Tag Archives: pancakes

Dining Vegan

As much as I enjoy experimenting with vegan recipes, I love to dine out and enjoy the company of others.  Most of my family and friends are omnivores, so I go to restaurants they choose.  I do get questions like what do vegans eat when they go out?  You don’t need to live in LA or chomp on lettuce eating out as a vegan.  You don’t even need to go to specific vegan digs to enjoy a good meal.   I never felt limited.  You just have think outside of the “menu”.

Here’s a couple tips dining vegan:

Research.  Read the menu a head of time.  You’ll be prepared to know what to order, what to ask, and how to be creative.  If it boils down to limited choices then you’ll know to eat something before you leave, but save room for snacks.  It can get awkward if your friends are having dinner and you’re not eating, so munch on fries and have a beer.  You also want to reassure your friends that you’re fine if there’s not a lot of vegan choices.  By the way, there is always a minimum of one or two vegan items in any menu.  I love when people think about me, but rest assured this will never deter me from having a great time with good company.

Ask.  Don’t be afraid to ask off the menu.  I asked many times and gotten great suggestions.  In fact, chefs might make dishes for you because they’re excited to experiment with something new.  My family wanted to go out for Japanese ramen from Maneki Neko at Falls Church VA, but there’s only ramen with meat listed on the menu.  I asked the waitress and the chefs were delighted to make me a vegetable miso ramen.  It was spectacular!  My husband even got jealous of the ramen I got.

Remove.  There are items that can be removed and it tastes just as good.  I was recently at Peking Gourmet for Father’s Day.  My dad loves this place, so I was looking at ways to order.  I always loved Chinese pancakes, cucumbers, scallions, and hoisin sauce (despite the name there’s actually no seafood in this).  I can still enjoy this with everyone and leave the duck out.  I just filled it up with more cucumbers.

Substitute.  If I see something like vegetables on the menu I’ll ask to get that substituted for my dish.  We were at Arcadia in Richmond VA and they had beets with a meat dish, so I asked if I can substitute one of the dishes with beets.  Sure enough they were happy to do that.  I started out with the roasted turnips & beets, polenta, chive sauce, and gala apple.  It was perfect.  The beets and turnips complimented the polenta very well.

Sides.  You can have sides as a la carte or tapas style.  There are always sides that are vegan-friendly.  If that’s the case, order a couple dishes for your meal like this side salad and sweet potato fries I had at Bistro 27, also in Richmond VA.

Digs to satisfy both parties.  If you have the option to choose a restaurant go for Asian, Mexican, Italian, and Indian.  They will have vegan options for you, so both you and your friends can enjoy.  For instance, my husband asked me to choose a place for lunch while we were in Tampa.  I was interested in Taco Bus because number one it was on the Food Network and it had vegan and meat options.  My vegan taco was so delicious my husband had one too.

As long as your creative there are no limits dining vegan.

Savory & Sweet Vegan Blinis

Some nights I just want to have breakfast for dinner (aka blinner).  I wanted some form of pancakes or crepes, but they can get quite heavy.  My aunt use to make us miniature pancakes for lunch when we were younger.  Come to find out later that they were her version of blinis.  Blinis are small and light Russian pancakes made from buckwheat flour and usually served with caviar and sour cream.   These delightful cakes are also perfect as an appetizer, and can be dressed as a savory or sweet dish.  Traditional blinis can take some time to make, plus I’m omitting eggs and milk, so I made my vegan version of blinis.  I included a savory dish for dinner and a sweet dish for desert.  I knew I wanted zucchini for the savory dish, and I had orange heirloom tomatoes so thought they would be perfect to bring out that subtle sweet taste.  For the sweet blini, I wanted mango and thought ginger would pair perfectly.  I didn’t want that strong punch from raw ginger so I decided to use crystallized ginger to give it that sugary blend with the mango.  As they say in Russia “Prijatnovo appetita!”

By Shelly Chiang, Makes about 30 small blinis

Blini Batter Ingredients

  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 ½ tbsp of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tbsp of ground flaxseeds (great egg replacement for pancakes and contains Omega-3)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp and 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • ¼ cup water

Sweet Mango-Ginger Ingredients

  • ½ cup tofu sour cream
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 mango in small cubes
  • 2 large pieces of crystallized ginger sliced

Savory Zucchini-Tomato Ingredients

  • ½ of 0.75 oz package of chives
  • ½ cup tofu sour cream
  • 1 zucchini in small cubes
  • 1 orange tomato or 2 small orange tomatoes in cubes

Preparation

Tip: Blinis are best when they are fresh, so prepare the toppings first. If possible have another person help you plate as the blini cakes are done. I recommend serving them as they come out, because they can get soggy if you leave the blinis out too long.

Sweet Topping

1. Add agave to the tofu sour cream, mix, and then set aside.  I noted honey before as a mistake.  Please use agave if you are vegan

2. Chop mango in tiny cubes and set aside

3. Slice ginger in small strips and set aside

Savory Topping

1. Chop chives along the stems (I use cooking scissors) and add to tofu sour cream, mix, and then set aside

2. Chop zucchini in tiny cubes. For the tomatoes, take the seeds out so it doesn’t become watery and chop the tomatoes in tiny cubes

3. Sautee zucchini in medium heat until tender (approx 10 minutes) and then add tomatoes for approx 3 minutes.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt over zucchini and tomatoes.  Then set aside

Blini Batter

1. Combine and mix dry batter items in a bowl: all purpose flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, sea salt

2. Then add wet batter items to the same bowl and mix: milk, maple syrup, canola oil

3. Add in ground flaxseeds and let it stand for 5 minutes to allow it to activate

4. Add ¼ cup of water so the batter is not too thick

5. Heat large skillet over medium heat and lightly oil the pan or spray with cooking spray. Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter or until blini is 2 ½ inches in size

6. Flip when batter starts bubbling. Cook until blinis are brown

Plating

1. For the savory dish, dab a small spoonful of your chive sour cream on the blini and top it with the sautéed zucchini and tomatoes

2. For the sweet dish, dab a small spoonful of your honey sour cream on the blini and top it with mangos with 3 strips of ginger

3. Continue plating as your blini cakes come out