The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

Menu Close

Tag: vegan (page 2 of 6)

Flower Child

I started hearing about Flower Child from friends and acquaintances. My first thought was, it’s such a pretty name. “Flower Child” harkens back to the days of hippie freedom, organic living, love for Mother Earth, and so on. It is a fitting name for this restaurant, I think, because the food has a youthful flair to it. It is piquant and playful, full of flavor and texture contrasts… Definitely more hip than hippy, I think.

I sent a note to the restaurant asking if I could come in for a chef’s tasting. I got a prompt response: an invitation to lunch.

It was a cool spring morning in March when I showed up at Flower Child, Sandy Springs. I instantly fell in love with the high, airy interiors, tall industrial lamp fixtures, houseplants and knickknacks decorating the windows, casual seating, cheerful waitstaff. I introduced myself to the girl at the counter. She went and spoke with the manager Mark who came over right away and welcomed me.

I skimmed through the menu and ordered a mango-pineapple fresh juice (no sugar added), a small plate of Grilled Asparagus, and the Glow Bowl. I am not one for consuming liquids with meals (save warm herbal tea, sometimes) but I was unable to resist this fresh juice combination of two of my favorite fruits, yum. The juice was tangy and delicious. What it lacked for in sugary sweetness, it made up with freshness and flavor. I loved the juice but I was sorely disappointed to see that the glass was made from thin plastic (Grade 1, non-recyclable). I wish they’d used a glass tumbler instead. It would have been simple, elegant, eco-friendly, and sustainable.

The food arrived quick. The asparagus spears were crunchy and delicious, grill marks included. It was served with farro, barley and red quinoa, flavored with ginger miso. The dish had a gentle heat, and I enjoyed the combination of crisp asparagus and chewy ancient grains. In contrast, the Glow Bowl was a delicious Pad Thai-style preparation of sweet potato noodles in coconut milk, sunflower butter, bok choy, zucchini, onion, and shiitake mushrooms, spiced with jalapeños. It was comforting and delicious, and I marveled at the light texture of the sweet potato noodles. Worth replicating at home, I think!

I alternated between one dish and the other, taking a good long time to chew thoroughly and savor the flavors.

Mark came over to ask if I was enjoying the food. I could only nod, mouth full, happy smile on face. He mentioned that they served a vegan, gluten-free chocolate pudding made from coconut cream, cocoa powder and dark chocolate, flavored with vanilla paste, served with shaved coconut and sprouted almonds. How could I say no to that? The pudding was smooth and creamy, lightly sweetened, and absolutely delicious. I was sorely tempted to eat it all but I decided to be a good spouse who shared freely with her partner. I ate a little, and saved the rest to take home to my husband. (He loved it, although he wished it was less sweet). Alas, this pudding also came in a plastic, non-recyclable container, sigh.

I loved visiting Flower Child and eating there. I found the food light and playful, delicious, and full of flavor. I adored the cheerful, sun-lit space, large windows, and the wood-marble seating. I’d love to see if/how their menu changes seasonally, and if they will incorporate local ingredients and recipes into their menu.

Wondering when I can make another trip!

Flower Child
6400 Bluestone Rd #170
Sandy Springs GA 30328

470-481-7850
www.iamaflowerchild.com

Scrawled Keepsakes/Parippu Pradaman

As a child (or young adult), I never cooked. I didn’t know how to. I could rustle up a decent cup of instant coffee but that was it. Mummy tried her best to get me to help around the kitchen, perhaps learn to cook a few basic things. But I wasn’t remotely interested.

Mummy, smart and wise woman that she is, gave up on the obvious to-be-wasted effort. Her thought? You will learn to cook when you need to.

How right she was.

I arrived in the United States, a young and hopeful bride, hopelessly earnest and wondering/wandering. And I had to get cooking. So I learned quick on the job. Some blogger friends may recall old posts where I describe cooking moong dal, or what I thought was moong dal but ended up being masoor instead. I used to call P at work, asking him to “troubleshoot” difficult cooking situations. Ahhh, those were the days.

That was the time I began maintaining a notebook of recipes I got from my mother. And that’s how I got hold of the Parippu Pradaman recipe.

Parippu Pradaman

This is a traditional Kerala dessert, made from moong dal, jaggery and coconut milk. Yes, it is vegan. And it is ready in minutes, if you use canned coconut milk. You can fancify this dish with raisins and toasted cashew pieces, if you like.

I prefer the simple version, so here goes.

3/4 cup moong dal
1/2 cup jaggery
1 cup boiling water
2/3 cup canned coconut milk (preferably full-fat)
1/4 tsp powdered/crushed cardamom (optional)
1/4 tsp powdered dry ginger powder (optional)

Roast moong dal in a flat pan until lightly toasted. Let cool. Wash the dal with water, rinsing thoroughly.

Cook moong dal in a pressure cooker, or on the stovetop in a pan.

Using the back of a spoon (or a potato masher), mash the cooked dal to remove lumps and gain a uniform consistency.

Place jaggery in a pan. Add boiling water, mix evenly. Cook on medium-low heat until the jaggery melts into a syrup consistency.

Add moong dal to the jaggery syrup. Mix thoroughly.

Add coconut milk. Turn off the heat.

Sprinkle cardamom and/or ginger.

Serve warm or cold.

Add more (or less) coconut milk to get the desired consistency. Remember, coconut milk adds sweetness, so adjust the amount of jaggery accordingly.

Pantry and Freezer Clean-Out (Yay, Spiced Banana Loaf)

I cook lunch and dinner on most days.

P and I take lunch to work in Thermos containers that keep the food warm for hours. A long time ago (or so it seems), I used to cook extra food for dinner, and we took the leftovers for lunch the following day. Then something changed (and I don’t recall what it is). I began cooking lunch every morning. We discovered that Thermos containers are true to their word. The steaming dal blew my mind (and P’s too). We were instant converts. Now I cannot fathom eating leftovers for lunch. There is clearly something to be said for the sheer deliciousness that is freshly cooked food. There is a certain juiciness to it, an indescribable rasa that renders the food sublime and delicious and utterly satisfying.

You’d think that a kitchen as heavily used as ours would see a high turnover of ingredients and supplies. That’s certainly true for some varieties of dals and beans, fresh produce, bread, avocados, dates (we seem to consume them in crazy quantities, we do), etc. However, there are certain ingredients that lurk on pantry and freezer shelves for a long while. So I have decided to start using those “silent actors” and clear them out.

Made a delicious Spiced Banana Loaf yesterday. Proud to say that I cleaned out the following items for this endeavor: spelt flour, almond meal, broken cashews. I also used white whole wheat flour that has been sitting in the freezer for a while now.

This is a vegan recipe that uses coconut oil. I use the organic, unrefined type of coconut oil and it is fairly flavorless. The original recipe called for 1.5 cups of chocolate chips but I used a blend of cranberries, black raisins, cashews and cocoa nibs instead. Can I just say that mix is a whole lot more interesting than plain old chocolate chips?

Spiced Banana Loaf

The end result was moist, mildly sweet (I used a third of the quantity of sugar mentioned in the original recipe), perfectly spiced. I couldn’t carve out neat slices, instead ending up with little misshapen slabs.

So, if you would like to sample these little bits of deliciousness, please stop by. I am a little shy to tote them out this time. 🙂

The original recipe is at NY Times Cooking – Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Cake.

Ingredients

2 cups flour (I used a mix of spelt flour, white whole wheat flour and almond meal)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A couple pinches of salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut oil (unrefined, organic)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (cashews, dried cranberries, black raisins, cocoa nibs)

Method

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.

In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, coconut milk, oil, vinegar and vanilla.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Fold in the dried fruit and nut and cocoa nibs mix. Stir well.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it.

Transfer on to a cooling rack. Carefully turn it over, so the bottom does not get too moist.

Cut into wedges, enjoy.

Fresh Ginger Spice Cake

Fresh Ginger Spice Cake

Ginger is one of my favorite spices. I adore it in all forms. Fresh ginger is something I add to almost everything Indian I cook. Dal, khichdi, curries, soups… all of them get a generous addition of ginger – chopped or shredded. My daily cup of masala chai depends on fresh ginger for the zing and sharpness. Last India trip, I brought back to the U.S. a big knob of fragrant dried ginger (“chukkuh” in Malayalam). It liberally perfumed the plastic bag it came in. I add generous doses of dried ginger powder (“soonth”) to spice cookies and cakes. We are loyal consumers of all manner of herbal ginger teas (Yogi, Traditional Medicinals, Pukka, etc.)

I think I waited too long to make this cake, no?

Here is the original recipe. I have tweaked quantities and substituted ingredients in my version, so please read both recipes before you start baking!

Ingredients

80g fresh ginger, peeled
2/3 cup organic unsulphured molasses
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature (I used Ener-G egg replacer)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with oil or non-stick spray.
  • Chop the ginger finely. Or you can use a mixer/grinder to shred it finely.
  • Combine the shredded ginger, molasses, sugar and olive oil in a large bowl.
  • Mix the flour, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper in another bowl.
  • Bring the water to boil in a saucepan, add baking soda. Stir the water into the molasses mixture.
  • Incorporate the dry ingredients in to the molasses mixture.
  • Add the egg replacer to the batter. Mix well until combined thoroughly.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for an hour until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the top of the cake starts browning before the cake is done, cover with a piece of aluminum foil and continue baking.
  • Let the cake cool for a good 30 minutes.
  • Cut into wedges, enjoy.

Notes

  • This cake is a beautiful blend of the sweet and spicy. The dark sweetness of the molasses perfectly complements the warm spices.
  • I used spelt flour in place of whole wheat flour.
  • The original recipe called for 120g of fresh ginger. However, the kind of fresh ginger we buy is very intense, so I reduced the quantity to 80g instead.
  • I used a loaf pan that was clearly the wrong size. The cake swelled up and started overflowing down the sides of the pan. The original recipe calls for a 9-inch springform pan or a 9inch x 3inch cake pan, neither of which I own. Well, the cake swelled like crazy, finally collapsing in the center. Next time, I will use a larger baking utensil.
  • I think this cake could benefit from the addition of dried cranberries and/or black raisins.