Monday, August 30, 2010

A Very Vegan Weekend

This weekend was kickass on the friend and vegan front.  On Friday night, Becca and I were housesitting at her old boss's house.  They have a washer and dryer so we literally washed the mountain of laundry that we had accumulated, including but not limited to a dozen towels and blankets. My friends, Beth and Cathy came over and drank while we watched Cooking Network and Entourage.  It was a rocking good time even as I constantly swapped wet clothes for dry.

On Saturday I attended a Comfort Food cooking class with the Spork sisters.  It was literally THE BEST MEAL I'VE EVER HAD!!!!  If the Cooking Network called and asked me to describe the best thing I've ever eaten, I would most definitely point to this meal.  Here's a pic of what we made. First, we had a salad with homemade "bacon" ranch dressing then beer battered tempeh nuggets with chipotle ketchup.  The most amazing part of the meal, however, was the twice baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese. I've tried to make these before and though they turned out great but they were NOTHING compared to these bad boys.  Even though I was stuffed full I still had a second spud because they were simply too good to ignore.

Then there was CAKE.  Vanilla cake with the sweetest most amazing vanilla frosting ever that makes me want a cake pedestal, cover and Kitchenaid soooooo badly. Absolutely yummy through and through.  If you've never taken a class at Spork Foods, sign up asap! The prices are competitive and the sisters never repeat a meal so it's always new!  So good and you feel good about yourself when you leave. Plus you take home your recipes to make yourself, which I will be doing with the twice baked potatoes tonight.

Then on Sunday, I blew off my sewing class (boo me) but Becca and I wanted some snuggle/hang out time.  We went to the Farmer's Market on Fairfax.  There is an Italian gourmet pizza place with VEGAN pizza! Score. It's called Deano's and although the vegan options are not listed on the menu, they will totally add Daiya to any pizza. I got a personal cheese pizza on whole wheat crust.  Though technically for one person, there was plenty of pizza. My only minor qualm is that they actually used too much Daiya (I know, I know I didn't think it possible either!)  However, I peeled some of it off and it was delish, especially the crust. In the picture below, you can totally see that I went a little crazy with the red pepper flakes, which had my mouth burning for more than 20 minutes.  Of course the beer helped immensely :).

To cap off the evening, Becca and I went to our favorite LA dive bar the Short Stop where we met up with my friend Alexis and played UNO.  Yes, in the bar. We had wanted to go to Barcade but recently learned it was closed (silent tear trickles down my cheek.)  However, in spite of a few missed appointments and some disappointing bar closures, this weekend was fantastic, vegan and just what I needed.

Now the rest of the week I will continue my fitness bootcamp (Lord have mercy) every day at 6:30 am in Griffith Park. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So the other night, I decided to make vegan lasagna. I made it once before for Becca and her friend, Brooke who was crashing on our couch. It was Brooke's last night in LA before she moved on to the wonderful world of Philly.  Now Brooke is a cool rock n roll mama that cares little about veganism in general. Her world revolves around Hollywood nightlife, dive bars, and late nights.  Food doesn't really come into it.  However, I was very pleased to see her eat my lasagna with gusto.  She said it was as good as the real thing, which I took as a huge compliment.

So now I've decided to do it again.  I looked up this recipe on Tami Transcends Tofu. I used more spinach than was called for (gotta hide my lady's vegetables somehow) and fresh basil that I received from my CSA.  Now I don't really know what the fresh to dry conversion is but I love basil so I just grabbed a couple of handfuls and threw them in with everything else. Of course my blender decided to suck and made me wish more than ever for this is in my life.  So I had to pull everything out of the blender and put together my mini-food processor.  This thing is good enough but soo small.  Anyway, it didn't matter. It did the trick and processed my food.

I always forget that although the recipe only calls for one jar of sauce, it's actually better to have at least 1 1/2 jars.  I need to remember this for next time. Anyway, this is what I turned out with. The picture honestly doesn't do the meal justice because it was super flavorful and yummy. However, scraping it out of the pan made it a little...well a little ugly.  I had planned to saute some veggies to accompany the lasagna but I got lazy so I opened the bag of spicy mixed greens, added some CSA radish sprouts (one of my new favorite things I learned) and voila.  A ready-made albeit a little lazy meal.  Take a look.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Diaya Mac and cheese

So last night I had planned to make vegan lasagna but the mozzarella Daiya is sold out everywhere.  After checking three stores I gave up. Instead I went with vegan mac and cheese. This is one of the first dishes I learned to make upon becoming vegan, mostly because I knew that if Becca liked it, I was golden about laying off the diary products. However, I had never quite stuck wholly to the recipe because I didn't always have all the ingredients. This time, however, I stuck to everything to a T. I used the recipe from To Live and Eat in LA.   The recipe is below:

16oz package of elbow macaroni or pasta of choice 
3 cups shredded Daiya Cheddar Cheese
3 tablespoons vegan butter (I used soy-free Earth Balance)
3 tablespoons flour 
2 to 2 1/2 cups* unsweetened soy milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Enough panko bread crumbs to liberally cover (I used an “Italian” flavored variety)
Red chili flakes to taste (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta about 5 minutes until it’s just tender. Don’t cook all the way or it will fall apart when you bake it.
3. Drain pasta and transfer to greased baking dish. I packed it all into a smaller 8×10 dish so it would set up nice and thick.
4. Mix in about 2/3′s of the cheese into the pasta and set aside.
5. In a small pot melt the butter. Add the pepper, then whisk in the flour until combined. Stir in the milk. Keep stirring until it starts to boil, then keep stirring for about another minute until it thickens up. *(Start with 2 cups of milk but if sauce gets too thick just add a little bit more, you don’t want it to be like a paste, just a thickened liquid).
6. Pour the milk mixture into the pasta and mix everything well. Top with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle the bits of ham on top, then cover everything with a generous layer of breadcrumbs. Give the whole thing a light dusting of paprika.
7. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and top is starting to brown. If you like it spicy sprinkle some of the chili flakes on top when serving.

It turned out soo well. Here's the pic. Becca used her super sweet iPhone app Shake It in order to make it look so cool and Polaroid-y.  The best part of the mac and cheese was the TASTE.  I am so proud to stand by this meal, which also included garlic and onion Brussel sprouts. Delicious, really and truly. In fact, it was so good I will be enjoying some seconds for lunch along with mixed green salad, sliced cucumber and some Annie's Naturals dressing. So there it is. Vegan mac and cheese for everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lazy lazy

Sorry for the delay in posts.  Becca and I had an amazing weekend complete with vegan Rubens. They were so amazing it hurt! I used the recipe from  AMAZING!!!

We also attempted yet again to go to Madeleine Bistro but it was closed AGAIN!  So we headed a few miles north to Canoga Park to Follow Your Heart. This is a grocery store with a restaurant in the back. First, as an appetizer we ordered the Lorenzo's Tofu Eggwich with a side of fruit. I have no idea why they call this an appetizer. It is totally a meal. I would show a picture but Becca and I ate that thing in about 10 seconds flat. I have never tasted such a delicious "egg" sandwich. I bought the pastrami wheatmeat in the store but still need to figure out how exactly to emulate that egg.  Soooo good. For our entrees, Becca went with nachos, as she is usually want to do. Here is a girl that doesn't like her vegetables so I must force feed them to her in stirfry but is another story entirely.

I went with the Organic Tofu Fillet Sandwich. I have no experience with mock fish. However, this didn't really taste at all like a fish sandwich. Instead it was a huge slab of tofu lightly fried on the outside with onion, lettuce, and tartar sauce on it. I got it with a side of well baked fries. I gotta say I was a little disappointed by my entree, except the tartar sauce was so delicious I started dipping my fries into it. To be honest, I was pretty stuffed from the Eggwich so this might have tainted my Fillet Sandwich experience.

All in all, I look forward to going to Follow Your Heart again whenever I'm in the Valley and/or attempt to do Madeleine Bistro again and they are closed.