A Vegetarian on Cape Cod! Part 2!: Cafe Chew

30 11 2010

There is nothing more disorienting than trying to balance out war & death with food and restaurant reviews. I’m about to start this post when my dad comes up to me with old photo albums, my nose already beginning to run with all of the dust clouds rising off of these things. It’s the anniversary of his brothers death. Here are his photos, your mother and I when we first got married. Climbing the same mountain I took you and your brother too last month. My young mother looking just like me. Baby photos. My dating parents at parties.  My grandparents that I never met. Photos from Korea. Snapshots of bones and sinking ships. I’m letting it all sink in, as I sit in front of my computer monitor, about to write about fucking sandwiches. I really like sandwiches though. And I’m sure my grandpa did too. So let’s talk about Cafe Chew.

This is one of my favorite cafes to frequent on the Cape. Mainly for the fact that they’re always playing sprizty little French songs over the intercoms, inside and out. But besides that, everything else about it is perfect too. Located in Merchant’s Square, the atmosphere is really fun, there’s the coolest decorations hanging everywhere, bizarre paintings, and the employees are all laid-back and friendly.

 There’s an eye-catching pastry window that gets me every time. A great selection of coffees, espressos, and teas. And their lunch menu is full of classic, simple items that all seem really yummy and homey. Click on the image of their daily Specials menu for an example. Their breakfast menu looks out of this world too. I’ve yet to try.

While Cafe Chew may not be serving vegan BLTs or blackened tofu dishes, they do still offer some tasty choices for vegetarians/vegans. There are several jazzed-up salad options, or try The Forager: Goat cheese and roasted portabella mushrooms with fire-roasted red pepper puree, tomato, baby spinach and balsamic vinaigrette on a caramelized onion-focaccia roll. What I went for that day was one of my favorites, The Oatsy-Groatsy:  Fresh spinach, cucumber, sliced tomato, roasted red pepper puree, caramelized onion, feta cheese and hummus on multi-grain bread. It’s so simple and raw that it feels decadent for some reason. But I still decided to round off the meal with a pear muffin with cinnamon cream-cheese. It was stuffed with giant chunks of warm pear.

Amazing. So check out Chew. And someone let me know where I can get some of their music. I want it playing 24-7 in my kitchen.

Cafe Chew
4 Merchant’s Rd
Sandwich, MA





Spinach “Ricotta” Balls

17 11 2010

I’m really tired. Like uugghhhh reaaalllly tired. Went for a short hike this weekend in Boylston and picked a couple of ticks off my body piece afterwards. Maybe I have lyme disease. Does that make one tired? I am tired. I made these vegan spinach bawlz. They are good. I’m sorry but I must retire now. 

UPDATE: Hello! Feeling much better now. Well, slightly. Think I managed to pick up a UTI during my adventures this weekend. If anyone has any natural remedies for this that ACTUALLY WORK, I would be interested to hear them. So a little bit about my balls. They are super savory and moist. My dad discovered them in the fridge and couldn’t get over how rich they tasted. Like something he shouldn’t be eating. They are rich, but in a good way. They’re vegan and baked instead of fried. Try making them to go in a sandwich, or they also taste really good on their own with some ketchup.
Here is a nice photo of my boymanfriend Ryan. He is now of the internet.

Spinach “Ricotta” Balls
Adapted from The Uncheese Cookbook

1 package spinach (fresh baby spinach or frozen chopped spinach both work)
2/3 cup Vegan Parmesan (recipe below)

1 package firm tofu, drained & mashed
3/4 cup vegan mayo
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsps. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion granules
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground dill seed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steam the spinach. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

To make the “ricotta” mixture, combine the tofu, mayo, cornmeal, flour, garlic, onion granules, salt, dill seed, and black pepper in a bowl and mix until it becomes thick. Add the spinach and the “Parmesan” and mix well. Form into balls using 2 tbs. mixture for each ball. Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake 40 minutes. If needed, broil for 5 minutes just to brown the tops.

Vegan Parmesan

1 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup almonds, blanched and dried (to blanch almonds, place them in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold water. Pinch skins between fingers and they should slip off easily)
1/2 tsp. salt

Grind these 3 ingredients up in a food processer. Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

 





Rice with Chickpeas, Herbs, & Sun-dried Tomatoes

11 11 2010

A little bit off topic, but still relevant to vegetarianism and life in general, I think… Alternative menstrual products. I know, I know, not really the best subject to be going into on a food blog. I don’t care. One of the best investments I’ve made, and you should consider making too, are these re-usable menstrual cups, The Keeper being one of the more popular brands out there. There is really no good reason for anyone to stick to the traditional methods of Kotex and Always being shoved down our throats (up our hoochies). They create so much waste, don’t biodegrade,  releasing a shitload of dioxins into the environment. They pump you full of chlorinated bleach, over-absorb vaginal secretions, stuff you with rayon. Advertising tells you that you have to keep it a secret, that you’re unclean, and they also bankrupt you. A woman using tampons and pads spends an exorbitant amount of money on them in a lifetime.

So listen. There’s ways out. Make your own re-usable cloth pads. Fun and useful! Get some friends together and have a pad sewing party. Or just buy some Lunapads. Sea sponges. You can find these at a lot of stores now. And there’s nothing like grossing people out by squeezing out your full sponge into a public sink. Keep ’em clean! And like I mentioned before, The Keeper , DivaCup, or Lady Cup.

You gotta do more than just eating fancy meatless meals. But speaking of which, here’s another one!

I was stunned with how such a simple dish can produce such stunning flavors. It’s a great way to use up any fresh herbs you may have before winter. Pair it with a steamed veggie or salad, and it’s a great light lunch or dinner. So cook it up and contemplate your period heh. If you’re a dude, well it’s still good to be informed on how advertising is stickin’ it to us. Find alternatives for your dude things.

Rice with Chickpeas, Herbs, & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Adapted from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

2 tbs. butter
1 tb. olive oil
1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
2 tbs. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 cups cold cooked brown rice
2 tsps. fresh basil, minced; or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 tb. of butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, and parsley. Cook for 3 minutes.

Add the rice, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and toss well. Sprinkle on 2 tbs. water. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

Cut the remaining 1 tb. butter into bits and mix into the rice. Add the Parmesan cheese, toss, and serve.





Pumpkin & Bean Lasagna with Caramelized Garlic

9 11 2010

The only way I can really describe this lasagna, is by comparing it to going on a date with someone who is really high maintenance, who you think you’re going to have nothing in common with, but you end up totally hitting it off. Um then you keep them in your fridge for a week, snacking on bits and pieces.

This is the first recipe I’ve ever made from Passionate Vegetarian. Honestly, the book scares the shit out of me. Over 1,000 recipes, thick as hell. I’ve had it for over a year and have rarely glanced at it. It’s like the Atlas Shrugged of vegetarian cook books…minus the fascism. But in my fall process of milking every pumpkin for what it’s worth, I needed to find a new recipe.

I looked this one over, my initial thoughts including, “Pumpkin and bean filling?? Ookkay. Ricotta and cabbage?…that’s fucking gross”. But I pushed through, getting to the part where I have every burner going on my stove, and bowls of stuff on the counter. It is time-consuming. You have to make the noodles, 2 different fillings, caramelize garlic. And apparently I thought that wasn’t enough. Because instead of sanely opening a jar of tomato sauce, I opt out and go for the Sauce Soubise, a Bechamel sauce with caramalized onions. So an additional half an hour, 3 pans later, and a near panic involving  roux, this glorious hunk of lasagna came clawing into the world.

It has dimension, layers of flavor. It’s all peasant-y and rustic, but with an edge. We like our lasagnas edgy.

Pumpkin & Bean Lasagna with Caramelized Garlic
Adapted from Passionate Vegetarian

Caramelized Garlic:
3 tbs. olive oil
20 cloves garlic, halved, any green part in the middle taken out, then cut into 1/4 in. pieces

Pumpkin-Bean Filling:
2 16-oz. cans of pumpkin puree
1 can kidney beans, rinsed & drained

Ricotta-Cabbage Filling:
1/2 green cabbage, sliced into ribbons
3 eggs
1 container (15-oz) ricotta
1 1/2 cups milk
2 oz. neufchatel cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz. whole wheat lasagne noodles
Sauce of your choice (I’ll give the recipe for the soubise sauce I used, but really, anything would be good here. A jar of commericial tomato sauce, a white sauce, or your favorite recipe)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook slowly, stirring frequently until pale gold, about 8 minutes. Remove garlic from skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the pumpkin puree and drained kidney beans to the skillet. Stir to combine and set aside.

Steam the cabbage until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain well, blotting dry. Set aside in a medium bowl.

Whisk together the eggs, ricotta, milk, neufchatel, and nutmeg until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir, then pour over the cabbage. Stir well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In an 8x12x2.5 in. sprayed or oiled baking dish, layer the ingredients as followed: Swirl about 3 tbs. of the sauce in the bottom of the dish. Line with a layer of lasagna noodles. Scatter half the pumpkin filling over the noodles, and then sprinkle with half of the caramelized garlic. Spoon all of the ricotta-cabbage filling over the garlic. Add another layer of pasta, half the Parmesan, and then all of the remaining pumpkin filling. Sprinkle the pumpkin with the remaining garlic. Cover with a layer of pasta (if you have any left. I stopped at 2 layers), then add the remaining sauce. You will have some Parmesan left.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 60 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Sauce Soubise
Caramelize 2 onions by slicing, putting into a medium skillet with heated oil. Turn the heat down to low and slowly cook onions, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes. Add to Bechamel sauce with a splash of tamari.

Bechamel Sauce:
1 bay leaf
1/4 onion, skin on
1 rib celery, with leaves
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup milk
2 tsps. butter
2 tsps. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps. cornstarch
Salt and pepper

Affix the bay leaf to the onion, using the cloves as tacks. (fun!) Place the onion along with the celery top and a pinch of nutmeg in a medium saucepan. Pour all but 2 tbs. of the milk into the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer GENTLY, for 15 minutes.

Towards the end of the simmering time, melt the butter over medium-low heat in an oiled skillet. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring often, until the flour is slightly golden and aromatic, 2-3 minutes. This is the roux.

Between stirs of the roux, dissolve the cornstarch in the reserved 2 tbs. milk.

Pour the warm infused milk through a strainer and into the skillet containing the roux, whisking to prevent lumps. Bring it to a simmer, whisking often, until it is the consistency of a cream soup. Raise the heat slightly.

Whisk the cornstarch mixture one more time, then stir it into the thickened milk mixture. Remove from heat. This is where you would add the caramelized onions and tamari. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately.





Curried Tempeh Salad

6 11 2010

I’m creating a menu. One day, hopefully within the next five years, I intend on opening a vegetarian diner on Cape Cod. Jinxed it. Anyways. This is going on the menu. Stuffed in pita bread with some romaine. Curried salads are scrumptuous. But really, cover an infant in curry and I’ll be tempted. This curry tempeh salad is really a perfect recipe though. Its got a sweetness, as well as a crunch thanks to raisins and almonds.

So now’s the time. Do you appreciate loaded sexy breakfasts, seitan sandwiches, craft beers, vegan shakes, meatless comfort food? Do you find that you have too much money just hanging around? Or are you willing to go to great lengths, depraved and terrible lengths to acquire cash? Tired of donating to thankless charities such as the church. Please donate now to my restaurant start-up fund. I’ll name a menu item after you. Hell, I’ll name the restaurant after you. Do your part people.

Curried Tempeh Salad
Adapted from Vegan Planet

1 12-oz package tempeh, poached, cooled, and chopped (poaching tempeh mellows out the flavor and increases its digestibility. Place the tempeh in a saucepan with water to cover and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, then pat dry)
1 celery rib, minced
2 scallions, minced
2 tbs. seeded & minced bell pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbs. slivered almonds
1 tb. minced fresh parsley
1 cup soy mayonnaise
1 tb. sweet pickle relish
2 tsps. curry powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine everything in a large bowl and mix it up! cover and refridgerate for 30 minutes to let it cool and allow for flavors to blend.





Fail

4 11 2010

Was going to put up a post about a Tahini pasta with broccoli that came out really good, but I failed at taking pictures so I’ll just save an update until I have something more cohesive to give you. In the mean time, here’s something that I definitely won’t blog about. A baked banana with yogurt and cinnamon. I can’t take it seriously. Enjoy it in all of its dick-turd glory.





Labneh

1 11 2010

I remember my grandmother AKA Grammy, as sharply drawn on eyebrows and boxes of pencils for Christmas. My grandfather’s AKA Papa, is more pronounced and memorable. Scally caps and coffee cakes, mostly. But the people I knew still aren’t the parents that my mother had. Those people I’ll never experience.

But it’s at this moment in time, I’m finding myself checking hydrometer readings on gallons of beer in the basement, at the same time, tying up a cheese-cloth satchel of yogurt, where in a couple of days, it will give me labneh, a soft Middle Eastern cheese. And my mother, looking on, amazed and excited, because as she later tells me, her father was a homebrewer, a concoctor of natural remedies, home-made wine and dandelion soup. And her mother, used to hog the shower for days, with her bags of strained yogurt-cheese hanging from the shower rods. I never knew these things about my grandparents. And I’m coming to appreciate family a whole lot more through food. There’s nothing like seeing your mother remember her mother by tasting a cheese that still tastes the same after 30 years.

Anyways. Labneh. Soft-texture, flavor similar to a blend of cream cheese and goat cheese. A common breakfast throughout the Middle East and Greece. Something really special when smeared onto pita bread. Try it out. You can either make it plain, or do as I did, and marinate the cheese in olive oil and fresh herbs & garlic. It’s fun to make and there’s really nothing like incorporating a traditional old-world delicacy into your life.

Labneh
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

4 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tsps. sea salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper (this can be omitted if you don’t have any, or if you prefer your cheese without a slight peppery kick)
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbs. rosemary leaves
6-8 thyme sprigs

In a medium-sized bowl, place the yogurt and stir in the salt and pepper. Line a bowl with a piece of cheesecloth folded in half to make a square. Spoon the yogurt into the center. Bring the ends of the cheesecloth together and using a piece of string, tie as closely as possible to the yogurt, leaving a loop at the end.

Thread the loop through the handle of a wooden spoon and hang the yogurt over a bowl. Leave to drain in the refrigerator for 3 days. (This can be done by either hanging the yogurt from a rack in your fridge, or what I did was use a wide-mouth long-neck punch jar)

Rinse a mason jar with boiling water and dry in a warm oven.

In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and fresh thyme. Set aside.

Untie the cheesecloth and roll tablespoons of the drained yogurt into balls. Make sure your hands are cool and wash them often.

Place the labneh balls in the dried jar and pour the herbed oil over the top. Seal with a lid and refridgerate for 24 hours. Serve at room temperature.