Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vegan Matzo Brie (or, for my Shiksas, Vegan Fried Matzo and Scrambled "Eggs")

Blog Readers:
I rarely ask favors. I don't really find it in true Blogger nature to request something in a forum that's typically suited for leisure. But! Just yesterday, I finished the first draft of my cookbook. I need help with two things:

1) I need readers. You don't have to read the whole thing...If enough people are interested, I'll break it up into sections. In my mind, it should be written in a manner that's easy for home cooks to understand. I did my best to break every recipe down...explaining the shortcuts you can take to simplify my often complex recipes.

If you're interested, drop me an email at

2) If you live in the state of California, PLEASE do whatever you can, when possible, to help support the overturn of Prop 8. The longer time passes without my ability to wed, the more Vegan Food I eat, therefor requiring me to have the seams let out on my wedding dress. Help us obtain our Constitutional Rights before my inescapable Jewish Middle-Aged Spread hits.

Ok. 'Nuff said.

Growing up, I didn't really like Matzo. I dreaded the arrival of Pesach, fully knowing that the Matzo Curse was about to rear it's ugly head in the Shagrin Household. "Curse?!" You ask.


When it was the time of the Jew Year when leavened bread products could not be consumed, all chaos broke loose. My mother, typically the sweetest, strongest woman I know, would be stricken with Matzoitis. It's a condition that affects the lower digestive organs, plugging her up in the worst way possible. She would try so hard to make it through the duration of the holiday without yeast-risen products. The Matzo would continue to accumulate in her lower organs, forcing all of her tension and anxiety to explode from her top. And something not so nose-friendly to explode from elsewhere.

My sister and I, two of the biggest food lovers I know, had to start off our day with a Pesach Approved version of Fruit Loops. They tasted something akin to pureed cardboard, Elmer's glue and artificial Prune extract. I don't know if it's what's in the cereal that made us so crabtastic, or our bodies experiencing deep sugar withdrawal without our Frosted Flakes. But I do know that no one in temple sat within a 5-foot-radius of our family.

And Daddy Shags? Smart man. Avoided the whole damn situation by escaping to his friends house to play poker and down some Jew Brews.

Okay. So perhaps I embellished slightly. Very slightly. But I still could rarely get into Matzo. The only time I remember thinking "Wow. Yum." after taking a bite is when my Nanny or Mom would cook Matzo Brie aka Fried Matzo. Traditionally, it's Matzo scalded with hot water, dipped in beaten eggs and pan fried. Some like it savory, some like it sweet. If your sweet tooth is larger than mine, add a little sugar at the end.

Vegan Matzo Brie

Basic Scrambled “Eggs” Mix

• 1 12 oz package Soft Silken Tofu
• 1 12 oz package Extra Firm Silken Tofu
• 1/4 cup MimicCreme
• 3/4 cup "Egg" Mix
• 1 TBSP Mellow White Miso Paste dissolved in 1 TBSP Hot Water
• Dash of Garlic Powder
• Dash of Turmeric
• Dash of Yellow Mustard Powder
• 2 dashes of Curry Powder
• 1 1/2 Black Himalayan Salt, to taste
• About 1 TBSP Nature’s Flavor Orange Food Coloring (optional, for color)

Make the Scrambled "Egg" Mix first, then set aside:

Blend all of the above ingredients except for the Extra Firm Tofu in a food processor. Add the Extra Firm Tofu to the food processor at the very end, and just pulse a few times until it’s broken up. Taste for salt. You can use this basic “Egg” recipe as you would in a Quiche, any Scramble recipe, you name it! Get creative. It should look like so...

Matzo Brie

  • 4 pieces Matzo
  • 3-4 cups Water
  • 2 1/2 cups Basic Vegan Scrambled "Egg" Mix
  • 1-2 TBSP Vegan Margarine, for frying
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
Break up the Matzo into about 2-3 inch size pieces, then place in a colander.

Bring the Water to a boil.

Melt the Vegan Margarine in a large skillet over medium heat.

Once the Margarine has melted, Brie (scald) the Matzo by pouring boiling water over them, then draining as quickly as possible to prevent sogginess. Quickly mix with the Scrambled "Eggs", and cook over low to medium heat until golden brown on one side, then flip over and brown the other side.

Taste for Salt and Pepper, then serve immediately.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Vegan Roasted Garlic Caesar Salad with Home-Made "Buttery" Croutons

I made quite possibly one of the best or most toxic decisions of my life yesterday: I bought a vacuum cleaner. For those that know me well, I have this very out of character cleaning neurosis. I say "out of character" because, on the surface, I:

A) Wear the same pair of jeans almost every day
B) Wear the same 4 t-shirts over and over again
C) Wear the same pair of shoes every day
D) Do not use any hair product
E) Do not wear any kind of make-up...even Chap Stick
F) There is always bird shit on my car (this one drives me up walls. It's because of my parking spot. I've surrendered.)
G) I basically look like a 14 year old stoner, and stoners are notoriously dirty.
H) Am a lesbian

Points A-H would logically lead others to believe that I am one gigantic slob. Pizza boxes, Chinese take-out containers and boxers should rightfully liter the landscape of my 2 bedroom.

I assure you, it's spotless.

To me, the weirdest part of my tidiness is that it seemingly sprung out of no-where. When I lived at home as a teenager, I was a stoner slob. My mother's cleaning lady even complained to her that if she found one more ounce of rotting food in my bedroom, she quite simply wouldn't clean it. My poor mother, fearing what my room just might look like if it were never cleaned by human hands, gave me a firm talking to that evening. It didn't help.

Then, I moved out on my own. Almost instantaneously, I became a fanatic about the cleanliness of my living space. I notice small "dirty" spots that no normal human being would notice. I'm doing my best to ignore them. I can let something go for a day or two, but it still haunts me. An analyst would probably tell me I have "control issues" with myself, so I take it out on filth. But really...I think I just like shit clean. I'm pretty great at letting go and trusting the universe and all that hooey.

Yes, my new vacuum is gorgeous. It's lime green. It sparkles. It's Eco-friendly, and allows me to suck-up pet hair on my couch faster than I can find a hooker in Vegas. My hope is that it will not help me clean more, but that it will help me spend less time doing so.

Oh yes, the recipe. I love a good Caesar salad, but unfortunately cannot order it at most restaurants because it contains *yuck* eggs and sea-creatures. I promised a few months ago that I would post some more "simple" recipes, and I have faltered slightly.

Well, at least there's one thing I can add to my "Not Neurotic About" list: Embracing faults.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vegan Quattro Formaggio White Truffle Macaroni and Cheese

Even as a wee one, I had serious issues with hearing the word "No." At the age of two, my mother had me in the toddler prison seat of a shopping cart, and was making her way to the checkout aisle. As she pushed past the tantrum-inducing impulse snack foods to place her items on the conveyor belt, I snatched a bag of Doritos off the rack. "No!", she stated firmly. "You've had enough junk today." According to my mother, I retorted with my signature devious, defiant, eyebrow raising glare, and tore the bag open with one triumphant rip. I was pretty conniving for a two year old...truly believing that once the bag was open, she'd have to purchase the chips. And they would be my sweet yet salty victory.


She pulled that bag out of my hands faster than I could blink, handed them to the check-out lady and said "I'll pay for these, but throw them away."

Clearly my mother did something right. The only other time I attempted a feat of petty larceny at a grocery store, I stole a chocolate bar from the same aforementioned impulse section, then broke down in tears in the parking lot due to overwhelming feelings of guilt. She then forced me to go back inside of Sparkle Market, apologize to the manager and return the candy. I don't believe I've stolen anything since.

Still, even into adulthood, "No" is not something I enjoy having to hear. I now have much better self-control, and usually just take matters into my own hands. As a vegan, we all know how many times the ingredient list for dishes at a restaurants is often just one giant "No." Butter? No...sorry. You cannot have the delicious garlic rolls. The Butternut Squash Bisque? No...sorry. We add Creme Fraiche. And Mac and Cheese? Forget about it. All the high end gastronomic establishments would never consider adapting their Blue Cheese Burrata version for a Vegan. That would just be criminal!

Well, here you are, ladies and gents. A fancy Mac and Cheese so you can just tell yourself "Yes". Play by your own damn rules.

Vegan Quattro Formaggio White Truffle Macaroni and Cheese

*You can use any combination of your four favorite vegan cheeses. This is just what I happened to use.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Vegan Black Cumin Crab Tostadas over Cabbage Salad with Lime, Mint and Wasabi Dressing

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo always brings two thoughts to my mind:
1) Mexican Food (duh.)
2) Tequila.

You see, tequila and I have had a very rocky past. My dear friend Leigh, who you may also know as the Anonymous lewd comment poster on my blog, experienced the Jenn's body + Cuervo tyranny first hand back in January.

The evening started off like any typical Friday night in West Hollywood. Meet up at Leigh's. Pick up Friend. Pay $10 to park on Robertson, then hit the bar. For anyone that knows me personally, I can drink my weight in alcohol. I'm 95% Russian Jew. I make sailors look like baby kittens. But for whatever reason, even one shot of Tequila sends my mind and stomach into a frenzy. We down a shot of Jose Cuervo, then I down a Corona. Now, being the good daughter that I am, I listened to my mother when she said "Liquor before beer, you're in the clear"...but this evening she led me astray.

We start dancing, take another shot of Cuervo, dance some more. The last few things I remember are as follows:
-I make out with Friend quite publicly for an undetermined amount of time.
-I run for the bathroom, cutting the 10+ people in line, burst into a stall and begin to heave.

The rest of the story is as told to me by Leigh and the Friend...
Apparently, Leigh and Friend drag me out of the bar, where I proceed to vomit into a park trash can which is quite visible to by-passers. Leigh and Acquaintance finally drag me to the valet stand (had I mentioned that I'd driven that evening? Like I said...I can usually handle my liquor). The valet man takes one look at my less-than-composed facade and asks "Is she OK?". Leigh says "No. I'm driving."
They stick me in the back seat of my own car, but I decide I want to sit on the floor instead. I proceed to puke into a PAPER grocery bag...which I miss on more than one occasion.
Leigh takes Friend home, deciding that I have to spend the night at her house. She drives back to her place. For ten minutes, I apparently refused to get out of the car. Leigh had to pee (Hey! That rhymes...) quite badly, so she picked up my disgusting little self, and carried me inside. I bee-lined for the bathroom, and in a matter of 45 seconds, threw up again, then fell asleep in the toilet. When Leigh tried to pick me up to clean me off, I grab the scarf she wearing...which just so happened to be an anniversary present from her beloved...and wiped my face on it.
She threw me into bed.

The next thing I remember, it's morning. Awful, headache morning.

I suppose you can understand why I'm posting a Tequila free recipe on this happy holiday.

Be safe tonight!