Arepas (gluten and soy free)

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Arepa is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. It has a great variety of uses and is often eaten for breakfast with jam or split for sandwiches.

I came across this recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and seeing that it was vegan, gluten and soy free I just had to try it. I really liked the simplicity of the recipe and the result was a nice little corncake, a lot like an English muffin, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

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I stuffed mine with a spicy Mexican bean and cheese filling, but I imagine you could serve them with just about anything.

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Arepas

recipe courtesy Bon Appetit magazine

2 cups masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal, not masa harina or corn flour, this is very important)

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/2 cups warm water

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix masarepa with salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in the water with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Allow to sit for five minutes to hydrate the mixture. Knead mixture a few times then divide into 8 portions, forming each into a ball then patting into a small cake about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large non-stick skillet and place four arepas to cook, covered, until brown, about 6-8 minutes. Turn and cook the other side, uncovered about 6-8 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with 1 tbsp oil and remaining arepas. When cool enough to handle, split and fill as desired.

Stock Options: Vegetable Broth

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The classical foundation of a successful soup or sauce is a well made stock. In vegetarian cooking many cooks use prepared stocks, bouillon cubes, powders and pastes. However,  to avoid the excessive sodium and fat contained in prepared products, a fresh stock can be made easily at home.

Most importantly, to create a clean, delicious tasting stock, the vegetables must be fresh, organic if available. This recipe will produce a light, delicate result, perfect for a broth based vegetable soup or sauce and the flavor can be intensified with the addition of tamari or soy sauce and heartier vegetables such as mushrooms, leeks or parsnips.

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This is the classical French method I learned in culinary school. I find it worth the little bit of extra effort to create a very pure, clear result. I hope you give it a try!

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Basic Vegetable Broth

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

2 large celery ribs, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

8 cups cold water

1 Bouquet Garni (see below)

Combine all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to an active simmer and allow to reduce by half, uncovered (about 1-1 1/2 hours). Lightly skim off any foam that accumulates on top of the stock. Do not stir the pot. This will help avoid cloudiness.

Strain through sieve, pressing lightly against vegetables with the back of a spoon to catch juices. Season to taste with sea salt. Store covered in refrigerator up to 3 days. May be frozen for 3 to 4 months.

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Bouquet Garni

1 square piece of cheesecloth (approximately 4″x4″) rinsed and squeezed out

Kitchen twine

Handful fresh parsley stems

3 springs fresh thyme

1 Bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 clove garlic

Place flavoring ingredients in center of cheesecloth. Gather and tie into a sachet with enough length of twine left to tie to the handle of the stockpot (careful to trim the end so it doesn’t catch fire on a gas stove).

New! September Menu

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Melanie daPonte Owner/Executive Chef Vegan Flavorista Personal Chef Service

I am excited to roll out my new personal chef service menu for September! It’s been a long, hot Florida summer and I always look forward to serving new clients in the busier seasons of the year www.veganflavorista.com.  Some of the menu items have been featured recipes here on the blog and others may be coming soon, so stay tuned for more delicious vegan dishes!

September Menu

GF= gluten free  SF= soy free

___White Bean Pomodoro with Cashew Ricotta and Seared Spinach GF, SF

___Falafel Burgers with Lemon Tahini Sauce GF, SF

___Barbecue Chik’n Sandwiches

___Indian Chik’n or Chickpea Curry with Basmati Rice GF, SF option

___Buckwheat Soba and Pea Salad with Sesame Dressing, SF

___Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas SF

___Sichuan Stir-Fry with Shiitakes, Snow Peas and Broccoli GF, SF

___Fajita Salad with Black Beans and Spicy Ranch GF,SF

___Baked Penne Marinara with Cashew Ricotta GF, SF

___Chickpea Tikka Masala GF, SF

___Mac n Cheeze Casserole with Broccoli and Chik’n

___Tofu Pad Thai with Rice or Zucchini Noodles GF

___Farmer’s Pie GF, SF

___Portobellos Stuffed with Creamed Spinach, Leeks and Fresh Thyme GF, SF

___Thai Red Lentil Chili with Kidney Beans and Sweet Potato GF, SF

___Lentil-Walnut Loaf SF

___Tofu Scramble Florentine GF

___Buffalo Tofu Planks with Ranch Dressing GF

___Sesame Grilled Tofu with Spicy Asian Green Beans GF

___Thai Coconut Curry with Vegetables and Tofu or Chik’n GF

Sides

___Zucchini Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing GF, SF

___Chopped Greek Salad GF,SF

___Fresh Hummus with Crudités’ GF

___Chickpea Tomato Salad GF,SF

___Three Bean Salad GF, SF

___Broccoli Spinach Soup GF, SF

___Cheezy Corn Chowder GF, SF

___Faki (Greek Lentil Soup) GF,SF

___Tom Yum Soup GF,SF

___Golden Indian Dal Soup GF,SF

___Smoky Red Beans n’ Rice GF, SF

___Cheezy Broccoli

___Sautéed Kale with Shallots GF, SF

___Cheezy Queso Sauce with Tortilla Chips

___Cauliflower Rice GF, SF

___Sweet n’ Spicy Vegetable Slaw GF, SF

___Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins SF,GF

___Chocolate Mousse GF

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

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This is my go-to morning smoothie recipe. Simple, delicious and economical, the ingredients can also be prepared ahead and frozen in individual portions.

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

1/4 cup cold water (or juice, if you like it sweeter)

Big handful fresh, organic spinach leaves

1/2 teaspoon pure matcha green tea powder (I like Kiss Me Organics)

1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed ( pre-frozen if you like a colder smoothie)

1/2 fresh banana, in chunks

Method:

Blend up the spinach and water to a lovely green puree. Add the tea powder then top with fruit and another splash of cold water if needed to get things moving. Blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

Serves 1

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro (soy free, gluten-free option)

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This is a fun, easy, delicious whole foods meal–elegant enough for guests, but simple enough to whip up on a weeknight. Feel free to substitute rice for the farro, but you don’t know what you’re missing!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro (or brown rice for gf option)

adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine recipe

6 4-inch-diameter portobello mushrooms, stemmed
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 leeks, white and pale green parts thinly sliced (2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
1 ½ Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 lb. fresh baby spinach
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese substitute, shredded ( I use Daiya)
2 Tbs. pine nuts
1 cup farro
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray. Spray mushroom caps with cooking spray, and sprinkle gill sides with salt and pepper, if desired. Arrange mushrooms gill-sides down on prepared baking sheet. Roast 10 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to soften. Turn mushrooms over.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, and thyme, and sauté 4 minutes, or until leeks are tender. Add 2 large handfuls spinach at a time, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and most liquid has evaporated, stirring often.

IMG_1614Stir in cheese and pine nuts. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Fill mushrooms with spinach mixture, mounding on top and packing filling down with hands. Bake 25 minutes, or until filling browns on top and mushrooms are fork-tender.

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3. Cook farro in large saucepan of boiling salted water 20 minutes, or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup farro mixture onto each plate; top with 1 stuffed mushroom.

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Carrot Spice Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting (gluten and soy free)

IMG_4545As we know, traditional birthday cakes are a nutritionally bankrupt prospect. Why not celebrate life by creating a memorably delicious cake filled with healthful ingredients? This recipe just skirts the fringe of being virtuous, because it does contain organic brown sugar. But it has so much good going for it–I urge you to give it a try!

Carrot Spice Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting

Adapted from a recipe by Allyson Kramer (www.allysonkramer.com)

Cashew Cream Frosting

2 cups raw cashews

1 1/4 cups almond milk

8 pitted dates (soak in hot water to remove skins)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional, but recommended)

Soak cashews in water at least 4 hours (longer is better). Drain and place in blender with 1 cup of almond milk and remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy. Remember the consistency should be spreadable, so less is more when it comes to liquid. You may or may not need the remaining 1/4 cup of almond milk. Refrigerate until needed.

Carrot Spice Cake

1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons besan/chickpea flour
1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour (reg. works too)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup nondairy milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon allspice and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 1/2 cups peeled and grated fresh, organic carrots

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and coat lightly with brown rice flour. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, molasses, salt and sugar until well blended. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients, one by one, except carrots and raisins– in the order given. Mix vigorously using a whisk about 100 strokes, or until very well mixed. Gently fold in the carrots and raisins with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Bake in prepared pan 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, with a few crumbs attached. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes on a rack before removing from pan. Allow to completely cool, then split into 2 layers. Assemble cake with frosting between layers and garnish with chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired. Serves 8-10.

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Orange Pound Cake (soy free)

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Once in awhile I come across a recipe that hits me like a ton of bricks and I just have to make it as soon as possible. I happily completed my mission with this delicious vegan version of sweet and citrus flavored pound cake from fellow blogger Dina over at bitesizeme.wordpress.com.

Vegan Orange Pound Cake 

More photos of this moist, delicious cake below:

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Dirty Oatmeal

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Oatmeal is one of those foods folks tend to either love or hate. Controversy notwithstanding however, I believe that on the vegan/vegetarian WordPress blogs I have come across more photos and recipe variations of oatmeal than any other food.

And so I enter the fray with my own savory, spicy take on this hearty, versatile food. Oats are an easy to cook, neutrally flavored grain like rice and I like to treat them basically the same.

This is how I like to start my day. I know it’s a little unconventional, but I really love the way the pepper blend brings fire to my blood. The flavor is both energizing and exhilarating!

Why not surprise everyone by tossing in some fresh herbs and serving it as a side dish tonight?

Dirty Oatmeal

Microwave a nice-sized serving of rolled oats (not quick-cooking). If you don’t know how, here’s the method

Add:

1/2-1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil

A few grinds of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt (or other coarse salt)

1-2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Peanut Butter Pie (gluten and soy free)

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Here’s a sweet treat you can feel pretty good about! A light, creamy, no-bake peanut butter pie drizzled with melted chocolate. Sweetened naturally with bananas and a bit of maple syrup, why it’s almost virtuous!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

recipe courtesy whatsonourmenu.wordpress.com

Avocado Toast with Tahini-Miso Butter

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Toast is the most basic comfort food to me, something I will never tire of. At any meal or snack throughout  the day,  it will always be welcome at my table. One thing different about the toast I eat today is I try to make it as nutritious as possible–instead of the simple butter and jelly I grew up on.

I had to chuckle recently, when I read the trend in some upscale restaurants  to serve toast as an appetizer with various toppings. As a chef, I am not likely to order in a restaurant something I know I can prepare at home (maybe better, but definitely cheaper) so this gave me particular amusement.

This toast is a breakfast staple at my house– organic whole wheat toasted dark and crunchy, topped with fresh avocado and a combination of light yellow miso and tahini. It has the most satisfying umami flavor, punctuated by a sprinkling of ground black peppercorns and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Tahini-Miso Butter

1 tablespoon sesame tahini paste

1-2 teaspoons light yellow miso paste

1-2 teaspoons water

Blend tahini and miso with a spoon in a small dish, adding water as needed for a spreadable consistency. Taste for saltiness. If too salty, add a bit more tahini to your preference.

This spread is best prepared fresh, but can be made ahead in larger quantities and kept refrigerated in a sealed container. You may need to add a bit more water at time of service as it thickens upon standing.

Party Enchiladas (gluten and soy free)

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Now, I’m not gonna lie, enchiladas are neither quick or easy to make, but they are great for entertaining. These can be prepped ahead of time then popped into the oven for 20 minutes. Make it easy on yourself with simple side dishes such as  chips and salsa and frozen roasted corn kernels (Whole Foods) sautéed with chopped fresh zucchini and red bell peppers. Drizzle with a little cilantro pesto for an extra note of flavor.

Enchiladas

1 recipe gluten free enchilada sauce (below)

1/2 recipe cilantro pesto (below)

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 can refried beans, pinto or black

1 large russet potato

1 small bell pepper

1 small green pepper

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup Daiya dairy-free cheddar, shredded

2 scallions, thinly sliced

6-8 black olives, sliced

12 gluten free corn tortillas (check the label)

Coconut oil

Gluten free enchilada sauce

recipe courtesy http://www.glutenfreegigi.com

Cilantro Pesto

recipe courtesy Bobby Flay http://www.foodnetwork.com

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) lightly toasted

1/2 lime, juiced

Jalapeno, to taste

Salt and pepper

Place first 4 ingredients in blender or small food processor and completely puree. Add lime juice, jalapeno, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Method:

Wash potato and place in pot of cold water just to cover. Simmer on medium high until tender when pierced with a knife blade. Remove carefully and allow to cool. Meanwhile, prepare sauces and prep veggies. Saute onions and peppers in a large skillet over medium-high heat with a pinch of salt. Meanwhile, peel cooled potato and cut into 1/2 inch dice. Add to vegetables with pinto beans and mix together. Add about 3 tablespoons of cilantro pesto (maybe more) and stir to coat well then remove from heat. Check for seasoning and let rest.IMG_4437

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble the enchiladas by first brushing each with a coating of enchilada sauce, front and back. Spread a  layer of refried beans followed by 2 or 3 tablespoons of the vegetable filling then top with a light sprinkling of cheese. Roll carefully and place seam side down in a lightly oiled 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

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Place rolls snugly together in pan, then top with more sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. If you are making ahead, cover pan and refrigerate until ready to bake, then top with sauce and cheese.

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Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and edges look a little crisp. Garnish with scallions, olives and a bit more cilantro pesto if desired and serve immediately.

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Coconut Creme Anglaise with Cinnamon Walnut Crumble (gluten and soy free)

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Looking for a company-ready dessert for your next dinner party? This is a simple, sweet and delicious one that will please everyone!

Coconut Creme Anglaise with Cinnamon Walnut Crumble

1 recipe coconut creme anglaise

1 recipe cinnamon walnuts

3 gluten-free, soy-free vegan spice muffins, crumbled (optional) (here’s a good recipe)

Layer all ingredients in a dessert dish, starting and ending with crumble. Serve chilled. Serves 4.

Coconut Creme Anglaise (4 servings)

  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp.  Salt
  • 7 ounces Coconut milk
  • 1 cups almond milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla

 

Stir together sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan.:
  • Stir in soy and coconut milks. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.:

  • Remove from heat and stir in extract(s). Refrigerate until chilled.:

    Walnut-Cinnamon Crumble

    • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • pinch salt

     

    Pulse ingredients just until crumbly

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    Sesame Grilled Tofu with Spicy Green Beans

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    I am all about a quick and easy dinner idea and here’s one of my favorites. Especially with a couple of pieces of timesaving equipment: microwave steamer and pasta cooker, this dish goes really fast from stove to table.

    Sesame Grilled Tofu

    3 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce

    1 Tablespoon Sesame oil

    14 ounce pkg. Extra firm tofu, pressed

    Preheat grill or grill pan to sear setting. Slice tofu width-wise in eight equal slices. Mix soy sauce and sesame oil. Marinate tofu while grill is heating. Remove tofu slices and reserve marinade. Grill tofu slices for approximately 6-8 minutes, until brown and nicely marked.

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    Meanwhile, boil up your favorite asian noodle: ramen, soba and udon and micro-cook a couple servings of green beans. Heat about 1 tablespoon of light oil on low in a non-stick pan and add 1 tablespoon Tom Yum Paste or Spicy Black Bean Paste. Toss green beans lightly.

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    Drain noodles and toss with remaining marinade. Divide into two bowls. Slice tofu and top noodles. Add green beans on top and serve immediately.

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    Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

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    The best part about this recipe is it’s simplicity. Many gluten-free recipes read like a science project, but this one has only a couple ingredients you may not already have in the pantry:  brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour (besan).

    I could hardly wait for the muffins to cool. The aroma was heavenly, like spicy gingerbread. The flavor and texture did not disappoint, either. Sweet and flavorful, these muffins make a perfect snack or a light breakfast.

    Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins

    recipe courtesy Allyson Kramer (www.allysonkramer.com)

    • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons besan/chickpea flour
    • 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour (reg. works too)
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 cup nondairy milk
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

    Preheat your oven to 375 ºF. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, or grease a non-stick pan lightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, molasses, salt and sugar until well blended. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients, one by one in the order given. Mix vigorously using a whisk about 100 strokes, or until very well mixed.

    Drop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin tin and place onto middle rack of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

    Cheater’s Chocolate Cake

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    When I’m in the mood for a warm, gooey chocolate experience, I don’t want to waste any time. This recipe is quick, easy and every bit as rich and chocolatey as your favorite brownie, maybe even better!

    Cheater’s Chocolate Cake

    Adapted from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay Nixon

    4 tbsp all purpose flour

    2 tbsp brown sugar

    2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

    1⁄4 tsp baking powder

    1⁄4 c canola or olive oil

    3 tbsp nondairy milk

    1 to 2 drops vanilla extract

    2 to 3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

    pinch salt

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    Coat a microwave safe coffee mug or soup cup with non-stick cooking spray. Mix all ingredients well and smooth into mug.

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    Microwave at 80% power for 2-3 minutes, until almost fully baked (should be slightly soft in center). Serve warm with non-dairy ice cream or as is.

    Note: Microwave cooking time based on 1,000 watt microwave.

     

     

    Rice Crispy Treats

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    Did you think you would never eat rice crispy treats again once you found out the gelatin contained in conventional marshmallows is derived from animal sources? Well, cheer up, because now you can enjoy the exact same treat–cruelty free!

    Using the classic Kelloggs Recipe, I created these delicious little crispies with puffed brown rice cereal, non-dairy margarine and vegan marshmallows (purchased from Whole Foods). I dressed them up with a nice coating of melted chocolate, but they are fine on their own. Enjoy!

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    Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

     

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    These spring rolls are a refreshing, healthy change of pace from the usual baked or fried spring rolls. Chock full of crunchy vegetables and tangy sesame-marinated shiitakes, they set the stage nicely for your next Asian themed meal or can be eaten alone as a light meal or party finger food.

    Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

    Recipe courtesy Selene Vakharia  www.rawfoodrecipes.com

    (Servings: 4)

    8 leaves Collard greens, de-stemmed
    2 sheets Seaweed (optional)
    4 ounces Shittake mushrooms, sliced
    4 ounces Snow peas, julienned
    4 ounces Carrots, julienned
    4 ounces Napa cabbage leaves, julienned
    ½ Cucumber, julienned

    Marinade:

    • 2 tbsp. Ginger, minced
    • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
    • 4 tbsp. Tamari
    • 4 tbsp. Lemon juice
    • 4 tbsp. Sesame oil

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    • Marinate the sliced mushrooms for 15-30 minutes. Squeeze marinade back into bowl. Set aside to use for dipping.

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    • Put ingredients in the middle of the collard leaf and roll. Wrap and secure the roll with a strip of seaweed, if desired.

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    Meze 119, St. Petersburg, Florida

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    On a recent trip through St. Petersburg, Florida we visited the Salvador Dali Museum. We worked up an appetite viewing such an immense collection of awe-inspiring art and were definitely in the mood for a fun and creative lunch.

    We took a stroll and discovered within a couple blocks this cute little restaurant, specializing in Middle-Eastern vegetarian food. The menu is not 100% vegan, but offers many more vegan dishes than most.

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    We started with one of several herbal blend iced tea choices and the soup of the day, a Creamy Jamaican Spinach Soup. This was delicious and I had to flag down the server to make doubly certain it was vegan, because it almost tasted too good to be true. The teas were served with a whimsical touch–a thin stalk of raw sugarcane.

    We tried the falafel pita and chick’n salad sandwich. Both were available on our choice of white or whole wheat pita. The portions were generous and both sandwiches were tasty. Mine was served with thick steak fries–a nice surprise.

    Something we thought was pretty cool– the check presenter is actually a booklet where guests can write comments in an ongoing “slam book” style. A  fun and creative touch!

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    Meze 119 is located in the heart of the city’s office district and seating is limited, so if you are looking for a quiet meal  with minimal wait time, I recommend a visit during weekday off hours or a Saturday lunch as we did.

    Isan Thai Restaurant Sarasota, Florida

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    My love of Thai food causes me complaint when it comes to eating out. Although I enjoy the authenticity of the small, family operated restaurant, along with this comes the addition of fish sauce, a staple in Thai cuisine.

    While visiting St. Petersburg recently, I happened to discover a hidden gem among the parade of usual corporate chain restaurants along the city’s main drag. Isan is nestled in a strip mall, and one would almost miss it if not intentionally looking for it.

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    The decor boasts all the opulence of as Asian temple, with intricate gold wall hangings and tapestries.  The staff was warm, friendly and welcoming–seating us in a cozy booth with a glass-topped table and roomy benches.

    We ordered the vegetable curry and asked that it be prepared without fish sauce and the restaurant was happy to acommodate. The sauce was creamy and decadent, flavorful and chock-full of perfectly prepared vegetables in spiced coconut milk.

    It’s great to know in this era of pre-packaged, pre-seasoned, flavor-engineered restaurants, one can still find made from scratch meals, prepared with integrity.

    Soup and Bread

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    It occurs to me that there are two foods I can simply never do without–soup and bread.  I will never tire of a hot, comforting bowl–be it a thick, hearty stew or a thin, savory broth as long as I have a nice chunk of bread to sop in it.

    The best soups and the best breads are those made at home. Here are a couple simple recipes worth trying for yourself.

    Easy Olive Oil Bread

    Creamy Chick’n & Mushroom Soup

    from EpicureanVegan.Wordpress.com

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 Tbs olive oil
    2 large cloves garlic, minced
    1 small onion, diced
    2 celery stalks, chopped fine
    12-oz pkg Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, cubed
    4 C (about 18) mushrooms, quartered
    5 C vegetable broth
    3/4 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp onion powder
    1/2 C vegan sour cream
    3 Tbs flour
    1/2 C nutritional yeast
    1/4 C unsweetened, plain almond milk
    3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence

    DIRECTIONS:

    In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add the onion and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

    Add the broth and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Toss in the chick’n and mushrooms and let cook for 10 minutes.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, flour, nutritional yeast, seasonings and almond milk; stir into the soup. Season with Herbs de Provence. Let simmer a few minutes until it thickens. Serve and enjoy!

     

     

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