Saturday, May 31, 2008

Completely Un-Vegan Related, But... friend Sasha and I made what I believe to be a hysterical music video to an MIA mixed with Annie Lennox song. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Blog-Worthy Weekend...Midweek.

I did so much Vegan-ing over the Memorial Day weekend. It was great! I spent several of the days perfecting my Vegan Twinkie recipe, and I think it's safe to say that if I have to eat another Twinkie I'm going to ooze frosting out of my ears. It's a good thing I don't have a child to breast-feed because they'd probably develop Juvenile Diabetes.
Sunday, I finally was able to partake in a Spork Foods cooking class. The theme of the class was Vegan Pizza, and it was so delicious. Jenny ran the workshop, and her Vegan prowess was evident in the ease with which she moved about the kitchen. It took me back to my childhood because my family made homemade pizza at least once a month. My dad would even make grilled pizza in the summer. *Sigh*...sometimes I miss living at home. My parents are culinary wizards. No wonder I've lost weight since I ventured out into the world on my own.

First up on the menu at the class: Hawaiian Pizza with Home-Made Cashew Cheese

We also had the following dishes:
Pesto Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Grilled Veggies
Garden Salad with a Creamy Vegan Ranch Dressing
Home-made Nutella with Fresh Berries

All of them were spectacular. I didn't snag any pics, though, as I'm still dealing with insecurities about feeling like a dweeb for photographing my food.

Also on my Vegan Radar this weekend, I uncovered a new Trader Joe's Vegan product. It's perfect for the days when I work 12 hours, then just want to grub and pass the f*ck out:

As you can see, Trader Joe's now employs this little green "Vegan Leaf" to ensure paranoidiacs like myself that I'm safe and sound.

BUT! I will say this: Following the microwave instructions, TJ's just HAD to include this little serving suggestion...

Nice try, Trader Joe's. Nice Try.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vegan Twinkies: So Money.

Oh yeah, baby.  That is one very sexy Vegan Twinkie.  

Any time I'm gearing up for a baking session, I scan over my recipe because there's always the inevitable bastard ingredient that seems to evade the shelves of all grocery stores.  And I don't just look at Ralph's.  I'll go to Ralph's first, Whole Funds, and even my favorite Co-Op...but I just wind up sad and empty handed, trying to decide what will be an adequate substitute. 
Not this time!  I was determined!
I scan over the Vegan Twinkie recipe courtesy of Vegan Lunch Box.  At the very end of the ingredient list, I spy the perpetrator: Barley Malt Powder.  
A quick Google search for "Barley Malt Powder Los Angeles" reveals a Chowhound thread with the answer: Culver City Home Brewing Supply Co.
I call. 

CCHBS: "Brewing Supply.  How may I help you?"
Me: "Hi!  I was wondering if you carry Barley Malt Powder?"
CCHBS: "Yes, we do."
Me: "Um, well, I'm not trying to sound paranoid or anything...but I really need it for a recipe.  Is there a chance you're going to run out today?"
CCHBS: [Sarcastically] "Well, I've only got 4 Gallons, so you better hurry.  How much do you need?"
Me: "Two tablespoons."
CCHBS: [Laughs] "I think you'll be safe.  Come on by!"

Score!  I decide to go the following morning as I'm not baking them today.  All of the other ingredients are easy as pie to find.  What could possibly go wrong?
Well, I set my alarm for 11am the next day, excited to sleep in for the first day this week then do some Vegan baking.  8:30AM: There's a knock on my door.  I hear "Pers-glish" ranting outside of my door.  Crabby as a mo-fo, I open the door.  It's my landlords Persian mother, who speaks about 5 words of English.  She's motioning to a repairman behind her, screaming "Sink! Sink!", and some other choice Persian vocabulary.  I know what they're here for.  They're here to fix the sink I requested be fixed 6 months ago.  And without any notice whatsoever, they want to do it NOW.  But what about my plans to sleep and bake today?!  No!!!  I call my landlord, explain very nicely that I am never to be woken again, and ask if one of her parents can ensure the repair man doesn't take away any of my electronics along with the bad sink plumbing while I'm at the store(s).  Her father agrees to keep an eye on him. 

Finally, I pick up my Barley Malt Powder, stop by the grocery store for a few more ingredients, and then I hit the kitchen.  They were so easy!  I changed one ingredients in the recipe, and added an additional one of my own to make the recipe seem more like mine.  As always, message me and I'll be happy to let you know what my modifications were.

And for those of you pervs out there that like a little back-side action...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday Dinner Party!

I love Sundays.  It's the only day of the week when I don't have to work, and I recreate to the fullest extent.   I threw a vegan dinner party a few weeks ago for my friend Jason and his visiting friend Ashley (see the Cashew Cheese post).  Apparently, Jason liked it so much that he hyped my culinary skills to our mutual friend Aviva.  Aviva had a friend visiting this weekend, and wondered if I would like to have a vegan dinner party with them.  Hecks yes I would!  I always require that my dinner guests bring the wine, and Aviva definitely didn't falter.  She picked up a delicious organic wine from Vinoteque, and it was one of the best bottles of wine I've ever had.  Although this one time my friend and I were left alone at the Grgich Hills Vineyard in Napa, and given free reign over all food and drink on the property.  Now THAT was a Sunday.  Anyway, on to the menu:

  • Home-made Whole Wheat Baguettes with...
  • Eggplant Caviar
  • Warm Spinach Salad with Fresh Mint and Lemon Dressing
  • Tofu Scallopini
  • Garlic Quinoa
Here's some recipes.  Eat your heart out.

Warm Spinach Salad w/ Fresh Mint and Lemon Dressing

Ingredients: Spinach Salad
  • 1 lb Spinach Leaves
  • 1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 TBSP Chopped Fresh Mint
  • 5-6 TBSP Olive Oil
Ingredients: Fresh Mint and Lemon Dressing
  • 2 Medium Lemons
  • 4 Sprigs Fresh Mint
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (preferably C&H because it's vegan)
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider vinegar
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
For the salad...
In a large bowl, mix everything except the olive oil.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add all other ingredients to the skillet, and toss in the olive oil for about a minute. As the spinach leaves are just beginning to wilt, immediately remove from heat and place in a serving bowl.  Toss with dressing, and voila!

For the dressing...
Remove the lemon rind on both lemons.  Try to take as little of the pith (white part) with the rind as possible.  Take a food processor, turn it on, and drop the lemon rind and mint down the chute.  Once they are both finely chopped, add the sugar, lemon juice vinegar and pepper.  Process until well mixed.  

Tofu Scallopini

Ingredients: Marinade
  • 2 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Mirin
  • 1/2 Cup
  • 1/2 Cup Water
Ingredients: Scallopini
  • 3/4 block Super Firm Tofu
  • 1 1/2 cup Unbleached Flour
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp. Rosemary
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 3-4 Fresh Parsley Sprigs, chopped 
  • 3 oz. Pinot Grigio
  • 6 oz. Vegetable Broth
Drain the tofu VERY well by placing 3-4 paper towels on each side of the block, and resting a heavy object on top (try a cookbook with a few canned goods on top).  Allow the tofu to sit under the heavy objects for 1/2 hour, then flip the tofu over and place the heavy objects back on top.  Allow it to sit for another half hour.

Take the drained tofu, and slice it into large triangles.  Place all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and place the tofu in the marinade.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes, stirring the tofu around after 10 minutes.  

Take flour, salt and pepper and mix together in a bowl.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  One by one, remove the tofu triangles from the marinade and dip them in the flour mix (so that they're fully covered),  then place in the skillet. Once all the triangles are golden brown on both sides, add the mushrooms, garlic, onions and rosemary.  Saute for 3 minutes.

Add the white wine, and saute until it reduces by 1/2.  

Add the vegetable broth and lemon juice, and simmer until the sauce thickens.  Garnish with fresh parsley, and serve over couscous, rice or pasta.

And just in case you're not drooling yet.....


Monday, May 12, 2008

Kvetch Korner: Take 1

I know, I know...spelling words with a "K" instead of a "C" for the sake of clever alliteration is one of my pet-peeves, too. I just couldn't resist. And I aptly labeled this post "Take 1" because my inner Jewish grandma will inevitably need to Kvetch again!
I've been working a lot lately, and I've been doing it on purpose. I had waaay too much idle time due to the Writer's Strike Effect. Now-a-days, my grocery shopping must be done with expedience. On my weekly Trader Joe's trip last Friday, I was scurrying around the store, tossing the bare essentials into my cart. As I was perusing the hummos section, something just to the left caught my eye. Soy Cheese. $2.75. Hooray!
So into my cart it went.
I quickly wrapped it up at TJs, ran home, threw my groceries into the fridge, and booked it to work.
Cut to:
Sunday, late morning. After a much deserved two hour coffee and reading session, I meander over to my fridge. "Oooh, pita pizza with soy cheese. Mmm.", I think to myself. So I start busting out the necessary ingredients. I had the tail end of a Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack still in there, so I decided to compare the ingredients to the Trader Joe's cheese. I start scanning the packaging, and much to my dismay....*GASP*

The Trader Joe's soy cheese contains Casein.
(I know the pic's small, but it's the first ingredient in the second row if you can enlarge it.)

Casein is milk protein for those that don't know.
Why Trader Joe's would label this an "alternative" to dairy products, I don't know. It still has dairy in it.

You deceptive bastards. Just be happy I still had some Follow Your Heart left.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

WorldFest 2008!

I'm thinking of a word to describe this event.  Hmmm.  What is it?  It's on the tip of my tongue. Oh yes:
Four Words: ALL VEGAN FOOD COURT.  And that's only half of it pictured in the photo.

No Un-Vegan food or drink were permitted at the festival.  
For those of you that don't know, or who live outside the L.A. area, WorldFest is a gigantic solar powered Earth Day celebration.  It's held at Woodley Park in Encino, and it's superfuntastic.  It's a day filled with vegan goodness, music, animal love and general awareness-raising organizations/services.  And the festivities are hosted by Dan Piraro, cartoonist and VegNews columnist.  

Many of my favorite veg companies and establishments were in attendance:
So many.  

It was pretty much a perfect Saturday...eating great food, being in the sunshine and meeting cool people.  I even got to pet a Llama!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Viva la Vegan Cupcakes!

I love cupcakes, but honestly, who doesn't?  Far be it from me to be the one sippin' on Hater-ade.  I will say this: I'm a much better cook than I am baker.  For some reason, the chemistry behind creating cuisine comes much more naturally to me than the science behind great baking.  None the less, I LOVE to bake, and I'll keep at it until I'm a Cupcake Master(ress?)!

Anyway, last night, my place of employment, Jax Vegan Cafe, hosted a bowling night.  I agreed to make cupcakes, but my silly ass waited until the last minute to do so.  The cupcakes I brought to the party, well, I would have liked them to be a little better frosted.  But after I arrived home I played around with some different frostings, and I was very pleased with the results.  The cake recipe is based on Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Coconut Heaven Cupcakes from Vegan With A Vengeance.  She's one of my frickin' heros.  But the cake recipe for this cupcake is just a little too dense for my tastes, unless I've been making them incorrectly...which is entirely possible since I seriously lack skills.  I played around with it a bit, and found that adding some apple cider vinegar to the batter really lightens it up.  I also whip a bit of vegan buttah, and add it to the batter for an extra bit of flava' haha.  The cupcakes are a little lighter, and I make my own version of a frosting that excludes coconut milk and adds an almond flare!  I like a light, whipped frosting...and I like a lot of it :)
I don't want to post the recipe as I want leave ISM's genius to the ones that invest in her books, but here's some photos to drool over.

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes with 
Vanilla Almond Frosting
(Notice the Photoshopped lens flare in the photo...doesn't that make them look extra special?!)

As lovely as these bad-boys looked with piped frosting, I thought maybe it was a bit of overkill.  I'm definitely a fan of a proportional cake to frosting ratio, so I did a toned-down version with a spatula.