23 August 2010

Bread: I can't believe it's vegan!

So, here's the bread recipe I've been using lately that makes some terrific bread! I respect the raw vegans, but to me, something magical happens when you take flour, yeast and water and put it in an oven.

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

3 tablespoons vegan cane sugar

2 1/2 cups warm water (between 37.2°C and 43.3°C [99°F and 110°F])

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon salt

6 1/2 cups bread flour


1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water then add yeast. Stir in olive oil, salt and two cups of the flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

2. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

3. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Place the loaves into two lightly oiled and floured 9x5 inch loaf pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and 10 minutes before putting in the oven, turn down to 375 degrees F. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Happy eating!

Seitan Roast

2-3 carrots
2-3 stalks of celery
1 Large onion
1/4 c Salt
6-7 c Water
Herbs and Spices to taste

6 c Unbleached Whole wheat flour
2 2/3c water
(may add herbs and spices to taste)

1/2 c brown or white rice
1/2 c quinoa

3 T olive oil
1-2 T Unbleached white flour

2' of cheese cloth
Halve carrots and celery, quarter onion (no need to peel). Fill a stock pot with the water and add salt. Drop in vegetables and bring to boil. Once at a boil, let simmer.

(You can skip this next step [the ones referring to getting the starch out of the dough ball] by using Vital Wheat Gluten flour instead of the Whole Wheat Flour... it goes by a little quicker [and by a little, I mean a LOT])

In a large bowl, pour in the flour and make a well (like when making pasta). (Add in any herbs you may want to add) In a mixer with dough hook or with a fork, slowly incorporate the water into the flour or with dough hooks, let the mixer mix the two ingredients and then knead for 10 minutes. If doing by hand, once the water is incorporated into the flour, on a floured board, knead the dough to develop the gluten.

Mix rice and quinoa and cook according to rice cooking instructions.

Once the dough has been kneaded, place back into the bowl and fill the bowl with warm water. Let sit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, start kneading the dough by hand, the water will become milky in colour (that's the starch coming out!). Drain the water and fill with warm water and continue kneading. Continue this process until little to no more starch comes out of the kneaded dough.

NOTE: In the middle of the second kneading process, there will be a time when the gluten will be goopy and you'll think you messed it up; keep going and try to keep the gluten together.

You may even want to let the raw seitan ball sit in water again and submit it to a third kneading process.

Soon you'll be left with a ball of gluten. Take the gluten ball out and massage it, this will get some air bubbles out and make it denser. Eventually work it flat and rectangular.

Place cooked rice and quinoa in the middle of the seitan. There are two different ways you can make it from this point on: with the stuffing all in the middle or with the rice and quinoa in a spiral with the seitan (I think it's a bit more aesthetically pleasing).

** you do not necessarily need to use all the rice and quinoa you make**

For a roast with the rice and quinoa all in the middle, place the mixture on one end and roll the rest of the seitan around it, fold in the sides (like a burrito) and wrap in cheese cloth.

For a roast with a rice and quinoa spiral, place the rice and quinoa mixture down the length of the seitan leaving about 2 1/2" around. Start at one end and roll the rice and quinoa into the seitan. Then, like the other instructions, fold under the sides and wrap in cheese cloth.

Once the raw seitan roast is wrapped in cheese cloth, the vegetable broth should be completed and simmering. Bring to a boil and drop the seitan into the broth. Let boil for one hour. Once the seitan roast has boiled for an hour, lift out of the pot and let stand.

In a skillet, heat up 2 T of Extra Virgin Olive oil. Place roast in the skillet and brown on all sides. Once brown, remove the roast, place in a dish and slowly add the 1-2 T of flour with a wisk. Once well-incorporated, add 1-2 cups of the vegetable broth to the oil and flour with a wisk. Add soy sauce to taste and whatever herbs and spices you like. Pour the gravy over the roast and then serve.

Serves 6.

15 August 2010

The Best thing I ever ate...

Hi Everyone,
For a normal non-VEGetariAN restaurant, this is quite possibly THE BEST vegan breakfast I've ever eaten. You need to make the trip up to about Ainslie and Damen in Ravenswood and have breakfast/brunch at Over Easy. Their spicy tofu scramble cannot be missed. With peppers, tumeric covered tofu and chorizo spiced crumbles, it would be enough, but the salsa verde with lime and cool, creamy guacamole... Awe-inspiring, so many layers of flavor and texture, it's bliss on a plate. It's the cherry atop of the vegan sunday. My friend Piotr had the Banana spiked French Toast. Let's just say that I've never seen anyone down French Toast that quickly. He reported that it was perfect and everything he expects from French Toast. It's been featured on Check Please! and has received numerous awards. If you're in the area, you HAVE to make it a stop for breakfast; hell, if you're in the tri-state area, you have to make the trek. May I suggest Sunday brunch? I give it an elated bunny rating. It's been hours since I left... and I start to drool thinking about it, my heart races, my eyes dialate and I get goosebumps. This is only one time when I choose not to use hyperbole. This is amazing. A city is only as good as it's food, and Chicago hits a homerun-hatrick-touchdown-goal-in-one. I love this city.

Over Easy Café
4943 N Damen Ave.
between Ainslie and Argyle
Chicago, IL 60625


11 July 2010


The Loving Hut now delivers!!! If you're within 5 miles from the restaurant, they will deliver their delicious goodness right to your door! http://lovinghut.us/chicago/
If you're within the approximate area of Armitage to the South (Lincoln Park), Cicero to the West and Elgin Rd. (in Evanston) to the North, you can get great vegan food without the aid of any appliance!

14 June 2010

Kto je jeden pieróg?

Pierogi... Eastern Europe's gift to the world. With the Polish population in Chicago being the largest outside of Poland, Pierogi are practically a food group and nothing is less vegan than pierogi... Just mention pierogi and Chicagoans think of butter. And yet today I present you with the vegan Pierogi. I made mine with shallot and garlic with potato. They're pretty freaking amazing, but like all Pierogi cooking you have to start with a fat; I chose olive oil and melted Earth Balance.

Here's the recipe:

3 sm russet potatoes

egg replacer for 2 eggs

2 c flour (I used whole wheat... untraditional, I know, but really good and hearty)

1 med sized shallot piece

3 cloves of garlic

1 ½ earth balance sticks

2-3 T olive oil

½ med. onion


Nutritional Yeast flakes, chili powder and Parmesan flavor grated vegan topping to taste

Milk substitute (I used almond milk for this one)

Large dice the potatoes and boil as if to make mashed potatoes. Mince the shallot and garlic and put off to the side. In a large bowl, mix the flour, egg replacer, a couple tablespoons of the Earth Balance and a bit of water and mix with a fork. Mix in only enough water to create a dense ball of dough (sorry, I never measure). Once all is well incorporated, cover with a damp towel and let sit.
Once the potatoes are ready, drain and mash with shallot and garlic (DO NOT SAUTÉ THE GARLIC OR SHALLOT the garlic will start to go rancid, this way, you just warm the garlic up when warming the pierog) (At this point, I would also suggest adding silken tofu or Better than Sour Cream, I just didn't have any in the house when I was making it, it's not necessary, but it would give the filling a creamier texture) then add the Nutritional Yeast, parmesan topping and chili powder, incorporate well. Make 2 inch diameter balls and flatten out first with the bottom of a flat glass and then with the palm and side of your hand. Once thin, take one, place a spoonful of the mashed potato mixture in the middle, cover with another circle, fold over the edges and crimp with a fork. The other way you can do this is making a bigger ball, flattening it out into a circle, put the potato mixture in the middle, fold over and crimp the edges leaving one smooth edge at the fold. Get the rest of the Earth Balance into a frying pan with the olive oil and start caramelizing the onion. Fry the pierog until golden brown.
Yields about 16 pierogi.
Try out the recipe, tell me what you think.
Another variation: for a sweet pierogi, use vanilla flavored milk substitute, it's a bit sweeter but can accentuate the sweet filling. Even a sweet-tasting potato can be delicious! Experiment, fail, get up and try again! Use my recipe as a base and think, there IS a reason why I never measure anything...
Amusez-vous bien!

Restaurant Review

Hi everyone,
I'm thinking of trying a new method for the next review. I want to review the Diner next and I'd like to bring someone or people along to help me review it. What do you think? If you're in the Chicago Area and would like to help me review the Diner, let me know and we can get something started for the next review.

13 June 2010

Curry and chili potatoes over jasmine rice

Okay, I posted a teaser on Thursday and I thought I'd better post the recipe while I have time. So see here my recipe for Curry and chili potatoes over jasmine rice. Please note that I never measure ingredients and everything is to taste.

3-4 potatoes (for the picture, I did a mix of one red potato and three russets I think I prefered the russet potato for this one as it's starchier and incorporates the flavors quicker)
2-3 T olive oil
Hot curry powder
Chili Powder
Thai seasoning mix
1 bay leaf
Garlic powder
1 t Vegan vegetable soup base
1 c water
1 T whole wheat flour

Cut potatoes into eighths lengthwise. Heat oil in a pan on low-medium heat and add potatoes and cover, stirring occaisionally just to heat up just before they start to brown.
Start the jasmine rice cooking (I use a rice cooker, I really suggest it as you can just throw the ingredients in there and leave it to focus on the other components)
In a sauce pan, create the soup base for 1 cup of soup according directions, add the spices and mix well. Once the spices are well incorporated into the soup, remove the bay leaf and slowly add 1 T of flour and incorporate well, I suggest using a wisk. Let the sauce thicken up a little and remove from heat. Cover (the sauce will continue to thicken up). Once the potatoes are cooked through but not brown, pour the sauce over them and let rest. Once the rice is done, plate and serve.

Serves 2-3 or enough for substantial leftovers.

As this is my first recipe posing, please note that I don't even follow my own recipes. I'm always changing something and no dish I make is ever the same twice (unless I'm hosting, then I'll know what works well and stick with that). I encourage all who read to experiment, use my recipes as a guide and take your own route. Knowing how spices and ingredients work is what makes you a good cook and creating your own recipes and making it to your liking is the beauty of the art of cooking and the intrigue your dishes create will bring people back to your dining table for more, asking for the recipe and trying things out for themselves. I made this recipe to be incredibly easy and incredibly good and I hope you enjoy it. Try it out and tell me what you think!

Amusez-vous bien!

10 June 2010

Weekend teaser

Hey all,
Sorry I haven't been updating lately. Just thought I'd give a teaser of a post I'll do this weekend. The recipe for Curry & Chili potatoes with Jasmine rice.

26 April 2010

Review: 26.04.10 - Veggie Bite

1300 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622


12h - 22h - Lunch and dinner

I first went here when I got to Vegan Mania last October and needed to eat something. Double burger, chili cheese dog, gyro, italian beef melt, buffalo wings, nachos surpreme? Where the hell am I? Why is this place on a vegan blog? Look again, please. All these items are vegan and organic. Yea, you may all know the Chicago Diner (to be showcased in a future blog), but VeggieBite takes the VEGetariAN thing to the extreme. Look at that menu, that's not right, is it? Surprise! You can get pretty much anything you can get at other fast food restaurants, but these are all vegan and cruelty-free. Aside from the menu, they have several leaflets at all times on various topics in AR. It's a cool place with free WiFi if you buy something. They have ice cream, chix-free nuggets, philly cheese steak, everything a meat-eater turned VEGetariAN might miss.

So how do I feel about this place?

On one hand, it's nice being able to go into a fast food restaurant and order anything off the menu, it's liberating. On the other, while they have tofu, they have some items that are questionable at best (at least to someone who has been vegan for two years and has gotten used to whole foods and everything looking like it's supposed to except tofu and seitan). The time before last that I was there, I wasn't really impressed with the food and quite frankly, it wasn't very fast. The last time I was there, it didn't take too long and their bite burger really isn't too bad for a veggie burger. Long story short, if you're on the prowl and need a bite to eat, grabbing it at VeggieBite wouldn't be all too bad; but if given the choice between VeggieBite and somewhere else when I weren't too hungry, I'd choose somewhere else.

In the end, I give it a sad bunny to bunny rating for the service I had two times ago and the quality of food. Go there if you must, but keep in mind it's not really what vegans want. It might be better to just stay home.

23 April 2010

Review: 23.04.10 - The Loving Hut

The Loving Hut

5812 N. Broadway

Chicago, IL 60660


Every day

11h-14h – Lunch

16h-21h - Dinner

My friend Piotr introduced me to this place. It used to be a vegetarian restaurant named Alice and Friends. Very recently, it joined a global collection of vegan restaurants called Loving Hut (The Palo Alto location in California advertised quite frequently on Go Vegan ! Radio with Bob Linden). The cuisine is pan-asian and offers items such as California roll sushi, Royal Pho, Thai curry and Dol sot bi bim bob, as well as nicely-named items such as Almond joy, mama’s love, home run ball and golden heart. I think this is one of the secrets of vegan dining in Chicago. I’ve been to a few places, but the environment is nice, with quotes about being green and going veg as well as playing Grand Master TV on all televisions in the restaurant.

Looking for TVP ? Tofu dogs and veggie patties are on the menu but only for lunch, at dinner time, they’re no where to be seen. They advertise no dairy, no egg and no MSG (which is nice for someone who gets migraines from MSG).

Craving that piece of dessert at the end of the meal ? No problem, all their desserts are vegan as well and they’re homemade !

When I’ve been there, I’ve had the California roll sushi or the dumplings, Almond Joy, Golden heart or spicy bbq. Everything was excellent and I cannot say enough good things about the food. It came out hot, there was enough wasabi and Ginger for the California rolls, and the spicy bbq… delicious.

I firmly believe that you can take a non-VEGetariAN to The Loving Hut and they will not miss meat. Everything is either tofu, soy protein or seitan.

Very delicious, and not badly priced for the North side. If you’re up that way, or looking for a new place to eat, definitely make it a stop, it’s well worth it.

Oh, and did I mention free WiFi ?

I give it a happy bunny rating.

En la semana que viene...

Things to look for shortly:
a restaurant review for:
-The Loving Hut Chicago
-Veggie Bite
as well as:
A vegan family feast and alternative to Tofurky my office favourite: Seitan roast.

22 April 2010

Welcome to Vegan Chicago!

Welcome to Vegan Chicago
Here's a little tidbit about me: my life's passion is veganism. This will be reflected in my blog.
Below is an outline for my blog

  • Restaurant reviews (both VEGetariAN and Non-VEGetariAN restaurants)
  • -Given in five bunny emotions - crying bunny, sad bunny, bunny, happy bunny, elated bunny
  • Vegan recipes
  • -Great animal-free, cruelty-free recipes I designed or modified.
  • Vegan consumer
  • -Tips about buying vegan products and vegan grocery shopping
  • Random thoughts on veganism
  • Vegan SmartPhone App reviews
  • Suggested readings