Spring Scramble

Springtime at the Royal oak Farmers Market

Going to the Royal Oak Farmers market at the first sign of spring is an annual tradition for fresh-food enthusiasts. We emerge from our winter cocoons to feel the warmth of the sun, marvel at the first crocus blooms and head to the market to share a collective exuberance with the other sun-starved Michiganders. The mood is infectious and smiles are everywhere.

Cinzori Farms Black Radish

The market is exploding with colors, living plants and enthusiasm–shoppers and farmers feeling as though they have earned the right to feel good about the spring season. This year, farmer Don Cinzori returned to the market with organic starter plants as well as black radishes, rutabagas and cabbage from his root cellar. His flats of freshly sprouted wheat grass were quickly snapped up by the juicing crowd.

Red Russian Kale

Jacob Bach of Natures Pace Organics had sweet tender spinach, baby Red Russian kale and cellared sweet onions. It was a treasure trove for me and I thoroughly enjoyed creating healthy, plant-based dishes from this bounty– salads, slaws, ragouts and a Super Scramble, which I share below.

Super Scramble

Serves 4

14 oz extra firm organic tofu

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 cup sweet onion, diced

1 cup rutabaga, diced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 teaspoon Nama Shoyu tamari (sub wheat free for gluten free)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

6 ounces baby Red Russian kale, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup cooked short grain brown rice

Drain the water from the tofu and crumble into a medium sized bowl, using your hands. Add olive oil to a non-stick sauté pan (I prefer the titanium coated pans) on medium heat, then add garlic, onion, rutabaga and crushed red pepper. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add tofu, Dijon, tarragon, dill, black pepper, turmeric, nutritional yeast, tamari and salt. Cover and cook another 10 minutes. Add kale and chia, cover and cook another 3 minutes or until the kale is tender. Stir in the quinoa and brown rice. Turn to low, cover and cook for three to five minutes. Serve hot.

 

 

Brussels Sprouts in January

Snow flurries dance in the cold, crisp air and the settled snow squeaks under my feet as I climb the porch stairs with bags from the market.  Even during the cold months, the brave and hearty Michigan farmers make the long trek to the Royal Oak Farmers Market every Saturday.  During a recent visit I purchased sweet red onions from Nature’s Pace Organics,

Siberian hardneck garlic from Green Organic Garlic  and Jim Burda of Burda’s Berry Farm brought huge, organic Brussels sprouts from his western Michigan neighbor Cinzori Farms.  Once inside my cozy kitchen, I began to prepare a simple dish which was sure to warm the body and the heart.

To prepare this dish, I used one of my favorite new kitchen tools–a twelve inch Scan Pan Pro , which is a teflon-free, non-stick saute pan which accommodates metallic instruments without scratching.  It also allows me to sear without looking, sauté without burning and cook slowly in order to achieve perfection–practically cooks itself.  Slightly caramelized brussels sprouts infused with the spicy warmth of black pepper, onions, garlic and olive oil…doesn’t get much better than that!

Black Pepper Brussels Sprouts and Red Onions

Serves 4

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon garlic, thinly sliced

2 ½ cups red onions, sliced thin

4 cups Brussels sprouts, stem trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

½ teaspoon sea salt

Place all the ingredients in a twelve inch skillet on medium-low heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts are tender.

Peak of the Harvest San Diego Market Tour

When summer begins to wane and the autumn leaves begin their transition, the tables at the farmers markets explode with color. Whether it is San Diego or Detroit, the September harvest is a magnificent time to be in our local farmers markets which have become our community centers, weekend playgrounds and the instigators of culinary foreplay for foodies across the country.

While visiting San Diego recently, I went to five farmers markets and a community farm.  One of my favorites, the Little Italy Mercato, is the jewel of the San Diego urban markets.  Overlooking the breathtaking harbor, the five blocks of booths offer local crafts, delicious prepared foods, stunning colorful fruits & vegetables and some of the best street music in the area.  One of my favorite vendors, Sage Mountain Farm, told me the Armenian cucumbers were a big hit the day I was there while the Rose apples and prickly pear fruit were selling fast at Rancho Lindo Mexico’s booth.  As always, a parade of canine friends, sniffing for samples, create a friendly atmosphere unlike any of the other markets.

I was pleased to see that the North Park Farmers Market is finally starting to blossom, thanks in part to the addition of food trucks and certified organic farms such as Suzie’s Farm and JR Organics.  Moncai Foods, a wholesale vegan dessert company, is now there selling deliciously crafted vegan entrees and desserts.

I headed toward the Mexican border to visit the Wild Willow Community Farm near Imperial Beach.  Over the last three years this farm has grown into an amazing educational center and gathering place for the local community. Director Mel Lions told me the farm is thriving and finally able to distribute produce to the local markets.  They have a potluck and open house every third Saturday of the month–providing volunteers and the greater community an opportunity to reflect, celebrate and appreciate the gifts of the soil. It is a wonderful event which I highly recommend.

Little Italy Mercato’s Market Maestra, Catt White, gave me a tour of the new San Diego Public Market on National Avenue.  It is a two acre site where an old machine factory once stood.  Soon it will serve as an indoor/outdoor year-round marketplace.  The plan includes incubator kitchens, permanent food stalls and a home base for food trucks.  It is very ambitious, but I have no doubt Catt can achieve her goal after seeing firsthand what she has done with markets around San Diego. Wednesday and Sunday markets have already begun in this location, which I look forward to visiting the next time I’m in San Diego.

Even though it is a smaller boutique market, Rancho Santa Fe Farmers Market is also one of my favorites.  Each week, market master Raquel Pena transforms a shopping center parking lot into a magical place filled with beautiful music, delicious food, fruits, vegetables and artisans. I find these intimate and cozy markets a refreshing change from the crush of the crowds at some of the more popular ones. My good friend Akram Attie is front and center here in his Thyme of Essence booth.  He not only sells the freshest harvest of California olive oil and custom Zaatar spice blends, but sumptuous, out-of-this-world Manoushe & Falafel sandwiches toasted on a Mongolian-style grill.

Nicolina Alves of Terra Bella Ranch took over the vibrant La Jolla Open Aire Market last year. The word is out and it has become a destination place for anyone in or near La Jolla on any given Sunday.  There are a large variety of food stalls, a plethora of vegetable & fruit farmers and a dizzying array of crafts and artists.

The market is on the verge of adding thirty percent more space and it is only going to get better.  Of course, Terra Bella Ranch is an anchor vendor and has always been one of my favorite organic farms.  They specialize in walnuts, almonds, avocados and dried fruits.

I enjoyed visiting with Dennis Stowell of Tom King Farms and tasting his giant football-shaped Uzbeki melons–sweet and succulent! Some of the best melons I’ve ever had.

The Grande Dame of San Diego markets is the Hillcrest Farmers Market, where most chefs and foodies shop.  I could not resist buying the giant figs, perfectly ripe passion fruit and the voluptuous Reed avocados from Ryan at Creekside Tropicals.

I sampled fresh harvested, dried on the palm Morocco Gold Medjool dates.  They taste like a melt-in-the-mouth caramel, addictive and delicious. I ordered a variety of heirloom beans to be shipped by Michelle Larson Sadler’s Conscious Cookery–Colorado River, Anasazi, Mortgage Lifter and Borlotti beans.

Market days are not just days to stock up on fresh and exciting ingredients.  They are a rejuvenating experience, an opportunity to reconnect with friends and awaken culinary creativity.  I used the passion fruits from Creekside Tropicals to create this recipe.

Passion-Almond Creme Brulee

Serves 4

Passion fruit

4 passion fruits

1/4 cup evaporated cane juice

Slice the passion fruits in half and scoop the fruit into a fine strainer placed over a bowl. Use a rubber spatula push the fruit against the strainer, working the juice from the seeds. Place the juice into a small sauce pan on medium-low heat.  Stir in the sugar. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until it becomes a syrup-like consistency. Reserve.

Almond Creme

1 cup plain almond or soy milk

1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup evaporated cane juice

1/2 cup blanched almond flour

1 tablespoon unbleached wheat flour or 1-1/2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

Whisk all ingredients together in a double boiler on medium heat. Cook for 40 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thick.

Transfer evenly into 4 shallow ramekins (small souffle dishes).

Assembly

4 tablespoons evaporated cane juice

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice on top of each ramekin. Using a cooking torch, carefully caramelize the sugar until golden brown. Dress each ramekin with a swirl of passion fruit syrup. Serve immediately.

Note: Many of the highlighted links above will ship!

 

The First Farmers Market

The hallmark of summer in Birmingham, Michigan is the opening of its farmers market. Since its beginnings, ten years ago, the market has become one of the most festive in the Detroit area with special events, fresh food, organic produce, flowers and live music. As I entered the market last Sunday, the welcoming notes of blues singer Paul Miles filled the air. Excited patrons, families with their children and canine friends crowded around the stalls.
My first stop was Nature’s Pace Organics represented by Jacob and Katie Mullane-Bach with their children Forest and Freeda. We caught up on our winter adventures and shared plans for the new season ahead.They were proud to tell me about the hoop houses installed on their farm and of plans to provide their carefully tended organic produce at some of the year round markets. Beautiful butterhead and romaine lettuces, leeks, young Swiss chard, black radishes and arugula flowers filled their stall. I bought a little of everything and then moved on.
In addition to the tender spring produce, the warm weather brings a social season. Frequently, in the mid-west, neighbors only see each other when tending their yards or at the market. It is a happy time and every year people act as if they are experiencing spring for the first time.

Arriving home, it was already lunchtime and I was excited to start cooking with the fresh harvest in my bags. The big leeks, procured from Nature’s Pace Organics only an hour before, inspired me to create a recipe which features the robust flavor of this freshly harvested vegetable of the allium family.

White Pepper Leek Tart

Filling
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
4 cups leeks, sliced thin
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons dill weed, minced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, fresh ground

Using a sauce pan on medium heat, cook the olive oil, garlic and leeks until the leeks begin to stick.  Add water, cover and turn down to a simmer then cook for 5 minutes until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients, cook another 2 minutes and reserve.
Crust
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup garbanzo flour
1/2 cup potato flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 cup water

Place all ingredients in a food processor, make a dough and press into a parchment lined 10 inch springform pan. Add leek mixture and top with thin tomato slices. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes . Take out of oven, let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Whether at the market, in the garden, cooking in the kitchen or savoring at the table, I am often charmed by the unique experience each meal brings to daily life.  In the great food cultures of the world, life is measured by the succession of meals and food is the glue that links together family, friends and community.

Cooking At VegFest Michigan

Spring is here and that means one of my favorite Michigan events–VegFest–a wonderful opportunity to discover a world of plant-based food and associated lifestyles.  There will be cooking demonstrations by chefs from all over the country, free food samples, lectures and lots more.

So, join me on Sunday, April 29, 11am to 5pm, at the Suburban Showplace in Novi. I will be there demonstrating a recipe from my private collection, Pistachio Quinoa & Kale Croquettes–simple, delicious and served with Garden Fresh Black Bean and Corn Salsa–one of my favorites.  See you there!

 

A new recipe by Chef George Vutetakis, author of:

Vegetarian Traditions: Favorite Recipes From My Years At The Legendary Inn Season Cafe

Pistachio Quinoa & Kale Croquettes

 

1 ½  cups shelled pistachios, toasted
2 cups lacinato kale, stemmed and blanched
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 cup quinoa, cooked
coconut oil

Place pistachios in a food processor and grind until a meal consistency.  Add kale, olive oil, salt, garlic, lemon juice and water.  

Puree.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl and add quinoa.  Mix well.  In a griddle or saute pan on medium-high heat, add a small amount of coconut oil.

Form batter into silver-dollar sized disks (approximately 1 ounce) and place onto griddle.  Turn when brown and cook until other side is brown.

Serve hot with Jack’s Special Black Bean and Corn Salsa by Garden Fresh Gourmet.

Option:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Article and recipe in the Oakland Press
Article in the Detroit Free Press and Quesadilla Recipe

The Vegetarian Guy and VegFest are sponsored by

Creamy Cashew Carrot Soup

There is much to be said and appreciated about a cookbook which is stained with use.  The adventures of the favorite recipes continue from one generation to the next with splotches and smears of ingredients. I have a collection of cookbooks from my family, as well as many others, which have charmed me over the years with their dog-eared pages.

With the computer revolution, things have changed.  A new generation stores many of their books and recipes on their hard-drives, not their shelves.  Tens of thousands of recipes can be found online with the click of a mouse.  I have a Twitter Feed which allows me to share vegan recipes from the world-wide-web with my followers on a daily basis.

Many individual online recipes stand alone, without connection to their cultural background or the inspirations which influenced the chefs who created them.  It is different with an ebook, which is the entire book presented the way the author intended it.  I now offer my cookbook, Vegetarian Traditions, in an Ebook edition allowing me to share the most popular dishes from Inn Season Cafe anywhere in the world.  Some of the available formats are below.

Vegetarian Traditions Kindle Edition

Barnes & Noble Nook Edition

iTunes iBook Edition

Adobe Digital Editions/Sony Reader

One of the timeless Inn Season Cafe recipes was Carrot Cashew Soup–still a favorite at the Royal Oak, Michigan cafe.  Warm root-vegetable soups in the winter can be a transcending experience, lifting us into a place of healing comfort.

My earliest memories of carrots are of my father helping me to grasp scraggly green tops jutting out of the ground and pulling them to discover the bright orange tuber.  As a toddler, my father’s assistance was necessary, but I soon perfected the technique and all the carrots were harvested whether ready or not. This didn’t bother him at all; perhaps he sensed the budding of my life-long relationship to vegetables.

Carrots are quite versatile, but often under-rated. They can be eaten raw or juiced for a vitalizing drink. They can be used in salads, soups and desserts, in addition to adding sweetness and substance to a multitude of vegetable dishes. I even use pureed carrots as a base for salad dressings, sauces and in a number of dessert dishes, not the least of which is carrot cake.

Carrot Cashew Soup reveals the venerable carrot as an excellent base for a soup. When mixed with cashews and blended, it becomes a melt-in-your-mouth cream soup. Best of all–it is so easy to prepare!

Carrot Cashew Soup

Serves 6

3 cups carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup red onions,chopped

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon dill weed, chopped

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper

1 tablespoon tamari

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup red bell peppers, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup raw cashews

5 cups water

1/2 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix all ingredients, except water and parsley. Transfer to a large casserole or roasting dish. Cover and bake for one hour. Allow to cool, add 1 cup water and puree in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a soup pot, add remaining 4 cups of water, stir, reheat and simmer for 10 minutes uncovered. Serve hot and top with a sprinkle of chopped parsley in each bowl.

Recipe from the cookbook: Vegetarian Traditions: Favorite Recipes From My Years At The Legendary Inn Season Cafe

By George Vutetakis

Super Mac N Cheese at the Motown Macdown


Garden Fresh Gourmet founder and CEO, Jack Aronson, recently invited me to participate in the first annual Motown Macdown in Ferndale, Michigan.  This macaroni ‘n cheese competition is a benefit for Justin’s Vision, a non-profit organization which sends children with severe illnesses and their families to the Give Kids The World Village in Kissemee, Florida.  The Macdown was to be a fierce battle of accomplished and well known chefs in Southeast Michigan:  Brian Polcyn of Forest Grill & Cinco Lagos, Brian Perrone of Slows BarBQ, Chris Franz of The Rattlesnake Club, Matt Baldridge of Cliff Bell’s, The Hungry Dudes bloggers and me–The Vegetarian Guy.

I got to work creating what I do best, delicious plant-based dishes, with a goal of showing vegans and non-vegans alike that a dairy free mac ‘n cheese can be as satisfying as its counterpart.  My entry was not only 100% plant-based, but also gluten-free–emulating the classic American macaroni and cheese many of us grew up on.  I drew inspiration from  my grandmother’s Greek pastitsio, a noodle and cheese dish, which I frequently enjoyed during childhood visits to her home.

Super Mac ‘N Cheese: MyFoxDETROIT.com

The recipe includes some ancient whole grains (quinoa, teff and amaranth), cashews, almonds and extra virgin olive oil–all healthy and energizing ingredients. This dish feels and tastes like the traditional mac ‘n cheese, without the simple carbohydrates or cholesterol laden fats.  It thrives on the synergy between flavor, texture, healthy ingredients and comfort. The coup d’etat is my chive and extra virgin olive oil puree, which adds a zesty “zing”–mostly appreciated by us grown up kids.

 

Although my entry did not win the competition, it was the surprise of the event.  After the blind tasting, many were asked if they knew one of the dishes was vegan and gluten-free.  Most tasters had no idea and were pleasantly surprised!  Proving that this dish can stand on its own in flavor and texture no matter what one’s dietary preference is.

The Macdown was a huge success.  Not only was it a great time with music and song–but it sold-out!  Justin’s Vision not only gained a lot of recognition and press through this fundraiser, but it raised enough funds to send a family to the Give Kids The World Village and helped to pave the way for the next exciting fundraiser!

Super Mac N Cheese

Super-food, Vegan and Gluten Free

Serves 6

10 cups water

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces Ancient Harvest quinoa macaroni

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a large saucepan, bring water, ½ teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil to a boil.  Add macaroni and stir to remove clumping.  Cook until the pasta is tender around the edges, but firmer than Al Dente.  Strain, rinse with cool water, drain well and place in a bowl with ½ teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons olive oil.   Mix well and reserve.

 

Blend A

½ cup raw cashews

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 ½ cups soy milk or other non-dairy milk

Puree all ingredients in a blender until very smooth and transfer to a bowl.  Reserve.

 

Blend B

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

25% of Blend A

¾ cup soy milk

1 cup Daiya cheddar style shreds

Puree all ingredients in a blender until very smooth. Reserve.

 

Bechamel

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup yellow onions, minced

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons teff flour

2 tablespoons amaranth flour

2 tablespoons almond flour

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ cup soy milk

75% (the rest of) of Blend A

½ cup water

1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice

½ cup grated Daiya cheddar style shreds

Lightly oil a 6×9 baking dish, set aside.  In a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, slowly cook the onions until clear around the edges, then add the garlic, teff and amaranth.  After 1 minute, add the almond flour, black pepper, smoked paprika, sea salt and turmeric.  After another minute, stir in soy milk and the remaining Blend A.  Simmer and stir until a thick gravy consistency, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in water, lemon juice and Blend B.  Transfer to baking dish and fold in the noodles and ½ cup Daiya.  Spread out evenly.

 

Topping

½ cup Daiya cheddar style shreds

¼ cup almond flour

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon mild paprika

Evenly sprinkle Daiya on top, then almond flour, oil and paprika evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Note:  All ingredients were found at my local Whole Foods Market.  Many groceries now carry most of the ingredients.

Maple Pecan Pie for the Holidays!

Some years after George Washington chopped down the cherry tree, Thomas Jefferson gave him a gift of pecan trees to plant at his Mount Vernon estate.  First grafted commercially in 1846, pecans became integral to Southern hospitality and lifestyle.  Most of the world’s production is still grown in the Southern states.  Pecan pie was created in the 17th century by French settlers who were introduced to pecans by the native tribes in the area around New Orleans. The familiar version made with corn syrup does not show up until the beginning of the 20th century.

Thanksgiving 2008, our family held the first vegan versus traditional pecan pie throw-down.  My dairy-free, maple syrup-sweetened recipe has won the contest every year.  It is not full of fat, like most pecan pies, so you can help yourself to a second or third guilt-free piece.

Of course, the key to a good recipe is the freshness and quality of ingredients.  Pecans are harvested from September through December; there is nothing quite like the taste of a fresh pecan, toasted and dressed with maple syrup.  This is Americana at its best.

On our most recent journey from Detroit to San Diego, Sara and I took the southern route down to Nashville and then west through Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  While we found the plant-based culinary options to be limited, we discovered a few treasures –one of them being freshly harvested pecans.

We first started seeing pecans in New Orleans and then found the organic and unshelled ones at Whole Foods in Austin.  Our surprise discovery was just outside of Bowie, Arizona, between the New Mexico border and Tucson, where the climate is very dry.  Local olives, honey, pistachios and pecans were being sold at a reinvented Stuckeys, just off the highway, with the unlikely name of Dwayne’s Fresh Jerky. Dwayne is a colorful character who described the local bounty with humor and warmth.  He agreed with me that the freshness of pecans is paramount and can make the difference between a hum-drum recipe and a culinary all-star.  It is even better when you have a direct connection with the farmer, adding an unspoken magic to the dish.

Maple Pecan Pie

Pecans
2 ½ cups pecan halves
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spread pecans evenly on a baking sheet and toast for 11 minutes.  Remove and reserve.

Crust
1 cup unbleached wheat flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup blanched almond flour
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ plain soy milk or almond milk

In a food processor, pulse all crust ingredients until a dough-like consistency is formed, do not over mix.  Hand form dough into a patty and place into a lightly oiled 9 inch glass pie dish.  Gently press the dough evenly onto the bottom and sides of the dish.  Crimp the edges for a decorative look, if desired.

Filling
1 ¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon unsulphured molasses
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
3 tablespoons almond meal/flour
1 vanilla bean scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Using a food processor, grind 1 cup of the toasted pecans into a fine meal.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all filling ingredients and the pecan flour.  Pour into pie shell and evenly place the remaining 1 ½ cups of toasted pecans on top.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove and cover with aluminum foil, shiny side up.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and allow to air cool before refrigerating for 8 hours.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Notes
-For this recipe, I use Bob’s Red Mill flours and almond meal.
-For a gluten-free recipe, use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free baking flour instead of the wheat flours in the crust.

State of the Veg Union Pt 5 –The Borrowed Earth Cafe

The last segment of our San Diego to Detroit veg restaurant tour took us to the town of Downers Grove, a southern suburb of Chicago, where our destination,The Borrowed Earth Cafe, awaited.  This turned out to be a little gem–an oasis of delicious raw cuisine, with all the food prepared on-site and served with an efficiency that rivals fast food restaurants.

Owners Danny and Kathy Living’s passion for the raw cuisine they serve is evident through beautiful presentations, a magical environment and great humor–Danny had Sara in stitches the entire two hours we were there.

We began our meal with a wonderful creamy coconut and corn soup,

followed with a colorful sweet potato quesadilla exploding with vibrant flavors–each morsel felt like an indulgence.

Kathy recommended the special walnut-crusted green beans, her version of  “fried” green beans–raw and unfried.  She explained that she loves to experiment with comfort foods from her childhood to create raw, living versions which are then served at the cafe.  The dish was very satisfying and provocative with a nutty flavor and delicate crunch.

The finale was Out of this World Cheesecake and has made it to the top of our raw dessert list–Sara and I were practically fighting over the crumbs!

At the Borrowed Earth Cafe, we discovered the passion, talent and presentation we had been yearning for in our veg restaurant tour.  We left Downer’s Grove feeling great about the state of the veg union–not to mention, fully satiated and thoroughly entertained.

The last stop was our home turf of Detroit–a city in the budding stages of a veg renaissance with pockets of culinary passion and  a surprisingly large collection of veg cafes and farmers markets.

As we stuck our forks into the incomparable Inn Season Cafe salad, piled high with fresh, organic produce, nuts seeds, avocados and marinated onions, we couldn’t help but feel that there’s no place like home!

Inn Season Cafe 30th Anniversary

On Monday, October 17, Inn Season Cafe owners, Nick Raftis and Thomas Lasher, will host an open house to celebrate  30 years of providing the Detroit area with fresh, unadulterated, farm to table, fine vegetarian cuisine.

I will join founding owners, Maggie O’Meara and John Armstrong, at the cafe between 6pm and 10pm for this free, festive event with food, wine and song.

As part of the month-long anniversary celebration, the cafe will give away cupcakes and other goodies.

For more information check out www.theinnseasoncafe.com.

You will also be able to purchase my cookbook Vegetarian Traditions: Favorite Recipes From My Years At The Legendary Inn Season Cafe

…and I will be there to sign your book!

Read The Inn Season Cafe Story

Click Here!

30 Years Of Inn Season Cafe In Pictures

Click Here!

Photo gallery from the 30th Anniversary open house

October 17, 2011