11/30/09

hux's lego warriors.

the lego warriors came 2 sacred chow and ate dinner b4 they went 2 journey in2 a galaxy far, far away. they said it was the best veggie food they ever ate outside of some jeggie food (jupiter veggie food) aka manjacuna food. they took some food 2 go, and paid w asteroid diamonds.

sage israel!

Lose one.

As Boss Man mentioned, one of our very long time employees decided to walk, rather than working it out. And as he said, we'd tried to talk it through, figure things out, and move forward. No dice.

So out he went, into the wild blue yonder, with nary a word for any of us left behind. It's a shame, really. It wouldn't have taken that much to say something more than "I'm unhappy." Therein lies the problem. If you're not able to articulate why you're unhappy, how can we then help you to remedy the situation and make it better for all? It's like those people who give empty critiques. "It was bad." WHY was it bad? What about it didn't work for you? Speak up, and say something, so we can step in and fix it, and you don't leave on a sour note.

We both had an epiphany this morning. We figured out why the man who left us was unhappy. But it was too late, because he'd already walked out into the sunset. The problem isn't the language barrier; both Boss Man and I are fairly proficient at picking up the Spanish, and our bookkeeper speaks it natively. It wasn't a question of being embarassed to say something, becasue we spoke in private and as a group.

It was just not saying what was causing the upset, and thereby leaving us to deduce the reason for it, which is impossible to do. And now, we had to part ways with someone who has been with us for a very long time, and who knew plenty. I wish him well, and hope that he finds what he needs.

11/29/09

step back and take notice!

2 of the guys that work in the kitchen r not getting along, so one has decided 2 leave, the one who has been @ the chow the longest. i tried intervention, sat them down and spoke 2 the both of them more then a few times. i know how difficult it is 4 most folks 2 directly communicate w one another when things become difficult. i know from my own experiences.

one of the reasons i decided 2 attend law skool was 2 become a criminal defense attorney, i wanted 2 face my fear of confrontation head on. when i was in law skool, i really enjoyed researching and writing appellate briefs. i loved being ensconced in the law library doing research 4 hours upon hours. there is this legal tool known as shepardizing that i just adored; it is the whittling down of a legal point til research discloses its most recent, valuable & pertinent interpretations. that was extremely satisfying 2 me. but i would be hidden deep in the caverns of the library, away from any human contact, and that wasnt best 4 my emotional growth. so it was criminal defense v. appellate research. oh how i wanted 2 do appellate research. i begged myself not 2 do criminal defense. "wasnt research the way 2 change more lives?" i asked myself. "yes, of course!"was the answer. "so please, do the research!" i insisted. but ultimately, no dice. it was the more difficult path i pushed myself down. fortunately i knew this, and could act upon it so that change would be possible. also, i had come from a family that believed in psycho-therapy, lots of it. and up 2 a point in my life, i was seeing a therapist 3 times a week. this 4 my family was a normal enterprise, my under-grad degree was in psychology, my mom and bro r psycho-therapists, many cousins r psychologists & psychiatrists, and everyone went 2 therapy. in my family, it was as natural as scratching ur head.

pulling ourselves 4ward 2 be where we need 2 be w life is a very, very hard task, especially if we dont have backgrounds that foster persistent mental digging in2 finding resolutions. i know most of us do not have that understanding, courage or luxury. so 4 me, here at the chow, when such problems arise needing resolution, i work 2 intervene. it rarely ever works out 4 long though bc anger is what we all seem 2 know best. 4 most of us 2 say what is on our minds and in our hearts immediately as we r feeling what we r feeling is almost impossible; we hide behind falsity, circuitous utterances meant 2 distract one another from confronting what we r really feeling. we hold on2 the anger 4 long periods of time, saying nothing, while resentment grows in2 hatefulness. we walk next 2 each other but feel worlds a part; holding unsettled scores and recriminations until violence erupts like steam needing 2 escape from a boiling kettle.

what 2 do? practice, practice, practice patience. when i was practicing law in nyc, and i often needed 2 wait 4 the subway 2 come 2 take me 2 the court-house, i remember feeling so dreadfully impatient: waiting, waiting, waiting, getting angry, and angrier. i would be boiling inside, like the steaming kettle. and i would utter things like, "where the f-ck is the f-ckin train?" "f-ck, f-ck, f-ck!" "it's so g-d dam hot in here!" and i'd stretch my head in2 the subway tunnel, like everyone else, looking 4 it 2 come. one day i heard g-d or some other being, certainly not me, calmly say: "yo guy, step back, it'll come when it comes and not one minute before." "who the f-ck r u?" i said. "f-ck u, shut up, go away!" i continued rubber necking my head in2 the subway tunnel. "step back," it said, "step back, take a look around u, there is so much u have never taken notice of while standing here. TAKE NOTICE!" it commanded. so i did. every day i would practice the voice's words of taking notice, until i no longer stood and peered in2 the subway tunnel, but stood back and observed the crevices, cracks, rats, lights, garbage, ceilings, tracks. soon i was taking pictures of what felt like another world, one i never even noticed while i was steeped in frustrated urgency. "whether it is 5 seconds, 5 minutes or 15 minutes, the train will come. it's u that needs 2 slow down." i now thought. "step back, u'll get there exactly when u r supposed 2 and not one minute b4." i would say. and the train just seemed 2 arrive. just like that, magically. ah, the calm!

well, it was and continues 2 be a hard lesson 2 learn, and it doesnt manifest itself w/i over-night. it takes great effort & persistence, but it works. i will never give up trying 2 bring others that orbit in my flow toward greater patience. i know that most of us wont get there, but some of us will, and that is everything. bc when we practice patience we automatically produce less violence in our being, and thus less violence concurrently dissipates 4 all life.

take notice my dear friends, step back and take notice.

11/28/09

11/27/09

Leftovers

There are a couple of considerations to be mindful of when storing and eating leftovers. For one thing, you want to make sure that you do so in such a way that said leftovers aren't a burden, but a secret surprise. For another thing, you want to make sure that you'll live to tell the tale after eating said leftovers.

Safety first. When storing food in the freezer, please do so in small containers that approximate to one serving each. Why? For one thing, smaller containers of food will freeze solidly fairly quickly when compared to food in large containers. For another thing, once you've heated up frozen food, you want to make sure that you finish it off, and don't put it back in the freezer. It's not safe.

I can't tell you how many times I've gone to the freezer, craving something I'd made earlier that month, and been disappointed to see that I'd have to reheat a huge quantity that's only suitable for a large party. Ever since I got my own home with my own fridge and freezer situation, I make sure to only freeze in small amounts. Raiding the freezer is a habit you want to get into, rather than buying those frozen premade foods.

Another thing to remember is that when you do store your leftovers, don't store more than one or two servings (per person) of one particular dish. If you don't want to get sick of the food that you've spent all this time and effort making, go ahead and just put the bulk of it in the freezer, and leave out just enough to eat in a day or two. In my house, I tend to make enough for just me and Steve, to last about two full meals. Much more than that, and I'll start stretching into the freezer.

Above all else, there is the whole thing that if you do freeze your leftovers, you're giving yourself some insurance against those nights when you just don't feel like cooking. I know I've had plenty of those in my time, and you're bound to have them as well.

11/25/09

Do things en masse

The kitchen is, as always, a hive of activity. Mind you, it’s for a different reason than usual, but it’s still a little crazed in there, with regards to the prep work. Of course, we’ve got people ordering the regular food today, as well as deliveries. Enter Boss Man and Laura Lady. Chef Laura Dardi came in to help us with the masses of food that we’ll be cooking today. You don’t realise what /scale/ means until your boss casually asks you to weigh out twelve pounds of pumpkin to make pie.

And that’s just for the gluten free pumpkin pies.

What I’ve noticed is that during all this prep work frenzy, things tend to work really well when you have a system. Either you tag-team, or solo it. If you solo it, it works really well to go assembly line fashion. For instance, if you’re going to boil some pumpkins to make pumpkin pie, you first peel all your pumpkins. Then you scoop out all the seeds from all the pumpkins. Then you chop them up into pieces. Then you tip it all into hot boiling water, to boil. Then you rinse and drain the seeds, and dry them off lightly. Then you toast the seeds in the oven. It’s not because you need to use the seeds for the pie, but why let perfectly good pumpkin seeds go to waste? The chef needs a snack too, right? Then, you do all the other steps, one at a time, to everything.

The reason? When you’re cooking in large scale, you want to be able to stop at a certain point, and put it off till later, if the need should arise. For example, when I’m preparing for a large quantity of people coming over, I tend to freeze the process in the middle for those things that take multiple steps. With mixed rice (lemon rice, coconut rice, etc.), I’ll cook the rice, then put it into gallon sized zip top baggies, and put them in the fridge, to get cold cold cold. Then, the next day, all I have to do is make the spice blend, and toss the rice through on top of the stove. This ensures that my rice is perfectly separate, while still heating through at the last minute, when I need it to be heated through. It avoids the aggravation of having the rice dry out in the oven, and it saves me a significant headache on the day of, because if the rice is mushy, I can make something else (VENN PONGAL WUT WUT!) and salvage it, rather than looking foolish on the day of.

Try it out at home. When you have a large amount of stuff to do, complete it in steps, a day or two in advance. Then, on the day of, just wrap up all the loose ends, and look like a superstar.

11/24/09

"But it's just a little!"

One of those things that really annoys me about the recipes that people are churning out at this time of year is that they're unnecessarily cruel. Cruel to your wallet, to the planet, and especially cruel to the animals that had to suffer for it. Let's get a few things straight right now: the animal product isn't strictly necessary every single time.

It's one thing to go to a place where people are eating actual animals. They're acknowledging the act, and doing so with whatever level of justification they have to do to get to that level, and that's for them to decide on their own. It's completely another thing, however, when cooks/chefs/etc. are encouraging ... nay demanding the use of animal products in places where it's not really needed. I'd say you're a pretty lousy cook if you think that those trace amounts of cruelty really make that much of a difference.

1) When you're cooking an enormous quantity of food, whether you fry the onions in olive oil or bacon fat isn't going to make an enormous difference at the end. Use the olive oil, and if you really think that it's making a largehuge difference, throw in a touch of hickory salt at the end to get that smoky flavour, which isn't really all that necessary, and will be generally washed out anyway. The olive oil is healthy, tasty, and a fairly easy shot, as you're going to be able to serve it to a much wider variety of people.

2) If you desperately need the saturated fat's taste, consider something like coconut oils. The flavour I get from a scant amount of coconut oil, added to my regular cooking oil is far superior and more fragrant than any amount of butter or margarine that people insist on using. A very small amount goes a very long way, and the result is so many kinds of delicious. You can go to the health food store, and invest in the fancy extra virgin stuff, or you can run down to the Indian store, and snag the slutty version. Both of them smell pretty amazing.

I made lemon rice the other day, which traditionally calls for nuts (which I didn't have in the house). I wanted that rich flavour, and pregan (pre-vegan, that is) cooking would have meant throwing a bit of ghee in there to give it a bit of a fat and flavour boost. Instead, I added in about a scant 1/2 teaspoon to the cooking fat at the very end (this was meant to spice and flavour about 10 cups of rice [uncooked, not cooked]). It really was a hit. That's the thing: coconut fat rewards you when you use it in the smallest amounts necessary.

3) STOP. USING. CHICKEN STOCK. If you're looking for that chickeny taste, add in about 2 TB of nutritional yeast to ever litre (4 cups, roughly) of water you're using. If you insist on making the bouillon stuff to sprinkle onto veggies and the like, use the wonderful, the talented, the beautiful, and the ever-giving Bryanna Clark Grogan's recipe for it:

BRYANNA'S HOMEMADE VEGAN CHICKEN-STYLE BROTH POWDER
makes about 1 and 1/2 C.
Blend in a dry blender:
1 and 1/3 c. good-tasting nutritional yeast flakes
3 T. onion powder
2 and 1/2 T. sea salt
2 and 1/2 tsp. garlic granules or powder
1 T. soymilk powder
1 T. white beet sugar
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. finely crumbled dried sage (NOT powdered)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. tumeric
Store in an airtight container and use 1 level tablespoon per cup of water.

By the by, if you haven't checked out her site yet, please go ahead and do so. You won't regret it. She is like the Julia Child of the vegan world. She has deconstructed /everything/ and generously shares it to everyone who wants to see.

The thing is that stock doesn't really have that much flavour. That's kind of the point of stock. Animal stock is really there because of the gelatinous quality it gives. For vegans, getting that same texture and savoury flavour is simple, via the fenugreek seed. Boiled gently in water, the fenugreek makes a very delicious stock all on its own. If you can't find fenugreek seeds, use the recipes above to give your water some oomph.

For the record, I don't use stock at home, and neither does Boss Man. Everything we cook comes from things that are flavoured specifically for the dish, and for the occasion. The vegetables themselves will give that texture. If something is too thin, make a quick slurry of 1 part cornstarch, tapioca starch (not tapioca pearls), potato starch, arrowroot powder, or just plain old flour, and 2 - 3 parts cold water (use COLD water, please, so that it doesn't clump), whisk it together quickly, and slide it into the soup or stew. Let it come to the boil for a few seconds. Turn off the heat. It'll thicken up as it cools. For about a litre of water, I'll use around 2 TB of the starch, and 5 TB of water. It thickens a lot more once it cools down.

While we're here: stop using stock to cook plain rice, pasta, potatoes, etc. Those foods are in desperate need of salt, and stock doesn't contain enough to make a difference (if it's a good stock). If it's not a good stock, how much /good/ flavour are you getting out of it in any case? Use water, use plenty of salt, and let 'er rip. The starches need the salt early on, or else it won't penetrate.

4) Fish really isn't a vegetable. Seaweed is. See the difference? Gooooood. :)

5) To get that creamy texture, use soy, almond, hemp, or coconut milk. They're all delicious. They're all incredibly creamy. Even the giant bottles of Trader Joe's soymilk, which is like $3 or $4 creams up beautifully when cooked. And frothy coffee drinks and lattes and all the rest happen beautifully with the soy milk. If you can't do soy, try a combination of rice milk and coconut milk (about 2 TB coconut milk per 1 cup of rice milk). It doesn't pile up the froth quite like soy does, but the creaminess is quite delicious.

For your smashed potatoes, throw a bunch of potatoes on the boil, drain when fork tender, throw on 1 can coconut milk per 3 lbs of potatoes, throw in some chopped garlic, some minced parsley, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and a good sprinkling of salt. Garnish with snipped chives, or your herb of choice. So delicious.

When doing sweet potatoes, toss peeled, cubed sweet potatoes in a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, drizzle on some pure maple syrup, finish it off with a touch of vanilla extract, then roast at 350 until tender and caramelly on the outside. It works the same for pumpkins (only with the pumpkins, throw in some pecans or other related nut to make it so much the better). No need for boatloads of sugar and other disgusting things. Keep it simple, and the vegetable will thank you.

6) BREATHE! This is a time of year when people can easily get stressed. Nothing ruins all the hard work and the effort you've put into things like a poor outlook. There is no disaster that is so horrible that you can't recover from it. Remember in the midst of the rush and the rabble that you're allowed to stop and breathe once in a while. It's allowed!

I've learned over time that as long as I have a few tins of beans, some oil, some spices, and a bit of rice lying around, I can mostly salvage any major disasters fairly quickly. If you need rice in a hurry, there is a way to speed things along.

Toast the rice in a bit of fat, and have a tea kettle with boiling water ready and waiting. It'll knock off a good 10 minutes from your total time needed. You just need to toast the rice till it's opaque (not browned), and then pour in the boiling water. Add a bit of salt, slam on the lid, and let 'er rip till it's cooked. Tinned beans take minutes to put together on short notice, and can even use them to fix things.

If you oversalt your food, you're really going to need more bulk. This can happen in a couple of ways:

- baked potato
- cooked rice
- breadcrumbs
- coconut milk

If you don't have enough salt, add less than you think you'll need, and let the food boil for about 30 seconds. This will allow it to naturally get mixed through. This will also prevent over-salting.

Lime or lemon juice will cut through something that's too hot and spicy. Sugar will do the same. Orange juice would be a sort of one-two punch. Keep around some simple syrup (1 part water, 1 1/2 parts sugar) if you'll be serving cocktails of any sort. It will fix a too-sour, too-alcoholy, too-anything drink in a trice. Simple syrup also works for fixing too much salt, too much chili, too much anything in food too. It's a powerful tool to keep around. Just dissolve the sugar in boiling water, and keep it in a bottle in the fridge.

Hope everyone's holiday season shapes up beautifully, and your plans all work perfectly!

Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving dinner for the culinary-impaired
by Andrew Tom
Washington Square News, N.Y.U. Press
November 23, 2009

Food is one of my passions, and I dine out constantly. If you're like me and cannot cook, and are staying in the city for Thanksgiving break, fret not about your dismal culinary condition — go to a restaurant.

Sacred Chow
227 Sullivan St.

Sacred Chow is known for delicious vegan tapas, and is an ideal choice for both its food and its proximity to campus. Whether you're looking for takeout or a table, Sacred Chow will work with you to plan your Thanksgiving accordingly. And it's kosher certified too!
Sacred Chow's $45 traditional Thanksgiving prix fixe menu includes: one soup, two prix fixe sides, one main course, one dessert, one hot beverage, and a choice of wine or cider (most dishes are gluten-free). The menu is highly seasonal, playing off such Thanksgiving favorites as potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, all of which supplement the obvious stars/proteins of the show: tempeh & seitan.

Honorable Mentions:
Momofuku Ssam Bar: $350 Bo Ssam menu, serves eight (207 Second Ave.)
DBGB Kitchen & Bar: $48 for three courses (299 Bowery)
Inside Park at St. Bart's: $45 for three courses (109 E. 50th St.)
Blue Fin: $42 for three courses (1567 Broadway)
Andrew Tom is a contributing writer.
http://nyunews.com/life/2009/nov/22/dineout/

We'll dine instead at Sacred Chow.

But this year we'll save the Thanksgiving menu for Christmas ...and we'll dine instead at Sacred Chow in The Village.
Charmed Life Chronicles
Monday November 23, 2009

best vegan restaurant!

sacred chow is possibly the best vegan restaurant in manhattan.
from pk11 peter kovac

11/23/09

Be YOU

I was talking to my mother the other day, and we were discussing how she had a party for my baby sister’s (who isn’t such a little one anymore; the girl has a baby of her own now!) birthday. She’d made some noodles, lemon rice, potato curry, a few other dishes, and like a macaroni with pasta sauce. I was confused as to why they’d bothered with the macaroni drill, because there was so much other food, all of which would be quite delicious, and was distinctly Indian in both execution and flavour. She wasn’t quite sure why. I guess my sister thought that since the preponderance of people coming over were American, they’d be able to relate to it more.

Three guesses what finished first, and the first two don’t count.

She had all of one cup of lemon rice left over. She had none of the potatoes (and she’d made something to the tune of 12 lbs of the stuff) left, none of the other veg left, and pretty close to all of the pasta left over. Furthermore, the stuff that she kept mild (no chilli) was left over in greater quantity than the stuff she added the heat to. Why is this? Let’s think about it for a moment.

For one thing, people are coming to your house to have your company. Yes, the food is often a lovely bonus, but in reality, it’s you they’re there to see. Whatever you make is going to be a good thing. It’s much like going out for a meal with friends. Yes, there are times when the service or food are less than stellar, but for the most part, you’re there for each other’s company.

The other thing is that when you cook a unique style of food, people are going to your house to get stuff that they can’t get anywhere else. Think about it. If people come to my house, they know they’re going to get my special hummus that I make with obscene amounts of garlic and toasted cumin. They know that they’ll get an excellent daal. They know that they’ll get some kind of roasted vegetable, some kind of curried vegetable, and some kind of green cooked with coconut milk. It’s more or less a given.

At my mother’s house, you know you’re going to get a stewed veg, some kind of curried veg, some lemon rice (because it really /is/ that popular) and a raw salad. It’s pretty much a given. In fact, it’s so much a given that people specifically come to her house for it, since she does it so well. That’s what I had to talk to her about. People love her cooking, and can get pasta any old place. They don’t need to come to her house for it! And furthermore, they love her hot spicy food. Add the chilli! It’ll still be delicious, and if someone can’t take that much heat, they’ll eat more salad and balance it out.

The point I’m trying to make is this: be true to yourself. Yes, you can try to do things that are “accessible”, but it won’t be you, which is the entire reason that your friends are coming to visit in the first place. They want your food, your cooking, and your company. Yes, it’ll be different from what they’re used to, but that’s OK!

I guess part of it comes from her experiences in the past, where people thought that our food is “weird” and didn’t know what to do with it. But that was years and years ago, before the advent of the Internet, and before people were familiar with Indian cookery and spices. Nowadays, you can find cumin anywhere in the country. You can find turmeric in pretty much any grocery store. Heck, I even passed by a grocery store that had cardamom, and I haven’t seen that in a mainstream store before. Times are changing, and people are changing.

What would have been made fun of in the past is now looked upon with longing. It’s the same for your own culture (or another culture, if you’re given to borrowing). People aren’t so afraid of “unusual” anymore, and are fairly adventurous, if you just give them a chance. So give them a chance, and let them see the real you. They’ll thank you for it!

11/22/09

Top lunch.

Top lunch manhattan restaurants
1.Sacred Chow
2.Peking Duck House
3.de Santos
4.Punch
5.Momofuku Ko
6.Esca
7.Corner Bistro
8.Gramercy Tavern
9.BLT Steak
10.Ocean Grill

Above=top 10. Total=top 336. http://www.hunch.com/manhattan-restaurants/toplists/lunch/17193/

The chocolate cake was amazing!

My friend and I had brunch at Sacred Chow last weekend based on Alicia Silverstone's recomendation. We both loved it! The chocolate cake was amazing! I couldn't believe it was vegan. There was so much on the menu that I wanted to try. We will definitely go back.
Jessica Harris — Nov 13, 2009

11/21/09

the charred flesh of the less powerful.

how did the idea of consuming less violence become sacred chow's raison d'être? it happened while i attended law skool, when i was in con law 2 be exact. the prof was giving a lecture on the 3 levels of scrutiny the u.s. supreme court follows in discrimination cases: high-level, meaning the gov't/state or fed entity has the burden 2 prove that it wasnt discriminating against the person; mid-level, meaning the gov't and the person have an equal burden; and low-level, meaning the person has the burden 2 prove they were discriminated against; almost always a loser case. low-level cases represent so much discrimination, persons w disabilities, kids, seniors, gay & transgenderfolk..., discrimination that is not equally protected from hate and violence.

after i left con law that day, i began pondering my contribution 2 this chain of inequity: how did i add 2 the violence? how could i affect greater change? that pm, i went 2 my fav el salvadorian restaurant on florida & 18th w a fellow law student. we sat down 2 order the classic delish dish, shredded beef pupusas. and there it was in front of me, the answer: animals! was it possible 2 fight 4 real, hardcore protection of the disenfranchised, less violence and less hate, when i was consuming so much violence? i put down my pupusas, finished law skool, passed 2 bar exams, practiced poverty law in pennsylvania and new york, went 2 cooking skool, and opened sacred chow. and i never consumed another animal thereafter, never again.

how 2 make less violence was my goal, my mission, from con law 2 sacred chow. the notion that we can instantly make less violence if we eat plant proteins became the mantra: eat plant proteins, make less violence! of course, we now know that eating less animal protein assures less carbon emissions, less misery, less starvation & better heart health as well. by choosing 2 consume plant proteins, we release a new mentality that weaves itself through the world's bloodcurdling abattoirs, and less violence does indeed transcend.

we need 2 think hard about our food choices, our consumption of horrid violence, and how that consumption adds 2 violence on so many other levels. we must appreciate our ability 2 be able 2 litigate & promote equal protection guarantees under western constitutions. how very fortunate we r 2 live in ever-evolving democracies! stop b4 u fork in2 ur mouth the charred flesh of the less powerful protein that sits on the plate below u. strive 2 equally protect all life. consume plant proteins, make less violence! endeavor 2 be strong, healthy and smart, and teach the generations 2 come 2 eat the sacred chow.

vegan deliciousness...

sacred chow - vegan deliciousness...
http://hypebeast.com/forum/showthread.php?p=2203484
Fav NY food spots 11-21-2009

11/20/09

the hummus is rave worthy!

i know i already did a post about Sacred Chow, which you can find here, but i recently visited NYC and had the lovely opportunity to eat more hardcore vegan organicness. i think this was probably one of the best Sacred Chow experiences I have had (and I have had many!). my friend and i ordered three tapas each and i loved the way they served it to us in tiers.
i ordered the curried steamed broccoli, cilantro hummus, and indonesian roasted tempeh. my friend ordered the orange blackstrap BBQ seitan, grilled western tofu, and sliced ginger soba noodles with spicy peanut sauce. everything was delicious. i usually don’t rave about hummus because it is so ubiquitous and so easy to make, but wow (!), the hummus is rave worthy and i would definitely order it again. i’m especially fond of the indonesian tempeh.
Sacred Chow also has desserts but my lunch stuffed me to the gills in a very good way. thank you, Sacred Chow!
Posted by vegetablediaries on November 18, 2009

oh hanukkah!

Save the Date! NYC Jewish Veg*ns Hanukkah Party at Sacred Chow

Dec15
Tue 6:45 PM
Location

227 Sullivan St
btwn W. 3rd St. and Bleeker St.
New York, NY 10012
212-337-0863

How to find us
"It's a small place we'll be the largest table"

Who’s coming?
13 Yes / 0Maybe

17 spots left

Who's hosting?
Cathy

You can order off the regular menu, individual holiday items or order the holiday pre-fixe meal. You can order one item or 20, it's up to you, as long as you pay for what you order and have a good time.

A)Holiday Pre-Fix menu option
Optional NYC Jewish Veg*ns Sacred Chow Hanukkah Pre-Fix Menu including $30 tax and tip
1) Bread: Tofu Challah
2) Choice of one: Salad or Soup: Caesar salad or Pumpkin Bisque Soup
3) Family Style: Slow Roasted Seitan Brisket or millet mushroom stuffed yuba (gluten-free alternative)
and Potato Latkes with Coconut Cream Sour Cream
4) Choice of one: Dessert: Apple Strudel or Hanukkah Jelly Roll or a glass of Sangria

OR

B) Order from the regular menu (no minimums or maximums) option

the best food on the planet!

(a note from a long, long, long time friend of the chow; here on sullivan, as well as when chow was located on hudson.)

hi cliff,

hux is a very, very, very lucky little boy. he has a father who not only gives him some of the best food on the planet but also gives him an incredible amount of love. i know that you are a fantastic dad.

things are going well on my end. i recently finished writing a book. when it gets published, you will be happy to know that sacred chow is in there and is mentioned prominently. it was sacred chow that kept me nourished through the toughest 18 months of my life.

i will be in tomorrow (friday) at 1pm with my friend from barcelona. i told her she is in for a real treat.

i'm super-excited for the food!
max

Last day to place t-giving pre-orders on Tuesday

The last day to place orders for the Thanksgiving menu (to buy stuff to take home from here by the pound). Recap of the menu, for those who didn't see it on the home page:

Thanksgiving Prix Fixe Special Choice of one soup (Pumpkin or Mushroom-Barley), choice of one main (Tempeh or Seitan), and choice of any two (2) prix fixe sides, choice of one Thanksgiving dessert with choice of coffee or tea, and glass of wine or mulled cider: $45.)

Sides: Garlic Chive Mashed Potatoes (GF), Cornbread Stuffing (GF), Cranberry Apple Relish (GF), House Made Cinnamon Apple Sauce (GF)

Soup: Pumpkin Bisque (GF) or Shiitake Mushroom Barley Stew (WF)

Main: Pan Seared Tempeh w a port wine reduction (GF), Seitan Bordelaise

Desserts: Pumpkin Maple Praline Pie (GF), Apple Pie, Mock Mincemeat Turnovers, Cranberry Orange Layer Cake w/Citrus Buttercream (GF)

If you'd like more information, please visit the home page, or download the form, and bring it by. Or, just stop in and pick up a pre-order form, and one of the wait staff will take care of things for you.

11/19/09

Distracted usually means it's going to cost you.

Either money, time, or aggravation. Today, I had to dash down to the store to grab a couple of things for Chow. Unfortunately, my brain was wandering the whole time, and I wasn't "all there", so to speak. This meant a couple of things. I got everything into the trolley very quickly. I got into the queue extremely quickly. The queue moved quickly too. I sailed over to the chekout counter, and had the guy tally up everything.

"We can't deliver those soy ice creams, you know."

"Oh, it's fine. I'll fit it into my backpack."

I double checked the shopping list to be sure I got everything. Check.

I paid, and sailed out the door.

Got on the subway, got back to Chow, got to the office.

"Where's the rest of the stuff?"

"They're delivering it."

"..."

I asked them to deliver 2 bags.

At the cost of $5.

Ordinarily, I'd have stopped and thought for a second, and realised that there wasn't that much stuff at all. But for whatever reason, my brain was in the stars and not the task at hand, causing disastrous results for all concerned. Obviously, I take the subway everywhere I go. Short of a serious emergency, I don't bother with a taxi. The delivery person isn't going to be doing the same. They'll be driving a delivery truck, and burning petrol. When there's something to the tune of 7 or 8 bags, this can't be helped, because there's no way one person can carry that much stuff on his or her own, and it's impossible to take it on the subway. But three bags, anyone can manage.

It reminds me of every major mistake I've made in the kitchen. When I'm working in the kitchen, I tend to leave the TV and radio and all the rest turned off, because I don't want to be distracted. When I am distracted, I tend to make some pretty major screw-ups (today's being a prime example). Spices burn, ingredients get left out, water evaporates into nothingness and the whole pot of food (pot included) is ruined.

It's also the sort of thing that'll cause my knife to slip, and cut my finger instead of the food. It's when I'll drop ingredients (or the food) on the floor. It's those times when something seems like a really capital idea, but ends up being such a thunderous failure that I'll wonder (in the aftermath) what on earth I could have been thinking! It's like I said: wasted time, wasted money, masses of aggravation.

Even though going to the store to pick up a thing or two, or cooking is something I do frequently, there are pitfalls that happen out of nowhere. Here's to hoping that you don't have any yourself.

11/18/09

3Bean Chili

Obviously, I can't give away our secret blend of spices that we use, but I can certainly give you some tips on how to make a really good chili without animals in it. To get started, set three little pots of beans (1 cup of each type, soaked overnight) to cook. Start them off in cold water (4 - 6 cups water per 1 cup of dry beans you started with). Then, get them up to a full rushing boil, and sustain that hard boil for 10 minutes. Then, drop down the heat to as low as it goes, and let them cook slowly at the barest simmer till they're tender.

The reason you cook them separately is because beans can cook at different times, and you want them all to hold up at the end. If you don't have the time or patience for it, tinned beans are fine, but the flavour won't be as developed. Get them cooking until they're a little short of being done to tenderness. They're going to cook all together to complete the cooking.

First and foremost, chili isn't chili without smoky flavour. Some people use spices (smoked paprika, toasted cumin, toasted coriander, liquid smoke, vegan Worcestershire, etc.), while others roast off some veggies and peppers low and slow in the oven to impart that smokiness, while still others actually go through the process of smoking their veggies. We can't do the actual smoking here at Chow, and we don't use liquid smoke (there's some sort of chemical in there that Boss Man doesn't jive with), so instead, we rely on the spices and the oven.

For one thing, we don't put raw chiles in there. We roast them in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 30 - 45 minutes at 350ºF until the skins are blackened through, and will peel easily. Seeing as how we don't want our patrons to be in pain, we remove the seeds, but at home, I leave the seeds in. Then, we roast off some red peppers. It takes a little longer for roasting red peppers, but the wait is definitely worth it.

While you're there, consider using a pair of gloves when peeling the chiles. I've been handling them all my life, so it doesn't bother my hands, but one of my coworkers in the kitchen said, "Are you sure you don't want gloves?" I looked confused until he explained that for a lot of people, the chiles are really hot in the mouth and on the hands. If this is the case for you (that is, you don't handle very hot chiles with your bare hands on a regular basis), then please get yourself some gloves, and protect your hands.

If you're actually not a fan of heat at all, go ahead and use some sweet peppers, so that you still get that smoky aroma without the heat at all. The bell peppers can only take you so far, after all. Anyrate, once all the peppers are roasted, go ahead and pop them into a plastic bag, and close the bag tightly. I use a zip top bag, which works just fine for my needs, because I can dump all the used skins right into that bag, and not make a mess. Once they've sat in the bag for a goodly 20 minutes or so, the skin should come off quite easily.

While you wait on the peppers to roast (and then, subsequently, to peel), go ahead and start chopping your onions, garlic, celery, carrots, (standard mire poix, with a bit of a garlicky punch; it's lovely). Don't worry too terribly much about everything being perfect and tiny sized. This is chili, not some fancy frou frou thing that's fussy or finicky. I like corn in mine, and I know some people who like theirs with a couple of extra vegetables. Whatever you fancy, go with it. Since corn is out of season, Boss Man isn't about to add it, so we're talking beans, more beans, and a bit of TVP for texture contrast.

Once the veggies are chopped, sautee them slowly over medium high heat, along with your favourite spices. The closest that I've managed to get at home that's like Boss Man's spice blend is garam masala or chinese 5 spice mixed in equal parts with chili powder (the kind with ground chile, garlic, and a bunch of other spices, not the kind that's just ground red chile), and finished off with a bit of dark chocolate at the end, but you may have your own that you like to use. Once the veggies have come together, stir in some tomato paste, diced tomato, alcohol of your choice (stick to tequila or vodka if you're gluten free; otherwise use beer) your dried herbs of choice (I like thyme and oregano, myself, but you can use your favourites, like sage or rosemary), and salt to taste. You want to add the herbs at this stage, because you want their flavours to draw out slowly into the surrounding liquid. Simmer this mixture for a good 30 minutes or so, over lowest heat, covered. You can add a bit of water if the mixture looks too dry. You're looking for a thick gravy consistency.

By now, the beans should be almost completely cooked through, the peppers and chiles should be seeded, skinned and chopped, and your tomato/spice mixture should be smelling quite tempting and lovely. At this point, you have a couple of options. The first is to drain the beans of the cooking liquid, and tip them into the tomato mixture, add in about 4 cups of liquid (stock, wine, or water), and cook together for about 35 minutes over a low bubbling simmer. The other option is what you'd do if you're going to add some TVP or tofu to the chili to give it a textural contrast. Tip in the beans, with their cooking liquid into the tomato/spice pot. Add the roasted peppers, the roasted chiles, ,and taste for salt. If it's a little bland, don't worry. It'll intensify as the chili cooks down. Allow the beans and the rest to simmer slowly for 35 minutes (at least). This will evaporate any excess liquid and let the beans get done to tenderness. If you added the beans with their cooking liquid, throw in some TVP or thawed tofu to bulk it up and give it texture. This will take care of any excess liquid you've got. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add your garlic, chocolate, and adjust the salt as needed.

If you could use a bit more heat, add a bit of cayenne. If it's too hot for your liking, add a bit of fruit juice (apple works great). To finish it, garnish with piles of cilantro, basil, or scallions, and serve with fat wedges of limes. When something has been simmering that long, you'll want some acid to brighten the flavours. At Chow, Boss Man adds the acid at the very end, so that when people want a bowl of chili, all they have to do is ask for it, and it appears. But at home, you can add those little touches to make it lovely and comforting.

There's a couple of reasons why this is the ideal, perfect winter/autumn dish. For one thing, it's got heating spices (such as the cumin, the cinnamon, etc.; if you use garam masala, the whole entire thing is made up of heating spices) and heating veg (the bell peppers and the chiles). In Indian medicine, those heating spices help warm the blood, and keep your circulation going. They're quite tasty, and good for you at the same time. Furthermore, cumin helps prevent excess gas accumulation. And if I know anything about vegans, this is a very important thing.

Of course, the beans and TVP/Tofu itself is loaded with protein. The tomato and peppers (especially if you're using red peppers) are loaded with vitamin C. And, since it's all plant food, you've got lots of fibre in there, which fills you up, and keeps you full for a good long while. Nothing can stop you when you're running on plant power!

Thanks!

Many thanks to Danielle, whose kind words gave Boss Man a boost and got him back in the kitchen with a smile. Sometimes it takes an outsider, who you don't see every day, to give you that much-needed kick in the behind, and remind you of why you do what you do in the first place. Elizabeth (lovely, sweet waitress with the dark hair) put it into perspective: "If some person on the street randomly yells nasty swear words at you, are you going to take it to heart? No. You're going to think that person is crazy, and get on with your life."

Well said, Elizabeth.

That being said, any serious artist, cook, writer, or any other creative sort of person will readily welcome constructive feedback. There have been times when some one's pointed out something specific, and we realised (to our horror) that they were absolutely right, and that it should be fixed! Heck, it's that honest feedback that keeps us striving ever-more into perfection. It's pointless to sit around patting ourselves on the back because we're making great food. That doesn't help us (or anyone else) to grow.

It's when we get that specific, constructive feedback that we can improve. I remember getting an email from someone who said that the food was just fine, but it took forever to get there. Boss Man and I then examined the wait time for food to arrive, and the person was absolutely correct. It really did take too long for the food to arrive, and what's more, it wasn't going up with the proper garnishes. It was because of a couple of very minor things that needed tweaking (for example, the person plating was taking far too many steps to do simple things). It took some re-training of our staff, but it made it so that not only did food go up faster, but that the plating person was a lot more confident in handling more than one ticket at the same time.

Cliff's niece Sunny pointed out that soup takes forever and a day to get hot when it's heated up to-order, so why not just keep the soup hot all day in one of those soup warmers (that we actually had already). Boss Man wanted the soup to be heated fresh to order rather than sitting in the bain marie, but it just took too long to heat and took vital time away from the platter moving the orders out swiftly. More importantly, the customers wanted their soup immediately. We deliberated, and ever since then, the soup arrives to the table faster than lightening. It may seem like a small thing, but when you can knock out major chunks of time-wasting, it's quite reassuring.

The point is that we're all receptive to feedback, because that's what lets us know how to make your experience perfect (which we all need to strive towards anyway). It's when the feedback is malicious that it doesn't do anything for the person giving it or the person getting it. So please, for all of our sake, don't be the random screaming nut job in the streets. Be passionate about your food, and let us know how we can make it go from good to great!

11/17/09

Can't let everyone have their say ... some don't deserve it.

So Boss Man got a nasty review from a nasty person, alleging that everything was horrible. She insulted the waitress, the space, the food, everything. Said that the food was so horrible that she couldn't eat any of it. And I'm like "Really?"

We talked to the waitress. "Uh. I would have remembered if someone sent back their /entire/ order." I agree with you, Ms. Waitress. Who goes to a place, and hates absolutely everything in it, and actually sits around long enough for the cheque, and doesn't say anyhting to anyone working there? Seriously?

Even when one thing goes wrong, the wait staff are very good about coming to me or Cliff, and saying "Hey. That was not good the way XYZ came up. FIX IT." Or, they'll say something later if the customer insists that they don't want something different (because if you're dissatisfied with something, we can't really expect you to pay for it, as long as you say something, and you haven't polished the plate clean or somesuch). Hell, even I've done it before.

My friend and I went to this restaurant that does a lot of raw food, right? I saw a raw hummus on the menu, and figured "Hey! Couldn't be that bad, right?" I got it, and it looks so pretty. I took one bite, and had to chew.

Uh. Yipes.

I called the waiter over in a distress, and said, "Hey! I'm so sorry to bug you, but this is totally not what I was expection I'msosorryfororderingit." He didn't bat an eyelash, and said, "Don't worry about it, man. I'll get you something else. Here's the menu." Five minutes later, I had a plate of creamy, dreamy mashed potatoes, piled high, and smothered in gravy. "That's more like it!", I said, and devoured it. When the cheque came, the raw hummus was never spoken of again.

And that is how it works when you eat out, right? Am I unique in this? If you totally hate something so much, would you sit there, eat everything, and then leave and send a moody angry message to the owner? One would think that the first thing to do is let the waitress know that you're unsatisfied, right? If she can't fix it, you then leave before finishing the meal, and make it clear that you're unhappy. Then, the waitress tells the management, who then figure out what went wrong, to try to fix it.

THEN when you send that angry message to the manager, he/she knows what you're talking about, and will get back to you with ways to get it fixed. Then, the people involved can figure out what day you were there, who was working, and who needs to get a little crash course in doing things the right way. It’s not that big a deal.

Does anyone who reads this agree with that person? That the service is terrible, and the food even worse? Are we sending out crap? I know the answers in my own head, but Boss Man doesn’t seem to be quite so sure, for whatever reason.

11/16/09

the almighty.

a very loyal & content guest sent us a disturbing post he received from an extremely angry one-time guest. he indicated that he often does searches 4 new reviews of sacred chow and came upon a negative twitter of hers, and felt the need 2 respond. she responded 2 him w a mean-spirited post. he was quite upset with her post, so he sent the post 2 us saying he was sorry he had ever mentioned anything 2 her, but wanted us 2 read what she had said. we immediately wrote him back and told him not 2 worry. we said that opening up ones life in a public way, like sacred chow, means opening up feelings in others that will not always be positive. we continued, we know the negative posts dont feel good, and we were so sorry that he became part of this little post battle. nevertheless we told him, we love u 4 taking it upon urself 2 answer the rants of this discontented guest, and thanked him 4 being a caring and loyal friend. upon re-reading this one-time guest's post, we were truly saddened that we had caused such hostile emotions in someone, so we decided 2 fully let go, we would make a paper copy of her words and set them ablaze under an evening sky. we watched the embers ascend in2 the heavens and asked the almighty 2 give it a good read. we love u all.

Cooking by the book

So here I was on Friday, cooking up a storm. Boss man wanted things done, and he wanted them done in a timely fashion, so that he could get home before sundown. "We need two soups, a grain, a vegetable, and a bean." Wow. Looks like we really are running through the stuff, and will have to make more. So I set to work.

The first thing that popped into my head was biriyani. It's a North Indian dish involving basmati rice, lots of fragrant spices, lots of yummy vegetables, and lots and lots and lots of fat. OK, so maybe that's not the best fit for Chow, seeing as how everything here is on the healthy side of things. He'll never ask me to go fat free on something, but Boss Man cringes when I start to break out the heavier hand when it comes to fats. So I chose to go the route of pilaf instead. Far fewer vegetables, a hint of saffron, some other fragrant spices, and that ever so lovely Basmati rice. I typed out the recipe for myself, and showed it to Cliff. He said, "You know what you're doing. Go for it."

Here's the thing. Although Cliff and I are highly creative when it comes to the kitchen, we're very careful to write down the recipes first, for various reasons. For one thing, when it's all laid out in front of you in black and white, you can quickly cost it out. It's part of the reason that the biriyani would never work: on paper, it's a fairly expensive and fatty dish. It'd have hit the cutting room floor as soon as he saw how much oil it calls for.

Another reason is so that one of us can hand it off to the next person, if need be. If I don't know what he's doing precisely, I won't step in to do more than stir the pot really quick, or turn down the heat if he asks me to. If it's all written down in detail, then we can jump in and take over if one of us has to dash off and take care of something else.

Of course, when it's written down, you have a roadmap to the dish. You tend not to forget things, like that pinch of nutmeg, or that dash of black pepper that just make the dish sing. And, when all is said and done, you can look over your work, and see if it all came out as expected. Unless there's some sort of starting point, there's really no sense of where to tweak to fix it. And how many of you can actually remember exactly how much of something you put into the pot? And what if you want to repeat your results? Any good chef (and scientist) knows that if you don’t record everything, there’ll be a step that you missed. There’s a few things that I’ve made so many times that I’ve got it memorised. Even so, I’ll still pull the recipe when I’m at Chow, because I can’t afford to be inconsistent with the results, or to lose an ingredient. (At home is a different story; I tend to be a little lazy when at home.)

However, all this said, Cliff does trust my judgement, and will give his opinion only if he thinks I’m making a choice that’s not good for Chow.

All that being said, I didn’t bother to write down a recipe for the soup (black eyed peas with collard greens, and the other was an African groundnut stew). All those things that I said would go right when you have something in front of you went wrong when I made the soups. The pilaf went off without a hitch, because there was still a fair bit of time. But then, time started ticking, and I had to get a move on. Soup number one came out just fine, because I had the time to do it. Soup number two came out fantastic, but I had to do it all myself. This meant that I couldn’t really pass on the baton to the next person, until it was at a point where it was “OK, when the timer goes off, turn off the stove.” D’oh! This meant that I wasn’t out the door till fairly late on, compared to when I’m usually out.

Lesson for the day: write it down!

So there I am, toasting the spices, toasting the basmati rice, simmering those veggies for the groundnut soup, simmering the beans for the other soup, and making the whole place smell lovely, and just generally grooving to the cooking vibe, when Cliff and I got to talking about the spices I was using. The spices I was using for the pilaf were: cumin, coriander, nutmeg, salt, pepper, fennel, cardamom, and saffron. All of them would have been equally happy on Cliff’s pantry, just as it would be in my own. It’s not because we’re both into International cooking, but because both of us come from cultures that love complex flavours! Aside from the saffron and cardamom, all the rest of those spices could be found in any home with a reasonably stocked pantry.

It’s interesting how we do come from far-flung corners of the globe, but here in the USA, we’ve all brought a little taste of home back with us, and now people in middle america are familiar with coriander (the spice and the herb!), which was unheard of 50 years ago. We borrow from each other, and take what we like from each others’ cultures. It’s a wonderful thing, because we’ve got so much to learn from each other, and it all starts when we come together and vibe to it.

Event went as planned

We had an event on Sunday, and it looks like it went off without a hitch!

Hi Dino,

I just wanted to thank you and Cliff (and Henriette, who was wonderful!) for an amazing evening! Everything worked out beautifully, just as I had hoped. The talk was fascinating, the food was delicious, the participants were enthused and engaged. I also wanted to share with you that quite a few people mentioned to me that they really enjoyed their meal, and that they're planning to come back on their own in the future.

Again, thank you for helping us make this happen - I'm only sorry that I didn't get a chance to meet you and thank you in person!
All the best,
Naomi


(I think she meant Harriet, but aside from that, everything else is accurate.)

Kosher Veg list: http://heebnvegan.blogspot.com/2009/11/veg-friendly-kosher-restaurants-in-nyc.html

11/13/09

Correction for Thanksgiving.

Hey all. I need to make a correction on the Thanksgiving closing hour. We close at 5:30, not at 10. Sorry for the mistake.

11/12/09

the sleep world!

okay, time 4 bed, i tell hux. he says, "b4 we sleep, let's go under the covers daddy and make a tent-tunnel, a cavernous cavey place, and use the computer 2 light it up and warm it up." so we do. and it is warm and it is lit up under here. it is cozy and nice. okay, time 4 sleep hux. hux says, "off in2 space life in a dream!" and then, "i am the g-d, g-d, g-d of all, all, all things, and i say off w the computer or time 4 a big knuckle sandwich. time 4 the sleep world. cyclonic double breath kick. hyper point. chomp along critical punch. special power attack. 550 damage scorch bomb. warrior seeds. eye-ball up monster. pinch whippie. eee, eee, eee. ppp, ppp, ppp. rahrr, rahrr, rahrr."

never give up!

when putting 2gether the seitan roast 2day, dino and i wanted 2 stuff it w spinach-basil-arugula... a green leafy pesto concoction, which is the traditional way 2 go about makin' pesto; however, we were on the short side of the green leafy vegetables. "what should we do?" he asked. just so u all know, this question is a kinda larger life question if u wax philosophical; meaning, never give up, there's always a way 2 find what ur lookin' 4. as a matter of fact, there r many ways 2 the answer, just dont fret 4 2 long, chronology is a tickin' away. but re: this pesto question, we steamed some carrots and made one-mean heady, delicious carrot pesto. yup, heady and delish!

vegan pesto

green leafy veg, or steamed root veg, bean, tuber (just dont use a veg that is liquidy.)

nutritional yeast

sweet white miso (omit is want soy free.)

toasted nuts or seeds (watch out 4 chinese pine nuts or u might come down w pine mouth!)

minced garlic

xv olive oil

fresh lemon juice

salt

pepper

all in2 food processor til creamy smooth.

tiny israel: sidewalk, nyc.


11/11/09

VEGAN Cupcakes!

From Andreas T.

Yummy VEGAN Cupcakes (from Sacred Chow)! at Think Coffee.

Seitan Massage

Boss Man's back in the kitchen, with that giant mass of wheat, just whacking away to massage the seitan into being. The first time I'd seen him at the task was years back when I started working here, and he was doing office work, plating work, washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen, and doing everything else, except breathe or rest. It was nuts, but someone had to do it, right? In those days, I was only obliquely aware of the goings on in the kitchen, because I was busy waiting tables.

The thing about running a business is that you need to use everyone's talents to the peak of its abilities. If there is someone else who can easily replace your job, you shouldn't be doing it, if indeed there are more advanced level things you could (and should) be doing to move said business forward. In other words, neither of us was doing those special "only you" sort of things, and we were both ending up tired. AND the customers weren't coming. And we weren't fulfilling orders on time. ANNNNND we couldn't do special stuff.

It all took me back, because I was chatting to Boss Man about making the seitan (not the one from vital wheat gluten; the one from wheat flour that you massage until all the starch is washed out) on a regular basis only a couple of months ago, before he plunged headfirst into the kitchen. He got a gleam in his eye, as he described the process. He described how you lovingly removed off all those layers of starch, and you shaped it into what it'd become.

"Why not just pitch it in the stand mixer?"

"No! It has to be done by hand." He looked affronted.

It dawned on me why he didn't use machinery except when absolutely necessary. Everything was done by hand, because that way, everything has character. Although the food is consistent, it's not homogenised, by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, what's the point of doing everything organic, and fair trade, and using the best quality ingredients, if you're not going to take a little time to make it just so? Sure, the food processor will churn it out faster. But will it make it better? If the answer is no, then Chef P opts to do it by hand.

Unfortunately, before he'd gotten comfortable in the role of head chef (which means being that guy who has to lay down the law, and who is the front of the line when things go south), he didn't have the mental or physical energy to fathom handling that large heft of seitan on a regular basis. "It's such a superb dish, but it's a drag to make, because it's so much work that you end up exhausted at the end."

I reassured him, "Well, it's not gluten free anyway."

"Yeah," he sighed.

He'd make it on rare occasions, but not on a regular basis.

And this is why I brought all this up. Because I saw him in the kitchen today, wrangling that seitan for the third time in a month! I gave him a significant look of concern, and he laughed. "It's easy, Dino. And look at how beautiful it is." And beautiful it was.

What a change just a little bit of time can make. He used to speak fondly of making the seitan brisket, just like his grandma would make, with apples, and dates, and spices, and carrots and other veggies. But he hated doing the actual seitan part, because it felt like (to him at the time) a lot of work. Now, I see him cranking out that seitan quite happily.

Which means that he'll be able to put it on the menu more frequently, so that people can come in and enjoy it. It's the sort of thing that you won't and can't get anywhere else, which is fine, because we're here to bring it to you.

Sacred Chow showed up, defying our pessimism!

Read the full story here.

Sacred Chow on Sullivan Street in the West Village was Biella’s second choice. It’s vegan, organic, kosher, using locally grown produce where possible and Fairtrade where not. On their website, which features a cartoon cow in lotus position, they also claim to follow “an ethical attitude to work and wages”.

The best dishes are small plates, tapas-style at $5.75 each or 3 for $15. Biella eats here often, so I asked her to pick a good selection. I let her choice of tofu through, despite a long-standing aversion, though I did stand my ground and veto the Brussels sprouts. How did Brussels sprouts inveigle their way into the edible vegetable category?

We had no complaints about the service ... Biella had been surprised they agreed to deliver – “it’s such a small operation” – so I was prepared for a long wait.

As I was about to express my disappointment that I was flying to London next morning when I should clearly be on my way to San Francisco, Sacred Chow showed up, defying our pessimism by delivering in good time.

We’d ordered five small dishes. The pumpkin risotto was delightful on flavour ...

I was surprised to be won over by the tofu. This wasn’t superfluous chunks of gunk meant to serve as some sort of meat substitute but rather lightly grilled with taste and texture.

We’d ordered the shitake mushrooms and the broccoli in place of the Brussels sprouts I’d banned. The broccoli was steamed and gently curried and the mushrooms firm, though the sauce was a little too tart. The sunflower lentil paté, Biella’s favourite, was also good.

11/9/09

Risotto Croquettes

On Demetrius's request, I'd like to take a moment to talk about risotto croquettes. It's based on this Italian recipe to use up leftover risotto. You see, risotto is a quite delicious, but also quite filling, and often times, one has enough left over for one or two servings, tops, but not enough to take the effort of reheating it the next day. Instead, one makes little deep fried croquettes, and leaves them out on the counter the next day for the family to snack on during the day. It's quite a popular treat in bars and cafes in Italy. They're crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and heaven all around.

In the original recipe, one makes a pot of risotto. One serves it along with a generous helping of green salad, some freshly ground black pepper, and plenty of lovely wine. Of course, with all Italian food, it is required that one have over a large group of family or friends to share it with. It is absolutely required that one tell stories, laugh, and joke, and have a wonderful time while eating it. You do not eat risotto quickly. You savour every creamy dreamy bite. You taste all the subtle flavours that the cook took time in developing slowly. After eating your fill, you sit back, and enjoy the company of your friends, the cool crisp wine, the pleasant breezes, and just let everything settle before getting up to do anything else.

The next day, you rummage around your fridge for a snack, and find that little box of risotto that you had left over from your meal the previous night. But you also look at your expanding waist line, and realise that maybe having little balls of deep fried risotto wouldn't be the kindest thing to do to your wardrobe. You want to continue to fit into it as much as possible.

What to do?

Bake!

At Chow, we don't use left over risotto. We make a fresh batch. We let it cool thoroughly (and get downright chilled). Then, on a lightly oiled parchment-lined baking sheet, we form the risotto into little 2-bite rounds, and space them apart evenly. They get quickly flattened out, to maximise the crispy surface area. Finally, they go into the oven till they're golden brown and crispy on the outside, and tender and creamy on the inside. They're allowed to cool to room temperature before removing from the parchment, and are arranged on a plate, ready to be devoured. It's quite delicious with any tomato or mustard based dressing or sauce. And, just like our Italian teachers, they are best eaten in the company of good friends.

Rescued Pumpkin Bread

kitchen dancing: scavenged pumpkin buns

My friend Sinead, over at the Kitchen Dancing blog, talks about rescuing an unwanted pumpkin from work, and turning it into a lovely pumpkin bread. Seriously, people. Why the waste? Just because it's not as flavourful or fancy tasting as its sweeter cousin, the Kabocha, sugar pumpkin or butternut squash doesn't mean that those uncarved pumpkins should go to waste! Do something with them. Not only did Sinead do something with the pumpkin, she managed to incorporate okara (the pulp left over after you make soy milk at home).

11/7/09

simple and sweet!

What and where is your favorite vegan spot in the world to eat?
Sacred Chow & WHOLE FOODS!
Richie Member of NYC Vegan EatUP

11/6/09

Review on Yelp

The Reuben is astounding. Spicy and flavorful with onions and saurkraut on a crunchy baguette it is filling and tastes very much like a reuben.
The coffee smoothie made with bananas and coffee crystals was thick and not too sweet, which for me was perfect. My companion had the gym body smoothie with apple juice, almonds, flax and banana and that was really tasty too.
The place was completely empty when we arrived but within fifteen minutes it was totally packed.
The decor is eclectic and hippie-vegan like which was very cozy and inviting.
The waitress was low-key and friendly and singlehandedly handled the entire restaurant as well as phone orders. But that just gave us time to chill, burp and make room for the second half of my sandwich.
I will be back soon to try the power bowl and some desserts.

black olive seitan!

Jackie Natale
— Nov 3, 2009
I took two friends who are meat eaters to Sacred Chow last night. We had a really good time ordering a bunch of tapas style vegetables, proteins and whole grains. They were very supportive from the beginning, but I think they were really surprised at how good the food was. They especially liked the black olive seitan, the lentil pate, and the root vegetable latkes. we also had a coconut angel cake for dessert - so good!'
http://www.thekinddiet.com/

the tapas menu is a great deal!

11/02/2009
great food, fun atmosphere
i am new to being a vegan and took two non-vegans to sacred chow. we ordered a bunch of the tapas menu and really enjoyed it. I thought the tahini hummus w crostini, sunflower-lentil pate w crostini, the spicy house-made pickles, the curried steamed broccoli and the baby root vegetable latkes w date butter were great. we also liked the roasted black olive seitan and mama's soy meatballs, as well as the light and airy coconut angel cake. i recommend trying it! the tapas menu is a great deal!
www.menupages.com

11/5/09

Catering Information Uploaded

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally completed (and posted) the catering menu/application form on the website. Catering Page.

To give you an idea of what catering jobs used to involved, let me give you a bit of back story. I started here in 2007. My first major project was to see to a catering job. It was long, drawn out, and painful. It took weeks just to get all the logistics together, and return with the bare bones of a pricing schedule. Not to mention, they asked for a whole heck of a lot more than any catering company should ever provide, like flowers, and decorations, and waiter service and the whole nine. It was a stupendous headache, and I still shudder to think of it to this day.

That being said, I learned a whole lot. One of them is that if you want to expedite things, it's best to have a list, and to refer to said list repeatedly. In fact, the more you leave to "let's figure it out when we cross the bridge," the more nuts you make yourself in the long run. What I should have done at that point was to make up a large list, and keep it stored on a computer, in a notebook, in a something. Then, the next time someone said, "Hey, I'd like catering," I'd have to spend all of five seconds to send an email with the list on it! Easy, right?

Apparently, not.

We have a regular menu for people who like to dine in. We have a takeaway menu for people ordering takeaway. We even have a wine menu for the wine bar we've got going. So why was it such a leap for me to think that it would be sensible to have a list of prices and terms for catering? Well, sometimes it takes a lesson being driven into your skull multiple times before it really sinks in. It took organising a few more events before I really began to see the need for such a master list.

Finally, I pinned myself down, and began to compile the list, a bit at a time. It took a while, but was well worth the effort. I've got a complete list going now, and it's fairly straight forward. Of course, over time, I'll tweak it as needed, and add, remove, or clarify information as needed. But it's here! It's rather exciting, I think. And, as I learned earlier this week, making it into a form that can be filled out on the computer was a lot easier this time. It took a matter of minutes, rather than close to an hour of wrangling with Adobe.

Today, I'm thankful for having the freedom to guide myself on projects that I know will work well for both the business and our customers at the same time. It's bound to make things more streamlined, when people come to me, and will certainly give our customers many more options as to the directions that we can go with our food.

11/4/09

ur one mean vegan!

it feels rather amazin', the circle of life thing: hux, my dear son, just finished readin' 2 me a great little book called, indigo and the whale. do u know it? it's about followin' ur dreams far and wide, never givin' up in what u believe in, and treatin' others, and all life w dignity and 2 beautiful music. u know the sweet, sweet song, teach ur children well, dont u? indeed! i've taught hux: 'bout mad cows disease, salmonella, e.coli...the importance of being vegan, 4 his mind, body, other beings, creation, 2 reduce carbon emissions, violence; bout fiendish folks in pursuit of $$$ despite hurting others w their products, obesity, human starvation, nyc hunger & homelessness..., all b4 he was 7, & always, and i mean always, b4 we'd be walkin' in2 a mcd's, a pizza joint, burger king... "r u sure u still wanna eat here?" i'd ask. and he'd usually reply loudly, "ur one mean vegan!" and in we'd go. i'd never say a word about the tortured-polluted food he was eating while he was eatin', well almost never. although i wasnt enjoying him eatin' his meal, i wanted him 2 do so while he was eatin' it. about that rather amazin' circle of life: 2day he rejoices in tellin' folks he's vegan 2. teach 'em well my dear friends, teach them well! and let 'em be, just let them be. make less violence, eat plant proteins. yes vegan!

I love their breakfast sandwich!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vegan Brunch

As a vegan living in New York City and working in a vegan business, the question most often asked by our employees is: "Where are the great vegan restaurants?" While there are many vegan restaurants in NYC, the real challenging question is: "Where can we get a vegan Sunday brunch?" This can be found but it is usually with non-vegan cuisine, such as eggs, meat, cheese, etc.

Sunday brunch is one of my favorite meals that I enjoy with friends for a relaxing time. And since this is one of my favorites, I make sure to go to places that I really love. There are tons of places in New York, where you can find great vegan food, but there are only a few that I truly love. Here's one of my favorites:

Sacred Chow
This great downtown restaurant has a bistro-fare of organic beers and wines, delicious soups, stews, salads and heroes, tempting desserts and hot drinks, tasty, hearty plant proteins, perfect complex carbohydrates and custardy frozen smoothies. But for me the main reason for going to the Holy Chow is for their Brunch Biscuits. I love their breakfast sandwich, which is a flaky-salty snack. It is just wonderful! Also, Sacred Chow makes the best tasting mimosas with fresh orange juice and delicious bubbly. The restaurant is entirely vegan and the staff is always very nice, so you not only get great food but wonderful service too.

http://new-restaurant-2009-2010.blogspot.com/2009/11/vegan-brunch.html

"Wouldn't it be nice to make a pretty sign?"

Kyle called down, and let me know that it might be advantageous to make a sign saying that we're open on the 26th (Thanksgiving day). I don't know why it didn't sink into my thick skull, but when it dawned, it was like "OH! That would help, wouldn't it?" So off I went to Illustrator to crank out a pretty sign.



Pretty sign, for the record.

Thank goodness that I have a team of people to work with. If I had to do this on my own, I cannot begin to imagine the disasters that would befall everything. We all tend to look out for each other, because we really can't do this alone. And the good thing is that when someone speaks up, the rest of us usually take notice, and act on it. It's one of the benefits of working in a small place.

I've been in jobs (volunteer and paid) where getting something implemented was all kinds of special. You submit a proposal, then someone doesn't look at it for the next six months, then you send a reminder, which doesn't get read for another month. Then you get through, and by then, the idea is long past usefulness.

I wonder if I can keep this up, but if not, feel free to reel me back in and remind me, but I'd like to be thankful for something new each day, leading up to Thanksgiving, and share it with you folk. Today, I'm thankful for being in a work place where getting something done is a question of saying something, then watching it come to life about five minutes later!

11/3/09

BEST breakfast and reuben!

Alicia Silverstone does NYC!
November 3, 2009, Restaurant reviews
Alicia Silverstone has been doing a lot of work promoting her new book The Kind Diet, and she recently made a three minute youtube video where she goes around NYC and eats at a bunch of different vegan restaurants. I was especially excited because I’ve been to one of the restaurants she surveys AND I had what she had. Sacred Chow in the village seriously has the BEST breakfast and reuben. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!