Sprig and Vine – New Hope, PA

Laura and my birthdays were both in the last month, so we decided to jointly celebrate by going to dinner at Sprig & Vine, a vegan restaurant in New Hope, PA. The chef/owner used to work at the now closed Horizons in Philly. The atmosphere was nice – quiet and relaxed even though the food is fancy.

They have a lunch, dinner, and brunch menu. As tempting as brunch was, we decided to go for dinner. I ordered the blackened tofu, and it was really yummy. It came with sweet potatoes mashed with coconut (milk, I think). It’s not a combo I would have thought of, but the flavors really work well together.

Sprig & Vine - Blackened Tofu

Laura got the Parsnip and White Sweet Potato Ravioli. As good as my tofu was, I think the ravioli dish was the star of the show! The ravioli filling has a lot of fennel in it giving the ravioli a slight taste of licorice, which we both really liked. The cashew cream sauce was really good as well.

Sprig & Vine - Ravioli

Try as we might, we couldn’t leave without dessert! We don’t eat out at restaurants much any more, so we decided to treat ourselves. Laura got vegan tiramisu, which was really good! I love tiramisu and haven’t tried making a vegan version yet.

Sprig & Vine - Tiramisu

I ordered the Chocolate Mousse Pie with a black cocoa crust which turned out to be my favorite. It came with a little scoop of sesame tahini ice cream and was drizzled with salted caramel. The mousse was smooth and creamy and not overly sweet. The salted caramel added a little extra sweetness and saltiness. And the caramel with the sesame ice cream was a really amazing combo. Sesame is one of my favorite flavors, and I don’t know why I never thought of making sesame ice cream before! I will definitely have to make this at home.

Sprig & Vine - Chocolate Mousse

It was a great way to celebrate our birthdays! We’d been wanting to go for a while, and it was really worth the wait. If you find yourself in New Hope, you should definitely give it a try!

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100th Post! Cardamom Meyer Lemon Ice Cream

It’s taken a while to get here, but this is my 100th post on The Vegan Kat! Thanks to everyone who reads my posts, and I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the recipes along the way! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ll know that I enjoy playing with new flavors of ice cream, and have posted some of my favorite flavor combos in the past including Almond PistachioCoffee Chocolate ChipMint Chocolate Chip, and Mango Banana and Watermelon Strawberry Lime Sorbets. I recently tried out a new and more unusual flavor combo to add to this list: Cardamom Meyer Lemon.

I bought a bag of Meyer Lemons at Whole Foods without having a clear plan of what to do with them. I just really like Meyer Lemons, so I knew I’d come up with something. After searching around, I saw a recipe on the blog Fahrenbite for Cardamom Meyer Lemon Crepes, which look amazing. I haven’t made crepes before, and I don’t think I have a pan that would work to try making them. I decided to use the flavor combo in ice cream instead. It turned out really well, and it’s certainly a unique flavor! This isn’t necessarily the kind of ice cream you’d want to eat a whole bowl of because it’s a strong flavor. It’s really yummy in small amounts, and I bet it would be delicious on top of apple pie instead of vanilla ice cream. You could also try adding in toasted pecans, which I think would compliment this very well.

If you don’t already have cardamom on hand, you should get green cardamom that is still in the pod, not pre-ground cardamom. It can be a bit pricey, but I bought a decent sized bag of cardamom at an Indian grocery store near me for about $3.00. If there’s an Indian grocery store near you, I would check there, because you might get a good deal. Or if you’re near a Whole Foods, check their bulk spices. They’ve usually got some pretty good deals and you can buy exactly how much you need. You can also probably find arrowroot powder in the bulk section at Whole Foods.

Cardamom Meyer Lemon Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 scant tsp ground cardamom (start with green cardamom in pods and grind it yourself)
1 Meyer Lemon
1 cup soy milk (divided)
2 cups soy creamer
2 Tbs arrowroot powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • The bowl of your ice cream maker needs to be frozen at least overnight before making this recipe, unless you’ve got a kind that doesn’t require pre-freezing.
  • Crack open the cardamom pods, keeping the seeds and discarding the shells. You only need 1 tsp of ground cardamom. Once you have enough seeds, grind them in a spice grinder (or coffee grinder designated for spices), or using a mortar and pestle. Freshly ground cardamom is much stronger than already ground cardamom. I wouldn’t use more than 1 tsp of cardamom, and you should adjust the amount according to your taste.
  • Zest the Meyer Lemon and squeeze the juice out of it. Keep these aside for later.
  • In a small bowl, mix the arrowroot powder and 1/4 cup of the soymilk. Whisk until well combined and set aside.
  • In a pot, mix the remaining 3/4 cup of soy milk, soy creamer, and sugar. Heat on medium until the mixture slowly comes to a boil. Stir in the arrowroot and soy milk mixture, and it will cause the liquid to thicken. Add the ground cardamom, the lemon zest, and the lemon juice. Stir until well combined.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for 2-3 hours until it’s cool.
  • Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the maker’s directions. Usually it has to churn about 1/2 an hour. It will still be a little soft, but ready to eat, or you can firm it up in the freezer before serving.

Vegan Almond Pistachio Ice Cream

Pistachio was always one of my favorite ice cream flavors. For some reason, it’s not one that you can find very often from commercial vegan ice cream makers, so I decided to make some myself.

As you may know, things that are marketed as pistachio flavor are often made using almonds and contain very few actual pistachios. I like this flavor though, so I decided to make the base of the ice cream almond flavor and then add in crushed pistachios. I really like the way this turned out.

I may go back and try making the ice cream base pistachio flavored if I can track down some pistachio extract, or maybe pistachio butter. I think I will have to order these online however, because none of the grocery stores I checked had them.

In the meantime, this is a pretty good replica of the pistachio ice cream that I was missing…and even better, it’s not a strangely dyed artificial green color!

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk (separated)
2 cups soy creamer
2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped or crushed pistachios

Directions

  • Depending on the type of ice cream maker you have, you may need to pre-freeze the bowl the night before you make your ice cream. I usually leave mine in the freezer so it’s always ready to go when I want to make ice cream.
  • In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of the almond milk with the arrowroot powder and whisk until combined. Set this aside.
  • In a saucepan, mix the rest of the almond milk, the soy creamer, and the sugar. Heat over low heat until it boils. Once it reaches boiling, remove it from the heat, and stir in the arrowroot/almond milk mixture, and the vanilla and almond extracts. You will notice the liquid thickens when you add the arrowroot.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for 2-3 hours.
  • Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to directions. Mine takes about half an hour to churn. Then add in the crushed pistachios during the last few minutes of churning. The ice cream will be frozen, but still soft. Place it in the freezer to firm up a little more.

Vegan Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Though there are a lot of good vegan ice cream flavors you can buy at Whole Foods and other stores, I don’t think I’ve ever seen vegan coffee ice cream. Coffee was always one of my favorites, so I wanted to try making my own.

Previous attempts didn’t turn out very well. Most of the recipes call for brewed coffee, which makes the texture too icy because of the water. Also, it didn’t have a strong coffee flavor despite brewing the coffee really strong. I decided to come up with my own recipe and it turned out really well. It’s not icy at all since it doesn’t contain any water and it has a very strong coffee taste…almost too strong! I may tone it down just a little bit next time. Also, I threw in chocolate chips, because chocolate makes everything better.

Vegan Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients

2 cups soy creamer
1 cup soy milk divided
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
5-6 tablespoons of coffee
1/2-3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  • Mix 1/4 cup of soy milk with 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder and set aside.
  • Heat up the remaining soy milk and soy creamer over medium heat until boiling.
  • Using a french press, put 5-6 tablespoons of coffee in the glass. I used 6 tablespoons of Peet’s Major Dickinson’s Blend (so good!) and the ice cream had a very strong coffee flavor, so 5 tablespoons would tone it back a bit.
  • Pour the boiling soy milk/creamer over the grounds and let brew for about 5 minutes before pressing the strainer down. If you don’t have a french press you can just use a bowl and a fine strainer to strain out the grounds after it’s done brewing. The mixture comes out pretty dark, and almost looks like chocolate.
  • Once the mixture is strained, return it to the pot on the stove. Add 1/2 – 3/4 cups of sugar. If you use vanilla soymilk and/or vanilla creamer, you may want to use 1/2 cup of sugar since the milk and creamer already have added sugar. Heat the mixture over medium heat until boiling.
  • Remove from heat and add the soy milk and arrowroot powder mixture. The liquid will thicken because of the arrowroot powder.
  • Put the mixture in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours to fully cool. Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions. Note, the bowl for the ice cream maker usually has to freeze over night.
  • In the last few minutes of churning, add about a 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips. Place the mixture in the freezer to firm up.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Tofutti’s Yours Truly Cones are one of my favorite vegan junk foods. They’re basically the vegan version of a Drumstick. The standard cone of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and cookie crumbles is so tasty, but I thought it would be fun to try making other flavors using homemade ice cream.

I started with mint chocolate chip ice cream, using a basic recipe from Wheeler del Toro’s book “The Vegan Scoop” and modifying it a bit. If you don’t have “The Vegan Scoop” I would really recommend it. The author has a vegan ice cream shop in Boston called Wheeler’s Frozen Desert Co. Unfortunately, it was closed when I was in Boston, so I didn’t get to try any ice cream. He also has a brand of vegan ice cream called Wheeler’s Black Label Vegan Ice Cream that is distributed in Boston and some parts of New England.

All you really need to make vegan ice cream are a few basic ingredients and an ice cream maker. You can get a decent one for $30-$40. You have to freeze the bowl for the ice cream maker overnight before you make the ice cream, and the cream mixture has to cool for a few hours before you mix it in the maker. Despite the wait time, it’s actually really easy to get good results.

“The Vegan Scoop” breaks down the basic ingredients and methods for creating a simple vegan ice cream base using soy, almond, coconut, and other milks. It has some really great recipes in it. Here’s the Mint Chocolate Chip recipe the way I modified it:

Note: This makes for some seriously minty ice cream. I actually used 1 1/2 tablespoons of mint extract, but cut it back to 1 tablespoon in this recipe. It’s really good, but very strongly minty with the extract and fresh mint combined.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of soymilk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder
  • 2 cups of soy creamer
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 ounces of fresh mint leaves (or a handful of sprigs if picking your own)
  • 1 tablespoons of peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine 1/4 cup of soymilk with arrowroot powder and mix well. Set aside for later.
  2. In a blender, mix 3/4 cups of soymilk with fresh mint leaves and blend until smooth.
  3. In a saucepan mix soy creamer, soymilk and mint mixture, and sugar.
  4. Warm mixture slowly over low heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the arrowroot cream, vanilla, and mint extract. The arrowroot will cause the mixture to thicken.
  5. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 to 3 hours until it is fully chilled.
  6. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker following the maker’s directions. The bowl for the maker usually has to be left in the freezer overnight before churning. Add the chocolate chips in the last few minutes of churning.

After making the ice cream, I let it firm up in the freezer for a little while. Then I scooped some into cones trying to round out the tops. The ice cream was still a little soft, so I put the cones with ice cream back in the fridge to firm up a little more.

Then I melted chocolate in a double boiler and put the melted chocolate in a martini glass for dipping. Here’s where things got a little tricky. The ice cream started to melt into the chocolate instead of the chocolate sticking to the ice cream. I spooned the chocolate over the top of the cones instead and this seemed to work. Once they were coated I put them back in the freezer to firm up again. The results were very tasty, but the chocolate was a bit too thick. They also weren’t very pretty, as you can see.

In hindsight, I would try a few things differently. I would let the ice cream firm up even longer before dipping it in the chocolate. I think it needs to be really solid, so it doesn’t melt as fast. I also would try mixing a little bit of vegan butter in with the chocolate. I’ve read that adding some butter makes the chocolate flow better and the layer of chocolate thinner on the ice cream. It would also be fun to dip them in sprinkles, nuts, cookie crumbs, etc. after dipping in chocolate to make them a little prettier.

Overall this was a really tasty experiment. The mint ice cream was definitely a success even if the chocolate dipping needs some tweaking. Ideally, I would serve the mint ice cream in a small scoop with a fresh mint sprig. It would make a great dessert after dinner on a hot summer evening. The strong minty flavor is best in small savored portions.