Sunday, October 5, 2008

After a brief hiatus, I’m back with something fresh, beautiful and delish; rustic bruschetta. (The Vegan Lush has been going through some big life transitions, but now things have settled down, and I’m ready to blog about fabulous vegan food and wine again!) Yes, it is the end of tomato season, but some markets are still carrying sweet and juicy little heirloom cherry tomatoes, and they make a really lovely bruschetta. For this version I chopped up a couple pounds of tomatoes, a handful of basil, and about a half cup of pitted olives. I tossed it all with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Lastly, I topped it with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, et voila! The croustini is just sliced French bread that I brushed with olive oil and broiled for a couple minutes. It is so easy and makes a great party food. I took this to the Vegan Brunch Cartel meeting in San Francisco last month.

This is a refreshing dish, so I definitely recommend a zippy wine. The tomatoes are so sweet and tart that they would do nicely paired with a California Sauvignon Blanc with a good amount of acid, or you might even try a nice dry Rosé with some fruity watermelon notes.

Friday, August 8, 2008

More Adventures in Vegan Baking

I am discovering a love for baking these days, and I especially love making baked goods for groups of people, because then the goodies don’t sit in my fridge and force me to eat some every time I happen to open the door. I made this batch of classic chocolate chip cookies using the recipe from the Vegan Joy of Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I have made them once before, and I found that when you use Earth Balance and add the salt she suggests, they turn out a bit too salty. This time I may have overcompensated a bit, because I made them with Soy Garden Earth Balance, and I added less salt, and they turned out a little under salted. Nonetheless, they were pretty fantastic. I made them for my acting class, and I truly enjoyed the shocked and amazed looks on people’s faces as I told them the yummy cookies they had just eaten were in fact vegan! One girl looked at me as if I must have made them with some sort of magical poison potion, but when I explained that Earth Balance was vegan, she seemed to calm down a bit.

Baked goods are hard to pair! Elegant lightly sweet tarts and dark chocolate gateaux are much easier to pair than old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies. You need something to stand up to their cakey sweetness, but also to the richer flavors in the semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli, by the way). This could probably do well with a tawny port or a light ruby port. Most white dessert wines would have trouble next to the chocolate. You might also try a late-harvest Zinfandel with a good amount of residual sugar or a Cognac with some nice caramel notes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sweet Golden Beets

As shocking as it may seem, in the not too distant past I was a beet hater! It’s true, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I once did not see the virtue of their earthy, lightly sweet magical flavor. Having roasted baby beets over a creamy celery root puree at a Christmas party last year really helped to start turning things around, though, and I’ve been experimenting with the delicious little jewels ever since. My favorite varieties are chioga (candy cane) and golden beets. They are a little lighter in flavor than red beets and lend themselves to simple preparations that highlight their naturally complex flavors. For the golden beets below, I simply peeled and chopped them into inch-wide chunks. Then I tossed them with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, herbs de province (OK, I need to look into some other spices), chili flakes, salt and pepper. I placed them on a cookie sheet in a pre-heated 375 degree oven, and I baked for about an hour. After about 45 minutes or so, I start checking every once in a while by poking them with a fork, until I get them to the right consistency (still firm, but cooked through enough to easily sink your teeth into).

Since these guys are so earthy tasting, I would recommend an earthy wine, maybe a Paso Robles Pinot Noir for something a little fruitier or a Côte du Rhône for something a little hardier. Otherwise, you might play off of their sweetness and slight bit of acid and try a wine with a little residual sugar like a lightly sweet Riesling from Germany.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mythical Chickpea Cutlets of Glory

Yes, I made them; the infamous chickpea cutlets of Veganomicon! They were tasty, although they didn’t quite blow my mind the way they seemed to for other vegan kids. They tasted a bit wheaty, but when covered in a packet of golden vegan gravy (just add water on the stove), they were hearty and satisfying. For a little side dish, I sautéed some kale and mushrooms with onions, garlic, salt and pepper. I think next time, I might try running the chickpeas in a food processor, because they were also a bit chunky for my taste.

The best news is this is a red wine friendly meal. Don’t let people tell you vegan food is for white wine. They are ninnies! Yes, I used the world “ninny.” I would consider a European red wine with subtle tannins for this. Specifically, it could go nicely with a Montepulciano from Italy with a good amount of fruit and smooth tannins.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Guest Post from Julia in NYC

My lovely friend who lives in New York created a hardy salad with a combination of fresh and grilled veggies. If you want to make a salad that is filling and satisfying, adding grilled veggies is a great idea. Here is her description:

After catching up on Veganlush today, I felt inspired to create a meal that was both delicious and beautiful! My boyfriend went and got our CSA share today, so we had lots of fresh veggies. I made this awesome salad (and BF helped) with fresh lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, quinoa, grilled zucchini and shredded radish. Delicious! Everything was grown at an organic farm upstate except the tomatoes and quinoa. It was so pretty I had to take a picture and share it with you.

We paired this fresh salad with a glass of ice water to combat the ever-present heat, but I think it also would have been very nice with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a light Chardonnay.

My Thoughts: I love that there is a Dunkin Donuts bag and other random stuff on the table, so NY! While salad doesn’t necessarily have to be paired with white wine, the hot weather in NYC, and the herbal quality of the veggies used in this dish call for it. A grassy Sauvignon Blanc would definitely hit the spot.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lush Chow Mein

I like to cook up an easy batch of chow mein from time to time when I have some good Asian greens like baby bok choy or cabbage. It’s so simple. In reality, I usually use buckwheat soba noodles, but you can use any noodles you like. First just sauté up your veggies of choice. I always start with a little bit of oil and a couple cloves of garlic, let the garlic cook for a minute, then add some onions and chili flakes. After that toss in all your veggies and some tofu. I had carrots, celery, and baby bok. Flavor the veggies with some Tamari (or soy sauce if you must) and/or Bragg’s amino acids. If that's just not enough salt, use some veggie broth or powdered veggie broth. Then add some spices to jazz it up. I used a bit of chili powder and lemon. You can also add ginger if you like the flavor.

For pairing, the light flavors in a veggie chow mein don’t like red wine! Stick with a softer white, maybe a subtly oaked Chardonnay, or if you’ve used a lot of lemon, you might want something more zippy like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Simply Elegant

This is a simple but elegant meal of roasted herbed tofu, asparagus, and potatoes. Roasting veggies is one of my favorite preparations, and it’s super easy. Just chop up your veggies toss them with olive oil and herbs (in this case herbs de province, salt, pepper, a bit of paprika), and roast them until golden and crispy. This is usually at about 450 degrees in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the veggie. Thinner asparagus will take less time, and so will thinly cut potatoes. You should stir them around with a spatula from time to time to make sure they cook evenly, and check whether they are done yet.

Most wine writers are frightened by asparagus, but the flavors in this meal are clean and savory, and I don’t think it’s too hard to pair. A dry Riesling would do nicely (that’s what we had), so might some California Sauvignon Blancs, or you could be adventurous and get an Albariño from Spain, known for their grassy characteristics.

Devil Cookies

So, I listened to the devil and made the chocolate cookies for the evil chocolate cookie frosting sandwiches I thought of. I had a little extra time one night and I busted out Isa’s recipe for chocolate-chocolate chip walnut cookies from Veganomicon. I didn’t have a bunch of stuff, including soy milk (for which I subbed half plain silk soy creamer and half hazelnut soy creamer, ‘cuz that’s just what I had), walnuts (for which I subbed more chocolate chips), canola oil (for which I subbed "vegetable" oil), or flax (for which I subbed nada). They still turned out great and made some ridiculously decadent cookie sandwiches! I know the photos aren’t the loveliest and neither are the cookies, but they were rich and sweet and very satisfying.

To pair, I would suggest a tall glass of cold soy milk. You would need a really sweet wine to stand up to this. Perhaps a Tawny Port with some nice caramel notes, but wow would that be a sugar rush!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pasta Party!

I decided to blow everyone’s socks off (that’s right I said it) at my book club this month, so I made a baked pasta dish with cashew cream topping. I apologize for the awful photo. I realize now it looked a lot more appealing on the plate! For the pasta I made my go-to arrabiata sauce that has just a hint of spice. It’s trés simple, considering the delicious results you get. I just start with a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, add a few cloves of garlic (crushed and chopped) and about a teaspoon of chili peppers. Next I add the sauce and let it simmer for about a half hour. Approximately fifteen minutes in, you can add any veggies that suit your fancy. I used mushrooms and spinach in this. Olives work well too. I spread that out in a pan and topped it with cashew cream (blended up cashews with some water, lemon juice and in this case fresh basil, salt and pepper). I got the idea from Vegan Yum Yum (those peeps are genius!). Then I baked it at 350 for about a half hour, just until the pasta seemed nice and heated through. My friend made a super easy garlic bread for this. She spread Earth blance on a crusty bread, then spread chopped up garlic on it and baked it for about 10 minutes.

A few nights later I made some marinara from a mirepoix base. Mirepoix is just onions, carrots, and celery in a 2:1:1 proportion. You have to be sure to chop up the veggies really small for this sauce, then coat them in as much crushed or pureed tomatoes as you want and cook for about a half hour. I’m not too precise about pasta, because it usually turns out well no matter what you do.

To pair with these recipes, I would definitely consider two different wines. With the baked pasta, go with something acidic enough to stand up to red sauce, but also something earthy enough to match the cashew cream. A fruity youngish California Cab might work or you might want to go to France and try a Côte du Rhône wine. For the mirepoix sauce, I would stick to tradition and go with a Chianti. Chiantis are ideal for red sauce, because they have the acidity to stand up to the tomatoes. I’m not usually a traditionalist when it comes to pairings. I don’t think you need to have a German wine with German food, or sake with Japanese food, etc. I think it’s all about flavor, but marinara is one of those things where you just can’t go wrong with a good Italian wine.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wakey Wakey

I am not a morning person. I usually hit snooze four of five times, then force myself out of bed for a bowl of cereal with soy milk and a glass of bottled orange juice, but one thing that can get me going, especially when I have some time on the weekends is a good tofu scramble. My methodology is pretty simple. I start with a little bit of oil in a pan, then add garlic, onion and usually some chili peppers. Then I chop up some plain firm tofu into tiny little squares (For some reason I usually don’t use the squish method; maybe it’s the dirty hands.), and I dice up whatever veggies I have in my fridge and add them in order of whichever will take the longest to cook. I try to add veggies that complement each other, of course. This one happened to have asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes. If it’s that sort of combination, I usually call it garden vegetable scramble and add Herbs de Provence (my favorite spice combo), some braggs, and maybe a little extra garlic powder, et voila; a lovely tofu scramble is born. For a variation, I will sometimes use more Mexican friendly veggies, add black beans and Mexican spices and serve with tortillas. For this version, I toast some bread with Earth balance.

To pair with this weekend brunch, I made fresh squeezed orange juice. We happened to have a lot of oranges and a brand spankin new juicer to work with. You also can’t go wrong with mimosas for brunch (unless of course you drink way too many and are useless for the rest of the day… not that I’ve ever done that.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cake just makes me smile. Its presence in a room lights everyone up, and although many vegans have lived a vanilla cake free life, because there is an oddly large proportion of vegan chocolate cake out there, it is really quite easy to make a fabulous vegan vanilla cake. I simply adapted the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I doubled the vanilla cupcake recipe and the vanilla frosting recipe, leaving me with a ton of frosting afterward (The little devil on my shoulder is thinking cookie frosting sandwiches). I made two layers and spread strawberry preserves with frosting in between. I also added a little bit of almond extract to the frosting to give some depth of flavor and had a little fun with decorating (I love the little red sprinkle doodas!) and voila; a perty little cake.

For pairings I would highly suggest a sec (sweet) or demi-sec sparkling wine. Don’t ask my why they are called that. Sec actually means dry in French, and usually dry means not sweet when it comes to wine, but for some reason they decided to make it extra confusing for everyone. Another type of wine that might work would be a lightly effervescent dessert wine like a Muscato (my personal fave). These are Italian dessert wines that are white, lightly sweet and usually have deep blueberry flavors. They make a great dessert on their own but pair nicely with a variety of cakes and tarts.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Baked Tofu!

Baked Tofu in the store can be quite pricey and not nearly as good as home made. We used’s method [] with Veganomicon’s Italian marinade to make baked tofu at home, and it turned out crispy, light, and delicious. It had that perfect Umami protein flavor and a lovely firm texture.

First you squeeze the heck out of the little tofus that you have cut into rectangles. You mush them with books and get as much liquid out as possible. Then you marinate them for about an hour in the Veganomicon recipe (or any others that suit you)

Afterward, you bake them at 300 degrees for about an hour and a half to two hours.
Then you get lovely golden brown tofu cutlets!

We incorporated them into a pasta dish in an olive oil sauce with mushrooms and asparagus.

By itself this tofu would probably be overwhelmed by a red wine. I would suggest a white wine with some nice acidity and some citrus notes, perhaps a California Sauvignon Blanc. Since the marinade isn’t very strong, a light Pinot Grigio would probably go well too. If you do something like we did and add asparagus, I would suggest a more herbal Sauvignon Blanc with grassy notes or maybe a Viognier to to contrast and cut the herbal flavors. Basically there are two schools of thought with pairing. One is to complement the flavors with a wine that mirrors the food. The other is to cut the flavors in the dish with a wine that has apposing flavors. You can do either here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Many people do not realize how versatile sparkling wine is. While it is great as an aperitif at a special occasion, it can also be paired with all different types of meals and snacks. One fun pairing that is often talked about is potato chips with sparkling wine. Sparkling wine is refreshing and palate cleansing next to salty snack foods. Because sparkling wines come in several different percentages of residual sugar they can go with a variety of different foods. This site: has a nice little chart, although I disagree with the usage of Champagne to describe California wines (don’t get me started, but suffice it to say Champagne is a place, not a type of wine and California is simply not Champagne).
I created a meal of roasted root vegetables, quinoa pilaf and herbed black lentils that I think would go nicely with a brut sparkling wine. So far the only bubbly I was able to confirm is vegan is Moët & Chandon. This can be a bit pricey for an everyday meal, but they do make some lovely Champagnes (yes they are actually located in Champagne). I would recommend this meal with one of their brut wines.

I do not closely adhere to recipes, nor do I measure things, so unfortunately all I can give you are estimations and links to the recipes that inspired me.

For the roasted root vegetables I started by chopping up four small red potatoes, one medium rutabaga and four Jerusalem artichokes. I then melted some Earth balance and oil (a little more than enough to coat) into a pan and I sautéed half an onion and some garlic in that. After that I added the veggies so I could coat them in the fats. I also added Herbs de Province, salt, pepper, and a bit of paprika. When that was all done, I placed them on a baking sheet and cooked them for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees.

For the lentils, I placed one cup of lentils with two cups of water (I ended up having to add a bit more) in a small pot. I added powdered mock chicken broth, some onion and garlic powder and salt and pepper. Then I brought it to a boil and simmered it until the lentils had absorbed the water and were soft.

For the Quinoa Pilaf, I sautéed half an onion and a couple cloves of garlic in some oil, I added the quinoa, let it get toasty, then added water, more mock chicken broth, and more of the herbs de province.

The earthy flavors in the vegetables and the lentils play nicely off of the brisk acid in a brut wine. There is a slight sweetness to the rutabaga that gives contrast to a dry Champagne. The root vegetables also take on a slight appley flavor that is matched in many sparkling wines.

I’ll be suggesting some other pairings for sparkling wines and giving you more wineries where you can buy vegan bubbly in future postings.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hi vegan and vegan-curious foodies!

I am thrilled to be starting my own blog about vegan food and wine, because frankly I am tired of drooling over vegan food porn and trying to explain vegan pairings without a good outlet for my own ideas. This blog is going to blow red with meat, white with chicken and fish out of the water (no pun intended). Stay tuned for posts on subjects like vegan French toast and mimosas, lentils and spaetzle with dry Riesling, and reviews of veg-friendly restaurants with good wine lists.