Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What Mama's Cooking: BLT Tartines, Sort Of

The "sort of" in the name of dinner tonight came from a recipe I found for Raw Eggplant Bacon from the Choosing Raw blog, so no bacon was involved.

It evolved from a morning's trip to the farmer's market. I could not resist the small, long, skinny, and very purple eggplant, the heirloom tomatoes and some fresh baked bread-100% whole grain oatmeal-all of which came together beautifully in this open-faced sandwich.

I keep inspiring recipes and the ones that I create in a recipe database app called Paprika. I just had to do a search on eggplant and there it was, Eggplant Bacon! Given my purchases this morning the rest was inevitable, though I needed to problem solve a bit about the protein. I remembered a recipe for Tofu-Cashew mayo from the Fat-Free Vegan blog, though that would simulate the mayonnaise in BLT's it would not provide a serving of protein. I decided on my "go to" tofu which I  press, cut and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

To assemble, I sliced and toasted the bread then spread about a tablespoon of guacamole on each slice. I keep Wholly Guacamole Snack Packs in my freezer, each snack pack is 100 calories of a very healthy fat and I used only one pack for three tartines. I covered that with raw spinach, spread slices of the baked tofu with the Tofu-Cashew mayo (the only fat in that recipe comes from the cashews and the whole recipe calls for only 1/2 cup) and placed them on top of the spinach. Then came the wonderful tomatoes, sliced, and topped everything with the eggplant.

My husband shook his head in delight at every mouthful.

xx Mama and Molly

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rio Tomatlan

I've shared my NYC Mexican food struggles, but let me tell you where I don’t have a problem finding amazing Mexican meals – home, in Rochester, NY. Rio Tomatlan is the best Mexican food that I have maybe ever had, and I insist on going every time I’m home (I say maybe because Rick Bayless may have them beat). The sister restaurant, El Rincon, was started to feed Mexican migrant workers who were employed picking apples in nearby Sodus, NY. It became such a hit that they opened a location closer to Rochester. I love it so much that it’s even a location we’re considering for my bridal shower. If you’re in Rochester, or are ever in Rochester, go immediately. It is that good.

xx Molly

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Mama's Cooking: Behold - Watermelon Radishes

Aren't these so darn pretty?

The very first time I saw a watermelon radish was on the blog Vegan Yum Yum
and right then and there I decided I needed to find me some. I did, one visit to the Ithaca Farmer's Market when Molly was in college at Cornell. I promptly made the chickpea and radish hors d'oeuvres in the posting. My husband said "ah, ha" as he is resigned to new food "things" and I brought some into work and listened to all ooo and ah as they looked then crunched them down. Eventually, watermelon radishes became easier to get in Rochester. I found them at my natural food's store - Lori's. Now, they have become quite mundane in my salads and I can't even imagine one of my coworker's muttering "What crazy thing is she eating now?" when observing them in my salad.

Once in a while I buy Bon Appétit magazine, I more regularly bought Gourmet because Ruth Reichel had regular vegetarian features in that magazine and I miss it still. Well anyway, in the August 2013 issue of Bon Appétit on page 88 at the title page of the article "The Vegetable Revolution" is a great big close-up guessed it, a watermelon radish!

I found a blog post on Swell, a vegan raw food blog 
and remembered one tiny radish that had been "cooked" and served on something we had at Raw Food and Wine and what a delicious standout it was. These are so darn pretty and taste milder and sweeter than a radish usually does when raw. Give them a try.

xx Mama and Molly

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


A few photos from life lately - some from my trip home in Rochester, including a daytrip to Toronto, as well as everyday life in NYC. Also, big news – I started a new job yesterday! After almost a year in New York, it’s exciting to once again be starting a new chapter in our new city. Wish me luck.

xx Molly

the Distillery District in Toronto is one of my favorites (on the left)

Beach days and a Salty Pimp from Big Gay Ice Cream, yum

Friday, August 16, 2013


Have you heard of cronuts? They're a cross between donuts and croissants, and since popping up at Dominique Ansel Bakery a few months ago, have started a huge craze. People start lining up around 6am each day in hopes of buying a couple before the bakery sells out, they've even popped up on craigslist and people will sell you their spots in line. But what seems to be less well known, is that you can simply preorder up to six cronuts by calling the bakery at 11am on Monday mornings. Sure, it's a two week waiting period, but on the day you select, you can go in any time to pick up your order, no lines necessary. A few weeks ago I called so that a few of us could try these treats, and after about a half hour of constantly calling over and over (lots of busy signals), I got through and we had a little cronut party. These were coconut and lime with brown sugar, August's flavor, and were really yummy, and well worth the phone call.

xx Molly

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Mama's Cooking: Watermelon and Feta Salad

I have a penchant for cookbooks. About ten years ago I bought one that altered my lifestyle: Cafe Paradiso Seasons by Denis Cotter. He remains the owner and chef of the vegetarian Cafe Paradiso in Ireland. (I've never eaten there by the way.)  I was inspired to pack the book with me and venture to a nearby town's farmer's market early one Saturday morning with Molly and Anthony snug in their beds and refusing to go with me. I kept going early every Saturday toting that book with me to refer to while sitting in my car, searching for recipes after I bought produce at the market and making a shopping list so I could purchase the necessary remaining ingredients at the grocery store. I became friends with some of the farmers, visited their farms, discussed our children growing up and eventually graduating from colleges and moving away. One older farmer is no longer able to plant and it's sad that he is no longer at the market. Other farmers changed markets. One young farmer gave up sharing his produce with deer and is now utilizing his geology degree on a Texas oil rig. A farmer's wife and high school French teacher had a baby and is busy with that new project.

Well... Cotter's Watermelon and Feta Salad with Lime, Pumpkin Seed Oil, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Green Peppercorns became a summertime family favorite. But of course, eventually I changed the original recipe slimming it down a bit, eliminating the salt. I've experimented with veganizing it by pressing tofu then soaking tofu slices in lime juice to replace the Feta, but that version still needs work. Here's my take on a wonderful recipe that ten years ago seemed quite adventurous.

Take wedges of watermelon, about four or five per person and top with slices of feta, about three per person. Squeeze a tablespoon or so of fresh lime juice over the watermelon and cheese. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of toasted pumpkin seeds. Finish with a couple of teaspoons of pumpkin seed oil and some freshly ground pepper.

I just bought a new Denis Cotter cookbook, by the way---For the Love of Food, Vegetarian Recipes From the Heart. 

xx Mama and Molly

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lake Ontario Sunset

On my first night in Rochester, we watched the sunset from a pier on Lake Ontario, near Sea Breeze amusement park (it was funny because you could hear people screaming on the rides in the distance). It was a stunning sunset filled with purples, pinks, and oranges - the pictures really don't do it justice. Just about the loveliest way to start a vacation.

xx Molly

Monday, August 12, 2013

Plum and Almond Galette

I spent the last week at home in Rochester visiting my parents, swimming in the pool, making and canning tomato sauce, and doing many other simple, lovely, and relaxing activities. As you know from all the What Mama's Cooking posts, my Mom is quite the force in the kitchen. One night we whipped up this delicious plum and almond galette. It felt rustic with a hint of lemon and almond flavor and a perfect balance of tart and sweet from the plums. Topped with some Ben and Jerry's vanilla ice cream, it was out of this world. I'm not sure where she found the recipe, but I've shared it below so you too can enjoy this delicious dessert. 

xx Molly

1 1/4 cups + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp + 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2-4 tbsp ice water
1/4 cup whole, skin-on almonds, toasted
5 to 6 firm plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
zest of half a lemon (we used meyer lemons)
soy milk, for brushing

In a food processor, combine 1 1/4 cups flour, butter, 1/2 tsp sugar, and salt. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water, 1 tbsp at a time and pulse until dough is crumbly, but holds together when squeezed.  Do not overmix. Remove dough from food processor and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, wipe bowl of food processor clean and add almonds, 3 tbsp sugar, and 2 tbsp of flour. Pulse until ground to a coarse meal.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl, toss the plums with 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp flour and zest of half a lemon. Taste and add more sugar for desired sweetness and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 13-14 inch round, about an 1/8-1/4 of inch thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and spread almond mixture over dough, leaving a two-inch border.  Spread and arrange plums on top of almond mixture. Fold and pleat edge of dough over fruit. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Brush crust with soy milk wash and bake until crust is golden and underside is cooked through, about 70 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Mama's Cooking: Raw Lasagna a la Pure Food and Wine

One of the restaurants on my list of ones to try when we visited NYC was Pure Food and Wine. Molly and her fiance had already tried it, but were very agreeable to going again so off we went. My memory is one of a chilly fall evening when we ducked into a nearby wine bar to have a glass of wine because we were so early for our dinner reservation. Later we discovered that the wine/tapas bar, Bar Jamon, was a Mario Batali establishment---ah New York. Well, on to that exciting, raw, vegan place for dinner and it was delicious. Unreproducible at home!

I know very little about raw foods. I don't think salads count. Or maybe they do? Vaguely, I think there's something about no heat above 100 degrees or so. Honestly, I am most interested in making raw foods when it's too hot to cook, for example, during the heat wave that just ended when it was around 100 degrees right in my backyard. So, imagine my delight when I found, rather serendipitously on the Internet, a recipe from Pure Food and Wine for Zucchini-and-Green-Zebra-Tomato Lasagna With Basil-Pistachio Pesto that required no cooking-just cutting, soaking and blending. A la Fran, I varied the heirloom tomatoes and types of summer squash because I didn't have enough green zebras and zucchini.

I brought leftovers into work the next day and my skeptical-yet-somewhat-adventurous coworkers "really liked whatever it was" and finished it off before lunch time after learning just what a green zebra is.

xx Mama and Molly

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wedding Planning

After going back and forth over location and concept for the past couple months, I think we've finally selected our venue - a loft in New York City's Garment District! We like the idea of having a truly NYC feel to our wedding, which will always be a special city for us, and are really happy with our decision. I don't want to give too, too much away, but here are a couple photos I snapped at a recent visit. I'll be sure to continue to share bits of wedding details as we continue through the process, but for now, yay, a venue!

xx Molly

Monday, August 5, 2013

Empellon Taqueria

On our never ending hunt for delicious Mexican food in New York City, we stumbled upon Empellon Taqueria the night before hurricane Sandy hit. Funnily enough, my mother emailed me months later with a link to the restaurant suggesting we check it out. The boy and I recently went back for a second try and really enjoyed it, just like the first time. While there aren't an overwhelming amount of vegetarian options, everything they do have is deliciously flavorful. We especially like the seven different salsa options to chose from.

xx Molly