Thursday, July 05, 2012

Rhode Island Weenies Vegan Style

My girlfriend’s family grew up in Rhode Island, enjoying Ocean State delicacies such as coffee milk and New York System Hot Wieners “all the way.” When her brother comes up from the south to visit, it is all about local memories…which entails visiting nostalgic RI hangouts and sampling all the quintessential classics.  What is traditional Rhode Island fare you ask?

I already knew about Del's Lemonade.  This is definitively my favorite frozen lemonade.  It was in the running to become the official drink of RI, but was beat out by coffee milk!

Last year, Nana introduced me to johhnycakes.  These are basically a thin cornmeal pancake. 

Stuffies are stuffed baked quahogs.  As a kid (long before the thought of being vegan entered my mind) I did try these.  The flavor is all about what is added to the stuffing and it would be pretty simple to make a vegan version of these.  The vegan crab cake recipes are good enough for me.

Next up, bakery pizza. Cold pizza strips…they don’t sound too appetizing, do they? There's something about the dough, olive oil, and fresh sauce that makes these babies work. Fortunately for us vegans, they usually don't bother with cheese.

For weeks before this year's visit, all I heard about was hot weenies or more specifically NY System Hot Wieners. These frankfurts are topped with spiced meat sauce, yellow mustard, chopped raw onion and a generous shake of celery salt. The spiced meat is not to be confused with chili. There are no tomatoes, peppers or other chili fixings involved.

My girlfriend’s mom told me there's something about the onion, it just stays with you. Someone else fondly talked about how they hit your stomach like a lead weight. “They don’t call them ‘gaggers’ or ‘belly busters’ for nothin’, ya know.” It all made me chuckle a little.

The family bought NY System sauce spice packs for her brother so he wouldn't miss these while he was back down south. Looking at the envelopes and reading the directions made us think that we could veganize this local fav.

We started with vegan burger crumbles and the spice mix. It called for significantly more oil than I was willing to add, so we cut down quite a bit and then added some vegan beef bouillon dissolved in a ½ cup of water to thin it out while adding authentic flavor. We simmered and stirred, and after about an hour we were good to go.

We topped tofu pups with the spiced crumbles, raw onion, mustard and celery salt…“all the way” as they’re ordered up in Olneyville. The verdict? I dig them! A couple of our not-so-vegan friends saw the appealing pics on facebook and couldn't wait to try them. Now we are having a vegan weenie party at their house this weekend.

If you want to try making these on your own, there are tons of recipes for the RI weenie sauce online. They are all very similar with chili powder and a mix of spices. You could always order the spice packs direct from Olneyville NY System Wieners if you want to start at the source.

This veganzied version is certainly easier on your stomach and heart.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Popeyes Biscuits

The other day I was browsing around on Pinterest and it seemed like there was an abundance of pins with a veganized version Popeyes biscuits.  As a teenager, I was a huge fan of Popeyes restaurant and one of my favorite things to order was the biscuits. 

One pin pointed me to this blog.  The recipe couldn't be more simple.  It is just 4 ingredients!  I'll warn that I found the dough rather sticky and ended up using quite a bit of flour on the bottom/top in order to cut out biscuits.  In addition we prefer a little more crunch, so I baked them for a few extra minutes to get the darker, golden toasty goodness.

We had hot tasty biscuits in less than 20 minutes including cooking time.  The worst part was the clean up (as usual).

If you are looking to make these a little healthier, you can easily cut back on the margarine.  I went with the lower amount of Earth Balance, just two ounces.  Next time, I'd likely half it again as these were rich enough. 

I googled for other copycat Popeyes biscuit recipes and the standard version is basically the same recipe.  The author just subbed margarine and vegan sour cream.  One interesting tidbit is that a lot of recipes use Sprite instead of soda water.  That doesn't sound very good to me.

In the future, I could see making these with some nutritional yeast and maybe some chives for a more sophisticated flavor. 

Anyway, behold the beautiful biscuits!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Garden Gille - Fregola Bowl

We stopped in for dinner at one of our favorite haunts, Garden Grille Cafe in Pawtucket Rhode Island.  I've written about it before on my dining guide, but failed to post pictures.  This entry should help, though I'll be better about documenting our food adventures in the future!

Garden Grille recently remodeled and changed up the menu.  The wooden tree branching out over the bar definitely impresses on your first visit to the new digs.

It is almost guaranteed that we will order the Barbeque Chipotle Seitan appetizer with the wasabi mustard dipping sauce as well as the special greens of the day.  We shared the smoked cauliflower hazelnut bisque which was delightful.  The seitan was fabulous and we especially enjoyed the extra crispy pieces.  The greens of the day were also quite nice.  There was a beautiful plate of collard greens, chickpeas and garlic.  Thursday there was a special that caught my eye, but I had no idea what fregola is!

Smartphone to the rescue.  I quickly learned that fregola or fregula is a pasta from Sardinia.  It resembles Israeli couscous.  The pasta is toasted in the oven before packaging which gives it some color.

We ordered the Fregola Bowl in addition to our standard meal.  I really enjoyed the variation in this dish. 

Cauliflower, hearts of palm, french horn mushrooms,
charred endive, with preserved lemon aioli.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Vegan Superbowl

Well, I can't say I am much of a football fan.  However, the Superbowl gives me an excuse to cook for my friends and this is perhaps the one time I look forward to commercials.

Sunday I made up a batch tempeh buffalo wingz.  It is an awesome recipe from a friend's zine. You can find a copy of it online here: (Scroll down to the 3rd recipe!)

The wingz were a hit and we'll probably try some other variations in the future.

Awhile back, I saw some blog posts about root beer float cupcakes and couldn't wait to try them.   Root beer extract was rather elusive though and it prevented me from making up a batch.   A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon a jar of the stuff and Sunday seemed like the perfect day to crack it open.  You can find the recipe here:

The cupcakes were good, though everyone agreed that tasting root beer out of context was a bit weird.  It is unlikely that I'll try this recipe again.