Mosefund Mangalitsa Pork Makes Awesome Choucroute Garnie

Mosefund Mangalitsa Pork Makes Awesome Choucroute Garnie

Mosefund Mangalitsa Pork Makes Awesome Choucroute Garnie

What do you do if you have some good pork and don’t quite know what to do with it?  Get some sauerkraut, a bottle of good Alsatian wine (Riesling is what most would suggest, but my favorite is Gewurtztraminer), and make choucroute garnie.

What happened was this.  I had been seeing some ads from Mosefund Farms, the local purveyors of Mangalitsa pork products, a variety of pig originally from Hungary.  Mosefund’s product is quite an artisanal sort of thing, thus much more expensive than the average pork; but it is also much better for you (there are those who say that eating the fat from Mangalitsa pork will actually lower your cholesterol!).  But since it had been years since we had had any of Mosefund’s pork, I decided to order a variety of things: sausages, chops, a tenderloin, some ham and a tub of lardo.  The price made me cringe a bit, but I bit my lip and sent the order through.

A couple days later, the order arrived, and my excitement was dampened a bit: the tenderloin and the pork chops, everything really, looked so small.  In my mind I had been thinking I would get several meals out of the products I had bought, but obviously that was not going to be the case.  I put it all in the fridge and moved on.  I told Therese about it, and she said, well, why not make choucroute garnie.

Whenever we visit France, or go to Alsatian restaurants (like one of our favorite NYC restaurants, Cafe d’Alsace), I will often order choucroute garnie.  It is a dish that is always dairy free (no heavy cream sauces to worry about), and it is hearty and always incredibly satisfying.  And the amount of pork it contains – always sausages, usually some salt pork and ham – makes it something I would have just for a treat.  But I had never imagined actually making it at home!

The good news is that it is pretty easy to make.  Brown your pork in a large skillet or saute pan (a big one since this is where the whole dish is going to be), rinse the sauerkraut and dry it a bit, cook some onion and garlic in the pan with the pork drippings (and some duck fat), then add the sauerkraut, chicken stock and some of the white wine, juniper berries, caraway seeds, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and bring that to a boil.  I sliced a winesap apple and added that to the sauerkraut, but that is completely optional.

Add the pork products – in my case, in addition to my two chops and tenderloin, I added 4 sausages and half a dozen slices of ham.  Put a lid on it, and bake it in a 300 degree oven for 75-90 minutes.

When you order choucroute in a restaurant, it usually comes with boiled potatoes, but Therese asked that I make mashed potatoes.  So I peeled and chopped up 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, covered them with water in a covered saucepan, brought it to a boil and cooked them for about 15 minutes.  Then I mashed the potatoes, put the heat back on, added some salt, pepper, almond milk, a couple tablespoons of the lardo, whisked it until it was nice and creamy, and that was our side dish.

Choucroute Garnie Fresh From the Oven

Choucroute Garnie Fresh From the Oven

To serve the choucroute, you simply spread a couple spoonfuls of sauerkraut on your plate, put a sausage and some other meat on top, and put a mound of mashed potatoes alongside it.  I had saved most of the wine, and we each had a glass of that with our dinner.

Posted in Dairy Free, Dinner, Food, German Food | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

VSpot Welcomes Miyoko Schinner Vegan Cheese Event and Book-Signing

VSpot Welcomes Miyoko Schinner Vegan Cheese Event and Book-Signing

VSpot Welcomes Miyoko Schinner Vegan Cheese Event and Book-Signing

Only three days after the big blizzard of 2016, Therese and I were thrilled to attend a very special event at the VSpot East Village vegan restaurant.  For that evening, they welcomed artisanal vegan cheese producer and all-around vegan champion Miyoko Schinner.  We got to sample Miyoko’s many wonderful vegan cheeses (more on that later), listen to her speak, and then at the end she signed copies of her books (more on that as well).

To prepare for attending this event, I wanted to catch up on what Miyoko is producing these days, so I ordered three of her products for us to sample: her Garlic Herb Vegan Butter, Sundried Tomato Garlic Vegan Cheese and Vegan Mozzarella.

We found that the Sundried Tomato Garlic was a perfect cheese to spread on crackers.  Therese said that without thinking about the cheese’s base, she thought it tasted as good as a dairy-based equivalent would.  Then I started putting the Garlic Herb Butter in all kinds of savory dishes, as well as simply spreading it on slices of bread to go with meals.  Therese and I both loved it, and when, after just a few short days of using it, it was all gone, we were very sad!

I saved the Vegan Mozzarella for a special occasion – to put on top of a baked eggplant dish.  That turned out to be the highlight of my cooking on the day of the blizzard – if you haven’t read the post I wrote about that wonderful meal, please make sure to check it out.

Having tried several of Miyoko’s products, and enjoyed all of them, I looked forward to the event at VSpot.  Sure enough, the spread of vegan cheeses to sample looked extraordinary.

Spread of Miyoko's Vegan Cheeses at VSpot

Spread of Miyoko’s Vegan Cheeses at VSpot

Since I had already tasted two of the cheeses, I tried to sample a few that I hadn’t tried already, like the Sharp Farmhouse and Black Ash cheeses.  Crackers and dried figs and apricots were supplied to compliment the cheeses, and Therese and I were able to put together a nice mix of samples to try.

Samplings of Vegan Cheese and Dried Fruits with Crackers

Samplings of Vegan Cheese and Dried Fruits with Crackers

I think the Farmhouse variety was my favorite.  It has a nice strong cheddar-y edge to it, and I bet it would make an amazing mac and cheese sauce.

VSpot supplied the event with vegan lasagna, which we also enjoyed.  There were also bottles of Italian wines to go with the eats – I abstained from that, electing to purchase an artisanal black cherry soda from the restaurant’s bar to go with my munching.

Miyoko’s comments were largely about her vegan lifestyle, and the journey that has brought her to this point, to being a producer of high quality vegan cheeses and butters.  The large crowd of mainly vegans cheered heartily at what she had to say – her stories about how the chickens and goats on her farm have just as discerning a palate as people do were probably the most well-received of her remarks.

The book-signing portion was at the conclusion of the evening.  I waited patiently in line, and then got Miyoko to sign copies of both Artisan Vegan Cheese, the book on making your own vegan cheese that introduced me to Miyoko’s work three years ago, and her latest book, The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples (which I purchased at the event).  I told Miyoko how after Therese gave me the former book for Christmas 2012, I tried making my own cheese, with limited success (my first try, at making Boursin cheese, was probably my most successful attempt), and she reminded me that making cheese is like mastering an art-form, and you have to keep trying.

Speaking with Miyoko as She Prepares to Sign My Books

Speaking with Miyoko as She Prepares to Sign My Books

I walked away from the event feeling very inspired.  One of the sponsors for the evening was Riverdel Vegan Cheese shop from Brooklyn – I didn’t know there was a vegan cheese shop in Brooklyn, and will definitely make a special trip there to buy more of Miyoko’s products, and probably some other brands of vegan cheeses!  Another exciting development – Whole Foods Supermarkets will start carrying Miyoko’s Vegan Butter and Vegan Mozzarella, starting February 1st.  Soon, I will dust off my mason jars and cheesecloth and take another stab at making my own vegan cheeses.  Thank you, Miyoko!

Posted in Dairy Free, East Village, Food, Food Events, New York City, NYC Restaurants, Products, Vegan cheeses, Vegan food, Vegan Food Producers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Storm Jonas Brings a Blizzard of Dairy Free Delights

Winter Storm Jonas Brings a Blizzard of Dairy Free Delights

Winter Storm Jonas Brings a Blizzard of Dairy Free Delights

What were you doing during last weekend’s blizzard, the so-called Winter Storm Jonas?  Binge-watching some favorite tv show?  Sleeping late and then lying around most of the day?  Checking in on tv and internet news to get the latest updates on how terrible the weather it was getting?  Spending time on social media letting your relatives know that you were warm and safe?  Therese and I were doing all of that, plus we were taking the opportunity, what with being stuck inside, to enjoy some good food (made by yours truly, of course).

Breakfast was something light, crackers with Tofutti cream cheese and fruit I think.  And lunch was leftovers, of some choucroute garnie I had made a few nights earlier (stay tuned to hear more about that in another post).  But it was for dinner that I pulled out the old apron and got really busy in the kitchen.

I started with making dessert.  I’ve had this package of pumpkin spice brownie mix from Sur la Table in my cabinet since before Christmas.

Sur la Table Pumpkin Spice Brownie Mix

Sur la Table Pumpkin Spice Brownie Mix

This was fairly straightforward to make.  I mixed up the cream cheese (Tofutti, of course) with the spice mix and an egg with my KitchenAid mixer, and mixed up the other eggs and melted Earth Balance with the brownie mix by hand in another bowl.  Using my ceramic pie pan, I assembled the brownie (first half the brownie part, then alternating spoonfuls of spice mix with brownie mix until used up, then pulling spatula through to create a marbelized effect).  Baked in the oven, it came out looking just like this.

Pumpkin Spice Brownies Cooling

Pumpkin Spice Brownies Cooling

While the brownie cooled, I moved on to the dinner: baked eggplant with vegan mozzarella.  I was trying a new mozzarella, that of Miyoko Schinner (more on her in another post as well).  Ms. Schinner was coming to New York later in January, and I thought I wanted to try some of her newly-launched vegan cheese products ahead of time.

The base of the recipe was an eggplant recipe by Mark Bittman, from his Vegan Before Six book.  When I make this recipe, I do sort of bastardize it, since the whole idea is that this is a vegan, i.e., without cheese, version of baked eggplant, and I add vegan cheese to it.  In this case, I sprinkled shreds of Daiya mozzarella throughout the layers of the dish, and spread slices of Miyoko’s Vegan Mozzarella on the top.

The other components of the dish are slices of eggplant that are first baked in the oven on cookie sheets, a simple tomato sauce (onion, garlic, tomatoes, spices) and chopped basil leaves.  When I got it all together, it looked like this.

Eggplant Strewn with Vegan Mozzarella, Ready for the Oven

Eggplant Strewn with Vegan Mozzarella, Ready for the Oven

I originally intended to grate the mozzarella and sprinkle it over the top, but it was too soft for that, so making fairly thin (say, 1/4 inch) slices was my back-up plan.

After baking the dish at 400 degrees for 20 minutes as instructed in the recipe, I turned on the broiler and put the eggplant under that for about a minute and a half.  I watched it – in my experience, things under the broiler can go from nearly perfect to completely inedible in a few seconds – and could see the mozzarella bubbling under the heat of the open flame.  Nice!  I took it out before it got TOO brown, but the cheese did get browned a bit, as you can see in the photo at the top of this post.

I dished up a portion of my eggplant baked with vegan mozzarella, and was very pleased with the look of it.

Baked Eggplant with Miyoko's Vegan Mozzarella

Baked Eggplant with Miyoko’s Vegan Mozzarella

I enjoyed this dish quite a bit.  The two kinds of vegan mozzarella played well with each other, and the overall flavor was that of a classic eggplant parmesan.  The sauce was a bit on the thick side – I think in the future, I would use less tomatoes and add some vegetable stock to create a lighter tomato sauce.  Otherwise, we loved it.

After we had eaten our fill of the eggplant, it was time to turn my attention back to the desert.  I cleaned out my KitchenAid bowl and filled it with ice water, and when it was nice and cold, I got out my Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream and made some whipped cream, adding a couple tablespoons of sugar and a dash of vanilla to sweeten it up a bit.  And it was time for some brownie with whipped coconut cream!

Brownie Topped with Coconut Whipped Cream

Brownie Topped with Coconut Whipped Cream

A fitting conclusion to a very good meal.  And to a blustery day of epic proportions!  As we watched all the furniture on our terrace disappear beneath the mounds of snow, we were very impressed.  Jonas came to play.  But, typical of New York City, just a few days later, the temperature has warmed up, and most of the snow is already gone.  Bye bye, Jonas!  We enjoyed ourselves while you were wreaking your havoc!

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Dairy Free, Dessert, Dinner, Food, Italian food | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Your Favorite Dairy Free Traveler 2015 Posts

Your Favorite Dairy Free Traveler 2015 Posts

Your Favorite Dairy Free Traveler 2015 Posts

This year, I have decided to do a different sort of top-10 list here at the Dairy Free Traveler.  While posts like Trader Joe’s Dairy Free Favorites and Dairy Free Movie Theater Snacking, some of my popular posts of all time, continued to be the most popular posts in 2015, I have elected to focus here on posts that were actually written in 2015.  So without any further ado, here is my list of your favorites written in 2015.

10. Dairy Free New York City Outer Boroughs. First on the list, weighing in at number ten, is actually a page that appears on the blog’s main page heading.  In 2015, one of my projects was to beef up my coverage of my home city, to really embrace being the expert on dairy free options all over New York City.  To do that, I felt like it was best to separate into two pages.  This second page, on Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, is very much a work in progress.  That there seems to be some interest in it inspires me to put in more time expanding my coverage.

9. Charleston Weekend. This weekend was the first of several in 2015 that we spent in Charleston, our favorite city after New York.  We filled in some gaps where restaurants are concerned – keeping in mind that there are so many good restaurants in Charleston that you could go to a different one every day, and probably get most of the way through the year before you started repeating yourself (and of course be happy with your food choices most of those days as well).

8. The Taj Mahal. I am not surprised that one of the world’s most famous sights would make it to this list.  We had a fabulous time seeing this incomparable monument, not once, but twice, during our incredible trip to India.

7. Van Leeuwen Survived the Blast. Every year it seems we have some kind of disaster or other happening in New York City.  In April 2015, a gas explosion destroyed a couple buildings that were very close to one of my favorite dairy free desert stops.  Luckily for them, their shop was unharmed, and after the usual cleanup, they were back in business!

6. Qutub Minar and Humayuns Tomb. Before we went to India, I had never heard of many of the incredible sights we visited.  Seeing these two on our first full day in the country certainly got the whole trip off to a wonderful start!

5. Virgin Atlantic New York to Delhi. My interest always lies in being on vacation, rather than getting to the vacation destination.  The latter is almost always, in my opinion, just an annoyance to be endured.  But sometimes, even in the midst of a major annoyance, there can be wonderful surprises to uncover.  That was certainly the case in getting to Delhi, India from New York City.

4. Silk Dairy Free Yogurt Alternative. In the midst of middle age, getting my probiotics is a concern.  Taking a pill is ok, but I’d much rather get it in food, and seeing how there are a bunch of dairy free options for yogurts (or cultured soy/almond/coconut milk, if you prefer) is quite a nice thing for me.  I am reminded, by the success of this post, that I have yet to do a full dairy free yogurt throwdown.  To come, sometime in 2016.  Stay tuned.

3. Starbucks Iced Chai with Coconut Milk. Now that I have found so many local coffee shops in NYC that serve almond milk with their coffee and tea beverages, it is rare that I subject myself to the Starbucks scene.  Oh, for sure there is a Starbucks not far from my latest apartment building in midtown. But why not support the little guy (or the comparatively little-r guy), when it is so easy to do so?

2. Daiya, Tofutti and So Delicious. This is a subject I hope to be returning to many times in years to come. And I hope that, as Daiya and So Delicious continue to branch out into new products and areas (mmm, Daiya Cheezecake!), Tofutti doesn’t get left behind – I grew up on their products practically, and I know soy is not so popular nowadays (and many are allergic to it), but man, at this point nobody matches Tofutti’s dairy free cream cheese for creaminess, body and flavor!

1. Sarah Bernhardt Restaurant Prague. And here we are, your number one favorite post written in 2015, yay!  And I have to say, you, my readers, made a great choice.  Sarah Bernhardt Restaurant was one of the most beautiful restaurants, maybe THE most beautiful, we visited in 2015, with one of the most excellent meals as well.  And it celebrated the Alphonse Mucha posters of the famous French actress, which also made it of great interest to me.

In closing, while I restricted my list this year to posts written in 2015, I continue to look for opportunities to expand on the posts that have been most popular during the life of this blog.  For example, my progress report on eating dairy free in Paris, which was one of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog, is still a big favorite.  Since Therese and I returned to France in spring of 2014, and will be there again this summer (spending most of our time in Rouen, but certainly visiting Paris for at least a few days, here and there), I can certainly write an update, and will be happy to do so!

Thanks again for the interest throughout 2015!  I look forward to sharing everything about dairy free life and travel this year, and hope to hear from you as well.

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Getting the Chicken with Dried Apricots Tagine Right

Getting the Chicken with Dried Apricots Tagine Right

Getting the Chicken with Dried Apricots Tagine Right

It always helps to follow the instructions on a recipe – sometimes, even when you think those instructions are wrong.  And in the case of Paula Wolfert‘s chicken with dried apricots tagine recipe, it wasn’t that she was wrong – it was that I misread the instructions.  So when I made the recipe, it didn’t come out right, and eventually I developed my own version of the recipe, to overcome what I thought were its shortcomings.

But then, my old tagine broke, and I had to buy a new one.  I had bought my previous one from Sur la Table, and it was not their fault that it broke (I dropped a pot on top of it), so I once again purchased a 12-1/2 inch Sur La Table Terra Cotta Tagine. And I thought, what would be a better recipe to start off the new tagine with, than some classic chicken with apricots.  As I was reading through the recipe, I realized my error, made it the right way, and it came out incredible.  I will give you the details in just a moment.

And let me say, yes, I could give you the entire recipe.  But I would much rather that every single one of you buy Paula Wolfert’s book, The Food of Morocco.  Because if you have any interest in cooking tagines, looking at this book will make you mad to cook tagines.  It is that incredibly beautiful, and the recipes are that intriguing.  And the food you make from these recipes will thrill you.  So please buy it.  Go ahead.

Instead, I will share my commentary on the recipe with you here.  Because, again, I can never just robotically copy the steps of a recipe.  In this case, for example, I wanted to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, rather than the bone-in chicken parts called for in the recipe.  So of course my dish was going to be done much faster.

Beyond that, let’s talk about my fatal mistake from times gone by.  You see, the sauce for this dish is to be a melding of an incredible spice mix (saffron water, La Kama spice, garlic, salt, cumin) in which the chicken is cooked with the sweetness of apricots stewed in orange juice with a cinnamon stick inserted into it.  But the second half of the sauce never quite came out right for me.  I was trying to do it in a saute pan, and with the juice all spread out, the apricots didn’t get stewed (they stayed rather chewy/hard) and the orange juice did not get infused with the cinnamon flavor.

I looked at the recipe, and saw that I was supposed to cook the apricots in the juice, in a saucepan.  A saucepan, of course!  So I did that, and of course, with the apricots and cinnamon stick surrounded by the juice, in the cramped quarters of the saucepan, it worked incredibly well.  The apricots broke down, some of them almost being reduced to juice, became luscious and made the perfect compliment to the savory chicken and spice flavor.  Here is a picture of the leftovers to give you an idea of how it looked all nicely mixed together.

Leftovers of Chicken with Dried Apricots Tagine

Leftovers of Chicken with Dried Apricots Tagine

I sprinkled some pine nuts over this, served it over basmati rice, and oh my, what a meal!  Thank you again, Ms. Wolfert, for bringing wonderful Moroccan cuisine to my table!  And I promise, from now on whenever I attempt one of your recipes, I will double-check myself before assuming that your instructions are wrong!

Posted in Cooking, Dairy Free, Dinner, Food, Moroccan food, Recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Breezy Dairy Free Jaunt Through 2015 Holiday Season

Breezy Dairy Free Jaunt Through 2015 Holiday Season

Breezy Dairy Free Jaunt Through 2015 Holiday Season

OK, so not to bore you with more holiday stories when everyone has put all that behind them.  I know we are a culture of “let’s move on,” but you know, not long ago the holiday season was full upon us.  And it didn’t necessarily have to end with the changing of the calendar.  Speaking just for myself, it was a pretty great holiday season.  So if you are as frozen-toed as I am, and in need of a bit of doldrum-shaking at this mid-week, midwinter moment, here is a quick and light gallop through some of the highlights of the dairy free traveler holiday season.

The Rockefeller Center Tree.

Okay, everyone knows that if you’re in New York City, you have to go see The Tree.  I was on my way through the Rockefeller Center area one day, and tried my best to do the old “selfie with the tree” thing.

First Tree Selfie

First Tree Selfie

In my first try, the tree was too far away, and so the ratio of humongous tree to small human head was completely off.  I had to try again from another angle.

Second Tree Selfie

Second Tree Selfie

The ratio came out a little better this time, but people who saw this on Facebook remarked how remarkably un-joyous I appeared.  Oh right – holiday – cheerful.  And some were concerned about the small dog sticking out of my shoulder.

Luckily, I would have another chance to get up close and personal with the tree.  On a Thursday evening in December, Therese and I got together with our daughter Valentina and had dinner at Brasserie Ruhlmann.  This restaurant is the perfect location, on the northern edge of Rockefeller Plaza and just steps from the tree.

We had a lovely dinner.  I had a lobster cocktail, and then braised beef short ribs with pearl onions and a rich bourguignon sauce.

After dinner, we got to have our time with the tree.  There being the three of us, we took photos of every possible combination of people with tree in the background, including the three of us with a hospitable tourist taking our picture.  I will give you my favorite combination, of the two ladies with me behind the lens.

My Ladies with the Rock Center Tree

My Ladies with the Rock Center Tree

Okay, that’s better!  Sparkly tree.  Smiling people.  Festive.  Oh yes.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie.

For Thanksgiving, I made a pumpkin pie, using the original Libby’s recipe, but substituting vegan condensed milk, which I made myself, for the dairy variety.  I baked this actually the day before Thanksgiving, and it was so successful that Therese and I ate most of it that day, and therefor did not end up serving it on Thanksgiving!  We loved it so much that Therese asked me to make another one for Christmastime.  So I did.

Pumpkin Pie Fresh from the Oven

Pumpkin Pie Fresh from the Oven

The vegan condensed milk is really the star of the pie.  To make it, I consulted a recipe from Detoxinista.  However, I departed from the recipe to a large degree.  He talks about using a 14 ounce can of coconut milk, reducing it to half, and coming out with 12 ounces of condensed milk.  That doesn’t make any sense.  So I use two cans of coconut milk, and double the amount of sweetener (in my case, maple syrup) to a half cup.  After simmering for an hour or so, I am left with about 16 ounces, or 2 cups, of condensed milk.  I used 12 ounces for my pumpkin pie, and saved the rest for mixing into oatmeal.

And yes, using that much coconut milk, reduced to half, makes it pretty intensely coconutty.  Not be dissuaded by this (I love coconut milk), I also made some coconut whipped cream to grace the top of my pie slices.  This made for an excellent holiday dessert (holding ourselves to just one slice a day, Therese and I managed to make the pie last almost all the way to New Year’s Eve).

Pumpkin Pie Slice with Coconut Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Pie Slice with Coconut Whipped Cream

Visiting with Teddy Kaleynska.

Teddy’s daughter, Tsvetta, has been part of our family for a few years now.  Teddy, who lives and teaches in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (which is where Tsvetta grew up), has invited Therese and I to come to Bulgaria, which we are going to do this June.  So when Tsvetta told us that her mother was coming to New York City for a long holiday visit, we made plans to see her on a couple of occasions.

The Sunday before Christmas, we met Tsvetta and Teddy at Cafe Tallulah on Manhattan’s Upper West Side for brunch.  We all enjoyed their hot spiced apple cider special to drink, and I had a rustic blt sandwich with a fried egg on it (with salad and french fries).

After we finished eating and the table was cleared, Therese brought out our Michelin Map of Bulgaria and our Veliko Tarnovo Street Map, and we started talking about plans for our trip to Bulgaria.  I won’t go into details right now, but suffice it to say that Teddy has some great plans for us to get to know her home country.

On December 30th, we met up again, this time at our apartment.  Teddy came over in the afternoon, and after having lunch, the three of us went to the Rubin Museum of Art, one of our favorite more manageably-sized museums in New York City.  We had a ball seeing all the art from places like Nepal, Bhutan and Northern India.  I especially love seeing their collection of Tibetan Buddhist thangka paintings and statues of deities, some of which are as frightening as they are delightful.

Rubin Museum of Art Tibetan Buddhist Deity

Rubin Museum of Art Tibetan Buddhist Deity

After the museum, we returned with Teddy to our apartment, and Teddy made us a dinner of the classic Eastern European dish, moussaka.  Tsvetta had sent me an ingredient list, and I had everything ready for Teddy.  The one thing that was tricky was the yogurt, of course – I bought So Delicious Plain Cultured Coconut Milk, but it was sweetened, which made the dish a little off.  Nevertheless, Teddy soldiered on, and the meal she created for us was wonderful.  Tsvetta arrived at dinnertime, with bottles of wine, and we had a memorable evening together.  We look forward to our time in Bulgaria in June.

Let me leave you with one more photo of Christmastime – a more successful selfie – me in my new Christmas bathrobe in front of our Christmas tree.

Me in my Xmas robe with our Christmas Tree

Me in my Xmas robe with our Christmas Tree

Posted in Brunch, Dairy Free, Dessert, Dinner, Food, New York, New York City, NYC Restaurants, Pies, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daiya Dairy Free New York Cheezecake Review

Daiya Dairy Free New York Cheezecake Review

Daiya Dairy Free New York Cheezecake Review

I know I am a bit late to the table with my Daiya dairy free New York Cheezecake review.  One of my resolutions for 2016 is to keep more up-to-date when it comes to identifying new products, tracking them down, sampling them, and writing reviews.  So here is a good start, and better later than never.

In my defense, for the longest time, I had heard about this product, but had no idea where to look for it.  It didn’t occur to me that it would be kept in the frozen food section.  But upon checking Whole Foods website, sure enough, that’s where they said they kept it.  And the first time I checked in a Whole Foods for the Daiya cheezecakes, what do you know?  There they were.

Or I should say, there were two of them: the New York style reviewed here (or plain or original if you prefer – my guess is that the other three also have that New York style consistency – dense, rich, etc.) and the chocolate variety.  After reading a review of all four on Fork and Beans, I had decided that the chocolate and New York were the two I wanted to try, so it all worked out for me.  If I ever track down the Key Lime and Strawberry varieties, I will tell you what I think of them too.

Anyway… so yes, I followed the directions to defrost the cheezecake in the refrigerator for about 6 hours, before slicing it on a plate and leaving it to defrost for another 20 minutes and then preparing to eat.

Daiya Cheezecake Ready for Serving

Daiya Cheezecake Ready for Serving

I am almost tempted to quip in the above photograph “actual size” simply because this cheezecake is small.  If you’re used to getting your cheesecake in a New York City diner, you will be shocked at how small this cake is (it’s at best half the size of a normal cheesecake).  And at $9.99 per, you might feel a little cheated.  But, not to steal my own thunder, but a quarter slice of this is plenty filling.

Now, I am sure I would have been happy eating my slice plain, but I thought it would be more fun to jazz it up a little.  Besides, it was still the holidays (this was the week between Xmas and New Year’s), so why not live large, right?  So I whipped up a can of coconut cream, sliced up some strawberries and doused them with confectioner’s sugar, and had a cake with fruit and cream experience.

Daiya Cheezecake with Strawberries and Coconut Whipped Cream

Daiya Cheezecake with Strawberries and Coconut Whipped Cream

In short, I loved it.  Sorry that the whipped cream looks a little chunky – it was actually light and creamy though it may not look it.  The cheezecake was wonderful.  It had a little teensy bit of that usual Daiya tang to it – I don’t know what that is, maybe their mixture of tapioca starch, potato starch, pea protein, etc. – but all their products have that same flavor in the background, for me.  But that notwithstanding, I thought this stood up to any dairy free cheesecake I have eaten.

I say that, because while I would like to say it’s as good as dairy cheesecake, honestly, it’s been 20-plus years since I have tasted one of those, so I am not sure.  I can definitely compare it favorably to cheesecakes I have had from Vegan Treats, for example, and also the lovely tofu cheesecakes they used to serve at the Zen Palate restaurants here in NYC (so sorry to hear that the last Zen Palate open has bitten the dust!).  Which is to say: creamy, luscious, just the right amount of sweetness and nice tang, and the graham cracker crust is nice too (a bit pasty, but over all, a good effort on the crust).

Looking forward to trying the chocolate variety – maybe this weekend!

P.S. I tried the chocolate variety – creamier than the New York style maybe, and also quite wonderful with coconut whipped cream on top, as you can see below.

Daiya Chocolate Cheezecake

Daiya Chocolate Cheezecake

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