Tag Archives: clean eats

Grass-Fed Glory and a Day in the Country — Clear Spring Creamery Visit

7 May farmview

After getting sunburned at the farmers market on Saturday morning, my friend and I decided to head out to the country that afternoon. On Friday, I saw on my Facebook newsfeed that Clear Spring Creamery was having an open house on Saturday afternoon, and my friend and I were in. I picked up some provisions at the market — a delicious baguette from Atwaters and some awesome cheese from Keswick Creamery and we hit the road. The weather was gorgeous and just perfect for a drive out west. After only an hour and a half, we were out in the rolling hills and mountains of western Maryland near the Pennsylvania border. It was absolutely gorgeous.

After getting a bit lost (and finally finding our way courtesy of my newly gifted car’s navigation), we finally arrived at Clear Spring  Creamery.

There was a group of about 10 people and after sampling some of the delicious raw milk cheeses, Mark and Clare Seibert (farm owners) graciously led us on a tour of the farm.

free-range birds

picking all of the fresh eggs out of the coop

We got to see where the chickens roam freely, pecking at the grass and laying eggs. But most importantly, since Clear Spring is a dairy farm primarily, we saw all of the cows — eating grass of course!

baby calves

cow moos loudly to signal her young to return home

baby nurses from his mom

 

my favorite cow has a bow-shaped marking on her head!

It was so interesting to learn how the cows are fed particular kinds of grass and how that affects the flavor of the milk, how the cows are led via minimal fencing to graze specific parts of the pasture, and what eggs can look like at the end of a hen’s laying cycle.

Our afternoon at Clear Spring ended with a tour of the milking facility and a peek into where they pasteurize the milk at a minimal temperature (which I really think helps to lock in the great flavor — along with the non-homogenization) and a sample of their chocolate milk. Dairy heaven! If you are ever at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market, you have got to try some of Clear Spring’s awesome products (like my favorite sippable yogurt)!

one last shot of my favorite ribbon cow posing in the pasture

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

So Ya Wanna Make Perfect Asparagus? Recipe: Asparagus with Spring Garlic and Sherry Dijon Vinaigrette

3 May dinner2

Working at the H St. NE farmers market has taught me one thing (among others): Spring opening days bring an ABUNDANCE of delicious asparagus. When I was younger, asparagus was on my worst-hated foods list (along with canned frosting). I, like so many other people, tried it overcooked once and never wished to relive the horror. Luckily, I stalked down asparagus perfection and now I am here to allay your fears of the stringy, mushy, fibrous myths that surround these blades of glory. (Canned frosting is still hated.)

You’ll want to be sure to get asparagus in season that seems stiff and snappable. If you bent it in half it would snap rather than bend into submission. Toss your limp stalks in the soup or to the dogs…or maybe the compost pile. The supplies you will need are a large pot, a skillet (non-stick or seasoned cast iron), and a large bowl filled with ice water.

First, you’ll need to rinse your asparagus in cold water and cut of the woody ends. If you have ever bitten into a stalk of asparagus only to find that your chewing is getting you nowhere and it is stringy and inedible — chances are that it is either OLD or the woody end was not properly cut.

In this picture, you can see approximately what I cut off to ensure that the woody part is removed. The top is asparagus that are cut and the left bunch still has the woody ends.

Next, I like to cut my asparagus into bite-sized pieces. You can opt to keep your stalks long or cut them smaller but just be sure that they fit comfortably into your pot of water.

Fill a pot with cold water and put in 3 large pinches of salt. I would guess that I use about 2-3 tbsp of kosher salt. Salting the cooking water helps to flavor the asparagus so that it is perfectly seasoned when it’s time to eat. Bring water to a boil and add the cut asparagus and stir frequently for about 4 minutes. I would start testing it at 3 minutes if you have cut smaller pieces and leave it in no more that 5 minutes. The asparagus should be perfectly tender and to the tooth.

Once your asparagus has reached its al dente point, immediately use tongs to place the asparagus into a bowl of ice water. This will shock in the bright green color and also stop it from cooking to preserve the perfect texture. 

Next, cut up the bottoms of four sprigs of spring garlic and a quarter of a large shallot.

spring garlic has a milder garlic flavor combined with green onion flavor

In a large skillet, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic.

Drain the asparagus from the cold water in a colander and pour it into the hot pan with shallot and garlic infused olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch more of salt and turn it in the pan for a minute or until glossy with the oil.

 

Pour the finished asparagus onto a plate and now it’s time to make the sauce. In a bowl, whisk together a tsp of dijon mustard and 1.5 tbsp. of sherry vinegar. Drizzle in about 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and whisk together until emulsified. Pour over the asparagus and enjoy!

As you can see, I served mine with a piece of baked salmon and a kale and red pepper stir fry and some left over Bhutanese red rice that I’d had in the freezer. An easily delicious Wednesday evening.

And for dessert, I made banana “ice cream” with a little bit of cherry jam, chocolate chips, and peanut butter mixed in.

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

To market..to market: Opening Day of H Street NE FRESHFARM Market

21 Apr market1

I am so lucky to now be an official team member of the FRESHFARM markets in D.C. I have volunteered and done chef demonstrations of my recipes in the past couple of years, but today I started as the EBT Coordinator at the H Street NE FRESHFARM Market. One of the most important things to me in the past few years has been not only promoting my own health by eating fresh foods, but also promoting healthy habits for everyone. To be involved with a program that helps to ensure fresh and local food access to underserved populations is incredible. Read more about the program here.

With forecasts of strong storms hitting the eastern seaboard looming, I was a bit dubious of good weather for this morning’s opening. Luckily, it could not have been more perfect. We had sunny and blue skies, mild winds, warm temperatures, and as Flo-Rida/Avicii might say, woah, we had a good feeling.

neighborhood guy rallies for support for his petition

I cannot put into mere words how awesome the H St. NE FRESHFARM market is. It is the epitome of a community market. I would describe the vibe of the neighborhood as “community-all-hands-on-deck.” As we stood outside, the local shopkeepers gathered ’round (please note my use of arcane language because it is rare that in an age of Targets and Starbucks, local shopkeepers can actually gather ’round) to discuss the extension of our market into the street. Even the zone’s Councilmember made an appearance and was on board. They were friendly and chatty and welcoming and made me feel like I had been transported to another time. Or perhaps Canada (where I’ve heard everyone is very nice).

In addition to all of the gorgeous treats sprinkled around the market, Washingtonian Magazine’s rising star Chef Wes Morton of Art and Soul did a chef demonstration. He made a beautiful asparagus, sweet onion, and green garlic salad with a creamy egg Gribiche sauce, which I cannot wait to veganize, and taught me how to season my brand new (thus temporarily worthless) cast iron skillet.

eggs, green garlic, radishes, and asparagus from the market

Not only did I love how thoroughly engaged he was with the audience, especially the kids,

who says kids don't love their veggies? they loved raw radishes!

but he also introduced me to what will surely be my latest EVOO crack habit — Frantoia. This Sicilian olive oil has such a fruitiness that I have never tasted before — and blows my organic Californian right out of the water.

market welcomes shoppers of all breeds

I’d like to give a special thanks to Atwater’s Bakery for giving me an incredible vegan spelt loaf in exchange for watching his booth for 5 minutes (which I have devoured the better quarter of already), Blueberry Hill Farm for awesome veggies for my week, Full Cellar Farm for pretty tulips to brighten my days, and Quaker Valley Orchards for feeding my apple drug-like habit for the week (read: day).

my market bounty!

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Recipe: This $%@! is Bananas (Raw Vegan Banana Ice Cream)

18 Apr bananascream2

Last weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with old friends that I hadn’t seen in years AND tasting one of nature’s magical best-kept hidden secrets: Banana Ice Cream. I love bananas so much. When I juice-cleansed, the main things I looked forward to eating were bananas, and I eat at least one a day. Usually two. Sometimes three. For any of you Weight Watchers out there, luckily bananas are now zero points.  But alas, I am not a Weight Watcher. I like to eat bananas, and peanut butter, and pistachios with wild abandon, and I’m pretty sure bananas would start to accumulate a point eventually.

When I first tasted the banana ice cream, extruded from a Champion juicer, I was FLABBERGASTED. I could not believe that there was no added milk, or sugar, or heavy cream added to this frozen treat. The taste was mildly banana and very sweet. The texture was IDENTICAL to frozen custard — super cool and creamy. Now, since I do not have a fancy pants Champion juicer, and my Breville does not have a homogenizing attachment nor the capability, I prayed to the fruit gods that my Cuisinart would whip up something similar. Prayers were answered.

First you’ll need to start with very ripe bananas. Make sure that they have lots of brown spots. (They can be so ripe that you wouldn’t want to eat them anymore.) Peel them and break them up and put them in the freezer. My bananas that I used were not super ripe, but I just couldn’t wait a day longer to try this recipe. I popped them in the freezer before work, and by dessert time, I was in monkey-business.

Raw Banana Ice Cream with Toasted Walnuts and Coconut

  • 4 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup of raw walnuts (from the bulk section of your grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup of raw, unsweetened coconut
  • raw honey (optional)
  • cinnamon

Spread walnuts on baking sheet and bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 5-8 minutes or until fragrant and toasted. Set aside and let cool. Spread coconut on the same baking sheet. Toast in 450 degree oven for 3-5 minutes, making sure to stir every minute. Remove when golden brown. Set aside and let cool. Place broken, frozen bananas in a food processor and pulse until broken down.

Process for a couple of minutes until smooth making sure to stop the process to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. At this point you will have a delightful, very soft banana ice cream (like a soft serve). I would recommend sticking the bowl into the freezer for 30 minutes to let it refreeze, set up, and become a Häagen-Dazs ice cream consistency. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon, toasted nuts, and coconut, and drizzle with a little honey. Enjoy!

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Recipe: Vegan No-Pasta Zucchini “Noodle” and Vegetable Lasagna

16 Apr finsishedlasagnalayers

I’m not sure about you, but one of my favorite things is a cheesy casserole. I have major “chunking” issues — you know, you eat a chunk here, and a chunk there, and then the next thing you know, a quarter of the casserole is gone. There is something about cold pasta and congealed cheese that I cannot resist. Super appetizing, right?  Well, after a beautiful weekend of drinks (finally tried a Jack Rose cocktail at Jack Rose in Adams Morgan), exercise (killer bootcamp on Saturday morning), and delicious treats at Sticky Fingers, a vegan bakery and cafe (that just happens to be a Cupcake Wars winner), I decided that I wanted to make a lasagna that would be guilt-free when the inevitable chunking began.

I love squash and eggplant, and knew that baking these veggies with tomato sauce is already a sure-fire delight, but thought I would try to jazz it up with some vegan staples. After my mayonnaise making, I learned that silken tofu is a great substitute for something creamy. One of the best parts of lasagna is the creamy spinach and ricotta layer, but by using silken tofu, I was able to achieve a similar texture and taste. Also, wheat farina (otherwise known as Cream of Wheat) not only makes a tasty breakfast when mixed with ground flax seed, but also serves as a tasty cheesy layer when mixed with some nutritional yeast.

portabella cap post and pre-gills scraping

Just as a couple of other notes before we get to the goods, I’d like to share a great trick for making eggplant. When you sprinkle eggplant with salt and let it rest for 15 minutes, it begins to release a lot of its water which helps with cooking to reduce the spongy texture that many people hate about my aubergine friend — you can use this trick for any eggplant whether it’s graffiti or deep purple, fried or baked. Also, the gills of portabella mushrooms not only look alien/deep sea-esque, but also have a very weird taste for me that I hate AND discolor anything that they touch. By scraping these gills away, you can be sure to have a beautiful lasagna and only taste the meaty umami of those big UFO mushrooms.

No-Cheese No-Noodle Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Noodle Lasagna

  • 1 package organic silken tofu
  • 1 16 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2.5 tbsp wheat farina
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 heaping tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 lb. zucchini
  • 1 lb. eggplant
  • 3 portabella mushroom caps
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce
  • garlic powder
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup EVOO

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Thaw spinach and squeeze out excess juice in a clean dish towel. In a medium bowl, mix together the silken tofu, drained spinach, carrots, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 3-4 large pinches of salt (enough to salt all slices) and let the eggplant sit for 15 minutes. Cut zucchini in half, and slice each half into four long planks. Wipe mushroom caps clean and remove the gills from underneath with a spoon. Slice into 1/4-1/2 inch slices and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the wheat farina and water and a pinch of salt. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Stir and then heat for 30 more seconds, or until thickened. Stir in nutritional yeast.

In a 13×9″ glass pan, spread 1/3 cup of marinara sauce on bottom. Layer zucchini across the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/4 cup of marinara sauce over the zucchini. Spread spinach, tofu, carrot mixture on top of the zucchini and tomato sauce.

Next, add the eggplant in a single layer, making sure to let the excess water drip from each eggplant slice.

side view before heading to the oven

Top eggplant layer with the nutritional yeast and wheat farina. Layer the remaining zucchini on top and sprinkle sliced mushrooms on top of the zucchini. Pour the rest of the marinara sauce over the vegetables. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Drizzle the top of the lasagna with 1/4 cup of good EVOO and sprinkle torn basil leaves and oregano leaves on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake covered at 375 for 45 minutes. Uncover the lasagna, turn heat to 400, and let bake uncovered for another 35-45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Let sit for 15 minutes and enjoy.

I have to admit, as this bad boy sat on my counter and settled into itself, letting all the flavors and veggies get comfortable with one another, I chunked away. Here’s a picture of the finished product:

 And here’s what it looked like post-chunking:

yummy layers of "cheesy" goodness

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Recipes: Kale and Roasted Beet Salad with Vegan Pistachio Pesto AND Chia Pudding Dessert

4 Apr barbuzzosalad2

So after my amazing dinner at Barbuzzo, which I devoted a whole post to, I decided that I needed to recreate this delicious salad that I had. The salad was Roasted Beets with Kale, Grapefruit, and Goat Cheese with a Pistachio Pesto. The combination of the flavors was so incredibly different that I just had to veganize it and make it immediately. I would like to report that my first attempt to make the salad was a SUCCESS! Thankfully the cleanse left my taste buds in prime working order so that I could mentally take notes to plan what I might need to make this at home.

A typical pesto includes basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and lots of parmesan cheese. Not very vegan friendly. I swapped in a little bit of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor and extra nutrients (like B-12), and used some arugula for a peppery bite. Here is what I came up with and man…it is delicious.

Vegan Roasted Beet Salad with Kale Chiffonade, Ruby Red Grapefruit, and Pistachio Pesto (serves 3 with lots of extra pesto leftover for spaghetti squash or pasta)

  • 2 handfuls of basil (about 1.5 cups packed)
  • 1 handful of arugula
  • 3/4 cup of roasted, salted pistachios (shelled — that means no shell)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp. of nutritional yeast powder (I found this in bulk at my local organic market)
  • 3 large pinches of kosher salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 lbs of small/medium beets (I found great ones at the Penn Quarter farmers market)
  • 10 leaves of kale
  • large ruby red grapefruit

Preheat oven to 425. Rinse beets, making sure to remove any excess dirt. (They live underground so fresh beets are dirrrty — like Christina Aguilera.) Pat dry with a paper towel, place on a foil-lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with EVOO. Fold the aluminum foil around the beets to create a pouch. Roast in oven for 30-45 minutes, or until a fork slides easily into the beets. Once cool, the skin of the beets will easily slip off.

Add basil, arugula, garlic, pistachios, salt, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice to a food processor. Blend together until mixed into a puree and slowly stream in the EVOO while the food processor is running. When the mixture is thick and dense, but well-emulsified, scoop into a bowl and set aside.

Line up kale leaves and roll into a cigar shape. Slice even sections of the “cigar” which will leave you with a chiffonade cut. Here is a great tutorial if you need help with your knife skills. Place in a medium bowl, drizzle with vinegar, squeeze lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt. Set kale aside.

Slice wedges of grapefruit and remove the peel, seeds, and outer white pith. Squeeze the excess juice over the kale and cut the wedges of grapefruit into smaller segments.

Place a heaping teaspoon dollop of pesto atop the kale and mix together making sure to coat all of the greens. The pesto will be pliable with the addition of the vinegar and grapefruit juice, however if you find the pesto to be too sticky to coat the greens, add more grapefruit juice.

Place the kale on a plate and top with sliced beets and grapefruit and a small dollop of pesto. Enjoy. As you can see, I served my salad with crispy tofu nuggets. I’ll write up the recipe for that after I do some more tweaking.

Here’s a picture of a perfect bite. And you can see that lovely chiffonade of the kale. Trust me, the cut of your vegetables makes a HUGE difference in the way that your taste buds register them.

Not to toot my own horn..or Barbuzzo’s but, this salad is amazing — the sweet earthiness of the beets and the dark green flavor the kale is contrasted by the rich creamy and garlicy pesto and the sweet citrusy grapefruit.

Obviously I needed a sweet to go with this meal, and after my boss turned me on to chia seeds, I’ve been dying to use them. Chia seeds are a miracle food that originated in South America with the Aztecs and Mayans. They are known to give energy, provide sustenance, but most importantly they are a SUPER food. They are a complete source of protein and contain tons of fiber and are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids (which is something that vegans can have a hard time getting).

One of the most important things about chia seeds is that they are extremely hydrophilic, which means that when they are exposed to a liquid, they soak it all up and balloon in size. This makes them perfect for a pudding. I found some great looking recipes for Chia Seed Puddings, and obviously put my own spin on it to create something fabulous.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding with Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Fresh Berries (makes 3 servings)

  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds
  • 2 cups of plain soymilk
  • 1 tsp. good vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of raw coconut, toasted (sprinkle on baking sheet and roast in 325 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned and fragrant)
  • 1 tbsp. sucanat
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of fresh berries
  • cardamom pod to grate over the top

Stir the chia seeds and soymilk together, and refrigerate for an hour until gelled and set. This is what it looks like when set.

When set, stir in sucanat and vanilla extract. Spoon into individual bowls and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, toasted coconut, berries, and a couple grates of cardamom. Enjoy.

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Hoagies & Pickles & Amish…Oh My: Tummy Full-adelphia

2 Apr

This weekend my friend and I drove up to visit another dear friend in Philly. I hadn’t been to the City of Brotherly Love in ages, and had heard about all of the gastronomical delights that lurked just a couple of hours north. I did the math on Friday, and I hadn’t eaten anything processed, refined, (and aside from a sushi dinner), nothing that I hadn’t created with my own two hands in over 35 days! I knew that it was time to really give my taste buds a workout and Philly was the perfect place to re-acquaint those little suckers with meat and dairy and sugar.

After discovering the French bakery, Paul, on day 3 of my juice cleanse, I had been dreaming of their macarons. I picked up a couple of the almond-meringue-ganache treasures for the road trip. They were incredible. Not only were they the perfect texture: chewy and crispy, moist and creamy, but I was able to enjoy the flavors in a completely new way. Just as my body has been reset after my juice cleanse and vegan diet, my TASTE BUDS were working at maximum power. This was the theme of my entire weekend in Philly.

Of course we ate hoagies (incredible), and Amish hot, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls (my friend said they tasted like Barefoot Contessa had just pulled something out of the oven for us), and amazing pickles, but NOTHING compares to the meal we had at Barbuzzo. This Mediterranean, farm-to-table, small plates restaurant was the perfect place to eat my first meat and dairy.

We started off with a cured meat board, with a great spicy mustard, cornichons, and olive tapenade with sliced baguette. As my first meat, I chewed very slowly, and enjoyed every morsel of the salty, spiced, salami and seranno.

Next, we had the Sheeps Milk Ricotta. Oh my God. This cheese was like nothing I had ever experienced. It had a slightly sheepy flavor (which I love) and was as creamy as sour cream. It was drizzled with a sweet red-wine reduction and some very fragrant EVOO, and served with slices of incredible thick, grilled bread.

Next we had the roasted beet and goat cheese salad. Now, I know that every restaurant puts a beet and goat cheese salad on their menu — it’s definitely the rage — and usually it’s quite good but nothing very new and different. Not at Barbuzzo. The roasted beet and goat cheese salad was served over a bed of kale chiffonade tossed in a pistachio pesto with a sherry vinaigrette. What really set this dish over the edge for me was the inclusion of the sweet and citrusy ruby red grapefruit segments. (I obviously bought ingredients at Whole Foods yesterday for my attempt to replicate this wonder.) The cool creamy bites of cheese mixed with the robust greens drizzled with that sweet and nutty vinaigrette coupled with the tangy, juicy grapefruit — sheer bliss.

After this triple punch of KNOCKOUT flavors, we tried the Tufoli Calabrese (Tufoli is a type of pasta noodle — similar to Rigatoni), which had a slow-cooked smoky pork ragu, with buffala mozzarella, brocollini, and some breadcrumbs on top. I thought this dish was good, but not as mind-blowing as our first few dishes.

After the pasta (you can see that we really went to town on the menu ordering everything — but I promise the plates were small :) ), we had the Uovo pizza. I swear birds started chirping when I bit into this pizza. Aside from the crust being perfectly amazing, it was topped with a garlicy light creamy white sauce, brussel sprout leaves, guanciale (pork cheek that tastes like non-smoked bacon), mozzarella, and drum roll…a truffled farm-fresh egg. If you haven’t had a fresh egg (that is still orange in color before it turns yellow with age), this was the PERFECT way to have it.

Perfectly satisfied with our incredible meal, we decided to try dessert. As a person who doesn’t love sweets and was grappling with what I thought would be an evening of gastric distress, I had read so much about the Budino dessert and I knew we had try it. We decided to order the apple and raisin bread pudding and the caramel Budino. The bread pudding was great, had nice big chunks of multicolored bread and was creamy and topped with apple cider gelato. I have to rush through that dessert because when I dipped my spoon into the Budino and tasted it, I swear bells starting chiming. I can’t really explain to you why PUDDING was in my friend’s top 3 desserts of all time, but it was in mine too.

The pudding came out in a mason jar and didn’t look like much. Tasting is believing. It was light and creamy, but still somewhat dense and had an almost satin-like texture, with the most insane caramel flavor. It wasn’t overly sweet but had a good bit of salt running through which really brought out the caramel notes. The pudding was layered on top of dark chocolate cookie crumbs that tasted like Oreos, and on top was a whipped creme fraiche that felt like whipped cream but tasted like sour cream so the combination was sweet heaven. Perfection in a jelly jar.

After our dinner the next evening, we contemplated returning to Barbuzzo just to get the Budino again for dessert. But we didn’t. With Michelin-starred restaurants in Napa and Italy, as well as amazing restaurants in France, N.Y.C., and New Orleans under my foodie belt, I still would consider this meal to be in my top-5 dining experiences ever. 

The next evening we tried one of Philly top chef, Iron Chef extraordinaire, Jose Garces’ restaurants. It was good…but after the bar that Barbuzzo set, I don’t even think Thomas Keller could have surpassed it. Well, yeah he probably could have. We ended our trip with an incredible brunch at a cute little place called Sabrina’s  (where I had scrambled eggs with a cornmeal-green onion-sour cream biscuit) and had the perfect ricotta cannoli from Isgro Pasticceria to carry home to D.C.

This weekend, I discovered another benefit of juice-cleansing to add to my growing list: the cleanse awakened my palate. I was able to discover food and flavors in a completely different way. The manner in which I could identify subtle nuanced flavors might rival a Top Chef discerning palate quick-fire challenge. All in all, I definitely cannot wait to return to this city of culinary wonder and keep my taste buds working at optimum power.

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Recipe: Vegan Bourbon BBQ “Pork” ‘n’ Beans & Cornbread

29 Mar

When the weather gets warm, one thing that I always crave is BBQ. Sadly, I wasn’t brought up in a place where BBQ reigns supreme, so I don’t really know the difference between Texas, Carolina, Low Country, etc. All I know is that if it’s smoked and covered in sauce, bring it on. With my foray into weekday veganism, you might think that BBQ is a flavor that I’d not be able to integrate into a Tuesday evening. Guess again!

If you’ve ever had seitan, you know that this faux meat product, made from wheat gluten and water, REALLY TASTES LIKE MEAT. Texturally, I wouldn’t take any bets on deciphering the difference between seitan and chicken. If you’ve ever had Whole Foods’ Vegan General Tso’s Chicken, you know what I’m talking about.

With some pantry staples, and a few extras (like the vegan God-send – Liquid Smoke) I created my Bourbon BBQ “Pork” ‘n’ Beans. The measurements are a little bit off because, when it comes down to it, it’s up to your taste buds how much smoke you want, how much Worcestershire you want, etc. I also used sucanat, which is the most natural of all sugars (dehydrated, evaporated pressed cane juice). After some research, I knew that agave nectar was OFF THE TABLE. Apparently, it is as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup. And unless you have diabetes and need to pay attention to your glycemic index, I would suggest staying away. Just say no to chemicals!

With an adventurous spirit, I decided to try millet (from my local organic market’s bulk section) to accompany my meal. Not a Smooth Move, Ferguson. The millet had a very strange taste. I think I will try it again, but cook in veggie broth instead of water.

Bourbon BBQ “Pork” ‘n’ Beans

  • 2 cans of tomato paste
  • 1 can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cans no-salt-added pinto beans
  • package of seitan strips, sliced (or make your own)
  • EVOO

And here are the ingredients to play with:

  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (conveniently left over from my bread baking)
  • 1.5 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 3 tbsp sucanat
  • 1/4 cup of Jim Bean bourbon
  • 1.5 tbsp Liquid Smoke
  • 2 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (note, this is not vegan because it contains anchovies — but it is pesco-vegan :) )
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • pinch red pepper flakes

In a large saucepan, heat a couple of tbsp. of EVOO over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute until translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and simmer. Add in all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

What better way to accompany my vegan BBQ than some warm cornbread. I found this recipe and made a few tweaks and it was INCREDIBLE. The ground flax seed takes the place of an egg, and I cannot WAIT to use that substitution in other recipes.

Yummy Vegan Cornbread (adapted from Dana Sly’s Blue Ribbon Cornbread)

  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed

    see all the yummy flax seeds floating around

  • 6 Tbsp. water
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup of sucanat
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 cup of soy milk with 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar mixed in for 5 minutes
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (not extra virgin — taste might be too strong)

Bring water to a boil in small saucepan. Add flax seed and simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Let cool for a couple of minutes while assembling other ingredients

In a large bowl mix together all of the remaining ingredients and add in the flax and water mixture. Pour into a lightly sprayed 9×9 baking dish. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Hope you have fun with this meaty meal!

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Recipe: Tasting the Fruits of My Labor (Roasted Veg Sandwich with Homemade Vegan “Mayo”)

26 Mar sandwich2

This weekend, I decided to undertake the seemingly impossible task of baking bread. As I slowly started to reintroduce foods into my diet post-cleanse, I figured the best way to introduce a complex carb was to make my own bread. I woke up on Saturday morning, met my college advisor who happened to be in town with one of her classes, and toured the Royalists to Romantics exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Combining one of my favorite professors with one of my favorite artists (Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun) was a beautiful way to start a bread-making Saturday.

After a few errands to Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond, to pick up the last essentials for my baking adventure, I was ready to begin. With my Spotify playlist plugged into my speakers, a bread recipe open on my computer screen, and my kitchen counters cleaned, I was all set. I decided to try the Multigrain Wholegrain Bread recipe from the Holy Cow Vegan blog.

After attempting to bloom yeast that was a non-starter, I had to run back out to the market to buy another package of yeast. FINALLY, it worked on my second try. Here is the recipe:

Vegan Multigrain Wholegrain Bread

Mix in a bowl:
4 tsp active dry yeast and 1/2 cup warm (not hot!) water. Set aside about 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to bloom.

Mix in another bowl:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm soymilk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil

Add the soymilk mixture to the yeast. Then add:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour

Mix by hand or in a stand mixer until combined. Add:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup rye flour

Knead for 10 minutes on low speed or by hand. Keep about 1/2 to 1 cup of whole-wheat flour on hand to add in case the dough is too sticky. You want a smooth, elastic dough that does not break easily.
Oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning it around once to ensure it is coated all over with oil.
Set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour. Punch down the dough and set aside and let rise again for another hour.
Here are pictures of the bread before and after rising.

Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down, shape. If you’d like to make it in loaf pans, divide the dough into two halves, tuck the edges under for a smooth top, and place in oiled loaf pans coated with some cornmeal.

Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35 more minutes.

Remove the loaf to a rack and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.

The bread came out looking gorgeous and I just couldn’t wait to dig in.

Now, I had the ends of my sandwich ready…but still needed to create the insides. Back when I was juice-fasting, I had the idea of creating a vegan mayonnaise, because what kind of sandwich would we have without that creamy glue holding it together? Here is my recipe:

Healthy Homemade Vegan “Mayonnaise”

  • 1 cup raw (unsalted, not roasted) cashews, soaked in 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1 package of silken tofu
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

In a food processor, puree the cashews with 1/4 cup of the cashew water until smooth. Add the tofu and blend. Add the mustards and vinegar and blend together. While the processor is running, drizzle in the EVOO. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

The mayo is super creamy and really does taste like mayo. The good EVOO makes it taste rich and creamy. I promise you won’t miss the eggs!

I roasted off some veggies (sprayed them with EVOO and sprinkled salt and pepper and placed under the broiler).

 

Finally, it was time to assemble my sandwich. With the help of Gordy’s Pickle Jar’s Sweet Pepper Relish,  and Maille L’Ancienne grainy dijon mustard, I spread my mayo on my freshly cut bread and laid the veggies on top.

It is SUCH an amazing feeling to eat something that you made from scratch completely. It is so rewarding and completely worth the effort that I put in to dig into a sandwich and know exactly where every morsel came from.

That has got to be the epitome of clean eating. YUM.

Here are a couple pictures of my masterpiece!  

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Love the smell of a good market this time of year

23 Mar poppies

Yesterday was the opening of the FRESHFARM Market near my office in Penn Quarter. I LOVE this market. It happens on Thursdays, has everything you could want (most specifically, my crack fix for anything from Toigo Orchards), and is conveniently located just a few blocks from my office so I don’t even have to think. After a rough morning/afternoon at work yesterday, I decided to go for a walk to visit the market, especially because it was so lovely out. In addition to my usual favorites, including Toigo (whose Honeycrisp apples, pears, and PEACHES will make you slap your mama) and Red Apron Butchery (who was taunting me with Facebook pictures of mortadella and fennel and citrus salami while I was juice-fasting), there were some new treats, including Gordy’s Pickle Jar, which I just HAD to try. They were amazing.

I am a REAL SUCKER for anything local. I can’t resist. Here are some pictures of the wonderful market.

Gorgeous poppies and tulips.

This bread smelled even more amazing than it looks.

Can’t resist Toigo’s apples. I picked up some of the Mutsu and they were awesome. Super crisp, sweet with a little bit of tartness, and just perfect for a warm spring day.

And here’s my bounty! A purple/green head of cabbage (for my experimentation with “Corned Tofu and Cabbage”), sweet pepper relish from Gordy’s, Mutsu apples, the facebook-stalking fennel and citrus salami from Red Apron (for my omnivorous weekends), and some great looking little red beets.

I love supporting our area’s farmers. I mean, what better way to eat fresh, eat clean, and eat local than at a farmers market, right? I love transparency in all of my food — knowing from where my pig came and where it was smoked, when and from where my eggs were picked, and that those apples were plucked just yesterday is a great feeling.

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

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