Review: Vegan Jewish Deli

By coincidence only, not planned at all, my friend and I went out for lunch on Rosh Hashanah at a brand new deli called Ben & Esther’s.

Portland-based Ben & Esther’s vegan Jewish deli, bakery and bagel shop recently opened in Oceanside.

Named after founder Justin King’s grandparents, Ben & Esther’s is a New York City-style Jewish deli and bakery.

Although the concept initially sold animal products, it eventually transitioned to be completely vegetarian, then to 100% vegan. 

The menu consists of New York style bagels with cream “cheese”, deli sandwiches, knishes, matzo ball soups, lox made from carrots, whitefish made from hearts of palm, and a variety of pastries & sweets.

I had the “lox” on a bagel with cream cheese and capers and it was REALLY good. You could hardly tell that you were eating carrots disguised as salmon.

My friend had the BLT on a pumpernickel/rye swirl bread and couldn’t believe how yummy it was and how “bacon-y” the vegan bacon tasted.

I had a taste of the “whitefish” and that will definitely be my choice the next time we eat there.

The bagels were deli-authentic, which proves once again that you don’t need any form of dead animal to create scrumptious food.

We got chocolate babka for dessert and that was the only disappointment because it didn’t taste NEARLY as good as my homemade version, even though it was filled with chocolate.

https://www.benandesthers.com/

EASY Three-Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

The Angel Kids always request my homemade ice cream when they visit but that usually involves ingredients I personally don’t like to use or eat, although I do it for them.

Feeling sorry for the chunk of body part that was chopped off a couple days ago, I thought that a bowl of chocolate ice cream would make me feel much better.

I didn’t want to go to the store and buy vegan ice cream loaded with all kinds of chemicals and other ingredients that help it replicate dairy ice cream and I’m allergic to coconut which is the mainstay for most vegan ice cream, so I decided to make my own.

I had an unopened container of almond milk from the kids’ recent visit and decided to do a little experimenting.

The result was SO satisfying. It actually tastes very similar to a fudgesicle and that’s not a bad thing.

It’s not super creamy but it’s very chocolate-y and yummy. Substituting one cup of full fat coconut milk for one cup of almond milk or a little corn syrup would provide a much smoother texture but all I really cared about was the chocolate. If I make it again, I will add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup, but this is a quick and easy recipe.

I think this is a great recipe to use for homemade popsicle molds. I didn’t, but you could add mini chocolate chips or berries and that would be yummy, too.

It’s fun to experiment and I’m never sorry if I fail because I’ll try something different next time, but this was a success.

PS If you’re counting, I don’t consider vanilla to be an ingredient!

Grape + Blueberry Jam

All my grapes became ripe at the same time which made an easy decision to embark on a grape jam project.

I found lots of recipes for grape jelly but I wanted to include some of the texture that a whole grape can provide and not merely strain out the skins and pulp for the juice.

Always experimenting, I also had a half full container of 100% pure blueberry juice that I used for the Angel’s smoothies so they wouldn’t be refused because they were a yucky GREEN color. It perfectly masks the kale and spinach, teehee.

Every summer, my mom and I used to make pickles and jams and preserves, enough jewel-colored Mason jars to last until the following spring, but I haven’t done it in a while.

She was way more scientifically precise than I could ever hope to be as I never had her patience, but most of the time my creations taste pretty good.

It’s hot and humid, not the greatest weather to cook pots of boiling grapes, but once I started, I was committed to finishing this project.

I didn’t can them in a proper water bath but filled containers for the refrigerator and freezer.

The most time consuming part was separating every grape from its tiny little stem–thank goodness my grapes were seedless — so I set aside about four cups to use whole, and cooked the rest of the grapes separately to strain. I might have zero patience but I’m clever!

At the last minute I decided to add ginger and cinnamon. Those two ingredients elevated the flavor more than I could have imagined.

I lost the identification tag, so I don’t know exactly what type of grape I have, but they’re seedless and very sweet. This was only half of the grapes I used.

I cooked them in two pots, added the sugar equally along with ginger and cinnamon, and skimmed off the white foam:

Strained the one pot of grapes that weren’t cleaned as diligently…

After that, I combined both pots of grapes, added the blueberry juice and pectin, let it come to a rolling boil for another minute, and the mixture was ready to fill freshly sterilized containers. I wasn’t going to use pectin because I thought there was enough natural pectin, but I had some and it’s vegan, so I added it.

Disaster! I’m sure most people are smarter than me and wouldn’t fill plastic containers with boiling liquid. Life lessons, right? I licked a bit off the counter and it’s DELICIOUS. Don’t you think that container reminds you of Picasso’s melting clocks? I do! Such a mess.

Much better!

I had to hurry and sterilize a lot of glass jars and didn’t have time to scrape off the labels, but they’re clean and bacteria-free. After cooling, it jelled beautifully. I’m very happy with the results!

Here’s the recipe I created.

Sometimes…Size DOES Matter!

Brought over by a friend because I love lemons. These are gigantic and SO juicy.

Seriously though, what did you think I was referring to?

I figured we all might need a bit of levity because dealing with reality today is HARD. I don’t like this country very much right now, So many poor decisions from guns to reproductive rights. It’s a hellscape so I’m going to slice a lemon and enjoy a refreshing and citrusy glass of water and try not to think about the fall of democracy.

Lemongrass Tea

I have a healthy lemongrass plant in my garden and never thought of doing anything with it but cutting a stalk from time to time for Vietnamese or Thai dishes and thought I’d experiment a little since it I learned it also offers healing benefits. Too bad it can’t fix my broken bones!

Lemongrass tea has a wonderful, lemony, delicious taste. Add to boiling water for only fifteen minutes and it’s a perfect hot or cold refreshment!

If you don’t have fresh lemongrass or you can’t find it in the store, you can use dried lemongrass Be sure to strain or use a tea caddy.

  • 1 stalk lemongrass including leaves (1 tbsp dried lemongrass)
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • Optional: Piece of ginger or sprinkle of cinnamon.

Boil for 15 minutes, steep, strain, and enjoy!

I added a cup of my freshly made lemongrass tea to Yogi ginger tea (which has lemongrass listed as an ingredient) and it tasted yummy!

The Compleat Apple Pie…Deconstructed

Re-posting from a few years ago, one of my faves.

Your apple pie tutorial.
An apple pie with attitude.

If you are one of the many boys and girls (OK, adults) who’ve never made an apple pie from scratch and you don’t want to meet the Grim Reaper without having made at least one perfect apple pie, you’ve come to the right place.

I’m right here, holding your hand, gently walking you through all the steps and twists and turns to create the best apple pie you will ever eat. Guaranteed.

I know you can do it! Once you’ve mastered one pie start to finish, you will never be afraid of a little old piecrust again. Pinky swear.

The Apples
The apples you choose are of the utmost importance. They need to be firm and tart and able to stand up to the heat of a 425 degree oven without becoming mushy as the pie bakes. (For my Canandian friends, you’ll have to do the conversion–I’m not that smart.)

I like Granny Smith or Pippin apples for pies. Normally, that would be the green ones. Depending on the size of the apple, I like to use between 6-8 apples per pie.

apple1I enjoy making my pies the old fashioned way. I peel and slice the apples.

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Squeeze a little lemon juice over the slices for a pop of flavor and it’ll help keep the apples from turning brown.
apple3Unless I’m making apple jelly, I put the peels in the compost bin, and so should you!

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This is one time when I use white sugar and don’t feel guilty about it–about 2/3 cup or to taste. Some apples need more sweetness, some need less. The most important ingredient is cinnamon. The right amount of cinnamon elevates the apple pie to a higher level.  I use approximately 3-4 tablespoons. I do a lot of tasting, so it’s a good idea to add a little at a time and taste as you go. My family loves a LOT of cinnamon!

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When you feel that your apples and sugar and cinnamon have reached the zenith of blissful co-existence, sprinkle one tablespoon all-purpose flour over the apples and mix lightly.

stressed is dessert spelled backwardsDon’t be afraid, don’t desert me before the dessert is complete–watch and learn!

It’s not that difficult. It’s like many things in life. Once you try something new and master it, you lose the fear of the unknown.apple8

I like my mom’s favorite cookbook for old-fashioned recipes.

The Crust
It’s not rocket science. This is a tried and true basic recipe for a two-crust pie. I don’t like to use butter in this crust because I don’t want any other flavors to taint the apple+cinnamon perfection. I know you can use a food processor and it cuts the time in half but sometimes the most satisfying part of baking is to be fully immersed in the process as much as the final results!

For a nine-inch pie pan:
Mix together…
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
Cut in…
2/3 cup shortening
Sprinkle with…
Four tablespoons water

What does “cut in” mean? It means you need to distribute the shortening into the flour so that the particles become the size of peas. This is what makes pastry flaky. pastry-blenderUse a pastry blender to cut shortening into flour. If you don’t have one, use two knives and this technique: holding a knife in each hand with blades almost touching, move knives back and forth in opposite directions in a parallel cutting motion. The side of a fork or a wire whisk works, too.

apple11 Mix only until all ingredients are worked in. If you overwork pastry dough, it’ll become tough. Sprinkle the water in a tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork until all the flour is moistened. Gather dough together and press into two balls for the upper and bottom crust.apple12

Flour the board or counter and the rolling pin so the dough won’t stick. There are all kinds of fancy schmancy rolling pins–I’ve been really happy with this old wooden one. Flatten the balls with your hand. Roll each ball into a sort of circle; don’t go all crazy thinking it has to be perfect at this point. If it breaks or tears, just pinch and push it back together–about 1/8 inch thick. For an apple pie, I think the bottom crust needs to be a bit more sturdy than the top crust–roll accordingly.

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Roll into a circle two inches larger than pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and sides.

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Pile high with the yummy apples.

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Redo the same steps with the other round for the top crust. Cut off the extra dough that hangs over–leaving enough to fold under.

You can either crimp the edges…piecrustedges

or use a fork. Dip fork tines in flour; press tines onto edge of dough. Poke with fork or knife all around to release steam as it bakes.apple18

I wanted to add an enchanted seashell embellishment to the final version.

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I molded leftover dough over a scallop shell, cut off the excess, and placed it on the pie.

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It will bake quicker than the pie–remember to take it out after about ten minutes and place it back on the pie before serving.

I always bake pies on a cookie sheet because they will invariably ooze and turn your oven into a burning, sticky, smoky mess that can set off a smoke alarm and that’s always annoying!apple19

Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes or so until it’s bubbly and the crust is beautifully browned.

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Yummy!

apple21“Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up”
(Norma Desmond, Sunset Blvd.)

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Come on, add this to your list of goals for 2013 and let me know how it turns out!

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Happy Valentine’s Day | For Chocolate Lovers | Vegan Lentil Brownies

I’ve had a bit of success with Black Bean & Beet Brownies and Lentil Cookies but I’ve never tried simply Lentil Brownies, so I baked some this morning before it got too hot to have the oven on.

They look good, right? But the real question is how do they taste?

If you’ve ever had Black Bean Brownies, you might have detected a slightly weird beany texture, so I hoped this lentil version would eliminate that.

These brownies are TRULY surprisingly yummy! They’re very moist and chocolate-y. I can’t tell they contain lentils, which IS a wonderful source of protein, so this is also a healthy snack.

Tips:
1. Really cook the lentils until they’re mushy.
2. Refrigerate the pan for at least a couple hours after frosting before cutting and eating.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Healthy Super Bowl Recipe! Easy Veggie Burgers

These veggie burgers would be great for the Super Bowl along with guacamole and a gigantic pitcher of margaritas.

Add vegan mayo and/or ketchup and it’s so delicious, trust me!

I continually experiment with different ingredients to try and provide as much nutrition as possible and still taste good.

This is a complete meal for lunch or dinner or even on the go and it’s super easy because this time I used canned beans. Of course, you can always start with dried beans, but I used what I had on hand.

TIPS:
*Quantities can be adjusted for your specific needs; I like to make a lot so I can freeze some.
*They can be ovenbaked or in a pan on the stove.
*Use whatever veggies you like.
*I like to cook them until they’re crispy and crunchy on the outside for texture and because they hold together better, also because it makes them easier to pack and freeze.
*They’re delicious hot or cold; perfect for a hike or beach day.

Seriously Amazing *Vegan* Herb Crackers

Since we’re in a seemingly neverending spiral of virus mutations, the unvaccinated, and overworked healthcare professionals, I’m still trying to limit my exposure to PEOPLE. Not that it’s too difficult for me as I’m solitary by nature, but it’s still kind of annoying.

I had done my Traders shopping and when I came home, I realized that I had totally forgotten to get the kind of crackers I love to accompany Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese. Read about my love for THAT here: https://enchantedseashells.com/2021/04/06/yum-miyokos-vegan-cream-cheese/

Instead of doing what was normal practice in the old days, I didn’t run out and make that one purchase. Resourceful me decided to bake my own crackers. I haven’t done that in years and it’s so easy, I wonder why it took me this long to remember that! An added plus is no wasted plastic or containers, so I’m helping the environment too…

Tips: I substituted 1/2 cup buckwheat flour for all purpose flour. Next time I won’t do that because buckwheat is such a strong flavor. While it’s lovely in pancakes and soba noodles, it’s a bit too much here.

On the other hand, I gotta say that the smell of the herbs in the oven was so fragrant! It perfumed the entire house. I used all the herbs I have in the garden, but you can add whatever you like, including poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds. **Roll extremely thin for crispiest crackers. I didn’t cut them in perfect shapes or use a pizza cutter because I was too lazy and wanted them done in a hurry, but I kind of like the rustic look.

Ginger-Lime Quick Bread **Vegan**

All that rain we had yesterday made it literally impossible NOT to bake, so I did.

We had about 1 1/2 inches of rain and our strongest winds were 45+ mph. Stores closed in our little village because of power outages and streets were flooded.

My friend’s lime tree exploded with limes last week, so now I have about fifty limes as a result of her generosity. I juiced A LOT OF THEM and froze in ice cube trays. These are the juicy sweet Mexican limes that are so amazing in margaritas and guacamole. LImes + tequila = heaven.

I created this recipe after reading tons of similar ones on the internet.

After the worst of the storm passed, it was still windy but FREEZING. A hot mug of fragrant ginger tea was just what I needed along with a couple slices of yummy Ginger-Lime bread.

It came out soo moist and tender, I definitely recommend and will make again and again.

PS I can’t change the recipe graphic but I forgot the amount of ginger tea. Should read 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.