Friday, October 31, 2014

I don't know what it is about salads that is so repelling. People hear salad and instantly think of 3 other things that sound much better (I thought of lasagna, sushi, and burgers btw). I mean, I don't blame them. The only time I really wanted a salad was when I discovered that goat cheese, cranberry, walnut salad at Whole Foods and let's face it, 9 times outta 10, Whole Foods got it right.

So imagine my surprise when I was just craving salad the other day. And my being famously bad at making salads (it's a fact, I'm not even going to deny it), I decided to start with the dressing first. A good salad needs a good dressing, am I right?

"Miso Nutty" Salad
Serves 2-4

1/4 cup white miso
1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp black strap molasses
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp flax oil
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Mix together the miso, peanut butter, ginger, and molasses. Add the oils and vinegar and mix with a fork until well combined.

Mixed Greens
Smoked Tofu; cubed (or use regular firm tofu and season it)
Spring Onions, cut thin
Mushrooms, chopped (I used Chanterelle but Shiitake, Enoki, Maitake, or Brown Button Mushrooms would work)
Gluten Free Pasta (optional)
Plums (optional)
Peanuts for garnish

Toss all ingredients in a big bowl. Only mix with dressing before consumption (otherwise it will get soggy and unpleasant). Enjoy!

"Miso Nutty" Salad

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It seems Fall brings out the desire in me to make raw treats. It makes absolutely no sense since the colder it gets, the more people are likely to want to turn on the oven. Well for me, I get mega lazy this time of year. We're talking let-me-drink-this-chai-tea-for-several-hours-while-watching-youtube-wrapped-in-my-ikea-blanket lazy. So if I can just whip up a dessert without turning on the oven and cutting baking paper to fit the bottom of my cake pan, I will.

Now I'm going to try and refrain from saying this is one of the best things I've made lately on a whim BUT GUYS, this is really freaking good. I want to take this gooey mess and put my face all up in it the way Bruce Bogtrotter did with that chocolate cake in Matilda. Except it's not a punishment. Oh, and it's dare I say it, good for you.

Raw Chocolate Walnut Brownie
with Cinnamon "Cream Cheese" Frosting

Makes 4 Brownies

For the Brownie
3/4 cup of dates, pitted (mejool or deglet noor dates preferrably)
1/4 cup of almonds, ground
1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
pinch of sea salt
walnuts for studding

For the Frosting
1/2 cup of walnuts, soaked + 1 tbsp of soaking water
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup or 2 dates

Start by soaking your frosting walnuts in water for 30 minutes, making sure the water covers them completely.

Chop up dates into pieces and place in a blender or food processor. Pulse until it comes together to form a sticky paste (if your dates are not soft enough, have them soak in water for 15 minutes before pulsing). Add your ground almonds and pulse again. Pour out into a bowl and add the cocoa and sea salt. Mix with a spoon until the mixture is the same dark brown throughout (it might seem crumbly at first but it will eventually come together). Using plastic wrap, shape the "dough" into a 6" x 6" square. Push in walnut pieces throughout the square, then wrap and store in the fridge.

In the meanwhile, drain your walnuts, leaving a tablespoon of the soaking water. In the same machine you used to pulse the dates, do the same for the walnuts until it has a chunky cream cheese like consistency. Add cinnamon and maple syrup (or dates if you want to keep it purely raw).

Cut the brownie into 4 squares. Top with the frosting and top with walnuts and extra cinnamon if you'd like. Enjoy!

Raw Chocolate Walnut Brownie with Cinnamon "Cream Cheese" Frosting

Monday, October 20, 2014

I always dread rain more than any other type of weather. There's just something about rain that makes me tired and unmotivated to get out of bed. Not to mention taking photos when you want natural lighting is one frustrating task.

There are many fun activities that I find are reserved for those days. Going to the movies, taking a sports class, walking around the mall, and of course, a good ole museum visit. I LOVE museums but I rarely go to them in Berlin. Maybe it's knowing that I have to shell out full admission now that I'm not a student. Or perhaps finding a partner in crime on a weekday afternoon is just difficult. Luckily my friend Marinka from Finland was in town so we decided to head to the Pergamon to gaze at ancient artifacts.

The rug collection was so pretty! I love textile everything!

After leaving the museum, Marinka wanted to do a headstand so I caught one of her warming up between columns.

Finally, my remedy for rainy day sadness is always soup! If you're going to roll around on your bed like a panda, you might as well be waiting on soup to cook! This is my fail-safe recipe because it is so stinkin' easy and good for you.

Carrot Ginger Soup
Serves 4

4 big carrots washed, peeled, and cut into 1 cm rounds
2 medium sized (or 4 small) potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium sized onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups of water (enough to cover vegetables when cooking)
3 tbsp non-dairy creamer (optional)
parsley for garnish (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Place a soup pot* on the stove over high heat. Once heated, put in oil, garlic, and onions and toss until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, potatoes, and ginger and toss for an extra minute. Pour the water into the pot and wiggle the vegetables around until everything is immersed in water. Cover the pot and let the water come to a boil before reducing the soup down to low heat. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes.
Pierce a fork into the carrots and potatoes to make sure they are tender. Take an immersion blender and puree to liking (I prefer mind a bit chunky). At this point, you can add the creamer and mix it in with a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or parsley flakes. Serve with noodles if desired.

*The soup pot should be big enough to hold all vegetables and the water needed but not too wide that the water spreads out and is not enough to cover the vegetables.

Rainy Day at the Pergamon and Carrot Ginger Soup Recipe

Monday, October 13, 2014

My trip to Italy in August consisted of only two things: art and food. Not to mention the time before that and the time before that and, well, you get the drift. There's something about hopping from church to museum to random-cool-building-facade-I've-seen -a-million-times-in-cities-around-Italia that leave me completely content. Of course, not without a good handful of stops in between to pick up gelato, a glass of wine, espresso, bread, pasta, cheese; you name it, I probably ingested it.

The challenge is finding a spot that serves good Italian food. Despite what some people may think, not all Italian food is good and much of it can be overpriced. Oli and I definitely landed ourselves in a few situations where we left feeling unsatisfied and slightly foolish, so imagine how delighted we were when we found this gem of a place on our last day in Verona.

The interior was very warm and inviting. There was a lot of natural lighting from outside and small little decorations hanging around the dining space. The servers were also very kind and never hesitated to answer questions. Definitely the best service we had eating out in Verona!

We tried a deal of two local wines: one red and one white. Oli and I both agreed wine in Verona is strong! Definitely not to be had on an empty stomach.

I snapped shots while Oli was busy preparing his pasta for his mouth.

I believe most, if not all, of the pasta is homemade. The prices also range from 7 euros for pasta to over 10 euros for main entrees (nothing above 15 euros). I saw one woman eating a soup which I thought was huge and her main course, only to see her eat a second chicken entree that was even bigger, so I guess they're very generous with portions as well!

We sealed the deal with chocolate salami! It's said to be a Veronese specialty and I highly recommend it. It's also very similar to Kalter Hund, which is a treat in Germany.

If you're ever in Verona, do check this place out!

Osteria il Ciottolo
Corso Cavour, 39
37121 Verona, Italy

Osteria il Ciottolo in Verona, Italy

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

No matter the day or the mood, I want chocolate. I want chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I want chocolate on a boat, I want chocolate with a goat, in a house with a mouse, I want chocolate here and there, I want it everywhere!

All that being said, I do like to spread the wealth. What is chocolate without a friend to share it with? These chocolate cake truffles are the perfect bite, enough to go around. And what's more, your friends can help you decorate them too!

Vegan GF Chocolate Cake Truffles
Inspired by Oh-She-Glows Chocolate Cake Balls
Makes ~28 cake balls

Cake Ingredients:
1/2 cup Soy Flour (non-gmo, organic)
1/2 cup Corn or Oat Flour
1/2 cup Tapioca or Glutinous Rice Flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup unrefined raw cane sugar or 45 drops of Stevia Extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup neutral oil
175 grams of semi-sweet chocolate or dark (I mixed semi-sweet with 85% dark chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Measure out all the dry ingredients into one bowl, making sure to mix with a wooden spoon to combine and de-clump everything. Then add the vinegar, oil, and milk, mixing after each. When everything is combined, pour the batter into a 11" x 7" (28 x 18 cm) baking pan/dish and bake for approximately 35 minutes (the top should spring back but the center should be a tad moist, the key to the cake sticking).

Take out of the oven and let cool in the pan until the pan is warm enough to handle with bare hands. Release the cake into a bowl and crumble apart with your hands. Form about 28 uniform balls.
Place them on a plate and let chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

10 minutes before taking the plate out, melt the chocolate. You can use the bain-marie method, breaking chocolate into a bowl or pot placed over another pot filled with water (being careful not to let the water and top bowl touch). Place on the stove and let the water boil while the steam melts the chocolate. You can also microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals, making sure to stir each time so nothing burns.
Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper, then prepare your toppings. Nuts, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, dried/candied fruit are all good options.

Take the balls out and immerse each one in chocolate, only doing a few at a time. Once the ball is evenly coated, fish it out with a fork and let the excess drip off. Place onto the parchment paper. Now you can choose to decorate as you go along or do it after you've dipped everything in chocolate. The key is to do it before the chocolate cools and hardens.

After everything is decorated and to your liking, place the tray in the fridge and let cool until the outer shell hardens. Guten Appetit!

Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Truffles

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Now that we're officially in fall season, I decided to rewind to a time not too long ago (a month ago to be exact), when New York was scorching hot and I thought I was going to melt into a little puddle and dribble into New York sewage. Gross? Yes, that's exactly how I felt! But looking back at these pictures now, I long for this kind of weather (I am a Summer baby after all)!

One of my favorite places in the city is the Museum of Natural History. Growing up, this museum was my playground. I crawled in Ocean Life, fooled around in North American Mammals, and made my way through the various halls of dinosaur fossils. Even as I got older, I went to special exhibits and IMAX shows. There is a reason why Night at the Museum takes place here--magic lives in every corner!

Mom and I got tickets to see the new Pterosaur exhibit.

Pterosaurs were living when dinosaurs were around but they were much more evolved and had different traits among them depending on their location and diet. The exhibit compiled the fossil data that already existed with some animations, installations, and games. I suppose since there are still many questions regarding them that the exhibition seemed a tad repetitive but it was fun nonetheless.

The rest of the time we spent trying to make our way to the Hall of Gems.

Quick stop at the Hall of Biodiversity.

I used to collect rocks as a kid. When I first discovered this place, you can assume I went nuts.

On another day in town, I met up with my lovely friend Crysbel for some Southern style vegan noms aka Red Bamboo restaurant.

It's kind of our vegan joint. I mean, we don't own it (we're good kids, we share) but if we're choosing a vegan place and I'm not actively looking for a new one to try out, this is our go-to. Why? Because the food is delicious, service is friendly, and there is a clearly labeled dessert menu on the wall with vegan cheesecake options.

Speaking of which . . .

Yes, look at that sexiness. Like directing a porno when I told my friend to pierce the fork into it. The glory of vegan cheesecake everyone.

If you're ever in Greenwich village, you know where to pop into!

Red Bamboo
140 W 4th St
New York, NY 10012

American Museum of Natural History and Red Bamboo Restaurant