Monday, April 26, 2010

A Crust Eaten In Peace Is Better Than A Banquet Partaken In Anxiety.

Does anybody remember that episode of Friends where Rachel is stuck working as a personal shopper at Bloomingdales? And she hates it. She calls Monica and leaves her a voicemail, threatening to quit her job? (Anybody? Just me with the obscure Friends references?)

That has been my month. Everything that could possibly go wrong at the office has gone wrong. I have somehow morphed into a whiny, emotional mess - everyday complaining to my friends via gchat and text message about how much I just want to quit my job and run away, with no actual plans to quit or run away. Luckily, my friends are a patient, supportive and understanding group who put up with my incessant complaining and shockingly have not told me to shut the fuck up even once.

My friend Justin has been particularly saintly with perfectly timed words of encouragement and countless ways to make me feel less like jumping off of a bridge when things get extremely stressful. To show my appreciation, I offered to make him dinner at my place (he even brought wine, I told you...he's a saint). We were able to relax, eat an insanely quick-to-put-together dinner and watch too many episodes of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia which was the perfect way to take my mind off my day.

Kale, New Potato and Tempeh Bacon Salad with Ranch Dressing
Makes 2 large servings or 4 small servings
I used Lacinato kale in this recipe (as opposed to traditional, curly kale), but any green will work well. For the tempeh bacon, I used Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe - which is really fail safe. The ranch dressing is vegan (of course) and pairs really well as a dipping sauce for this recipe.
Tempeh Bacon:
Makes 3-4 servings

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 garlic cloves crushed8 oz. tempeh
2 tablespoons Canola oil

• Combine the soy sauce, cider, tomato paste, and liquid smoke in a wide, shallow bowl and mix with a fork until the tomato paste is fully dissolved. Set aside.• Cut the tempeh into thin strips (less than 1/4 inch thick) lengthwise. You should be able to get about twelve strips.
• Rub the strips with the crushed garlic, then toss the garlic cloves into the marinade.
• Submerge the tempeh strips in the marinade and let sit, turning occasionally, for at least an hour and up to overnight. After marinating, discard the garlic.
• Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
• Add the tempeh strips and cook for 4 minutes on one side; the bottom should be nicely browned.
• Flip the strips over and pour the remainder of the marinade over them; if there isn't much marinade left add a splash of water.
• Cover and let cook for 3 more minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
• Uncover and check for doneness; if necessary, keep cooking uncovered until all sides are nicely browned. Remove from heat.

Roasted New Potatoes
3-4 small red new potatoes, quartered
Fresh ground pepper

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees
• Place potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
• Add ground pepper to the potatoes
• Bake for 25 minutes or until fork tender

Steamed Kale
2 bunches of kale

• Boil water in a large pot
• Once water is boiling, place kale in a steamer basket over boiling water
• Steam for 3-4 minutes, until kale is tender

Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup Follow Your Heart Vegenaise (any variety)
1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
3/4 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
• Mix Vegenaise, soy sauce lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper to make ranch dressing.

To assemble the salad:
• Combine kale, potatoes, tempeh bacon and ranch dressing to taste. Serve slightly warm.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There may not be a heaven, but there is a San Francisco.

As Kirsten mentioned in our first post (woo!), I was home in California for a few weeks earlier this month. Aside from reveling in the sunshine, spending time with buds and family, photographing the blooming mustard flowers and wandering the orange groves, I did a lot of cookin’ and a whole lot more eatin’. 

I spent a long weekend visiting my sister in San Francisco, wearing flowers in my hair, passing many hours (and paying many dollars) at Rainbow Grocery, and giggling, as close sisters do. For her birthday dinner, all of her sweet housemates cooked a huge vegan meal: fresh-cut fettuccine with Uruguayan-style marinara and vegetables as the main course, accompanied by Oven-Roasted Medjool Dates (see recipe below), the Best Fucking Salad I’ve Ever Eaten In My Entire Life (all organic- see photo), featuring blood orange, lemon, and grapefruit slices, balsamic-marinated cucumbers, well-fed tomatoes, various nuts, and fresh spring rolls filled with avocado, roasted bell peppers and onions, tossed with a shiitake-sesame dressing. We topped it off with pear and apple pie, and deliciously warm and traditional chocolate chip cookies for dessert. And wine, always wine. The meal was hearty, and the night was cozy, and the whole weekend made me seriously contemplate moving to San Francisco.


After one long day of thrifting in the Mission, walking around San Bruno, and going on a mini shopping spree at Daiso, we also ventured to Maggie Mudd in Bernal Heights, where I inhaled a scoop of Peanut Butter Palooka (soy milk-based) and a scoop of Pumpkin (coconut milk-based) in a fresh-out-of-the-oven waffle cone.

The whole weekend was heaven, and that was like the cherry on top. 

Oven-Roasted Medjool Dates
Makes however many servings your heart desires.
This recipe is my own interpretation based on watching one of my sister's housemates create this dish. She would usually stuff the dates with gorgonzola cheese, but in the spirit of veganizing it, she tried this combination instead. And it was mouth-watering. They were gone in the blink of an eye and left all of us wanting more.


Whole Medjool dates
Earth Balance vegan spread
Walnuts, chopped coarsely (small-ish pieces)

• Preheat oven to 425°F.
• Slice each date down the middle, length-wise, with a small, sharp knife. Remove pit.
• Mix nickel-sized amount of Earth Balance with about ½ teaspoon of chopped walnuts; mash together; stuff mixture into date.
• Repeat until all dates are stuffed.
• Roast on a brimmed cookie sheet in oven for 5-7 minutes, until Earth Balance is melted and dates are sufficiently heated through. Arrange on a plate and serve warm. Garnish with a dash of cinnamon (not pictured here).

*Note: The measurements in this recipe should be adjusted according to the number of dates you use.

P.S. Apologies for only including one recipe here. Clearly, I did more eating than cooking while I was in San Francisco. More California culinary adventures to come...

Friday, April 9, 2010

And then there were three...

The three of us were finally able to get together, make a vegan meal, catch up, and drink a few bottles of wine.

The result was decadent and delicious food and perfect company.

Makes 4 servings
This recipe is adapted from's Fried 'Chicken' and will please any picky eater. It’s perfect to bring on picnics, it will be the first dish to disappear at potlucks, and will stop in their tracks anybody who thinks going vegan means giving up their favorite comfort foods. We did use the nutritional yeast in the recipe and we also opted for 1 lb. extra firm tofu instead of mock chicken. We also threw a little extra pepper into the batter, because we’re crazy like that.

1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups unbleached white flour
4 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
3 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 lb. mock chicken (try Worthington Chic-Ketts or White Wave wheat meat)
3 1/2 cups vegetable oil

• Mix together the salt, onion powder, pepper, garlic powder, flour, and nutritional yeast in a deep bowl.
• In a separate bowl, dilute the mustard with 1/2 cup water.
• Add 1/3 cup of the flour mixture to the mustard mixture and stir. Add the baking powder to the dry flour mixture and mix.
• Dip chunks of the mock chicken into the mustard batter, then drop each chunk into the flour mixture and coat with the desired amount of “crust.”
• Fry the chunks in hot oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet or deep fryer until crispy and golden brown, turning as needed.

Fall Meets Spring Salad
Serves 4 large portions or 6-8 side portions
Living in Southern California can be such a luxury. We are spoiled with local, organic ingredients year-round. Beets are still very much in season at the end of March and apples are just ending their peak of ripeness. Feel free to substitute ingredients here for whatever is local and organic in your area. We used a bottled raspberry vinaigrette dressing, but we highly encourage you to make your own.

1 cup raw walnut pieces, chopped coarsely
1 cup unsweetened cranberries
4 beets, boiled, skinned, and chopped
1 bunch of arugula
1 bunch of spinach
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
Dressing of your choice

• Mix together ingredients and top with dressing.

Lemon-spiced Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4
We may be in the minority, but we love Brussels sprouts. We think you will too, after giving this side dish a try. The best part about this dish is it’s really easy and compliments nearly every meal. The garlic and lemon flavors offset any bitterness the Brussels sprouts naturally have. Again, living in Southern California, it’s easier to find Winter vegetables at the beginning of Spring – so if Brussels sprouts have disappeared from your farmers market already – tuck this recipe away for the Fall.

Approx. 16 whole Brussels sprouts, chopped in half
1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. lemon pepper
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt

• Rinse and steam Brussels sprouts for 10-12 minutes.
• Heat olive oil up in a skillet on med-high heat, add minced garlic and sauté for one minute (be careful not to burn the garlic)
• Sauté/toss sprouts in once the oil is heated.
• Add lemon pepper, garlic, and salt to taste.
Sauté until cooked through but still firm, approx. 8-10 minutes.