Thursday, January 31, 2008

Champion Soup, Cheezy Pizza

The Chef: Aurelia, with an assist from Sarah Premo

The Menu: Sweet potato and peanut soup, courtesy of Ms. Sarah Premo. This rich and savory blend of sweet potatoes, red potatoes, red bell pepper, ground peanuts, and stewed tomatoes, was just a little bit spicy and a whole lot delicious. Dare we say super? You know that we do. The cheezy little pizza triangles you see alongside came fresh from the freezer—that's right, they are Amy's Non-Dairy Cheeze Rice Crust Pizza. The rice crust was surprisingly sweet and hearty, and the cheeze melted to perfection. A big salad of romaine, orange bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes finished off the totally satisfying meal.

The Goods: Yep, sometimes people just stop by and bring us tasty meals, and really, who are we to argue? Sarah doesn't even work in-house, she's just that nice of a lady. In the spirit of giving, we are officially announcing the first-ever monthly Café VegNews giveaway contest!

Here's how it works: on the last day of every month we'll be awarding some awesome goodies. Oh, you would like to know how said goodies could become your goodies? Each month we'll pose a question, and the person who posts the best comment answer will be the winner. (Best by VN editors' standards, of course.) This month, we'll be sending out a fantastic VegNews tote bag chock-full of swag. Cookies? Yes. Stellar vegan products? You betcha. More surprises in store? But of course!

The Question: What's your favorite comfort meal on a cold, rainy day? Of course, we're only interested in vegan dishes!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spring Roll Spectacular

The Chef: Molly

The Menu: Oh, just a couple knock-your-socks-0ff spring rolls, that's all. Vermicelli, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, and red bell peppers filled out the inticing, transparent rice wrappers of these fresh, finger-food treats. Did Molly make a dipping sauce to go with them? No, she didn't. She made two dipping sauces: one spicy peanut and one rice wine vinegar and soy sauce combination. Both rocked. That is all. Oh, wait, no, there's more! Quinoa and ginger-soy marinated tofu prefectly complemented the righteous rolls.

The Goods: Do Wednesdays seem to always be loaded with fun surprises for you? Well, they may not always be like that for us either, but today was certainly a standout. Firstly, we were joined by special guest Korri Crowley who writes the awesome Veggieist feature on It's always a pleasure for us to get some out-of-town company for lunch, especially someone who's bringing veganism to Beantown. To celebrate, we dug into a cache of soon-to-be-released flavors from Purely Decadent. We're not at liberty to disclose the new flavors, but trust us, you will not want for variety. Here's a photo of Ms. Korri with our desserty bounty, and one of the group:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Freakin' Flautas

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: For today's meal, you'll need to go ahead and bust out the ol' x-ray specs. Since the flautas are rolled, that's the only way that you'll really get a good look at their black bean, roasted butternut squash, and caramelized onion insides. On top, you can see some Vegan Gourmet sour cream and a sprinkling of avocado. The condiments continue counter-clockwise with fresh lime wedges and—making its grand return to Café VegNews—corndiment! Yes, we've been missing this little roasted corn gem, which perfectly complimented the beans in las flautas. Finally, our daily salad got a little color kick from some red bell pepper and multi-color tomatoes.

The Goods: For a comforting lunch on yet another cold, dreary day Elizabeth came up with a hearty Mexican food-style lunch. Inspired by the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Flautas from Yellow Rose Recipes, these rolled little goodies totally hit the spot. Want to know more about this cookbook? Be sure and look for a full review in the May+June issue of VegNews!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mighty Vegetable Medley Soup

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Mixed vegetables and warm broth: is there anything better on a brisk January day? (The answer is no, fyi.) Ms. Jenny made a delicious soup of multiple veggies—corn, carrrots, fresh peas, spinach, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans—our beloved rice rotini, and a yummy broth. Sides of bell pepper- and carrot-infused brown rice, a salad with mixed tomatoes and a mustard vinaigrette, and fluffy focaccia rolls rounded out this feast.

The Goods: Eeeek! It's editorial deadline day and we are furiously at work getting the final artwork touches on the March+April issue. When the workday itself is so hectic, it's so nice to be able to count on a big, hearty meal to help power us through. And now that it's over, back to work we go!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Brunch o' Beans

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Have you ever had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into homemade tortilla crisps dusted with cinnamon and topped with savory black beans? Well, our humble condolences, because this surprising concoction should not be missed. As if our Friday's fortunes weren't plentiful enough, we feasted upon a colorful spinach, red pepper and cumin seed tofu scramble. All this goodness was perfectly offset with a light and crisp tomato and avocado salad, spooned atop a bed of organic baby greens.

The Goods: On this thunderous, dark day, there is little more comforting than being tucked away in our cozy VN office, and sitting down together to enjoy one of Colleen's decadent and artfully constructed meals. Today we feel particularly special because Colleen, unable to make it into the office, came in extra early this morning and prepared this surprise feast for us. Yes, some may call us spoiled, but for us, it's just another day at the VNHQ.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Superb Stroganoff

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: Savory, sour cream-y, sensational stroganoff. Ms. Aurelia outdid herself today with this outrageously good lunch. Using a mixture of mushrooms, mushroom-based fake meat, rice rotini, spices, and a hearty helping of Vegan Gourmet's new sour cream she created a hands-down fantastic main course. Of course, the goodness didn't stop there. Oh no, far from it. In addition, we had wonderful steamed collard greens, and a simple salad of cucumber, avocado, and tomato. Hello, food-induced coma, how are you today?

The Goods: It's hard to think of something more interesting or additional to say after recounting today's menu. The food was so incredibly good that most of us had a hard time getting back into work mode—the mark of a truly exceptional lunchtime. We certainly hope everyone got to eat something good mid-day today, because, once again, we have no leftovers to share.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Feast of Tofu Fingers

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: Tofu fingers. We devoured a mountain of tofu fingers. Crisp and surprisingly non-greasy, these little textured treats never stood a chance against the ravenous hordes here at VN. Equally demolished were Lisa's super-lemony caesar salad with sourdough croutons, and peppy pinwheels filled with sweet-hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, and "cream cheese."

The Goods: You know how sometimes here we make mention of using leftovers? Today's menu is inelligible for reincarnation, as all of it has already been consumed with gusto. Seriously, the tofu fingers—Ms. Lisa's signature dish—hit the spot in a big way. If there's anything more exciting than getting to eat a big, delicious meal in the middle of the day, it's getting to eat a big, delicious meal and trying out a new product all at once! The "cream cheese" mentioned in the menu is the brand new offering from Vegan Gourmet. Be on the lookout for a full review in an upcoming issue of VegNews!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Lotta Frittata

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Frittata. It's fun to say, it's fun to eat, it's pretty much the most fun you can have at lunchtime. Today's mixed-up main contained some leftover spaghettini, tons of organic broccoli, and a super-secret tofu mixture. Okay, okay, we give—you strong-armed us. The mystery tofu is a blend of silken and extra firm 'fu combined with olive oil, nutritional yeast, curry powder, and a little bit of salt. The same old everyday-style salad was graced with bits of delicious mango—courtesy of Ms. Frankie—and the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch homemade herbed croutons that have become a gripping addiction in the office ever since we sampled them last Friday.

The Goods: As is probably already apparent, we don't tend to make totally traditional dishes around here. That said, the Italian custom of throwing everything that happens to be in the fridge into a frittata that comes out of the oven all warm and homey is certainly a cooking style we can appreciate. While this frittata might not have been the most intricate creation ever to grace Café VegNews, it certainly did warm us up on another dreary winter day here in SF. What's the perfect addition to any fake-eggy dish? Bacon Salt. Curious? Don't miss the a full review in the March+April issue of VegNews!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Industrious Indian

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Oh, Indian food, why would we get out of bed if you didn't exist? Today Ms. Jenny treated us to a savory delight of chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots, and mushrooms sauteéd with a packet of Indian spices. Served alongside perfectly cooked basmati rice, toasted slices of whole-grain bread, and a simple salad of mixed greens, cucumber, and Jenny's homemade almond salad dressing, this flavorful main course was seriously satisfying.

The Goods: Welcome back to the work week, everyone. The VNHQ is already in high gear with editorial and design deadlines fast approaching. Even when time is tight, the team here comes together to make this magazine happen. Case in point: Ms. Aurelia—our usual Monday chef—was obviously swamped this morning and the ever-considerate Jenny stepped in to save the day. Well, at least she saved lunch, and really, you don't want to see the office goings-on when all of us are hungry.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fried "Chicken" Friday

The Chef: Colleen and Elizabeth

The Menu: As promised, we made a full menu of recipes taken from The New York Times bestseller Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. First thing is first: Yes, those are onion rings. Freakin' onion rings. Moving right around the plate of goodness we have the bitches' Caesar Salad with Homemade Herbed Croutons. Finally, for the amazing main we got hearty helpings of Oven-fried "Chicken" with fresh chopped tomatoes on top.

The Goods: Okay, are you ready for the big reveal of our special guest? We know you've been on the edge of your seat all week wondering who could possibly be special enough to warrant an invitation to lunch here at the VNHQ. And, drumroll please, the top-secret guest was: Rory Freedman! You know how we do things around these parts, once we get a theme going—like recipes from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch—we like to go all the way. The cutie-pie author and VN columnist made time to stop by and enjoy lunch with us during her busy book-tour schedule, and we were thrilled to have her. Does it get better? Why, funny you should ask, because it totally does. Today was freakishly warm and we got to eat al fresco, which was a big treat for us. And so, in the spirit of treats, here's a recipe! Since it's such a rarity that we actually use a recipe for lunch, we thought everyone might enjoy getting a peak between the covers of SBITK. Without further ado, here's how we made the Oven-fried "Chicken":

Serves 6-8

What You Need:
Refined coconut oil, for greasing baking sheet
3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup vegan chicken bouillon
3 tablespoons corn meal
1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 cup soymilk
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1-1/2 pouds seitan, in large hunks

What You Do:
1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Grease baking sheet with coconut oil.
2. In a shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs, bouillon, corn meal, salt, paprika, and cayenne. Place soymilk in a second shallow bowl, and the brown rice flour in a third.
3. Dip each seitan piece in the soymilk, the brown rice flour, the soymilk again, and then the breadcrumb mixture, coating thoroughly. Place seitan pieces on greased baking sheet.
4. Bake for 10 minutes, turn, and bake on the other side for another ten minutes.

And for an extra-extra bonus, here's a group shot of the lovely ladies of VegNews. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Comforting Curry

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Where to begin? This most amazing meal had three elements: an extremely fluffy and wonderful mash of regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, an absolutely astounding coconut-peanut curry over sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and finally, an outrageously good amaranth-artichoke-tomato-bell pepper mix with Indian spices. The word "yum" just doesn't seem big enough to encompass how phenomenally good this lunch was.

The Goods: Every bite of this imaginative Indian cuisine-inspired meal was better than the last. Every. Single. One. What's more, the lovely orange color seen all over the plate meant that we were probably getting enough beta carotene to last us a lifetime. Just to give you an idea of how satisfied the staff was after eating this goodness, the office supply of cookies and other sweets has remained untouched. Sure, it might not stay that way all day, but there wasn't the rush for dessert that tends to happen on a daily basis in this office of sweets freaks.

Don't forget: we have a super-surprise guest joining us tomorrow for our smorgasbord of recipes from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. You definitely don't want to miss it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Poppy Paprikash

The Chef: Molly

The Menu: Holy moly Molly. For her first cooking day here at VN, Molly whipped up an excellent batch of Eggplant Paprikash with bright red and yellow bell peppers, perfectly firm eggplant, and a tofu sour cream fit for the most discerning Hungarian palate. The smoky flavor of paprika and subtle spiciness of a dash of red pepper really made this paprikash pop. Served over gluten-free brown rice rotini and next to a simple lettuce-and-tomato salad, Molly's first lunch main course was a decidedly delicious debut.

The Goods: So, as you probably already know, our method of cooking lunch here at the VNHQ is basically just to throw everything in the kitchen at a plate and hope for the best. For this reason, we generally don't have recipes, since we don't generally use them. However, Molly decided to break with tradition and actually use a recipe—with measurements and everything!—for today's lunch. So rejoice, all you recipe lovers out there, and bask in the ordered glow that is Eggplant Paprikash from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. As many of you probably already know, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen was chosen as reader's Favorite Veg Blog in the 2007 Veggie Awards, and is a great go-to blog for healthy, creative recipes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

VegNews Meets Google

The Chef: Justin Lucke

The Menu: Today we dined extravagantly. First we got to choose from a salad bar equipped with spring mix, baby arugula, roasted fennel, super-crunchy croutons, and a selection of four vegan salad dressings. Oh yeah. Not to be stereotypically vegetarian and just eat salad, we also feasted on porcini-mushroom-stuffed phyllo triangles with cashew cream and a tomato-shallot reduction, squares of perfectly firm polenta with saged butternut squash and tomato topping, roasted multicolor potatoes, and sautéed Brussels sprouts so fresh and spicy that we all swore they were tossed in wasabi. It doesn't end there. We were also treated to fresh giant pretzel sticks, crisp carrot-ginger soup, and abundant beverages, like all-natural sodas and juices.

The Goods: We tend to feel pretty darn spoiled here at the VNHQ what with our fantastic vegan lunches prepared right here on site every day. Today, we took it to a whole new level by taking ourselves down to Google's campus at the invitation of their head vegan chef, Justin Lucke. (He's easy to pick out in the photo as the one wearing a chef's uniform!) Lucke is in charge of one of the many cafés at Google—the one with the most vegan options, of course. The food was absolutely wonderful, and we certainly took advantage of the cafeteria-style serving system to go back for second helpings of our favorite dishes. In addition to the awesome eats, we got to talk with Lucke during the meal, and if there's anything better than eating great, vegan food, it's eating great vegan food while talking with the passionate vegan chef who made it. A lawyer-turned-chef, Lucke is clearly proud of the food he serves people, and the opportunity he has to make people's working day a little bit more healthy and a lot more delicious. A huge thanks to Justin for his hospitality and phenomenal food!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Casserole Surprise

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: This week promises to be full of suprises, starting with today's luncheon debut of Aurelia's veggie delight casserole. This spur-of-the-moment creation incorporated all the best of today's organic produce delivery, including collard greens, broccoli, roasted red potatoes, and topped with a creamy red bell pepper and tofu topping. Getting creative in the kitch is what it's all about people, and Aurelia outdid herself with this mouthwatering concoction. It satisfies both the adventurous palate, with a mélange of organic vegetables and tofu cream sauce, while providing the familiar comfort of a homemade casserole from scratch.

The Goods: VegNews is having an exciting week, beginning tomorrow with a field trip to Google headquarters for lunch. Friday's menu will be featuring recipes from the cookbook that is burning up the best-seller list, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. We are also waiting with bated breath for the appearance of a surprise guest towards the end of the week—at Café VegNews we like to mix things up and keep it fresh.

Friday, January 11, 2008

T.G.I. Pizza

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Could there be a tastier way to wrap up our first full week back at the VNHQ? Using fresh, organic ingredients—and a whole lotta love—Ms. Colleen lavished our senses with this colorful spread: focaccia pizza, loaded up with artichoke hearts, red peppers, olives, Cheezly, and topped with fresh rosemary and oregano plucked straight from our backyard (okay—the pot in our driveway). Keeping in line with this week's soup theme, we warmed our bellies with a thick coconut corn chowder, garnished with fresh lime and spinach. Finally, a spoonful of fresh lemon juice and olive oil went a long way tossed with romaine hearts and local cherry tomatoes.

The Goods: Today's meal was the perfect antidote to any vegan diet naysayers; VN's busy associate publisher donned her chef hat for a mere 30 minutes, turning out these simple yet sensational dishes, proving once again that vegans are as resourceful as they are nourished. With a little practice, anyone can learn to turn a few basic ingredients into a mouthwatering masterpiece. Don't have any freshly baked vegan focaccia bread on hand? You can whip up your own pizza using almost any flat-bread, including pitas or tortilla wraps. Have your own pizza protocol? We'd love to here all about it!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Butternut Soup Bliss

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Today Ms. Jenny whipped us up a perfectly thick and rich butternut and potato soup. If the bright yellow hue wasn't enough reason to love this soup on its own, the array of spices Jenny included gave us ample loving ammo. Nutmeg, both dried and fresh rosemary, and the super secret ingredient—roasted nutritional yeast(!)—imparted a distinctly savory flavor. Accompanying our staple soup was a nice side of pumpkin seed and tarragon couscous. And our new favorite starch ever, another variety of French Meadow's rolls, the Sprouted Organic Peasant Rolls with Ezekiel Grains. Just as delectable as their hemp counterparts and unbeatably hot out of the oven, these were devoured with all available haste.

The Goods: After Lisa's fantastic pasta interlude our soup theme was back in action today. Coincidentally (or is it?) the sickies in the group have almost all made complete recoveries. And despite a little rain early this morning, the skies even seem to be clearing. Anyone else have good news to share? We're all ears!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Puttanesca Pizzazz

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: Pasta puttanesca: feeding the masses from Napoli to San Franciso. This simple, delicious dish was the utterly lawful marriage of tomatoes, garlic, capers, and green olives. When ingredients this good get together, there's no stoping the resulting savory sensation, and today's lunch was no exception. Oh wait—that's right, it does get better. How about a fresh salad of mixed greens and cherry tomatoes with a homemade, blended vinaigrette? That's exactly what we were lucky enough to enjoy beside our main course star.

The Goods: As you may have noticed, there's a new name in the chef category. Today was Ms. Lisa's cooking and blog debut, and she blew us all away with this flavorful, saucy pasta. Lisa is one of our brand new editorial assistants. She will be, at least, if we ever let her out of the kitchen. When she makes food this good, that's a big "if."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Spicy Soup

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Oh posole, how can you be so wonderful? Of course, not having pork is a big step, but there's just something magical about the combination of green chiles, potatoes, garlic, and broth. For those who are interested, the ingredients listed there could also serve as a recipe, since making this soup bascially just involves combining that list with amounts "to taste" of each ingredient. To help cool down our mouths from the spicy chiles, we had a light green salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and chunks of Cheezly. Finishing off the plate were warm rolls fresh from the oven. Yes, you read that right.

The Goods: For those unfamiliar with the wonder that is green chile, you might want to go ahead and get acquainted. The ones in our soup today came straight from New Mexico, courtesy of Elizabeth's Uncle Eddie, who was kind enough to send out a shipment for Christmas. Our rolls were fresh from the freezer, shortly before they were fresh from the oven. French Meadow's Healthy Hemp Rolls, which are organic and have lots of good, hempy protein, were just the right thing to help us tame the chiles' fire.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Miso Soupy

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: Oh yes, it's going to be a soupy week here. Today we got off to an excellent start with a lovely mild miso from Ms. Aurelia, complete with bite-sized nibbles of tofu and nice, big pieces of collard green leaves. Adding to the comfort food theme was a rice noodle and bell pepper toss, and some delicious slices of Judy's Breadsticks. Everything on this plate was warm, homey, and satisfying, which are just about the best possible adjectives to use at the start of the week.

The Goods: We're mostly dried out after the big storms this weekend, but even though the majority of the actual rain has passed, there are a few of us in the office feeling a little under the weather. To combat the encroaching sore throats and sniffly noses a nice pot of hot soup and a few gallons of tea are just what the doctor ordered. Ok, none of us is actually a doctor, nor has anyone played one on TV, but most of us here drink tea regularly, and are always on the lookout for great new cold-fighting blends. Anyone have a favorite?

We Blacked Out

Happy Monday morning everyone! You may have noticed that there wasn't an entry on Friday, and there's a pretty good reason for that: we blacked out. This time it wasn't from eating too many holidays cookies, but a real, honest-to-goodness power outage that affected most of California and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity over the weekend. We had to close the VNHQ on Friday, but are glad to be back in action today. We'll return to our regularly scheduled lunch broadcast shortly.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cozy Cuban Lentil Soup

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Hello, lentil soup. A nice, brothy soup with lentils, red and green bell peppers, potatoes, parsley, tomatoes, and traditional Cuban spices was what greeted the staff when we sat down for lunch today. Did the goodness stop there? No, no it didn't. As with any of Jenny's phenomenal meals, this was a multi-course feast. Long-grain white rice and a fresh loaf of bread with olive oil made excellent sides, and then, there was dessert. Thick slices of guava paste and turrón de coco (a coconut candy) accompanied each other in delicious, tropical harmony.

The Goods: The rain is pouring outside the VNHQ today, and this soup was just the thing to warm us, and, according to Cuban tradition, will bring us prosperity in the New Year. Ms. Jenny recently returned from a trip to Miami and was kind enough to bring us treats, which is how our exotic dessert menu came to be. As if her meals aren't special enough in themselves, this little added bonus put a spectacular and sugary spin on an already-awesome effort.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Welcome Back Burritos

The Chef: Joe

The Menu: Is there any Californian tradition more delicious than burritos? No, officially, there isn't. Ours today had the perfect mixture of delicious rice, savory black beans, fresh salsa, and avocado. With the appropriate side of chips and salsa, this was a delightful welcome back treat.

The Goods: After a long, luxurious holiday break we are back in action here at the VNHQ. Today is extra-exciting because it marks the beginning of two brand new VegNews Editorial Assistants, Molly and Lisa. We are thrilled to have the new faces in the office, and just couldn't think of a better way to show our enthusiasm than by getting burritos for lunch. So, okay, Joseph didn't actually make the burritos and wrap them himself, but he did do the extremely important job of ordering them and bringing them to the office, for which he gets credit. Welcome back and Happy New Year to all!