This past weekend we celebrated Easter. For me, as a non religious person, it’s just another food holiday, which are my favorite! I love making new and special meals to share with family. After a backyard Plastic Easter Egg Hunt for the kids I got to work in the kitchen preparing 2 dishes to bring to my Mother In Laws house.
First up was a Gluten Free/Soy Free/Nut Free-Vegan Carrot Cake. We have some allergies in our family (!) and as the only vegan in the family I wanted to make sure we had a dessert that everyone could eat. I’ve never made a full size Gluten Free cake before so I was a little nervous at how it would come out. As is my nature I tend to not test new recipes out before hand for holidays or events. Its a terrible habit but one that I’ve been able to get away with and managed to get away with again…phew! The cake was a huge success! It was full of hand shredded carrots and a ton of spices. The spiciness of the cake was everyone’s favorite part of it. It was loaded with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
To decorate the cake I made a peachy pink vegan buttercream that I spread out as smooth as possible and piped some little decorations around the edge of the cake. I found some unsweetened coconut in my baking cabinet and sprinkled that on top.
Just before serving the cake my daughter and I added some handmade decorations that she made for the cake earlier in the day to make it more festive. It was adorable. I highly recommend letting your kids help decorate a cake with some of their drawings taped to long wooden skewers.
My husbands Aunt declared that this cake will be her new birthday cake. She loved it that much and I will be happy to make it for her again.
Seitan and Mushroom Roulade
For the vegetarian main entree I made a Seitan and Mushroom Roulade. I only had half a plan for this part of the meal. I know I was going to saute onions, seitan, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and spices and then deglaze the pan with tamari and red wine and then do something with filo dough. First I was going to make individual “cigars”. Then I was going to make individual wrapped pockets. In the end I didn’t have time for anything “individual” and a roulade was just to thing to speed things up! I saved some of the seitan simmering broth and we used that as a jus sauce. It was a nice a festive main entree.
On my plate next to the roulade were Thyme Infused Spring Vegetables and Asian Sauteed Asparagus, both made by my mother. I didn’t eat a lot because I was saving room for the cake! Which we served with Trader Joe’s Soy Vanilla Ice Cream. It was the perfect Holiday Meal.
I don’t often get that many chances to eat at the Cinnamon Snail. They mostly spend their days in NYC. For us in NJ they are at the Red Bank Farmers Market on Sundays which we won’t go to in the summer because the traffic home is an absolute nightmare! On Thursdays they are in Jersey City at the Grove Street Farmers Market. We are close to J.C., my sister lives down the street from the market, but it’s still rare that I can go.
I usually try to go when my sister is teaching a craft class at her friends shop called Kanibal Home. The keyword in that sentence is “try”. Even when I’m in town on the right night I usually still miss it because parking takes forever, the lines are crazy long and then I’ll miss the class I’m taking. Last night though everything went perfectly! We found 2 parking spots right away. (One picking up my sis and one in front of our friends shop). Since we were early from not circling for 1 hour looking for parking I left everyone at the store and speed walked to the market. The market wasn’t there but the Cinnamon Snail still showed up! Thank goodness because I was starving!
The line also wasn’t as long as other lines I’ve encountered there. I’ve waited 30 minutes to order and just as long or longer to get my food. Its worth it though!
For dinner I chose an old favorite of mine the Lemongrass 5-Spice Seitan. It has curried cashews and wasabi mayo among other things. Its incredible!
I really wanted to pick up some donuts, especially a creme brule donut, but by the time I got there all the donuts I wanted were sold out. Most of the pastry case was empty. It was quite a sad sight. I decided to try 3 new pastries that I haven’t ordered from them before.
First up for the pastries was a berry and cheese danish. I had it as a late night snack when I came home from the class with ink stained hands. It was really good! I never was a fan of Danishes in my pre-vegan day’s. I love them now though!
Breakfast today was a Pear Turnover with Lavender. This was even better then the danish above. I was wondering what they did to get the lavender flavor that was so prominent, in a good way, so I opened the danish up and saw actual lavender flowers mixed in with the pear filling. I’ll definitely be buying this again.
The one pastry I haven’t eaten yet is a Chocolate Raspberry Danish. I’m sure it’s just as great as the other pastries I’ve eaten in the last 12 hours. :) I might even share it with my husband tonight after the kids are in bed.
For anyone visiting NYC or NJ if you have a chance to eat from The Cinnamon Snail please do. You will not regret it. They are amazing! You also need to visit my friends Kristen’s shop in JC called Kanibal Home. She stocks it with amazing refurbished vintage furniture, clothes and curiosities among other things.
My husband has been asking for over a year for me to make a vegan version of Volcano Beef, his favorite chinese meal at one local restaurant. I finally got around to it a month ago and he was thrilled with the results. I’ve made it two times so far, each different ways and feel if I combine the best of both ways I’ll have a new recipe to post soon! There is just a technique or two I need to perfect first.
BBQ Seitan and Mushroom Tacos
We could eat taco’s everyday. This was a quick meal before heading out to Brooklyn to visit friends one evening. Mushrooms, seitan, garlic, onions, red peppers sauteed in olive oil and coated with a store bought BBQ sauce at the end until heated through. Topped with some mesclun greens. We liked this meal to much I made it again for us the next night.
I’m currently working on a Seitan Bolognese recipe, but since we tend to eat a lot of seitan (see above two pictures) I made it one night with chickpeas to cut back on the full on gluten meal. This one can also be filed under Dinners With My Sister. She ate with us that evening and was very happy with this meal. Hopefully I’ll be posting both the Seitan and the Chickpea versions of the recipe during VeganMoFo.
Mediterranean Pesto Seitan Wrap
Cashews are hands down one of my top 5 favorite foods. Not just favorite nut but favorite FOOD’S! I love eating them raw, roasted and salted. I add them to stuffings, chili’s and stir-frys. Forget tofu ricotta I make cashew ricotta. My favorite morning cereal is a store bought granola with cashews in it. The big container of mixed nuts we buy is all out of cashews long before we reached the halfway mark of the container to the annoyance of many. I’m surprised I don’t make my own or even buy already made cashew milk. I might have to try that!
Whenever I feel a meal needs a creamy condiment I whip up a fast Cashew Cream. Since I use a Vita Mix I don’t need to soak my cashews first so this is often a last minute type of thing for me. The table is usually set with the dinner on it and by the time I get the other 3 people in my family at the table and ready to eat I can hop back into the kitchen and have this ready in less then 1 minute.
Seared Mushroom, Black Bean and Rice Burrito w. Cashew Cream
I use this Cashew Cream on wraps, sandwiches, soups, stews and chili’s. I even make a batch of it the night before we leave for our annual summer beach vacation to use while in our rented beach house. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Simple Cashew Cream
makes about 1 1/4 cups
1 cup raw cashews
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add all of the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Add more water a teaspoon at a time if needed.
Seitan and Pepper Fajitas
I am still obsessively using my recipe for Soy-Lime Seitan Tacos. This time I made the soy-lime seitan adding peppers and mushrooms as sort of a fajita type dinner. Served them over toasted tortillas with some leftover Cashew-Lime Creme and lots of cilantro. We are not cilantro haters in this house. Served with a side of Rice and Beans and it was a perfect “new” meal for us. The kids even ate most parts of the meal.
A few of us had a day off of work/school last week for Holiday that everyone seems to hate now a days. I was happy to just have my family together for an extra day. I made us some chocolate chip scones for breakfast. I completely screwed the recipe up but they were still edible and good. I can’t imagine how much better they would have been if I didn’t leave out certain ingredients!
for the animals sanctuary
This weekend we visited a sanctuary in NJ called For The Animals. We met pigs, cows, chickens and goats that were once meant to be killed for food. The pig above loved laying in the sun having its belly rubbed by whoever. You could see the smile on her face.
I love goats and when we all entered the field they were in and the sanctuary owner called out for them they all came running. It was one of the happiest things I ever saw. If you knelt down they would come over and rub against you like a cat. These are all smart smart animals who want to be loved just like all of us. I don’t know how people can eat them.