Monday, September 28, 2009

White Lasagna with Basil "Ricotta", Spinach, Young Rocket and Diced Vegan "Pancetta", To Start...

White Lasagna with Basil "Ricotta", Spinach, Young Rocket and Diced Vegan "Pancetta"

I find it kind of humorous that I bake Vegan Twinkies. Honestly, it could be snappy slang that describes me quite accurately. In essence, "vegetable consuming gay girl." Whatever the case, I make them well. If you haven't heard via Twitter or another form of addictive interweb networking platform, I am remotely back in business. I say "remotely" because I'm only filling private orders. I'll even send them to you in Fiji as long as you're down to cover the cost of shipping. Please also know that I'm not being a cheap Jew with the pricing. I do what I can to make a little bit of dinero and cover the cost of quality organic ingredients. Check out my snazzy updated web site for all the information:

In other news, life has been quite exciting in my quaint West Hollywood abode. My girlfriend and I are attempting to secure ourselves as cast members on the new L Word Reality Series, and I think we'd be excellent candidates. For starters, we're a very "non-traditional" lesbian couple. We have dogs instead of cats, and we waited at least 5 months before U-Hauling (lesbian terminology for moving in together quickly), which is like 5 years on lesbian time. Typical dyke couples wait about two weeks. We wisely decided to take it slow. I won't reveal too much about our personal lives, but lets just say the song "Life In The Fastlane" might indicate some greater truths about our day-to-day activities. But no, I don't do coke. And I'm not brutally handsome. Take it more figuratively.

My cookbook has been progressing along nicely. It's slated for a Fall 2010 release, so start saving your shekels ;) I've been writing recipes like crazy, as usual, and will probably have most of a second book finished before the first is even out. Instead of a recipe this week, you lucky readers get some mouth-watering photos and the cooking video from the Surf and Turf I posted a few weeks ago.

Above, you saw a White Lasagna with Basil "Ricotta", Spinach, Young Rocket and Diced Vegan "Pancetta".

Here, we have...
Roasted Garlic Green Curry with Mixed Wild Mushrooms, Thai Eggplants and Vegan Pancetta

Here's the home-made Roasted Garlic Green Curry Paste:

And lastly, "Crab"and Oyster Mushroom Mezzelune in a Roasted Hatch Chile and Walnut Cream Sauce
Happy Yom Kippur, Jews.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Heirloom Tomato, Black Garlic and Marsala-Roasted Chickpea Panzanella

There are moments in a young woman's life that shine much brighter than the typical day-to-day happenings. You know the usual suspects: First day of college, buying your first car, first Herpes get the picture. I find that my shining moments tend to fall more in the "Crack-Ass Weird" category. For example, one of the best days of this past year was when my mother gave me an immersion blender. I was so excited, I blended foods that should never be blended. Like sandwiches. And pasta dishes. And maybe even pancakes with syrup. I get slap happy sometimes.

Of course, the immersion blender moment is just a small example. Deeper retrospection unveils what I consider to be one of the best days of my entire life: The day I first ate an Heirloom Tomato. Sure, I'd known "different colored" tomatoes existed. I didn't sit through the movie Fried Green Tomatoes while my mother bawled like a baby and walk away with nothing but emotional damage. But I didn't actually get to experience the wonders of the heritage, vine ripened beauties until years later. I remember it like it was just yesterday...

It was a breezy, late summer morning at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The air smelled of sea breeze, dark roast coffee and vagrant's urine. I had just moved to Los Angeles about a year prior, was dirt poor, and actively finding ways of scamming free [non-crap-filled] food. I felt like the deli case employees at Whole Foods were catching on to my "ask for 10 samples and not actually buy anything" tactic, so I decided to try a new approach. Farmers Market freebies. The perfect light, nutritional breakfast. I did my research, and found myself strolling the 3rd Street Promenade while stuffing my face with pluots, French bread and oranges. I was almost at the end of the walkway when I spotted it: A double tent hovering above tables filled with tomatoes...the skins of which spanned end to end of the color spectrum. Did I mention there were free sample trays of each variety? Maybe I shouldn't, because then the farmers might hunt me down and ask me why I ate at least 2 pounds of their advertising.

I've had a torrid love affair with Heirloom Tomatoes ever since. There's not a single cultivar that doesn't do the tango on my taste buds. I eat them like apples, dress them up with a little vinegar, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, I make sauces with them. I can't get enough. I easily spend at least $200 during Heirloom season, yet firmly believe that cable television is an unjustifiable expense. Well, I warned you I was Crack-Ass Weird.

Get 'em while they last, kids.

In other news, please welcome the newest edition to our family: Devil "Basil" Jones...

He may look sweet, but he's quite the little instigator. Look at him just waiting to strike!

That's his "I'm about to eat your undies the second you avert your eyes" face. I love him, and he brings a little testosterone to this estrogen-filled apartment.

Heirloom Tomato, Black Garlic and Marsala-Roasted Chickpea Panzanella

For the Panzanella...
  • 1 lb of Day-Old Tuscan Bread
  • 3 mixed Heirloom Tomatoes, largely diced
  • 1 large Cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 Red Onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 batch of Marsala-Roasted Chickpeas
  • About 1/3 cup of Olive Oil
  • 2 TBSP Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 cloves Black Garlic, minced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves, Chiffonade (cut into thin ribbons)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
For the Marsala-Roasted Chickpeas...
  • 1 can Chickpeas, drained well
  • 2 1/2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Marsala Wine
  • 1 tsp Tamari
  • 1 1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Herb de Provence
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Pinch of Vegan Cane Sugar
Chef's Note: If you can't find Black Garlic (garlic fermented at high temperatures...insanely flavorful), just add 2 more cloves of plain garlic.

First, make the roasted chickpeas.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place the drained chickpeas in a 9 x 9 casserole dish.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the chickpeas. Toss well to coat the chickpeas.

Roast the chickpeas in the oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring twice during the roasting process. Set aside to cool.

Next, take the day-old bread and lightly moisten it with running water from your faucet. It should be slightly moistened the whole way through. If it's too wet, squeeze out the excess liquid.

Use your hands to tear the moistened bread into small pieces, then set in a large bowl while you prep the rest of your veggies.

Once the tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, garlic and basil are prepped and the chickpeas are cool, add them all to the large bowl with the torn bread and toss to combine.

Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, then pour over top of the salad. Add salt and pepper, then toss well to combine. Taste for salt and pepper, then serve immediately.

Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour before serving.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vegan Chipotle Chocolate Chip Cookies For My Mother's Birthday...

Happy Birthday to mi madre! That's is the day my family celebrates the birthing of our matriarchal glue: KarenShaggy. I love my mother so much that I woke up at the ass-crack of dawn to bake her my veganized rendition of her Chocolate Chip Cookies. I made a special batch with a little kick just to satisfy my need to do everything a little bit classy.

One of my favorite birthday pastimes is researching the significant events that have happened throughout history on both my special day and the birthdays of the beloved special people in my life. What some may not know about my mother is that she, much more than most, can be linked in inconspicuous ways to these monumental occurrences.

Exhibit A: September 14th, 1982
Lebanon's president-elect, Bashir Gemayel, was killed by a bomb. What many fail to realize is that mother, Bashir's 4th woman on the side, had to break off their torrid love affair because she'd fallen for my father and was now engaged to be his wife. My mother had met the ruggedly handsome Bashir when mistaken for a Palestinian during her first trip to Israel. After her placement in the Tel al-Zaatar refugee camp, Bashir whisked her away to safety when he became entranced by her pasty, white skin. He called her his "little porcelain Barbie without a Camaro". Bashir actually committed suicide by dropping the bomb on his own headquarters, although most blame Habib Shartouni of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party to be responsible for his death.

Exhibit B: September 14th, 1972
The popular television series, "The Waltons", made it's network television debut on CBS. It was, in fact, no fluke that this occurred on my mother's birthday. She became founder and president of the David W. Harper (aka Jim-Bob Walton) Fan Club after falling for his deep, brown eyes and gapped-tooth grin in the 1971 TV movie "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story". She trekked across the USA by hitchhiking a ride on Ken Kesey's infamous bus Further2 with the Merry Pranksters, stood naked tripping face on LSD outside of CBS, and protested until network execs agreed to premier the show on her special day.

Exhibit C: September 14th, 1973
President Richard Nixon signed into law a measure lifting the pro-football blackout. Following her first successful nude protest, my mother took it upon her shoulders to rally all women that longed for tight-pant-clad man-booties all piled up and sweaty on the fake grass. Together, these radical un-feminists marched Capitol Hill in the buff, waving posters depicting lewd photographs of the NFLs finest, until Nixon finally caved. My mother cracked open a 40 oz with Tricky Dick himself, explaining that his only concession need be the return of pro football on her 18th birthday.

These are but a few examples, but it's clear to see that my mother's special day not only falls on the anniversary of special is a special event to the entire world. Without my mother, we would still have Palestinian refugees, "The Waltons" may have never existed, and pro football may never have made its triumphant return.

Mom, I love you. The world is a better place because you exist.

Vegan Chipotle Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups Unbleached White Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Egg Replacer Powder, dry
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of Vegan Margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup Vegan White Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Organic, Vegan Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup MimicCreme
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Vegan Chocolate Chips
  • 1-2 TBSP finely grated, dried Chipotle Pepper (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a table or counter top with parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, egg replacer powder and salt.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in one big-ass bowl), beat the vegan margarine, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy and fully combined. Slowly pour in the MimicCreme 1/4 cup at a time, making sure the first 1/4 cup in fully incorporated before adding the second. Scrape down the sides or your stand-mixer or bowl well.

Add and mix in the flour blend in small batches until fully blended into cookie dough.

Carefully beat in the vegan chocolate chips and grated chipotle peppers until they're evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Drop about 12 heaping tablespoons of dough onto an un-greased baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cook times may vary based on your altitude and how crunchy you like your cookies.

Once you take the pan out of the oven, place the baking sheet on top of cooling rack for 4-5 minutes. Then use a spatula to place the cookies on the parchment paper until cool enough to eat.

These are also great frozen then reheated in the toaster or microwave.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spanish Purple Pepper "Beef" Stew

I used to dread the ending of the summer months for a few reasons. First and foremost, I cringed at the thought of having to return to school. I made the best of it...convincing my mother yearly that I needed new shoes and clothes. In all reality, I haven't changed clothes or shoe size since I was 12. I guess that's why I'm an actress.

Secondly, I had to stow away my shorts, t-shirts and tank-tops in favor of sweaters and those puffy jackets that made me look like a 5-foot-tall marshmallow. I would, however, refuse to put away my Birkenstock sandals and would instead just wear them with a thick pair of socks...even in the snow. What can I say? I was classy.

The one great aspect about the cold weather moving into Northeastern Ohio was that it was time for my mom to bust out of her belly-warming, comfort food recipe box. After a long day of snowboarding (*cough* smoking joints outside *cough*), I knew I could look forward to a steady rotation of mac-n-cheese, beef stew, chili, etc. I was one lucky kid.

Now that I'm older and live in a city with a lack of seasonal rotation, I've trained myself to tolerate warm foods during extreme temperature spikes. It does chill down a little bit here, but when the temperature forecast for September 1st reads "91 degrees F" and the weather forecast reads "Smokey" (I'm not kidding...check Google Weather), you gotta do what'cha gotta do. I ate this Veganized version of "Beef" stew-ey goodness when it was 95 degrees, and I loved every bite. Plus, my sweat did the job of adding extra salt! Or not. That joke was gross. I'm still not going to hit the "delete" button ;)


1) My good friend Trevor has just developed an amazing program for both Vegans and Vegetarians, and I encourage all of you to stand up and participate. The information he offers is amazing, and comes highly recommended by yours truly. Here's a link for you to check out the program...

Learn How To Thrive On A Vegan Diet... But Space Is Limited

If you'd like to thrive on a vegan diet, whip up delicious meals
in 10-30 minutes, and stop being vulnerable to vitamin and mineral
deficiencies, here's great news...

In a couple of weeks, you'll be able to sign up for The Vegan
Mastery Program. Created by my friend Trevor Justice, it’s a series of
50 Lessons that’ll show you how to thrive on a plant-based diet. You
can even participate in a weekly Q&A call.

But space is limited. So if you're interested and want to be invited before the general public, click here now:

The Vegan Mastery Program

2) I made a 2nd episode of VeganizeItTV! I'll stop talking now because I certainly do enough in the video :)

Have a great week!

Spanish Purple Pepper Vegan Beef Stew

For the "Beef" and Vegetable Pot...
  • 1 batch Beef Style Seitan, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
  • A pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg (or Ground Nutmeg)
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion, Roughly Chopped
  • 2 Purple Bell Peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 small Russet Potatoes, cleaned and cubed with skins on
  • 2 carrots, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 large ribs Celery, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Red Bordeaux Wine (or Cooking Sherry)
  • 1 TBSP Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 Tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne Pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 2 TBSP Corn Starch mixed with 2 TBSP Cold Water (optional, for further thickening)
  • 6 sprigs Fresh Parsley Leaves

For the Stock Pot...
  • 6 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 6 TBSP Unbleached All Purpose White Flour
  • 10 cup prepared Better Than Bouillon's No Beef Broth

Chef's Note: You'll need two very large stock pots for this recipe. You're going to be multi-tasking while working both pots simultaneously, but it's much easier than it sounds. Just be mindful when reading the directions to note when you're working with the "'Beef' and Vegetable Pot" or the "Stock Pot".

Cube your beef style seitan and prep all of your vegetables and spices. It can be helpful to mix all of the spices together prior to beginning the cooking process to save time and chaos.

In the "'Beef' and Vegetable Pot", warm the 3 TBSP of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic, cubed "beef" seitan, cumin, coriander, paprika, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well to mix all the spices in with the "beef". Saute until the "beef" just begins to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

While the "beef" cubes are sauteing, take your other large "Stock Pot" and start melting the vegan margarine over medium-low heat. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.

Add the onions, purple peppers, potatoes, carrots, and celery to the "'Beef' and Vegetable Pot", then add the sherry wine to deglaze. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.

While the vegetables are sauteing, return to the "Stock Pot". Once the vegan margarine has melted, stir in the flour until fully combined. Pour in the "beef" broth, and whisk all of the pot's contents well. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and cook, whisking occasionally, until the broth begins to thicken (about 15 minutes.)

Back to the "'Beef' and Vegetable Pot". Once the onions are translucent and the other veggies are softening, pour the thickened contents of the "Stock Pot" into the "'Beef' and Vegetable Pot". Stir well to mix everything together.

Stir in the chopped fresh tomatoes, bay leaves, sprigs of fresh thyme. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

Turn the heat down to medium low, and allow to simmer until all the vegetables are soft and the stew has thickened, about 35 minutes. If the stew is not thickened to your liking, you can thicken more by adding the 2 TBSP corn starch mixed into 2 TBSP cold water, stir well and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes longer.

Discard the thyme sprigs, mix in the flat leaf parsley, then taste again for salt and pepper.