Monthly Archives: November 2010

Vegan A to Z: Burritos with Faux Chorizo

There was so much I wanted to do with B and C, but I settled on a recipe from my lazy Saturday afternoon. Tired of seitan roast leftovers and other Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving remains, I decided to finally break open my bag of TVP and try to make a chorizo imitation that would rival my favorite soyrizo from Trader Joe’s (I didn’t quite match their version, but it was still pretty good). I had also just picked up tortillas from Reyna’s earlier that morning, so it was a good time for burritos.

Faux Chorizo
Ingredients
– 1 cup TVP, rehydrated as instructed on package
– 1 8 oz can plain tomato sauce
– 2 tsp sage
– 2 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1/2 tbsp chili powder
– 2 tsp ground black pepper OR garlic pepper
– 2 tsp onion salt
– 2 tsp cumin
– Adobo seasoning (if desired)
– Hot sauce (to taste)
– A few dashes of liquid smoke
(My variation included the Arizona Dreaming spice from Penzey’s, but it’s not necessary. As is the case with most of the things I make, the spices are fairly changeable, so feel free to mix and match to your own tastes.)


While TVP is rehydrating, heat the tomato sauce in a medium-sized pot on the stove. Add all spices and seasonings, then add the rehydrated TVP. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. For a thinner mix, add a tablespoon of oil along with the TVP. While greasier, it works really well for big sloppy burritos.

For the burritos:
Ingredients
– Faux chorizo
– 1 medium onion
– 1 Bell Pepper
– Fresh mushrooms
– Vegetable oil
– Tortillas


In large pan or pot, heat the oil and add the onions, cooking until they are translucent. Add bell pepper and let cook for another three minutes. Add faux chorizo and mushrooms, then let sit for 10 to 15 minutes on low heat. Stir frequently. Once cooked through, you know what to do.

Good Morning, Strip District!

Could it be? Could Lady Gaga be watching over the Strip District?

 

Ah, a post-Thanksgiving Saturday morning in the Strip District. I feared large crowds, but probably due to the cold weather and threat of traffic due to the parade in town, things were pleasantly quieter than usual. I usually have one or two people with me, but with most of my friends still unavailable due to the holiday, I set out by myself. It’s kind of nice to go down there alone: I can go at my own pace, hustle when necessary, meander when desired. Continue reading

Friendsgiving 2010 – Part One

As I’ve gotten older, Thanksgiving has become a problematic holiday. When I was a kid, the holiday meal rotated through the families annually, meaning one year at Aunt Nancy’s, one year at Aunt Patty’s, one year at Aunt Connie’s, etc. This tradition started to come apart late in my college years, as my generation of the family got older and started their own traditions, and the various jobs I had kept me tethered to the city for both work on Thanksgiving and its evil sister, Black Friday. So most of the family still gathered in one way or another, but I was mostly with one or two members of my little corner of the immediate family.

It’s not that it’s been bad times. Far from it. But I’ve missed the big sit-down dinners from Thanksgivings of my youth. Last year at Aunt Nancy’s, half the guests didn’t even eat because they were going to my cousin’s dinner a few hours later in the day. I hate to deride a family get together because everyone didn’t eat together… but come on, it’s freaking Thanksgiving. We can’t all sit down and eat? What’s the point of having a big meal then? Why not just everyone agree to show up already having eaten dinner and just enjoy some pie together?

Scheduling-wise, it just can’t seem to work out smoothly with family. Leading up to Thanksgiving, a thought occurred to me: the best sit-down big dinners I’ve been a part of this year have not been family gatherings (sad to say) but get togethers among friends. Keeping that in mind, myself and a bunch of friends decided to plan our own dinner, a few days before Thanksgiving, and dubbed it Friendsgiving. Having the nicest dining room (as those who looked at her Harry Potter setup can see), Jackie agreed to host, as well as tackle the key elements of the Thankgiving dinner: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and carrots. It would be an almost formal potluck. Everyone invited was asked to bring something, whether it was an entrée or side dish, dessert or beverage.

I admit, I was excited. Continue reading

Follow the Steps or Die Trying: Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle

I’m not making an honest attempt at hitting up everything British Isles in Pittsburgh, but it really does seem that way. Perhaps it’s the season: the weather getting consistently cool and gray, I’m finding myself wanting hearty stews and large pints of Guinness. There’s really no better place to find such a thing than at a pub or restaurant with the emphasis on the cuisine of the British Isles.

Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle on Urbanspoon
In regards to last Tuesday’s trip to Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, the other main drawing factor for me and my dining companion was the promise of a free Irish dance class, to be followed by dancing by and with the Celtic Society of Pittsburgh. Kait is of Irish stock, so maybe the cultural ties to her heritage appealed to her, but probably more the notion of drinking some Guinness and learning a few dance steps.

As for me, I will openly admit that I am a terrible dancer. There are many things that I am passable at, but dancing is simply not one of them. But I have a fondness for Irish music (traditional Irish music too, not just a crazed adoration for The Pogues), and looking at a dance clip on the Mullaney’s website, Irish dancing seemed almost like a square dance. I may not be able to move exactly to the beat or even succeed at not tripping over my own feet, but I’ve been a decent square dancer in the past (the long ago past, when square dancing was taught in gym class, as well as something us Girl Scouts were instructed in). But what the hell, maybe an hour or two of drinks and company would quickly wear the routine out of the traditional dances. I was ready to settling for interesting experiment, but holding out hope for a full on hootenany. Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1: It’s Party Time!


I’m going to feel like a big nerd admitting this, but yes, I am a Harry Potter fan, as are many of the people I regularly associate with. Because I was still in college when the behemoth seventh book was released, I didn’t get a chance to read it until right before the sixth movie came out.

I had mixed feelings upon hearing that the movie adaptation of Deathly Hallows was going to be released in two parts. Without spoilers, I’ll say that the first half of the book is mainly the core trio of characters bouncing around one campsite to another, squabbling, sometimes fighting off something evil or ominous, but mainly… searching. It’s thoughtful and tense and a little over wrought as written, but compelling nonetheless. I was concerned about how this would translate to screen, however, especially when considering that both movies were easily going to be 2+ hours long. The same written adventures as presented on-screen threatened to be tedious.

Jackie, a fan of the Harry Potter movie series, did not seem to be beholden to the same concerns. Her primary objective on Friday, November 19th, the release date for the new movie,  was to throw one hell of a Harry Potter – themed dinner party, which also tied neatly into our friend Maureen’s birthday.
Continue reading

Good Morning, Further Adventures of Polenta!


After the delicious results of Molly Katzen’s polenta pie, I’ve been hellbent on attempting a jonnycake-like recipe for fried polenta cakes. I started off fully intending on posting the recipe, but the Kitchen Fates had other things in mind. One hour, much frustration, and a ton of improvisation later, I managed to make a pretty decent meal. But… it was a trial. Continue reading

Fiftieth Post! Let’s celebrate with a giveaway and list!

Yep, it’s our fiftieth post. Feels like just yesterday we were squabbling over a blog name, finding pictures of forks, figuring out what the heck we might write about. Ah, those were simpler times. We’d drive the ol’ jallopey to the local hootenany, a community picnic or barbecue, then have  the local artist sketch pictures of our food. Then we’d type out our criticisms of the local farmer’s wife’s apple pie (too crumbly, woman!) and, using a homemade printing press, we’d deliver copies of our newsletter to our reluctant neighbors who believed us to be Commies.

Yes, we’ve come a long way since those dusty dirt roads and ink-stained newsletters. We’re riding fast on the information highway, and nothing is going to stop us now!

To thank the few of you who read us on a regular basis (and the few of you who read us semi-regularly, and the many who have only dropped in for a post or two), I’m announcing the Fifty Post Celebratory Giveaway: Simply post a comment below with your favorite eating place in Pittsburgh (or one of your favorites, you lovely gluttons) and your email address, and I will pick a winner at random.

The winner will receive a dozen homemade cookies and assorted useless trinkets from Dot’s Dollar Store (cheerfull provider of lottery tickets and ugly mugs to the Mt. Lebanon area). I will announce the winner on Monday, November 22.

Also, for our fiftieth post, I thought we’d cobble together a list of our fifty favorite eating spots in Pittsburgh. These are not ranked, just an assorted collection of fifty restaurants (and take-out stands and street -vendors) in Pittsburgh worth giving a try.

Fifty Places to Eat in Pittsburgh
1. Mekong Restaurant 
2. DeLuca’s
3. Enrico Biscotti
4. The Zenith
5. Spak Bros.
6. Spice Island
7. People’s Restaurant
8. Tana Ethiopian
9. Smiling Banana Leaf
10. Dor-Stop Diner
11. It’s Greek to Me
12. Aladdin’s
13. Namaste
14. Cambod-Ican Kitchen
15. Cafe Du Jour
16. Bloomfield Bridge Tavern
17. Six Penn Kitchen
18. Kaya
19. Angelo’s Pizzeria
20. Las Palmas weekend taco stand
21. Bangkok Balcony
22. Chicken Latino
23. Tram’s Kitchen
24. Molly Brannigan’s
25. Dormont Dogs
26. Coriander Indian Grill
27. J’eet
28. Paris 66
29. Round Corner Cantina
30. Abay’s Ethiopian
31. Conflict Kitchen
32. Rocky’s
33. New Amsterdam
34. Thunderbird Cafe
35. Frankie’s Extra Long
36. Gypsy Cafe
37. Tamarind Savoring India
38. Piper’s Pub
39. The Quiet Storm
40. Chaya Japanese Cuisine
41. Thai Cuisine
42. Mexico City
43. D’s Six Pax & Dogz
44. Tessaro’s
45. Crystal
46. Milky Way
47. Casbah
48. Double Wide
49. Big Dog Coffee
50. Sun Penang