Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vegan Goat Cheese, Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Garlic Fingerling Potatoes and Pearl Onions

I've been test limits since I popped out the womb. When I was about three, I was sitting in the child seat of my mom's shopping cart. As she navigated up to a check-out lane, I snatched a bag of Doritos off of a shelf. My dear mother, being the sweetheart that she is, looked me in the eyes and said "No, honey. Not today". I eyed her right back, my signature devious grin spreading across my face, and ripped the bag open with a triumphant three-year-old logic leading me to believe the chips would now have to be mine.
Wrong. My mom grabbed that bag out of my hand faster than a ninja and gave it right back to the checkout lady. It was probably in that moment my mother realized that in ten years, she was in for quite a ride. How right she was ;)
I was actually quite a well-behaved tween. Once I hit 14, it was a down-hill slide. I think I hit a low point during my brief stint at Ohio University. I'm going to link you to an article that I must first preface with an explanation. The Extreme Smokers Club is not real. My two friends and I started it as a joke. The university had a deal going on that, for any club on campus with 30 members or more on the group sign-up sheet, free hoodies would be provided. We wanted those damn hoodies. One night, my two friends and I walked around the dorms gathering signatures. I made the unfortunate mistake of asking a girl that worked for the local newspaper. Questions ensued, and my smart ass couldn't help but embellish. One week later, this story appears on the cover of the Post:
Students Taking Extreme Measures To Protest Anti-Smoking Movement

Needless to say, I felt like a real A-Hole.

How does all of this relate to my recipe? Vegan Pork Chops definitely pushes some boundaries, and I'm afraid of the harassment from all my fellow vegans that don't jive with the fake meats. Try it. It's good. And if you don't have anything nice to say, you can just stuff your face instead :)

Vegan Goat Cheese, Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops
with Roasted Garlic Fingerling Potatoes and Pearl Onions

  • 6 Vegan Pork Chops (recipe follows)
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil, divided
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 6 Sun-Dried Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag of Frozen Spinach, thawed and moisture squeezed out
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Goat Cheese (recipe follows)
  • 1 1/2 cups No Chicken Broth (Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1/2 Lemon, zested
  • 2 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard


Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the vegan goat cheese, and stir to combine. Set aside.

Use a sharp knife, carefully cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the "pork chop". Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper. They should look like this:

In a small bowl combine the no chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.

Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Mmmmm....

Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon some sauce over the pork before serving.

Vegan Pork Chops
Seitan Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 cup Water mixed with 1 tsp No Chicken Broth Paste
  • 3 TBSP MimicCreme
Seitan Broth Ingredients:
  • 4 cups Imagine Foods No Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup MimicCreme
  • 1/8 cup Tamari
  • 1/2 TBSP Better Than Bouillon's No Beef Broth
  • 1 cup Pineapple Coconut Nectar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp 5 Spice Powder
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Shallot Powder
  • 4 whole Cloves, ground
  • 3 points broken off of a Whole Star Anise
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 additional cup Water
Make your Seitan Dough by mixing and kneading the Vital Wheat Gluten, Water/Bouillon blend, and MimicCreme until it's completely mixed. It will be a little more wet than most seitan doughs. Squeeze out the excess liquid, and form the mixture into a ball. On a cutting board, flatten the ball out, and use kitchen shears to cut into six pie wedge shaped pieces. Before putting in boiling broth, flatten each part down by pressing it firmly between your hands, then drop them into the pot.

Next, take all of the Seitan Broth ingredients, and mix them together in a very large pot. Bring to a boil.

Cover the pot, reduce heat to simmer, and let the seitan cook for a little over an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Don't throw out the broth! Use a slotted spoon to remove each "Pork Chop", and place into a collander to drain. Let both the chops and the broth cool. Allow the "pork chops" to marinade in the broth until ready to use. Drain again before using.

Vegan Goat Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Cream Cheese (Follow Your Heart)
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Sour Cream (Follow Your Heart)
  • 1/3 inch thick slice of Sunergia Lemon Oregano Soy Feta
  • 1/2 tsp Shallot Powder
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Splash of Vermouth
  • Salt, to taste
Place all the ingredients except Salt in a medium bowl, and cream together well. Add salt to taste.
Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Garlic Fingerling Potatoes and Pearl Onions

  • 1 lb Fingerling Potatoes, washed and scrubbed, skin on
  • 15 Pearl Onions
  • 5 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup Fresh Chervil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 TB Fresh Sage, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil, and blanch onions for 1 minute. Drain, and allow to cool. Using a paring knife, remove the root end of the Pearl Onions, and peel off the skins. Set aside.

Preheat a hotel pan or heavy metal baking dish in a 375 oven. Toss the potatoes, pearl onions, garlic, olive oil, sage and chervil with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, add the potatoes. They should sizzle. Roast until they turn brown, then turn oven down to 350 degrees. Cook for about 30 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the spuds.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vegan Peppercorn and Red Wine Braised Brisket and Jelly Donut Twinkies

As my dear Granny Fanny approaches her 90th Birthday tomorrow, I thought it only right to Veganize a recipe in her honor. My grandma Fanny is the cutest little old lady I've ever seen in my life, and she has a GREAT sense of style to boot. She was wearing knit cardigans, cat glasses and skinny pants before it was the cool thing to do. I'm always getting caught trying to steal her sweaters, so her sassy little self told me that when she goes to the Great Kishka In The Sky, I get first dibs. I swear to Moses I'm not being morbid. Any time I open my yap and say "Wow, grandma...this is so cute!", she let's out a hearty chuckle, throws her hand wistfully into the air and says "I'll will it to ya!". I love her. I hope I have to wait another 20 years for those sweaters.

Anyway, as we all know, it Tis The Season...For Eatin'! I had not one, not two, but three vegan dinner parties this past weekend. I wanted get this recipe up first 1) because of Fanny's Big Day and 2) it was for a superawesomefantastic pot luck party with a bunch of my fellow LA Vegan Bloggers. It was so much fun. All of you guys rock. It was an honor to have you eat my food, and I sure as hell enjoyed all of your delicious vegan goodness. I was still in a food coma the next morning.

I decided to go with some traditional Jewish recipes, which of course I had to make fancy because I roll like that. Or because I have serious issues with settling for something simple. I have a therapist. I'm working through it. But until I reach inner peace, I will braise and chiffonade around my kitchen as much as I please.

Vegan Red Wine and Peppercorn Braised Brisket

  • 1 (4-pound) Seitan Beef Brisket (recipe follows)
  • 2 cups of Reserved "Beef" Seitan broth
  • 3 TBSP Mixed Whole Peppercorns, crushed
  • 3 TBSP Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Sliced Carrots
  • 4 medium Red Potatoes, quartered
  • 2-3 Shallots, quartered
  • 8 Whole Cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
  • 2 dried Turkish Bay Leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried Thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 cups Kosher Red Wine
  • Salt, to taste

Seitan Beef Brisket

Brisket Seitan Dough
  • 2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon No Beef Broth paste (not diluted in H20)
  • 3 1/2 TB MimicCreme
Brisket Seitan Broth
  • 8 cups prepared Better Than Bouillon No Beef Broth (8 tsp paste diluted in 8 cups water)
  • 6 dried Shittake Mushrooms
  • 1/8 cup Tamari
  • 1 Portobella Mushroom Cap, chopped
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 Bay Leaves
First, add all of the Brisket Seitan Broth ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. While it's heating up, using a stand mixer, mix together all of the Brisket Seitan Dough Ingredients. Don't over-mix...the dough should be softer seitan than usual, but should hold together in a large ball. Shape into one large "roast" shape, and drop into the boiling broth. Let it cook for 1 hour 15 minutes. Using tongs, remove the "Brisket" from the broth, and place in a colander to drain. DON'T throw away the broth. You need at least 2 cups for the braising process. You can also make the seitan in advance and let it marinade in the broth overnight. I feel that when it's at it's finest.

Season drained "brisket" all over with salt and crushed peppercorns. In a shallow dish, with a spoon, combine flour and garlic powder. Roll brisket in flour mixture to coat.

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add "brisket" and cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate or platter. Reduce heat to medium, and add the peeled garlic, carrots, potatoes, shallots, and rosemary , stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir to pick up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Stir in the tomato paste, paprika and add the bay leaves and thyme. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook rapidly, stirring often, until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Pour in the stock and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the brisket. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a shallow casserole dish, slice and serve!

Oh yes. And let's not forget about those Jelly Donut Twinkies...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vegan Thanksgiving - Part 2: Vegan Sautéed Shallot, Crimini and Fennel Green Bean Casserole

I am a side dish whore. At 8 years old, I should have already known I was destined for vegetarianism at the very least. At Thanksgiving, it was never the turkey that motivated me to drag my behind over to Meemaw and Papa's to endure 5 long hours of cheek pinching, wine-induced sing-a-longs and bad old people breath. It was the side dishes. Macaroni and Cheese and Sweet Potatoes put up a great fight, but Green Bean Casserole will always have my heart. My mom's was the most ultimate food-coma inducing comfort filled version ever. It didn't just stick to your ribs, it stuck to your heart [shed a small tear drop here following this sickeningly tender moment . Ok... that's enough. Just go buy some green beans.]

Vegan Sautéed Shallot, Crimini and Fennel Green Bean Casserole

  • 1 1/2 lbs Ready To Go Fresh Green Beans (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup Vegan French Friend Onions
  • 6 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 6 TBSP Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 cup Imagine Foods Creamy Portobello Soup
  • 1/4 cup MimicCreme
  • 1/2 TBSP White Miso Paste
  • 2 1/2 TBSP Corn Starch mixed with 3 TBSP Cold Water
  • 1/4 cup Shallot, diced
  • 1/2 bulb Fresh Fennel, diced
  • 1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 TBSP Vegetable or Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp each of Dried Sage, Marjoram and Thyme
To Prepare The Green Beans:
First, make sure your beans are trimmed and ready to go. Place 3 quarts of water in a large sauce pot, and bring to a boil.
Get a large bowl with ice water ready. Keep it in the freezer so it stays chilled. Add 1 1/2 TBSP Kosher salt and the green beans to the boiling water. Cover and cook for about 6 minutes or until crisp-tender and still bright green. Keep an eye on the beans just in case they start to brown before the 6 minutes is up.
Drain beans in a colander, then plunge into the ice water. Drain well, then place a double layer of paper towels in single layer to dry, and top with a double layer of towels.

The Casserole
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté garlic and shallots for 30 seconds, then add fennel, mushrooms, herbs and spices. Sauté until slightly softened. Remove the pan from heat, and set aside.

Using a whisk, in a very large sauce pan, melt the Earth Balance over medium-high heat. And flour, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper, and whisk together. Add the miso paste, and blend in well. Pour Creamy Mushroom Soup and MimicCreme in gradually while constantly stirring. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil and thickens.

Add the green beans to the rest of the sautéed vegetables and about half of your French fried onions to the sauce pan, and stir well.

Pour that mixture into a casserole dish or pan and top with remaining French fried onions. Bake in oven at about 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Remove. Eat. Let it cool if you're more patient than I am. Enjoy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Vegan Thanksgiving - Part 1: Juniper Berry and White Peppercorn Rubbed Field Roast with Sage Infused Vegetables and Balalmic Ale Cranberry Reduction

Welcome to part 1 of 4 of my Thanksgiving feast. I toyed with the idea of doing one big ass post, but I didn't want any of you to crap out before the end of the recipes and run to raid your refrigerator. I LOVE any holiday that revolves mostly around food. It's the Jew thing...again. For a someone who doesn't practice Judaism, I'm very "Jew-ish", if ya know what I'm sayin'.
This was actually the first Thanksgiving I've ever spent without my parents. It made me realize something very profound:
If your parents are not at your side enjoying a Thanksgiving feast, they are also not there to help you clean up the gigantic mess produced by said feast.
Was it worth every minute of recipe writing, sweat and tears (from the onions...I'm no softy! Ok. I'm a bit of a softy.)??
You bet. It was actually the most relaxed Thanksgiving meal I've ever had. It was myself and one of my best friends from high school who just moved to California. We ate. We drank. We laughed. We put on sweatpants. We watched Austin Powers 3 and passed out by 10. It was awesome. Happy Holidays :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vegan Butternut Squash, Apple and Onion Galette with Bleu "Cheese"

(I would just like to put out there that I typed this entire post without the usage of the "s" key on my computer. That's right...copy/pasted the letter in all it's various forms. Much harder than you'd expect!)

Ah, Paris. The City of Lights. Last winter, I went through a serious quarter-life crisis. I booked a flight to England, bought some train tickets, found some couches to crash on, filled a backpack, and away I went! It was easily one of the best months of my life. I met some amazing people, saw some awesome sights, and ate FANTASTIC food.
Being a vegan in Paris was definitely a challenge. I had done a bit of homework before I left, leading me to the likes of La Victoire Suprême du Coeur, the deliciously rustic Le Potager du Marais, and my life saver, Maoz Vegetarian. Fellow vegans, do yourself a favor and don't expect Parisian restaurant staff to help you veganify your dinner. It just won't happen. They will scoff, they will glare maliciously and they might even laugh at you. There are exceptions, of course, but definitely have the names and locations of veggie friendly eateries or Bio Coops written down somewhere secure for your travels.
I couldn't find a place to crash my last two nights in Paris, so I found a cheap hostel in the Marais District. It stated clearly on their website, "No check in before 3pm, but we will hold your bags in the office starting at 9AM. " I like to think of myself as a savvy traveler, and the thought of trusting my bags in the hands of some stranger didn't exactly make me feel cozy inside. Plus, the reviews on the hostel booking website said the owner could be a real douche ball. Alas, my aching feet spoke loudly. I knew I couldn't lug my world around all day and not be burdened. I rang the bell.
Owner: "Hello!! What you WANT!!"
Me: "Um. Yes. I'm booked here tonight. I just want to leave my bags. The website said I cou..."
I enter his office. He shuffles about angrily a bit, grabs my bag and sits down at his desk.
Owner: "Last name?"
Me: "Shagrin."
Owner: "Whaaat?! You spell!"
I spell.
Owner: "What you do today in Paris?"
Me: "I'm going to try to find this Vegan restaurant I've been dying to try."
The owner's demeanor immediately softens. A HUGE smile spreads across his face as he morphs into an entirely different human being.
Owner: "You Vegan?! I Vegan too!!"
I nod, secretly sighing relief. He pulls a small paper-back book out of his desk and shoves it into my hands. It is the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, known to many as Supreme Master Ching Hai International Cult, handbook. I try really hard not to laugh, but at least it's a Vegan cult...and at least this guy's not being a meanie anymore. And he even sent me to a hole-in-the-wall where I could buy all vegan pastries! Baguettes, eclairs, croissants, and of course...galettes! It was so delicious.

If fake bleu cheese is not your thing, check out this little beauty...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vegan Doritos®!

I'm just going to start off with a disclaimer: I'm a little bit crazy. In a good way...I hope. This recipe is as insane as I am. It's not difficult, but it does require quite a bit of time and effort. That being said:
I woke up yesterday morning, took a shower, then ran across the street to CVS to pick up some deodorant. As I was leaving CVS, there was this guy sitting outside on his lunch break. He was was reveling a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos®. The wide, neon orange smile on his face unleashed my inner fat kid. My favorite lunch in 2nd grade was a bagel with cream cheese, an apple and a mini bag of Doritos®. The craving took me over. I needed to figure out a way.
Following a trip to my favorite co-op (where Follow Your Heart Cheese is on sale!), I set to work in my kitchen. It took up most of my afternoon, but it was completely worth it. They even leave that nacho-ey, cheesey aftertaste in your mouth!

Vegan Doritos®

  • 1 bag Corn Chips
  • 1 10oz. block Follow Your Heart Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Yellow Mustard Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Red Paprika
  • 3/4 tsp Salt*
  • Dash of Cayenne Pepper
*(the amount of salt you need may be more or less based on the sodium levels of the corn chips you use)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Grate the entire block of Follow Your Heart Cheddar Cheese as finely as possible, then spread out onto the parchment paper like this:
Place the baking pan in the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until it's fully melted but not burned:

Allow the cheese to cool for a few moments, then use a paper towel to blot as much excess moisture off of the top as possible. Repeat the blotting process again after ten minutes.

Scrape the cheese into a bowl, and use a paper towel gently squeeze as much moisture out as possible.

Allow the cheese to sit another 10-15 minutes.

Make your spice blend by mixing together the remainder of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the cheese into a food processor, and blend until the cheese is a creamy, dry paste.

And now, the crazy part:
Use your fingers to rub each chip with a VERY thin coat of the nacho cheese paste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bust out another large baking pan.
If you don't like a lot of spice, skip the next step and just sprinkle the seasoning blend on when the chips are on the baking pan.
If you like a lot of spice, place each cheese-covered chip in a large tupperware container or paper bag, and gently toss with the spice blend.
Lay the chips out on a baking pan, place in the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until starting to get crispy (just starting to brown.)
Enjoy immediately!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Twinkies and What's In My Fridge

Autumn is among us, boys and girls. That delightful time of year when the leaves morph from laundry-fresh green to deep warm hues, and the crisp breeze in the air leaves your little cheeks redder than the pinches from your old Jewish Auntie. Or if you live in L.A. like I do, it's really just the time of year people get grumpy again, and you can buy mad cheap giant bags of holiday-themed candy at Vons. But I digress...
Growing up in Ohio, I was spoiled rotten with annual trips to White House Fruit Farms. I kick myself all the time over how much I took this place for granted. It's a gigantic fruit farm situated in the rural area just outside of Youngstown, and it's purely magical. Fresh picked apples and cider, pumpkin picking, hayrides and blueberry donuts that will make your teeth ache with their sugary goodness. If anyone knows of a place like White House within 4 hours of L.A., please let me know. Until then, the Vegan Pumpkin Spice Twinkies will just have to satisfy my nostalgic longing for the "Taste of Fall". And yes, Vegan Spotters. I'll be starting to sell my themed Twinkies at the restaurant soon :)

What's In My Fridge...

I've been meaning to share these with you for a while. I've been coming across more and more amazing vegan products lately, and the world should be in the know!

First up, Soy Bleu is AMAZING. We used to carry it at Jax, but up until two weeks ago, I'd never seen it in stores. Low and behold, when the new Venice Whole Foods opened a few weeks ago, there it was...gleaming in the fake cheese section like a beacon of faux magic. I bought one package, fully knowing I should have bought two. When I went back a few days later, they were out :( Lucky for me, one of the employees saw me staring sadly at the empty space on the shelf where it should be, and reserved a few packages for me from the next shipment. Thanks Whole Foods Lady!

Okay, the lighting in this photo is heinous, but I think the product speaks for itself. Vegan Snickerdoodle Ice Cream. Yes, that's right. Snickerdoodle. Now run, don't walk, to the nearest health food store and eat your PMS cares away. You heard me...skidaddle!

Delicious Fantastic Amazing. As Emiril would say, this beverage really helps my AM coffee "kick it up a notch", as well as my Chai Tea Lattes. It reminds me of a less concentrated, less sweet version of Coffee Mate Hazelnut Creamer. I believe there are other flavors of the Rice Dream Supreme line, but once I saw the Hazelnut, I had eyes for no other.

Thanks for reading ;) There will be a new recipe post either today or tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vegan Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

While I was perusing the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmer's Market last week, I spotted a sign that read "Green Papayas for Sale". I rubbed my eyes really hard, trying to make sure the previous evening's libations weren't still effecting my vision. Nope! The sign was still there, clear as day. I was in a state of shock. I walked over, picked up one of the emerald gems and smiled wider than a kid let loose in a chocolate swimming pool.
You see, I have this obsession with Green Papaya Salad...known to it's native country of Thailand as Som Tum. It's flavor graces every one of the taste buds. It's savory, sweet, spicy and served chilled. The perfect dish on a summer evening. Green Papaya Salad is simply fantastic. God bless your little soul should you dine at a Thai restaurant with me and try to take a bite. Having a chopstick impale your hand is not a pleasant experience ;)
Anyway, the first time I tried to make it on my own, I wasn't as familiar with the ethnic markets in Los Angeles as I am today. I searched high and low, east side and west side, until I was finally able to locate one in the Valley. DEEP in the valley. Those of you that know Los Angeles probably understand why I wasn't itching to make it again. Clearly, my karma bank is in the positive right now and the universe decided to throw me some chips.
The authentic version calls for actual Fish Sauce, but if you can't find Vegetarian Fish Sauce, you can use soy sauce instead.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Vegan Twinkies Are Taking Over...My Life?

Happy Labor Day Weekend :)
I officially put myself on a 48 hour vacation this morning following a weekend packed with baking goodness. It was so nice this morning to leisurely sip my coffee and scour the internet for recipe's to veganize...and not of the dessert variety. Don't get me wrong...I love love love baking. But I haven't had a dinner party in weeks, and I'm really excited to prepare a feast to enjoy with my friends.
I was really flattered on Friday when I received a message from a woman looking for a specialty Vegan Twinkie or Red Velvet cake for her friend's birthday. After some brain stormage, I was able to devise a pan that baked a GIGANTIC Vegan Twinkie, and even had some batter left to make a few Red Velvet Twinkies for a garnish. Well, I guess they were too large to be considered a garnish. More like a dessert side dish. If desserts had side dishes. Now that I think about it, why don't more desserts have side dishes? It's definitely an untapped meal course gold mine.

Vegan Red Velvet Twinkies

I couldn't resist. I'm such a Photoshop dweeb ;)
And here's a shot of me filling the giant Twinkie cake...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Twinkies

I threatened. I delivered.

I have about 10-15 different kinds I'm strategizing right now. So excited. Need larger jeans.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Official: I'm a Professional Vegan Baker.

That's right, kids.  A few of my vegan pastries can now be purchased at The Vegan Spot.  Go, please.  Not only because I'd love for you all to enjoy some delicious vegan baked goodness, but because the food at The Vegan Spot is delicious.  Vegan roast beef.  Yumyumyum.  

Damn...I thought my self hungry.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Macaroni Divorced Cheese...(and Doesn't Need Him Or His Money).

I LOVED mac & cheese as a kid.  Not the Blue Box artificial waste of caloric intake, but my Mom's amazing home-made creation.  It was creamy, filling and tasted like home.  I've tried a number of vegan mac & cheese recipes.  I always seem to end up a sad panda...unfulfilled and longing for a taste of that home-made vegetarian goodness.  To make matters worse, my mother's made it almost every time I've visited home over the past few years, and my voice more than quivers and cracks when saying, "No thanks, Mom.  I'm still a vegan."
Well, today I can say it with pride:  "Sorry Mom, I've a vegan and I don't need yo mac & cheese!  I got ma own!"
Thanks to the folks over at MimicCreme, the best vegan substitute product EVER, the perfect veganized mac & cheese is now possible.  You guys rock.  In fact, I'm going to pledge right here, right now to dedicate my little sister's first born to you.*

*(Sorry sis...I don't think I'll be having children, or I would promise my own.)

This recipe definitely takes some work.  There are some tricky ingredients to be found, and the cashew mix takes some (inactive) time, but it's worth it.  I promise.

Macaroni Divorces Cheese

Cashew Mix:
  • 3/4 cup Raw Cashew Pieces
  • 1/8 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 1 16 oz. package Macaroni
  • 6 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 6 TBSP Flour
  • 1 1/2 cup Soy Milk
  • 1/2 TBSP White Miso Paste
  • 1/2 TBSP Mustard Powder
  • 1 1/2 cup MimicCreme
  • 1/2 cup Cashew Mix 
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper (To Taste)
  • 1 10 oz. block Follow Your Heart Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 cup Breadcrumbs
To Make The Cashew Mix:
This mixture will yield slightly more than needed.  You only need to measure out half a cup.  I just plan to make a little more because my food processor seems to eat a little of whatever I make in it. 
Soak the cashews in slightly salted water for 2-3 hours.  Drain well, then throw in a food processor with the remaining ingredients.  Blend for 5-10 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally, until the cashew has a very smooth consistency.   Add a little more liquid if needed.  
Measure out a 1/2 cup of the mixture, and set aside.  It should look like so:

To Make The Sauce:
Cook Macaroni noodles until just Al dente, drain well, toss with a touch of canola oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.  
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a whisk, in a large sauce pan, melt the Earth Balance over medium-high heat.  And flour, salt and pepper, and whisk together.  Add the miso paste, and blend in well.  Pour soy milk and MimicCreme in gradually while constantly stirring.  Continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil.  The sauce should have thickened up quite a bit at this point.  Add the mustard powder and the cashew mix, and mix in well.  Reduce the heat to medium, and add 1/3 of the "cheddar", stirring constantly.  You'll know it has mixed in well when the sauce takes on an orange-ish color, and the cheese has almost completely melted.  Repeat process twice more until all cheese has melted in.  It should take about ten minutes.  Taste to see if more salt is needed.  I'm not a salt fan, so I tend to use less than most desire.
Turn of heat, and mix in Macaroni.  It should look as stylin' like this:

Transfer the mac & cheese to a large, greased baking dish and top with breadcrumbs.  Bake for 20 minutes, then let it cool before digging in....which of course I didn't do, and now my tongue has a battle wound.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Left My Stomach in San Francisco

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. My life's been cracked-out busy for the past few weeks. I was filming almost daily, then took off for a much needed vacation to San Francisco Pride. I love San Fran for obvious reasons. For starters, it's a vegan mecca. The thrift shopping is unparalleled anywhere else in California. They have well-planned public transportation. But perhaps the BEST thing about San Francisco is that my parents just moved there from Ohio last year. In layman's terms, this means "Jenn's mom and dad moved to San Fran last year, and in good Jewish Parent fashion, will attempt to pay for EVERYTHING while she's in town." Lucky for me, I can let Jew Guilt step aside and enjoy the hell out of them spoiling me.
My birthday was back at the beginning of June, but I put my b-day dinner on hold until my SF trip so that I could dine at Millennium. For those of you not in the know, Millennium in SF and Candle 79 in New York are pretty much the top classy vegan establishments in the US. It was the most amazing meal I've ever had in my life. The staff even hooked us up with some free appetizers and desserts because the other five in my party were all carnivores, and I was attempting to convert them :)
I think the server could sense my exuberance, because she let me meet the chef. I've been dating strictly women for several years now, but I would have had sex with this man. Goodness.
On our table that night, we enjoyed...

  • Sage Gnocchi with Seared Morel Mushrooms, Fava Beans and Caramelized Onion-Brandy Cream
  • Wilted Bloomsdale Spinach & Spring Greens Salad
  • Sesame Crusted Oyster Mushrooms (These were free! And tasted like calamari.
  • English Pea Samosas filled with Mustard Greens & Fresh Mint, served with Cashew & Button Mushroom Korma, Tofu Paneer, Coriander and Apricot Chutney, and Green Beans with Mint & Lemon
  • Coconut Black Pepper Crusted Tofu with Lemongrass Marinated Oyster Mushrooms, Red Curry Sauteed Edamame & Asian Veggies, Kafir Lime Scented Jasmine Rice and Green Papaya-Nectarine Salad
  • Roasted Fazzoletti, which is Semolina Pasta Sheets layered with Exotic Mushroom Sugo, Saute of Morel Mushrooms, Butter Beans, Rapini & Baby Artichokes, "Gorgonzola" Cream, Basil Gremolata and Pine Nut Toasted Bread Crumbs
Coconut Black Pepper Tofu

And on to dessert. I didn't think I was going to be able to do it. I was so full. But I did it! I don't remember exactly what these were called, but I'll do my best...

  • Blueberry Tart with Some Kind of Amazing faux Creme and Ginger Peach (?) Ice Cream
  • Truffle/Mini Cookie Plate
  • Chocolate Cake of some kind (on the house!)
Blueberry Tart

And in case you're wondering if there were left-overs....

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No-Yeast Pizza Crust with Pesto and a Farmers Market On Top.

I love when my Mom comes to town.  Of course, I enjoy her company and the warm, nurturing energy that only Mama can radiate.  I just also happen to really enjoy the fact that her wallet tends to radiate monetary energy in my general direction :)  Hey now...don't judge!  
A) A Jew.
B) A Jew that doesn't want mom to buy her clothing, but rather fresh produce and a toaster oven.  And it had been my birthday earlier in the week.
So there.

I thought it would be a lovely way to start the day by going to the Santa Monica Sunday Farmers Market, and my mother spoiled my ass rotten with a bevy of fresh herbs and veggies. 
I immediately set to work that afternoon creating some home-made garlic pesto sauce so that she could experience my budding culinary skills.
Unfortunately, I made too much pesto sauce.
Fortunately, I found a great use for it!
I wanted to make some home-made pizza, but I didn't have yeast and didn't want to go to the store.  I poked around on the interweb for a yeast-free crust recipe, but I was disappointed with the results.  I decided to just get crafty and invent my own.  And it's actually delicious!  I put the crust in the oven to bake up a bit before topping, and it actually had started to rise. 

So here it is, fellow Veg Heads...

No-Yeast Pizza Crust with Pesto And A Farmers Market On Top

Crust: Makes One 12 in. Pizza
  • 2 Cups plus 1/8 cup Unbleached White Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 5/6 Cup High Fat Soy Milk (that's 1/2+1/3 cup milk, and about 4g fat per serving)
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  • 2 TBL Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Sugar
Take all the ingredients except the extra 1/8 cup flour, and mix well in a bowl.  It will be pretty sticky, but the dough should actually have a element of elasticity to it.  Work in the remaining 1/8 cup flour.  You may need to add a little more/less based the humidity levels where you live.

Place the dough ball in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Take your pizza pan, and oil it lightly.  Spread out the pizza dough to the edge of the pan, making sure that it's even in thickness.  You'll notice that no-yeast dough may tear a little easier, but it's easy to patch together.  Once spread out, brush with olive oil, and poke holes all over it with a fork.  

Place the dough in the oven for four minutes, then remove.  Add toppings, bake another 10-12 minutes and then feast!

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.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Geez...where do I begin?

Hey kids. My name is Jenn. I'm an Ohio transplant in the concrete jungle that is Los Angeles. I didn't want to like L.A., but it has indeed grown on me over the past four years. I'm an actress. I'm look like I'm about 15 year old, so most of my gigs are playing hormonal teens on TV. It pays the bills. I dabble in stand-up comedy, and love improv.
I secretly aspire to one day be a master vegan chef. Or maybe not so secretly. I work at one very ass-kickin' vegan restaurant called Jax Vegan Cafe.

Now that you know a little about me, here's what you, lucky reader, can expect from my blog:
- Detailed accounts of my [mis]adventures in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
- Vegan recipes and reviews of restaurants I visit.
- My rants.

Happy reading :)Link