Review: Reverie Cafe and Bar Breakfast

Reverie Cafe polenta rancheros } Kale and Ale

Polenta rancheros at Reverie Cafe and Bar in Minneapolis

Reverie Cafe and Bar, a casual vegan restaurant in Minneapolis, recently started serving breakfast. As I’ve been meaning to go back since I had a delicious Cuban sandwich for dinner last year, I decided now is the time to return.

Since I knew Aaron and I would be out and about, looking for something to stick with us for a while, I suggested checking out Reverie’s breakfast offerings. We got there about 9:40 on Sunday—perfect timing to grab one of the few off-street spots they have. We beat the rush by about 10 minutes, which means we had a pick of tables and got to the front for food.

I knew I wanted the Benedict, as it looked amazing and because I could never stomach a non-vegan version. It wasn’t meant to be, as they were out of shiitake bacon. I was momentarily disappointed and stumped as to what to order, but the employees assured me everything was good. They pointed me to a section of the menu with more savory dishes. I choose the polenta rancheros and Aaron had the biscuits and gravy.

Reverie Cafe breakfast | Kale and Ale

Polenta rancheros and biscuits and gravy at Reverie Cafe and Bar in Minneapolis

Both were amazing choices, savory depth of flavor. We shared a bit of each and I couldn’t decide which I liked better.  I don’t know what’s in it or how they did it, but the beans in my dish had such a good flavor that I couldn’t exactly place. This was disappointing in the fact that I can’t even try to replicate it at home. The fillings were very large portions; I didn’t finish mine and I was full almost until dinner. I would go back again for either of these or to hopefully get the Benedict in a heartbeat.

Restaurant Review: The Tomato Vine

Note: I was provided the food in this review at no charge from the Tomato Vine restaurant. All opinions are my own.

salad The Tomato Vine | Kale and Ale

The peanut dressing on this tofu and grain salad is amazing.

When the restaurant/catering/take-and-heat business The Tomato Vine contacted me about reviewing its food, I jumped at the chance. Having spent last summer looking at healthy, local and fresh catering options for my wedding, this would have fallen into that category.

The Tomato Vine focuses on seasonally, from-scratch meals, and has a lot of options that are clearly marked for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals. All ingredients are labeled, so you know exactly what’s in the food. (See the menu here.) Where possible they source local food. In short, they reached out to me because they prepare food the way I prepare food. I really respect that, for as much as I love cooking, sometimes I just want a break from cooking but I don’t want to sacrifice quality or my beliefs.

Food Options

In addition to the Tomatoes Vine’s set menu, there are weekly specials, and it’s clearly marked what can be modified for dietary needs.

Eating options include delivery or pickup (with heating instructions for later, served in nice Pyrex or disposable containers), a lunch cafe and catering. They focus on catering for corporate and private events.

Lunch options are a few hot choices, salads, sandwiches, sides, snacks and desserts.

My Review

The Tomato Vine | Kale and Ale

I tried a variety of food, all clearly marked with ingredients and cooking instructions.

As I already mentioned, ingredients and heating instructions are on the label for each meal (which I love, easy to find and see what is in it or to do). I tried a variety of foods:

  • Tarragon grain cakes with apricot chutney
  • Spicy peanut tofu salad
  • Veggie fried rice
  • Red pepper hummus with veggies and chips
  • Maple apple cobbler
veggie cake The Tomato Vine | Kale and Ale

Tarragon cakes full of grains and tofu.

That night I ate the cakes, and my first impression really was that it is something I would make: Simple with good flavor from real food. I loved that the ingredients it included were easy to taste, and it didn’t include extra ingredients or flavors. The tofu and grain mix that is the base of the cakes was really good, it was also in the salad.

Speaking of the salad, the dressing was my favorite thing I had. I took the salad as a work lunch the day after getting the food, since it was on a plastic container. I tried to figure out (with no luck) how to recreate that dressing. Topped with fresh veggies, it was a hearty, filling and flavorful salad.

I make and eat a lot of hummus and the thing that can make or break it is texture. It had a nice consistancy, smooth yet it wasn’t overly processed, so I loved that the texture was a little chunky, the way I like guacamole or salsa. I’ll have to remember to leave it like that the next time I make hummus.

I’m not a big dessert person, as readers of this blog and anyone close to me knows, but this dessert hit the spot. The sweetness is derived from the maple syrup and cooked apples, and the topping was browned and crunchy, contrasting the soft cobbler underneath.

If I’m looking to cater, I would consider and recommend The Tomato Vine, as they are knowledgeable and accommodating on diet, while using seasonal, wholesome foods.

The Tomato Vine

7134 Shady Oak Road, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344

Phone: 952-941-1699

Website: www.thetomatovine.com

Facebook: facebook.com/TheTomatoVine

Cookbook Review: Wild Drinks & Cocktails

This post contains affiliate links, where I may get a small portion of sales to fund this blog.

Wild Drinks and Cocktails

I’m back with my second cookbook review. Last time it was vegan party food with “Thug Kitchen Party Grub,” and this time it’s another thing I really enjoy, “Wild Drinks and Cocktails.” It is a book full of handcrafted squashes, shrubs, switchels, tonics and infusions to mix at home. It focuses on making handcrafted drinks using fresh, foraged ingredients.

Related: Read my review of “Thug Kitchen Party Grub.”

As the name and description imply, there are drinks for syrups, infused beverages, sangria, bases of other drinks both alcoholic and non, and an entire chapter devoted to soda recipes and fizzy drinks.

The range of recipes is incredible, from both the standpoint of ingredients to how long they take to prepare; one drink I made had to ferment for a month. Already a fan of infused vodka (see my instructions on how to infuse vodka) and recently getting into preparing fermented food and drink (think beermaking and canning), this book is calling my name. There are drinks appropriate for every season, so this is a book you can go to year round. Case in point are three drinks I’ve made:

  • Fire Cider: A vinegar tonic that includes horseradish, garlic, ginger, onions and chile peppers. This is full of flavor, but is said to ward off a cold or flu, relieve sinus congestion and warm up on a cold day. It is full of flavor but surprisingly easy drinking.
  • Haymaker’s Punch: Also known as a switchel, becoming the new hip drink. It is full of electrolytes and iron, this is a great drink after a workout or a hot day. It was easy to make with common ingredients and a nice alternative to kombucha. (There’s also a recipe for a Turmeric Switchel, another popular ingredient right now.)
  • Citrus Squash: Not the food, the squash is a base of mixed citrus that is like a concentrate. Add water for juice, add champagne for mimosa or do as I did and add wheat beer for a nice beer cocktails.
Wild drinks and cocktails fire cider | Kale and Ale

Fire cider, the real (healthy) deal.

Enter to win “Wild Drinks and Cocktails”

Enough about what I think of the book and what I’ve had from it. Now it’s your turn to see for yourself. The publishers Quatro Cooks (check out their blog for more great books and recipes) have been kind enough to provide a copy of the book to one lucky reader of Kale and Ale and a recipe from the book for all readers to try. What? I know!

Right below this is the Rafflecopter widget to enter to win a copy of “Wild Drinks and Cocktails” for yourself, and below that read the recipe for the Claret Cup. The giveaway is open worldwide to anyone 18 or older. The contest starts at midnight Wednesday, June 1, 2016, and runs until Tuesday, June 7, 2016, midnight central U.S. time. Winner will be picked at random via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Claret Cup | Kale and Ale
Claret Cup
Print Recipe
“THE LEAVES AND FLOURES OF BORAGE PUT INTO WINE MAKE MEN AND women glad and merry and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy,” wrote sixteenth-century herbalist John Gerard. With its brilliant blue flowers and cucumber-like flavor, borage (Borago officinalis) has enhanced wine for centuries, even millennia. Roman and Celtic warriors drank borage-steeped wine for courage, while the Victorians used borage to garnish the claret cup, a popular punch made with red wine from Bordeaux plus various liqueurs, herbs, fruits, and spices. (Pimm’s Cup, which also traditionally includes borage, may have originated as a variation of the claret cup.) This is my version of a claret cup, and it’s inspired by recipes in historical cookbooks. The first delicious step involves creating a fragrant blend of lemon oil and sugar called oleo-saccharum, a classic technique for adding depth of flavor to punches.
Claret Cup | Kale and Ale
Claret Cup
Print Recipe
“THE LEAVES AND FLOURES OF BORAGE PUT INTO WINE MAKE MEN AND women glad and merry and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy,” wrote sixteenth-century herbalist John Gerard. With its brilliant blue flowers and cucumber-like flavor, borage (Borago officinalis) has enhanced wine for centuries, even millennia. Roman and Celtic warriors drank borage-steeped wine for courage, while the Victorians used borage to garnish the claret cup, a popular punch made with red wine from Bordeaux plus various liqueurs, herbs, fruits, and spices. (Pimm’s Cup, which also traditionally includes borage, may have originated as a variation of the claret cup.) This is my version of a claret cup, and it’s inspired by recipes in historical cookbooks. The first delicious step involves creating a fragrant blend of lemon oil and sugar called oleo-saccharum, a classic technique for adding depth of flavor to punches.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine the lemon peels and sugar in a bowl. Using a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, muddle the lemon peels and sugar until the peels start to release their oils. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the lemon peel and sugar mixture in a clean pitcher with the borage sprig, sherry, and red wine. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the solids.
  3. To serve, pour into ice-filled glasses and top with club soda. Garnish with borage flowers.
Recipe Notes

Makes 1/2 gallon drink

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Just Hampton Creek | Review and Recipe

Note: Hampton Creek provided food for review, but my opinions in this and all posts are my own.

Just Cookie Dough | Kale and AleWith a quick search of my dessert recipe archive, it’s apparent I’m not heavy on end-of-meal treats here. It’s partly because I’m not often one for sweets, favoring the salty taste of popcorn or nachos, and partly because I’m better with the winging-it style of cooking over the exact science of baking. But I’ve been known to crave a dark chocolate bite or sugary, chewy food. For those times, I look to keep it vegan and easy, and I know “just” the place to get my sweet tooth fix.

When I heard that Hampton Creek—best known for Just Mayo—was expanding beyond the sandwich and salad spread, and starting with cookies, I wanted to try it out. Hampton Creek gave me some coupons to test new products, and the cookie dough jumped out, since I wouldn’t make it myself. Using the search to see what was where, I was surprised to find not only the chocolate chip cookie dough I was expecting but also the peanut butter dough that wasn’t mentioned in the store finder, so I grabbed each (in the name of a fair review, right?).

Once I got home I opened the tub of chocolate chip cookies and tried a simple right away. Since Hampton Creek cookie dough is vegan, eating from the tub is safe, if not encouraged. Although the tub looks small, it makes 16 regular sized cookies that are quick to bake, making them quick to enjoy. They aren’t too soft or too crisp, and have even flavor throughout.

Recipe: Pretzel and chocolate peanut butter cookies

Hampton Creek Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel recipe | Kale and Ale

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel cookies

While that’s all well and good and the sweets lover will enjoy these, I’m not into sweets enough. So I gave the peanut butter cookies the Val treatment, giving them a sweet and salty addition. Once I cooked the tub of cookies according to the directions, I topped it with 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips and 1 cup crushed pretzels and let cool. These are a great sweet-salty combo that will appeal to a lot of tastes. All in all. Hampton Creek is a solid choice for when I am looking for a sugar fix.

Have you tried any of the “Just” products? What do you think of them?

 

Cookbook Review: Party Grub, Thug Kitchen (With Recipe)

This post contains affiliate links, where I may get a small portion of sales to fund this blog.

I love Thug Kitchen, a duo of vegans who were writing a blog a few years ago and got a book deal. They use salty language and flavorful recipes to get their message across that vegan food doesn’t have to be boring or only for certain people:

“Everyone deserves to feel a part of our push toward a healthier diet, not just people with disposable incomes who speak a certain way. So we’re here to help.”

Their second book “Party Grub” is, not surprisingly, a slam dunk, just like their first book “Thug Kitchen.” I own both and they are among the first cookbooks I reach for when looking for recipes and cooking inspiration. The first book has solid recipes, and the second book is all about party and social gathering food. While I love light meals and apps, I was surprised to find the book contains a lot of  dishes that are hearty, meal-worthy fare. There are more than 100 dishes for any time of celebration or get-together, and the pages are packed with mouth-watering fare and fun tips.

I’m always looking for a good vegan cheese, and their Queso-ish Dip is a great creamy dip for Mexican flavors, with tomatoes making it seem kind of creamy, flavorful and chunky with a little kick all at once.

Thug Kitchen Queso-ish Dip Recipe | Kale and Ale

Thug Kitchen Queso-ish Dip

When I ate the enchiladas (with the easiest homemade sauce I’ve ever made) I had to remind myself they were vegan, I totally forgot! That’s a ringing endorsement right there, since I love the cheese to hold everything together. And they were so filling, stuffed full with goodness and the flavorful sauce.

The book features chapters on brunch grub, small bites, salads and sides, potluck necessities and desserts and drinks, so the entire range of party food is covered. This book has a variety of flavorful dishes and makes me want to grab a group of friends and get in the kitchen and cook and eat.

Thug Kitchen Loaded Nachos Recipe

Thug Kitchen was kind enough to share a recipe from their new book with Kale and Ale readers! They let us in on how to make loaded creamy nachos with the dip I preview above. Remember, there is salty NSFW language, but it’s worth it to get to the loaded nachos.

Reprinted from “Thug Kitchen Party Grub” by Thug Kitchen. Copyright (c) 2015 by Thug Kitchen. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.


Thug Kitchen Nachos Butternut Squash Queso
Loaded Nachos
Print Recipe
OK, this is less of a recipe and more of a recommendation for you to get your shit together and make some fucking nachos. A plate of these gorgeous motherfuckers just screams party so much that it was almost our cover shot. We give you an idea below on how to pile your shit correctly, but take the damn queso and run with it. #nachobusiness
Servings
4 to 6 people
Servings
4 to 6 people
Thug Kitchen Nachos Butternut Squash Queso
Loaded Nachos
Print Recipe
OK, this is less of a recipe and more of a recommendation for you to get your shit together and make some fucking nachos. A plate of these gorgeous motherfuckers just screams party so much that it was almost our cover shot. We give you an idea below on how to pile your shit correctly, but take the damn queso and run with it. #nachobusiness
Servings
4 to 6 people
Servings
4 to 6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. You know how nachos work, so you can pile this shit on however you like and leave off or add whatever the fuck you want. We like to put the warm chips out in a thin layer on a tray or giant plate. A huge pile of chips where you end up with a shit-ton of dry chips at the bottom is a fucking bummer. Thin layer is the way to go.
  2. Scatter the black beans and cabbage over that, then drizzle the queso all over the chips. Glob on nice spoonfuls of guacamole and salsa all over the platter then sprinkle with the jalapeno and cilantro. Drizzle over some hot sauce if you roll like that.
  3. Serve that shit right up to the happy crowd.
Recipe Notes

* Warming not required, but this shows commitment to the nacho cause. Just throw the chips in a microwave for a few seconds, or cover and put in a 250°F oven for 10 minutes.

** Or a 15-ounce can of beans, rinsed and drained.

*** The Mid-Summer Salsa from our first book would be dope here.

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