Tag Archives: vegetarian

Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese: The Perfect Autumn Lunch

27 Oct

IMG_3547 IMG_3552 IMG_3553 IMG_3554 IMG_3555

You know the other day how I went apple picking? Well, the truth is … I don’t like apples. I don’t hate them, but they’re just so generic. They’re the cheap fruit leftover in every gift basket. I know they’re supposed to be really good for you. I’ve even edited entire books devoted to the benefits of apples. But on their own they’re just not my thing.

In a grilled-cheese sandwich, though, that’s a different story altogether!

Growing up eating at Jersey diners, I’ve had my fair share of grilled cheese with tomato. I love it. But for fall, grilled cheese with apple is the way to go. It’s so easy, inexpensive, and delicious. Perfect for the starving artist who want to up their grilled cheese game.

I chose a hearty bread — Bread Alone’s Whole Grain Health. I first discovered Bread Alone through the Union Square Greenmarket when I worked in a publishing house in that area. Bread Alone makes their organic bread by hand. The Catskills-originated bakery is committed to remaining local — and fortunately Manhattan is included in local. The Whole Grain Health bread has sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax (a great source of omega-3, which as a vegetarian I am always looking out for!), and a healthy dose of honey.

The apple was from my apple-picking adventures at Dubois Farms. I believe it was a Gala apple, but truthfully all the apples kinda looked alike once they got in my bag. I think it was Gala and not Fuji though because it was sweet, which is what I was going for.

Usually I go with American cheese, but I wanted cheddar to go with the apple. I selected a two-year-aged cheddar made from raw milk from Grafton Village. I try not to be too picky with my vegetarianism when it comes to cheese because I love love love cheese, so bonus points for this cheese using a vegetarian rennet. The two-year-old Grafton Village cheddar was super creamy, though it didn’t melt well … though that’s probably because my slices were too thick!

I put a little margarine on the backs of the bread, assembled the cheese, then the apple slices, and then a little more cheese, and then heated them up in the frying pan. It only took a few minutes before each side was golden and warm and gooey.

I paired it with some split pea soup.

So delicious! Apple cheddar grilled cheese is the perfect light meal for a crisp autumn day.

Grillin’ Like a Villain: Sriracha BBQed Cauliflower

16 Jun

SrirachaCauliflower

BBQs can be the pits when you’re a vegetarian. Everyone scarfs down hot dogs and hamburgers, while you’re left with an ear of corn on the cob which you can’t possibly eat in a civilized manner in public and a heap of potato salad that’s been dangerously sitting out in the sun for too many hours.

When my friends at Christ Resurrection Church invited me to a BBQ, I decided to step up my game. Inspired by the buffalo cauliflower recipes I’d seen on pinterest, I came up with my own finger-lickin’ recipe: Sriracha BBQed Cauliflower.

The result?

I literally overheard someone refer to my sriracha bbqed cauliflower as “insane.”

Yeahhhhhh, it had quite a kick to it thanks to the sriracha sauce.

If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a mini lesson on what sriracha is: The legend is so mysterious that no one knows its exact origins, but the hot sauce takes its name from a city by the sea of eastern Thailand called Si Racha, where it is believed to have been concocted in the 1930s. A thick red paste, sriracha is made from chili peppers, garlic, distilled vinegar, as well as sugar and salt. Here in the states, it’s sometimes referred to as “cock sauce” because of the rooster on the bottle distributed by Huy Fong Foods.

My quick-and-easy recipe is essentially a whole lot of sriracha dumped all over a head of cauliflower:

  • wash the head of cauliflower
  • chop off the leaves and stem of the cauliflower
  • chop up the cauliflower into “florets,” those little tree-like nubs you often see on crudite platters
  • dump the cauliflower florets into a large bowl (if you don’t have a large bowl a large pot will also work)
  • next, chop up an entire onion and put the diced onion into the large bowl with the cauliflower
  • open a can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drain the water, put the garbanzo beans/chickpeas into the bowl with the cauliflower and onions
  • now comes the fun part: drench the contents of the bowl with sriracha and add soy sauce and garlic powder. I cook a bit like Jackson Pollock paints; I toss the ingredients together til I’m satisfied. I don’t have exact measurements for any of these, but you want the main ingredient to be the sriracha, and you want to make sure the food is evenly coated. It would’ve made sense to stir the sriracha, soy sauce, and garlic powder in a bowl ahead of time so they become a unified mixture, but I don’t have a dishwasher and didn’t want to wash another dish so I just made sure to mix and roll everything around real good in the bowl.
  • next, place a long sheet of tin foil horizontally over a plate or bowl (press it down to the bottom) and then a long sheet of tin foil vertically over the first piece of tin foil so it creates a cross shape (this is so that you have a tough and secure grill packet that you can move onto the bbq)
  • once the cauliflower, onions, and garbanzo beans/chickpeas are evenly coated, pour it onto the tinfoil and wrap it up. i let it marinade in the fridge overnight
  • when it comes time to bbq, put the entire tinfoil packet of food onto the grill. keeping an eye on it, let it grill to your desired level
  • you can serve it right out of the tinfoil packet!

The prep time for this under half an hour; the grilling is also under half an hour. The ingredients can all be eaten raw so don’t worry about having to cook it for any certain length of time.

This is a super budget-friendly BBQ recipe for starving artists. To get more bang for your buck, buy the garbanzo beans/chickpeas dried and soak them overnight instead of buying the canned version.

The Sriracha BBQed Cauliflower works as a main course or as a side. It goes great with black bean burgers.

Hashtag? #notyourgrannyspotluck

The Starving Artist Eats Watermelon Feta Salad

24 Jun

Yesterday I shared that summer was all about karpouzi at my house.

The other Sunday, after church, I had my friend Sandra over for brunch and wanted to make something special. I decided to try my hand at a watermelon-feta salad. This isn’t something I ever grew up eating, but when I attended the GABBY Awards a few years ago, one of the passed meze they served at Ellis Island before the ceremony was cubed watermelon with feta speared with a toothpick. Since then I’ve seen delicious recipes for it watermelon and feta salads. I decided to make my own version, topped with an exquisite dark chocolate vinaigrette my friend Rori gave me as a housewarming gift.

Lomogram_2014-06-08_04-34-41-PMHere’s my super-easy, super-quick recipe:

  • Cut watermelon into chunks
  • Cut Feta cheese into chunks
  • Mix the watermelon and feta in a bowl and top with pistachio meat (meaning pistachios out of their shell)
  • Drizzle dark chocolate vinegar over the salad
  • Serve!

See how easy that is?! You can prep ahead by cutting the watermelon and the feta into chunks the night before, but I recommend waiting until you’re about to serve guests to mix the ingredients together so that they retain their individual flavors and so the nuts don’t get soggy.

The ingredients are, admittedly, a bit on the pricier side, but when you make it yourself you save a lot of money. This is part of a new series I’m doing called “The Starving Artist.” I used to do posts called “Tasty Tuesday,” but I’m switching it up a little now to focus on budget-friendly recipes for writers. You might also like these feta-inspired appetizers:

I’m looking to get more fruit in my diet this summer. If you have any unique watermelon recipes, please share them in the comments below!

 

Tasty Tuesday: Pictures from Dinner at Village Taverna

10 Jul

 

 

 

While I was getting my MFA in creative nonfiction at The New School, I kept walking by a Greek restaurant that was being built on University Place.  When it finally opened, I was drowning in writing my thesis and Burning Furiously Beautiful.  Right before the semester ended my writer friend Allison–who is obsessed with Greece (a good thing considering all the Greek stories I shared in class)–and I went to check it out.  Village Taverna was definitely worth the wait.

The food at Village Taverna is classic Greek taverna fare served up in a spacious, beautiful dining area with a casual vibe.  The portions were generous–and delicious.  I didn’t try the wine, but they have an impressive Greek wine list.  Village Taverna has the best vegetarian gyro in New York–the grilled vegetables pita wrap.  I want to go back and try their meze–tzatziki and veggie chips, namely–and vegetarian moussaka (it has artichokes in it!).

Who’s with me?!

Happy Tsiknopempti!

16 Feb

Happy Tsiknopempti!  You’ve heard of Fat Tuesday, the French holiday associated with Mardi Gras.  Well, today is Fat Thursday, ten days before the beginning of Great Lent.

Tsiknopempti means Barbecue Thursday, Charred Meat Thursday, or Burnt Thursday.  It’s the evening Greek Orthodox believers consume massive amounts of meat because they start fasting from meat even a week before Great Lent, the forty days leading up to Pascha (Easter), begins.

I’ve been fasting from meat for six years.  I guess that means BBQ tofu and grilled veggies for me.

It’s my sister’s favorite holiday.  She’s such a carnivore!  I’d never even heard of the holiday til my family moved to Greece.  Then my sister told me all about a day where the sweet smell of charred meat wafts through the dusty roads of ancient villages.

What’s your favorite food to barbecue?

Here are a few recipe ideas:::

Skewered Grilled Fruit with Minted Yogurt Honey Sauce

Grilled Fruit Skewers with Spicy Maple Cumin Glaze

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce

Lamb Chops with Lemon

 

You might also like these articles:::

Hello, Carnival; Good-bye Meat

Tasty Tuesday: Dinner at Souvlaki GR

Clip: Paintings of the Crucifixion

Tasty Tuesday: Epicurious’ 80 Dishes Blog – Greek Recipe

27 Sep

Travel the world in your very own kitchen!  Epicurious has been featuring national dishes from around the globe in its Emmy-Award-winning cooking video series.  Chef Michael Skibicky makes Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka in the Greek recipe post.

I used to have a pet lamb in Greece, and I don’t eat lamb, so here’s a vegetarian moussaka recipe from Bon Appetit.

Where would you like to travel to savor world cuisines?

Tasty Tuesday: FAGE Greek Yogurt Topped with Fresh Raspberries and Blackberries

2 Aug

What I love about summer is fresh berries!  Raspberries are probably my favorite food.  (Well, along with brownies and coffee ice cream!  And pasta!)

Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of FAGE Greek yogurt with fresh, organic berries for breakfast and a cup of hazelnut coffee.  It tastes so good and makes me feel happy that I’m being healthy.

According to the nutrition benefits page of the FAGE yogurt website:

FAGE Total Strained Greek Yogurt is an extraordinary source of nutrition. Made from an authentic recipe that dates back to 1926 and using 100% natural ingredients, it contains no added sweeteners, thickeners or preservatives and no powdered milk, powdered cream or powdered protein.

Just whole milk, cream and cultures go through our unique straining process to create this blissful, low-calorie taste experience. In fact, approximately 4 pounds of raw milk are needed to make just one pound of FAGE Total Greek Yogurt.

FAGE Greek yogurt is vegetarian and gluten-free.  The 0% and 2% are also diabetic-friendly.

Meanwhile, raspberries are full of all sorts of antioxidant goodness.  Check out what Wikipedia has to say about raspberry health benefits:

The aggregate fruit structure contributes to its nutritional value, as it increases the proportion of dietary fibre, placing it among plant foods with the highest fibre contents known, up to 20% fibre per total weight. Raspberries are a rich source of vitamin C, with 30 mg per serving of 1 cup (about 50% daily value), manganese (about 60% daily value) and dietary fibre (30% daily value). Contents of B vitamins 1-3, folic acid, magnesium, copper and iron are considerable in raspberries.

Raspberries rank near the top of all fruits for antioxidant strength, particularly due to their dense contents of ellagic acid (from ellagotannins, see for instance raspberry ellagitannin), quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid. Yellow raspberries and others with pale-coloured fruits are lower in anthocyanins.

Due to their rich contents of antioxidant vitamin C and the polyphenols mentioned above, raspberries have an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of about 4900 per 100 grams, including them among the top-ranked ORAC fruits. Cranberries and wild blueberries have around 9000 ORAC units and apples average 2800.

As for blackberries, Wikipedia simply says:

Blackberries are notable for their high nutritional contents of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid – a B vitamin, and the essential mineral, manganese.

Do you prefer raspberries or blackberries?

2011 Gabby Awards: Stephen Antonakos, Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

7 Jun

I am extremely thankful to the Gabby Awards for sending me tickets to attend the 2011 Gabby Awards, a celebration of “Greek America’s Best and Brightest Stars.”  The website describes the Gabby Awards as follows:

The Gabby Awards were created to celebrate and reward the excellence Greek Americans have achieved in various fields. Founded in 2009 to also celebrate the 15th anniversary of the launching of Greek America Magazine, the Gabby Awards serve as the “Oscars®” of the Greek American community.

The 2011 Gabby Awards were held on Ellis Island, and there were special, star-studded events all weekend to celebrate.

On Friday, June 3, the American College of Greece hosted a cocktail and art exhibition to honor Gabby Awards Lifetime Achievement Award winner artist Stephen Antonakos at Lori Bookstein Fine Art.  I’m a huge fan of Stephen Antonakos’ art.  I love modern art in general but I’m particularly entranced with the idea of using neon in fine art, as Antonakos does.  Neon — symbol Ne; atomic number 10 — comes from the Greek word “νέον,”  which means “new one.”  Neon was discovered by British chemists in 1898 and made into advertising signs first in France in 1912.  It wasn’t until 1923 that neon signs were bought in the U.S.  Antonakos, who was born three years later in 1926 in Greece, move to America in 1930 and thirty years later, in 1960, began using neon in his art.  According to the Gabby Awards:

Antonakos “discovered” neon in 1960 when he was intrigued by the light emanating from midtown Manhattan neon signs. From there, he made neon his primary medium, developing his individual contribution to modern art.

I was hoping for a whole roomful of neon sculptures, but there was only one, Plea, at the Lori Bookstein Fine Art gallery.  Plea is a red rectangle, hung vertically on the wall.  Neon light emanates from behind it, making one reconsider the shape, color, and even significance of the red rectangle.

The sculptor of light, Antonakos, says:

My use of neon is really my own.  I began with it around 1960 and very soon it became central to my work.  The geometric forms, usually incomplete circles and squares, were a tremendous excitement to me.  It is very difficult to separate light from space — even when the art is directly on the wall.  For years I have been investigating the great subtlety and range of neon using forms that haven’t changed that much since the beginning.  It’s spatial qualities interest me — formal relationships within a work and with the architecture of the room or building and the kinetic relationship that viewer may feel in the space of the light.  I feel that abstraction can have a very deep effect visually, emotionally, and spatially.

Stephanie in front of Gabby Awards Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Stephen Antonakos' "Drawing/Neon For The University of Massachusetts" (1978, Colored pencil on paper, 38" x 50")

As this quote indicates, Antonakos’ artwork is about more than just neon — it’s also about shape.  At first, some of his works seem simplistic, but upon closer inspection they are brilliantly thought-provoking.  Take for instance, Drawing/Neon For The University of Massachusetts, also up at the gallery.  On top of white paper sits the outline of a circle, done in red pencil.  Except, it’s not a circle at all — there circle never closes, never completes.  It’s very nature — unending — is interrupted, challenged.

The Gabby Awards points out:

In his long and storied career, Antonakos has had more than 100 one-person shows, more than 250 group shows, and almost 50 Public Works installed in the United States, Europe, and Japan. He is recognized as the world’s pioneer light artist.

Antonakos’ Lifetime Achievement Award was presented the following night at the Gabby Awards, by Helen Evans, the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator for Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Friday’s event at the gallery was quite lovely, even though I wish there would have been more of Antonakos’ art on view — in particular, I want to see Mani Sky, Arrival, and Transfiguration.

The passed hors d’oeuvres were probably the best appetizers of the entire event.  I’m talking mac-and-cheese croquettes, vegetarian sushi, and other delectable treats, served by charming caterers, who caught on to my dietary choice and looked out for me, going out of their way to give me vegetarian options.

I want to also take a moment to mention Deree, The American College of Greece.  The college’s president, David G. Horner, Ph.D., was there to speak about the college’s esteemed history as “Europe’s oldest and largest, comprehensive, U.S.-accredited academic institution.”  The college offers undergrad, grad, and continuing ed courses.

Congratulations to Stephen Antonakos!  His work will be on display at the Lori Bookstein Fine Art Gallery (138 10th Ave, New York) through June 25, 2011.