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.

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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!





Blossom Review and adventures in seitan! And an amazing dinner by Robbie.

2 04 2010

On Wednesday, Robbie and I were lucky enough to nab 2 free tickets to see te Roundabout’s production of “The Glass Menagerie.”

Before the show, and after much deliberation regarding which of the many amazing vegan spot we could go to for a pre-theatre dinner, we decided on Blossom Cafe. We’ve been here a number of times and every experience has been wonderful.

As an appetizer, we couldn’t help but order the Black Eyed Pea cake- which we have, without fail, ordered every time we’ve been to Blossom. It is just that great. Packed with Yukon gold potatoes and a chipotle aioli, it is really a special dish. I’ve tried recreating it at home, but my version fell short. The deal is, when we’ve made our own home version that rivals Blossom’s, we’ll keep getting it for an appetizer. So, we will probably be ordering it for a long time.

Next, we shared two enterees.

One was the Port Wine Seitan- the port wine reduction is incredible, as is Blossom’s impecible seitan….wowza.

“Seitan cutlets pan-seared in a sauce of port wine and mushrooms, accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes, tempura onion, and sautéed garlic spinach.”

The other entree was “Rigatoni in Porcini Cream.” This dish is incredibly creamy, yet light at the same time. All the flavors are beautifully balanced. YUM!

“Cooked with shallots, leeks, and broccoli rabe, finished with pistachio gremoulata and truffle oil.”

We also shared a really nice bottle of Sangiovese.

As always, dining at Blossom is a pleasure.

We asked if their seitan is made in house, as it is consistently the best seitan we’ve had. We thought we may get some secrets for making our own as tasty. To our surprise, they don’t make it. They get it from Fresh Tofu Inc., who distubutes Ray’s brand seitan to a number of restaurants including Candle Cafe and others. If you’re in NYC, you can find Ray’s at Lifethyme on 6th ave. Anyway, I contacted Fresh Tofu and their Pres/Founder Gary was more than willing to give me some tips on making our seitan more kick-ass. He said it’s all about how much starch you rinse out after it is in dough form- this also means using high gluten flour as oppose to my beloved vital wheat gluten. Here is his email reply for all of us nerds:

Hi,
Use a high gluten flour. King Arthur is 1 brand. Mix the flour and water and knead to make a dough. Let rest for 10 minutes, keep it covered in water. Then rinse with luke warm water until it looks stringy and the water is getting clear that rinses out. This is the point that you need to decide how much starch to rinse out, which will effect the texture. Let it rest a bit, then boil in broth stirring so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot. When it floats and is cooked through it’s done.
Learn from your errors and improve the next time.
Blossom and Candle are very good at cooking with seitan, that’s why it tastes better. Candle has a cookbook that might help.
I hope this helps.
Gary

Another reason to support local, small businesses! So cool.

Lastly, Robbie cooked an incredible dinner fo me last night. We somehow found this Hazelnut roast en Croute from Field Roast at a health food store in Bed-Stuyvesant. It can’t believe we found this- we haven’t seen it anywhere else. Along with that he made twice baked potatoes (with daiya and tofutti cream cheese), and the most gorgeous salad I’ve ever seen. Edible flowers! And, some pear vodka pom lime cocktails…

Amazing dinner to come home to…