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vegan mofo: slacktown

Yep, that’s right. I have been living in Slacktown. If you lived in Slacktown, too, I’d say “sue me!” but it’s just me here, crossing the border into Lesser Slackington.

Here are some terrible phone pictures from the fancy meal I had last week at Local Habit, accompanied by brief descriptions.

corn puddin
Corn pudding (more like a slab of slightly sweet polenta) topped with grilled onions, raw carrots, and a light dressing with some strong olive oil. It was tasty, but the olive oil actually overpowered the flavor of the pudding, so I was a bit disappointed in this one. The beer was a Bavarian Hefeweizen which was awesome.

caramelized onion tart with tomato

Caramelized onion tart with roasted garlic and fresh tomato. This was my favorite course of the night. The crust was flaky and tender, and all the flavors were very present. I’m a simple gal, so I like me some simple food. The beer was a fruity Saison, brewed specially for this dinner. Also pretty tasty!

potato pot pie
Truffled potato pot pie. Hard to go wrong with this one! Everyone I sat with liked this the most out of all the dishes. The beer was a brown ale, which went well with the pot pie.

By this point I was pretty tipsy, so…no picture of the fourth course – buckwheat noodles with roasted mushrooms, allspice, and roasted veggie broth. The beer paired with this one was a Rye IPA, less strong than your typical IPA, which I liked about it. The mushrooms were good, though I wasn’t a huge fan of the noodles. They had a bit of a plasticky after taste.

yam tart

I just barely managed to take this picture. This yam and sweet potato tart was another favorite of the night, though the agave caramel was kinda disappointing – more like sauce than caramel. The beer was a fantastic Imperial Porter…very chocolatey, coffee-ee, and all around delicious. That and the Hefeweizen were my favorite beers of the night.

All in all a great experience! Next time I hope they get a little more creative with the vegan options…add a little protein source here and there. They’ve got almond ricotta on their menu, so I know they can do it!


October 25, 2011 at 1:39 am Leave a comment

vegan mofo: another week, another meal plan

I promise in the next week or so I will post pictures of my tasty 5 course meal from last night, but in the meantime, I’ve run my fancy meal planning script again and have some ideas for the next couple weeks!

Here’s what the script came up with this time…all quite possible to stick closely to.

My meal ideas:

Veggie/almond/pistachio biryani
Stuffed acorn squash (w/creamy tofu rice and beans)
Oxtail-barley stew using Gardein beefless tips
Greek fava bean brunch with whole grain pita (spelt?)
Lentil sweet potato loaf with Thai curry

Any suggestions for the Greek brunch and stuffed squash would be helpful! Haven’t quite got those down in my head yet.

October 20, 2011 at 5:57 am 1 comment

vegan mofo: tofu tikka masala, roasted indian spiced veggies

tofu tikka masala

I really wanted this Tikka Masala to work out, but it tasted nothing like I remember. I thought it was pretty good, and my husband really liked it though, so that’s what matters! I wasn’t able to find pre-mixed tikka masala powder, so I searched the wide web of the world to find an approximate spice mixture, then I basically used this recipe. My changes included using slightly different veggies, agave instead of honey, plain coconut yoghurt, and I fried my tofu in safflower oil before adding to the sauce. The tofu came out perfectly! Next time I’m going to use my own tomato sauce instead of canned, tryout only soy creamer, and use a lot less salt.

The picture above is the tikka masala mixed with the Indian-spiced veggies and edamame. I used this recipe except roasted everything instead! They were really tasty.

Here’s a bonus cat picture, since Susu apparently LOVED squishing herself into this box.
cat in box

October 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm 2 comments

vegan mofo: sickness spreading

I have a cold. Again. The second in as many months, and guess what? DO NOT LIKE.

So I haven’t been cooking, but I did manage to stumble upon some old food photos of things I’ve made in the past and never blogged about. I don’t remember many details, but there are a couple yummy looking things here! I’ll start with the crappier photos and work my way up.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Chocolate Ganache
I know those are fresh raspberries and chocolate ganache double layered on top of this cake, so I’m guessing it was the chocolate raspberry blackout cake from Vegan with a Vengeance. And yes, I only have ONE cake plate, ok? Don’t ask me why I took this picture of the cake in the refrigerator.

soba noodles and veggies

I think these are soba noodles with a light peanut dressing topped with cucumbers, roasted broccoli, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.

sesame seeds, roasted broccoli, cilantro
Here are some of the toppings set up in a really nice arrangement. I don’t remember taking this picture, but I really like it. Really!

carrot soup

Lastly, here’s a creamy carrot, coconut milk, and ginger soup topped with cilantro. Mmmm, pretty!

Tomorrow, a very veg friendly restaurant here in San Diego (The Local Habit) is having a 5 course all vegetarian or vegan brewmaster’s dinner. Gotta go rest up so I’m all better for it! I’m going no matter how I feel though, you better believe it. Here’s what it says on the RSVP about it:

“Join us for this unique food and beer experience as Local Habit Chef Nick Brune and Black Market Brewing Head Brewer Ryan Brooks collaborate to bring you five delicious courses of farm fresh vegetarian/vegan food paired with five craft beers from this up and coming Temecula brewer.

First Course: Corn Pudding with Creole Trinity paired with Bavarian Hefeweizen

Second Course: Caramelized Onion & Tomato Tart paired with Saison with Coriander & Juniper Berries (cask)

Third Course: Truffled Potato Pot Pie with Carrot, Peas & Garlic paired with Anglo-American Brown Ale

Fourth Course: Roasted Mushrooms with Allspice & Nutmeg over Homemade Buckwheat Noodles paired with Rye IPA

Fifth Course: Yam Sweet Potato Tart with Agave Caramel paired with Imperial Porter (cask)”

I’m most excited about the Corn Pudding, but everything sounds so awesome. EEP!

October 17, 2011 at 8:13 pm 1 comment

vegan mofo: upside-down upside-down lentil shepard’s pie

So, my meal planner told me to make a baked or roasted European lentil dish with bread. That could have meant bread on the side of whatever lentil dish I made, but instead I decided to try the Upside-Down Lentil Shepherd’s pie from Appetite for Reduction. Except, I wanted to make that recipe upside-down. So it turned into a more traditional shepherd’s pie, with caulipots (a mixture of mashed cauliflower and potato) on top, and the tasty lentil stew on the bottom. I went about the recipes pretty much normally, except I used a whole cauliflower instead of a half, two zucchinis instead of one, transferred the lentils, then caulipots to a casserole dish and broiled until browned and crispish. For your viewing pleasure, here are the before and after serving pictures:

Lentil Shepherd's Pie in casserole form
Lentil Shepherd's Pie plated
Can I get a “YUM, YUM?” You know, like “WHUT, WHUT” since I’m such a food gangsta, yo. Riiiight.

October 13, 2011 at 6:27 am 6 comments

vegan mofo: rain!

Today I planned on doing major grocery shopping. The hubby and I had been out of town visiting family, so there wasn’t much in the house. Then the rain came. Real, proper rain in San Diego. What a good excuse to stay in and make dinner from things already in house. While that wasn’t much, it was enough to make this recipe!  Mmmm, Mac and Shews. Though I made it with one cup of sauerkraut, no nutritional yeast, and whole wheat rotelli (which works really well, too!). No pictures, but it basically looked like the stuff on Isa’s post, ‘cept not quite as perfect.

Tomorrow I’ll share my two trips to Ubuntu in Napa…one from this past weekend, and one from the beginning of the year. After that I’ll be bringing in my nerd’s eye view for realz, yo. Spreadsheets, anyone? Yeah. Spreadsheets.

October 6, 2011 at 5:39 am 2 comments

fancy shmancy mealy wealy

Yesterday was the most productive day I’ve had in a long long time! I went to physical therapy, ran every errand on my list (quite a few), cleaned up around the house, and made dinner for my husband and two friends.

I’ve been thinking about this meal for a while, and finally got to put my plan into action. I picked up some summer squash from the farmer’s market and thought, “I wonder what would happen if I baked these in thin slices. Would they turn out like squash crackers?” I decided that if I did bake the squash and maybe some other veggies in thin discs, I could layer them with some sort of filling, top them with some sort of sauce, and have a fancy delicious dinner! The squash didn’t turn into crackers (except maybe the burned ones), but here’s what I ended up with:

Baked Summer Squash and Eggplant slices layered with Butternut Squash “Ricotta”, topped with Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream and Tomato Coulis

veggie stackSorry for the harsh lighting, but the photo turned out pretty well none the less, thanks to Jason Hee and his iphone!

First thing’s first – preheat convection oven to 400 degrees, or normal oven to about 425 degrees.

for the cashew cream
I kind of threw this together, so the measurements aren’t exact. sorry!

about 6 cloves roasted garlic
about 1 cup soaked raw cashews
about 1.5 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper to taste

blend everything up in a blender until smooth, then heat through in a pan at medium-low heat. set aside.

for tomato coulis
loosely based on this recipe:

1 can no-salt diced tomatoes (usually this is made with fresh, but I didn’t have any)
8-9 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
5-6 small leaves fresh basil
2 tbsp olive oil
red pepper flakes, salt, pepper to taste

blend everything until smooth!

for filling:

1 large butternut squash
2 yellow onions
1 package firm organic tofu
salt and pepper to taste

roast the butternut squash (I actually used 1 small and one medium squash, cut them into quarters, brushed them in olive oil in a large roasting pan, and roasted in a 400 degree convection oven for about an hour, covered in foil. I had about 3/4 of a squash leftover, so 1 large squash should be plenty.)

caramelize onions by cutting them in half and slicing them thinly, cooking on low heat for 30-40 minutes with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

when squash and onions are done, drain the tofu and crumble it into a food processor. add onions, squash, salt, and pepper and process until creamy and no chunks remain. you will probably need to scrape down the sides a couple times during the process.

for veggies:

2 medium sized regular zucchini
2 small round zucchini (or more regular zucchini, or any summer squash)
1 large eggplant

slice all veggies into thin rounds (about a quarter of an inch thick)
oil as many large roasting pans or cookie sheets as you want (I did all the veggies in batches using 2 small pans and one large)
lay each slice flat on the pans and brush lightly with olive oil
sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper if you like
bake each batch of veggies for 12-15 minutes

to assemble
1. start with one slice of eggplant, then scoop a large spoonful of filling on top
2. layer three slices zucchini on top, then another spoonful of filling
3. repeat steps 1 and 2, then top off with an eggplant slice.
4. spoon cashew cream over veggie stack until it flows over the edge
5. spoon tomato coulis onto the top center of the stack
6. garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil

On the side I added a very simple salad of wild arugula (or rocket as I’ve been hearing Jaime Oliver call it a lot lately) and sherry vinegar.

We ate this at room temperature, which worked well for the warm summer evening, but I’m sure you could keep everything warm before assembling and eat it that way if you’re organized enough…I definitely am not!

For dessert we had fresh organic strawberries with a little dulce de leche (recipe from Viva Vegan), and some simple chocolate sauce (melt 72% dark chocolate with some vanilla soymilk).

Lessons learned: Productivity good. Cooking fun. Food yum. Friends nice!

September 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm 1 comment

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