(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!


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:


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?



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.

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.


More with Match Meats and Earth Day!

23 04 2010

Last night was breakfast for dinner, and we had the idea to use our leftover Match Meat sausage style to make Daiya stuffed sausage. To prep, I basically just crumbled the Match and added some wheat gluten, along with garlic, pepper, chipotle in adobo, and a little salt. Here’s the step by step in photos. After the sausages are wrapped on foil, simply steam them for about 30-40 minutes and you’re done!! They were super easy to make, and incredibly tasty. I love Match…

On another note, today is Earth Day. But realistically, 24 hrs of green behavior isn’t going to cut it. How about making this Earth Day the start of Earth…life? One area I could definitely be greener in is household cleaning products. So, from today on I am going to try to make as many of my own cleaners as possible. For example, vinegar and baking soda are
great natural cleaners, without all the nasty/harmful chemicals.

What is your green goal?

Saturday, Robbie and I are jetting to Seattle, Olympia, Portland and Willamette Valley. I couldn’t be more excited. Neither of us has been to any of our destinations, so it will all be new. Also, it will be a very, very veg friendly trip! There are so many places in both Seattle and Portland that are vegan centric…much shall be reported back!

Product Review: Match Meats

14 04 2010

Through the world of twitter, I found a meat alternative called MATCH (www.matchmeats.com)

It is a soy based vegan meat alternative that comes in ground chicken, beef, pork, sausage, and crab varieties. What is super cool about it is that you can shape/form the “meat” into any shape you want. Then, you can cook it in any style you want too.

I did a little online research, and found myself watching all of their online videos, where they demonstrate making a ton of awesome dishes out of their products. I went further and looked at their youtube channel, and decided I really had to try this. Check this stuffed thanksgiving roast out, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkHin6Jqzuk

I was really excited (and surprised) that MATCH is sold at D’Agostino locations in NYC. When I went looking for it in the store, I checked the usual sections- where they keep meat alternatives and such. No luck. I tried the freezer section. No luck. Just when I was about the leave MATCH-less and sad, there it was. A beautiful sight in the midst of all the real meat (It goes for 9.99/pound package- sounds a bit pricey, but it lasts a while- at least two meals each for two hungry people). I find it somewhat odd that they place it in the middle of the meat section, but I think it is also an opportunity for someone browsing that section to see an alternative where they normally wouldn’t.

We decided to by the ground beef MATCH, and first used it to make Southwestern style burgers with Daiya Cheese, corn,  and black beans. Now, I have made many a veggie burger, and many good ones at that. But this stuff is SO easy to shape and form. AND, when you cook it, it stays together. Any of us who have made our share of veggie burgers know how cool that is. And, they tasted really great too. YUM.

Next, we used the leftover MATCH beef for taco salad night. I simply crumbled it in my hands, right into the pan and cooked it with some salt, pepper, chipotle in adobo, hot sauce, and garlic. It came out great.

I’m definitely impressed with MATCH, and excited to use it in other dishes.

Has anyone out there tried it? I’d love some more ideas!!

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:

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.

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…