Local & Sustainable in Philadelphia

We’ve been to Philly a few times in the past year, and I thought these places were worth sharing.

Marigold Kitchen – recommended, sounded great, but didn’t eat there. Adorably set in the 1st floor of an old house in Western Philadelphia.

White Dog Café, University City, 3420 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA
A fabulous local and sustainable restaurant in Western Philly with a chalkboard that lists the farm/origin of each ingredient they use. I’m assuming their menu is seasonal ☺ Just about everything we ate was spectacular. We sampled a bunch of appetizers. The tomato/cucumber gaspacho: (peppery and a little spicy) – you can can get it with or without crab meat. It’s vegan without the crab. Proscutto and melon: red and yellow watermelon was fantastic, duck proscutto was pretty fatty, but pork was lean and more tasty. This was actually the least exciting appetizer. The bacon wrapped quail was the highlight. Served with arugula, I will see my husband smiling for days in memory of that dish. Lamb Ragu with Ravioli: our only entrée with spinach, also a little spicy and usually served with what I’m sure is an awesome ricotta…
All wines are domestic and beers are local. They did have a vegan chocolate pie for dessert which was more like fudge in crust, not great, but the vegan raspberry coconut ice cream was delicious.

Lamb shoulder,
Salads, lavash & hummus
Desserts (halava mousse blueberry parfait)
Coconut milk & peach, peach sorbet

overall Zahav was highly recommended and good, but not amazing. the salads/appetizers were by far the highlight of the meal.

16 & Sansom
great local and vegan options


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Vegan Hamentashen!

One of my favorite cookies tie into one of my favorite holidays (Purim) where you dress up and make lots of noise. Tasty vegan baked goods are hard to find, but these are surprisingly delicious.

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup margarine at room temperature (I used earth balance)

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tsp vanilla extract

filling  – pie filing is fine, I prefer fruit preserves (apricot, raspberry, etc)

In a large bowl, beat flour, baking powder, salt margarine, sugar, water and vanilla with a mixer set on medium.  Add a small amount of additional water if necessary to smooth. (I added close to 1/2 cup more)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 2-3 cookie sheets.

Roll dough to 1/4″ thickness. Cut out 3″ circles with cookie cutters or the top of an upside down glass.

Place spoonfuls of desired filling into center of each circle and fold into triangular shape. Warning, these need a lot of room in the pan – they expand quite a bit!

Bake for 10-20 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. Baking time may vary depending on your oven.


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Vegan Latkes (potato pancakes)

There’s nothing like good fried food… Having never made latkes I had no idea there were eggs in them. Well, it’s just not necessary, these came out great and the kept the guests asking for more!

Vegan Latkes Recipe
Adapted from VegNews Vegan Latkes

1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes (I used red and yellow potatoes)
1 small yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Safflower oil, for frying (I used canola)
(vegan) sour cream and applesauce


Peel and grate potatoes, then place in a colander and set over a large bowl. Using your hands, squeeze out excess liquid from the potatoes. Pour off liquid and place potatoes in bowl. Grate onion and add to potatoes along with parsley, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat a thin layer of oil. Take a heaping tablespoon of batter and flatten it before gently placing it in hot oil. Make three or four more potato pancakes this way, and add to skillet without crowding pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once, about 8 minutes total.

Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding more oil as necessary. Remove cooked potato pancakes to paper towels to drain, then transfer to an ovenproof platter and keep warm in oven until all pancakes are cooked.

Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce.

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East Village night out


12th St & 1st Ave, NYC

An expensive but locally sourced restaurant. Food was good and fresh, but not amazing. The burrata looked amazing with its homemade mozzarella like cheese.  The warm vegetable salad was good, the chicken for 2 was moist and lightly spiced, the greens side were tasty but salty. Desserts were mostly packed with butter, so dessert needed to be had elsewhere. They did have a beer pairing menu which sounded good. Overall ok.



10th St & 2nd Ave, NYC

AMAZING. This gem across from St Mark’s church is vegan, gluten free & organic. They carry dark chocolates, baked goods from babycakes, and other treats as well, but the ice cream is the main focus here.  They don’t use refined sugars and they use sustainable/biodegradable materials. But most importantly, they make great tasting exciting ice cream!!! I tried a bunch of flavors, one just as good as the next, but settled on the soy based Salted caramel  pecan and hemp based chocolate. Both were delicious.  It’s not cheap either, but worth every penny.  I’ll be back – soon and often!

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Dairy free lasagna

While I was never a fan of meatloaf growing up, my mom made a killer lasagna.  Every so often I crave that melted cheese goodness and today was the day to try and tackle it! without cheese…  I was pretty excited that it turned out pretty tasty.  Feel free to make your own variation.


4 oz Ronzoni Oven Ready Lasagna

8 oz Daiya mozzarella style shreds

10 oz Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced in circles

1 jar tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomato)

Vegan Ricotta:

14 oz. box silken tofu
1 large or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. olive oil (or a little less)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp kosher salt (or less, to taste)
dash of black pepper

9×9 in pan

Mash tofu. Add all other ingredients. Continue mashing until it has a ricotta-like texture. If you want it super smooth, you could put the tofu in a blender or food processor before adding the other ingredients. I actually used silken soft tofu and it turned out quite nicely, but the recipe comes from here and recommends otherwise. I only needed a fork to combine the ingredients.

Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of the pan. Add pasta. cover pasta with ricotta mix, zucchini, mozzarella slices and shreds. repeat until you run out of ingredients!

Bake at 350 for 30 min covered by tinfoil, then another 15 min uncovered or until bubbling.

Serves 3-4.

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Store bought comfort food and snacks

One of the benefits of traveling and living with artists usually involves good food.  Having the benefit of a kitchen has let me explore the possibilities of suburban Boston during my residency at Brandeis.

The Waltham Farmers Market is ok, and only on Sat mornings, but Hannaford happens to be a great supermarket. It’s one of the few chains I’ve found to have a house brand organic line, Nature’s Place Organic.  The Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal is not too sweet, Honey Crunch-n-Oats cereal is a great alternative to Honey Bunches and they even have house brand almond and soy milk, popcorn, etc.  The list of their products is really quite long.  If you live near one, I’m officially jealous 🙂  If you’re traveling to the Northeast, make sure you stock up!

In addition, Hannaford carriers a bunch of vegan and gluten free foods.  I actually found a Dairy Free Shells and Chreese organic pasta dinner! (also soy, lactose and cholesterol free) Thankfully the manufacturer Road’s End Organics has a website where there’s even a couple gluten free options. Very exciting for those moments of comfort food cravings!  The rest of their website has a ton of products and some great sounding recipes. Worth exploring!

Then there’s chocolate pudding. I was a huge fan of swiss miss growing up.  While the closest I’ve found is whole foods homemade silken chocolate pudding (hard to find), I’ve found Soyummi in multiple locations lately.  I’ve only tried the dark chocolate pudding, and the consistency is pretty light, but know there are other flavors that I haven’t tried. They’re Dairy & Gluten free, non GMO, vegan & organic.

Lastly, as a former Snickers and peanut butter cup lover, I found the best vegan alternatives yet!  If you too need something that really satisfies every now and then, check out Jokerz candy bar and Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Both were also quite satisfying. Justin’s had other nut butter cups available in the stores as well. I found both at Whole Foods, but in addition to retailers listed one their respective websites, they are also available online.



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Vegan Cookies

While I love to cook and bake, sometimes as a busy person one just wants to satisfy a sweet craving. When allergic to dairy this is almost impossible along any stretch of highway without forethought.  Enter Whole Foods.  While I’m still upset about the whole GMO fiasco they’re in (basically throwing their hands up to Monsanto) they do have some pretty great products that are difficult to find elsewhere…  I’ve been to 3 different Whole Foods to check it out, and while they all carry vegan cookies in the regular bakery case, but their variety and stock tend to differ.  This of course could vary by the day.

In West Roxbury, MA I found the value pack of 10 chocolate chip and 10 ginger cookies. yum!  The chocolate chip cookies definitely filled my craving, but the ginger were by far a superior cookie. They did also sell them individually, but the value pack cut the price per cookie in half.  Great if you’re sharing and/or a cookie monster.

In Columbus Circle (NYC) they only carried ginger cookies individually.

In Greenwich, CT they had chocolate chip, ginger and double chocolate chip cookies sold individually, but no value packs.

The best reviews were by dairy eating skeptics who tried them cautiously and emerged pleasantly surprised!

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Quinoa Salad

This summer salad is refreshing and packed with protein rich quinoa.  I’ve made a few different versions of this salad, but tonight’s came out pretty tasty.  Sadly I didn’t think of taking a picture until it was in the fridge, but all the veggies and herb came from the farmers market.


1 cup dry (then cooked) quinoa

1 cup chopped cucumber

1 cup chopped tomato

1 cup chopped fresh basil (I used purple basil as it was most fresh and colorful)

1 medium golden beet (boiled or roasted) then chopped

1 lime squeezed

olive oil (few tablespoons?) and salt to taste

mix all together and serve.


I like this salad cold, but it’s pretty good room temperature also.  Great for BBQ’s and picnics. With soup and bread this made a nice accompaniment to a meal for 3, but with plenty of leftovers. As a side dish it likely serves 4-6 depending on how hearty the eaters are and what else is on the menu.



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Tasty NYC eateries

NYC is blessed with amazing food of all nationalities, styles and cultures.  Thankfully, there are some great ones for the carnivorous vegan that I am.  While this is by no means a complete list, it is some of my favorites…old and new.

Organic Grill

123 First Avenue between 7th St & St Marks
New York, NY 10003

My Favorite dishes include the sweet potato pot pie with a side of kale (lots of garlic :), and the indecisive special for brunch.  There’s a huge tea menu and coffee selections have a full range of milk choices (dairy, soy, rice, almond).  They have lots of vegan and vegetarian specials and their desserts are pretty good too. I’ve taken 2 skeptics of crunchy food there and both left fully satisfied, even smiling! If you hope to get a seat for brunch, best to get there before noon.

Sage General Store

24-20 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101

This gem sits right across from the Citibank building in LIC. While I’ve sampled many of their dishes, their 8-herb locally raised spit roasted chicken is delightfully simple and tasty. My favorite side is the bourbon sweet potatoes, although I now think there might be butter in them, so if you’re truly vegan, you should ask…  Their mac and cheese always looks sinful, and their food is fresh, simple and tasty. The bakery is overwhelming, but I did try a hand dipped macaroon.  My friends and students strongly approved of them! A friend got a snowball and loved it (yellow cake filled with creme and covered in coconut)  The beverages are also super tasty, especially in the summer. Watermelon lemonade and ginger mint iced tea are good, sometimes too sweet for me though.  Brunch is supposedly insanely popular for this small 20 seat cafe, but I have yet to try it.  They happen to also be amazing caterers.

Pala Pizza

198 Allen Street @ Houston
New York, NY 10002-1418

Someone was smiling down on the restricted eaters when Pala Pizza opened. It looks like a nice modern Italian pizza place and have a huge selection of vegan and gluten-free choices with a full bar. In all honesty I’ve never actually tried the glutenous crust because the gf crust is just so good…  My favorite pizza is the gluten-free (crust)/vegan asparagi – although the veggie sausage has some gluten as they always point out. The salads are all good, and portions are not huge.  I’ve never actually tried the pastas or antipasti, so I can’t say.  Splitting a salad and pizza between 2 works if you’re not super hungry or don’t have big appetites. although I’d recommend trying a few different pizzas – leftover pizza is always good 🙂


187 9th Avenue @ 21 St
New York, NY 10011

I’ve only been once…and it was last night.  I don’t want to say that it’s a favorite yet, but it makes you feel as an organic vegan that you’re doing everything right. It’s an upscale restaurant and the food is plated beautifully. They also have a decent wine list.  I must also add that I was taken there by someone with no food allergies and one who doesn’t usually seek out vegetarian, vegan or organic restaurants. We started with the Parsnip Cappelletti appetizer, 2 big pieces, great to share. It was fantastic. I could have made that my meal, but had to order the lasagna, how often does one find vegan lasagna?!?  It was so dense and tasty, that half made it home for today’s lunch. There was no way I was skipping dessert. My friend really likes the Port Wine Seitan, but ordered another Seitan special instead. The staff was sitting down to eat as we left and had a smorgasbord of selections from the menu – it all looked fantastic. The salads looked great as did the other entrées.  The entrée portions were hearty, although likely splitable if you get a first course.  Ah, dessert, berry cheesecake. It was a silken tofu base and quite nice. As a former cheesecake expert, I might never get the real thing again, but this was pretty darn good. Can’t wait to go back.

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Food, Farm and Sustainability

I just got back from the Food, Farm and Sustainability Conference at Hampshire. It was a weekend full of great lectures, panels,  the science of making beer and cheese and more.  How many people really get to make cheese starting with milking the cow anyways?

There were debates such as local vs organic, what GMO’s have done to the farm industry in the US, India, etc, farm tours, yoga, cooking… As a meat eating vegan, I didn’t stay long, but fully enjoyed the weekend of fantastic local and organic foods.  There was (as to be expected) a lot of eating. 🙂 Local ice cream, maple syrup, homemade yogurt, local strawberries, etc.

But my favorite by far was a new addition to my food repertoire. The Australian Barramundi.   This fish was light and tasty and very fresh.  I didn’t get to take a tour of their local farm, but luckily they are available online and in stores. If you were looking for a change of pace, they have a bunch of recipes as well and love that their nickname is “passion fish!” Be sure to check out Australis Aquaculture in Turners Falls, MA or online http://www.thebetterfish.com

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