Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pineapple Empanadas

I love hitting up my grandmother for fun recipes—especially when those recipes are accidentally vegan…well, mostly. Instead of egg wash, I used agave nectar so my empanadas could glisten like Grandma’s. Enjoy these gems hot or cold, and chase ‘em down with a good cup of café con (soy) leche!

Pineapple Empanadas

2 cups unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons evaporated cane sweetener
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup palm oil shortening
½ cup water
1 jar pineapple preserves
agave nectar

In a large bowl, mix flour, sweetener, salt, and baking powder. Add shortening and use fingers to mix thoroughly. Add water and knead together.

Cover dough and place in refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough on a large floured surface and cut circles about 3 ½ inches in diameter (roughly 12 circles).

Place filling in the center of each circle and lightly dab the edges with agave nectar. Seal edges together with a fork.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and glaze empanadas with agave nectar. Set sheet back in oven and broil empanadas until they are golden brown.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lemongrass Asian Bistro


Deep Ellum is dead. Well, at least that’s what “they” would have you think. Who are “they”? Well, not sure, that’s just what I’ve heard – even when I was living there about seven years ago.

Many things have changed since then (like me becoming a vegan for one), but guess what? Deep Ellum is still alive. Which is why when Eddie G mentioned a new restaurant in Deep Ellum called Lemongrass, I accepted the invitation without hesitation.

Lemongrass is inhabited by the same space as “East Wind” back in my days in DE. Apparently, the previous owner and chef came back to re-open the restaurant in anticipation of the increased traffic of the new DART Green Line.

First impressions of the place are positive – a fine-dine atmosphere in an area where fine-dines are few and far between. We were greeted by a pleasant host and told we can sit “wherever we want”. We chose seats close to the windows for better “natural light” to help with our photos, given that we were using a new experimental video device (…?).

We started off with one of the only three vegan rolls available off the sushi menu – Avocado. Luckily, this was a perfect choice. Big chunks of fresh, ripe avocado encased in not too chewy seaweed and not too sticky rice. A perfect start to the meal - after we discarded our unwieldy plastic chopsticks in favor of the more useable wooden ones.


The seaweed salad, however, made Eddie G’s “brain sad” (not a good thing). My take on the salad wasn’t too bad – until I realized the brain-saddening culprit was the carrot, which tasted like it was pickled in double-strength brine (also not a good thing).


The “vegetarian” section of the menu included around 6-7 items, most (if not all) of which could be made vegan. Most dishes came with jasmine rice – but a word of caution – jasmine rice here comes with egg by default. Be sure to order the rice without egg. I opted for #58*, and Eddie G # 55. This introduces the weird thing about the menu. As opposed to finding either traditional or at least made-up catchy names for dishes, everything is given a number. Luckily, the numbers do come with descriptions. So to be more specific, I had the “Fresh tofu sautéed with curry sauce, coconut milk, chili sauce, lemongrass, bean thread noodles, onions” and Eddie G had “Tofu sautéed with lemongrass, chili sauce, onions, vegetables”.

#55 turned out to be not much more exciting than the number itself. It was your standard Asian vegetable chili sauce mix that can be had in any restaurant around. Not that there was anything wrong with the dish, it just didn’t quite have the pizzazz we were hoping for in this new up-and-coming place.


#58 * (* for “spicy” – of course I’m going to order the only spicy thing on the menu), was much better. The creamy (but not too heavy) flavor of the coconut milk paired perfectly with the mild but noticeable heat in the chili peppers. The curry did not overpower the dish, so it was the perfect balance of curry and coconut that I’ve not had in a dish before (maybe “C” n “C” – it could be the dish’s new catchy name!).


Lemongrass is a new endeavor, and I think as they find their way in the new DART inspired environment, they could come into their own as a big name in Asian dining. One hurdle they need to overcome, being in an entertainment district, is their drink menu. With a short wine list a one-choice sake menu, they have a long way to go.

In the end, everyone comes to (or at least used to come to) Deep Ellum for the entertainment and night-life. The great thing about Lemongrass, is that it’s right across the street from a great music venue (Club Dada) and great art venue (Kettle Art) – not to mention the fact that Lemongrass has its own free parking lot across the street from the restaurant. If you’re hankering for some Asian inspired goodness to go with your cultural Dallas experience, Lemongrass is the place to be.


Lemongrass Asian Bistro
2711 Elm St
Dallas, TX 75226

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sad Day...

Click HERE to read why.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sarah Strain's Custom Vegan Cakes

I’m spending a good part of this week on a treadmill…or any fitness device, really (I’m not picky). After a long weekend of exploratory dining, experimental cooking, and endless taste testing, I have quite a few calories to burn off!

What pushed me over the edge were some interesting cupcakes I sampled from pastry chef Sarah Strain’s new line of vegan cakes. I’d been in contact with Sarah throughout the week about the various flavors she was working on (strawberry, lemon, “Fruity Pebbles”…no joke!), so I met with her on Sunday evening to try out her latest creation: Vegan Watermelon Cupcakes. Sounds strange, right? But let me tell you—the cupcakes were delicious...light and summery with just a hint of watermelon, topped with a buttery vanilla cream frosting. And I was able to talk Sarah into sharing her new recipe with us!

Sarah Strain’s Vegan Watermelon Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp corn starch
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup soy margarine
1 cup granulated sweetener
¾ cup fresh watermelon purée
1 ½ cups soy milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, corn starch, and baking powder and mix together. 

Blend margarine and sweetener until smooth. Slowly add watermelon purée in several parts, making sure to blend thoroughly. Add dry mix in two parts, blending thoroughly. Pour in soy milk and blend together. The mixture should be quite thick.

Grease two 8-inch cake pans and pour in cake mixture. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (Or prepare 2-dozen cupcake cups and bake for about 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean).

I couldn’t get the frosting recipe from Sarah, but feel free to use your favorite vanilla topper for this scrumptious treat!

Contact Sarah Strain to place a custom cake order for your next event.

General pricing is as follows:

6x2 (serves up to 12): $25
8x2 (serves up to 20): $40
10x2 (serves up to 35): $50
1/4 sheet (serves up to 25): $45
Quotes for wedding cakes and other sizes available upon request.
Delivery charge to anywhere in Dallas is $10 (for regular cakes, wedding cakes are more)

And check out some of Sarah’s cool cake designs I ganked from her Flickr page!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Whole Foods: Firecracker Coleslaw

If you don’t know already, I am drawn to all things with incendiary food claims. Especially when I see these claims attached to foods you may not normally associate with heat. So, when I saw the sign for “Firecracker Coleslaw” at Whole Foods Lakewood, I immediately took notice. I love coleslaw, and I love spice, so this was potentially a match made in heaven.

The slaw began initially with a somewhat traditional flavor. Crunchy cabbage mixed with a light mustard vinaigrette. This was followed quickly by a noticeable kick, courtesy of fresh jalapenos and jalapeno juices. The subtle blend of sweet and spicy made for a great side dish to accompany the grandest of holiday picnics.


After taking this to a barbecue function this past weekend, I found that it’s fun to plant this amongst unsuspecting omnivores and see their reaction as they bite in to this seemingly innocent dish. Just wait to tell them it’s spicy after they take the first bite…okay, I did feel a little bad, but not too much so.

The Firecracker Slaw went splendidly with my barbecue seitan skewers (homemade seitan, courtesy of Eddie G). What better way to spend Memorial Day?


Speaking of holidays, act soon if you too want to enjoy the Firecracker Slaw – I was told by the man behind the counter that this was a limited time offering, likely to conclude around the time when *real* firecrackers would be going off (July 4th…get it…???).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bengal Coast

I can't tell you how excited I am to introduce Jamey as the newest part of Dallas Vegan! If you've read any of Jamey's comments on other food blogs, you'll know he is a true foodie. After several e-mails and Facebook messages regarding blogging, Jamey and I decided to meet over dinner to discuss his plans to start a new vegan dining blog. Little did he know I was on secret mission to recruit him to share my platform on Dallas Vegan. Sneaky? Sure. But can you blame me? The guy is smart, funny, and loves good vegan food! So without further ado, here is Jamey's review of our first dining experience at Bengal Coast.

-Eddie G

My first trip to Bengal Coast also happened to be my first time meeting Eddie G (the founder of Dallas Vegan) to talk about starting my own blog. It felt a little like I was going on an interview, which as it turns out, was the truth. Eddie is apparently quite sneaky! Luckily, this is something I had been thinking about for a quite a while now, so I’d been rehearsing in my mind and never knew it. That’s probably why we had a lot to talk about right from the start.

It turns out we had some very similar ideas about the Dallas vegan restaurant scene, so it seemed rather than start another blog, why not join forces? After a few words of advice with pad and pen (and a delicious Lychee Basil Mojito) in hand, all of a sudden I was on the job.

Looking at the menu, Bengal Coast gets immediate bonus points for noting “vegan modifications available.” 

That being said, available appetizers were few. The Whole Wheat Roti was ok, but reminded me of a plain tortilla – not much excitement there. However, the Mixed Vegetables were a hit – lightly breaded and slightly seasoned bite-sized veggies (spinach, bok-choy, mushrooms, among others). Be sure and order both of these without their normal accompanying sauces – as they are not vegan. Instead, ask for the hot sriracha and chutney.

From here, the entree menu opens up a bit, with at least five items that can be ordered “veganized.” The menu is split between “spicy styles” and “mild but flavorful.” You can pair these with a variety of starches, including rice (white, brown, or even vegan-fried) or noodles.

I opted for the double-spicy “Bangkok Fire” – which, as someone who enjoys the spice, I was excited about. Given the fact that a foreboding two spicy-fire icons prefixed this dish, I was bracing myself for an inflammatory treat. Unfortunately, the spice wasn’t there – although the flavor was good. Maybe next time I will ask the chef not to pull in any punches in the heat department.

The Pad Thai, however, did not disappoint in any department. After we got through the initial puzzlement of the mystery substance that turned out to be tofu (helpful note: tofu is not on the menu, but it is put into the Pad Thai and can be added to any dish), we were able to enjoy the amazing flavors of this dish. Flavors, which among many others, included piloncillo – as noted by Eddie (who apparently is well versed in these things).

As sparse as the available appetizers were, the desserts were even more sparse – like no options whatsoever. (Did I mention the Mojito yet?…I would suggest having another for dessert.)

But with a decor much more expensive looking than the $14 priced entrees, Bengal Coast was no doubt a value (even though the wine list could have used a boost). Add to it the fact that there are multiple dishes to explore, and a decent specialty drink list (which were also a value at $8 a piece), I can definitely see a return trip to Bengal Coast…only next time it won’t be as a will be as a vegan blogger. Thanks, Eddie!

Bengal Coast

3102 Oak Law Avenue

(214) 521-8600

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Libertine Bar

"Wow--that pizza looks so much better than it tasted!"

Those were the words spoken by my friend Sarah while I uploaded our cycling pics into iPhoto.

Still--not bad for bar food...especially after a couple of champagne cocktails.

After much debate over our destination, my veg-bike group (that you should join) ultimately decided to ride to The Libertine last week. Probably not a smart move...considering it's a BAR! But I do have to admit it was rather fun to live dangerously for a change. 

We arrived at The Libertine during brunch, so there was little on the menu for us to choose from. Instead of wasting a perfectly good time, however, we took advantage of $2.50 champagne drinks until we could order vegan eats from the dinner menu. 

By the time we were able to order food, my buzz was in full swing! 

"Oh-my-gosh, Nick--I think I'm a little drunk."

"Dude--get some fries," ordered Nicolas.

So I did.

And some hummus. And a cheese-less vegetarian pizza (the crust is vegan). I know, right? Total mess.

So like I said, the pizza was not bad. But had I not ordered the hummus (which I smothered all over the severely dry crust, then reset the toppings), it really did have high potential to be pretty miserable. 

Luckily, I went to town on those sweet potato fries. They were pretty great--and totally killed my buzz...definitely necessary for a safe (and legal) ride back home!

So do I have any intentions of returning to The Libertine? Maybe. It is pretty neat that vegans can enjoy a fun bar-night (or day) with friends and eat, too!

But definitely not on my bicycle!

2101 Greenville Avenue
(214) 824-7900

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ted Allen's Meatloaf...VEGANIZED

Having reached out to my friends Lisa of DallasEats and Amanda of Whiskey Tango Vegan for some culinary advice, I was able to veganize this meatloaf recipe from Ted Allen's book The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes. The original recipe calls for milk, eggs, ground chuck, and ground pork...obviously not vegan. So I made some simple substitutions and additions to veganize this dish.

1 cup firmly packed pieces of good-quality white bread
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 medium onion (sautéed)
1/2 medium yukon gold potato (chopped, steamed)
2 tubes Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
1 tube Gimme Lean Sausage Style
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Put bread in a small bowl, pour almond milk over it, and set aside while you make the rest of the loaf. Stir the bread every now and then so it gets completely soggy.

In a large bowl, combine sautéed onion, steamed potato chunks, meat replacers, flax eggs, garlic, Worcestershire, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix with hands until it's all combined. Now add the bread and almond milk and gently work that into the mixture until just combined.

The original recipe suggests forming the mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf down the center of a 9 x 13-inch dish and baking for 50 to 60 minutes. I decided to bake mine into 4 smaller loaves so I could easily share my creation with friends. Here's how that went down:

I evenly divided the mixture into quarters and filled a Pampered Chef Mini Loaf Pan (that I stole from my mother), then baked the dish for 60 minutes. After removing the loaves from the pan, one of the loaves completely fell apart (karma maybe?). The other loaves seemed a bit undercooked, so I turned them upside down and put them back in the oven on a flat pan for an additional 20 minutes. 

Ted suggests topping the meatloaf with a mushroom-walnut sauce and pairing it with a Petit Syrah, California Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Valpolicella. Since I decided to eat mine Southern-style (slicing the loaf, bathing it in ketchup, and grilling each side), I paired mine with a big glass of chocolate soy milk...sloppy, good mess!

Thanks for the great recipe, Ted

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Poll: Are Oyster Mushrooms Vegan?

Some vegans say oyster mushrooms are not vegan because of their carnivorous nature. The argument being that consuming the mushroom means we are also consuming the animal it ingests. Sounds a bit ridiculous to me.

So what say you?

Photo from

Monday, May 11, 2009


Vegan Veggie Tamales! Need I say more?

In my constant search for good vegan Mexican food in Dallas, I stumbled upon this gem at Veracruz in Oak Cliff. Made with a simple combination of masa, water, and vegetable oil, the super-tender tamales are filled with diced carrot, corn, broccoli, and topped with salsa. Delicious and HUGE! Make sure to order the dish with no cheese and no rice (it contains chicken broth). Veracruz also offers an interesting salad called Cactus Salad of the Desert. It's made with baby greens, nopales, corn, tomato, and mango. I didn't try the salad (I just couldn't pass up vegan tamales), but my friend Marc (whose taste I totally trust) swears it's amazing! 

408 North Bishop, Suite 107
(214) 948-4746

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ted Allen Talks Vegan

Don't we all love Lisa Petty of DallasEats? I know I do! Lisa was one of the few Dallasites selected to attend a VIP dinner with Ted Allen of Food Network's Chopped, and she invited me to be her guest. 

A contest, sponsored by Robert Mondavi Winery, prodded locals to submit a question regarding food and wine pairings for Ted to answer. The five best questions were chosen by a panel of judges, and the winners were awarded a private food and wine pairing event at Mercy Wine Bar with Ted Allen. Lisa's question dealt with food and wine pairings for her vegan friend Eddie G (that's me), so it only made sense that she would ask me to be her invited guest, right? Thank you, Lisa!

Ted answered all sorts of questions regarding food and wine at the event, but he spent a good amount of time on the vegan topic. 

I am a big fan of big, bold reds (cabs, zins, etc.), but they're often hard to pair with vegan cuisine. My typical meals served with big reds often entail some sort of mushroom concoction, which Ted felt would pair better with a medium bodied red (merlot, malbec, and such). He and the Mondavi crew suggested pairing bolder red wines with vegan dishes such as eggplant ratatouille with equally bold spices (cardamom, cumin, etc.), or possibly Indian-inspired dishes...although, that brought on a whole new dilemma I'll discuss on a later post.

The food and wine sampling at Mercy was fabulous (my selections were all were vegan, of course), and the service was phenomenal!

My Vegan Food and Wine Pairings:

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with accompanying Baguette Chips, paired with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc.

Mixed Greens Salad with a Sweet Vinaigrette, paired with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay.

Sundried Tomato Risotto, paired with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir.

Roasted Vegetables (broccoli, carrots,  cauliflower), paired with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Meritage.

Chocolate Torte, paired with more of the Meritage.

The Mondavi rep verified that all of the wines represented at the event were vegan, and all of the dishes I sampled are available at Mercy Wine Bar with advance notice.

After dinner, our small group was transported via shuttle to the Taste Addison festival, where Ted Allen held a food prep demo...not vegan, but watching him at work was a blast!

Prior to the demo, Ted did get a chance to autograph his latest book for me. The Book is titled The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes. According to Ted, nothing in the book is vegan, but he encouraged me to veganize an item in the book and blog about it.

Ted--I did notice a few items in your book that are already vegan! But do keep an eye out for a vegan version of one of your "meat" dishes. I'll dedicate my efforts to you, good sir.

Top photo by Arnold Wayne Jones

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thanks, Jenn!

Isn't this vegan cake beautiful??

My friend Jenn made this chocolate swirl cake for my birthday--her very first attempt at baking a vegan cake...and at decorating one in general!

Thanks, Jenn! And thanks for that nice reminder. Really.

But seriously--the cake was delicious!

(And I'm hoping it was not at all healthy).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bliss is a HIT!

You know that guy on YouTube who plays Gnarls Barkley's Crazy on the theremin? The creator of the internet phenomenon formerly known as The Ether and Æther Experiment is my good friend (and Dallas native) Randy George. Randy is in town working on a new project and contacted me about his recent conversion to raw veganism. So what better way to celebrate our reunion than to visit at the newest raw vegan phenomenon known as Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar?

Before heading to Bliss, I shared my limited knowledge with Randy about the raw vegan lifestyle. As you all know, I dabble with it from time to time. We discussed shopping lists, food prep methods, and briefly touched on the health benefits of superfoods. Randy had loads of good questions I couldn’t answer (mostly pertaining to salt), so I was anxious for him to chat with Bliss’ Tonic Elixir Alchemist, Brian Hudson (the guy is a walking encyclopedia). But what I was more anxious about was the chance to introduce Randy to the raw vegan gourmet creations handcrafted by the geniuses at Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar!

I was invited to attend a menu tasting prior to Bliss’ opening that left me craving more. I wrote a piece on the Dallas Observer’s City of Ate that briefly touched on the food, but the article was mostly about the ill perception some vegans have about the Dallas raw foodists—you know, about them being so Hollywood…"plastic," if you will. Well, the guys at Bliss are certainly not. My dear friend Lisa Petty of DallasEats wrote a wonderful piece that detailed the food quite eloquently. Check it out HERE!

The menu has changed a bit (and expanded) since my original tasting at Bliss. All of the items I enjoyed remain on the menu, but they’ve added some brilliant new dishes, and Brett Thompson (Bliss’ Dessert Chef) has revamped his original Strawberry Sheezecake I’ve had dreams about!

Randy and I arrived at Bliss on opening day to a full house. Clearly, the word was out. Several familiar faces were in the crowd, a few new ones, and some of my yoga buddies were there to fuel up on elixirs before their event at Chi Dallas. We decided to start with some elixirs as well, so I was happy to see that Brian’s Minty Hemp made it onto the final menu. Delicious and minty, just as I remembered! The elixir truly does taste like a York Peppermint Patty.

While I was curious to try Johnny Raw Appleseed’s new raw lasagna (made with zucchini and nut blends) for dinner, I had to go with the SunnBurger I raved about (now called the Bliss Burger). Blissful indeed. And I had to marvel at the artistry involved before devouring the brilliant creation! I recommended the Rawko-Taco plate to Randy...mostly because I wanted a taste of what I remembered to be a perfectly spiced paste of nuts and seeds filled in a dehydrated taco shell made of puréed veggies and spices. Lots of words to process here, I imagine all the work involved! And thanks for sharing that taco, Randy! Oh, wait—you didn’t.

Dessert was out-of-control good! As I mentioned, Brett has revamped his original Strawberry Sheezcake recipe. Hard to believe, but the new sheezecake is even richer and creamier than before—and his new raw baklava is a winner, too! Next time I’ll try his Raspberry Swirl Sheezecake. Sounds pretty great, huh?

On our way out, Randy did get a chance to visit with Brian for a minute. They discussed the various health benefits of certain salts while I hit up the always-smiling Brett for some more sweets. Raw fudge nuggets filled with a raw chocolate sauce. Amazing—Bravo, Sir! Do let me know when you launch those new cakes next month, yeah?

We left Bliss totally blissed-out and headed back to my place for more raw food discussion…until nearly midnight. Randy is now more excited than ever about his new dietary path, and I’m thrilled that he’ll be able to return to L.A. and spread the word about our very own raw vegan culinary geniuses right here in Dallas!

Brian, Brett, and Johnny—you guys RAWK!

UPDATE: (5/3/09)
My veggie bike group planned our regular Sunday ride to Bliss this week. I won't narrate too much--just want to share some photos...and a little scoop.

International Fleet

Rawsagna and Ceasar Salad

Cinnamon Rolls
They were all out of the baklava and sheezecake I wanted (we didn't know they open earlier on Sundays, so we made it there just before closing). Luckily, Brett still had some of these scrumptious little goodies!

Nicole, Nicholas, and Eddie G
We stopped at this fun spot on our way back home from Bliss to get a photo with Ganesha. Let me know if you're interested in joining our veggie bike group. We ride at noon(ish) on Sundays from Uptown/Oak Lawn to a different veg-spot weekly!