Cookbook Giveaway: Vegan Mexico

vegan-mexicoVegan Heritage Press let me check out their newest cookbook by Jason Wyrick Vegan Mexico Soul-Satisfying Regional Recipes from Tamales to Tostadas. It’s chock-full of authentic Mexican recipes like Moles, Chilaquiles, Abodingas, Atoles, and even baked goods like Bolillos and Sugar Skulls. He also has some fun fusion recipes like Mushroom Crêpes in Poblano Chile Sauce. The book is divided into chapters starting with staples like rice, beans and salsas and then moving on to Street Food, Tacos, Tortas and other Sandwiches, Enchiladas, Tamales, Salads, Soups, Main Dishes, Grilled Fare, Small Bites, Bread, Drinks, and Sweets. You can see the whole table of contents on the Amazon Preview. I made the Frijoles de Olla and turned them into refried beans and I thought they were pretty delicious. I also made the Pumpkin Seed Tomato Salsa which was super easy, creamy and delicious and put it on top of the Northern Mexico Chimichangas (deep fried burritos) I was surprised my Texas friends had never had these before! veganmexicochimmichanga1

I think this would be a great cookbook for someone who cooks a lot and wants to try out Mexican techniques, or someone that knows how to do Mexican food but doesn’t know how to veganize recipes. The recipes always give options for removing oil or using vegetables instead of tempeh or seitan. It would also be great for anyone with a grill, Jason Wyrick clearly loves his. So if that sounds like you or someone you love I’m giving away a copy for my US readers.

All you need to do is tell me if you have ever had a chimichanga and if so, when and where? Make sure you put your email in the comment form so I can contact you.

My bff and I used to binge eat them on the last day of Girl Scout camp and then our parents would pick us up and want to take us out to dinner. So then we would eat Chinese food or whatever on top of the chimichangas and spend the rest of the night moaning about being too full. Then we would repeat the entire experience the next summer. It was the best of times.

Citizen Eatery opens on Burnet

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Vegetarian restaurants are popping up left and right these days. Okay, there have been two – with one more on the way- but it still seems like a lot! The much-anticipated Beer Plant soft opened to mostly rave reviews a few weeks ago and now Citizen Eatery has opened their doors as well. Embracing all the current trends of the day this modern light-filled restaurant will please not just the meat-free but also vegans, paleo, Celiacs, and other gluten-free folks. The kitchen is actually completely gluten free although they have wheat buns and bread shipped in (sealed) for those of us that want to keep our lives gluten-full. Peruse the menu before you go in because it is one of those spots where you order at the counter and get a number rather than being waited on. And, if you are anything like me, you are going to have a hard time deciding.

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We started with the breakfast menu. Pictured above is the vegan waffle with sunbutter, maple syrup, and a smoked sausage made out of lentils and mushrooms. The waffle was gluten-free so I probably wouldn’t order it again, it didn’t have that crisp and fluffy bite that I love in a waffle. The tofu scramble we tried, The Citizen Scramble, was excellent. Packed with vegan cheese and kale it was different from most restaurant scrambles and hit the perfect breakfast notes. We also liked mixing in a bit of the lentil sausage for some smokiness.

In addition to breakfast, the menu has a list of salads, seasonal dinner specials like Vegan Bolognese with “veggie noodles” (or “zoodles” if you prefer) and family style passed sides Butternut & Sweet Potato or Brussels with Grapefruit. We tried the cheesy Cauliflower dish which I loved, it was very comforting and almost seemed like something you could get a cracker barrel… if cracker barrel was a gluten-free vegan wonderland. 30538569590_900662c191

We also tried the Citizen Burger which was described as “house wood-smoked patty with white beans, citizen grain mix, kale and spices.” Served on a wheat bun with seasonal greens, tomato and avocado ranch dressing. I thought the burger was amazing and I’ve had a lot of really good burgers recently! We spoke with one of the owners and she said that each patty is made differently and that many techniques go into each one including smoking the mushrooms and onions in the citizen burger. It all leads to a much more nuanced taste than most patties I’ve had. And the avocado ranch dressing was delicious too! I can’t wait to try the hatch pepper version next because I could see it becoming my favorite burger ever.

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We also had a side of fried things, the Mixed Basket has french fries, sweet potato fries, a vegan aioli, and deep-fried vegetable noodles. We were all completely hooked on the latter. The vegetables change depending on what is in season and I can’t even remember what ours had (maybe butternut squash and zucchini?) but either way they were awesome! I love that all the sides and dressings are vegan. It makes ordering really easy. Also the staff was really nice, the building has plenty of parking, and the cocktails look intriguing as well. I think North Austin is going to be super pleased.

All the best of vegan NYC in 2016

Sometimes I think if I lived in New York instead of Austin I would have been following a bagel cleanse instead of a taco cleanse. Bagels have long been my favorite part about trips to the city because they are so amazingly good and so many places have a variety of tofu cream cheeses, including green olive. It’s the best thing in the world.30004804410_1d5acdf7fb

Other than bagels, the last few times I went to New York I felt like the popular vegan places were overrated. Candle 79, Champs, Beyond Sushi, Wild Ginger, and Dunwell Doughnuts are all infamous vegan spots that I was super excited to try and then a bit let down by. This trip was different because I went with traveling expert, and awesomest person ever, my pal Jojo who set me straight on all the best places to go. Wait, actually it was my Austin friend Jessica who told me we had to try the impossible burger at Momofuku Nishi which was our first stop.30124738716_b6ee6f9e27

I had read that you have to get in line before they open because they only make 50 burgers a day so we got to happy hour super early. Eventually a staff person came out and asked us if we were there for the burgers. When we told him we were, he said that they don’t do them for happy hour anymore, only lunch! GASP! But then they said they would make them for us. Whew. The impossible burger is supposed to be so meat-like that vegetarians are grossed out. Known as “the burger that bleeds” we couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about. In the end, all five of us, all vegan, enjoyed it. Someone said it was on par if not better than Arlo’s here in Austin, which, I have to disagree with. The patty reminded me of the burgers I ate in the elementary school cafeteria. The fries were like McDonalds fries, which was awesome since the real McDonalds fries are made with meat so I can’t eat them. I would have liked it better with some cheese and I do think Arlo’s is better but I’d, for sure, recommend it.

Later we stopped for a slice at Vinnie’s in Brooklyn which reminded me of Dimo’s in Chicago, they have all sorts of crazy options like vegan mac and cheese or teriyaki chicken.30046760082_b7d126d9f5

The next morning we got bagels and did the most touristy thing one could ever do in New York: rowed boats through Central Park. I should have taken a video so that I could use it in a video montage set to New York City. It was so fun, we saw turtles and didn’t capsize once. We headed to Riverdel Cheese shop and deli in Prospect Park in Brooklyn for sandwiches and it was just the kind of sandwiches I love, roasty, toasty, and filled with cheese. I got the M Night Shamlani (or something) which was cheese and salami just like the sandwiches I made growing up. Yes, I went from a diet of almost exclusively meat, cheese, and bread (and olives) to a vegan. I wish a place like this would open around here, I love that vegan delis are getting so popular.

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After some wandering about we headed for Lagusta which now has a location in the East Village. I had been to the original in New Paltz a few years back and thought I’d died and gone to heaven, a very expensive vegan chocolate-based heaven. I saved my chocolates for an emergency because I knew at our next restaurant we were going to want to eat everything on the menu.

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Meeting up with friends at Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new Brooklyn location of Modern Love is something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as it’s been in existence…or before it even existed. When I found out my friend Laura was going to be in town the same weekend as Jojo I knew it was time to make the trip.

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Everything about Modern Love is perfect, from the dark wood walls, the cute bathrooms, to every single thing on the menu. I was overwhelmed. Even though I’d been studying the menu in anticipation for a while I could not decide what to get. Luckily, I had enough people with me that I got to try just about every appetizer. The poutine was what I was maybe most excited for (I did have a dream about it). Instead of french fries they were large potato wedges and covered in the most delicious porcini gravy, and truffled almond  riccotta. We also had chili cheese fries, the tempeh stuffed avocado, Brussels with bacon, and what turned out to be my favorite, the mushroom blintz with smashed beet relish and kasha arugula salad.

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For my entree I had a hard time deciding. I really wanted the Mac and Cheese with pecan-cornmeal crusted tofu, BBQ cauliflower and kale and I got to try it and it was truly fantastic. The tofu was just perfectly done and crispy on the outside. I ended up getting the Stuffed Poblanos with Street Corn (spicy lentil meat, yuba chicharrones, red rice, jicama slaw, smoked guacamole, pico de gallo, coconut sour cream, fresh herbs). The yuba was like nothing I’ve ever had before. A couple people thought it was potato-skin esque put when Laura said it tasted like pig skin, it was an aha moment. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten something like that!

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Finally came dessert and I went for the  Dulce De Leche Coconut Cream Pie.30010364610_9cdcd4e0d1

We tried to walk off the excessive eating by taking Isa’s advice and walking across the Williamsburg bridge which was super fun and beautiful.

Dim sum in New York has seemed like something important to do since I first heard of it in the movie Working Girl circa 1988 and I’ve seen many pictures of Vegetarian Dim Sum House. We met up for brunch even though Jojo thought dim sum for brunch was inauthentic and I think Nick might have just been full up still. Everything was crazy good and only 6 dollars apiece.30157812166_c446c3558b_z

The turnip cake (not pictured) reminded me of the most giant noodle ever. The monk dumplings, the coriander ham rolls, & the vegetarian pork rolls were all perfectly done and ridiculously tasty. It was just so much deliciousness in one meal. I could eat there every week. It would suck to live in New York and be super lazy, knowing that you could get on a train and have the best meals ever if only you could leave the house. I would be terrible at it. At least you can get so many things delivered.

We stopped in Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery to grab some knishes to-go and I followed the sign’s advice and brought one home for a friend! It was delicious. The perfect airplane treat.

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We also stopped at By Chloe a couple of times for various desserts. I had never had a black and white cookie so I was super stoked to try one. 30216253151_2784f399ac

We had heard that the yuba sandwiches from Superiority Burger were some of the best food in town so we tried those as well. The restaurant was so tiny we couldn’t all sit at once and I didn’t take a picture but I had to share Jojo’s. I now want to make all sandwiches with yuba.

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Seriously. This trip was 100% tastier and way more fun than my last few trips and it was all thanks to Jojo and her wonderful husband Nick. If you are ever on a trip check out her blog Vegan in Brighton cause girlfriend does her research and there is no dicking around eating shitty food with Jojo. It’s all good all the time. 30005346660_64e4545211_o

And grab a knish for the airplane. You won’t regret it. 29671630334_0ce036499d

Boozy Cherry Limeade Bombs

Whiskey Cherries

I believe Texas actually has five seasons: fall, winter, spring, summer, and TEXAS SUMMER. The latter is always in all caps because it’s so hot that you actually start to feel like you’re living in one of those dystopian future hellscapes where everyone is fighting over water and wearing pointy jewelry. Luckily we aren’t quite at that point yet and water is plentiful and delicious cherries from the Hood River Valley in Oregon are able to be shipped to Wheatsville Food Co-op and bought by me during these, as of this writing, pre-apocolyptic days. In these times of heat and uncertainty it can be hard to cook or even eat which is how I came up with the idea for these refreshing and mildly intoxicating cherries. They are the perfect thing to eat poolside, bring on your next river trip, or just to munch on while sitting in the A/C watching women’s gymnastics. They are also super easy to make and don’t require turning on any heat making appliances, a big no-no during TEXAS SUMMER. And I bet they are healthier than getting a Cherry Limeade from the Sonic drive through because there is no added sugar. Just added alcohol.

Boozy Cherry Limeade Bombs
2 lbs cherries, pitted
1/2 cup whiskey
1 tablespoon mint leaves, torn
1 lime, juiced

First pit the cherries, a reusable stiff straw makes the job super easy. Just pluck out the stem and pop the straw in through the cherry. Put in a glass or other bowl with a locking top and add the whiskey, mint, and lime juice. Chill for an hour or two flipping the bowl so the cherries get saturated. Serve as is, in cocktails, or on ice cubes. Enjoy.

If you would like to win a 30 dollar giftcard to Wheatsville and make your own boozy cherries just leave a comment below telling me what your favorite summer fruit, I will pick a winner in a couple days. Make sure you put in an email that works! 

Giveaway closed, thanks for commenting!

Thanks to Wheatsville for sponsoring this recipe. 

Voodoo Doughnuts Austin

Yesterday I saw someone walking down 6th street with Voodoo Doughnuts distinctive pink box and it threw me off balance for a second. It’s just so unexpected to me, still, that we have a Voodoo in Austin. Back in my early vegan days the Voodoo in Portland was super special because it was one of the few places in the country you could get vegan doughnuts. It was a Portland institution like Franklin’s BBQ here, always a long line trailing down the street. Now you can get vegan doughnuts in most major cities & somehow a Voodoo opened here. It’s weird wild stuff.

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So if you’ve never been to Voodoo there are a few things you need to know:

It’s cash only. There is an ATM inside but don’t wait until you get all the way to the front to get cash out or everyone will hate you.

Voodoo is open 24/7

It’s right on Dirty 6th so if it’s a time when the bars are busy Voodoo will have an epic line but during the daytime on a weekday you can just saunter in.

The top shelf of the doughnut carousal shows off the vegan doughnuts BUT they will actually get the doughnuts off the racks behind them so make sure you specify that you want the vegan versions.26595938701_beb14d4675

They make fresh doughnuts three times a day. When they first opened they had trouble keeping the vegan doughnuts in stock because of high demand but it’s better now. The cake doughnut flavors change every day depending on what they feel inspired to make but the yeast doughnuts are a bit more consistent.

The Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate, Oreos, peanut butter drizzle)
The Dirt (vanilla with Oreos)
Glazed Ring Chocolate Ring Grape Ape (vanilla grape)
Portland Cream (Bavarian with chocolate)
Longhorn Cream (same but with maple)
PB&J (raspberry filling topped with peanut butter and peanuts)
Raspberry Romeo (glazed with raspberry filling)
Gay Bar (Bavarian cream dipped in vanilla with a rainbow of fruit loops)
Maple bar Voodoo Doll (chocolate dipped raspberry)
Blunts (cinnamon sugar dipped in maple and sprinkles)
Apple fritters Cock ‘n Balls (dick shaped doughnut filled with Bavarian cream, dipped in chocolate–for an extra dollar they’ll write anything you want on it)

If you are feeling indecisive just ask for a dozen vegan that they pick. You can also do a pre-order 24 hours in advance if you want to, say, have 12 Portland Creams waiting for you.

The decor inside is open and airy complete with a doughnut tree and huge windows.26388190400_d73532fab5

The doughnuts are really sweet so ordering coffee is kind of a must unless you are a little kid. Or my partner who could probably put down a whole dozen. I was not able to eat both of these.

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You might want to buy extra because for some reason, everyone who sees you with a Voodoo doughnut box will ask you for a doughnut. Honestly, it’s almost comical how many people will ask for one. But then it starts to make me feel nervous knowing I have something that everyone wants.

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And don’t forget there are also local businesses making vegan doughnuts in other parts of town including Wheatsville and Fat Cat Organic.

 

 

 

I would like Pho Please

My favorite part of civilization is the food.

I am lucky I get to live in a growing city that has everything from Australian Thai to Nigerian. I get to start my day with a breakfast taco and end it with Indian Dosas if I want.

One of my most favorite cuisines is Vietnamese and in Austin we have plenty of options. I love the tofu bun from LuLu B’s and the Bahn xeo from Sunflower but good pho is hard to find. I bet I’ve tried every vegan version in town (and a couple I thought were vegan until I tasted a spoonful YUK!) and none of them have been remarkable. My go-to has been the pho chay from Phonatic and not because the broth was great but because there are enough delicious fresh fixin’s to have a good enough experience. When I read that one of the chefs from Phonatic was opening his own modern pho spot with a vegetarian section I was thrilled! Pho Please is on east Riverside which is a lot easier for me to get to than north Austin or Southpark meadows. The inside is super-modern fast-casual style.25868616332_46b33a57ee_z

You order at the counter and they give you a number. I didn’t try the vermicelli or the banh mi but we loaded up on apps. We loved the Bao but will know to order it with no mayo next time! The dumpling was fluffy and light, the tofu was well seasoned and the vegetables were crisp and flavorful.

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The spring rolls weren’t as good although they weren’t rubbery and old like so many places in town and they had a good amount of tofu. The sad part was the lack of herbs! No basil, mint or cilantro. We liked the unique dipping sauce though.25868650252_3fabb0926c_n

The most exciting part, of course, was the pho chay. I tried the broth before adding any condiments and was pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavor. It wasn’t the most intensely flavored broth I’ve had but it was more delicate and tasty. Definitely the best I’ve had in town. I loved that there was a variety of vegetables and that the tofu was fried instead of just thrown in there raw like some places. 25868568922_5ced6527f4_o

Will for sure be back on the next rainy day.

Pho Please
1920 East Riverside Drive
Austin, TX 78741.
Phone: (512) 354-9779
Hours:
Sunday – Thursday, 11AM – 10PM
Friday – Saturday, 11AM – 11PM