Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Abby Christmas

Not only was it 89's first Christmas, but it was also the first one in my new home.  The plans for the day were made last minute, but everything came together- with time even for a nap.  Breakfast was at my house:

I'd roasted the spaghetti squash the night before, and it served in place of hash browns. 



For some reason it was a little bland, so I added Bragg's and (extremely roughly chopped) tomatoes.

The tofu scramble contained red and green bell pepper, red onion, cremini mushrooms, potato, and cheddar Daiya.

I'm really glad there are leftovers.

Breakfast dessert was more cookies.

Dinner was at my parents' house: fusilli with VM's homemade sauce and eggplant rollatini (unpictured- gah!).

And, in keeping with the Italian theme, there were chocolate dipped cannolis from Vegan Treats for dessert.   

Ok, there was more from Vegan Treats:

Who can resist?  

 Chocolate chip cheesecake on-a-stick:  

Chocolate hazelnut cake:

Yes, that's a golden hazelnut atop:

And Death by Chocolate:

My haul:  

Although it was 89's first Christmas, it didn't take her long to get into the swing of things.

She destroyed her toys almost as fast as she opened them.

These poses, of course, on the heels of not having been very cooperative with Santa. 

Who is this man and why is he so jolly?
But, the truth is out there:
Hope your holidays were grand.  

Two more celebrations to get through: New Year's and VM's birthday!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eve Eve Eve: V-Note and Biscoff Chocolates

In an attempt to surpass the previous year's Eve Eve festivities, this year we celebrated on Eve Eve Eve!  This time, my good friend coordinated a group to celebrate the holidays at V-Note on the upper east side.  I'd never been, but I was anxious to try someplace new whose menu was so similar to Blossom's (without actually being Blossom).

It all started out on a pretty amazing (v-) note when I noticed bilberry juice on the menu.

And you'll never guess what happened: I ordered it, and it was served!

Well what do you know?  Some places can actually deliver bilberry juice instead of making a federal case of it (see here and here)!

I couldn't decide between two appetizers, so luckily my pal agreed to split them with me to save me from making the wrong choice.  First up, my favorite appetizer of all time, the black-eyed pea cakecrispy cake of Yukon gold potatoes and black-eyed pease with a chipotle aioli.  Different restaurants serve this dish different ways: either one large cake or two small.  While he prefers the small, I do believe I prefer the large.  But I would like to stress that I wouldn't turn one down in any form.

the all-important cross-section

Second, the lentil rings: french lentils and root vegetables in a phyllo crust with pistachio mustard.  Interestingly, not actually rings at all, but totally delicious and reminded me of the phyllo roulade entree that I love at Blossom, albeit with a completely different sauce.

For an entree, I chose the feijoadinha (Brazilian stew): smokey tempeh, chayote, sweet potato, chick peas, lotus root and black beans, served with rice.  Since the menu was very seitan-heavy, I was glad to have a tempeh option; I'd probably order this again (although VM ate the leftovers and dubbed it "too beany."

Two (almost 3) friends chose the the crispy pinenut and basil seitan: pine nut and basil crusted seitan cutlets in a creamy white wine sauce with slivered artichoke hearts, roasted potatoes and cherry tomatoes, topped with grilled fig.  The portion was extremely generous and enjoyed by both, but no telling why the slice of pineapple came into play.

admittedly, this angle is not the best representation of this dish
The seitan piccata: seitan cutlets in white wine lemon-caper sauce with mashed potatoes and grilled escarole was definitely the most enviable plate at the table.

And the mushroom risotto: creamy tomato risotto, porcini, cremini, trumpet and lobster mushrooms, seaweed and basil looked absolutely decadent-  another hit.

Photographer Thumb

The salads all sounded really appealing, so I was glad this one came out looking and was reported as tasting as good as the expectation: Caesar salad: crisp romaine, soy chicken, toasted capers, herbed croutons tossed in our Caesar dressing sprinkled with gomashio.  

V-Note also offers an entree option of a vegetable plate: choose 3 or 4 sides; two of my table mates went with sautéed kale, spiced quinoa, brown rice, and black beans.

Professor Thumb
The medallions au poivre: seitan medallions in a French peppercorn sauce, served with potato-cauliflower puree and roasted asparagus looked positively succulent and was another dish of significant size.

Baker Thumb

I think I can speak for everyone in our party when I say that V-Note now has a slew of new fans (plus 1 or 2 repeat fans).  The food was terrific, the dining room was pretty, and our waitress was unfailingly friendly, patient, and pleasant.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn't mention that I felt strongly that some aspects of the service were not befitting the upscale restaurant.  The food runner assisting our waitress consistently stood on one side of the table, announced the dish he was holding, and then handed the plates to be passed amongst those of us dining.  This happened during both serving and clearing of dishes and was annoying and unnecessary, but would be very easily remedied.

Finally, inspired by Andrea's Easy Vegan Cooking, I'd purchased these chocolate moulds a while back and finally decided to try them out for Eve Eve Eve.

Pressed for time and thinking of Biscoff, I simply melted dark chocolate, mixed in Biscoff spread, moulded, and chilled.

They certainly didn't turn out perfect, but they were yummy.

Plus, who can resist the snowmen?

Coincidentally, on the walk from the restaurant to the train I thought I'd spied Andrea walking in the same direction.  This was unexpected, as she lives on the other side of the country (although I knew she'd recently been visiting Philadelphia).  I called her name and there was no response, but it was possible that the wind had prevented her from hearing me.  We all wound up on the same subway platform so I asked; it wasn't her.  Almost, Andrea!  Or, more honestly, not even close.

Thank you to my friends for such a nice Eve X 3; see you on Eve Eve Eve Eve 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Vegan Holiday Cookie Swap (yep; even MORE cookies)

This past weekend I attended a glorious event: a vegan, holiday cookie swap!  Generously hosted by the W family in their beautiful home, everyone brought a couple dozen of their own cookies to share, along with an empty container in which to accumulate what everyone else had created.  I made kitchen sink biscotti from VCIYCJ (p. 218) with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts.

Of course I forgot to bring the ingredient list I'd carefully prepared the day before and had to just scrawl a new one on site.

It was the first time I'd ever made biscotti, and it didn't start out well: the plant suffered a cocoa powder mishap early on.

But then everything came together.

I doubled the recipe because that's what I do.

Cut and ready for the second baking.

Packed and ready to go:


89 obliterating her Hanukkah toy of the day occupied while I baked and baked and baked.

(Her bed isn't normally in the kitchen; it was relocated for the evening.)

When I arrived at the swap, I'd come from a celebratory feast at Gobo (where the food was served and enjoyed in entirely too fast a manner for me to have even attempted documentation).  I was too full to partake in more than a couple of cookies at the scene so, as a result, I managed to return home with an impressive haul that I'm still making my way through.

Scene from a party dedicated almost entirely to cookies:

a blurry glimpse of the goodies
After a cookie-filled week, even I had to take a break.  This was my breakfast the following morning: broccoli sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes in toasted sesame oil tossed with whole wheat pasta, raw carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, black pepper and chipotle olive oil.

This holiday has been a treat marathon; got to remember to get the veggies in.