Aug 20 2014

Tales and Recipes of a Traveling Vegan (Summer 2014 Edition-Recipe #2)

Published by under Italian,Uncategorized,Vegan

‘Tis the Season to Eat Tomatoes

In Venice this summer, my husband and I celebrated our 6th year anniversary, and we fell madly in love…in love with the Italian tomato.

We had it in our pasta, in our pizza, in our salad, but the best way we had it was on a simple slice of ciabatta, drizzled with the best olive oil, sprinkled with fresh basil.

I know that bruschetta is no new thing for Americans. I’ve prepared it myself many times when I’m in a pinch to serve something quick to guests as an appetizer. But I’m elevating it, making a special garlic and herb oil to rub on the bread, toasting the bread, and making a simple dressing for the tomatoes. The key is to make the tomato the star. Forget about the elaborate, avant-garde spin on the bruschetta. Think fresh. Think farm. Think quality.

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
Yields 6-8

1 pint heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil
Ciabatta bread or baguette of your choice
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Chop your tomatoes in 1/2 inch cubes. If they’re grape or cherry tomatoes, you can slice them in half. Place them in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and 1/2 the olive oil to the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the remaining olive oil to a small bowl with your garlic chopped finely and the Italian seasoning. Whisk to combine.

Slice your bread on the bias (slightly on an angle to create a bigger surface to top your tomatoes).

With a pastry or basting brush take the garlic and oil mixture and rub each slice of bread thoroughly.

Place in the oven for 5 minutes. (On the last minute set to broil to achieve more of a char.)

Chiffonade your basil by stacking all the leaves on top of each other, rolling them up, and chopping them into confetti-like strips.

Place a spoonful of tomatoes on a slice of bread, then top with the basil.

Ready to serve! Buon Appetito!

Bruschetta at Pier Dickens in Venice, Italy

Bruschetta at Pier Dickens in Venice, Italy

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

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Aug 14 2014

Tales and Recipes of a Traveling Vegan (Summer 2014 Edition-Recipe #1)

Published by under Salads,Vegan

When my husband and I landed in Europe mid-July, our expectations of finding vegetarian and vegan friendly eats were pretty low after spending our first trip abroad as one year-old vegetarian/vegans in Paris in the spring.

However, each city we visited during this summer trip blew my skepticism away. From street food to fine-dining, I discovered food that left a life-long impression on me. I can now confidently say that there is a world out there, outside of metropolitan US where one can eat meat-free without eating like they’re in a high-chair, hospital, or prison.

Now that I’m back home, I’m inspired to recreate some of the beautiful vegan dishes I enjoyed during our travels to Copenhagen, Vienna, Venice, and Malmo.

On our first evening in Vienna, we spent the whole day walking the Kärntner Straße, the famous pedestrian street of Vienna, a hybrid of Miami’s Lincoln Road and Paris’s Latin Quarter, bustling with luxury boutiques, cafés, and restaurants, while contrastingly regal with its palaces, cathedrals, and Renaissance architecture. At around 11 o’clock in the evening, we turned on one of the side streets off of Kärntner Straße, Schwarzenbergstraße. Taking in the elegance, charm, and romance of this quaint street, we stumbled upon a beautiful outdoor patio right on the sidewalk belonging to 1516 Brewery Company. We stopped and had a summer ale on the patio amidst candle-light.

We learned that their kitchen is open until 2am, so we decided to have a late-night meal too. I was expecting hot dogs, burgers, fries, typical bar fare but was surprised to see a wide array of fresh items, specifically their vegetarian ones. They were even accommodating in adapting them to vegan for me. While I thoroughly enjoyed my Tofu Satay Burger, the true star of my meal was the mushroom salad, a bunch of buttery, meaty sautéed chanterelles served with homemade mini-croutons, endives, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and local greens. Simple, yet decadent.

My husband and I returned to 1516 on our last evening in Vienna just to have this salad one last time.

Unlike most memories that can never be revisited physically, memories with food are special because they can be recreated in our very own home. Time to take a ride in my culinary time machine!

While my search for chanterelles back at home has not been successful, despite frequenting local farmers markers, I have learned that using beautiful oyster mushrooms, creminis, and shiitakes fresh from the farmers market can be equally decadent.

Wild Mushroom Salad Recipe
Serves 4

2lbs of wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster, and/or chantrelles)
One Romaine Heart
Two Endives
Heirloom cherry tomatoes
Two sprigs of fresh thyme
Two sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons vegan butter
4-6 cloves of garlic
Small red onion
1 cup of crispy fried onions

1/4 cup walnut oil
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
Tablespoon of brown mustard
Tablespoon of clover honey
Teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Chop finely the garlic, thyme, and rosemary, and place them into a sauté pan with the oil and butter over low medium heat. Watch the garlic so that it doesn’t burn. Let the oil’s flavor develop for about 10 minutes.
Clean the mushrooms with a damp towel and then quarter them. (Each piece should between a 1/2 inch to 1 inch.) Place the mushrooms in the sauté pan, add the black pepper. Wait until the mushrooms have completely cooked (about 10 minutes) before adding the salt, otherwise the mushrooms will not brown as quickly.

Slice the red onion thinly, place them in a small bowl or jar, and squeeze the juice of the lemon over them. The lemon will tenderize them, so they don’t overpower the salad. Allow them to sit for at least 10 minutes. The longer they sit, the better.

Rinse, dry, and chop the romaine leaves. Place them in individual bowls or one big serving bowl. Place the red onion on the romaine. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and nestle them into your salad bed.

Combine the mustard and honey into a small bowl or squeeze bottle. Add the champagne vinegar. Then whisk in the walnut oil. You can use olive oil, but the walnut oil adds another layer of depth that really goes well with the meaty mushrooms. Then add some salt and pepper to taste. Pour some of the dressing onto the romaine, onions, and tomatoes.

Peel off the endive leaves, rinse, dry, and place like petals around the bowl(s).

Place the mushrooms on the salad. Lastly, sprinkle the fried onions to finish.

Bon Appetit!

Chanterelles Salad

Chanterelles Salad

Wild Mushroom Salad

Wild Mushroom Salad


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Jun 25 2014

Brussel Sprouts over Roasted Pepper Pomodoro Spaghetti

Published by under Gluten-free,Italian,Pasta,Vegan

Remember when everyone hated brussel sprouts? Whoever is responsible for revolutionizing pop culture’s opinion about this mini-cabbage-like creature of a vegetable is a genius. It’s like overnight we were all hypnotized, restaurant menus and grocery stores multiplied their supplies, and the obsession is not dying anytime soon. Every restaurant and gastro-pub offers this green nugget as a side: braised, roasted, steamed, grilled, you name it. And yes, I will admit that I have jumped the band-wagon on this one, but instead of putting her on the side, I have decided to make her the main dish. First, she will bathe in a luxurious garlic oil bath, and then she will sit atop a bed of a spaghetti tomato sauce recipe created just for her, to balance her often fibrous and bitter taste with the sweetness of summer tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Brussel Sprouts over Roasted Pepper Pomodoro Spaghetti Recipe

Yields: 4 servings

6 vine or Roma tomatoes
2 bell peppers
A fresh fennel bulb
One shallot
1 Fresno chili
Cherry heirloom tomatoes
1 lb of brussel sprouts
1 head of garlic
5 additional cloves of garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel powder
1 lb whole wheat or whole grain or brown rice spaghetti

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

But the top of the garlic bulb to reveal the cloves and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Wrap the head of garlic in a foil pouch.

Slice the 5 cloves thinly (I like to use my truffle shaver, but be careful not to shave your finger) and add them to a sauté pan with 1/4 cup of olive oil on low medium heat. Heat the garlic for 20 minutes until they turn into golden brown chips.

Remove from oil and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil so the garlic retains its crispy texture.

On a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, add your vine tomatoes, peppers, fennel (which should be roughly chopped) and shallot (peel the outside skin of the shallot first).

Chop all the thyme and rosemary and sprinkle over the veggies on the baking sheet. Add the fennel powder and oregano too, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over all the veggies and toss until all the herbs and spices coat all the veggies. Place the head of garlic wrapped in foil on the baking sheet and place in the center rack of your oven. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip the veggies over and roast for another 15 minutes.

Remove the roasted veggies from the oven. Place the peppers into a glass bowl and cover with Saran Wrap. (This step allows the peppers to steam so that you can peel the skins easily).

Bring a pot of water to boil.
Add the spaghetti.
Remove when al dente. Rinse and drain under cold water.

Wash the brussel sprouts in a bowl of water, drain them, pat them dry, and trim their bottoms. Bring the heat under your sauté pan with garlic-infused olive oil to a medium high heat and add the brussel sprouts. Cook for five minutes before turning them. Remove them from the pan when they reach a nice golden brown color all around.

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and add them to the sauté pan. Let them cook for a few minutes, flipping them over to soften them.

Place all your roasted veggies in a blender. Take the garlic out of the foil and squeeze the cloves out of their jackets right over the blender. Peel the skin off the peppers, slice them and remove their seeds, and add them to the blender too. Pulse the blender until you reach a sauce-like consistency (not soup-like). It shouldn’t be completely smooth.

Pour the sauce into the pot that you boiled the spaghetti in. Bring to a simmer. Add the spaghetti and toss with tongs. Add half of the brussel sprouts and half of the cherry tomatoes and toss again. Pour the spaghetti mixture into a serving bowl. Use the rest of the tomato and brussel sprouts to garnish the serving bowl along with the garlic chips and fresh chopped basil.

Bon Appetit!


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Jun 24 2014

Orange Arugula Salad

Published by under Uncategorized

Citrus isn’t just for juices. You can virtually take any citrus and make it the star of a dish. Oranges are a perfect choice to segment and use in salads because they contribute both a tart and sweet profile. For this salad, I virtually used all parts of the orange: the skin, the flesh, and the juice. I chose arugula simply because it is a more peppery green, will counterbalance the sweetness of the orange, and an stand up to a thicker dressing.

Orange Arugula Salad Recipe
2 organic oranges
An organic lemon
One tablespoon clover honey
One tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion
1 lb organic arugula
Sliced almonds (optional)

Zest all the citrus into a small bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze most of the juice into the bowl. Squeeze the rest into your serving bowl.
Then cut both ends of your orange and place your orange on your cutting board. (Cutting the ends will keep the orange from rolling around.) Run your knife down the orange (think like longitude if the orange were the earth). Use the line between the flesh and the pith as your guide as you cut down the skin. You will need to turn the orange and continue to do this a few times.
When all the skin is removed, take a paring knife and cut from the outside of the orange into the center of the orange. You’re basically cutting out segments but just the flesh. When all segments have been cut, squeeze the juice of your orange into the small bowl with the zest. Repeat this procedure for the next orange. Reserve a tablespoon of the orange juice and add it to the serving bowl with the reserved lemon juice.
Slice the red onion thinly. Add the onion to the serving bowl with the reserved juices to give them a quick pickling treatment. (Otherwise, they will overwhelm the salad.)

Add the honey, mustard, and olive oil to the small bowl with the zest and juices, whisking until the dressing is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Voila! You have your dressing.

Pour half the dressing into the serving bowl. Then add the arugula to the serving bowl and toss with the red onions. Arrange the orange segments over the salad. Top off with the almonds.

Serve the remainder of the dressing on the side.

If you anticipate leftovers of this salad, don’t add the dressing to all of it, as it will wilt over time. No one wants a soggy salad.

Bon Appetit!


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Jun 20 2014

Wild Mushroom Farfalle (The Remix)

Published by under Italian,Pasta,Vegan

One of my favorite pastas is Farfalle Pollo from the restaurant Pasta Bowl in Lincoln Park. For years, I recreated this dish at home. It’s rich with cream, cheese, mounds of grilled chicken breast, and veggies like broccoli, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. Since my diet has changed to a vegan one, I have missed this pasta dearly.
Until now.
I didn’t think this dish could still be decadent without the cream and cheese, but I was mistaken. It’s all about elevating the flavor of the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and creating a thick velvety texture.

This dish is a deceiving comfort food. A bowl is only 530 calories! So here it is, the Remix Recipe:

Wild Mushroom Farfalle Recipe
8-12 ounces of baby portobellos
8-12 ounces of oyster mushrooms
8-12 ounces of shiitake mushrooms
One ounce package of dried porcini
1 stalk of broccoli or 8 pieces of Brocollini
10 spears or 1/4 lb of asparagus spears
One medium red bell pepper
1/2 lb of sundried tomatoes (dry if possible instead of from oil)
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cup of low sodium vegetable broth
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon of organic yellow cornmeal
16 ounce package of wheat or whole grain farfalle (bow-tie shaped pasta)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves

Bring a large of pot of water to a boil.
In the meantime, in a sauce pot, pour in the vegetable broth, add the dried porcini, bayleaf, Italian seasoning, and bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. During the last five minutes add in the sundried tomatoes. Remove the bayleaf and strain the broth from the mushroom and tomatoes, but reserve the broth.

Add the asparagus and Brocollini into the boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and place in an ice bath (bowl of ice water) to retain their vibrant green color.

Add your pasta to the boiling water, and remove when al dente (6 minutes).

Julienne (slice thinly in 1/4 inch strips) the bell pepper and finely chop the garlic.

Place a large sautéed pan over medium high heat. Add oil, bell pepper, all the fresh mushrooms, and the remaining teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Remove from pan and add to the reserved dried mushrooms and sin-dried tomatoes.

Pour the reserved mushroom/vegetable broth liquid into the sautéed pan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the cornmeal. Once all clumps are gone, add the almond milk, and reduce to simmer. Simmer for give minutes until it thickens into a velvety sauce. Turn off heat. Add the pasta and all the veggies. Toss until everything is coated in the sauce. Finely chop/chiffonade the basil and garnish your bowl before you dig in.

Bon Appetit!


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Jun 18 2014

Cauliflower Salad

Published by under Salads,Uncategorized

Summer has arrived, and I know you’re tired of hearing the cliche that we all want to fit into our bikinis, trunks, girdles, thongs, and what have you not; I get it. But that doesn’t mean we should be eating like a bird. I still crave hearty food in the summer, but I also want refreshing food made from seasonal ingredients from a local farmers market with bright flavors.

Salads are a perfect celebration for all your farmers market finds. Here’s one that will be satisfying enough as a meal on its own. The star is the cauliflower, purple if you can find it. It adds a beautiful color to this already rainbow of a salad.

Cauliflower Salad Recipe
Serves four –
Purple cauliflower head
A medium avocado
A pint of cherry heirloom tomatoes
Small red onion
One large English cucumber
1/2 cup of fresh basil

Dressing ingredients:
Organic lemon
Tablespoon of stone ground mustard
Tablespoon of clover honey or one teaspoon agave nectar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil.
Cut the cauliflower into 1 inch florets. Place them in the boiling water for 90 seconds. Remove them gently and place them into an ice bath to retain their purple color.

Cut your tomatoes in half. Chop the avocado and cucumber into 1/2 inch cubes. Medium dice your red onion. Place all these ingredients and your cauliflower in a serving bowl.

Zest and juice the lemon into a small bowl or cup. Add the mustard and honey. Steam in the olive oil as you whisk until the dressing emulsifies.

Toss the salad with the dressing.

Chiffonade the basil by rolling the leaves like a cigar and then chopping the rolled up basil to create confetti-like strips of basil. Garnish over salad.

Bon Appetit!


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