Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back with Easy Peasy Black Bean Soup

After taking a long hiatus (also known as a job that took up all of my time and energy), Veganlush is back to share more yummy food and wine pairings! For a long time I have neglected creative pursuits, healthy eating and exercising, but now I’m back on the wagon and ready to write up my epicurean adventures.

I’m starting out slow with an easy peasy black bean soup. This starts as usual by sautéing a few cloves of garlic in olive oil. Then, add some diced chilies (we used Serrano) and half an onion. After that, just toss in a can of black beans and a can of diced tomatoes. Pour in about a cup of no-chicken chicken broth, depending on how liquidy you want it. Then, chop up and add some veggies for nutrition and of course to add some flava. We used mushrooms, chard and a red bell pepper. For spicing, I added cumin, chili powder, salt and a bay leaf for good measure. Let that all cook up until the veggies are tender, but not mushy, and viola, you have a filling and low-fat winter soup. Garnish with some lime to add extra kick.

To pair, beans can be tricky for sho. A medium-bodied red with some tannins like a Cali Merlot or a French Côte due Rhône should be able to stand up to all that proteiny goodness in the beans

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Tips & Tidbits

Here are some super easy, fresh and yumtastic meals I’ve been making this summer.

First off, here is my favorite favoritist breakfast of all time or yunno of the past few weeks: bagels and hummus with veggies! I like to get the Alvarado Street sprouted bagels, because they help me pretend this is a healthy meal. I slather them with my favorite hummus (spicy flavor is the best) add chopped veggies (tomato, cucumber, avocado) and salt and pepper. Then I stuff it all into my face (nom nom nom!). To pair, I would suggest a nice glass of orange juice or a soy latté, or if you’re having it for lunch, perhaps a cold beer would do the trick.

Next up is my recent go-to lazy day meal; Thai curry. You can buy vegan Thai curry paste at most stores. I use Thai Kitchen red curry paste. It says “vegan” right on the jar, so no need to worry about hidden ground up fishy bits! Yay! Take some tofu or seitan and whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. I had green beans, red bell peppers and mushrooms. Sauté them with oil, garlic, chili peppers and fresh ginger if you have it. Then simply mix the curry paste with coconut milk to your liking and pour it over your tofu and veggies. Allow all the flavors to combine while you boil up some rice or soba noodles. Dish up some of the noodles and pour your curry mixture on top and you have a delicious meal that didn’t hurt your brain to make! To pair, you might want a wine with a little bit of residual sugar, because the coconut milk is lightly sweet. I suggest a Viognier or a Riesling with just a touch of sugar.

As a bonus, here is some food porn of my vegan bake sale submission. These are the Vegan Joy of Baking oatmeal raisin cookies with lots of chocolate chips added. They sold out! Woohoo!

Also, from my recent trip to Orange County, here are two fantastic dishes from native foods. The Philly Peppersteak Sandwich and my personal favorite the Chicken Run Ranch Burger. God that stuff is good! (Please, please, please open a restaurant in SF!) I went there twice in one long weekend! We paired these with their delicious Native tea and their special summer Watermelon Agua Fresca. They told us this was super easy to make at home by combining watermelon, agave and some mint in a blender. This is the perfect summer drink!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seitan is My Friend: Stuff I’ve Been Cookin’ up Lately

My bf recently had a birthday, and since I have no trabajo and am subsisting on unemployment, I decided to make him a fancy pantsy dinner instead of taking him out to a nice resto (Although I did consider going to the new Plant Café on the Embarcadero, would make a nice date spot, veggie kids!). I knew he liked seitan and asparagus, so that was my outline. As I contemplated the two ingredients, a recent conversation about the types of meat I once liked as an omni (Yes, I still remember.) popped into my head. One of my favorite things was Steak Oscar (steak with hollandaise sauce and asparagus), and I thought, why not try to reproduce that in an elegant veggie dinner?
I did this by using packaged White Wave seitan (this stuff is the bestest best pre-made seitan ever). For this, I sautéed some garlic and chili peppers in olive oil, added the seitan and seasoned with some herbs de provence, a little extra thyme and salt and pepper. I then sautéed the asparagus in EB until just barely tender and sprinkled it with salt and pepper and a splash of lemon. To round out the meal, I made lemony potatoes from Veganomicon (I seriously think it’s a requirement for boys to love potatoes). Lastly, I used the recipe for hollandaise from VeganYumYum with some extra EB and fresh parsley added, which was well, yummy, but not terribly hollandaisish. I plan to do some experimenting and come up with my own recipe at some point (I’m thinking possible avocado or coconut milk based). The end product was an elegant veg meal that the bf seemed to enjoy a lot.

We paired it with bubbly, of course. Champagne can be a great counter to rich foods, and it made a nice complement to all the citrus in the meal. It cuts through the fats and cleanses the palate, readying it for the next bite of food.

I thought I’d share some photos of variations of this meal I’ve made in the past. First off, this is a veggie tube sausage I grilled up with pre-packaged vegan white gravy with mushrooms added.

Here is a version with roasted broccolini, which is super easy. Just toss it with olive oil, chili peppers, garlic, salt and pepper and maybe some lemon and roast until tender at about 360 degrees. I also made some canned beans on the side that I gussied up with some extra spices and a splash of lemon. To add some starch, I made brown rice in veggie broth.

For pairing, seitan is a versatile food that, like tofu, takes on the flavors of the things you cook it with. Although it is often used in a similar manner to red meat, it doesn’t overwhelm white wines in the same way many red meats can, so go ahead pair it with a nice chilled white or bottle of sparkling. You might even go for a blanc de noirs with a bit of light fruit and mouth watering acid. These can make great summer deals, especially if you stick to $20 Cali versions.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SF Vegan Bake Sale

This weekend is the lovely SF vegan bake sale! I’m thinking I’ll make some yummy oatmeal raisin cookies from The Joy of Vegan Baking (photos will, of course, be posted). Here’s the info:

The writers behind the popular SF blogs The Urban Housewife and Vegansaurus! are putting on two exquisite vegan bake sales as part of the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale.
Sales will benefit two wonderful Bay Area non-profits: Animal Place (a sanctuary for abused and discarded farmed animals) and East Bay Animal Animal Advocates!

SATURDAY, JUNE 27th, 2009
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Address: 3506 16th Street at Sanchez, in front of Ike's Place.

SUNDAY, JUNE 28th, 2009
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Address: 800 block of Capp St. (near 24th St., about 1/2 block from 24th st BART!)

There will be cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pie, whoopie pies and much more. There will also be Gluten Free options & treats for dogs. Additionally, a selection of cupcakes will be provided by local vegan bakery Sugar Beat Sweets! The treats are sure to be fabulous, so stop by if you can!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Peanuts are Magical! Chocolate Peanut Butter Milk Shake

I thought I'd share this little treat with ya'll, because I haven't been terribly productive lately due to my recent unemployment. I know you would think that would free up more time for blogging, but I have found quite the opposite! I'm a super busy gal, now that I'm looking for a job. Anyway, here is a fabulous concoction that proves a theory I posed last time I was in NYC: Peanuts are magical! My apologies for the less than stellar pic.

For this delicious shake, just place two scoops of vegan ice cream (vanilla or chocolate chip or cookie dough) into your blender. Then add about a tablespoon of the magic ingredient; peanut butter. Throw in some chocolate chips (about ¼ cup) and just enough chocolate soy milk to make everything mix well. Put your blender on high and blend until the chocolate chips are no longer chunky, and voila! You have a rich and decadent chocolate peanut butter milk shake.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Vegan Cocktail Party

Vegan entertaining is not so different from omni entertaining, but sometimes it seems like you need to put a little extra effort in to completely dispel any preconceived negative ideas about vegan food and drinks. Here are a few tips on throwing a successful vegan cocktail party with examples from a recent bubbly and finger foods fête I threw.

Pick one or two impressive but not incredibly complicated recipes that are sure to be crowd pleasers. For this, I chose Candle Café’s meaty grilled seitan chimichurri in citrus herb marinade and lovely little corn fritters from VWAV. These recipes had about two cups of oil in them, but that brings up another one of my party rules: Indulge a little. Make that extra fatty recipe that you love. You’ll be sharing it amongst all your guests, so you don’t have to worry about eating the entire thing yourself and waking up five pounds heavier.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I asked my guests to bring an app if they could, and we ended up with a delicious bounty of eclectic dishes. Sadly, I don’t have a photo, but a friend of mine and her chef boyfriend made a beautiful trio of bruschetta; one traditional tomato, one made with beets and a third with chickpeas and fresh herbs. They were to die for.

Pepper the rest of your menu with simple, easy dishes and artisanal store-bought goods. I also served mango spring rolls, which are super easy to make, except for the julienning (Thanks, Marc!). To round things out, I bought hummus and set out bowls with nuts and chips.

Include one decadent sweet. I love to blow my friends away with rich baked goods that they would never guess were vegan. Because my party was spring-themed I made cute lemon cookies from VWAV with lemon frosting and blue sprinkles.
Set up the bar beforehand. Have your white and sparkling wines chilled. Uncork a red or two. Use a decanter for a nicer red, and have it waiting for guests. If you’re planning to serve mixed drinks, make sure all your fresh juices are squeezed, any herbs are chopped and ready and other mixers are chilled. And, of course, have a bucket of ice ready.

I love throwing parties for all of my friends, especially when they only include vegan food. This isn’t because I want to convert all of my friends to veganism (wouldn’t that be nice!) It’s because I like to show people that vegans can serve up gourmet hor d’ouvres and drinks just as well as any omni can. So, follow these tips and show your friends that the vegan life can be the lush life.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vegan Frittata

It turns out making vegan frittata is super easy. There are no messy and finicky eggs to deal with; just fluffy tofu! I looked at a couple recipes for inspiration and put this together myself. As usual, I started by sautéing some garlic and chili peppers in olive oil. Then, I added onions. I threw in the veggies I happened to have on hand: asparagus, red bell pepper and spinach then squished up the tofu and put that the pan too. I spiced it up with some turmeric, salt and pepper as well as some basil and oregano. Then I placed the whole thing in a cake pan and baked it for about a half hour at 375 degrees. Don’t quote me on the specifics, but it turned out nicely if not completely solid.
To pair, I would go with an acidic and slightly herbaceous white wine, perhaps an Albarino with some citrusy and grassy notes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Irish Boyfriend Soda Bread

OK, so my boyfriend isn’t from Ireland, but his family originally is, and I’m a lucky duck, because he veganized an old family recipe for me, and it was super yummy. This is a lovely, lightly sweet loaf of bread that is wonderful toasted with some earth balance. I even have a full recipe to go along with my photo. I know it’s way past St. Patrick’s day, but this bread makes a fab breakfast or snack any time of year.

4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar1 tsp salt

1/4 cup Earth Balance (preferably sticks)

2/3 cup raisins or currants

2 tsp caraway seeds

1 cup (soy) milk

1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
Soak raisins or currents in hot water to plump.

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and caraway seeds together and cut in EB until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Drain raisins and add to flour mixture.

Mix milk and vinegar (let sit for a min until it gets thicker), and add to dry mix until just blended.

Put on floured surface and kneed gently (Not long).

Shape into round and cut an X in the top.

Put into greased pie plate or on greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 40 min. Cool on wire rack.
Easy peasy, right? For pairing, I think this would go best with a nice herbal tea. It would be just delicious with an orange blossom tea or perhaps plain old lemon zinger. If you wanted to pair it with wine, you might try a Viognier with a light bit of residual sugar or a Riesling.

Monday, March 30, 2009

For a long time I tried to produce Indian food in my own home with very little success. Then, I realized the virtue of a few choice ingredients, and I was able to make a curry that, while not terribly authentic, is delicious and satisfying. One key ingredient is fresh coriander! I like to grind it myself with a mortar and pestle. You start with olive oil, chili flakes and garlic, then add the ground coriander. When the garlic has begun to cook into the oil, add some canned diced tomatoes. After a few minutes you can start to add your veggies. I love cauliflower in curries, so that’s what I used in this one. Then, I usually add a legume. Peas are delicious in Indian food, because they soak up all of the intense flavors very nicely. Mushrooms are also a lovely addition. After you’ve added your veggies, you will need to add the other key ingredient; coconut milk! This stuff is the best for veggie kids who want to add creaminess to a dish without using soy. You can add as much as you would like depending on how creamy and coconuty you want the dish. Then, add some chili powder, some good quality pre-made curry powder and a dash of garam marsala. You need to let this simmer for about 15 minutes or so in order to allow all of the flavors to integrate. Then, voila, you have a beautiful home-made curry.
To pair, I would suggest a light Chardonnay with some oak adding hints of vanilla to match the richness and light sweetness of the coconut. You could also try a Gewürztraminer with a light bit of residual sugar to counter the spice.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Ate Half of Manhattan: A Love Story, Part I

I am a lucky little vegan who gets to go to NYC on a regular basis. This last trip was somewhat bitter sweet, because I had recently been through some personal drama, but the fabulous food and the company of my best friend Julia (see matzo bellow) were very cathartic. I usually plan my trip itineraries around the many, many amazing vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in and around Manhattan I want to hit, so I thought I would share some of the fantastic food adventures I had during my last trip there.

One of the most wonderful food experiences I’ve had in a long time was going to 4 Course Vegan. This is one of those underground dinner party deals, where you reserve a spot at someone’s apartment and eat with strangers. Yes, it may sound sketchy, and in fact, I had my doubts as we trekked out to Brooklyn to what looked like an old warehouse to get to Chef Matteo’s loft. As soon as I took one bite, though, all of my doubts disappeared and I fell into food love! The meal started with a beautiful little amuse bouche that consisted of a raw cashew cheese ravioli. This had to be some of the best cashew cheese I’ve ever had. Chef Matteo told me that he made it using a similar technique to Roxanne Klein for whom I incidentally used to do PR and whose cookbook I happen to already own! I will surely be trying this out soon.

The next course was a lovely creamy parsnip bisque with crispy shallots and apple relish. The shallots were such a nice salty addition, and the soup was flavorful and hearty.

After that we had another amazing nut cheese! This romaine salad covers up a generous dollop of macadamia nut cheese that was also incredibly delicious and very much like soft cheese I remember from my dairy-eating days. Incidentally, I had nearly given up on vegan cheese recently after too many bad experiences with Follow Your Heart and Tofutti, but this trip really brought back my faith! Vive le fromage végétalien! I’m ready to join the vegan cheese revolution.

Our main course was a rich lasagna with portabella mushrooms and a pesto sort of sauce. The cream sauces he made were mind blowing. They would blow any omni’s socks off.

We ended with a cute little cinnamon and carrot torte that was light and sweet. It has been a long time since I’ve gotten a tasting menu where every course was this spot on, and this is just one guy in his own apartment, making only one set of dishes to please everyone! It was truly impressive.

We paired the entire meal with an Alsatian white wine we bought at wine shop down the street. By the way, we only paid $40 for this fresh gourmet 4 course meal! That is a serious deal.
This is me and Julia lookin' very happy at the dinner!
One spot I always, always have to hit when I’m in NYC is Atlas Café. They carry Vegan Treats desserts, which are the most orgasmically, unbelievably decadent and delicious desserts! This time we ordered a brownie with peanut butter mousse. I have no idea how they made this rich fluffy mousse, but my god, was it good. We also got a slice of chocolate s’more cake! This was almost too sweet, but we sacrificed ourselves and ate it anyway. The whole shebang was paired with soy hot chocolate.

As long as I’m talking about desserts, let’s move on to Babycakes. My friends and I ordered a vanilla, a chocolate, and a carrot cupcake. The carrot was by far the best with its thick coconutty frosting and light moist cake.

Another place that I will absolutely not miss when I go to Manhattan is Counter. Their brunch rivals that of Fellini in Berkeley, and that is one of my all time favorites. Pardon these terrible photos, but the lighting was poor at our little corner booth, but I decided to forego asking to be reseated, because I was enjoying the ambiance. We ordered a tofu frittata Florentine and breaded French toast with banana flambé. Both were painfully good. The frittata was eggy with a dreamy hollandaise sauce, and the French toast was decadently rich. We paired this with fresh orange juice and soy lattés. That’s all the vegan adventures I can tell you about tonight. Stay tuned for part II, and tales from my next trip this April.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Very Belated Valentine's Post

I wanted to share some lovely treats that I made this Valentine’s Day. The first are the chocolate stout cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with cream cheese frosting from that same book with a dusting of cocoa powder instead of the crumb top (I just figured that would be more decadent.) Note; boys love things made with beer. They just do. Don’t question it, just learn how to make these or beer potatoes (I’ll have to do those in another post).
The second treat is a classic bit of pastry that I made for my Valentine’s dinner. I used the recipe for a fruit tart from The Joy of Vegan Baking. The shortbread crust is genius! The pastry cream is delicious, and the fruit choices were fabulous (thanks, me!). In case you can’t distinguish, I used clementines, kiwi, strawberries, and raspberries.
For pairing, you might couple the cupcakes with a nice creamy stout (there are many vegan ones), or you could go with a robust dessert wine such as a tawny port. I also recently tried a Muscat that was aged in Rye barrels that would go nicely. The tart would do well with a demi-sec sparkling wine. The tart is not a terribly sweet dessert, so a lightly sweet demi-sec would go beautifully with it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guest Post by Julia - Adventures in Vegan Jewish Cooking

Jewish food is totally weird and amazingly delicious. Unfortunately almost none of it is vegan. I was raised semi-Jewish (we celebrated holidays but never went to temple), and these foods are near and dear to my heart. Since going vegan about 7 months ago, I've been thinking about trying to make some of my favorite things -- I can't live the rest of my life without matzo ball soup! Unemployment leaves a person with a lot of time on their hands, and I spent the past two days cooking up a vegan Jewish feast!

I made matzo ball soup, latkes (potato pancakes) and homemade apple sauce. The soup recipe is courtesy of Isa at the ppk, and the recipe can be found at: If you have the time, I really recommend making your own soup broth instead of using pre-made broth. Definitely make it the day (or days) before. The broth recipe on the PPK website is pretty good. But her matzo ball recipe is awesome, and I swear it would fool any Jewish old ladies. Fresh dill is a must!

It’s pretty easy to find a vegan recipe for the latkes. Basically it's just grated potato and onion with salt, pepper, and some flour (or matzo meal if you wanna be fancy). Add some applesauce to help them stick together a bit. The recipe I used came from the Candle Cafe cookbook.
Applesauce is absolutely essential if you are serving latkes, and it's so easy to make from scratch! Granny smiths are a good choice, or a blend of a few different apples. Just de-core and cook for about an hour with water, lemon, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I like to leave the skins on, but you can also peel them.

This meal totally rocked, if I do say so myself. And Passover is just around the corner!

As for pairing, I'm not really an expert at this, but I would think a Chardonnay would go well with the rich soup flavors. Just don’t pair it with Manischewitz.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Easy Soups and Stews!

It has been unusually cold in San Francisco this winter (stupid climate change!), so I’ve been turning to simple but flavorful soups and stews to keep me warm. One easy way to create a soup or stew is to start with a mirepoix! Mirepoix is just a 2:1:1 ratio of onions to carrots to celery. Sauté this with olive oil and garlic and maybe some chili peppers and you’re set for several kinds of soup.

For my first soup I added faux chicken broth, parsnips, and white beans to the mirepoix. Then I seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs de provence with a spash of soy milk to create a creamy stew. This second soup is my very own special feel better chickeny (That means mock chicken in lush speak) soup! I started with a mirepoix, added faux chicken broth, White Wave seitan sautéed with some Earth Balance and Braggs, chopped up kale and spelt pasta. This was seasoned with Bay Leaves, Thyme, fresh parsley and salt and pepper. This last soup didn’t start with a mirepoix, just onions and garlic. The recipe is from the PPK, and includes instructions on making your own chili powder. One tip, we found that using a mortar and pestle is better than a food processor for this. It has an intense and spicey flavor, but is so simple to make. The pineapple garnish makes a huge difference, and the lime adds a nice splash of flavor.

Pairings: Each of these soups has its own unique character, so my suggested pairings are quite diverse. The parsnips have a very light and pleasant sweetness that would do nicely with a slight bit of residual sugar. A very lightly sweet Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling would go well with this soup. For the chickeny soup, I would also go for a white wine. The delicate broth couldn’t stand up to a red. For this, you could go with a light-bodied Chardonnay that doesn’t have too much oak or perhaps a Rhône white like Viognier, or a Rhône white blend. For the lentil soup, I would go with an earthy red to match the savory bean flavors. Try a Napa or Sonoma Merlot with a couple years of aging, nothing too young and fruity. The combination of hot and spicy stew with a nice glass of wine is a great way to ward off winter chills.