Tag Archives: dinner

CLOSED Austin Java Tarrytown Redux + a GIVEAWAY!!!

UPDATE 2-10-2014 Austin Java Tarrytown suddenly shut it’s doors forever over the weekend. The word is that the veg options are going to move to the Barton Springs locations.

Almost exactly a year ago a new all vegetarian Austin Java opened up in Tarrytown. We went and, like the other Austin Javas I’ve been to, the food was pretty disappointing. There was a lot of confusion about what was vegan and what wasn’t and it seemed like no one really had any idea about how to make delicious vegan food. Folks from the neighborhood were really disappointed and the reviews were kind of depressing since everyone was blaming the bad food on the fact that it was vegetarian. I still held out hope that things would change and sure enough a new manager was brought in, Maddy, who seems to be doing everything right. First she consulted with local vegans, the ladies behind our local tempeh company the Hearty Vegans, to help her out. And help they did! The menu is definitely pared down and, if I’ve learned anything from watching Kitchen Nightmares, it’s that that is a good thing! There is a lot more focus on making things in house from whole foods rather than store bought substitutions. A group of us were invited to try out the new menu on the house and if they can recreate our meal for their paying customers I think that it is going to be very successful with both vegans and omnivores. In fact, Maddy said since developing the menu she learned to love vegan food so much that she’s now eating that way most of the time!

We started with some agave & lime marinated cucumber tapas that were topped with avocado and pico de gallo. This is something I would never normally order but I really enjoyed it. The marinade took the edge of the cucumber and I could see this being a great app in the summer when it’s 5,000 degrees. I enjoyed them with a glass of delicious chardonnay, I never would have thought of Austin Java as a place for wine and I’m glad I tried it since they often have happy hour specials.

Next we were brought a couple of samples of pasta. The pasta primevera is something that I get from time to time at the Austin Java on 12th because it’s one of the few vegan meals they have and I am always super disappointed with the mushy noodles, oily overcooked vegetables, and bitter taste. The pomodoro at the Tarrytown location was totally the opposite of that. I think the other locations would be blown away by the difference that an al dente noodle, a well cooked vegetables, and a light sauce makes. Also viva la vegan parmesan a fresh basil.

We also tried the jalapeno mac & cheese which has avocado and pureed peanuts as it’s base. I loved this dish, in fact, I’ve been trying to make my own version of avocado mac over the years and it never worked out nearly this well. Not everyone at the table was sold on the peanut butter but I didn’t really notice it, I thought it was delicious and creamy and I’d order it the next time I go back for lunch. I loved the basil and the corn. I’ll be curious to see what other people think.

Next we were brought some sandwiches. The curried tempeh wrap was my favorite. It was kind of sweet with pecans and maybe even dried fruit but on a thick salty pita. I thought it worked really well, and again, I hope this sandwich comes to 12th street because I could easily eat it a few times a week.

We also sampled the southwest veggie burgers that are made in house and also gluten free. We tried them on a GF bun that’s made locally by  Misty Morning Bakery which I think is popular with the GF-vegan community. The burger stayed true to it’s veggie roots and wasn’t trying to be a meat replacement so I think it will be popular with the non-vegans too.

I think next came the black bean chili which was very similar to a chili I used to sell on the lot a million years ago. It was a little sweet and had pops of corn. I really liked it, a nice wholesome dish. They should enter the Lonestar Veggie Chili Cook-off next year.

Next came the tempeh “street taco”. Since we were just getting samples ours were on fried tortillas and I should have asked if that’s how they will always be. I liked it, it reminded me of homemade nachos. The tempeh ground beef was delicious and I think we all really enjoyed the filling. In fact, I do believe it was Nanette’s favorite dish.

Finally we were brought pancakes and I didn’t even take a picture since I was so full at this point that I could barely manage and also you all probably know what a pancake looks like. These were damn near perfect. The batter was agave and banana sweetened and topped with a cinnamon butter and maple syrup. We all loved them. Molly said they were the best in town and I already want to get them again.

She sent us home with cupcakes and cookies and, honestly, we thought the chocolate chip cookie was one of the best in town. I’d put it right up there with Celeste’s Best & The Big John from Whole Foods.

I’m so happy with the new menu and so glad that Maddy reached out the Hearty Vegan and that they were so helpful. It’s nice to have well prepared tempeh on a menu because tempeh is really unique and delicious and you can’t get it many places in town. They even have a tempeh scramble that you can sub in the migas. Nearly everything on the menu can be veganized and there were a lot of GF options. They haven’t printed out new versions of the menu yet so be sure to ask for vegan things when you go (like the pancake). And of course, let them know what you think. I think really one of the best things for veganism is to have great vegan food all over the place and I’m happy to add Austin Java Tarrytown to the list and I hope it all goes really well for them.

This contest has closed, due to unforeseen circumstances Austin Java won’t be able to honor the winner for a while.

TO WIN A FREE MEAL

Generously, they have offered a free meal to two lucky readers! If you would like to win please comment below. Let me know what you are most excited about trying on the new menu. Make sure you comment with an email that you check so I can notify you if you are the winner.

One Love – Let’s get together and feel all right

I think it was about 3 hours between the time I heard from a friend about One Love, the new Caribbean Grille in east Austin, to the time I was there, 5 minutes after it opened for the evening, ready to sample to food. There have been so many new places that are on my list to try but once I saw Ital Tofu Platter and fried plantains One Love got immediately moved to the top of the list. I am a sucker for Caribbean food. One Love is right next to Planet K on Ceaser Chavez after Pleasent Valley and before the highway. I was so excited that I took a horrible photo.

But don’t worry if you can’t make anything out from that grainy photo when you get to Planet K, you can’t miss the giant rasta flag and you will hear the dubstep as you approach the extremely friendly people who work there. Their specials are updated on their facebook page but they have a vegan plate everyday and they are very vegan conscious with a dedicated grill. The drinks are limited to root beer and water but it is byob so next time I will pick something up before we go. And there will definitely be a next time. For just 5 dollars I got the jerk tofu with a ton of rice, a side salad and some fried plantains. The tofu was amazing. It was sliced thin but had a very thick fried crust with lots of savory spices. They know how to make some appetizing bean curd I’ll tell you what. The plantains were also fried with the jerk spices and were very tasty although a little similar to the tofu. I wish every place in the world sold plantains. The rice and the salad were both fairly plain but fresh and well done. I can’t wait to try the curry because it would bring the meal to the next level for sure.

They have a covered seating area right next to the trailer but you can also walk back to the garage area where you get a stunning view of town lake. I know stunning might seem like an exaggeration, especially since I tend to always exaggerate,  but this part of town seems so industrial and covered in pavement that I was truly surprised to walk ten feet and see this nature scene with dogs and chickens and things. It looks like maybe they set up extra seating out there because there are lights and platforms but when we went it was just a garage. The whole scene in the garage really reminded me of this place called “the magic buzz” in Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica except that there was food and it was really great and filling. In fact, my young man had too much too fast and overdid it. They also have domino nights! Going to One Love made me really want to travel to the Caribbean but at the same time I was really happy that I could get a taste of it right at home. If only I could get them to start serving gallo pinto for brunch it would be perfect but I guess I will have to wait for a Costa Rican place to open for that to happen.

Also over the weekend I saw Scott Pilgrim. Check out the Vanity Fair article about why you should go see it and then go see it! It was a lot of fun, the perfect summer movie plus the Vegan Police show up!!! And you can Scott Pilgrimize youself on their site. By the way, if you live or visit Austin and haven’t been to the Alamo Drafthouse in a while they have a lot more vegan stuff on the menu now as in 2 entrées where there once were none!

The Vegan Yacht

I finally checked out the Vegan Yacht at Cheer Up Charlies on East 6th street today and I’ve got to say that I am so impressed! I really didn’t understand until recently that the yacht is a veritable eating establishment and I have been missing out! Cheer Up Charlies used to be a trailer that served mostly beverages but then a couple of months ago the opened up a brick and mortar bar that serves beer, kombucha, and delicious vegan chocolates. They have a lot of events and outdoor movies there. The Vegan Yacht is on the back patio surrounded by little tables and succulents.Although I have heard the menu changes quite a bit, I thought is was pretty great. This Wednesday it included several sandwiches, a TLT, a mock chick’n, and one with sprouts, tomato and avocados along with the latter in lettuce wrap form for the raw/healthy/carbaphobic types out there. They also have a quesadilla made with seitan, daiya cheese, avocado, and bell peppers. We had a hard time deciding! For drinks they have iced coffee & chai, and smoothies or you can go to the bar inside. They also had beet brownies and coconut bliss for dessert. As usual when confronted with an all vegan menu I panicked. There were so many options! I was at Counter Culture over the weekend and someone was raving about the frito pie, that they serve either in a bowl or in burrito form and I thought it was just crazy enough to work and ordered the frito burrito. He gave me the option of adding avocado or daiya and I went with the former. It was fabulous!They perfectly grilled the tortilla which made it have a really nice texture and made it easier to eat. The chili was great and had corn and big pieces of onion in it and it wasn’t spicy at all if that is a concern. I would definitely get it with avocado again. Mmm. My friend tried the TLT which was also on grilled bread and surprisingly tasty.The tempeh was especially reminiscent of bacon which I have never really picked up on before from other tempeh bacon. Or maybe it was just the familiarity because of the vegan mayo and tomato that made it so evocative of the BLTS of yesteryear. Whatever the reason it was a perfect sandwich. I don’t know why they don’t have sides though? Some fries or chips or brussels sprouts or broccoli rice casserole or something would have been a nice side dish. At night it would be perfect to grab a sandwich and then go to the Eastside King for Beet fries.

I loved that they were open for lunch because I thought it was just a late night spot, but they actually have really perfect hours; closing after lunch and reopening at 7 until the party is over so it can be one of the best spots to check out for late night vegan eating.  And they have parking!They also have a Sunday Brunch that I can’t wait to try, especially since they are open until 4 pm for Brunch which, to my mind, is the only civilized thing to do.

I hope the Vegan Yacht sails for a long time. We both really liked it and they seem like really good people! 

Lazy Jamaican peas

This last week I have really benefited gastronomically from having great friends. I asked one of my Jamaican coworkers where she sources scotch bonnet peppers and she said that you can’t find them in Austin but her sister can get them in Florida. Well lucky for me she went to visit her sister last weekend and I got a bag of scotch bonnets, the hottest pepper there is. I read somewhere that if you don’t cut them up but just throw ‘um whole in the pot you get the flavor without all the heat so that is what I did. This recipe is basically from Delicious Jamaica but I thought I would blog it because I made it even lazier (canned beans) and it still turned out fantastic. It has a laziness factor of 3, you do have to do some cooking but it takes less than 5 minutes of total work.

Lazy Jamaican Peas

1 can red kidney beans
1 can coconut milk
1 can of water
1 scotch bonnet or other hot pepper
2 scallions
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp allspice
2 whole cloves garlic
Throw everything in a pot and let it simmer away for about a half hour or whenever it is starting to look more like stew. Then start the rice or the quinoa and add
1/2 cup of onions chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
salt
pepper
when the grain is done remove the pepper, scallions, garlic cloves and bay leaves and top the peas with chives if you like!
The chives came from my friend Krys who also brought me a boatload of tomatoes, including this monster:I am excited to spend the weekend eating tomatoes!
I was feeling really down yesterday so I stopped by a gardening store called The Great Outdoors on South Congress, these smurf gnomes really cheered me up.but not nearly as much as this cactus did!
Enjoy the longest days of the year!!!!

The Succulent Days of Summer

I don’t know when it started but I love succulents.  They are the one thing in the world I see for sale and I just can’t resist. I wish I was better at keeping them alive though! I have such a hard time researching them because I never know the names of the plants. So if you know the names of any of them help me out! The pink almond ones are dying and it makes me so sad so if you have any tips…

This first little cactus is one I got from a really neat store called “Happiness” but it closed down. Isn’t that depressing? Happiness is no longer… The lady at the store told me that she once saw a whole hillside covered in these plants and they were all 3 feet tall. It is called Cephalocereus senilis (Old Man Cactus).

My mom bought this one for me from the Natural Gardner. I think it was called a chocolate soldier and I know it is from Madagascar but I haven’t been able to find it online. Luckily, it seems to be thriving!

This grouping was a house-warming gift from my consigliere and bff Amanda. The big fan one didn’t look like it was going to make it for a while but it is going strong now. The little green ones are from either home depot or lowes and they are just sprouting flowers like crazy. But the cutest ones, the little pink almonds are not doing well at all. I got them on 1st Thursday a couple of months ago and then completely forgot everything they told me about them. Do they need less sun? Less water? They have only had rain to drink but maybe that is too much….

I got this one at 1st Thursday too, it is living inside though and doing a lot better. Maybe I should move the pink ones inside.

This little guy was just so cute that I couldn’t say no when I passed him at home depot the other day. I think lithops were the first succulent I was aware of that wasn’t a cactus or an agave. I wish I had 20 of them all lined up in a row.

I thought I would blog every day this week about something fabulous I have made from Viva Vegan, but yesterday I was just too exhausted to cook anything and forced Mr. Smurf to heat up frozen tots and nuggets. He also made guacamole because the avocados were in a state of immaculate perfection. It seems silly to blog about it BUT that guacamole recipe was really good; different than I usually make it and so flavorful. I loved it.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying the long days of summer!

Edible Earth– an all vegan trailer on South 1st

The other day I read the Statesman article about how some folks think that the trailers in Austin should be more heavily regulated. I figured that was just because someone else was very greedy since every trailer I have been to seems very clean and well run. But then I read the comments and couldn’t believe how many Statesman readers have never gone to trailers, someone said “Who goes to trailers anyway homeless people?”. If the homeless can afford to eat at the trailers I go to they are some pretty well fed people! It is such an absurd thought! Can you imagine the homeless population are supporting all these hundreds businesses. I guess they have to spend their huge incomes on something since they don’t have to pay rent. People are just so stupid at this point on the internet that it is hard to even read anything without skipping the comments. Except for my comments which are always wonderful and my commenters who are the best on the net!

I think at this point I prefer to eat at trailers. It is a lot cheaper, I don’t have to have someone wait on me, and I can leave whenever I want to. Plus, it seems like so many trailers are more vegan friendly than… just about anybody! Instead of trying to get through to third parties you usually get to discuss the food with the person that cooks it and they are happy to tell you all about it. Places like TaKorea, Bananarchy, and Frietkot are all so helpful and talk honestly about what does and doesn’t contain animal products. There are no corporate policies, hostility, ignorance, or pretentiousness that I deal with sometimes in restaurants regarding vegan food. If you like the trailers too, sign the petition to tell the city that if something is working out fabulously they should leave it alone!

All-vegan trailers have a very special place in my heart. When I first tried Edible Earth I stared at the menu not wanting to make a wrong decision.Even though I knew that they were an all-vegan trailer (it says so in big letters, right on trailer) I still questioned the veracity of everything and both times they were super friendly and helpful in response. Earth Balance, Daiya Cheese, Toffuti sour cream, and all of the other vegan dairy substitutes were well represented. The first time I went I thought the burrito was a little small and the price was rather high but they have since come down on prices since. I would love if they added a side to the burrito like gallo pinto style rice and beans or fried plantains. The next visit I checked out the Loaded Baked Potato with the added vegan taco meat. Six dollars seemed just a little but much for a potato until I saw it. The potato was massive! Maybe the biggest potato I have ever seen. I was really hungry after the beagle brigade and farmer’s market and I still couldn’t eat the whole thing. The potato itself was crunchy on the outside perfect and over-filled with toffuti, daiya, chives, taco meat, and salt and pepper. I loved it! I used to always get potatoes like that back in the pregan days of yore so it was wonderful to travel down that road once again.

The rest of the menu is filled out with salads, quesadillas, and an every changing array of sweets. I got a chocolate chip cookie to share with my mom and we both thought it was tasty.

Since I am personally not a big salad fan I wish that the menu had things like Tempeh Wings, BBQ Seitan Ribs or Smoked Tempeh with Mac Daddy,  or an Eggplant Muffaletta but, then, that is my fantasy trailer and I am sure that tons of people prefer salad and…..um…. vegetables. Next time I go I am going to tell her to consider Jes’ Fried Green Tomato Sandwich for a special. God I love that sandwich and it is green tomato season!

So the next time you are on South 1st check it out and support vegan trailers!

Irish Sausages & planning a party

It has been busy days at the Smurf house. Although it is IDEAL hammock weather I have been as busy as…. someone that isn’t me…. with all sorts of activities. I have also been planning for my birthday extravaganza that is going down really soon. I have friends coming in from all over the country and we are going to camp out so I have been trying to figure out what I should make for ~20 people over several days.

Since nothing says Texas like a bowl of red I thought I could make frito pie one night but I was completely stumped for the second night. Then it dawned on me that what kind of Serbian-American vegan would I be without making sausages! They are the only thing that makes sense, I can prepare them ahead of time and then cook them on the grill and I have a million different recipes that I have tried. I liked the Korean dog I had at TaKorea and then I LOVED the Thai sausage taco I made a couple of weeks ago so I could just do it in dog form. And then I thought I could make Irish sausages and top them with caramelized onions and mushroom gravy. What do you think? Maybe I should call them something Irish though like O’sausages or Lil’ laddies, luckily there is till time to think more about that.

These sausages are kind of riffing on a tester recipe and they turned out fab. We cooked them with collard greens and garlic and ate it with some noochy grits. It was a fantastic quick meal.Irish Sausages (makes 8 )

1 cup cooked lentils
2 cups broth
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ginger, cayenne, and pepper
Tear off 8 pieces of foil. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl with your hand and knead a little bit. It will probably be pretty moist but you want everything sticking together. Divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a log and then wrap in foil twisting the ends like a tootsie roll.

Golden Beets with Beans & Greens

Beets are in the Amaranth family and related to swiss chard, spinach, and sugar beets. The red ones are fun if you want to make Klingon Gagh or a stew but overall the golden variety is a lot easier to work with because you don’t have to worry about beet juice staining everything. I love buying beets because I feel like I am really getting my money’s worth since I can often stretch a bunch over several meals. The beet greens are the added bonus. They are easy enough to cook with a little garlic and olive oil but I was inspired by a post on the ppk to use oranges and sesame oil as well. I wanted to make something very healthy and filling so I added some quinoa, edamame, and peanuts. It was terrific and quick!

Golden Beets with Beans & Greens

preheat oven to 400F

bunch of beets, cleaned and greens separated, hard parts discarded.
peanut oil
1 onion cut in half moons
4 cloves garlic
1 cup edamame
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 & 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
handful of peanuts
dash of dried red chilies

Cut the beets in half. Place 2 halves on a piece of foil and drizzle on peanut oil, wrap up, and bake in the over 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile saute the onions in oil for a couple minutes, add the garlic and the chopped beet greens and cook about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa and cook for another minute or 2. Add the edamame, the OJ and the water. Cover, and cook about 20 minutes until the quinoa is done. In the meantime toast the peanuts with the chile peppers on the stove in a small pan until slightly brown. When the beets are done, chop one and add it to the quinoa pot. Slice the rest into half moons and arrange them on the bottom of the bowl. Add the sesame oil and soy sauce, adjust seasoning if necessary and scoop a serving on top of the plated beets. Top with peanuts and green onions. Enjoy!


Taco do Sul

OK, this picture is so awful but the tacos were really good and easy, a great summer taco, so I had to post about them!  First I made a quick marinade of a tablespoon of  Mexican oregano, 10  Kalamata olives, a small sweet orange pepper, and 1/2 cup of red wine. I steamed the tempeh for ten minutes then marinated for about and hour. Meanwhile, I made an orange-onion salsa with red onions, cumin, and oranges. Then, an hour later I sauted the tempeh in oil until it browned, added the marinade to the pan, reducded for a minute or two and then piled the tempeh into corn tortillas with spinach, and the orange-onion salsa. The olives rebounded so well with the peppers and the cumin sang its little cumin song of happiness in the background while the tempeh grounded everything in the way that only tempeh can. If someone makes these tacos and takes a better picture I will replace the picture and send you a gift from Lazy Smurf’s headquarters.  So make them! Eat them! and Enjoy!

Pascha Palachinke

Growing up Serbian Orthodox you always celebrate holidays a few weeks after the rest of the country which always made me feel a little important somehow; like my holidays were more authentic then these silly neighbors of mine who would celebrate their holidays on any old day the man told them to. Yes, I was self important even as a child, but you know, Orthodox Lent is really 40 days of veganism and vegans are known as self-important so maybe it was a natural fit. The 40 days is usually finished off with killing a lamb. I didn’t kill any lambs this year for Pascha (Easter) but I did make some vegan crepes (or Palachinke in Serbian) with the finest Spring ingredients. I found green garlic, ramps, baby Swiss chard, and oyster mushrooms at the farmer’s market so I wanted to use them. I was disappointed that another Spring was about to pass by again without me getting to try Fiddlehead Ferns but then I found them at central market! I was so excited. I baked all the vegetables in a 400 oven with earth balance and salt and pepper for about 10 minutes. And they turned out delicious, what a brilliant combination. The ramps were like leeks but different enough to have a flavor all their own. The fiddlheads tasted like asparagus, a curly, snappy version of asparagus.

I used the recipe for the crepes from the voluptuous vegan and it once again proved to be a winner. I also made the baked tofu recipe from the voluptuous vegan and it was really good, creamy and flavorful but fast and easy and so it was a perfect match for these easy crepes.

I had earlier gone to the Texas Food and Wine festival and at a cooking demo I realized that I don’t eat enough parsley. It is the perfect complement to a Spring dish, the flavor is really fresh and just kind of zippy. I did a little epicurious search and found a parsley pesto with toasted pepitas and decided it would be perfect, without the parmesan of course and adding a little citrus. It was delicious! Parsley is one of those foods that I didn’t used to like but now I am finally coming around to it. If you want to move into a new phase with you relationship with parsley I recommend this recipe. The creamy pepitas really added a nice element to the strong parsley and toned it down. I could eat this pesto buy itself or just on bread because it was so good. Maybe I will make it with pasta tonight. The perfect pepita parsley pesto pasta. The whole crepe came together really nicely. Mr. Smurf used at least 4 reallys when he was complementing the final dish. If you find these fiddlehead ferns and the farmer’s market definitely try some.Here is the recipe for the pepita parsley pesto

  • 1/3 cup raw green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 cups packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBSP of Lime

Process the garlic first, then add the pepitas and process a little more. Add the rest of ingredients, process until pesto consistency and add salt and pepper.

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