(Semi) Homemade Neapolitan Style Pizza

3 08 2010

Ever since our first visit to Keste, Robbie and I have wanted to try to recreate a Neapolitan style pizza at home, which is a difficult task, being that they cook their pies for a matter of seconds, at about 800 degrees. HOT! Also, the dough is made in a very specific way….so we cheated a little.

Keste actually sells their dough at $5 a piece- which is actually pretty great when you consider the cost of getting the dough ingredients for Neapolitan pizza.

We turned our oven up to max about an hour before baking, and at the same time, placed the pizza stone in the oven to get it nice and hot. We also let the dough hang out at room temperature so it was nice and easy to handle.

When ready, we shaped the dough on our pizza paddle, and transferred it to the pizza stone and baking sheet (we had 2 pieces of dough). The dough cooks alone (sans sauce, or any toppings) for about 10 minutes. It got nice and browned during the pre-baking portion; much closer to the look of Keste’s cooked crust than I had imagined our little oven could accomplish.

As far as sauce goes, we also went all out authentic and a bought a can of San Marzano tomatoes. They really do taste different- nice and sweet.

Baked crust, getting topped with San Marzano tomatoes

One pie was some awesome local heirloom tomatoes from the USQ greenmarket, and the other was lentil sage Field Roast deli slices and yellow pepper. Both had FYH Jack cheese and Daiya.

Fresh local heirloom tomatoes, basil, FYH jack cheese

We also made some sweet bruschetta for good measure.

Bruschetta with local heirloom tomatoes

I’d totally recommend trying this at home if you are into Neapolitan style pizza. It is really worth getting the authentic dough and playing around!

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Solixir, A sparkling botanical beverage

1 08 2010

Almost a year ago already, I met Scott and Brian of Solixir at my local Whole Foods. They were demoing a then new beverage, and were looking to add a team member in NYC to spread the word. Since then, I have been their NYC Field Marketing manager, and have loved getting to see Solixir grow.

Besides the fact that they are great guys, Solixir is an amazing beverage. There really is nothing else out there that is like it.

Solixir is an all natural, no GMO, sparkling botanical beverage. There are no added sugars or sweeteners, and each can is (total) under 60 calories.

Solixir comes in three different flavors, each providing a different function.

Orange Mate: Awake

Orange Mate is great in the morning, or any time you need a little pick-me-up. For me, that comes at about 3 pm daily. The energy source in Orange Mate comes from the yerba mate herb, a South American herb that many people are familiar with because it is popular in teas. In a can of Orange Mate, yerba mate provides a low 30 mg of natural caffeine, so the effect is a really nice wake-up, and a sustained energy. Unlike other energy drinks, packed with sugar and loaded with caffeine, Orange Mate doesn’t make you spike and crash or get jittery.

Pomegranate Ginger: Restore

Pomegranate Ginger is great for many reasons. I’d say it is my favorite flavor, but also as a SPINNING™ instructor, it a great recovery drink post workout. The full glass of water in each can (as in all flavors) hydrates my body right away, while the herbal blend encourages oxygen flow and aids in post-workout repair (elderflower/elderberry are vasodilators- a fancy way to say they open up blood vessels and allow for faster recovery). Pomegranate Ginger is also great to drink if you feel a little cold coming on, or if you have an (um, errr) hangover.

Blackberry Chamomile: Relax

Blackberry Chamomile is an awesome drink when you want to chill out. It contains lots of soothing herbs which are great for relaxing your body. I like to drink it when I want to de-stress or calm down a bit. It is also great to drink before bed.

All three flavors are really refreshing, just sweet enough (from real fruit juice), and provide your body with the hydration it needs.

Other quick things to note about Solixir:

•There is a full glass of water in each can, so you really are hydrating your body when you drink Solixir

•Solixir was developed by an herbalist and nutritionist

•If you live in NYC, you can grab cans of Solixir at Whole Foods, in the cooler section. It is also available on amazon.com.

•Solixir is privately owned, so when you buy a can, you will feel good about supporting an independent, ethical business

•If you like cocktails, Solixir makes a GREAT, healthier mixer. Pom Ginger and gin- add some Canton ginger liqueur if you’re feeling adventurous. Heaven.

As I said, I’m so lucky to work with a company that promotes a healthy lifestyle, and at the same time, exemplifies that with hard work and dedication, you can build your own business from the bottom up- and continue to grow!

Of course, Solixir is vegan. It is also gluten free. And delicious.

Stella dog loves Solixir too!





Reviews: Fonda and Caravan of Dreams

4 06 2010

This week, Robbie and I finally hit up 2 places we’ve been meaning to go to forever: Fonda, a Mexican restaurant in Park Slope, whose chef is Roberto Santibanez (formerly of Rosa Mexicano). And, Caravan of Dreams– I had been once before but that was years ago.

P.S. We also went to S’nice- both the Brooklyn and West Village locations this week for the first time as well. Suffice it to say I didn’t take time to take pix because eating was more important. GREAT sandwiches. My fave is their Philly Cheesesteak. Pay the extra buck for Daiya!

Okay, so on to Fonda. We went on Wednesday night, and were sat right away in their beautiful garden.

We ordered guacamole, of course, which was great but beware to vegans: It comes with cheese- weird! But just ask for them to leave it off. We asked for spicy, and they actually made it spicy enough, which was great.

Guacamole, served with homemade tortillas

For our entrees, we shared a salad and enchiladas.

The Ensalada Verde was super good. Great dressing. Described as: Arugula, field greens, jicama, carrots & cucumber with almonds, sesame seeds, crispy pasilla peppers, basil-cilantro vinaigrette and cherry tomatoes. SO GREAT!

Ensalada Verde

The Vegetarian Enchiladas, Soft corn tortillas filled with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, chayote and eggplant, roasted tomato sauce, and cilantro were incredible. We asked for no queso fresco or cream, but I didn’t feel like I had deconstructed the dish because the sauce was super flavorful and fresh.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

I love Rosa Mexicano, but what stood out about Fonda was that all the food- especially the ranchera sauce on the enchiladas just had way more flavor. I guess that’s what you get from a small, neighborhood joint that really puts time into their dishes, and believes in their food. It was really well priced too, which is always a plus. I’m excited to go back!

Today, we went to Caravan of Dreams for lunch. I only remember loving the Unchicken Nachos from my past visit, so we got those. They really are incredibly yummy, although the picture doesn’t do them much justice.

Grilled seitan, black bean chili, guacamole, salsa

 

After the nachos, however, things took a turn for the (somewhat) worse. I got the tempeh ruben which was…fine. Nothing too special, and not comparable to the one I had at S’Nice a few days ago. It was just rather boring for an $11 sandwich.

Robbie ordered the ANGEL’S PESTO PIZZA, with cremini mushrooms, vegetables, grilled marinated seitan. Sounds awesome, right?

The final product:

Pizza?

We expected a pizza…with those toppings.

However, the dish is actually a mound of random veggies (carrots?) with seitan and shrooms, covering a soggy piece of pita (with some great pesto, though- I must say). It was pretty hilarious actually, as there was nothing pizza-like about it, and while the seitan was rocking, it was more like a salad- a warm salad of steamed veggies and seitan. Weird.

We also had a pitcher of sangria which, while tasty, was pretty stingy for the $25 we spent on it.

I hate to give Caravan of Dreams a less than great review, and to their merit, the other dishes people ordered looked fabulous- so maybe we just made some iffy choices.

Has anyone else been there? What did you think?

Cheers!

Dani





Cafe Blossom for lunch & TACO NIGHT!

25 05 2010

Friday, Robbie and I had a wonderful lunch at Cafe Blossom on the Upper West Side. We’re big, big fans of Blossom and Cocoa-V in Chelsea, so lunch at yet another Blossom spawn seemed like a great idea. They have a great outdoor seating area, so we were able to bring Stella Adler along as well.

Hey Blossom: May we suggest a mascot?

Stella loves Blossom...

We started with the Black Eyed Pea Cake- which is a regular at Blossom as well, and is a “must-order” until I master it at home…which I haven’t come close to yet.

Black Eyed Pea Cake- more rustic than the one at Blossom, but still so amazing.

Next, for entrees, we shared the Red Quinoa Salad and the Southern Seitan Sandwich. Both were really, really tasty. Robbie and I were especially amazed by the sandwich. The seitan was cooked in a very flavorful breading, and the combo of that with perfectly cooked onions, avocado, and wonderful bread was drool-worthy. The side of sweet potato fries were perfectly cooked as well.

Spiced seitan, caramelized onions, avocado, chipotle aioli, served with sweet potato fries

Red quinoa, navy beans, julienne peppers, watercress, toasted seeds, mango guacamole, lemon vinaigrette

Saturday was TACO NIGHT! We made two different tacos. One was a mushroom taco with shiitake and creminis, cooked with tequila. The other was a peanut-tequila chipotle marinated seitan. After we cooked both, we heated them over a mixture of Daiya and the new version of Teese (mozzarella style). I must say, there was some major melting going on, which for those of us vegan nerds out there, is a little more than exciting. We served the tacos with some of Robbie’s amazing guacamole and black beans. NUM!

Peanut-chipotle tequila seitan over Teese and Daiya

Shiitake and Creminis with tequila over Daiya and Teese

Melty Daiya and Teese goodness. Ohhh, the combination.





Welcome home, Ms. Stella Adler!

16 05 2010

Last Friday, I was walking in the East Village to meet my friend Sarah for some pre-theatre Indian food at Brick Lane Curry House (none of which was photo-worthy, as it looked like mush- but it tasted great and they have marked vegan options on the menu).

On my way, I saw this beautiful French Bulldog, with an “Adopt Me” vest.

Robbie and I have been dreaming of adopting a dog for a while now, but we were both too scared to ask our landlord if he would allow it, as 1) That would mean that all of our silly pre-dog planning was for naught and 2) We love our apartment and moving is probably not in the near future. So, no doggie.

Stella and her Dad, Robbie

That aside, I instantly, and probably freakishly, asked the walker volunteer what her story was. She told me the shelter where she was staying, and I noted it but didn’t go there immediately because of my plans. After dinner, Sarah suggested we stop by, even though it was supposed to be closed. If Sarah hadn’t suggested this, I probably would never have been able to adopt Stella (Oh- her name is Stella Adler, by the way). Thus, Sarah is Stella’s official god(or whatever)mother.

Long story (kind of) short, our landlord said YES, however reluctantly, to our plea to adopt her and we brought her home the next day. I actually got the final yes from my landlord while having a vegan Twitter meet-up with some new blogger friends. You can check out their blogs Lifestyles of the Chic & Vegan, Vegan Good Things and brazil nut. We all simultaneously had a wonderful, joyful freak out. I was pretty worked up from all the suspense, so it was great to have their support. Thanks ladies!!

Stella and her Grand-dogger

We were told that she was abandoned. It baffles me that anyone could do that to a family member. As if she was a handbag or something. From what we can tell, she was probably forced to be a mommy more than she would have liked, and from the length of her nails and some scarring in her ears from untreated infections, there was definitely some mistreatment. That being said, she is love. Love, love, love.

She is such a fantastic addition to the family. We absolutely adore her, and it feels like she’s been part of our clan for so much longer than just a week. She’s great with other dogs, kids, and even the occasional unicycle.

PLAY with me!

….Just another example of why people looking to get a dog or cat should ADOPT! There are so many incredible, sweet animals looking for homes.

Cheers to Stella!

BATDOG!





Vacation Recap

5 05 2010

First off, thank you to my man, Robbie, for the beautiful post…now get on it
more often. Turns out, a real camera (and a good photographer…thanks again Robbie) makes a huge difference, so after this post and going forth, I promise to lose the crappy phone camera shots as much a\s possible and deliver better pictures.

Last week, Robbie and I went to the Pacific Northwest. We basically flew into Seattle, then went to Orcas Island in the Puget Sounds, hung in Seattle, hiked a little Mt. Rainier, drove down to Portland, went to Willamette Valley wine country, then made our way up to Multnomah Falls, back to Settle then flew out. We packed our itinerary rather tight, but somehow we didn’t feel rushed.

We really got to see what we wanted to see (except a longer hike would have been great at Rainier), but for a week, I couldn’t have been happier with our trip. What a beautiful country we have…

So, I must highlight a few specific vegan foodie moments that were particularly memorable. First of all, Portland is a vegan HEAVEN. Everybody knows what the terms vegan means, and even the BIGMENLOVEMEAT hot dog truck guy had vegan hotdogs. Dude…it was crazy.

Our first WOW meal was at Portobello, an all vegan Italian-ish spot in Portland. What is awesome about them, besides the kick-ass food, is that they are really into organic, local produce and supporting local farmers. And, they make their seitan in house, which us in NYC know is a rarity. Side note: Sacred Chow does make their own- Kudos! Back to Portobello, though. We had the Pate, which was actually from Field Roast. It was served with an amazing baguette. You can’t get the Field Roast pate in retail, so if you are ever in Portland, eat it at Portobello.

Next, we had the Portobello Steak, with fleur de sel, olive oil whipped yukons and asparagus. The mushroom was perfectly cooked, as was the asparagus and the amazing creamy mashed potatoes. We also shared the Potato Gnocchi with rapini, fennel and cauliflower vellutata. The sauce on these buggers was plate-licking-worthy. It was so exciting to be able to visit a place with dished like this gnocchi, which is something usually seemingly vegan friendly but often containing eggs, or any number of non-vegan sauce ingredients.

We drank a beautiful bottle of Bunny Rouge from Hip Chicks Do Wine. It was such a beautiful, fruit-forward, well-loved wine. And it was local, baby!

For breakfast the next morning, we hit up Voodoo Doughnut. Robbie got the classic Voodoo style, filled with yummy, jammy blood. I barely remember what doughnuts taste like, but to me, it brought me right back to elementary school birthday parties. Robbie said it was spot on as well, and I trust his perspective on such matters. Regardless, they tasted awesome…

For lunch, we hit up Sweetpea. They have some killer lunch sandwiches, and we had one with some Field Roast, seitan, veg pepperoni,  pickled jalapenos, and other goodies. It was pretty awesome.

After a great lunch at Sweetpea, we hit up the rest of the vegan strip mall. YES- really. Next to Sweetpea is Herbivore, where I got an awesome zip-up hoodie and some fun buttons. Then, we went next door to  Food Fight grocery, an all vegan grocery store that I have been aching to visit for years. In case you were wondering, they’re open: EVERY F’ING DAY from 10-8PM (their signage says so!). I finally was able to try and buy Teese for the first time, as well as find a vegan jello mix! Rainbow cake on the way! The Teese is pretty rocking by the way. I love my Daiya (which is apparently pronounced day-ah…I don’t know how to feel about that), but Teese is easier to melt on things like nachos without drying out.

We also made the mandatory visit to Powell’s books. I thought you might be amused by this sign. Check out the “VEGAN” notation on the sign. Veg books took up most of the right aisle- it was a pretty beautiful sight.

Overall, it was an incredible trip. Not just the food, and the wine (oh..the wine…we brought 10 bottles home), but the country out there is really beautiful. And the folks there appreciate the land. They work with nature, not on it. This was made very clear while we were in Willamette Valley, talking one on one with the vinters. They respect the land and what it gives us. They nurture it and treat it as the living, fragile Earth that it is. The commitment to organic/natural/biodynamic farming that is prevalent out West is inspiring.

We’ll definitely be back.

When we got home, it was 30 degrees warmer, and time to take out the picnic basket for its inaugural trip. We had a wonderful picnic in Fort Greene park, with our Field Roast loot (the PATE, baby- and other things..mwahaha)…if you visit the factory in Seattle, you may just get as lucky as we did.

Cheers!





All Local Dinner

4 05 2010

Hi everybody. Robbie here. You may have heard of me from such posts as Mexican Explosion or Italian, Chinese, and a Birfday. I am Danielle’s fellow cooker-in-crime/live-in-moocher/all around good guy. This is my first post, obviously, but hopefully there you’ll be hearing more from me as this blog/my not-putting-off-my-first-post develops.

Anyway, a while back we discovered Brooklyn Oenology. They source grapes from the North Fork of Long Island and produce and bottle wine a few nabes away in Greenpoint. We tasted them at Astor last year, and were smitten, as the reds were the only reds we’d had from LI that didn’t taste like metaly, flat, mineraly swill… wow that’s harsh… They do make excellent whites out there though… Channing Daughters, for instance (there, now I feel better). Anyway, their Merlot and Motley Cru were excellent, and we’ve been fans ever since.

But, I digress. We got the ’05 Chardonnay (which has been sold out for a while) a few weeks ago, and I thought it might need something special to go along with it. So we decided to hit up the USQ Greenmarket and do an all local dinner.

We ended up thinking that a wheat meat and potatoes style dinner was what we wanted to go for and immediately Ray’s seitan (made in Philadelphia) came to mind. Now, as far as we know, there’s only one place in the city to get it, and that’s at Lifethyme on 6th, so we headed down there, but they were out of it. We called around a couple other health food stores, but nobody else carries it. At this point, things were looking dire, we had just gotten some beautiful asparagus, potatoes (Norwich Meadows Farm, NY), and mushrooms (Madura Farms, NY) from the Greenmarket , and weren’t about to go down without a fight. So Danielle had the idea to call Blossom, we know they use Ray’s, and it was worth a shot right? Right, because they said it wouldn’t be a problem, and they had it waiting for us when we got there. Thank you VERY much to them. We rewarded them (but mostly us) by going to Cocoa V and  having a glass of wine and getting some amazing chocolate.

ON TO THE FOOD!

Our main dish was the seitan, but we’ll get to that in a second. We also had bread leftover from our first picnic of the season (Fort Greene Park, it was awesome) so we decided to do bruschetta.

There it is, a 7 grain bread from il Forno in the Bronx topped with caramelized onions, sautéed portobello and shiitake mushrooms, PA grown cherry tomatoes, Dr. Cow’s aged cashew and brazil nut cheese (Brooklyn), and fresh basil from Danielle’s mom’s herb garden. It’s alongside the asparagus which we roasted with just a little bit of olive oil and S & P. They were great additions to our wheat meat and potatoes.

This was great. I did my classic mashed potatoes with rosemary again from Danielle’s mom upstate, while Dani seared the seitan and made a red wine reduction to finish it off.

This was a great dinner, and a lot of fun to make. As we get further into the summer season, I want to do this as much as possible, it’s great to get fresh ingredients, and talk to the people who grow them.

But that was last night, and now it’s a new day… and that day eventually turns into TACO NIGHT! So I’ve got to get started on that!