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Posts tagged ‘potato’

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!

Potato Angels (Deviled Potato Eggs)

What’s a vegan to do when she wants deviled eggs? Use plants, of course!

Potato Angels

Full disclosure – I am not a vegan, even though the focus of this blog is largely vegan food. You know how some meat-eaters will say they are semi-vegetarian because they eat vegetarian most of the time, but occasionally have meat for dinner? I like to say I’m semi-vegan, or “veganish,” as Kathy Freston called it on Oprah’s vegan show a few months ago. I keep a vegan fridge, make vegan baked goods, don’t drink milk, and eat no animal products about 75% of the time; but the other 25% of the time I may have some eggs or cheese. I’ve been trying to lessen my intake of animal products year by year, but every now and then I’m swayed by a caprese salad or a deviled egg.

Enter Potato Angels!

I found this recipe for mock deviled eggs on VegWeb, a great resource for free and easy vegan recipes. So much of my vegetarian experience these past fives years has been due to this website. I had actually seen some vegan deviled egg recipes before, but they involved putting a seasoned tofu mixture into a carved block of unflavored tofu. Now, I like tofu – even cold and unseasoned, occasionally, if it’s in a salad or whatnot. But eating this tofu deviled egg of sorts just sounded … well, really unappetizing. As someone who grew up eating delicious deviled eggs my mom would make, that was a tough sell. I wanted a cruelty-free option to deviled eggs, but I didn’t want it to be one I choked down at a party, with the only pleasure coming from the fact that it didn’t come from an abused hen. I mean, that’s a great source of satisfaction, but when it comes to food, you want the source to taste good too! Thus, a recipe with potatoes came to save the day!

Baby potatoes replace baby chickens. Victory!

The recipe starts with having you roast new potatoes which are cut in half. They also recommend peeling them, but I chose not to because all the good stuff is in the skin. Deviled eggs are not health food, and neither are these potato angels; but I wanted to maintain as many good properties of the original potato as possible. You then coat the potatoes in olive oil and roast them face down for 40-45 minutes at 350 F. This may seem like a long time, and I was skeptical; but 40 minutes made them perfect. Just keep an eye on them; I removed mine when the peel started to get really wrinkly.

While you roast the potatoes, you can start preparing your filling. In a bowl, you mix vegan mayonnaise (I love Follow Your Heart – best taste and texture, hands down), yellow mustard, finely-chopped onion, hot sauce, garlic powder, salt/pepper, and turmeric. The recipe cites the turmeric as optional, but I highly recommend it because it adds the bold yellow color that defines deviled eggs. Plus, turmeric is good for you, so it adds some more healthy properties! Mixing these ingredients with a fork is the way to go. I mixed until the mixture turned yellow, signaling the turmeric was fully-incorporated. Usually this means everything else is mixed as well.

Now, let’s assemble these bad boys. To start, take a sharp knife (I used a dicing knife) and carve a hole into your potato half so as to make a bowl or cup shape. You can also finish the job with a butter knife so you can scrape out excess potato without slicing and dicing your “egg” base.

Throw the filling you’ve carved out into the mayo/mustard mixture and mix well. Then, scoop it into your hollowed-out potatoes! I started to get fancy and do this with a frosting pumper to create pretty stars, but the onions and potato pieces made this difficult; so I just scooped in the filling with a teaspoon. Then you just sprinkle on the key ingredient: paprika! And you’re done! You can chill in the fridge, or serve at room temperature – your choice.

Now, for any egg enthusiasts out there, this is not meant to be an exact replica of deviled eggs as far as taste. While potatoes and eggs both have relatively neutral flavors, they are distinct enough to where yes, there will be a difference; and this isn’t an exact mock. However, if you are craving something in the style of deviled eggs, but want something simple, whole plant-based, and relatively-free of excess processing (the most processed ingredient is the vegan mayo), then these Potato Angels are for you. The vegan mayo, mustard, and onion are the most prominent flavors, but everything melds together to create an excellent deviled egg substitute that’s perfect for a picnic, cookout, or other gathering.

All packed up and ready for an outdoor lunch!