Thai Heartichoke Preview & Rescheduling

These instagram photos sure don’t belong in a magazine, but I like to think they capture a glimpse of unique Heartichoke Supper Club preview I attended last week. If you’ve been here before, you probably know that I spent a month in SE Asia back in December, and I was stoked to let my obsession help design the Northwest meets Thai menu.

Kefir Lime and Lemongrass Pickled Carrots

Refreshers

Local Choi Salad

Deconstructed Namprik Gaeng Som Green Curry

Coconut Sticky Rice. This was 40 times better than it looks, I assure you.

The full menu:

Heartichoke Presents: NW meets Thai-Inspired Small Plates

Thai-spiced Popcorn

Local Baby Bok Choi Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime on a Bed of Mung Bean Vermicelli, Garnished with Chili Oil & Brown Sugar Roasted Peanuts

Deconstructed Namprik Gaeng Som Green Curry with Roasted Rice-Dredged Tofu, Pea Shoots, Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime – Pickled Carrots, Roasted Yam, Shiitake Mushrooms and Rice Sphere

Fresh Citrus

Coconut Sticky Rice with Miso Caramel and Shuksan Strawberries

All dishes are vegan and gluten-free. Produce is locally sourced as much as possible.

I tried each and every dish, and they’re all so fresh and flavorful! Plus, the evening is a benefit for little Effie, who unfortunately, passed away shortly after the preview. All proceeds will help cover her immense medical bills and others suffering from FIP.

The dinner has been rescheduled for Saturday, July 28th, 2012.

More details and sign up information (including sliding scale tickets) are on the Heartichoke site. Basically, if you care about cats and enjoy Thai food, I hope you’re able to make it.

Bits and Pieces of Seattle

I’ve been telling myself that a Seattle hiatus is in order for months now (evidently, since March), and sure enough, pieces of one fell onto my path recently while I was heading to and fro the ‘heart of the cascades’ for work stuff.

I can't seem to get away from The Highline. I miss Georgetown Liquor Co, but this Capitol Hill location is great, and I'm a sucker for their Galvanizer- a pint of Spire apple cider holding a shot of Fireball whiskey.

Hot Pickle Chips with ranch, in all their (deserved) $8 glory.

The dining highlight of the trip - Eggplant & Tofu at Wedgewood Thai II. Totally a random dinner stop, and quite a sweet sauce, but fresh eggplant, tiny, cutesy tofu squares, doting staff and sidewalk dining made it memorable.

I embraced my inner 20-year-old by staying at The Green Tortoise, adjacent to Pike Place Market. All things considered, it was pretty damn swell.

Next Up: Loving Hut, Visit #2. In short: Summer rolls with shiso and the caramel-like peanut sauce = Pass.

Loving Hut's Vermicelli bowl. The crispy fried gluten stuff was fascinating and it wasn't a crispy roll to regret, but what's up with shiso overload here? Better yet, what's gotten into me?

My dining partner was on a dessert streak, and ordered not 1, not 2, but 3 desserts at Loving Hut. The creamy cheesecake was lovely, and seemed to be tops.

How cool is the Penzey's in downtown Seattle? Blame my own Northwest tourism, but this was more exciting than the Pearl location.

Existential vegan food query: I walked home past Cyber Dogs, and found myself wondering, 'Why is it that I won't eat a veggie dog?" Oh, analogues.

In between. Cle Elum, WA (where I met a vegan!)

With that, I leave you to the Lady Gaga inspired display at Red Light in Capitol Hill.

Pardon me while I go back into Vegan Iron Chef mode!

Red Curry and Vermicelli, inspired by In The Bowl Noodle Bistro in Seattle

Red Curry Tofu with Vermicelli Noodles and Roasted Asparagus with coarse Bali Coconut Lime salt

Even when I’m alone, I am obsessed with plating style. Frankly, even more so when I’m alone. The style above was inspired by a casual but unforgettable Angel Curry special I ordered at In The Bowl in Seattle a couple of years back. I haven’t returned since, but I see no way around this on my next venture north. It’s time to forget Highline and skip a buffet at Araya – I miss that curry and want to see if my fond memory can merge with reality.

The recipe for this red curry comes from Appetite for Reduction and features lots of tofu cubes and Thai basil. The vegetables I used were zucchini, broccoli raab, carrots and cremini mushrooms. Speaking of healthy living and eating, photographing one’s food is still fairly odd to me (all these years later, despite it being so automatic) but healthy minded, in my opinion. It always reminds me to stick to my set portions and up the greens. Now, photographing your food in restaurants – well, that’s another story and a rant for another time. Seriously.

 

Spicy Thai Basil Noodles with Soft Tofu, Peanuts & Garlic Scapes

local garlic scapes have arrived.

It’s time for my warm weather motto: I may hate the heat, but I heart farmers markets. I also heart venturing into other neighborhoods and secretly pretending that I live in them. The day will come that I move out of my dear Division St. apartment. That day could bring me further-out southeast into a neighborhood I have strong feelings for – Lents. I’m a frequent visitor to the farmers market, particularly come late July, because the hot pepper prices are unreal. I took my first trip of the season to the market opener on Sunday, and while I was ‘out there’, I stopped by J.C. Rice Noodle for a couple pounds of their fresh namesake, fresh tofu, and continued onto Fubonn for randomness. Once home, I quickly threw together something of a Pad Kee Mow with saucey, soft tofu and roasted peanuts taking the place of the scrambled eggs.

There is nothing quite like the combination of fresh rice noodles you pull apart with your hands, salty soy sauce, hot chiles and fresh yet sweet Thai basil. What a freaking thrill to semi-confidently create things like this (without the worries of fishy sauces) at home. WHAT A FREAKING THRILL.

holy.basil.

Spicy Thai Basil Noodles with Soft Tofu and Peanuts

Serves 3-4

Note: This sauce is based on my own taste buds of the moment. If you like things sweeter/saltier/spicier, do it. I’ll be listing the bolded ingredients in rounds, as I started mixing and cooking like so…

Round 1 of Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package soft, water packed tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian stir fry/mushroom sauce, like this 
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce, like this
  • 1 small handful roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic paste, like so
  • dash of black sesame oil
  • pinch turmeric
  • pinch black salt
  • fresh lime juice, to taste

Mash together the tofu and above ingredients with a fork in a medium or large bowl. Leave some chunks of tofu. Set aside.

Round 2 

  • 1.5 cups chopped vegetables: I went with swiss chard, daikon, carrots, asparagus and zucchini
  • 1-2 cups of vegan protein of choice: tempeh cubes, tofu strips, seitan, or tofu sheet knots
  • Cooking oil of choice

Tofu Sheet Knots: because sometimes you need to buy things out of the freezer at Fubonn with your eyes closed

If using a frozen protein, make sure to defrost. Pan fry your protein in 1/2 tablespoon oil on medium heat for 5 minutes, turning over to reach a golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside.

Heat the same pan and add more oil if needed (I didn’t). Add your vegetables and stir fry for an additional 5 minutes over medium heat. Add a tiny splash of vegetable broth or white wine if vegetables begin to stick. You want to keep your vegetables vibrant – do not over cook. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan you keep on using, sauté the following:

  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 garlic scapes, chopped (whatever, use the top!)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1-3 minced Thai chiles – stick to 1 if you’re unsure and grab the Sriracha later!
  • 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil

Tightly sealed Thai chiles, clearly not from the farmers market

Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the tofu mixture and bring to a boil.

It'll look like this mess.

Once boiling, lower heat and cook until some sauce is absorbed, about 2-4 minutes. Quickly add cooked noodles (Note: if using fresh noodles, rinse or immerse in cool water first) for 2-4 servings, vegetables, vegan protein, and a handful of fresh Thai holy basil.
Serve quickly, garnished with fresh bean sprouts, more Thai basil, roasted peanuts & lime wedges.

If you're awesome, you'll garnish it with a curled scape.

behold, the casual Lents International Farmers Market

Anatomy of a Grocery Trip, from Fubonn: Thai holy basil,ginger,bean sprouts,limes,Thai chilis,Tacoma soft tofu,coconut milk,young coconut juice,lychee juice,mango nectar,Ota soy nectar,fried seitan,frozen tofu knots,tamari,vermicelli noodles,coconut cookies,roasted seaweed snacks,roasted green tea,vegetarian mushroom stir fry sauce

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

A Day in the Life of Leftovers: Yellow Curry and Favorites

Yesterday’s ginger-riffic take out from Just Thai for lunch really hit the spot. The mellow yellow, (had to be said) brothy curry, chewy cubes of fried tofu and cutely ridged vegetables over steamed rice was super decently priced, quickly prepared, and with a drizzle of Srichacha, was just what my still-dulled-from-sickness taste-buds wanted. As you can see, even before I sat down for a single lunch, the leftovers were incredibly generous. I had the second round today, and there’s 2 more to go.

I’ve never been a big fan of leftovers. Growing up, my family rarely ate casseroles. Green bean what? The closest things in my memories were homemade Italian pasta dishes, and being picky, I didn’t eat most of them.  Nowadays, in my trying-to-be-a-grown-up years, busy life, and an always-cheap-at-heart mindset, I’m better behaved. I just like making something new so much! I’m well versed in what restaurants, and more likely, food carts, offer meals that will yield leftovers for at least a day, and I do take my leftovers from home to work. I mean, I have a rule where I HAVE TO LEAVE the building I work in for AT LEAST A WALK on my lunch hour, because I’m sane –  and I’m usually wary of the microwave and the smell of defrosted frozen meals of death – but I return and eat my lunch more often than not.  It’s actually refreshing when a couple of weeks go by and I realize I haven’t spent additional money on lunch.

I’ll admit that I’m just as likely to make dishes for the week with different components that can be assembled, such as noodle or grain bowls. I live alone, and again, don’t love leftovers, but I’m here to talk about casseroles*, not what homemade vermicelli bowl sauces have spilled in my purse.

Here are some of my favorite meals that yield more than a day’s worth of worthwhile leftovers.

Homemade Leftovers to Look Forward To:

  • New Farm-style, Gluten Free Mac and Cheese with Broccoli – will be posting an updated recipe for this tomorrow. Traditional Mac & Cheese was something else I never ate until college, strangely enough.
  • Sweet Potato Pie Casserole - I don’t make this every holiday season anymore, but it’s the essential dish attached to Thanks, Mom.
  • Lasagna. It’s been forever since I’ve made one. Therefore, the next time I’m invited to a social outing, I’m bringing one.
  • Tomato, Rice, Roasted Garlic and Navy Bean Soup from Veganomicon - one of the soups I’ve made the most in the past few years, since the ‘ole testing days.
  • Persian Eggplant Stew – a new one to my repertoire this past year that is just as soul-warming the next day, just like a stew should be.
  • Curry Roasted Vegetables – cube your protein, roast, add chopped vegetables, roast some more, add broth/curry paste/peanut butter/spices, etc., roast a bit more, serve over grains. Tah dah.
  • Tempeh Bacon: not so much of a dish, but the easiest of the baked proteins to just throw into everything: sandwiches, salads, wraps, smokey greens, etc. In most recipes it’s pan-fried, but I tend to bake it now.
  • Stuffed Mushrooms. I make these the most often for potlucks, stuffed with nuts and wine and herbs and goodness and whenever I do, I think, “Why the hell don’t I have these around more often?”
  • Chili: and it’s nearly always a variation of Tempeh Chili Con Frijoles or Seitan Chili Sin Carne Al Mole in my kitchen – even when I start out with another recipe.
  • Basil Fried Rice. Leftover rice? Acquire basil. Add garlic, veggie, sesame oil and pepper. Rice pudding is even easier, but this is my go-to path.
  • Refried Beans. Because with beans, which you really should be cooking on a regular basis anyway, you have the options of tacos, burritos, nachos, dips, beans bowls with sauce, etc.  Again, eat your beanz!

*Speaking of casseroles, the Vegan Iron Chef group in Portland is in the beginning stages of putting together the warmest, more comforting competition ever this winter – The Great Vegan Casserole Off! (a better name is perhaps, in the works)

Rice Noodlin’ with a visit to JC Rice Noodle Shop

Yellow Karee Tofu Curry with thin rice noodles, served on the side

Pad See Ew with fresh wide rice noodles & scrambled tofu, carrots, spinach, green cabbage, green beans, garlic, and baby bok choy

Maybe,  just maybe, I’ve become obsessed with rice noodles.

Look, I like noodles in my life, and lately they’ve been of the rice variety. Recently, my fixation was over yellow curry noodles. Things got even better with a curious stop at JC Rice Noodle Shop & Restaurant on SE Foster. I was in the area for another visit to the Lents Farmers Market, and it had caught my eye on the way. I ended up walking out of the nondescript, quiet storefront with a heaping bag of fresh, wide rice noodles (sold 95 cents/lb.  – I had asked for 3 and walked out with 5, hence this continued, celebrated fixation) and a pound of equally fresh tofu ($1, but bring a container! they pack it in Styrofoam, shudder). They also sell rice sheets, and rice noodle rolls, but I wasn’t sure if they had a vegan version of the latter, as I saw a mention of pork filling.

Anywhoo, I’m almost in a state of shock over these soft noodles. You can obviously tell the difference between a package of fresh noodles (again, usually on Styrofoam) vs. dried, and these super fresh noodles just take the (rice) cake.

What I’m saying is, if you have access to fresh rice noodles, seek them out, or try making your own! They’re fresher, you get to buy in bulk, and skip excess packaging – win, win, win.

Next up in my rice noodlin’ meals: Pad Kee Mao, aka Drunken Noodles. Speaking of i eat food, the blog I just linked to..well, I’m loving that blog.

JC Rice Noodle

The Pad See Ew above started with scrambled tofu, seasoned with turmeric, black pepper, and soy sauce. It was modified from the Thai River Noodles recipe on About.com. The Karee Yellow Curry Noodles were based on these Khao Soi Yellow Curry Noodles. Both dishes utilize vegetarian fish sauce.

Some more shots of rice noodlin’, and a bonus behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the cinematic trailer for The Vegan Revolution….with Zombies.

Khao Soi Yellow Curry Noodles with Tofu

Khao Soi Yellow Curry Noodles with Tofu and assorted vegetables

Adapted from the Thai-Burmese style recipe on Veggie Belly and various others, based on my available ingredients and whim. Inspired by the notion of cauliflower + curry, a field trip in deep SE Portland to the Lents International Farmers Market for produce, great pour over-style Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from Nectar Coffee Co., and onward adventures to Fubonn. I’ve had curry noodles on the brain since dining at In the Bowl in Seattle this past Spring.

Khao Soi Yellow Curry Noodles with Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced yellow squash (I did half circles)
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/4 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1/2 cup shredded swiss chard (including stalk)
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Indian curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vegetarian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk or light coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 oz dried vermicelli rice noodles (use more or less depending on how soupy you want the finished product)
  • 1-1.5 cups of sliced fried or fresh tofu
  • handful of torn fresh basil leaves

Garnish:

  • Chopped basil or cilantro (look, I’m only typing it because it’s traditional in this dish)
  • Lime wedges
  • Sriracha

Instructions:

  1. Sauté the garlic in oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the curry powder and paste.
  3. Add all of the vegetables, and cook for 7-10 minutes. Stir frequently; lower the heat if anything starts to burn.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk, sauces, brown sugar, tofu and water. Mix in and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower the  heat, stir in the noodles, incorporate with tongs, cover with a lid and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes on low.
    • Alternately: Use pre-cooked rice or wheat noodles and add in at this point. Don’t cover the pot if you do this.
  6. Add torn basil or cilantro leaves, incorporate and serve.
  7. Garnish individual portions and add soy sauce, lime and/or hot sauce as desired.

Just pretend that’s cilantro on top…

Vegetables:

From the Lents Farmers Market:

Utilized Sauces, etc:

The small Fubonn haul, which most certainly includes a smoked vegan ham tube. Plans forthcoming. Isn’t Ota’s new package adorable?

Some more from Lents:

I picked up beets and jalapeño peppers at the farm below (currently infusing cayenne and jalapeno tequila at home).

This is my patience. Bell peppers, please!

-

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Photo Essay: boston. vegan. vacation. go.

Just what got checked off the Vegan To-Do List from my Return to Boston post…

See tall buildings? check!

beantown

As for food, let’s start with the No Name.  If there was a flag representing Vegan Boston, this would be on it.  The very first gluten/fake meaty anything I could stomach! (and now require at least once every two years).  Battered gluten, sweet and sour sauce, sesame seeds, broccoli – need I go on?

they call me no name

More from Grasshopper – Tofu & Broccoli

1/100th as exciting as the No Name, I know.

Grasshopper

What best follows Grasshopper?  Pizza! Who’s with me? (Not immediately after! Allicia can attest.)

Slice of the day from Peace ‘O Pie in Allston.  With Daiya, vegan sausage, pine nuts, kalamata olives, and roasted garlic.

Peace O'Pie

I was really content with my experience at the former T.J. Scallywagg’s.  On top of that, this was the first time I tried the Mozzarella Daiya and continued eating.  Super nice staff, great menu, and gluten free options!  Any place that optimizes the pine nuts gets a gold star in my book.

My friends shared this intense looking vegan ham & mushrooms pie:

Peace O'Pie

Tableside jar of Parma.  A shaker of nooch (okay, or Parma) is the true sign of a vegan friendly establishment.

Parma at Peace O'Pie


Soy Latte from Espresso Royale on Newbury Street

Espresso Royale

Featuring Bagel Rising bagels and cream cheeses & tofu cream cheeses!

Below, you can see my first East Coast bagel experience – a real treat with jalapeno tofu cream cheese, roasted red peppers, and sprouts. Thank you to my friend Sarah for the rec, even if I wasn’t badass enough for the vegan Tequila bagel sandwich!

bagel rising

Spike’s Curly Fries

spike's

Dinner at Montien Thai Restaurant in the Theater District.

One of those great, impromptu dining decisions.  I was really pleased that our server didn’t even flinch at the vegan requests.

Montien

Sorry for the flash photos, but what can I say? It was after a bubble gum martini at the IT.

Montien

Rice Noodle something something.

Montien

Back Bay, the old college stomping grounds.

boston

Comm. Ave – tiny little bits of old snow that broke my heart.

Comm Ave

Wired Puppy Coffee on Newbury St.

NEWBURY ST

Espresso from Wired Puppy.  Every now and I give in and decide my stomach is up to the task.  It was worth it.

Wired Coffee

Davis Square & Blue Shirt Cafe

Blue Shirt

My friend Millie and I decided to visit Davis Square for a bit. I have so many fond memories from my first apartment there.

Our original intention, besides wandering memories, was to visit the new, all vegan Pulse Cafe that someone had left me a comment about a couple months ago. Sadly, we were in Davis early on, and the cafe didn’t open until 5pm.
We then browsed the menu at Diesel Cafe and were both bummed that the most exciting vegan option being a hummus plate, and went corner the corner to Blue Shirt for lunch. The cafe had expanded since my days of running in for a wrap with tofu to quickly eat on the T to class or work downtown, and it at least seemed like their vegan options had as well.  There were a few more mentions of tofu on the menu, but bizarrely, it’s not that they weren’t vegan, because I comprehend that honey and eggs are utilized, but that there wasn’t a vegan-izable version of a couple of these options. Both Millie and I found our wraps unexciting, which is extra sad considering that a) we have just flown in that morning and were ravenous, and b) we’re both excitable people!

A Disappointed Millieship

millie! with a boring wrap.

Her Disappointing Curry Wrap

wrap

My Disappointing Wrap.  I rarely don’t remember what something was, but this…huh?

wrap 2

Expanded Blue Shirt Cafe

blue shirt

Ah, Chinatown.  I remember when I found you terrifyingly sketchy to walk through at night as a college freshman.  How things change. This is where the original Buddha’s Delight was. I did go for lunch at My Thai, and have a review in the works.

Chinatown, Boston

Soy Latte from Boston Common Coffee Co. in Downtown Crossing. News to me. I have to say that it doesn’t look like much, but it was decent.

soy latte

Let’s head to Kendall Square. When I lived in the area, I was constantly paranoid of secret helicopter pads and underground labs blowing up on the MIT campus.

jess 032

My reason for the venture to Kendall – scoping out the Clover Food Labs food cart. It was nearby the relocated Olive Tree cart, which was formerly my staple Jerusalem cart (and restaurant). I was in college, so my diet was supposed to consist of $3 falafel wraps.  C

jess 033

Heading down to Central Square – just because it’s fun, I will mention again how much I used to love Pu Pu Hot Pot, their free delivery, and Spicy Tofu and Broccoli in Garlic Sauce.  And again, did you see their name?

Central Square

The highlight of my time in Central Square, or Cambridge, for that matter,my first exposure to Leslie and the Lys!  Wow. Wow. Wow. WOW.

leslie

Another highlight? 1369 Coffee House.  So reliable!

jess 015

Vanilla Soy Latte.  Vanilla = Vacation.

Soy Latte from 1369

Next up, NYC.