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Vegan Dumplings & more at Gu’s Bistro in Krog Street Market

gu's bistro - home of vegan dumplings

About a week ago, we finally wandered into Krog Street Market for the first time to finally experience the vegan dumplings at Gu’s Bistro. Gu’s is a Szechuan spot that used to have a location up on the international food mecca, Buford Highway. We had already heard so many good things, it was just a matter of remembering to go there rather than default routing to our normal spots.

First, a little about Krog Street Market. It’s right off the Beltline, a fairly new mixed use path in Atlanta, and they are fully prepared. There is a ton of bike parking. And when we went by on a Saturday much of it was in use. Love to see that! As we walked in, it looked like seating could be a problem. But after making a lap to see what was there, we saw that there were seats further in.

Gu’s Bistro is what we decided to get. Of course, the vegan dumplings were going to have to happen. But we were hungry and needed more. We decided to get one tofu dish and one vegetable dish. I had to steal Kevin’s photo of the dishes because mine of the dumplings and green beans were just a blurry smear.

gu's vegan dumplings stringbeans and ma la tofu skin

The dumplings were swimming in a sweet and slightly spicy sauce. It’s delicious but it’s also a little oily. File this one under occasional food.

vegan ma la tofu skin

There were a couple of tofu options, but we chose the Ma La Sliced Tofu Skin, a cold dish. When someone says tofu skin to me, I picture Inari, the slightly sweet sushi. But this had a completely different texture. Like noodles but a little more rubbery. Don’t let my poor description put you off. We destroyed these.

We’d heard the lotus root was really good, but I felt like we needed something green, because I’m annoying like that. So we got the string beans. Also tasty. Plus, all this food was very chopstick friendly. I hate it when everything is cut small and you feel like you’re picking up one pea at a time. These dishes enable you to shovel large quantities into your face at a time, even if you aren’t a native chopstick user.

Now, this was not a cheap meal. I think everything you see here came to around $29. I’m not saying it isn’t worth it, but it’s definitely some thing to keep in mind. I’m sure the rent in Krog Street Market is out of control. Still, I’m looking forward to going back and trying the other tofu dish and lotus root.

 

Eating Vegan on the Road: 500 Miles Atlanta <--> Central Virginia

Sometimes when we travel, it’s more about the food than the trip. Asheville, I’m looking at you. But sometimes we need to travel somewhere for other reasons, usually involving relatives or maybe work.

Eating vegan on the road used to be a little more challenging but with chains like Chipotle stepping up it’s become so much easier. And if you have time to veer off the highway, Happy Cow can help you find vegan friendly spots along the way.

On this recent trip to Virginia, I decided to pack a small cooler with food for the way there. A Tofurky cold cut sandwich, some chips that I got at a gas station when filling up and maybe some Oreos ended up going into my pie hole. I really wanted a Chick-O-Stick, but none of the convenience stores seemed to have them. It’s definitely less than a perfect road trip without Chick-O-Stick.

I brought Tak along. She’s a pretty good traveler but on the way there she’s so excited that she doesn’t want to lay down and sleep. Which wore her out pretty good. And that was fine.

boston terrier on a road trip

Normally when I go visit my mom, I make every effort to go into Richmond and eat all of their vegan food. But this time was more about family, so I brought some provisions and stuck close to home.

Since I was driving, I hauled the Vitamix with me so I could have smoothies every morning. I also used it to make a raw cashew cheesecake that I took to our Passover dinner. Other provisions included Soy Curls, BBQ sauce, tofu, nutritional yeast, black salt and some Earth Balance. I knew my mom would have vegetables, so this was plenty to keep me fed.

The first night, my mom and partner wanted to go out to dinner. And they didn’t want to go to Richmond. So I got on my phone and started searching around for something. A Mexican place called Don Pepe popped up and they had a vegetarian section to their menu. That’s something I can work with. By the way, this place is right off of I-95 if you’re ever passing through.

As you can see, I was a bit hungry and attacked this before I remembered to take a picture. It’s a bean burrito with rice and I got an order of guacamole as well. It was really good. The sauce on the burrito was fresh and flavorful. And the guacamole wasn’t filled with a bunch of filler like some places do.

eating vegan on the road mexican  food in chester, virginia

The next night, I made BBQ Soy Curls with sautéed kale and a couple of pieces of toast. Soy Curls make an excellent provision since they don’t require refrigeration and they’re light. As a matter of fact, I’m making a mental note right now to pack some when we head to Mexico in a couple of months. My mom was pretty adventurous this visit and tried the BBQ Soy Curls and really liked them.  Whenever I cooked something, she pretty much ate what I ate.

vegan bbq soy curls, kale, toast

For Passover, I made up a batch of tofu scramble and took a little box with me. It was packed with veggies too so it could be a full meal. There were various munchies around I could eat as well. I’m assuming you’ve seen a tofu scramble and also I forgot to take a picture, so here’s a lovely haggadah.passover

The next day, we met some family at the cemetery to visit relatives.

grave stone at Blandford Cemetery

Then headed to Old Town Petersburg to walk around. This is a good side trip from Richmond.

old bricks in petersburg virginia

old brick facade in petersburg virginia

After that, my mom and I grabbed lunch at Wabi Sabi. The menu is a mix of sushi and sandwiches. With the sushi option, I knew I could make something work. That something turned out to be veggie sushi with a side of sweet potato fries. My mom may or may not have learned an important lesson about wasabi when she accidentally scooped up the whole dollop with a piece of her sushi. Ouch!

vegan sushi

sweet potato fries

wabi sabi petersburg virginia

Finally, my last day in town, we did make it to Richmond for lunch. There was a new place I was thinking about trying, but they were closed Mondays, so we went to an old favorite, Ipanema Cafe.  It’s a vegetarian sandwich place with lots of vegan options, including a jackfruit sandwich, and more importantly vegan pie. ipanema cafe richmond virginia

My mom and I both got the tempeh reuben. Delicious and only a little messy. My mom really liked it which is pretty impressive. Tempeh can be a hard sell.

tempeh reuben at ipanema cafe richmond virginia

And pie could not be resisted. My choice was the cherry pie which I had with the soy ice cream because it was the right decision to make. It had a crumb top and shortbread crust. Yum!

vegan cherry pie from ipanema cafe in richmond virginia

After that fine dessert, coffee was necessary and Harrison Street Coffee Shop, another favorite, is right around the corner. They also have simple sandwiches and vegan breakfast items. Plus it’s one of my favorite coffee shop spaces. Oh, it’s also vegetarian. Yay!

eating vegan on the road harrison street coffee shop iced latte

On the drive back, I didn’t want to worry with packing anything. I decided I’d just wing eating vegan on the road. This time I hit the old standby, Taco Bell. I learned the lesson long ago, to always check the innards of a wrapped food before biting unless you’re in a vegan restaurant. Taco Bell is no exception. Save yourself some grief and open them up at the counter before you take off. Even though my ticket was right, both of my burritos were wrong. They put some ranch sauce in my modified 7 layer burrito that doesn’t even come on it and there was cheese on my bean burrito. No worries, just had them remade and was on my way. Why did I go to Taco Bell rather than Chipotle? Because you can hold a Taco Bell burrito in one hand while driving.

taco bell bean burrito

How do you handle eating vegan on the road? Do you carry food, research spots along the way and plan or just wing it?

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe

At Dough, one of the most requested items in our bakery case was the chocolate chip cookies. They were big, crisp around the edges and chewy in the center. And completely irresistible when they were still warm. If I’m totally honest with you, one reason we didn’t have them in the case every single day is that I would eat them every single day. Seriously, I can’t stop myself. Take that as a warning.

This recipe isn’t too far off from most vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes, but there is a secret ingredient that most others don’t have. Well, it’s not going to be secret in a second. That secret ingredient is brown rice syrup. Yes, that’s the magical ingredient that gives them a little extra chewiness. If you don’t have any or it is hard to get where you are, you can substitute corn syrup.

vegan chocolate chip cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies

3/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white vinegar
2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 1/4 cup warm water)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment.

2. In a large mixer bowl, cream together the Earth Balance, sugars, brown rice syrup, and vinegar, then beat in the flax eggs. Beat in the vanilla, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in the flour and chocolate chips.

3. Drop by cookie scoop or spoon onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, until they’re just set; the centers may still look a bit underdone. Remove them from the oven, and cool complete on a rack.

I’ll be posting more recipes from Dough from time to time. Any requests? Just leave it in the comments.

Would you have any interest in an ebook of vegan baking recipes? Drop your email below and I’ll contact you if I do one!

Nakd Snack Bars Reviewed

I have an awful sweet tooth. To the point that I can’t really keep sweets in the house or I’ll eat them all. You can imagine what a problem the temptation at the bakery was. I’ll admit that sometimes I didn’t make something just because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from eating it. Mid morning scone? Sure! Cookie with lunch? Why not! I think biking to work was the only thing that kept me from weighing 5,000 pounds.

Now, life is a little different, more sedentary. But I still get those sugar cravings, especially in the middle of the afternoon. I try to keep bars around to help quench that craving. They’re usually only slightly better than eating a cookie, but I kid myself that they’re much healthier.

A couple of months back, I was contacted to see if I’d like to try Eat Nakd Wholefoods bars by a company out of the UK called Natural Balance Foods. After checking to make sure they were vegan, I said sure, I’ll try them.

nakd snack bars variety pack

And when I looked up these Nakd snack bars, I found them not only to be vegan, but unprocessed. They have no added sugar and are sweetened with dates and occasionally other fruit. They are dairy, wheat and gluten-free. The bars are also mostly raw and do use some non-GMO ingredients, but they aren’t 100% fair trade or organic due to sourcing issues. And they’re definitely suitable to those on a wheat free diet plan.
pecan pie nakd snack bar

pecan pie nakd snack bar and cat

The pecan pie bar somehow took those three simple ingredients and gave them that kind of caramel-like flavor that an actual pie has. Dates are kind of magical sometimes. The Nakd snack bars are a little smaller than some other bars, but it was enough to put off the craving.

nakd snack bar rhubarb and custard

So, I’m not sure I’ve ever had rhubarb anything. And if I have, it was likely mixed with strawberries. So the flavor of this bar was unfamiliar to me. I didn’t hate it or think it was gross, but I wouldn’t choose it. But you might like it if you’re into rhubarb.

nakd snack bar cashew cookie

I’m a fan of cashews and love using them to make cheesecakes and cheesy sauces. So of course I liked the cashew cookie bar.

Bars are convenient to carry to the coffee shop where I work sometimes. Especially when I’m trying to avoid the vegan zucchini bread and cookies they carry. And they have a long shelf life so they can hang out in my backpack until I need them.

cocoa crunch nakd snack bar

My favorite of the flavors were the chocolate varieties. No one will be surprised by this. The texture reminds me of fudge or a softer Tootsie Roll. And the crunch varieties have little soy crispies in them. I think I actually prefer the crunch to the smooth, but I’m not that picky. I’ll go for either especially if they’re chocolate.

You can get Nakd snack bars on Amazon.com but it looks like it’s a better deal from their site. The site offers free shipping and they’re running a special on the combo pack. So if you’re looking for a new bar to try with clean ingredients, you should give these a shot.

Vegan King Cake Recipe

vegan king cake recipe

It’s weird. This is the first year in a while that I haven’t made vegan King Cake. It was hugely popular at the bakery and we sold through it as fast as it could be made. It’s not as hard to make as it looks.

Many people are afraid to make anything that involves yeast because they’ve had some failures. I have two tips that will help you deal with yeast.

First, when a recipe says to proof your active dry yeast in warm water, you have to make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold. Above 140F will kill the yeast. The internet says the ideal temperature is somewhere between 130F and 140F. So your faucet water might be hotter than that and you might be killing the yeast right at the beginning. Of course, your active dry yeast might already be dead which seemed to happen to me about half the time.

Which leads me to my second tip…don’t use active dry yeast. Use instant yeast. Once I discovered instant yeast, I never looked back. No proofing required. Just add the same amount as the active dry yeast called for in with the flour and whisk in. Any liquid and/or sugar the recipe called for to proof the active dry yeast, just add in when the recipe calls for those ingredients or similar ingredients (liquid or sweetener.) Also, your dough will probably rise faster than the recipe says. Most recipes tell you to let it rise for a time period OR when the dough has doubled. Just put the dough in a container where it will be easy to mark double the starting level. Check it in half the time then gauge from that how often you’ll need to check before it gets to double.  Seriously, replacing active dry yeast with instant yeast in your baking will change your life.

The recipe we used at Dough was adapted from Kittee Berns‘ recipe in her cookzine Papa Tofu.  She has posted some updated King Cake recipes including a vegan gluten-free one so head on over to her site if you’d like to check those out.

vegan king cake recipe

Vegan King Cake Recipe

Makes 2 King Cakes

Ingredients

Cake:
2 ounces (1/4 cup) Earth Balance
1 12 oz. box firm silken tofu
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 ounces (1/4 8 oz. tub) Tofutti cream cheese
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer mixed in 3/4 cup water
6 cups unbleached white flour
2 babies or just use dried beans if you don’t have babies
Frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1.5 ounce (2 1/2 tablespoons) Earth Balance, melted
4 tablespoons non-dairy milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
yellow, green and purple colored sprinkles (can’t find vegan sprinkles? Kittee has instructions for making your own at the bottom of this page. Remember, while confectioners glaze can be vegan, it rarely is.)

Instructions

Whiz the silken tofu in the food processor with the lemon juice and cream cheeze. Set aside.

Combine the Earth Balance, tofu cream cheeze mixture, 1/3 cup sugar and teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Heat until the margarine melts, stirring occasionally until smooth. Let the mixture cool to at least 105-115F.

Add the cooled tofu cream cheeze mixture, the egg substitute liquid, yeast and flour to a mixer bowl. Knead with dough hook until smooth, about 6 minutes. You can do this by hand. I have no idea how long it will take. Do it until the dough is completely smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled. If it’s kind of cold, it won’t be ruined, it’ll just take longer.

Meanwhile, get your choice of filling ready. Scroll down for recipes.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. Turn one portion out onto the table and roll into a 22″X12″ rectangle. Or as close as you can get to that.

Spread half of your chosen filling(s) over the rolled out dough. Leave about two inches free on the top for the cream cheese variety, because otherwise the filling will squish up as you roll up the dough and ooze out the top.

Starting at the bottom (wide side), roll the dough up jellyroll style to form a thick log about 22″ long. Hide a small plastic doll somewhere in the dough as you roll it up.

Pinch the seam really, really well to seal. Gently place the coil, seam side down, on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bring the ends together to form a ring. Pinch the ends together to seal well (if you don’t seal it properly, it will open up during baking and ooze).

Let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350F until golden brown.

For the frosting glaze:

Melt the margarine.
Combine the melted margarine, sifted powdered sugar, milk and extract together and beat with a spatula ’till smooth.
Frost each cake with half the frosting then sprinkle with yellow, purple & green sprinkles.

FILLING OPTIONS (each is enough for 2 King Cakes)

Cinnamon sugar filling:

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup Earth Balance very soft

Mix sugar, cinnamon and softened margarine together well.

For the cream cheeze filling:

12 oz. Tofutti Cream Cheeze
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheeze until smooth.
Beat in the flour, sugar and extract until smooth.

Happy King Caking!

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