Tag Archives: tofu scramble

South Austin Vegan Brunch Guide- a rebuttal

The other day The Lonestar Plate wrote a guide about the best brunches in Austin. I started to comment about this and that because I felt like Molly’s criteria for best brunch isn’t the same as mine and we have such different opinions about something so important. Luckily, I have my own blog where I can ramble on about my favorite brunch spots with my favorite pictures.

My criteria is this: I don’t want to wait to sit forever and brunch can’t end at some absurdly early hour. I love that Wheatsville runs their hot bar with biscuits and gravy and tofu scramble all the live long day on Sunday. I actually end up there quite a bit because sometimes I don’t truly get my act together until around 3. It’s a tough life! Whole Foods is kind of the opposite of mellow wonderful Wheatsville. Breakfast taco service ends at 1pm on the weekends and the store is always buzzing in a beehive-like panic. But I adore their breakfast taco, even though it is totally inconsistent and sometimes doused with turmeric, when it’s on it is my favorite taco in town so I will occasionally brave the crowd…or more likely send someone to get tacos for me!They have other stuff too, they recently reformulated the donuts but I am still not impressed and they have a bagel bar with all sorts of vegan toppings but it seems to always close before I get there. They used to serve all kinds of good specials at the vegan bar but now that they are on the health kick it isn’t as appealing to me. So tacos it is and I don’t mind one bit.

One place I do love for healthy food is the recently opened Juicebox. For months I have been enjoying the Green Monster Smoothie (broccoli, peanut butter, coconut water, banana and spinach how are you so good?) but recently they expanded the smoothie menu and it is a lot harder to choose. So far I love the “Buisness Time” (cold pressed coffee, coconut water, cacao, and banana) even more than the Tropicalia (mango, banana, pineapple, lemon, kale, and spirulina) probably because tropical smoothies in Hawaii are still fresh in my memory. They also have vegan soup options from the Soup Peddler but so far I have been disappointed. I don’t know people refuse to make creamy vegan soups like corn chowder or potato leek, it really isn’t a sacrifice to use non dairy milk! I promise.

Another place I frequent is La Flor, and not just ’cause I live so close by. This place has the best tortillas I have ever had. Both the flour and especially the corn are just another level of amazingness. They are almost like a crepe and so fresh and delicious that no other taco can compare. The Spanish speaking proprietors of the trailer have assured me several times of an absence of lard in the refried beans and they are just delicious and similar to the fabulous recipe that I make at home. I finish off my taco with their steamy potatoes, nopales, and spicy green sauce and I am in cielo.

I was so excited when I found out Summermoon was selling Red Rabbit Donuts. I am desperately in love these deep fried morsels of wonder even though they don’t have any cream filled varieties. I am so glad to have a spot close to my house where I can pick them up. They probably have a location close to you too. I wish I could eat them every day.

Another coffee shop on South First has probably the greatest vegan breakfast empanadas in the world. The Fair Bean works magic with their flakey buttery crust surrounding perfectly seasoned breakfast sausage and soft potatoes. I don’t know why it isn’t one of the most popular vegan spots in town but I wish you all would check it out. Believe me on this! Maybe it is because they run out of vegan empanadas sometimes or maybe they are just too close to Bouldin Creek that not enough folks seem to give them a shot? They also have fantastic lattes, the best in town and red roobis lattes, a Roto de vegan, fantastic and giant chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. And eveyone that works there is really nice. And the owner is Brazilian. So go. I don’t work for them I just want them to always be there.Of course there is a reason that everyone goes to Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse. It probably has my favorite brunch in town. I love their unique baked tofu scramble in both the omlettes or the tacos. The Rennedict was truly a step above it for me. All that delicious tofu scramble covered in hollindaise and the best tofu bacon I have ever had make me want to cry because I go there all the time and this picture you see is the only time I have ever gotten to try it. They stop serving it at 11 or whenever they run out. And they always run out. So if you are one of those people that gets up and goes for a nice run and then needs a hearty breakfast by 8am check it out. I’ll be in bed drinking coffee and thinking about how much I hate you.

Although it isn’t paticularly vegan friendly I do end up at Polvo’s quite a bit and eat about a million chips with their delicious trio of salsa’s and escabeche while sucking down their giant Michelda. By the the time I get my food I’m not even hungry (stupid awesome chips and salsa) but their breakfast tacos are pretty good and they have lots of options. The trick is to go to the very  back middle bottom page of the menu to see your options. The staff is notoriously unhelpful but if they aren’t busy and you can get across veganism to them they sometime will make you really good food off the menu. If you don’t want a battle just be prepared to order a breakfast taco and say “really no egg” about seven times to get the point across. Curra’s over on Oltorf has better vegan options but they always seem to have a long wait so I never go.

Mr. Natural is another place with inconvenient brunch hours but worth checking out on a Saturday for sure. Mexican Breakfast is probably my favorite thing about life in Austin and this cafeteria does it right, if you weren’t impressed by lunch or dinner give their breakfast a shot. And then try lunch again on a different day. The menu has tons of stuff that can be easily veganized like this Mexican pancake. It is just a pile of potatoes, a fresh tortilla, and vegan chorizo covered in Ranchero sauce but they make every aspect of it in house so every ingredient is done to perfection. I love the Tofu Migas and the breakfast tacos (with no lettuce) as well but they also have vegan Belgin Waffles, acai bowls, cinnamon toast and ice cream sundaes! And vegan tres leches but that’s another story.

Just down the street from Mr. Natural, and at 4 other locations in town, is the very popular Kerbey Lane Cafe which is one of those places that is great for vegetarians and really not worth the hour wait on Sundays for vegans. The pancakes are much better than they used to be now that they don’t try to do vegan and gluten free and I love that they bring you margarine without asking. But, the rest of the vegan platter is kind of a disaster. The tofu scramble is either way over-spiced or not spiced at all and it really doesn’t go with pancake and maple syrup at all. Then there is the utter disaster that they call soysage. Thier soysage is the reason people throw rocks at vegan kids at school. It is exactly what the people who refuse to try your cooking think of when they hear “fake meat”. Maybe that sounds harsh but I really think nasty vegan food does more of a disservice to veganism than having no food at all. The really sad part is that vegan sausage is so easy to make or buy! It is probably the truest meat analogue there is after chick patties. I wish they would just get rid of the scramble and the sausage and serve the pancake with fakin’ bacon and homefries.Another disappointment, but for the opposite reason is Snack Bar on South Congress. They used to have these fantastic vegan migas, pictured above but then they got a new chef and took them on the menu. Before that, they had tempeh bacon and vegan waffles but they got a new chef and took them off the menu. They contacted me the other day to say they reformulated the vegan arepas and they are really good now but I think I’m afraid that I will go and love them and then they will take them off the menu. At least their cocktails are delicious and the patio remains one of the cutest in town.

For me, only two north spots make the cut because I am a southie for sure but I have to mention Counter Culture because pretty much whenever they have brunch (they only do it some Sunday’s so follow them on F*c*book) I have to go. French toast is usually the main attraction but I love the tempeh bacon, biscuits and gravy, and almost everything I have had there. I dream of Sue opening a restaurant in South Austin that has brunch every day. Finally, Sunflower Vietnamese restaurant should not be missed. I regret all the years I was too lazy to drive all the way up to research or 183 or whatever the hell crazy road this little Vietnamese restaurant is on because I missed out. The Vietnamese crêpe (or Bánh Xèo) is stuffed with mushrooms and and sprouts and all the traditional Vietnamese elements. The crepe is made out of rice flour and coconut milk and is probably even gluten free. It is by far the best vegan crepe I have ever had. I highly recommended you check it out.

So that is my brunch guide. If you disagree fee free to comment or, better yet, make one yourself! I love reading about vegan food in Austin.

 

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Ugandan Tofu Scramble

If you try this recipe I swear you will start waking up in the morning craving something Ugandan. This is another dish that is inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. In the recipe she makes a kind of dry stew with okra, tomatoes, and spices but she said that in Uganda they often topped it with eggs and so I thought it would work well as a tofu scramble. I am pleased to say that it turned out fantastic! I think it was the best scramble we have ever had so if you like okra try it out.

in a bowl Crumble & combine
1 lbs of tofu
juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp black salt
1/2 tsp salt

In a mortar & pestle make a paste of
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Saute
1 lbs okra, sliced into rounds
after 5 minutes reduce heat & add tofu mix
When Tofu is browned add
2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used one big fat yellow heirloom)
spice paste

Cook until the scramble has reached the desired consistency and serve with mashed yuca, fried plantains, or roasted potatoes and toast or tortillas. Top with chives or scallions.

Enjoy!

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans)

This is it folks! The definitive version of Gallo Pinto. It took a long time to get here and I have a lot of people to thank, Dan for eating Gallo Pinto all the time, the Ticos for endlessly varying their national dish so that I could try 1000 different recipes, Dinger and Willow for eating the leftovers when we couldn’t face another day of rice and beans…

Gallo Pinto is a terrific recipe to perfect, it works best with leftover rice and/or beans, you can increase the amount to feed 20 without really doing anything different, it is a very hearty breakfast, it is probably the cheapest thing you could ever make, you can make a version with stuff that you have right now in your pantry, and it tastes like Costa Rica! It does take a little planning if you don’t have beans on hand. What works great is to make a big batch of beans & rice for dinner (maybe bean burgers, black bean soup, or burritos) and then when you get out of bed the next day you are 15 minutes from having breakfast on the table. I will write out the recipe assuming that you are just making the rice and beans so that you have them so you can make Gallo Pinto for breakfast for four people.

Ingredients:
1 cup rice, (any will work, I use basmati)
1 tsp Vegeta or half of a vegetable broth cube
1 cup black beans
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 dried ancho chilie peppers, seeds removed (any other pepper can be subbed, some will be more spicy, anchos aren’t spicy, you can also use jalapeños or bell peppers just add them when you add the garlic instead)
1 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves or garlic, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped and packed
1 lime

The Beans:
Soak the beans for at least 8 hours. If you live somewhere that is really hot (e.g. Texas in the summer) you should do this in the fridge.
When the beans are done soaking change the water (add about 7 cups), add a couple bay leaves, and bring to a simmer for around 90 minutes. You will need to check the doneness of the beans at around 1 hour because the timing will vary depending on how dry your beans are. You can also do this step in the crock pot. Whatever you do, make sure that you save some of the cooking water with the beans because you will need it later.

The Rice:
Dissolve the broth cube or 1 teaspoon of Vegeta in 2 cups of water. Add 1 cup of rice, bring to a simmer, and then reduce heat to almost off for 35-60 minutes depending on what kind of rice you are using. It works best to refrigerate the rice overnight because then it drys better.

Gallo Pinto:
Toast the cumin, coriander, and dried peppers until fragrant and then grind in either a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. (Conversely, if you are short on time or don’t have the seeds you could also toast the powders and when you put in the garlic). Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the garlic and the spice mixture and sauté another minute. Add a little more oil if you can’t see any and turn the heat up. Add the rice and stir fry for about a minute breaking up any chunks but don’t smoosh the rice. Once all the rice has changed color add the beans starting with just one cup until you have a pleasing ratio of rice to beans. Also add some of the bean cooking water with the beans. Gently mix and once everything is heated through adjust the spices, add the cilantro, and turn off the heat. To make the mold, press the Gallo Pinto into a small bowl, invert a plate on it, and then flip both over and lift up the bowl. Serve with the lime, salsa (preferably lizano), tofu scramble, and fried plantains.

VeganMoFo- Taco Town III

Sometimes I have a waking nightmare that I will be riding up to Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse and find a sign that says, “closed to put up condos”. In Austin this seems to be happening more all the time. Nothing was worse than going to the Cosmic Cafe for my birthday and seeing that it was closed. But thankfully Bouldin continues to go strong. It is one of my favorite coffee shops in Austin.

Bouldin is on South First, just down the street from me so I like to hang out under the oak trees and drink Mexican Mochas and watch the hippies and the scenesters do there thing.

On beautiful Sunday mornings it can get kind of busy but the people and staff are so laid back that you never feel like you are in a rush to get your food and get out. It is the kind of place to while away the morning.

It is also my favorite vegan food in Austin. I somehow didn’t even realize for the first few years that it was an all vegetarian menu. All of their entrees can be made vegan, and really they should be made vegan because Bouldin Creek has the best tofu scramble I have ever had in my life. It could make anyone go vegan. So often at restaurants the tofu has too many spices and is too liquidy, and the tofu has been crumbled into pieces that are just too tiny. At Bouldin Creek the ‘fu always comes out absolutely brilliant. You can sub it in any of the egg dishes, I love the Breakfast Sammich with tomatoes and spinach mixed in the tofu on a poppyseed bagel. My man Dan loves the Slacker’s Banquet which is rice & beans with vegan cornbread. They even have a soul food plate.

The tacos are out of this world. They are all named after people and each is delightful. Especially with a homemade potato hash cake on the side.

Here is what I had, on the left is the Ren, sauteed onions, garlic, jalapeno, and tofu scramble. In the middle is the glorious potato hash cake, which is crispy on the outside creamy in the middle and filled with rosemary goodness. The taco on the right is the Timmy and had homemade vegan chorizo, tomatoes, and red & black beans.

Bouldin’s chorizo is out of this world good. You can even order a side of it and on its own it is quite good which I can’t say for any other chorizo I have ever had.

Now I am so hungry, I hope I’m not driving everyone crazy with this taco tour, I will try to go back to cooking at home now that the weekend is over.

Vegan MoFo- Taco Town

Austin Texas is famous for a lot of reasons and it is a great city to live in. Not only is it beautiful and filled with lots of fun outdoor activities but it is also a really fun city, has the countries best movie theater, an awesome music scene, multiple great festivals, and a lot of friendly people. All of these are great reasons to enjoy living here but there is one aspect that I could never live without—the breakfast taco.

If you have only had a bad experience with these (maybe a McDonald’s burrito) I implore you to come to Austin and try them out for yourself. Nearly every place in town has the standard variety- the bacon egg and cheese- but you can often find vegan versions as well, like black bean and potato. The key to a great taco is in the tortilla and having a good salsa or fresh pico de gallo.

My favorite vegan versions in Austin are Mr. Natural, Bouldin Creek, and Polvos, they all have multiple options and plentiful combinations. However, when it comes to vegan breakfast tacos nothing beats Whole Foods. Whole Foods actually started as an Austin company so the store at corporate headquarters can blow your mind (an your wallet) they even have guided audio tours through the store! It is massive and their are numerous little islands throughout the store that you can dine at. There is a sushi stand, a raw vegan table, even a chocolate island with a chocolate fountain. But the thing that brings me to whole foods again and again is the breakfast tacos. They are only open from 7 to 11 and the line can get pretty long but the wait is worth it because for just two dollars you get your choice of flour, corn, wheat or spelt tortillas warmed up and filled with any combination of
tofu scamble
fried potatoes
black beans
roasted vegetables
cilantro rice
or vegan sausage
they you can top it all off with salsa, pico, jalapeños, and cilantro if you wish. They are only 2 bucks and always huge. You can make your own at home pretty easy but nothing beats the whole foods taco in my world. I love them and when I go out of town I crave them.