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Posts Tagged ‘Vegan Treats’

Though I lived in Emmaus for almost four years, I never bothered to check out the Allentown Farmer’s Market. For one thing, Emmaus has a killer farmer’s market itself. The other reason being someone once told me the Allentown Farmer’s Market is just a bunch of grocery store produce shipped in from Giant and Weiss. Nothing is locally grown, in other words. I finally paid this questionable market a visit last weekend, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised!

Whether or not all of the produce is locally grown I’m not sure, but the market itself was a lot more diverse than I expected. Imported gourmet and specialty foods, Amish pies and pastries (baked, apparently on premise), spices, flowers, Mediterranean food, and the reason I was there: organic, exotic vegan food!

I was helping out my friend Wendy in her stand for the day. Not to be biased, but the smells wafting out of her stand put all the other vendors to shame.

She had some side dishes ready to go, including Teriyaki Tofu, Masala Potatoes, Coconut Cashew Rice, Indian Samosas, Curried Cabbage, and Garlic & Sage Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar. As usual, Wendy was also selling Vegan Treats, from the shop in Bethlehem.

Yeah, if you’ve never tried a Vegan Treats Pumpkin Whoopie pie, you need to go ahead and do that. Their Peanut Butter Brownies are pretty amazing too.

The Cowboy Cookie. EVERYONE LOVES THIS COOKIE. I never knew what all the hoopla was about until I tried one.

Entrees are also made to order. Above, the “Taste of India” platter: karachi dahl, crisp indian crackers, samosa and organic brown basmati rice served over organic greens, finished with red curry dressing, mango chutney and coconut flakes. Wendy was also offering up Chipotle Chili, West African Peanut soup and my all-time-favorite, the Bombay Burrito. The priciest item on her menu ($14.95) but so worth it. Plus, I was eating mine for like three days afterwards, it’s simply huge!

One of our hottie patrons enjoying some vegan chili.

And many other happenings at the market:


In closing, the goofy rickshaw slightly weird clown ferris wheel.

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I had some crazy good pine nut/lentil dumplings at Blue Sage once, and immediately began contemplating how I could make something similar (but with more kick!) on my own. My first attempt turned out ok, but they weren’t exactly fantastic. Probably the fact that I was just trying to use up a batch of less-than-great dal in a creative way didn’t help. So this time, I made a PERFECTLY spicy, flavorful and delicious pot of dal, mixed it up with some toasted pine nuts, and used that as the filling for half of the dumplings. Dal (also spelled dhal, dahl, or daal) is the Indian term for lentils cooked with spices, basically. I thought spicy Indian flavors would make for a very interesting dumpling filling, and holy crap, did it ever. For the other half of the dumplings I went a more traditional route and used sauteed veggies and shrimp (I liked the Indian ones better, though). This meal turned into a crazy Indian/Asian fusion ordeal, and the flavors all went together surprisingly well.

VeggiesCabbage, shallots, shiitake mushrooms, grated carrots, garlic and lots of ginger, frying away in the saute pan. I added the garlic near the end of the cooking process, after the veggies had cooked down for 10-15 minutes, then I added the grated ginger all the way at the end, after I turned the heat off. I wanted the ginger to retain most of it’s flavor and kick, since not a whole lot of other spice went into this filling.

FillingsThe sauteed veggies and a little bowl of dal. I won’t lie, dal is not the prettiest food in the world, so I’ll spare you the close up. I mean I think it looks delicious, but I think all brown goopey Indian food looks delicious.

FillingSome of the pictures were taken on an iphone, with the ShakeItPhoto application giving the pics an old-fashioned polaroid look. The rest were taken on my rickshaw wannabe camera. Hopefully the lack of consistency here won’t give anyone a headache.

Dumpling Mis

Lined up

a Soggy MessI didn’t time anything, or follow any precise steps. I just tossed the dumplings into a pan with a little oil, let them cook for a couple minutes on medium high heat until the bottoms began to turn brown, then I dumped a glassful of water into the pan, covered it and let them steam until they felt right. This haphazard method worked beautifully.

yumI guess these are technically pot-stickers, but I like the word dumpling so much better. It’s an adorable word.

once delicious dumpling circle

dumpsOld fashioned polaroid dumplings.

the PlateVeggie/shrimp dumplings on the left, dal dumplings on the right. Deliciousness all over the place. And please, use a high quality Tamari, not some crappy American soy sauce.

I’ll post my dal recipe sometime, but it does contain some top secret spice blend I got from an Indian friend’s mother. She ships over (from India) boxes of homemade jarred spice blends and chutneys and things to my friend. I don’t even know what’s in my jar and I don’t care, it’s freaking good!

And because it was about 30 seconds down the road from where I was, I had to stop in Vegan Treats to purchase the most adorable little Pumpkin Pie I’ve ever seen:

cutest Pumpkin Pie everThough honestly I was so bummed that they didn’t have any pumpkin whoopie pies that day; that was the true reason behind my visit. If you’ve never experienced the glory that is the Vegan Treats Pumpkin Whoopie Pie, well then you just don’t know what you’re missing.

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Though the restaurant isn’t ready to unveil it’s new location just yet, you can catch Wendy of Balasia (aka best food on earth) at the Allentown Grower’s Market at the PPL Plaza on 9th and Hamilton for the following events:

 

Every Wednesday from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm from now until October

Balasia will be offering assorted vegetarian snacks like specialty hummus, soup, quinoa salad and Vegan Treats cookies, brownies, and whoopee pies.

EDIT: Wendy is also offering vegan ice cream. Call ahead to order (or, if you’re lucky she will have some extra on hand) with basically any flavor combination you can think of: cashew cinnamon, chocolate peanut butter, berry vanilla, you name it and she’ll make it.

 

Blues, Brews and BBQ 

Saturday June 13th from noon – 8 pm

Come out for Balasia’s setian BBQ, baked black beans, corn on the cob, curry potato salad, grilled portabello mushroom caps and who knows what else. Good food, good music, good beer – sounds like a winning combination to me.

 

Chef Wendy has also been offering a vegan buffet at Tierra Sana on Sunday nights from 5-10 pm. Tierra Sana is a “whole foods fusion” restaurant located at 100-17 Queens Blvd/ Forest Hills in New York (67th ave exit off the R train).  If you’re in the area, check out the buffet. With dishes like gobhi salaad (whole cauliflower crowned with creamy avocado), kacha kela foogath (plaintains in coconut sauce) and kela mithai (broiled bananas with toasted almonds) it might just be worth the train ride!

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Perhaps the best thing to happen to McAurther Road since they built five Sleepys on one block. Spice India (2407 Mickley Ave in Whitehall) came with a lot of build up; there were speculations and theories, and a lot of general excitement that the Raj Palace was finally revamped or replaced. As it turns out, the latter was true, and Spice India turned out to be a worthy rival indeed. Now the Raj Palace was a little bit before my time, I had only eaten there once, and I didn’t know how deep my love for Indian food actually was.  Once Spice India opened, however, I was hooked.  My boyfriend-at-the-time and I ate there for the Saturday lunch buffet every single week for over a year.  And if you’re thinking “Seriously, the same restaurant every week, what are you like 85 years old?  Doesn’t that get a little mundane?”  the answer is: heck no!  Spice India completely changes up their buffet each week.  Maybe even every day, I’m not sure (I’m not hardcore enough to go multiple times a week.  Though if I lived closer I absolutely would).  So every week there is something new, exciting, and delicious to try.  This past Saturday was particularly on, with the buffet featuring Gobi Matar (curried cauliflower and peas), Beans Masala, Sarson Ka Saag (which I thought was spinach but actually I think it’s mustard greens), Paneer Tiki Masala (cheese cubes in a delicious tomato-y sauce) and Vegetable Rice. They also had plain Jasmine; usually the buffet includes 2 different kinds of rice. 

The Buffet!

To the right of all the veggie dishes there are always 3 or 4 meat options, on which I can’t really comment as I’m a registered Vegetarian Who Eats Seafood Occasionally, but my carnivorous friends assure me the meat dishes taste just fine.

The Woks

Then to the right of the meat dishes there are 2 huge woks set up, usually one for veggies and one for meat.  This week’s Veggie Wok featured curried sweet potatoes, which were absolutely to die for.  I believe this was the first time I’ve ever seen sweet potatoes at an Indian buffet.  Holy crap were they good, and the accompaniment of fresh poori made the Sweet Potato Wok the star of the afternoon in my opinion.  Now alllll the way to the right of everything is the little dessert table, which this week featured Gajjar Halwa (fantastic carrot pudding), fruit custard, and some insane cubes of pulled lentil fragments, which Josh and I call Disintegrators, because they melt the instant they touch your tongue. I have no idea what the correct name is for these melting cubes.  But wait wait, back to the real food:

The Condiments!

To the left of the main dishes there is a huge table full of salad components, condiments and chutneys.  And there’s always 2 little trays full of fried goodness, usually veggie pakoras, wadas or samosas.

The Plate

 So, as I usually do, I filled my plate with every single veggie options available, and top it all off with some mango chutney. The naan (which the super-nice servers bring you several minutes after you’re seated) and the poori are perfect for stuffing with any combination of the above dishes.

Some weeks, Spice India is just good, some weeks it’s exceptional. And some weeks it is so unbelievably exceptional that I stuff myself beyond all normal capacity, and am fated to spend the rest of the day laying on the couch completely immobile, watching TiVo’ed Family Guy episodes. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the restaurant from people who have eaten there once or twice, finding the food that particular day a little less than piping hot, or the selection nothing extraordinarily impressive. To this I respond: give it another chance. Maybe Spice India isn’t as dully consistent as some other Indian restaurants in the area, but without their daring variety, we’d never have those earth shattering, eat-so-much-you-want-to-die days. I appreciate their willingness to experiment with a brand new menu each week, and I am more than willing to let them slide when they serve a dish that’s a slight miss. Chances are the next week’s buffet will make up for it.

Vegan Treats

Oh but if you think we’re done eating now, you’re wrong (silly you!).  My friend and I had planned on Vegan Treats after lunch, and Vegan Treats it was. Regardless of how full we felt, we were determined.  After a heated debate, we decided on (clockwise from the top) the Oreo cake, a Peanut Butter Cup Brownie, and the Chocolate S’more Cheesecake.  

The Aftermath

I honestly don’t know why I even attempt eating Vegan Treats cheesecakes, they’re so incredibly dense and decadent that I can’t handle them.  We didn’t do too bad though, considering we just ate our weight in Indian food.  As always, the VT desserts were out-of-this-world good, with the Oreo cake probably being my favorite.  Light, moist, and fluffy; the perfect post-buffet dessert.  Next time though, I think I’ll separate the Indian buffet and Vegan Treats trips.  That was just a bit too much food, even for me!

-Carolyn

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I have really been craving Vegan Treats lately, so we stopped by the Bethlehem bakery today for a much needed sugar fix.  If you’ve never been to Vegan Treats, drop everything immediately and go.  You don’t need to be a vegan to appreciate their decadent cakes, rich creamy cheesecakes, or gooey delicious sticky buns.  In fact, I have yet to meet a dairy lover who was able to detect the lack of eggs or cream in a Vegan Treats dessert. I mean just look at these things, who could resist?

(pardon the glare)

I could be mistaken, but I believe the cake to the left up there is a S’more cheesecake.  And I am pretty excited about that.  The cheesecakes do tend to be a little too rich for me sometimes, but if richness is your thing, then go to town on that sucker!

And my personal favorite: the Death by Chocolate cake.  I can still feel the blood rushing through my head 2 hours after eating half of this bad boy.  OK… I certainly couldn’t handle these treats all the time, but as a once in a while indulgence, they are soooooo good.

 

-Carolyn

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