Thursday, November 26, 2009

Viva Las Vegan

We went to Las Vegas, Nevada for a few days to take a short vacation and also to take advantage of what this entertainment capital of the world offers during the economic downtime. Hotels and casinos in Las Vegas are hurting and offer a lot of cheap rooms from Sundays through Thursdays. Much more than they use to be. You can get 70% discount. No kidding! We don't gamble so we were just goofing off for a few days. I am blogging regarding what we found in terms of vegan meals. You can also check these blogs and directories: Vegas Vegan, Vegas Vegetarian, Super Vegan, Yelp, and happycow.

They say that 'What happened in Vegas Stays in Vegas.' Not! I have the NEED to share, especially with vegans. What I found in term of vegan goodies that worth to try(to us) are : 1. Ronald's Donuts 2. Authentic Japanese restaurant with a separate vegetarian menu: Miko's Izakaya, and 3. Red Velvet Cafe.

Let's start with no. 1: Ronald's Donuts. This is not a healthy choice but it is not that we eat donuts everyday. The last time I remember eating donuts were years before(maybe 13 years ago) since most donuts sold commercially contain eggs. As you can see in my picture above, the mouth watering chocolate-glazed-donut with soy custard filling above is VEGAN. We went to and read all the great reviews. These vegan donuts are really out of this world: they are soft, squishy, melt in your mouth, and not too sweet. The BEST vegan donuts I ever tasted.

The picture below is a picture of donuts sold in Ronald's that we brought home. The donuts shop is not much(hole-in-the-wall) and owned by a Chinese couple. You'll have to drive to it (in China town area) since it is not on the strip. We bought the donuts to-go and consumed them in other coffee shop (I don't really like Ronald's coffee).

Other than the chocolate-glazed- donut with soy custard filling, I love the jelly-filled and maple glazed ones. There are trays and trays of vegan donuts available to choose from. The apple fritter one was too sweet for me.

Enough of donuts! That's what DH said after 3 days of donuts consuming. Let's talk about no. 2: Miko's Izakaya. Izakaya means a place to have snacks or meals after work (such as a cafe). I found this authentic Japanese restaurant with a separate vegetarian menu. It's not on the strip and you'll need a car to drive a few miles down Las Vegas Blvd. but it was well worth it. Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera. The restaurant was a mom-and-pop restaurant owned by a Japanese couple. What was so special was that it was owned by Japanese. Most sushi and Japanese restaurants nowadays are owned by Koreans so the food is Koreanized with NO vegetarian options. Not at Miko's Izakaya! Miko and Greg are Japanese and their chefs are too. You'll find authentic vegan Japanese dishes at their restaurant. They also know what vegan means. Their tempura batter(no egg) was prepared after you ordered them. So it may take a while but it was fresh, crispy, and not oily. We went more than once to this restaurant and ordered vegetable tempura each time. I also ordered vegan Sukiyaki. It was out of this world! It was healthy, steaming hot (served in a flat hot crock), and light.

The last one that we found is Red Velvet Cafe. This place is a few miles from the strip so again, you'll need a car. It has great reviews in but we found it just an ordinary, nothing is special in terms of meals (maybe my gourmet expectation is higher). Maybe we need to try them several times before we can find what we like. However, their Vegan Red Velvet Cake was really good. We were served a warm out of the oven red velvet cake with vegan creamy frosting and a fresh strawberry on top. The cake was moist and soft (not bread like). Yum!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mock "Shrimp" Curry and Brussels Sprouts favorite!

I tried this mock 'shrimp' curry recipe from Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen. It was delicious! Bryanna was so brilliant by adding ground almonds to the curry with 'tofu creme' sauce (instead of coconut milk). I think the ground almonds thickened this vegan curry and added the richness to it. There is no need to add coconut milk to fatten it up the curry too much. Almonds are good for you, too!

Since I have other ingredients on-hand that I need to get rid of such as a potato, a chunk of sweet potato, a cup of sliced mushrooms, and brussel sprouts, I added 1 cup each of these ingredients on top of the mock 'shrimp.' I doubled the sauce (everything else in that recipe but the shrimp) so I have enough sauce to coat the other ingredients.

The ingredients were sauteed and coated with all the spices before the 'tofu creme' was added. I used the Maharajah Curry spice powder from Penzeys Spice (a good quality curry powder that is not hot and it is not bitter).

This curry was so delicious on top of basmati rice.

It's Brussels sprouts season now! I have seen brussels sprouts on stalks in supermarkets and it's cheap. The sale price is $2.99 for the whole 25-inches stalks of sprouts. I love them!

This is my favorite quick, easy, and delicious way to prepare it:

Remove sprouts from stalks and cut in halves. Caramelize them in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add some water to steam fry them while covering the pot tightly. The water will evaporate, then, add some more water. Steam fry them for 5 - 10 minutes by adding more and more water when it evaporated. Test the tenderness. Immediately, add 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance while they were still warm. Stir and serve!

I like them roasted and browned when caramelizing them. It was sort of pan roasting them. I used my Swiss Diamond Covered Casserole Pan (best non-stick cookware recommended by Bryanna) to caramelize the sprouts. I bought this cookware from and it turned out that it is the genuine one. I read that there are fake ones(it may contain teflon) so be careful when you order on-line. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this non-stick cookware. It is durable, can withstand high heat, easy to clean, and it is non-teflon.

My favorite brussels sprouts dish is a great companion of any dish. I'll keep buying sprouts as long as it is in season.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Kitchen CLOSED for remodeling! Stay tune for a new remodeled kitchen!

Hello all,

I have not been blogging since I have been PACKING for the last 2 months, little by little. Our kitchen will be remodeled COMPLETELY! The project starts today(Nov. 9). It will be demolished completely! The old cabinets will be thrown away, floors will be stripped, and a wall will be added. It is a huge project and I have been dreaming to have a new kitchen since we moved to our house 16.5 years ago.

As a gourmet cook who prepares many different kind of dishes from many culture, you can imagine how much spices and ingredients I have. I have a LOT! I also have a lot of small appliances. Most of them have been boxed now but I still can access some of them.

Here is a picture of our old kitchen. I have been cooking in it for 16.5 years and it is getting worse. If you lean on the middle part of the cabinet door, it will collapse and go through. I have been patching them with small nails.

This kitchen is also dark and we will pick a lighter color of cabinets and floor.

There is a door to a formal dining room that will be taken out and closed with a wall. It will be covered with more cabinets for more space. Yay!

A new bar will be added at the end of this cabinet. So I will have more cabinets and storage space underneath the bar. Yay! The ceiling will also be raised another 6-8 inches. Another yay!

Demolition begins. We hired this done and PLBC Construction is doing it. He is well qualified, clean worker, and offers reasonable pricing.

The sample cabinet on the floor (lighter color) was the one we chose. Then, we have to choose a new granite for the counter top (sample board is next to the cabinet sample). Decisions, decisions!

Now, I am cooking in our garage. This is my temporary kitchen in a 2-car garage.

Look all those spices and ingredients I have. They are all piled in temporary boxes.

I have a butane burner to cook with. Pots and pans are piled in a box below. Tupperware and plastic ware is piled in another box, also below. But all my tools are available on hand, on the table.

A roll up chopping table is also handy. A small microwave is sitting in the background. Also, more boxes with staples ingredients, spices, seitan flour, etc. are organized. They are all in accessible boxes for my use.

I also have a temporary appliances table with food processor, toaster oven, slow cooker, rice cooker, panini grill, waffle iron, and electric skillet that are accessiblewhen it is needed. I will be cooking with those, too. I don't have a large oven so I can't bake cakes, casseroles, or bread.

We also have a refridgerator and a laundry sink installed in the garage. This is how and where we wash our dishes and cookware.

This is where we eat, our temporary dining table in the garage. Next to a stepping ladder...he he.... It can be cold in the morning so we have to eat quickly before our food becomes cold. What do you think? This is my first time going through remodeling so it is an experience.