau in vancouver, b.c.

Spicy Yellow Curry Noodle Soup with fried tofu, baked Masala tofu from AFR, snow peas, kale raab, baby bok choi, jalapeño, basil, garlic, ginger, v. chicken broth, etc.

Between us, sometimes I think like a blogger and frame posts in my head. They often never come to fruition for various reasons – my camera died, crap lighting, reserve/manners, annoyance, reality, etc. One thing I’ve enjoyed doing over the years is recreating memorable dishes from restaurants (and carts), but I rarely seem to talk about it on the internets. Weird shocker. Maybe too boring.

If you like to cook, you likely find yourself pondering the following: How can I put my own spin on this? How do I learn how to make this? I just don’t want to say goodbye – when do I get to eat this again? Could I make this for cheaper? Could I make this healthier? When do I get to wow guests with this? I could make this even better! etc.

Some time ago, it almost happened with a roasted butternut squash sauce and tart apple topped pizza at Hot Lips. I slowly gathered the ingredients, roasted the squash, picked up a couple of Pink Lady apples, stopped by a solid pizzeria for the dough (it’s legit!), stocked up on garlic, but forgot the fresh sage and rosemary, lost the dream, had curried squash puree for dinner and apples with my lunch the remainder of the week. You know how it goes.

A couple of weeks ago on my grand vacation in British Columbia, I enjoyed a warming bowl of veganized Vietnamese Beef Curry Pho [minus the beef and vegetarian ham, plus tofu] at the lovely Chau Kitchen & Bar in Vancouver. Once I threw in the Sriracha, there was no turning back. I practically wanted it to start raining outside (which it totally did the next day) so I could slurp noodles with my friends all afternoon.

This past weekend, before another quick trip out-of-town – this time, to table with my Vegan Iron Chef folks at Seattle’s sensational Vegan Chili Cook-Off, I spent my Saturday running errands, starting by getting my farmar on. After that, I stopped by my local tofu shop and after an internet search for ‘curry pho’ proved annoying, joined my current obsessions of Spectrum Coconut Oil spray and Southeast Asian cuisine in the Thai-style soup pictured above. My take was based on this recipe, with the additions of both fried and Masala baked tofu, green jalapeño pepper, light coconut milk, heaps of fresh, local basil and vegan subs, of course, such as dark soy sauce and nuoc man chay from Fubonn, aka vegetarian fish sauce. I wanted to keep it somewhat brothy to give the noodles something to live for, and left out the sweet potato.

Yellow Curry Pho from Chau

Tempeh & Strawberries

Not together. Not this time. One day, I’ll make the strawberry jalapeño sauce I’ve been simmering in my head for the past few years. Let’s call it July and grill some tempeh.

Rewind to my Portland farmers market stroll this past Saturday morning, and I was getting my farmar on.

Strawberry season beckons. BECKONS.

It took a lot of reserve to not buy a flat, as I'm leaving the country today on vacation! A pint, for sure.

I'll suffer through this sunlight business for asparagus season.

Farmers Markets haul, 4/30/2011, including locally produced, organic tempeh from Cascade Naturals.

This new stand, Cascade Naturals, will be at the Portland State farmers market the last Saturday of the month. If you dig tempeh, you need to check this out. It’s the freshest, creamiest tempeh I’ve ever tried. If you’re one of those people that prefer to boil or steam your tempeh before using – throw that out the window!

Recent creations follow.

Mini Strawberry Pancakes. Maple Syrup. Pancake recipe from Vegan Brunch. This is almost what normall people do on relaxing Sunday mornings? Tempeh scramble using you know what, bringing up the rear.

(Pre-strained) Rhubard & Rangpur Lime Syrup. Tart. Love.

You saw the glee over the strawberries above. You may know it's PPK pie testing season. This makes total sense. Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb. Vegan Pie in the Sky Test Kitchen.

recent farmar-y lunch: cornmeal, nooch, flour & herb coated smoked tempeh (from a new tempeh stand at the farmar the last weekend of the month), smoked asparagus, baby lettuce and wild rice cooked in v. chix broth. I <3 my lil stovetop smoker.

Someone picked up 2 bags of Teese sticks at Food Fight! on their inaugural day of sale. Someone is full of anticipation.

With that, I’m off duty from work and projects for a week and an hour away from my flight to British Columbia for my first Canadian vacation with some dear friends for a few days. Bon Voyage! More pies & hidden gems & seasonal produce & Vegan Iron Chef chatter (PDX tickets are on sale and flying, zomg!) when I return.

The Return of the FarMar: Rapini for All

For the love of raab! and rapini!

Does this make you want a bowl of fresh chard, or what?

Come springtime, I embrace my inner bunny rabbit and count the days till early spring raab & rapini at the Portland Farmers Market. The return of the market this past Saturday featured row after row of vendors, both returning & new, selling kimchi, the debut of Heidi Ho Organics’ vegan cheeses, Divine’s gluten and dairy free raw pies, a couple of more cutesy pie stands, local nuts, rangpur limes (whoa!), lots of greens, bright carrots, mushrooms, coffee, herbs, nettles and vegan treats galore by mainstay Blacksheep and the adorable, gluten-free friendly Petunia’s.

The earlier-the-better is my motto with market visits, but even sleeping in past 9 didn’t ruin my opening market wanderings. For all I know, I stepped in dog crap on my way out, but who cares? My fridge is full of raab!

Photos follow, starting with breakfast from Cucina Verde….

Tofu Mole Breakfast Plate from Cucina Verde – homemade tortillas, fresh veggies & mole sauce. They’re quite vegan friendly!

Cucina Verde

Heidi Ho! Sad fact: my hazelnut allergy keeps me away from their vegan cheeses, but everyone else loves ‘em, so check it out! Plus, Heidi is a super nice gal.

This stand with exotic citrus and lemons kinda blew my mind.

Like this needs an explanation.

Be still, my heart.

Where do you stand on nettles?

Raw. Vegan. Pies.

Looking for caffeine at the market? Wait in this line. Trust me.

Why yes, I did take home a peanut butter rice krispie square from Petunia’s, and it was delicious!

Grains! I usually pick up a bag here when I visit the Peoples market.

It’s becoming apparent that I wish someone would give me a bouquet of local greens…

One of seemingly 45 new pie vendors. It’s the year of the pie, people. Accept it and we can move onto donuts.

Till next week!

A Brunch in the Life: Tempeh Benedict with Butternut Hollandaise

It’s not very often that I find myself making brunch anymore. It’s a little sad, but I’m usually heading here or there and grabbing coffee on the way, or meeting friends for brunch at Tube or Hungry Tiger Too, knowing my routine. This weekend, however, was practically a countdown to when I could break out the butternut hollandaise again.  I had made it earlier in the week to pair with pecan breaded tofu, and yesterday became the official day to re-acquaint myself with a vegan Benedict. It was everything I was aiming for, which incorporated Diner Tempeh Patties from American Vegan Kitchen into the rest of the elements of a Tofu Benedict ala Vegan Brunch.

As for the Butternut Hollandaise, 1/2 cup of roasted butternut squash and 1/2 head of roasted garlic were added into the saucepan before it was pureed and warmed once more. The complete Benedict plate has a toasted multi-grain English muffin, diner-style homefries, sliced tomato sprinkled with Alder smoked salt, a baked tempeh patty, hollandaise, and a side of straight up roasted broccoli.

Late in the season tomatoes and peppers from the Saturday farmers market:

I’ll miss them so. Onto a winter of roasted red peppers, which brings us back to the Saturday farmers market in Portland on a very nice day come fall & winter…

creamy content: acorn squash sauce over pasta

Whole Wheat Rotelle with Squash Sauce, Sorrel, Tempeh, Red Pepper & Roasted Pecans


Broken record: I’ve been warming my way across various posts-in-progress for this site and Stumptown Vegans – where there’s always something – multiple posts, second and third visits, site development ideas, etc. –  going on behind the scenes. Working on that, the grand invites and open registration (why, could it be next weekend?!?) for Vida Vegan Con almost makes it less depressing that my sunny culinary photograph is now limited to the weekends and sporadic lunch hours. Will my dinners become boring? Not necessarily, I typically vow to never eat leftovers at home, but last night I did make a mini pizza on lavish bread, which was pretty lame. It wasn’t an abomination of ingredients (a mix of homemade sauce, farmar goods, and teese); I just don’t feel right calling it a pizza. I can just imagine my Italian great aunts giving me the stink eye over the crust (and the whole soy cheese thing, but whatever).

As for the titular pasta dish, there’s a layer of chopped lemony sorrel, Trader Joe’s whole wheat rotelle, squash sauce, sautéed tempeh bacon and sweet red pepper, and roasted pecans. The sauce is a go-go Magic Bullet puree with a base of sautéed garlic and a teeny bit of olive oil, black pepper, sea salt, roasted acorn squash, plain soy milk, nutritional yeast, ground pecans, thyme, sage, oregano, red miso, a little tamari, mustard, and probably something else or another. Those fun things that go into cheesy sauces.

Whole Wheat Rotelle with Sorrel, Squash Sauce, Tempeh,                                        Sweet Red Pepper & Roasted Pecans

In continuing adventures of confirmed deliciousness and fall acceptance, Savor Soup House is still delicious. I had a cup of Tomato Fennel Orange soup earlier for lunch, and a big kudos for a soup-maker that knows how to meld flavors other chefs might use for sheer attention.

Savor. Soup.

 

SW Alder and 10th, Downtown PDX


I took my lunch to Director Park for reading & eating, and there was a ‘flashmob” taking place. I would have assumed it was a colorful, regular theater troupe, but I heard a few excited mentions of “flashmob”  around me and grabs for smartphones. Sadly, no sign of dancing zombies.

Activity! Director Park!


And one more time – Vegan Bloggers, wherever you are – if you’re interested in attending the Vida Vegan conference late next summer, I’d selfishly advise subscribing to the site for the registration opening. Once it’s booked up, it’s booked up. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s going to squeal when our amazing speakers, or you know, special vegan guests from the dreamlist, like Moby, confirm…