Pies/Hearts/Tarts & an Interview with Dynise Balcavage

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An interview with Dynise Balcavage, aka the Urban Vegan, author of the new book: Pies and Tarts with Heart. Photos of Frozen Grasshopper Pie, Gingered-Pear Pie and Pumpkin Pie. And now, I am seriously craving pie and humming the song from Waitress… Continue reading

June cookin’

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First things first, Happy Vegan Pizza Day! If three little things weren’t standing in the way of my own pizza-making ambitions today, well, I’d have some dough rising right now. Instead, I’m melting into a puddle of freckles as it’s … Continue reading

Culinary Dwelling

Much to my delight, life  has calmed and evolved in the past few weeks. These are some photos and dishes I created while life was not so calm. With this oh so welcome change, expect more updates in my internet-verse. Time is mine once more, and every damn day belongs to farmers markets and projects.

The first worthwhile, summer strawberries from the farmers market

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Pie was made. Chocolate peanut butter cream, shortbread crust and salted caramel. I missed making pies.

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More thanks to Bryant Terry. Inspired Vegan-style grits, simmered fava beans with fresh herbs, and roasted asparagus and garlic flowers.

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The roasted asparagus and garlic flowers stood in for fennel. As much as fennel has certainly grown on me, I couldn’t bring myself to buy an entire bulb. I spent one summer receiving a CSA where I was haunted with multiple bulbs on a weekly basis and almost burnt out. This dish, regardless, was glorious.

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Fully dressed. Grits are now in rotation.

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From the Isa Does It test kitchen: Beefy Seitan Stirfry with Fresh Herbs and Cabbage Sesame Slaw

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Sunday brunch had been a saving grace through my now-over workplace stress. Scrambled tofu with pea shoots and sugar snap peas, baked hash brown UFOs, watermelon and coffee.

Yeah, I’m loving the charming new tablecloth J. Legume picked up. 

Thank you, Basement Pub imperial glass. Thank you,Wandering Aengus.

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Keeping it simple: Thai basil fried rice with cabbage and baked sesame tofu cubes. The tofu is also a tester for Isa Does It that keeps making the rounds.

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Life included another treat at Veggie Grill: a grand opening dinner with team VVC, our plus ones, and Dan & Nicole from Upton’s. Yes!

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Lastly, on one special evening, Julia Legume and I enjoyed our own buffalo tofu salads. These included baked tofallo cubes, a zinged up Sanctuary Ranch dressing, sliced cucumber and field greens. Goodness, gracious.

Obligatory Pi[e]

The internet tells me I was supposed to bring a pie into work today. Pi day fail. I do have a chocolate chunk skillet pie sitting on my kitchen table, awaiting a small dinner party this evening. Incidental Pi day success.

Pie.

Here are a bunch of pies from Vegan Pie in the Sky testing, and a few other friends.

Strawberry Balsamic Pie, Vegan Pie in the Sky (adaptation).

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Sweet Potato Brazil Nut Crunch Pie, Vegan Pie in the Sky

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Coconut Creme Pie, Vegan Pie in the Sky

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Chocolate Strawberry Cashew Creme Swirl

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Cashew Creme Apple Crumb with golden raisings, Vegan Pie in the Sky

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White Russian Dude Pie. One of my all-time favorites.

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Manhattan Mud Pie, Vegan Pie in the Sky. Photo by Lucas.

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Drugs Benedict, Sizzle Pie. Yes.

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Aforementioned Chocolate Chunk Skillet Pie, with chocolate lentil candies. Adapted from Vegan Diner.

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This has been a productive walk down memory lane.

S’mores Pie with Roasted Dandies

Oh, hey, pie, what's up?

In a shocking turn of events, this pie is not from the upcoming Vegan Pie in the Sky cookbook. I repeat, this is not an official, Post Punk Kitchen endorsed pie. This creation was inspired by the recent Portland VegFest, Chicago Soy Dairy’s sweet deal on those sweet little ‘mallows, Julie Hasson’s cream pie demo and perhaps the most mind-blowing aspect of all – was poured into a goddamn, pre-made crust. Testing for Vegan Pie in the Sky helped me conquer my fear of homemade crusts, for sure, but you know, sometimes you just find yourself picking up a graham cracker shell or two when you see them on sale in the ‘natural’ aisle at Grocery Outlet.

Inside the graham cracker shell, the only actual grahamy-element here (because every vegan who’s ever searched knows the pain of finding the mysteriously spotted-every-couple-of-years store-bought, honey-free graham cracker), was a rich chocolate tofu mousse, Vita-Mixed with Mori Nu firm silken tofu, melted semi sweet chocolate chips, a bit of coconut milk, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, based on the Mint Truffle Pie in Julie’s Vegan Diner.  To complete the s’moresey scenario, I added broken cinnamon cookies and chopped dandies, along with a layer of dandies on top. It’s recently popped into my head that my kitchen absolutely needs a mini blowtorch, but since I’ve yet to make this ridiculously awesome purchase happen, I broiled the topped pie for 5 minutes. I was quickly happy with the lightly golden color, but freaked out as it rested, as the mallows seemed to harden! No worries, upon arrival to my little happy hour club, my friends and I learned that smush remained, and the pie was a hit, particularly when paired with a microbrew. Classy.

S'mores pie, topped with roasted dandies and crushed cinnamon cookies

Salt Spring Inspired Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup

Break out your rain boots, adorn your favorite hoodie and repeat after me: it’s officially soup weather.

Roasted cherry tomato soup, garnished with fresh basil and black pepper

It seems like only yesterday, but I earned some real Pacific Northwest points with a British Columbian adventure back in May. It was my first ever visit to Canada, at all, and I’m truly an idiot for waiting so long. Not as idiotic as my brother not realizing Canada stretched across the entire United States, but I feel foolish for waiting nearly three decades to cross those country lines. Looking back, my family didn’t take epic road trips, and the party bus from my college in Boston to Montreal seemed just that…a ridiculous party bus. I’ve re-caught the travel bug this past year, have my mind set on Thailand and Laos this winter, and now that I have a Canadian BFF and a little crush on a French Canadian waiter at a certain vegan restaurant in Vancouver (J’espère qu’il la lecture de ce parce que Vancouver est la première VÉGÉTALIEN Prom approche!), I plan on not departing the Amtrak train in Seattle, if you catch my drift.

While I was up north, I spent time in Vancouver, Victoria and on Salt Spring Island. I’ll save more thoughts and photos for the day I may actually post about my adventure up north™ and have the determination to scroll through that many pages on Flickr. My short stay on Salt Spring Island, where Gabrielle, her partner, and the small, sneaky bundle of wonder known as Buhbah, reside, started with a specially prepared vegan dinner at Market Place Cafe. This lovely meal included a rich tomato soup drizzled with olive oil that’s lingered on my mind since the first spoonful. Gabrielle and I were nerding out and talking tomato soup recently, and after hearing her spicy plan and having roasted a ton of cherry tomatoes that were impatiently waiting for their moment, all by their lonesome in my refrigerator, it was time for delayed inspiration.

Something of a recipe tale. To begin, I sautéed minced shallot, a diced red bell pepper and Hungarian wax pepper in a bit of coconut oil, added some fresh black pepper, sea salt, marjoram, cayenne and oregano, and cooked until soft. After deglazing the pan with the last of my Salt Spring Millotage (can you say bonus points?), I added the two pints’ worth of cherry tomatoes I had previously roasted with garlic, extra virgin olive oil & sea salt, along with two cups of vegetable broth, one cup of water, brought this to a boil, and then simmered, covered, for just under an hour. I threw in a handful of fresh basil, since I can’t resist buying basil or tomatoes whenever I see them at the market, carefully pureed the mixture in my Vita-Mix, and transferred to a saucepan. Minutes later,  I had my first bowl of those sweet, deep flavors, garnished with additional basil and freshly ground black pepper.

The view from the Salt Spring Winery - also my first ever wine tasting experience!

strawberry balsamic pie

Strawberry Balsamic Lattice Pie. Made with local strawberries, imported balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with coarse sugar. A variation of a recipe in the upcoming Vegan Pie in the Sky cookbook.

This is admittedly, one of my more rushed, rustic crust jobs that I’ve been rolling out with brown rice flour. Simply because….the bag is sitting on top of my fridge, locally milled and purchased from the farmers market, duh. More importantly, it served as a party pie for a dear friend’s birthday last weekend. This combination of saucey, sweet strawberries and the deep, refined tang of balsamic is almost unreal. Frankly, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a pie consumed this promptly.

The book is due out this October. Berry picking adventures soon.

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.

dinner dates

Truth be told, I spent a decent portion of my free time being a hermit and talking to my cats. Every now and then, I break out the Mrs. Meyer’s basil, put on a dress, warp into hostess mode with a big party, or more recently, smaller dinner parties, or frankly, pie circles (hello, test kitchen) and tell my friends to simply show up hungry. The belated Hidden Gems wrap-up is truly coming next; things like life and my jobs and commitments and pie making, simply, and pleasantly, have gotten in the way. That’s all I can handle of this ‘me, myself & my blog’ discussion, so with a deep breath, let’s move on to the photos.

Here’s what I’ve been up to, culinary wise, recently:

Berry Balsamic Pie with Olive Oil Lattice Crust. From the PPK Test Kitchen. With each crust, I get a little more confident.

Coconut Lime Cream Pie with Rad Whip (test 2). From the PPK Test Kitchen.

Grasshopper Pie and the Berry Balsamic, for a recent impromptu dinner party with friends, including my dear Vegan Moxie.

Santander salad, a test run for this weekends Spanish-themed Heartichoke dinner. Im in awe of my BFFs plating and design here.

More of this past weekends Heartichoke-orientated spread, including smoked balsamic shiitakes, vibrant saffron pickled cauliflower and carrots, grapefruit marinated olives and the third and final test batch of the smoked potato cheese in the rear- we have a winner!

Rewind a couple weeks ago - I put together a soy & gluten free vegan spread for a dinner date with a friend.

Caribbean kidney bean curry, smoked balsamic mushrooms (love.these.), my first fried plantains with coarse salt, cheesy shallot rice fritters.

For dessert: dark chocolate, agave & crushed macadamia nut pudding.

Lastly - bring on the seasonal produce! Heres my haul from this past weekends farmers market: microgreens, cornmeal, spinach, collard raab, chives, rangpur limes, tulips & purple carrots. Cause little known fact: theres a purple carrot on my foot.

And hey, if you see me around town lately, there’s probably a piece of pie in my bag, just waiting for you to inquire.