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Posts tagged ‘mushroom’

Mushroom Gravy

It’s all peaches and gravy at Once More with Veggies!

Mushroom Gravy

Like barbecue sauce, gravy is a condiment I never really warmed up to until after I went vegetarian. I always just preferred a little salt and pepper on my potatoes; and mashed potatoes were always flavored enough with butter and milk that I found gravy unnecessary. Even now it’s rare that I employ gravy. But last week I was making baked portobello caps with mashed potatoes, and figured the meal needed a little gravy to go along with it. And like barbecue sauce, I figured it’d be best to make it myself!

Fortunately I found this recipe for Easy Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy, and the title doesn’t lie – it is very easy, and makes plenty! To start, I chopped up a few white button mushrooms, measuring them in a 3/4 cup before chopping. It may be fun to experiment with other mushrooms, but buttons are great for a simple, earthy flavor that works very well in a gravy.

I then sauteed the mushrooms and chopped onion in a skillet on medium high heat with a whole lot of Earth Balance butter. The recipe calls for a quarter cup of margarine, and this results in a rich and tasty gravy. You could probably cut back if you like, but remember, this recipe makes a lot and unless you like drowning your food in gravy, you’re not going to be swimming in fat with this. Anyhoo, the mushrooms and onion needed to cook for a couple minutes, rendering them nice and soft (and the mushrooms shrink considerably during this step).

According to the recipe, you then reduce the heat to medium and add vegetable broth and soy sauce, and afterward, slowly add some all-purpose flour. Looking back, this is a part of the recipe I may change in the future. The flour tended to clump up when I added it, and while most of it dissolved, a lot of it remained in tiny dumpling form. In the future I may add the flour before I add my liquids, so that it can form somewhat of a roux which will then dissolve and make the gravy thicker. But you can try either way and see for yourself!

Once the flour was incorporated, I added sage, thyme, marjoram (all dry), salt, and pepper; and cooked it for about 10 minutes to thicken it. It never got super duper thick, so I may add some arrowroot powder or corn starch in the future. But the texture was thick enough to make a nice gravy that was good for potatoes. Once I finished cooking, I strained the gravy so as to remove the mushrooms, onions, and especially the little flour clumps that didn’t fully dissolve. I then had about a cup of mushroom gravy, ready to use!

Despite the few changes/concerns I cited above, I really liked this recipe because it allowed me to whip up some gravy quickly and not rely on canned or prepared gravy from the store. It’s also a perfect way to use up those older mushrooms you have sitting in the fridge!

Once More on the Go: Cafe Green

This past Monday I had the pleasure of seeing long-time vegan and amazing musician Moby speak about his photography at National Geographic Live. While I could go on and on about meeting one of my musical heroes, this blog is not about epic music fandom, but rather about food. So I will focus instead on the dinner I had beforehand, which was at Cafe Green!

The inside of Cafe Green. Pretty colors!

Cafe Green, which is owned by the same people behind Java Green (hence the two sharing a website/URL), differs from Java Green in that it’s a sit-down restaurant focused more on dinner and relaxed eating as opposed to a quick sandwich or salad. It is one of (if not the) only all-vegan, sit-down restaurants in DC (I don’t count places like Sticky Fingers because that’s more like a coffee shop, while Cafe Green is a more traditional restaurant with full table service and the like). Their meals have no animal products of any kind; and it also features a wide variety of raw, gluten-free, and nut-free dishes. The menu changes by season and features a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, traditional entrees, and desserts. They also have a brunch on Sunday’s, which I’ve never tried (but would like to!).

I’ve been to Cafe Green several times (including for my birthday!) and have always had good experiences. This past Monday was no different. It was a warm day, so I ordered one of my favorite drinks, the Ginger Joy, which is a sweetened ginger root tea that you can have hot or cold. My boyfriend took advantage of the happy hour specials and got an organic ale to start; the menu features several organic and eco-friendly beers, wines, and cocktails if you want some spirits with your food!

Ginger Joy iced tea, and an organic beer

Up next, the appetizer. The boy and I decided to share the Mini Mung Bean pancakes (which were also available for $1 less than usual thanks to the happy hour specials), which consisted of two mung bean and veggie pancakes that came with a tamari dipping sauce. The veggies in the pancake included spicy kimchi, so the pancakes dipped in the sauce made for a spicy punch! It was a nice appetizer that, when shared, was small enough to not ruin our dinners, but also satisfying enough to help ward off some hunger while we waited for our main courses.

Mini Mung Bean Pancakes

Now, onto the main course! Originally I was going to try the Raw Spaghetti Marinara (made with zucchini “noodles”) with Herb-Walnut “Meatballs,” but unfortunately they didn’t have the meatballs available that evening. So, I decided to try the Veggie Meatloaf with creamy mashed potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and vegan gravy. I was very pleased that I had to choose this alternative, because it was delicious! The asparagus was sauteed to a perfect crisp, the mushrooms and gravy had great flavor, and the creamy mashed potatoes tasted just like the kind I had growing up. I also loved that the “meatloaf” was largely vegetable-based – the menu described the loaf as having a lentil and vegetable base, and I definitely saw chunks of carrot and other veggies inside. But unlike some garden loafs or patties which have chunks of vegetables and just taste gross or bland, this loaf was very savory and tasty without relying too much on mock meats to try and mimic the original product – this loaf stands on its own!

Veggie "Meatloaf" with asparagus, mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and gravy - it's all vegan!

Both my boyfriend and I were quite full afterward and decided against dessert, though in the past I have had their vegan gelato and it was very good. One of these days I am going to try the raw cinnamon bun!

So in short, both of us had yet another good dining experience at this all-vegan restaurant. Cafe Green’s greatest strengths lie not just in their commitment to use vegan and organic ingredients, but to focus largely on using whole foods very well in their entrees. They do serve some mock products such as Gardein mock chicken and (excellent) vegan mac-and-cheese, but they also have dishes like the vegetable meat loaf and the raw pizza (also very good) which rely less on using mocks and more on making whole foods sing.

I will say that Cafe Green is not cheap. Both my boyfriend and I paid about $22 each for our dinner before tip, and entrees alone typically cost between $12 and $20 depending on what you order. But Cafe Green is a cozy place with great food, and an excellent option for a vegan dinner at a sit-down restaurant in the District.

Bonus picture: my boyfriend's dinner, the "steak and cheese" made with vegan boolgogi and mock cheese sauce. He loves it!