Vegan for Everybody at Bob’s Red Mill

A week or two ago, I got an email letting me know that there was going to be an event at Bob’s Red Mill (okay) about a vegan cookbook (you have my attention) from America’s Test Kitchen (!). As a red-blooded, vegetarian, NPR-listening food nerd, my interest was immediately piqued. Jack Bishop came to talk about the new book, Vegan for Everybody, and shed a little light behind how they came up with these new recipes in the Test Kitchen.

Jack Bishop discusses new America's Test Kitchen book, Vegan for Everybody

For those of you who weren’t able to make the trek to Milwaukie on a Monday morning, here are some of the major points you missed.

America’s Test Kitchen does a lot of testing. LIKE A LOT.

Everything is tested using scientific method. They’ll create a hypothesis, control for variables, and test one element of a recipe at a time to see the results. Using a blueberry muffin as an example, you have the sugar, the flour, the temperature, the mixing method, the egg replacement, the fats… and on and on. They made 100 batches, or 1200 muffins, to create the recipe in this book.

Aquafaba is so hot right now.

They loved aquafaba, the liquid that comes from draining a can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas, for creating egg-replacing foams that add texture and structure to sweet baked goods like muffins and cakes. They also learned that it’s not worth it to try to create your own aquafaba from dry garbanzos. (It has to do with how canned beans are cooked, in the can.) Apparently, Progresso beans are the only national brand that doesn’t work.

“I have bad news for you — you cannot use applesauce instead of eggs,” said Jack. Eggs provide fat, protein, and lecithin, whereas “Applesauce is just wet.”

Water wheel at Bob's Red Mill store

They only test products that are available nationwide.

Oat milk’s proteins and sugars help create a browned color and caramelization in baked goods. Many vegan muffins have a flabby and unappealing lid, though we all know the best part of the muffin is [supposed to be] the top. The Test Kitchen also liked using refined coconut oil in the place of butter. Like butter, it’s solid at room temperature. Refined oil has less coconut flavor. Cashew milk? They didn’t test it, because not everyone can find it at their local Whole Foods yet.

Vegan for Everyone book signing

They test in their kitchen and yours.

Jack went through the development process in a couple of other recipes as well,  like vegan mac and cheese made with cauliflower, cashews, turmeric, almond milk, tomato paste, and nutritional yeast. That one includes a savory Parmesanesque topping of ground olives, cashews, nutritional yeast, and pine nuts.

It was really cool to learn about recipe development from someone whose work is predicated on it, and to get some insight into how the Test Kitchen works.

In addition to having employees in-house working on recipes and product reviews, they also work with a bunch of volunteer home cook recipe testers. Surveys tell them what’s available in a given area, what substitutions people make, and their impressions of the results. Take a recipe for chili, for example. They’re looking for about 1/3 of testers to say it’s too bland, 1/3 of testers to say it’s just right, and 1/3 of testers to say it’s too spicy. That means it’s just about in the middle and will please the most palates.

I’ve heard people say that America’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Illustrated recipes are under-seasoned or bland. That makes a lot of sense, keeping this middle-of-the-road palate in mind. Jack recommended making recipes as written the first time, and adjusting to taste from there.

I’m getting Vegan for Everybody from the library (only #71 in line, awwww yeah), so I’ll let you know what I think after looking through a few recipes. As it is, I’m glad this exists for vegetarians and vegans, and for the omnivores who want to reduce their animal product intake and cook vegan for others.

Do you have a favorite vegan cookbook? How about a recent favorite that’s come out in the last year or two? 

 

 

Vegan Beer and Food Fest

*Hiii. The nice people at Vegan Beer and Food Fest are giving me a pass to the festival this year in exchange for these few words, which are true to my heart and happily given.*

If you ever feel like maybe your life if going too well, and that maybe you need to feel a pang of jealousy for the opportunities that other people get to enjoy… just check out the Vegan Beer & Food Fest Instagram.

Go ahead, check it out! I’ll wait.

DID YOU SEE THAT. Hot dogs smothered in nacho cheese and jalapenos.

And it’s all vegan.

I made the mistake of following this Instagram account last year, when I wasn’t able to go. And this year (YEAAAH) I will be able to go, but it’ll be VERY VERY TOUGH to figure out my game plan when it comes to snacks and treats. When it comes to beer, you get 40 tasting vouchers for beer or wine (60 for VIP), but no food is included in the ticket price. Food is also not available in teensy-tiny portions, and you can only eat so many vegan Big Macs and charcuterie plates.

Okay, let’s calm down and talk details.

Vegan beer and food! It’s this Saturday, June 11th, at Zidell Yards in the South Waterfront. Tickets go for $45 general, $65 VIP. If you’re not drinking, get the “no beer” tickets for $35 general, $45 VIP. No beer means unlimited kombucha, cold brew, and craft soda. Everyone gets access to food vendors from near and far, entry to the vegan marketplace, and live music. Get your tix online. 21 and over only, please.

 

Are you going to Vegan Beer and Food Festival? What’s your game plan?

 

 

 

 

Lovely’s Fifty Fifty

“We’re going to a restaurant tonight. What kind of restaurant would you like to go to?” “Ice cream restaurant.” Well, I don’t know what I expected when I asked the question of my two-year-old, but as soon as I heard his reply, I knew where we’d go: Lovely’s Fifty Fifty, a Mississippi Avenue restaurant serving pizza and homemade ice cream, and where I’ve been wanting to go for years. Destiny!

When you walk in the door at Lovely’s, you’ll see the ice cream case. We arrived shortly before 6 to a modest dining area with only a few tables being taken up, but by the time we left (after 7; our first pie got a hole and had to be remade; c’est la pizza vie), there were no empty tables in sight. At the back of the room, a wood-fired oven cooks appetizers as well as blistered pizzas made with naturally-leavened dough.

Charred crust on a slice of pizza from Lovely's Fifty Fifty in Portland, Oregon \ vegetarianPDX

We ordered a cauliflower appetizer (oven roasted cauliflower with currants, golden raisins, and toasted almonds, $9), a kid’s pizza ($7; huge for a toddler; he ate half), and a 12″ pizza to share. We each ate two pieces of the six-slice pie.

Cauliflower appetizer from Lovely's Fifty Fifty in Portland, Oregon \ vegetarianPDX

All pizzas are 12″, with local, organic, and unusual toppings available. Beside the pizzas on the menu, one can add calabrian chiles, a farm egg, or arugula. That’s the extent of (vegetarian) extra toppings.

The gluten-free are warned that there’s a lot of flour flying around the kitchen. No gluten-free pies, and be aware that wood-fired appetizers share space with wheat.

Do you ever get a craving for savory? Not sweet, not salty, but straight-up-umami? Behold: umami, in pizza form: spinach with crushed tomatoes, fermented chiles and carrots, capers, and goat feta.

Pizza from Lovely's Fifty Fifty \ vegetarianPDX

It’s not very often that I actually say, “Mmm!” out loud, but I very much involuntarily did on this one. It’s so much more/less than the description, which sounds like there could be a mound of salad on a pizza. Fermented chiles and carrots? You wouldn’t have guessed that there were carrots on the pizza, but the chiles lent a funky heat. Very tasty. I can’t wait for my leftover slice.

After dinner, naturally, we needed a couple of scoops of ice cream. It’s an “ice cream restaurant,” of course. What would you choose from this current lineup of flavors?

  • Salted caramel
  • Buckwheat honey & toffee
  • Mint vanilla bean
  • Malted milk ball
  • Candied kumquat
  • Quince butter

Toddler wanted malted milk ball, and I got candied kumquat which, understandably and probably predictably, blew out my taste buds with bitter kumquat. They were not that candied. Now, I’m a fan of bitter. I’d volunteer to carry the banner in the Bitter Appreciation Day Parade Sponsored by IPAs of America. But it really doesn’t help you judge the quality of the ice cream.

Lovelys Fifty Fifty ice cream \ vegetarianPDX

By 7pm, plenty of people were coming in just for a ice cream cone, which they could eat while strolling down Mississippi or on the little front porch.

Guess we’ll have to come back to try some more flavors. Summer’s coming, after all.

 

 

Lovely’s Fifty Fifty
4039 N. Mississippi Ave.
503-281-4060
lovelysfiftyfifty.wordpress.com

The Best Veggie Burgers in Portland

Not all veggie burgers are created equal, but many tasty ones are created here in Portland, Oregon. I ate a LOT of veggie burgers (nine to be exact), all to bring you my Personal Burger Truth. After a lot of french fries, and many soiled napkins, here it is: The Best Veggie Burgers in Portland.

The Rules:

  • Restaurants must make their own patties.
  • Little Big Burger doesn’t make their own patties, so they don’t count.
  •  Those are the only rules.

As for my methods: I asked for nominations, and then did some research of my own, ending up tasting a total of nine burgers. When given a choice, I ordered the plainest, most “regular all-American” burger available.

Best Overall Veggie Burger Experience: Earth Burgers

Best Veggie Burgers in Portland \ vegetarianPDX

On a sunny day, you will not do better than walking up to this food cart, getting a friendly smile, and ordering from a completely vegan menu of all kinds of vegan veggie patties. I’ve tried the Casbah before, and was pretty high on it, but for this experiment, I had the American Graffiti: a simple, well-executed black bean and sweet potato patty on a Grand Central bun. It was easy to eat, no squishing, and every bite with firm-but-soft bread, savory patty, and the bite of mustard and ketchup. Simply perfect. earthburgerspdx.com

Best Patty: Black Water Bar

The Best Veggie Burgers in Portland \ vegetarianPDX

No one nominated this, but I follow enough local vegans on Instagram to become intrigued. The patty from this vegan bar RULES and I want the world to know it. You know your black bean burgers, and your beet burgers, but patty combines them for a spicy, savory, vegan burger that you’ll come back for. And it’s only $7 with fries. COME ON. It’s not one of those soy patties that’s supposed to taste like meat (ew, imho), but instead it delivers that same feeling of burger satisfaction, like, oh yeah, I’m eating this bomb burger right now, not, well, this was my only option and it’s fine like one normally gets with veggie burgers.  I understand the Western Burger is even better.

Be advised that this is a rock ‘n’ roll vegan dive bar. The night that I went, even though I went early, the drummer for the upcoming band decided that they needed to “sound check” their kick drum repeatedly and very loudly. Maybe don’t bring your grandma. I wore a black hoodie and still got some stinkeye. It’s a FAKE leather purse, people. facebook.com

Burger That Taught Me To Love Beet Burgers: White Owl Social Club

Best veggie burgers in Portland! \ vegetarianPDX

I was ready to be disappointed by this beet burger, people, even with the rave reviews. I do not care for beets, and I’ve tried. HOWEVER. This beet-based burger was nutty, with a unique depth of flavor from wakame and hazelnuts. Also, this burger is $5 during happy hour (!!!!) which absolutely cannot be beat. Ha ha, beat. Like beet. (Sorry, no minors) (Also sorry about that wannabe pun) whiteowlsocialclub.com

Most Thoughtful Accoutrements: Slowburger

The Best Veggie Burgers in Portland \ vegetarianPDX

The texture is on this black bean burger is very good, with a crispy crust that you wouldn’t expect. The standard order comes with pepper jack, guacamole, fried corn tortilla strips, and chipotle mayo on a brioche bun. This southwestern style is smart way to go: it needs a the zip from the chipotle, a little guacamole goes a long way. Bites that are JUST veggie burger are fairly flat and beany, but hey, it’s beans. Brioche bun is tasty, suits the ingredients, holds together, and the patty fits it well. If you’re not quite hungry enough to finish one–or if you plan on filling up on onion rings, and who could blame you—a “mini” size is available. slowburger.net

 

Which sounds best to you?

Portland Dining Month: Harvest at the Bindery

Thank you to Travel Portland for providing a gift card that covered the food for this Portland Dining Month meal. All opinions are my own, or occasionally my husband’s. (Yay date night!)

Portland Dining Month is still going strong through the end of the month, friends. Have you been taking advantage of it? I’ve mostly been putting away the veggie burgers (so many veggie burgers), but this Saturday, we left the toddler at home to enjoy the special $29 menu at Harvest at the Bindery.

Vegan meal at Harvest at the Bindery in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

Harvest at the Bindery, in case ya’ll didn’t know, is a vegan restaurant. For Portland Dining Month, they’re doing something a bit different: instead of three set courses, you can choose three dishes from a list.

  • Chicory dish that’s not on the online menu that I didn’t write down
  • Pumpkin romesco with radish, carrot, grilled kale, beet chips and chèvre
  • Veggie chips with cranberry beans
  • Corn cakes with roasted squash
  • Sunchoke gratin
  • Lonesome Whistle grits
  • Grilled mushrooms with hazelnut gremolata

Then — oho ho — we got even more on top of that. So, no, despite reassuring my husband that we could stop for pizza after if needed, we certainly did not need any more food.

First, we both got the veggie chips. I don’t even like beets, but dehydrated beet chips are apparently another story. I ate all of my chips, and my date’s as well.

Vegan meal at Harvest at the Bindery in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

With this course came the complimentary housemade cornbread with cultured butter. Holy! I loved every vegan bite. Lovely texture and flavor, with nothing left wanting. No “this is good for vegan.” Just “THIS IS GOOD.”

Vegan meal at Harvest at the Bindery in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

Next, I had grilled mushrooms. Vegetarians get a lot of thoughtless/bad mushroom dishes, but this highlighted each mushroom, each bite a little savory delight. Mushrooms are so good when they’re good, aren’t they?

Vegan meal at Harvest at the Bindery in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

My husband had the grits. I don’t know how they got them to taste so rich without butter, but I accept the sorcery.

Vegan meal at Harvest at the Bindery in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

The third course wasn’t as successful for either of us. I  had the pumpkin romesco, but the texture of the pumpkin was unappealing. To be honest, large chunks of winter squash are always a hard sell for me, but I liked the other components. And look how pretty!

Vegan meal at Harvest at the Bindery in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

My husband’s sunchoke gratin lacked the zazz of the other dishes. A few more of those sweet roasted onions would have been welcome.

Vegan meal at Harvest at the Bindery in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

But, hey, get this! They include a piece of chocolate hazelnut pie with every Portland Dining Month meal. So, it’s really four courses, plus the cornbread.

Vegan meal at Harvest at the Bindery in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

What a lovely introduction to Harvest at the Bindery.  Next, I’ll have to try their brunch. Word on the street is that’s the bee’s knees.

What restaurants do you still have on your list for Portland Dining Month?

Slowburger

Slowburger may be in The Ocean, but it’s not an island unto itself. Nope, the burgers here had their beginning at a  louder, cooler, and somewhat grittier location at Slow Bar on Grand, where they became well known enough to warrant branching out to this small location. Slowburger just does burgers, but you can see why.

There’s just one main option for vegetarians at Slowburger. Guess. DING DING. That’s right! A veggie burger! Described thusly: Black bean and roasted corn patty, pepper jack, guacamole, fried corn tortilla strips, and chipotle mayo on a Grand Central brioche bun. Choose a 1/3 pounder for $8, or a “mini” for $4.

Veggie burger at Slowburger in Portland, Oregon \ vegetarianPDX

The 1/3 pounder comes out looking very manageable. Not too tall to fit into your mouth. Not messy. Not big in diameter. And that “small side” of onion rings had only three rings to split between the two of us. Add the “small” fry to share, and it would probably be enough to eat, I thought… until we got done. These veggie burgers are filling, friends. I bought my husband a peanut butter-chocolate pie at Pie Spot to have for dessert, and he turned it down because he was too full. (I am Never Too Full For Pie; I ate half of it.)

The verdict on the burger? Beany with a surprisingly crispy exterior on the patty. Held up to being cut in half (with a plastic knife, fyi), and ate cleanly. The chipotle mayo is an excellent choice to add some zip, and the patty held up to the moisture of sauce and guacamole.

Veggie burger at Slowburger in Portland, Oregon \ vegetarianPDX

While the mini veggie burger was just a little too big for our two-year-old to finish, it might be about your speed if you have a smaller appetite. Or, if you’re in the mood for a burg but you’re trying to eat light, there’s always the mini and salad (spring greens, $2) option.

As with any other mini restaurant in The Ocean, there’s limited seating inside, and the action really heats up in the summer as the outdoor patio fills up.

2329 NE Glisan St.
503-477-5779
slowburger.net

 

Have you been to Slowburger? How do you feel about tortilla stips on a veggie burger?

Screen Door

Screen Door is a super popular southern joint.

LIKE, REALLY POPULAR.

Be prepared to wait.

I’M SERIOUS.

“Oh, I know, you have to wait for brunch in Portland.” No. Last week I was hearing about someone who went for breakfast at like 11 a.m. on a Friday and still had to wait an hour. The line for dinner starts before the doors open, and brunch is just as popular, if not more. It’s either worth it, or people just don’t know that there are other tasty places to eat. Or maybe a little from Column A, a little from Column B.

During the week, they’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On weekends, it’s a “brunch blowout” and dinner.

Like I say, it’s a Southern joint, but they’re not so Southern that they don’t have vegetarian specials and sides. Tofu and vegetarian gravy are available for breakfast and brunch.

Ooh, they have migas for breakfast. That sounds really good: 3 eggs scrambled with onion, roasted poblano chiles, corn tortilla strips & pepperjack cheese, topped with salsa verde, cilantro lime crema, served with flour tortillas & choice of grits, cheddar grits, or roasted potatoes, $10.75.

Limited vegan and gluten-free options, but check out their Tumblr dedicated to vegetable specials. Did I just type that? Yes. Yes I did.

I might need to grab a book and head down there.

2337 E Burnside St.
503-542-0880
screendoorrestaurant.com

The Observatory

The Observatory is a popular place.

During happy hour, dinner, or later into the evening, as Montavilla bars and restaurants start to fill up, The Observatory is Most Likely to Fill First. For a long time, it was a place where I’d check in, hear how long the wait was, and decide to go elsewhere. Ironically, maybe, I’ve only gotten in since we had the toddler: happy hour at 4 pm, or lunch at 11:30.

I don’t mean to scare you off — I mean, it’s full of people who DID get seats, after all, and they’re all there for a reason. If there’s a wait, they’ll take your name and number and you can stroll down the strip in Montavilla, or wait “around the corner.” That’s the bar in the back (Over and Out), where you can hang while you wait for your table. An extremely similar menu is available back there, but kids aren’t allowed, and instead of sipping cocktails in front of mirrors and artfully draped curtains, you’ll be sipping cocktails in front of pinball machines.

We visited The Observatory at lunch recently to try out the veggie burger as part of my research to find out the best veggie burger in Portland. What we found — and I’ll elaborate on this in a later post — was a solid effort, with impressive structural integrity, if a little tall/thick. The patty is vegan, but if you’re not, I’d recommend adding cheese for a buck. I gobbled up the crispy sweet potato fries, a $.50 upcharge at lunch.

Veggie burger at The Observatory in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

You know a lounge has a reputation when you peruse the bar menu and think, “Oh, I’ve heard of that!” The Capricorn’s reputation precedes it: vodka, strawberry puree & black peppercorn syrup with a salt and pink peppercorn rim served up ($7.50).

Also semi-famous is the oregano fry bread, which I’ve never tried, but have heard lots of good things about.

And with that, we’re nearly at the end of the menu for vegetarians. Salads,  a grilled cheese, and that well-known veggie burger are about it. But if you’re looking for a cool place  — that’s not overly hip or trying too hard — The Observatory is worth the stop.

 

Have you been to The Observatory? What’s your poison?

 

Laurelhurst Market

Laurelhurst Market is a butcher’s shop and a “steakhouse-inspired brasserie,” which doesn’t exactly make it a vegetarian’s haven, but it’s my husband’s favorite and I’ve had plenty of good meals and tasty salads here. I just need to shower when I get home to get the meat smell out.

Servers will help you pick a selection of salad and sides. There should be enough flexibility for vegans and gluten-free eaters, but check the menu online ahead of time. Right now, in early spring, there’s a endive and citrus salad with roasted beets, a “harvest salad” with raw and grilled vegetables on greens, smoked oy.ster mushrooms, roasted baby carrots, roasted potatoes, mac and cheese, onion rings… I’ll bet you could make a decent meal out of that.

When they first opened, they didn’t take reservations. Now they do. Recommended! You can probably walk in early on most weekdays, but peak times will require a wait

Ask and I will tell you about the time I was nine months pregnant with low blood sugar and we went here for our anniversary and I cried for about the first fifteen minutes after we arrived. AWKWARD.

3155 E Burnside
503-206-3097
laurelhurstmarket.com

Ox

Ox is one of those restaurants that’s been spoken of as a top-10 Portland restaurant as long as it’s been open. The concept is meat-centric–literally, with the Argentine grill on display in the restaurant. Luckily, the wood-fired grill doesn’t create heavy meat smells, and there are enough vegetarian options on the “from the garden” portion of the menu to keep any herbivore happy.

If you don’t want mushrooms that were fired with all those meats, there are plenty of salads and sides available. At a recent dinner, the server was very accommodating, swapping out an anchovy vinaigrette for a dijon. Many sides can be served without cheese, meat, or seafood elements. A recent spring dish was grilled cauliflower, tahini-feta purée, fried lemon, arugula, and Mama Lil’s Pickled Peppers, $9/17. Yep, you can choose a large or small portion, depending on whether you’re sharing.

Bread with chimichurri is free, and refilled liberally, when your party orders something “from the grill.” That means meat for the most part at Ox, but there are also mushrooms and veggies on that portion of the menu.

Reservations available for large parties, or wait at Whey Bar next door. Because there’s going to be a wait. You can put your name on the waitlist starting at 4pm daily. Dinner starts at 5.

We hear it’s gluten-free friendly!

2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr.
503-284-3366
oxpdx.com