Monday, July 29, 2013

Too Hot to Cook! Sang Kee Noodle House

Too Hot to Cook, Episode Two: Sang Kee Noodle House

Moving on down the road from Han Dynasty, let's visit the Sang Kee Noodle House!
Sang Kee is another suburban off-shoot of it's Philadelphia parents and it is more than welcome on this side of the river!
Sang Kee Noodle House in Cherry Hill, NJ. 

Right down the road from the Saw Mill Village, Sang Kee is cozily snuggled in yet another NJ plaza off of Kings Highway...Premier Plaza!  SK is conveniently located next door to Lab Corp, where you can experience the bracing speed of the STD Test Express while you wait for your take out!
Or not.
(Don't ask, it's what came up when I googled the address looking for the name of the plaza...then I just ended up going over there to photograph it anyway :-)

Premier Plaza, for all your Plaza needs.

Anyway, I haven't ordered from there in a while, but the Tofu in Crunchy Lettuce Wraps was really good the last time I had them, but I ate them before I could photograph them!

I do have a picture of the Needle Noodles:
Needle Noodles (made vegan on request).

The noodles were perfect, toothsome and chewy and the veggies were fresh.  However, the vegan version of this dish was kind of bland.  I think they were afraid to flavor it because sometimes folks get confused about things like soy sauce or basic flavorings thinking they aren't vegan.  This, however, is a problem easily solved.  I just added some tamari and sesame oil at home.  All better.

There are other veggie options on the menu including Vegetarian General Tao's "Chicken" and a Mock Duck dish (both are vegetarian as they contain eggs in the breading), and other entrees I haven't asked about that look like they may be vegan.  Anyway, they will do vegan versions of dishes like the Needle Noodles upon request (or at least they did for me), so request away!

I definitely want to try some more dishes and get that Tofu in Crunchy Lettuce Wraps again, but SK still earns four stars for now for their vegan versions.  Good job, SK!

Sang Kee Noodle House

Next up on Too Hot to Cook, The Pop Shop in Collingswood!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Too Hot to Cook! Han Dynasty

It's summer here in suburban South Jersey and, as expected, it's hot!  I bet it's even a bit steamier across the river in Philly with all her sidewalks and bricks and buildings.  Regardless of how hot it is, the kind folks of Jersey and Philly still have to eat, right?  Well, when the thought of turning on the oven or heating a pan up on the stove is just unbearable, I think thoughts of...take out!  A simple solution to eating in summer's heat besides visiting the grain parade and making lettuce burritos or Krispy Kale Farro Cakes, is, of course, going *out* to dinner!  Let's take a look at some awesome veg-friendly restaurants in my South Jersey neighborhood, and avoid turning on our ovens for yet another day...
Welcome to the restaurant review series, Too Hot to Cook!

Too Hot to Cook, Episode One: Han Dynasty in Cherry Hill, NJ

I paid a visit to my favorite village, Saw Mill Village (404 Rte. 70 W, Cherry Hill, NJ)!

There's just something so weird and Disney about this sign.  I love it.

This unassuming little plaza right on Rte. 70 in Cherry Hill houses three really outstanding restaurants that all offer veggie friendly dishes:
K-Town (Korean), Kuzina (Greek) and Han Dynasty (Szechuan)
I love how smoke from the BBQ is coming out of K-Town!

K-Town and Kuzina Platters:
Since I've already talked about K-Town and Kuzina a bit, I decided to try out Han Dynasty.  
For posterity, of course.
The online menu is here, click on Cherry Hill and the menu will open.  

Han Dynasty
Cold Noodles with Chili Oil and Long Hot Pepper with Tofu 

For the spice lovers out there, get ready for the newly opened Han Dynasty, a Cherry Hill location of the popular Sichuan joints in Philly.  Those of you in Philly have already been enjoying Han Dynasty in Old City and  University City.  HD has lots of great veg-friendly options on their menu.  Appetizers include Spicy Crispy Cucumber, Cold Noodles with Chili Oil (AMAZING) or Sesame Oil, and there are several entrees that list tofu as a protein choice (Hot Style Sauce, Pickled Chili Style, Long Hot Pepper and Garlic Sauce Style).

The manager of this location is an absolute expert in customer service who cares intensely about his customers and their experiences at Han Dynasty.  I spoke to him at length about whether vegan orders would be possible, and, indeed, they are! Let him know if you need your dish to be vegan and he will ensure it is modified to meet your requirements.  Now that's service!

Onto the food...

The Cold Noodles with Chili Sauce were rich, savory, and spicy with a complex, sweet note (sesame paste?), garlic and chili oil added the necessary pungency and spiciness.  They were toothsome with the perfect amount of sauce, and they didn't even clump together as one might expect.  They are listed as a 7 (out of 10) for heat, which, surprisingly, did not feel very hot to me.  The heat is front of the mouth, not searing or lasting and totally pleasant.  I wonder if the Philadelphia locations make their food hotter and spicier than the NJ location because I certainly wasn't crying spicy tears like the Philly reviewers on Yelp!  Hubby says the Cold Noodles w/ Chili Sauce taste just like their famous Dan Dan Noodles (read HD's Yelp reviews and you'll see what I mean), but without the pork.  Actually, he liked them better than the Dan Dan noodles.

The Long Hot Pepper Tofu was firm, had a nice bite to it and enough of what seemed a garlicky soy based sauce.  I'm a big fan of the long hot pepper treatment, and actually would have loved lots more peppers added into the dish with the generous portion of tofu, but that's just me.  The only source of heat in this dish seemed to come from the peppers themselves, and that makes sense since this dish is rated as a 3 of 10 on the HD heat scale.  Tasty!

I really enjoyed both dishes, though I could have stood for more heat and more peppers.  I know I can certainly ask for more of both next time!  The flavors are big, the menu is interesting with lots of options, the manager is enthusiastic and accommodating, and the ambiance is lovely for dining-in.
Excellent overall.

Han Dynasty

For more suburban veg-friendly offerings in the area, check out this week's column V For Veg in The Philadelphia Daily News and on  I have a feeling you'll like it!  And, to those of you V4V readers that are visiting Vegan Fazool for the first time, welcome! I hope VF is everything you've ever dreamed about.

Next up on Too Hot to Cook...the NJ location of the Sang Kee Noodle House.
 See you soon!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Krispy Kale Farro Cakes (or Salad)!

Delightfully crunchy, savory and full of healthy kale and good for you grains, the Krispy Kale Farro Cake is here!  They are simple to make and really versatile.  You can stuff them into a burger bun, pita or roll it up in a big collard leaf with fixins, serve them up on top of a salad or pasta, or eat them alone as a snack.  You can also just eat the KKFC mixture (without cooking it into cakes) as a delish grain salad!

You can't go wrong.

KKFC with Sriracha flowers.

Krispy Kale Farro Cake Base (the Salad)
(Can be made gluten-free if brown rice is used instead of farro)

1 (8.8 oz) package "10 Minute Farro" (TJs makes it) prepared per package directions. 
(You can also make regular farro or use any other grain you wish, I just didn't test it with other grains. I'm sure brown rice, bulgur, barley, etc. would all be good).
1 cup cooked kidney beans 
(canned is OK, I used frozen ones that I had made from scratch)
1 large bunch fresh, organic kale, washed and chopped finely
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 tsp Kosher salt
*1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
*1 tsp sweet paprika 
*1 tsp ancho chili powder
freshly ground pepper to taste

*you can substitute any other herbs or spices you like here!*

Simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.  If you want a salad, you can stop here.  This yields a lovely grain salad:

Kale Farro Salad.

You can eat this as is, it's delicious! But, if it is CAKES your heart desires, press on...

Krispy Kale Farro Cakes:

Take 2 cups of the KKFC mixture and add about 1/4 cup of your favorite mayo and about 2 T. of matzoh meal.  If you want it drier, add more matzoh, if you want it moister, add more mayo.  If you want it gluten-free, use rice flour, chickpea flour, oat flour, etc. or a combo of those instead of matzoh.  I haven't tested a GF version, but I'm sure a GF version would work well.  If you want an oil-free, home made, vegan mayo, try Bryanna's recipe!

It will stick together when you squeeze it:

Form it into cakes (any size you like, really, just not *too* huge).

To cook them, heat a cast iron skillet for about three full minutes on medium heat.
The skillet will be nice and hot (but not too hot).  I linked to my skillet below.

Now, spray the pan evenly (or lightly coat) with some olive oil.  I love my Misto sprayer for this job (I linked to it below).

Cook the cakes for about 3 minutes, then re-spray or coat the pan and cook on the other side, about another 2-3 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.

Krispy Kale Farro Cake on my Cast Iron Crepe Pan.

When cooked like this, the raw kale in the salad gets lovely and crispy and tasty, (almost like kale chips!) and even the kale on the inside of the cake cooks through. YUM.

You could also grill them like I do my Black Bean Burgers of NJ:

The link to grilling instructions for the burgers/cakes is here.

I ate my KKFCs as is, served with sriracha.  They are addictive!

I hope you guys give this a try!!

Storage: I stored the salad mixture in my fridge and then just whipped up some cakes when I wanted them.  I ate it both as the salad and as cakes and loved it both ways.  The mixture lasts about a week or so in the fridge.  You can always make the cakes and let them cool, then freeze them.  If you wrap them well, I'm sure they will last for months in the freezer.  Just re-saute to cook them, it will just take a little longer than the 3 min per side since they will be frozen.

Equipment: I really love my cast iron crepe pan.  It gets nice and hot and cooks everything evenly.  Here's a link to it:

Also, here's a link to my Misto sprayer.  I spray the cakes on top really well and then I flip them.  It's easier than lifting the cake up, holding it on the spatula and using your other hand to pour oil into the pan.  That's just awkward!

I actually have two sprayers, one for olive oil and one for a neutral oil (like safflower, sunflower, organic canola, or you could use it for nut oils).  I just found this link to a 2-pack of Misto sprayers, and I wish I had known about it earlier! Only like $8 per sprayer if you get the 2-pack!

OK guys, stay cool! More warm weather recipes comin' atcha soon!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Detritus Emeritus and KKFCs

I haven't made the farro yet, guys.  But, I have Krispy Kale Farro Cakes in the brain mobile! Oh how delicious they will be!  Coming soon...maybe for dinner tonight. 

I did, however, produce a lovely kidney stone last week, which also impeded progress on the KKFCs (Krispy Kale Farro Cakes).  Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of it to share with you.  
Imagination should suffice here.

Anyhoo, Emory and I went to the Haddonfield Craft Fair yesterday.

As it is currently July in New Jersey, IT WAS HOT.

Emory was determined to find a bracelet and a dragon necklace.

As coincidence would have it, the only cool things we found were a bracelet and a dragon necklace.

As it also happened, the adorable Lisa who made the serpent pendant, is a vegan! 


But, now, I need this:
It's my Cold Brewed Coffee, YUM.  That should help to get those KKFCs in motion!
You can buy a 2L version of this pitcher here:

I adore this line of Italian hermetically sealed carafes!

Right now, hubby has a Blueberry pie in progress and Krispy Kale Farro Cakes are in development.

Stay tuned and stay cool!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Grain Parade!

I know I missed posting for the 4th of July with her crisp gingham picnics and luscious fruit pies, sorry guys!  I get cranky in a hot kitchen in summer.  I need something fast and easy to go with my CSA hauls, something that I don't have to cook for a long time (or, preferably at all)...

During a trip to TJ's today, I came across these grains, all are quick cooking (excepting the steel cut oats):

Ten minute Farro, Bulgur and Barley, come to momma! 

Precooked brown rice, it would be nice if you are also delicious since you say to only microwave you for a minute!  Also included are TJ's organic, rainbow quinoa (I have not tried their brand of quinoa before) and I'm finally trying the steel cut oatmeal that everyone raves about.

I think I'm going to try the farro first...
Yes, yes I am.

Here are some light, delish grain salads I have been making with my organic CSA farm hauls and some quick cooking grains I already had in my pantry:

Blueberries + Basil...what grows together goes together! 
P.S. That's a nice longish orzo I used there for the grain.

Hubby created this one and I added my Golden 'Fu:
He used that boxed tabouli mix from Fantastic Foods and jazzed it up, it was really delish.  
Perfect with my Golden 'Fu!

Let me know if you'd like to see the recipes for either of these grain salads here on Vegan Fazool and I'll see what I can do :-)

In the meantime, I am going to experiment with those quick-cooking TJ's grains and get back to you guys if they are really good (or really bad, or just ordinary).

More low to no heat posts are coming soon to the VF, stay tuned...

What do you guys like to make (or not make) in the heat of summer?