Fine & Raw and Pretty Darn Good!


Artisan chocolate straight out of Brooklyn!

When the Food Duo found out that Chelsea Market was going host 30 pop-up shops for the holidays, we upgraded a weekend shopping outing from maybe to must. With Mama Mac in tow, we headed down to the Meatpacking District (could you think of a worse name?) to sniff around and see what’s what. While navigating the crowded collection of cool, we spotted a table for a Brooklyn-based chocolatier called Fine & Raw. The table was loaded with samples, bonbons and bars of raw chocolate ensconced in snappy, fun packaging that have a handcrafted look.

According to their mission statement, Fine & Raw’s goal is to “save the world through silliness and chocolate! We craft artisan confections using conscious ingredients and innovative low heat techniques to keep the chocolate’s raw vitality and flavor.” That sold us… as well as the samples we gobbled up! With Mac in total bliss, we ended up buying the sea salt bar and mesquite bar.

The sea salt bar has a wonderful dark chocolate character with just a hint of saltiness to keep it honest. The mesquite was a tad sweeter with a sneaky, last minute bite. Because Fine & Raw uses high quality ingredients to make their yummy products, their their treats may be considered a little pricey (a bonbon is about $7.00, while a bar is about $8.50). However, the taste, flavor and handcrafted nature are totally worth it. Now, go get you some!

To find out more about Fine & Raw and to experience some chocolate greatness, visit www.fineandraw.com

Kur Delights “Delight” The Food Duo


Nom nom nom…goodness!

One of the things we love most about going to vegan/vegetarian events is discovering products that we’re unfamiliar with. While taking in the vibrant atmosphere of the Green Holiday Festival in NYC in December, we came across a table for a product called Kur Organic Superfoods. Kur, which in Danish means “to restore to the natural or proper condition,“ is a Copenhagen-based company that sells organic, gluten-free vegan chocolate snacks that are healthier than many.

Since the Food Duo are not folks who shy away from accepting swag, we took samples of all three flavors (Brownie, Coconut Cream and Dark Chocolate Mint) and plopped into our goody bag with the enthusiasm of treat-or-treaters! We found Kur products to be tasty, moist and not overly sweet. I really liked Coconut Cream for it was a nice balance between the chocolate and coconut flavor in a little bite. Mac, the chocolate fiend, enjoyed all 3 and in a rare moment didn’t feel guilty about indulging in them. However, if she had to pick one,  it would be the Dark Chocolate Mint, as she loves that flavor combo.

Bottom line: We’d totally recommend them as an addition to your snack drawer…or closet.

To learn more and to buy Kur Delights and Kur Organic Superfoods, visit http://www.kurfood.com/

Ribollita Slow Cooker Whip Up

I’ve always been a big fan of soup. My fondness for those tasty bowls of liquid goodness is a byproduct of growing up in a family that made outstanding homemade soups, year round. That’s right, no family members would have been caught dead serving canned soup. So, I guess you could say I was culinary spoiled as a child!

Although I tend to eat it year round, there’s nothing quite like a hot bowl of savory to warm your bones during the winter. Soup may very well be the most versatile food that a vegan can cook. There are endless recipes and lots of wiggle room to experiment. Besides, most soups are cheap, easy, fun to make, and hard to screw up.

Crock pots can be your BFF if you’re busy or afraid of overcooking your soup. As it turns out, Mac used our crock pot to make her very own yummy Ribollita soup that we finished in two days! She was inspired by a great Ribollita we had, thanks to The Regal Vegan.  If you’re not familiar with Ribollita, it’s an Italian soup similar to a tomato Florentine, but heartier with a little bite. Mac is not a huge fan of soups, but lately she’s been more willing to make a try at different types. I hope she continues her soup curiosity, because this one was a home run!

Slow Macachoke Ribollita
Source: Macaroon in a Soupy Mood
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 28oz can of peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1lb fresh kale, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 15oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 6 c. vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan Parmesan cheese. We recommend Parma’s “Garlicky Green Parma!” cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 6-8 slices of hearty country bread or 1/2 French baguette, cubed

Directions:

  1. Place canned tomatoes into slow cooker bowl. Using a spoon, break up the tomatoes a bit
  2. Add remaining ingredients and give a few stirs to toss together
  3. Set slow cooker on High. Cook for 4-5 hours
  4. When ready, place bread cubes in bowl. Ladle soup over bread and serve

Our Holiday Wrap Up

The holidays have come and gone. Below are just a few holiday foodie and deco photos we took:

We’re cheesy! We like to gift wrap our front door!

Tru-Sweet candy canes flank the tree with our cat-themed ornaments
Chocolate-chip cookies I baked – Veganizing a Dorie Greenspan recipe!

Homemade vegan struffoli all wrapped up

Veganized sugar cookies – Frosting from Made Just Right!

I whipped up a Frozen Cookie Nog Shake. I need to write up the recipe.

Topped with cookie pieces – YUM!

Side dishes made by Mama & Bro-in-Law Artichoke

Gifts abound under the tree

Vegan Struffoli, The Food Duo Holiday Way

Growing up only half-Italian, I missed out on some traditions. However, one thing I never missed out on was the pastries. Oddly enough, I didn’t know the Italian names for them until I went to Italy many moons ago. Now, being married to Mr. Sicilian Artichoke, I actually learned more about them and started making them myself.

One of my favorites has been “Honey Balls” or “Struffoli.” Every Christmas and Easter, my mom and I would see piles of little round nuggets of fried dough sold in pretty wrapped trays. I always wanted to get them. However, we’d never would. Mom was more into getting cannolis and a pound of Italian assorted cookies.

When I met Artie, I finally got to try Struffoli at Christmas time  years back and fell in love! The sweetness of the honey went well with the light citrus flavor in the dough. Having a bit of a crunch from the dough and candy sprinkles made for a lovely texture.

Celebrating out first vegan Christmas, I had to learn to make my own version of this delicious treat. After trying out a few different recipes, I pulled together some ideas, hit up the liquor stash (not too hard) and went to town. After having Artie play guinea pig and helping me with the deep fryer, he gave his seal of approval.

Now, I feel like a full Italian…well almost!


The Food Duo’s Vegan Struffoli
Source: Artie’s Sicilian Traditions
Serves qs many who can devour a tray

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. egg replacer
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. brandy or cognac
  • Zest of one orange
  • Juice of one orange, divided
  • Oil or shortening for frying
  • 1 c. vegan honey or agave nectar
  • Vegan sprinkles or powdered sugar for decoration
Directions:
  1. Set stand mixer with dough hook. Add flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to bowl and mix on low. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix egg replacer into water untit well blended. Pour mixture into dry ingredients
  3. One at a time, add oil, vinegar, vanilla extract, brandy, orange zest and 1/2 of orange juice into dough mixture. Increase speed to medium to allow all ingredients to combine and dough to form. Dough may be slightly sticky.
  4. When dough is ready, remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Flour hands and knead dough for a minute or 2. Begin pinching off pieces of the dough and rolling into balls about 1/2-in thick
  5. Heat oil or shortening in fryer or saucepan for deep frying. When hot, add balls and fry until golden brown.

    Note: Depending on your fryer, the first batch may take while to cook while subsequent ones will cook quickly. Strongly advise to use the first batch as a test with about 5 pieces of dough

  6. When done, drain fried dough on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Then place on tray or plate.
  7. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 c. orange juice with 1 c. honey/agave nectar. Stir until honey is loose and is mixed well with orange juice. Pour over fried dough and give a quick toss to evenly coat.
  8. Top with sprinkles or powdered sugar.