WHAT THE PHO?: Best Soup on a Cold Rainy Day

Let’s start with this: it’s pronounced “fuhh”. Which is strange to say and I still catch myself calling “foe” because “fuhh” feels weird without the, um, other letters that usually come at the end of that sound.

Ryan got us both hot stone massages as a Christmas gift: I have NEVER had a professional massage, and on the drive over my stomach felt like fists were in it punching organs. I was nervous and felt worried and self-conscious. WELL! All of that anxiety seeped out my skin/brain once it started. I knew my body and muscles would feel better afterwards, but what I did not expect was the sort of “high” I had for the rest of the day. I told Ryan it felt like I took a muscle relaxer and some sort of happiness drug at the same time. I was cozy and pleasantly zoned out, kind of useless as a human being but… in a good way (?).

What I’m getting at, is we were hungry and I was not about to cook since my arms were in bliss-heaven. It was a cold, rainy December day and we had these newly mushed-up bodies… so when Ryan suggested we visit the Pho #1 (we hadn’t been in too long), the suggestion could only be described as: perfect.

Pho #1 Allentown, PA

Pho #1 has seen new ownership in the last two years, so it got a bit of a makeover inside and a revised menu with a vegetarian section. I have often described pho as a vegan equivalent of whatever sort of medicinal properties chicken noodle soup is supposed to provide when you have a cold.

Pho #1 Allentown, PA Vegetarian Menu

A short background: Pho is a hot broth soup with unique flavors which can include lemongrass, star anise, and cinnamon. Throw in a hefty amount of vermicelli (thin rice noodles), veggies and tofu and then you get to the best part…

The BEST part is the tray of extra goodies you get to add to the soup in any ratios you like. (I dub it “interactive soup”.) Bean sprouts, cilantro, thai basil, hot peppers, hoisin sauce and sriracha, fresh lime… The end result is bursting with flavor and fills you up. And if you add a lot of hot peppers your sinuses will feel refreshed as well.

Spring Rolls Pho #1 Allentown, PA (appetizer)

Vegan Meal from Pho #1 Allentown PA

The soup is clean tasting and the veggies are steamed just right – a little crunch but easy to chew.  This also takes some work, which I believe helps you slow down and enjoy the meal. One hand for chopsticks to pile some noodles and veggies into those big chinese soup spoons which you have in your other hand. Dunk the full spoon into the broth, then open wide. It’s a little slurppy, it’s a little messy, but I promise you this: you won’t care. It’s too good to care.

Vegan/Vegetarian Pho #1 Allentown, PA

Vegan pho with tofu and veggies from Pho #1 Allentown, PA

What we ordered: spring roll appetizer – rice noodles, fresh basil, and fried tofu in a rice paper with a peanut dipping sauce; I (obviously) got the vegetarian pho – tofu, veggies, and all the extras (if you like spicy food, I recommend adding just enough chili paste ’til the broth turns light red); Ryan got the vermicelli with veggies and fried tofu which also came with a peanut sauce.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION:

  • Pho #1
  • 1500 Union Blvd. Allentown, PA
  • Right on the border of Allentown and Bethlehem. Not far from the Marshall’s/Giant Shopping Center
  • BYOB!
  • Cash or credit
  • Parking Lot

More reviews from UrbanSpoon.com

*Tip: You can order this as takeout! Everything is packaged separately so the noodles won’t get soggy and you can still assemble everything once you get it home. I have found that when you get takeout, ordering a Large or a Small gives you the same amount of food. In the restaurant, there are notable differences in portion size.

NEW VIDEO: Vegan (Eggless!) Quiche. Yes, Really.

I first learned about the technique of combining tofu and nondairy milk to use as an egg-like mixture from what may have been my first cookbook, The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. They sit there on the cover having a picnic in vintage dresses and pretty tattoos and inside all of the recipes are sassy and 1950’s kitschy clip art is found on every page.

The great thing about this quiche recipe is that once you have learned the basic “egg filling” ratio – 1 cup of tofu blended with 1/3 cup nondairy milk – you can pretty much add anything else you’d like and make your own recipe!

I made this quiche based on what ingredients I had on hand and what I thought would look pretty and colorful. Get creative with spices and veggies. *Note that using some turmeric will make the mixture yellow and look more like eggs if that’s what you’re going for.

WATCH THE VIDEO BY LEHIGH VALLEY MIRROR (below):

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 premade pie crust (read ingredients! or make one from scratch)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5-8 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce (or Tamari or Bragg’s)
  • about 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 block (one cup) extra firm, or firm, tofu
  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk of choice (I use almond milk)
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • about 12 stalks of asparagus (to garnish the top)
  • 5-7 grape tomatoes (to garnish the top)

Save the Kales on Lehigh Valley Mirror

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add olive oil, onion and garlic to a pan and sautee about 4 minutes until the onions start to become translucent. Add red pepper, mushrooms, soy sauce and basil. Mix everything and let cook until veggies just start to soften, another 5-7 minutes.

Press the water out of the tofu. (For this recipe you only use half the block, so put the rest in a container of water and put it back in the fridge.) Put tofu in a food processor with the nondairy milk. Blend until smooth.

Save the Kales Vegan Quiche on Lehigh Valley Mirror

Add tofu mixture to a large bowl along with the veggie mixture. Add turmeric, nutritional yeast, green onions and some salt to the bowl and mix everything together. Add to the pie crust and spread out evenly.

Place asparagus stalks on top along with the tomatoes in a pretty pattern, if you choose to use them. (You can also just make them part of the veggie mixture.) Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. The top will get golden brown.

Save the Kales Vegan Quiche

*TIP: Often times premade pie crusts are sold in twos. This recipe also only takes 1/2 a block of tofu. If you have some extra veggies and spices, you can easily make two quiches instead of one!

BONUS: The extra tip in this video is about using olive oil to remove your eyemakeup! Check it out around the 6:30 minute mark.

DINNER IMPROV: Green Pizza (Herb Dough with Roasted Cabbage, Asparagus, Kale)

Last week I ventured out to the Trader Joe’s by my Gram’s home, about an hour away. After I picked up approx. one million packs of tempeh (see: eight), I spent nearly an hour and a half roaming the isles. When I was a kid, the thing I hated most in life was food shopping. Oh, the irony!

I also snagged a few of their refrigerated pizza doughs – these are great to keep in the freezer until you find yourself with a bunch of veggies that are about to expire and you turn them into a pizza dinner. It’s like eating the plate!

The herb dough inspired this recipe. I thought it would be pretty to make an all-green pizza. You can go crazy with this and add whatever you like to eat on top – this would be great with pesto, leeks, shallots, etc…

GREEN PIZZA

  • 1 pack Trader Joe’s herb pizza dough (or use any vegan pizza dough)
  • about 8 stalks of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3-4 green onions (scallions) chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper

Green pizza

Let your oven warm to 400 degrees. Chop the veggies. Toss all veggies EXCEPT green onion in a bowl with a small amount of olive oil to coat. Lay them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for about 15 mins, so they begin to wilt but not yet brown.

Green pizza

Green pizza

In the meantime, roll out the dough on a floured surface. Transfer to a flat baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil on top. Throw the fresh minced garlic on the pizza, then brush the garlic and olive oil into the raw dough.

Green Pizza

When the veggies come out of the oven, put them on top of the pizza dough. Add chopped green onion. Bake for about 8-10 minutes when dough and veggies just start to brown.

Green Pizza

 

Garlicky and green!

 

The fresh garlic in the  dough makes it taste like garlic bread, and the sweetness of the roasted cabbage comes through behind the asparagus and kale. DELICIOUS.

Enjoy!

 

THE CITY OF SECOND CHANCES: “Why I Live Here” Post for Laini’s Little Pocket Guide

It was an honor to be asked to find a tangible way to write about why I love living in Bethlehem. After contemplating moves to several cities, living here now is an active deliberate choice I’m happy to make every day. This is why:

Read the article HERE: Laini’s Little Pocket Guide

Thank you infinitely to Laini for making the world better every day. Thank you to Carrie for being the best editor and not getting mad when I put exclamation points after everything or type exciting things in all caps. I love you both.

BOARD THE MAYFLOWER: Small Local Diner offers Homecooked Vegan Options

I get a lot of emails from people traveling in the area, or maybe moving here, who are looking for suggestions for places to eat. But sometimes I’ll hear from a restaurant owner or chef telling me about the special vegetarian and vegan options they are offering.

Mayflower Lunch, Bethlehem PA. Good coffee.

Such was the case with Mayflower Lunch. They reached out one day to say “Come in and try our lentil soup, it’s vegan!” Mayflower is a place I’ve driven past hundreds of times but never visited, mainly because it appears to be everything that makes up a small, been-here-forever-Townie-favorite eatery: and with that usually comes nothing I can eat.

I’m happy to report I was wrong about the last part, but so very right about the first part. Being in Mayflower Lunch makes my soul feel good – this is the sort of place I’d go to with my Dad after we finished with a day of antique shops and Roadside America-type kitschy small town exploring. It’s a warm atmosphere, the wood-panelled walls feel like a cozy living room, and the food tastes like it was cooked by a loving Mom.

Mayflower Lunch, Bethlehem PA.

I was surprised to learn that deliberate vegan options were in such a nostalgic place. But was tipped off by server-extraordinaire Amber (go and say hello, she’s great and has the best earrings) – the owners eat vegan a few months a year because of religious customs, and therefore are well-versed in animal derived ingredients and, better yet, how to make delicious food without them.

Mayflower Lunch, Bethlehem PA.

Tuesdays are the days a lot of traditional Greek foods are made fresh, so if you’re looking for falafel or stuffed grape leaves, they should be plentiful that day. Many of the soups made are vegan (lentil, navy bean, spinach and chickpea, etc…), so just ask Amber (or anyone there) what’s vegan that day and they will happily make sure you are well fed.

This is the meal I ate last time I was there; Spanikopita (made special without feta!), stuffed grape leaves, spinach and chickpea soup, coffee. Ryan ordered an item off the menu and got some hot tea. Want to know what it cost to feed two people with all of that food?

Delicious food from Mayflower Lunch.

About $14.50. Yes. That’s right. Less than fifteen dollars.

And the food was delicious. Simple, whole foods and recipes that have probably been passed down through a few generations. It’s not dressed up, it’s not fancy. It’s just good. Really good. 

INFORMATION:

  • 622 W. Broad Street, Bethlehem PA
  • Meter parking out front
  • CASH ONLY – hit the ATM before you go
  • Monday – Friday 6am -3pm
  • Saturday 6am – 2pm
  • Closed Sunday
*Note that it’s called Mayflower Lunch for a reason. These folks are done at 3pm, so plan accordingly. That said, if you pull an all-nighter and find yourself starving at 6am, they will be open and ready to feed you. Also, bring cash.

Mayflower Lunch, 622 W. Broad Street Bethlehem

THE INCREDIBLE BULK: Greenstar Food Co-op is Bulk Bin Heaven

A few weeks ago Ryan and I traveled all over New York for weddings, restaurants, friend-visiting and a trip to Greenstar Food Co-op in Ithaca to get excited about our future Bethlehem Co-op.

This post is essentially a picture dump of the inside of Greenstar – I know walking through the place made me excited (truly, groceries and whole foods and eight kinds of vegan cheese makes my pulse quicken) and I hope these images do the same for you!

One of the most memorable parts of the first Bethlehem Co-op meeting was when one of the groups finished discussing their vision and told everyone they had spent the whole 20 minutes talking about bulk bins. I hear you! Greenstar, as with most Co-ops, are bulk bin heaven.

(Not only do bulk bins omit excess packaging, but on a frugal level they allow you to purchase just the quantity needed. Especially good for things like spices, if you are on a budget and need some ingredients but don’t want to pay for a full bottle, or want to try something new without committing to a full amount.)

Thanks, Greenstar, for not yelling at me while I lurked around with a camera!

Caught Ryan in a funny pose. He's probably bracing himself for the amount of squealing I was about to do when I found 8 kinds of vegan cheese.

Welcome

MORE PHOTOS BELOW THE CUT…

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TOAD IN THE HOLE (vegan): Breakfast Food with Funniest Name gets a Plant-Based Makeover

Growing up in a Polish household meant I ate my fair share of “Pigs in the Blanket”, but it was only a few years ago while visiting Brooklyn that I discovered Toad in the Hole. 

Are you done giggling? No? That’s ok, read on… the folks I was with (two of which lived in Brooklyn) took us to Flatbush Farm for Sunday brunch, and while I was happy and satisfied with tofu scramble and greens, I couldn’t stop staring at my friend’s plate – her Toad in the Hole dish looked like a little handmade craft project more than a breakfast, a circle carved in the toast and an egg fried right into the middle.

Parker Posey came in and ordered it, too. I can verify at least the first half of that statement. Anyway.

I never knew you could make this vegan (fried eggs are, um, half of it after all) but that’s only because I had a lapse in memory and momentarily forgot that you can make a vegan version of nearly anything. This proves it.

Vegan Toad in the Hole, photo by VKRees

Last week I found this photo of a Toad in the Hole dish from a food blog… and as I continued to read I was shocked (along with many other people, as per the comments) that THIS DISH IS NOT MADE WITH EGGS. Go on, look at that photo. Amazing, right?

I had to do it for myself! So here’s my successful attempt to make the recipe from the VKReesPhotography Blog. (I highly encourage you to read the whole post  – not only for the breathtaking food photography, but to see a nearly concise list of all the other funny names people have for this dish, including: Birdie in a Basket; One-Eyed Jack; and the curious Elephant Tracks.)

VEGAN TOAD IN THE HOLE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup extra firm (or firm) tofu
  • 10 – 15 Tbs unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1 cup Kabocha squash, steamed (*I roasted butternut squash)
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric, optional
  • 5-6 pieces of bread
  • Salt + Pepper
  • Vegetable Oil

*Do this ahead of time! I used a butternut squash as that’s what I had on hand. Cut in half, brush the inside with olive oil, and roast in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees. Allow to cool at least 15 mins to make it easier to handle.

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One cup of tofu is about half a block. Cut into a few thick slices and lay on a towel to press out the water. Add to a food processor along with 5 TBSP of nondairy milk, and process until silky smooth but not too thin.

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Put in a bowl and set aside. Do the same with the squash – one cup of squash plus 5 TBSP nondairy milk. I added some turmeric and a little salt to the mix. Set aside in a bowl.

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Place your slices of bread on a flat surface. Using a drink glass, press the rim of the glass into the bread to cut a hole in the middle.

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Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Place the bread in the pan, and fill the bread with the tofu mixture. Let it cook 5-6 minutes until the bottom of the tofu is cooked and firm. Flip and let the other side cook.

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Use a spatula to plate the bread. Put a dollop of the squash mixture on top to make a “yolk”. Season with salt and cracked pepper. (And hot sauce.)

Vegan Toad in the Hole breakfast

Looks convincing, right? I was surprised at house easy this was. This would be SUCH an impressive dish for a large brunch party.

Once again, I can’t take credit for the recipe as I found it HERE and this person deserves allllll the credit, but I hope you will try this and let us know what you think!