Gluten-Free Persimmon Waffles

I’m busy getting Dots stuck between my teeth while Gene Wilder cracks boob innuendos (“NICE. KNOCKERS.”) in Young Frankenstein so… I’ll scurry. Today’s appropriately orange fare is one lightly spiced persimmon waffle, made from almond and oat flours out of deference to my xGFx friends. A waffle for persimmon lovers and persimmon ambivalents. A waffle that, to quip my mom, “could use some nuts.”

Consider this a final YAWP from my corner of the internet for MoFo 2012. Thanks for reading or enjoying or commenting or considering any of the three. I admittedly puttered out toward the end (thanks new job), but I plan on continuing to waffle through November.

Halloween, make yours candy-happy!

Takes 20-30 minutes
Makes 3 Belgian waffles

3/4 persimmon puree from 3-4 Fuyu persimmons
3/4 cup almond flour (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
3/4 cup oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk (the drinking kind) or other non-dairy milk
1/4 cup oil
2 T evaporated cane juice or other vegan sugar
3 tsp Ener-G egg replacer*
4 T water*

2. Make your persimmon puree first. Take your roughly chopped persimmons and commence persimmon v. food processor war. You are beating these fruits to a pulp, you culinary bully, you. I pureed 4 persimmons for a good 10-15 minutes, scraping the sides dutifully, until I was left with this virtually chunk-less puree.

Use leftover persimmon puree in oatmeal, smoothies, and cookies; I’ve found it subs well for pumpkin in baked goods.

1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flours, spices, and salt thoroughly. In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk or vigorously “fork” together the coconut milk, canola oil, persimmon puree, and sugar. In an even smaller bowl, whisk together the Ener-G egg replacer with the water and mix into the other liquid ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry and combine gently.

2. Pour 3/4 to as much as 1 cup batter onto a pre-greased waffle iron. Cook according to your waffle iron’s instructions. I cooked mine a minute longer than my usual 5. Remove gently with a fork as these are ever so fragile! Serve with vegan butter, agave nectar, jam, or whatever you prefer to mingle with your waffles.

*Sub flax seed eggs for the 2 Ener-G eggs if it pleases you.

Tales of the Tajikistan Tearoom

Some business we need to attend to before the tea gabbling commences: today marks my 100th post! This is borderline embarrassing after a full three years of blogging, but normal standards of success bother me not. Far better to set low expectations and revel in easily attained mediocrity.

In the space of a MoFo month, the count for my all-time hits has leaped to a jubilant 10,000. I typically admonish numbers as conniving instigators of paralipsis, but 2,388 hits in one month? And a 28 MoFo post tally? Let’s jut say I’m the stupidly grinning Cheshire Cat for Halloween. Oh and happy Day of Free Candy! Creepers patiently await this annual chance to cloak their actions in holiday patronage.

But now the topic du jour: the Tajikistan Tearoom. Originally gifted to East Germany by the Soviet Republic of Tajikistan, this slice of Asian culture situated in the heart of Berlin is so much more than an anecdotal history tidbit tailored for loquacious tour guides.

*Apologies in advance for my verbose tendencies!*

A spring breeze flutters and billows through gossamers of diaphanous curtains, seeking out the deep grooves of monolithic, carved wooden pillars. You relinquish shoes in the antechamber and quickly descend around a low table, settling onto rectangular, lush cushions colored complementary to the dulcet, sea green walls. A tepid smattering of conversation bobs about the deep recesses of the grand chamber as the fighting aura of stillness threatens to overwhelm. Your newly freed toes wiggle and squirm against the coarse fibers of the traditional Persian carpet. What austere, tactile pleasure of the highest order!

As you ruffle through thick pages of the vinyl-bound menu, a stampede of oriental tea libations—from matcha to chai to oolong—trample your decision-making skills with cloven hoof. While the tremendously gracious waitress translates one page of tea offerings after another, you spiral into a locked tunnel of vacillation. Suddenly, the waitress’ attention meanders towards your person and you desperately claw your way out of the brambles of indecision. “The anise infusion, please,” you submit in a feint of calmness. Fully committed, there is little else to attend to now but a lollygagging leg stretch.

At long last, a tray of colorful tea accoutrements is brought forth. A few seconds of admiration commemorate the proffered mug of finest Chinese porcelain, zealously guarding a textural trove of herbs within. A wary upheaval of the interlocking cover releases a smorgasbord of disparate aromas into the olfactory milieu. A licorice bite of anise, delicate undertone of citrus, mysterious infusion of acerbic pungencies… all is seeped and coerced into unity. A few lumps of rock sugar plunked in and voila! A pleasingly mellifluous beverage is ready for consumption.

Photo Credit: Rachel Minier

Deeply sip and savor the sweet bouquet. Sip and sweetly savor.

Fellows around the table extol a flurry of tea drinks as you nod your head in passive compliance with decorum. Names slide in and quickly out of cognizance–after all, you subconsciously aver, the only tea that deserves brain space is your own.

However, one magenta iced tea anchored by pineapple slices winks its xanthous lemon garnish in a coquettish plead for a portrait. You fumble for your compact Canon in the black of your pockets to snap a compulsory photo. Meanwhile, your ever-pugilistic vegan conscience battles against a yearning to nibble a sugar-coated tea biscuit. Said qualms are brushed aside, if only for the hour.

Scintillating varieties of rock sugars are cautiously taste-tested from their uniform bowels. The wind-swept and ethereal Emily Unruh becomes lost in pensiveness as she and others verbally sleuth the identity of each unknown sugar.

Fast-forward 3 or some odd days. Lizzy the All-Knowing (who earlier suggested a visit to Ritter Sport’s Bunte Schokowelt) deserves due credit for the discovery of this hidden Berlin gem. To commemorate the end of a week-long romp through Berlin, she and boyfriend Ben suggest a farewell Tajikistan dusk tea. Fitting, you concur.

In their celebratory exuberance, the couple spring for the Russian tea ceremony (€7.50 per person) while you order a soothing cup of oolong. From the glistening copper vat, Lizzy doles out portions of steaming water with an adroit flick of the spigot. An amorphous current of of strong black tea is then gracefully spouted into each waiting vessel. In covetous awe you examine the vast plethora of ceremonial accompaniments: candied lemon peel, rum raisins, various jams, chilled vodka, and a jar stuffed with cookies and tea biscuits. The dazzle of the new transports all into a garrulous frenzy of high spirits.

As you mindlessly spoon about the murky depths of your lemony cup of warmth and comfort, tomorrow afternoon’s impending flight (and indeed little else) can penetrate your deep mode of rumination. Berlin adventures may soon end, but these memories at the Tajikistan Tearoom are safely stored away for future reminiscing. The piquant amber broth, the soothing quiet of the calm, the glimmers of shared smiles: shrouded in sacred reverence, all.

Tajikistan Tearoom (Bahn: Friedrichstraße)

Am Festungsgraben 1

10117 Berlin, Germany

El Piano: Granada, España

(Have I been a sufficiently dilatory blogger today? Here is the cue for all those in the congregation to intone a communal aye.)

Although Spain is perhaps more amenable to jamon-lovers than happy-pig-petters, all chances of happy meal times are not lost. Granada’s El Piano is non-negotiable pit stop for any itinerant, particularly one perennially courting the flighty mistress that is tasty vegan eats.

Situated a few blocks away from my host’s piso, El Piano predictably became a regular haunt throughout my 100ish hours in sun-soaked Granada. On first visit I was fleeing 34° (Celsius) heat, thus necessitating a beverage and some sort of teeth-rotting pastry. The organic sparkling elderflower soda was particularly memorable, but be warned that the ginger version (purchased on a later visit) packs an astringent wallop. Ya-howza.

The above photo solely triggers memories of decadent why-can’t-there-be-more frosting; all other brownie gustatory particulars have evaded me.

El Piano is known for their take-out, evidenced by the handsome display case stuffed with a global rainbow of of entrées and pastries. The pictured employee congenially listened to my stumbling Spanish, midway through revealing his perfect English with a twitching smile instantly rebuffed by a nervous giggle of relief (mine). Granada locals largely snub the use of English, Ugly Americans take note.

In this spectacularly unappetizing photo, we have milky upchuck smeared on a veggie patty, leaning on two indiscriminate tiers of ball-y mush, moated by a dingy yellow, viscous goop. This photographic platitude may not riotously pique the senses, but beauty is oft’ a mendacious bastard in the culinary lens. I was voraciously lapping up every last sporkful of my tzatziki-smeared burger, chili sin carne, unidentified onion balls, and yellow daal. The onion balls of mysterious moniker were a popular item amongst fellow diners—a repeated order on my third visit, no less.

In an effort to sample (and maliciously photograph) as many El Piano picks as possible, I bought this sugar-free brownie for the road, or more specifically, a hot bench in a tree-lined plaza a few streets parallel. Moist, saccharine, and seed-speckled, the pastry likely employed dates and fruits as its primary source of sweetness.

The piano that started it all, I presume.

And now for the loathed wrap-up compendium, which I hereby transform into phrases lazily punctuated by exclamation marks:

Economical! All gluten-free! Gnarly beverage selection! Vegan groceries! Take-away! International vegan cuisine! …El Piano!

El Piano

c/Gran Capitan, 7 Bajo

18002 Granada, Spain

Vegana en Granada (España)

Hoy en día sólo: MuffinTopped en español burdo!

Sorbete de fruta de la pasión: cremoso y delicioso!

Otra forma de fruta de la pasión: el té. Me encantaba la amplia selección de las hojas de té en el mercado al aire libre.

Paella? Obviamente. Grande? Sí. Vegana? Por supuesto que no.

La Catedral de Granada

Algunas fotos de La Alhambra famosa…

Y más fotos de Granada en toda su belleza…

La evidencia de una guerra wikipedia

Políglotas, espero que apreciaran el cambio temporal de idioma; yo casi nunca hablo el español.

Para mañana: un mensaje (en inglés!) con respecto a la restaurante vegana El Piano.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

I recently perused a dear chum’s eclectic cookbook selection because I am a closet busybody who super-puffy-hearts cookbooks. Besides a rather laughable German tome calling for such arcane ingredients as “2 spritely young chickens,” my radar honed in on a spiral-bound smoothie cookbook. If there’s nothing more gratifying than a spiral-bound book, it’s one featuring the denizens of Smoothie Heaven. Yet I’d relinquish all of the Guava Guzzlers and Cucumber Mint Coolers for this Tale as Old as Time smoothie, one that has yet to bite its thumb at me in a Shakespearean act of antagonism.

Summer-sweet strawberries. Overripe frozen banana. A slow dribble of almond milk. Agave nectar to taste. Wine glass for pretension. Strawberry garnish for photographic aesthetic.

Eyes may ceaselessly roll at another prosaic strawberry-banana smoothie. Nonetheless, I will scorn the internet fussbudgets and continue to take delight in banal pleasures that probably have little right to be etched into cyberspace. While ardently slurping down every last viscous drop!

Scrumptious Sandwiches at Sugar Plum Vegan

I like to consider myself an unofficial sandwich savant, one skilled in the art of of gluing foodstuffs of varying textures and flavors and into a cozy blanket of carb-y gluten. Yet when the (not so) laborious effort of baking tofu surpasses my midday meal motivation, Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe thankfully offers a disparate menu of plant-based sandwiches in an idyllic atmosphere.

While PeTA may possess an audacious talent to pique the sane vegan community, you have to hope they wouldn’t bequeath a “Top 5 Vegan Sandwiches” award willy nilly.

Although I have no desire to defame the oft-revered Tempeh Reuben, I myself do not count this sandwich as a culinary paramour. While countless North American vegans extol the combination of rye bread, sauerkraut, pickles, choice of protein (overwhelmingly tempeh), and thousand island dressing as the paradigm of the perfect sandwich, I cautiously rank it high on the scale of mediocrity. The above version was characteristically pungent in caraway, fennel, and other spices with tellingly full jars in my spice rack. The marinated tempeh was pleasingly moist, complementing the ever-tangy fermented onions and standard ketchup-based spread. For the sake of succinctness: if you brand yourself a Reuben minion, you are in luck with this sammie.

I would have gleefully abnegated my Tempeh Reuben for my mother’s tantalizing Midtown Club, detailed per online menu as “Homemade Gluten-Free Tempeh Bacon, Romaine, Tomato, Avocado, Clover Sprouts and Vegenaise on Multi-Grain Bread.” Despite my Yank-ish, punctilious nature to correct the lack of Oxford comma and profusion of German-inspired capitalization, the description is sound. Each component meshed effortlessly to produce a sum greater than its oh-so-great parts. When my mother offered me the leftover half in a gesture of motherly amity, I accepted with grateful alacrity.

After a failed attempt to order a fresh young coconut, I hastily switched my request to a house-made kombucha. With empathetic face held low the contrite cashier bemoaned the depletion of their stock of kombucha and graciously offered the remaining amount gratis. Serendipitous outcome? A near 16 ounces of free berry-flavored fermented tea speckled with lilliputian morsels of unknown matter. These possible berries were forthwith rapidly straw-vacuumed while my mother looked on in parental amusement.

Yesterday I venerated Sugar Plum’s front patio while today’s lionized locus is the back patio. There is very little to prevent at least an ambivalent attachment towards the place. Purring felines supinely stretch hind legs across couch cushions, modern art peeks behind corners, and stretching cords of twinkle lights adorned with Chinese latterns purvey all. The acoustics discourage a cacophony of conversational echo while diffusing the atypical noises of Midtown bustle. Alternatively, those prone to introspection can take advantage of the tranquility to wallow in the ebb and flow of vivacious rumination.

Conclusion: next time I sandwich at Sugar Plum’s back patio, I’m committed to an order of the award-winning Jackfruit Tuna Melt. That is, unless a nice homemade tempeh, cuke, and hummus doesn’t call my name from the wondrous depths of the icebox.

Sugar Plum Vegan *Check out their page for a “Free Sweet with $20 purchase” coupon*

2315 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95816