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dijon

Last week I started a series of posts called Les Vacances de Mme Gnoe, about how I fared as a vegan on a recent holiday in the South of France. Obviously I survived. ;) It may help other newbie vegans going on a journey — or those worrying about going to the land of bouillabaisse, fromage and cassoulet.

Vegan Month of Food buttonIn the first post I related what to eat en route. Today I’ll write about our first dinner in France, when we spent the night in Dijon.

As a vegan it’s wise to be prepared when going on a trip. So if you’re not sure you”ll connect to the internet, do some homework before you leave!

HappyCow's Compassionate Healthy Eating Guide

My first ‘stop’ was at Happy Cow.net: a worldwide database of vegetarian restaurants and grocery stores, also marking them vegan(-friendly). There were two places listed in Dijon: Les Pieds Bleus and Le Shanti. The first was one being described as “simple family type cooking, buffet style, in a typical French canteen atmosphere” — sounds great! So we dropped off our luggage in the hotel and set off in the direction of Place Emile Zola.

Alas… The restaurant was closed for vacation and would reopen the next day when, of course, we had travelled on! This was a surprise to us as in the Netherlands restaurants do not usually close during tourist season. This holiday we were about to learn that the French do things differently. ;)

So we went to search for option #2, Le Shanti, window-shopping and making pictures of the medieval city on our way. This time we found the venue open. There were yummy things on the menu like veggie burgers, wraps, soups and salads. But… you get the picture? More like a place to have lunch or a just quick bite, not for a special occasion like your first holiday dinner!

Back to the city centre it was, where wecould pick from a choice of restaurants on the aforementioned Place Emile Zola. Considering Lebanese first, we felt more like having Japanese and ended up at the Sushi King, “retaurant Japonais” (and that’s not my typo ;).

Menu of Sushi King Dijon

Here they served a vegetarian sushi menu consisting of miso soup, salade de choux (cabbage tsukemono) and three kinds of maki rolls: cucumber, avocado and daikon radish. The usual condiments: soy sauce (sweet or salty), pickled ginger and wasabi condiments. Since I’m a sucker for chuka wakame I ordered an bowl of salade d’algues as well. For dessert I enjoyed a whole pot of Japanese green tea.

Miso soup
Cabbage tsukemono
Sushi
Chuka wakame

We had dinner outside, cozy among other establishments on the city square. The food was good but nothing special and, aside from plain or vinegar rice, these were the only vegan/vegetarian dishes on the menu. I haven’t asked whether the fried noodles with vegetables were (or could be made) vegan and it didn’t really seem like the place to serve food off the carte.

Green tea (Japonais)The waiters were fairly quick and friendly, except for one young man who managed to whisk away our plates a little too early first and ignored us when we wanted to order another drink afterwards. He probably didn’t have his day. ;) We did.

So. If you like to have a decent meal but aren’t too demanding, I can certainly recommend the Sushi King for a vegan dinner in Dijon!

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Another post combining two weeks of organic CSA veggies. And another recipe in our cabbage feature too!

Organic CSA vegetables week 28, 2011

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 28, 2011

Last week’s loot:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • fennel
  • flat leaf parsley
  • turnips
  • courgette (zucchini)
  • red berries
  • cauliflower

Organic CSA vegetables week 29, 2011

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 29, 2011

This week’s batch of Amelishof vegetables:

  • chard
  • curly red leaf lettuce
  • prunes
  • green beans
  • St. Jansui (tree onion)
  • capucijner peas
  • pointed cabbage

Yes, cabbage again — that means I can share another recipe with you!

Japanese Pickled Cabbage

Pickled cabbage (tsukemono)

In Japan, tsukemono are pickled dishes that contrast in texture and flavour to other parts of your meal. They can be served as side dishes, snacks or used as garnish. Pickled (Chinese) cabbage is often eaten with rice. Since I’m gaijin, I had it with noodles… :\ Here’s the recipe I took from The Vegetarian Table: Japan cookbook by Victoria Wise.

Now this is really easy so you have no excuse not to try!

Ingredients

  • 1 small cabbage (pointed, napa or green), washed, quartered, cored and finely shredded
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • optional: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh red chilli (I grown them on my balcony!)

Preparation

  1. Place cabbage and salt in a large bowl, toss together and knead the mixture with your hands until juices are released (about 1 minute).
  2. Scoop the cabbage in a mount, cover with a plate large enough to cover most of the surface but small enough to fit well inside the bowl. Top with a weight (i.e. heavy pan with water).
  3. Set aside until well wilted but still crunchy: 1-2 hours.
  4. Drain the cabbage.
  5. If serving right away: squeeze out most of the liquid without wringing dry. Transfer to a serving dish or individual plates and sprinkle with chili.
    Or to store: refrigerate for up to several days and squeeze out the extra moisture when ready to serve.

Types of tsukemono that can be made quickly like this are called sokusekizuke (instant pickles). They only hold well for a couple of days!

I usually hear people complain that they don’t know what to do with cabbage. So I was pretty surprised that I only got affirmative comments of cabbage lovers to on my previous recipe. I’m not a huge fan of this veggie myself, but am getting to appreciate it more and more with some fab recipes. So please share!

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Recipe submitted to the July Whip Up Something New! Challenge hosted on Joyfully Retired

Button Whip Up Something New! Challenge

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. February’s mission is ‘Cooking Japanese’!

I’ve wanted to try gyōza for ages. I never had any and I don’t know where to get a vegetarian/vegan version around here, so there was no other option than to make them myself. With a little lot of help from Mr Gnoe, because it’s fun to cook together on a Sunday night!

Nameko mushroomWe took the recipe on Something to Eat for guidance but skipped on the tofu, added some nameko mushrooms to the shiitake and used white cabbage instead of Chinese. We poured boiling water over the thinly sliced cabbage in a colander and left it to cool. A major improvisation is that we sautéed the mushrooms, garlic and spring onions first, mixing it up with the cabbage, soy sauce and sesame oil in the end. The filling should actually cook within the skin, but we are a little pigheaded. ;)

Using a small bowl I cut some square wonton wrappers into circles. And then, finally, we got to use the handy gyōza press mold that had been waiting useless in our kitchen for some months now! ;)

Molding gyoza with our special kitchen tool

We followed the steam-fry method Something to Eat describes and the yaki-gyōza turned out delicious, although a bit ‘mushy’ — no way we could eat them with chopsticks so we had to use a regular knife & fork. LOL We dipped the dumplings in a sauce I had whipped up from two tablespoons of tamari, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, some splashes of tabasco chilli sauce (since we don’t have any hot oil) and a little yuzu powder. YUM!

Steam-frying gyoza

Next to our Japanese potstickers we had some improvised mushroom-miso soup with ginger. (Of course I really should have been reading In the Miso Soup because discussion in the Japanese Literature Book Group starts today… uh-oh) “Not a lot of veggies?” I hear you say, but we’d had spinach quiche in the late afternoon, so a big or balanced meal wasn’t really required.

Sunday dinner: yaki-gyoza & miso soup

We’ll probably have the leftovers for dinner this Meatless Monday.
Are you eating vegetarian today as well?

I’m definitely going to make gyōza again, trying different recipes (with tofu or minced seitan) and cooking methods (steaming, boiling, frying). The lazy days are over for our gyōza kitchen tool! ;)

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New recipe(s) tried for the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!

Whip Up Something New! button

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Recipe submitted to Vegan Mondays & Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Monday.

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Meatless Monday

Cover Pinball, 1973 (Haruki Murakami)On Sunday several tweeps held a low-key minireadathon and some of us decided to buddyread Haruki Murakami’s Pinball, 1973 together. I think @Chinoiseries, @inspringthedawn and @Owl59 accomplished more than I did… I got distracted by the fine hiking weather (still rare these days) and this month’s Hello Japan! mini-challenge which seemed such a great conclusion of my Murakami day: cooking (and eating) Japanese.

Japanese dinner, Sunday February 13th 2011

After making shiromiso soup for January’s Hello Japan! mini mission I had an open packet of aburaage (bean curd bags) that desperately needed finishing, so I put inarizushi (tofu puffs) on this week’s menu plan. But who can resist preparing some maki rolls as well when making a batch of sushi rice? Especially now that I had some avocado waiting in the fruit basket!

Next to that we had steamed broccoli with sesame seeds and lemon wheels. Pickled ginger, soy sauce and sake could not be omitted. ;)

Cover Vegetarian Table: Japan (Victoria Wise)All recipes for our Sunday dinner came from a fabulous cookbook that I’ve mentioned before, The Vegetarian Table: Japan (Victoria Wise). For our sushi rolls I didn’t follow a recipe but picked the ingredients from what I had at hand:

  1. avocado – wasabi veganaise – leek sprouts
  2. shiitake mushrooms – cucumber – spring onion – pickled ginger
  3. avocado – wasabi ‘mayo’ – shiitake – spring onion – (white) sesame seeds

They were all very nice but I think no.’s 1 and 3 were my favourites. Having leek sprouts was a lucky coincidence — and I’m definitely going to remember that for next time!

The tofu puffs contained carrot, broccoli stem and black sesame seeds mixed into the rice.

A good thing about eating Japanese is obviously that possible leftovers make a great bento. And what a surprise, Mr Gnoe opted for a small Monday bento too!

Hello Japan! Bento, 14-02-2011

Mr Gnoe’s bento (left container)

  • Tofu puff
  • Oak leaf lettuce
  • Assortment of sushi rolls
  • Soy fishy
  • Pickled ginger
  • Shiitake ‘slug’
  • Cucumber
  • Japanese strawberry candy

Gnoe’s bento (middle container)

  • Cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushroom on red leaf lettuce
  • Maki sushi
  • Cucumber

Right container

  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Lemon wheels
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Soy container (hiding)
  • Batavian lettuce leaf
  • Pickled ginger
  • Inarizushi
  • Garden cress
  • More sushi rolls

On the side (not shown)

  • Apple
  • Ontbijtkoek

Gorgeous gift from a generous soul!Now I’d like to put the spotlight on those lovely chopsticks you see in the picture. I got them for a present from a kindhearted fellow bentoïst on my 3-year bentoversary. I use them regularly but rarely with a bento because most times a spoon suits my European-style lunches fine.

Don’t you love these bright sakura hashi? I instantly get a spring feeling when I hold them! And I even got another pair of chopsticks and some more goodies along with it. *Lucky grrl!* Months have past but I am still immensely grateful for this kind gesture.

Bentoïsts make the world a better place! ;)

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge
focusing on Japanese literature and culture.
Each month there is a new task which relates
to some aspect of life in Japan.

Cover Decorative Food Carving

I’ve been away form the computer a bit longer than the week I expected, but now I’m back :) And… we’ve got a winner in my 3 year bentoversary giveaway!
Random.org decided on Bentoversary Giveway

The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving goes to…: Lena from Lenas Abentoyer! She started bentoing on Easter Monday this year and her (vegetarian) bento sounds absolutely delish for a first! I hope the book will inspire her to new bento adventures — when she’s back from her concert trip in Bolivia ;) Please check out her weblog: there’s a link in the right sidebar that’ll translate Lenas Abentoyer (such a smart variation on Abenteuer = adventure) into English. If we all ask her nicely, she might share a Bolivian bento recipe! ;)

Congratulations on winning the prize Lena, I hope you’ll make good use of it!

This bento is the first bento ever dear E (Mr Gnoe) has brought to work! He probably wouldn’t have done so if his colleagues weren’t on their holidays, nor if it hadn’t contained real leftover sushi — but who cares? There’s hope now! My bento was identical to his, except for the wasabi paste ;)

Top tier:

  • kappamaki (cucumber role) and a little wasabi paste
  • tamagomaki (Japanese omelet)
  • avocadomaki on the right (I don’t have to spell that one out, do I? ;)
  • mandarin candy

Bottom tier:

  • ginger pickles and cherry tomato
  • soy sauce in container
  • seedless grapes
  • Japanese rice cracker mix (that got a bit sticky because of the humidity in the box; I’ll have to figure out to prevent that because it has happened before…

I had also meant to put in some romaine lettuce next to the maki but I forgot :(

The maki rolls were very tasty, we got them at a relatively new restaurant nearby: Kyushu. I guess they will be seeing more of us over there ;) The secret of their avocado maki is wasabi mayonnaise so we must buy some of that to try out ourselves. We also had some chuka wakame salad, hand rolls (yasai temaki), tamago sushi and inari. So it’s not strange at all we had some leftovers ;)

BTW: at Kyushu they sell bento boxes for lunch! It’s the first time I’ve discovered a restaurant in Holland that does that, but unfortunately they don’t have a vegetarian variant :(

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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