The Best Places for Vegan Brunch in D.C. and Maryland | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-Eight

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Four: Entertaining
Brunch: the under-appreciated get-together meal.

‘Round these parts, brunch is most definitely not an under-appreciated meal! It’s a weekend tradition for many, and whenever I have friends or family visiting, Steven and I nearly always take them for brunch. We’re lucky to have a few top-notch vegan brunch choices in Maryland and D.C., so I figured I’d share them with you today. (If you’re looking for a whopping big post of DIY vegan brunch recipes and inspiration, I direct you here.) Now, on to the list! Here are my recommendations for the best vegan brunch in Maryland.

Great Sage

I never ever regret going to Clarksville-based Great Sage for brunch. Although I’m occasionally disappointed by their main dinner dishes, which can sometimes lack creativity, their brunch selection is consistently solid. They always have a perfect mix of savory and sweet options, so all your dining companions should be able to find something that appeals. Plus, they have boozy breakfast drinks — including a massive vegan Bloody Mary! I’ve enjoyed quite a few Great Sage brunches in my day, such as the crabcake sandwich, their amazing pierogi quesadillas, and their yummy breakfast sandwich (featuring a tofu egg, sausage, and cheese). You’d also do well to get one of their signature cinnamon buns to go — they are massive and delicious.

 

Glory Doughnuts

I’ve sung the praises of this Frederick-based establishment a fair few times over the past few months, and for good reason. Not only are their doughnuts top-notch, but they have a fabulous and creative selection of all-day brunch eats! Think PBR-infused Belgian waffles, big ol’ plates of huevos rancheros, and decadent apple pie stuffed French toast. Their coffee is also exceptional; it’s from a local woman-owned, fair-trade roaster and is just really, really tasty. Get here early to make sure there are doughnuts available, and stake your spot early — tables fill up fast!

Smoke and Barrel

Tofu scramble and Smoke & Barrel in D.C.

For a vegan brunch in D.C. proper, Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan is an excellent choice. Yes, it’s a BBQ and bourbon joint. But if you can get past all that BBQ, you’ll be rewarded with some surprisingly creative vegan brunch options, like a a house-made sweet potato and oat burger and a massive chili-cheese tofu scramble (featuring Daiya). They even have vegan wings! I ordered the tofu scramble last Galentine’s Day when I was out with my ladies and did not regret it. It comes with a massive pile of tofu scramble; a smoky, spicy chili; thick slabs of Texas toast; and crumbly delicious home fries. And although we ordered a mimosa pitcher on that day, Smoke and Barrel also has brunch cocktails! The Happy Trails (bourbon, peach liqueur, orange bitters, soda water) sounds particularly nice.

Fare Well

Owned and operated by Doron Petersan — the same brilliant gal who started Sticky Fingers bakery — Fare Well is an old-fashioned (yet all-vegan) diner with plenty of brunch and breakfast options. Truth be told, I’ve never actually been here for brunch — just for small snacks (including the croissant pictured above), but I really need to rectify that mistake. Just look at that menu: French toast casserole, featuring challah French toast?! Seitan and waffles?!? Cookie dough pancakes?!?!? Give me a break! I have no doubt everything is excellent, and I need to get here stat.

Sticky Fingers

No list of vegan spots in D.C. would be complete without Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, Petersan’s original vegan joint. It’s really more of a bakery than a full restaurant, but you can still enjoy brunch at this small cafe. The weekend brunch menu is small but features a few options similar to those at Fare Well — challah French toast, for example. You can also get biscuits and gravy, a breakfast burrito, and a few other options. I’ve been to Sticky Fingers plenty of times and have never been disappointed.

Other options

The buffet-style vegan Sunday brunch at Equinox is a bit of a legend around here, but somehow I’ve never been. It’s $35 a head — excluding drinks, which will set you back ~$11 each. That’s a bit steep for me; I have a small stomach and buffets don’t play to my eating style (I prefer smaller but frequent meals, spread out throughout the day). Still, I know I should try it — with options like a chickpea cassoulet, stuffed whole-grain French toast, and a tofu scramble station, I’m sure it would be a great experience.

NuVegan Café in College Park is one of our favorite spots for comfort food: I can never pass up their mac ’n’ cheese, their fried chicken “dummies,” or their garlicky kale salad. They also have brunch, though I’ve never tried it. But the options are vast and varied, with everything from oatmeal to pancakes to omelettes, and I’m willing to bet it’s all quite tasty.

Local chain Founding Farmers is an oft-hailed farm-to-table establishment with vegan-friendly main dishes (including the Impossible Burger). They allegedly have vegan options as part of their set-price brunch buffet, but their online menu is unclear. That’s a shame — and a missed opportunity. I’m not about to pay upwards of $30 when there’s a chance I’ll only have fruit and toast for breakfast.


This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I haven’t even touched Baltimore! I’m sure there are plenty of other spots in D.C. with vegan options, but I live far enough from the city that a trip in for brunch is rare. I’ll update this list if I try any great new places, though.

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The best vegan brunch spots in Maryland and D.C. // govegga.com

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Five-Ingredient Potato-Chorizo Hash | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Nineteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
A dish with five ingredients or fewer (not including cooking oil and salt and pepper)

Spicy potato-chorizo hash! Two of the five ingredients are right there in the name, and the other three are not too tricky to guess: onion, garlic, and green bell pepper. This versatile recipe does involve a fair amount of chopping, but it’s relatively painless and makes a great lazy dinner or brunch side dish. For the chorizo, I use my go-to — the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s — but any product with lots of flavor will work here. I keep seasonings to a minimum since the chorizo adds heat, and the onion and garlic provide quite a bit of flavor. If you’re not limited to five ingredients, go ahead and add some spices: paprika, Mexican oregano, or anything your heart desires.

Spicy vegan potato-chorizo hashIn the past, I’ve simply sautéed the potatoes from raw, but they end up taking forever to cook through and often break down and get crumbly. So this time I experimented with kitchen genius J. Kenji López-Alt’s method: par-cooking with vinegar before sautéing. He says it helps them retain their shape and stand up to the sauté pan a little better, and in my single test of his method, it worked great! I’ve written the instructions with this method in mind, giving you tips for what to do at each step.

Although I sometimes cook everything in the same pan, staggering the time I add each ingredient, my favorite cast-iron pan can’t really accommodate this larger recipe. So I’ve written the instructions to cook the onion, pepper, and garlic together, and then the potatoes and chorizo. If you halve this recipe or have a massive pan, you can cook everything together.

Five-Ingredient Potato-Chorizo Hash

Serves four

  • 2 large Russet potatoes, diced into 3/4” cubes
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 9 oz. (3/4 package, if you’re using TJ’s) vegan chorizo
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, heat a pot of water with about a tablespoon of vinegar. While it’s heating up, prepare the veggies: dice the onion, mince the garlic, and dice the bell pepper. Add cooking oil of choice to a cast-iron pan (or other pan of choice) and heat to medium, then add the onions and peppers.

When the water boils, add the diced potatoes and cook for 7-10 minutes or until just tender (not cooked through). Drain and set aside briefly.

While the potatoes are boiling, monitor the sauteéing veggies. When the onions start turning translucent, add the garlic. Sauté for about 5 more minutes, till everything is moderately soft. (I like my peppers to retain a little crunch.) When all the veggies are done, remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil and add the boiled potatoes. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until just about tender, then crumble in the chorizo. When the potatoes are completely fork-tender, turn off the heat and stir in the veggies.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with ketchup or hot sauce.

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Spicy vegan potato-chorizo hash // govegga.com

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Vegan Pumpkin Streusel Muffins | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Ten

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
 Secret ingredient: Is there an unconventional ingredient or product you use to make a certain dish that no one would suspect?

The idea of “hidden” or “secret” ingredients in my food has always weirded me out a bit, perhaps because I grew up with a younger sister who has some pretty severe nut allergies. “Hidden” nuts in food sent her to the hospital or to her emergency Benadryl/EpiPen stash more than once, so I’m all for transparency in labeling and serving.

That said, I appreciate the idea that sometimes an ingredient might put someone off a food if they knew what was in it. (Hey, kinda like those dumb-dumbs who don’t want to try vegan dishes even though they contain nothing weirder than vegetables, grains, and not-animal-based proteins!) I also appreciate the recipe developers who have found immensely creative ways to add nutrients to apparent junk food in an effort to healthify treats. (Though, to be honest, I personally want my junk food to be junk food and my treats to be treats!) Chocolate-Covered Katie in particular has a whole arsenal of ONE WEIRD TRICK-esque recipes, which rely on surprise ingredients to add moisture and flavor to (and reduce fat and sugar in) her baked goods. (See: a chocolate cake featuring cauliflower!)

So perhaps my issue is with semantics: Call it an “unexpected” ingredient and I have no quarrel with the notion. I even have a few recipes featuring unexpected ingredients of my own (black bean brownies, anyone?).

"Pumpkin" streusel muffins But one of my favorite ways to subvert expectations — while offering superior flavor — is a relatively simple one: using mashed roasted sweet potato instead of pumpkin. Much of the flavors we associate with “pumpkin” are actually the warming spices that typically accompany it, the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice that just scream “autumn!” to most Americans. In reality, pumpkin by itself is quite bland; it really needs the augmentation of said spices (and some sweetness) to shine.

I offer up in its place sweet potato, which plays just as well with those lovely spices yet has an inherent mellow sweetness of its own. Cup for cup, it also boasts more fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Baked into a muffin and topped with a crumbly, oaty streusel, you get a treat that could easily pass for pumpkin. So, next time you fire up the oven to make muffins, pass over the pumpkin and pass me the sweet potato! (Just be on the watch for folks with sweet potato allergies.)

"Pumpkin" streusel muffins

“Pumpkin” Streusel Muffins

Makes 12

Muffin ingredients
  • 1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup roasted and mashed sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Streusel topping ingredients
  • 3 T softened butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T rolled oats
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Dash salt
Method

In a small bowl, mix together the streusel topping with a fork until crumbly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Prepare a muffin tin by adding silicone or paper liners or spraying it lightly with oil.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour through salt) and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the wet ingredients (almond milk through vanilla extract, whisking to combine. Add the sugar and thoroughly mix.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Use a plastic spatula or wooden spoon to mix just until combined; do not over-mix. (If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon or two of flour. Some sweet potatoes seem dryer than others!) Scoop batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each well about 2/3 full. Add a spoonful of streusel to the top of each muffin.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or just until a toothpick or other testing mechanism comes out clean. Enjoy! You’re not eating pumpkin!

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"Pumpkin" streusel muffins

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An Omni-Persuading Meal | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Five

VeganMoFo 2017

Week One: Changing Vegan Perspectives
Conversion meal: What would you make to convince an omni to convert?

Call me a spoilsport, but would someone really go vegan based on food alone? If a person chooses to reduce the variety of foods they eat, they’re not gonna do it just for fun, without a compelling reason. So let’s assume a baseline for this prompt: The “someone” in question — let’s call her Jane Omni — has already bought in to the underlying arguments for going vegan, but she needs reassurance that she’ll still have lots of delicious food to eat with this new lifestyle. (Am I being too pedantic and interrogating this prompt more than necessary? Probably. I just like guidelines, OK?!)

So. Pedantry acknowledged, let’s move on! Jane Omni is ready to go vegan and I have the immensely important task of feeding her incredible food to help convince her to make the switch. Forget fake meat, mac ’n cheese, even ice cream… Jane and I are doing brunch. A massive, sweet and savory, boozy brunch with lots and lots of options. It will last hours. She will leave in mild stomach pain. She won’t eat until the next morning. This is the shock and awe conversion approach; I’m appealing to the ravenous glutton that resides in all of us.

Vegan breakfast at Deer Run B&B, a vegan bed and breakfast in the Florida Keys

(Also, the booze is key. I’m going to get her good and tipsy so she’ll remember the meal fondly. She might even drunkenly pinkie-promise to go vegan. Hey, I didn’t say I’d be playing fair!)

Our disgustingly expansive brunch will include:

  • All the fixings for mimosas and Bloody Marys (house-made, fish-free Bloody Mary mix included!)
  • Fresh juices (I’m thinking orange and mango?)
  • Hash browns AND home fries AND lovely  herby roasted potato wedges, to satisfy any potato preference
  • A big pan of basic tofu scramble, with optional sautéed veggie add-ins (peppers, onions, mushrooms) and lots of hot sauce and ketchup for topping
  • Tortillas, homemade refried beans, diced avocado, cheesy shreds, and pico de gallo to make breakfast burritos with the aforementioned tofu scramble
  • Sweet potato and veggie chorizo hash (also acceptable to stuff into a burrito)
  • Made-to-order waffles with optional add-ins
  • Stacks of classic fluffy pancakes, plus homemade vegan butter, plenty of pure maple syrup, and fruity toppings (blueberry sauce! apple compote!)
  • The lemon-poppy seed muffins from Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For, because they are the best
  • Scones! Regular and potato.
  • Rice paper bacon. This is ballsy, but I’m going to wait until she’s tipsy to bring it out. I probably won’t call it bacon; I’ll just serve it up and let her enjoy it for what it is.
  • Bowls of fresh fruit, cut up into charmingly bite-sized pieces for easy health food consumption amidst the rest of this unhealthy decadence
  • Some amazing fluffy homemade biscuits and a vat of vegan sausage gravy
  • DOUGHNUTS. Dozens.

Vegan breakfast at Deer Run B&B, a vegan bed and breakfast in the Florida Keys

Listen. If Jane Omni doesn’t make the switch after rolling out of my house, belly full and booze-addled, she’s a lost cause.

…and now I’m hungry for brunch.

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A Frittata for Friends

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Three: Rainbow Week

Quick post on this Wednesday morning! Our magazine goes to press today, so the team is bringing in snacks to tide us over as we work to finalize photo credits, tweak titles, and double-triple-quadruple-check literally everything.

Vegan frittata

I opted for a hearty breakfast item, since I know we’ll have a table chock-full of chips, chocolate, and lots of snack-y things. Enter this bright-yellow frittata! I followed this recipe; it’s your standard tofu frittata with the addition of roasted potatoes and onions. (Side note: I burnt some of those onions and, who knew, but crispy, slightly burnt onions are kinda delicious!)

What’s your go-to breakfast for a crowd?

Caramelized Onion and Broccoli Quiche

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 15: OMG, Barack Obama is coming over because he knows you make awesome vegan food! What are you going to make?

In my most outlandish MoFo fantasy, I bake and decorate an elaborate cake fashioned to look like the GOP elephant symbol. Barack comes over and goes to town on it, a la one of those horrible first-birthday cake smash videos, to show what he thinks of the intransigent Republican congress that’s blocked his every move.

…but that would be a very un-presidential thing to do, so I opted for something a little less partisan.

According to the internet, the president once said his favorite food is broccoli. Okay then! I have my doubts about the veracity of that statement, especially since he said it to a group of elementary school children. He couldn’t very well have admitted that his favorite food was something super-duper unhealthy, right? Regardless of the truth, I decided to incorporate broccoli in my meal. I’m also assuming that Michelle is coming, and I’d want to impress her with a healthy yet delicious vegan meal. Enter quiche!

I hadn’t made a full-sized vegan quiche since Easter 2010. Needless to say, in the past five and a half years, various vegan innovations (vegovations?) have taken egg-replication into bold new frontiers. I was excited to use aquafaba in this quiche, alongside the traditional tofu base. I’m glad I did! It was so creamy and delicious. I opted to make it crustless, because I’m not a huge fan of a traditional pastry crust. Next time, though, I might have to try this hash brown crust (!) from Avocados and Ales. I topped my quiche with grated Follow Your Heart provolone, just because I had a little bit leftover and it was starting to harden. (The provolone, by the way, is surprisingly good! FYH has really stepped up their game.) It was the perfect flavor combination.

Caramelized Onion and Broccoli Quiche

Caramelized Onion and Broccoli Quiche
Serves four

  • One medium yellow onion, sliced into half moons
  • Two small heads broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 14 oz firm tofu (not vacuum-packed), drained
  • 1/2 cup aquafaba
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp kala namak (black salt)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese

Add a little oil or vegan butter to a nonstick pan and heat it on medium. Add the onions and a pinch each of sugar, salt, and baking soda. Turn the heat to low and caramelize the onions, stirring them occasionally to prevent burning. They should cook for about 30 minutes. You want them mushy, but still holding their shape a bit.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ while the onions are on the stove. Prepare an 8” cake tin by oiling it liberally.

In the meantime, prepare the quiche mixture by combining the tofu, aquafaba (unwhipped), almond milk, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, soy sauce and spices in a blender or food processor. Blend for at least a minute to whip up the aquafaba.

When the onions are caramelized, move them to one side of the pan and add a splash of water (about 2-3 tablespoons) to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the broccoli, turn the heat back up to medium, and cook it for about 5 minutes, just until it softens and turns brighter green. Remove from heat and fold the onions and broccoli into the liquid quiche mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and sprinkle the vegan cheese on top, if using. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Caramelized Onion and Broccoli Quiche

I’m confident that Barack, Michelle, Steven, and I would make great dinner party partners. I think we’d steer clear of politics for a while, instead talking about veganism and how healthy, environmentally friendly, and downright delicious it can be.

So, Mr. Obama, when are you coming to dinner?!

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Blueberry-Red Wine Sauce for Crepes and More

There’s no easier way to make your breakfast game fancier than by whipping up a sweet sauce for pancakes, crepes, or scones. Using freshly picked blueberries (or frozen blueberries you picked yourself during warmer months!) makes your breakfast even more special.

Blueberry-Red Wine Sauce

This blueberry sauce employs red wine to provide a slightly acidic undertone, while cardamom adds a spicy note. It only takes a few minutes to come together, so you can keep watch over it while you’re flipping pancakes or crepes. I like to serve it with the crepe recipe from The Urban Vegan, but any neutral pancake, crepe, or scone recipe will benefit with a spoonful of this sauce! Serve it with a dollop of coconut whipped cream for an extra-indulgent treat.

Blueberry-Red Wine Sauce
Serves 3 or 4

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine (Malbec or Merlot work well!)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

In a small pot, whisk together the wine, water, cornstarch, vanilla, and cardamom until the cornstarch is mostly dissolved. Turn the stove to medium and add the sugar and blueberries to the pot. Heat the sauce, stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble, then turn the heat down to low. (If you’re using frozen blueberries, make sure they’ve thawed through before turning down the heat.) Simmer for an additional 4-5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately.

Blueberry-Red Wine Sauce