Friday, January 30, 2009

Quick Quinoa

The Chef: Stacy

The Menu: It's official: Ms. Stacy has mastered the VNHQ style of cooking, which is basically summarized as the I'll-cook-whatever-I-can-find-in-the-fridge method. From a few humble ingredients she pulled together the lovely meal you see above, which consisted of roasted Brussels sprouts and dinosaur kale, and a filling, slightly sweet quinoa salad with cinnamon-roasted delicata squash, craisins, and avocado. Yes, the word you're looking for here is "yum."

The Goods: It's the end of a long week here at the VNHQ, and we couldn't have been happier with this send-off meal. We learned that quinoa, while technically not a grain, is often considered the fastest-cooking grain, which makes it extra handy for days when you're short on time and long on stuff to do. If it weren't for said stuff, we all could have stayed outside in the warm sunshine the rest of the day!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ready Ribs

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A savory plate of totally rockin' barbecue ribs, a nice, big green salad, and fresh-from-the-oven biscuits doused with maple butter. Yeah, we eat pretty stinking well around here. The delicious faux ribs came courtesy of Frankie, who also makes the barbecue sauce in which they are smothered. She could easily make millions on the stuff—it's the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and smoky. No skimper when it comes to sauces herself, Colleen whipped up the delicious maple butter that topped our biscuits, literally, by combining a little Earth Balance and a little maple syrup.

The Goods: Today is a very exciting day at the VNHQ as we are sending our fan-freaking-tastic March+April issue to press. Last minute final edits and design choices leave little time for lunch-making, so we were all thankful to find a nice big tray of frozen ribs left lovingly in our freezer. Even the biscuits, which Colleen made from scratch using the recipe in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Joy of Vegan Baking, took fewer than ten minutes from start to finish, making this one speedy, superb lunch.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: An incredibly veganized version of the San Franciscan original! That's right, cioppino was created right here in the City by the Bay, and today's delicious dish did the fish-free crowd proud. A rich tomato base, celery, carrots, purple potatoes, and hearty helpings of faux fish and shrimp comprised these belly-busting bowl fulls. Ms. Aurelia served up the soup with the other well-known SF favorite—sourdough bread. Sides of couscous with garbanzo beans and shredded greens and a fresh, bright salad made the meal complete.

The Goods: Faux fish can be dangerous territory for even the most accomplished veg chefs, but everyone agreed that today's cioppino was an outstanding success. The recipe was adapted from that of Tadich Grill, San Francisco's oldest restaurant. In addition to the utterly yummy eats we got to enjoy the company of four guests: Justin Torrellas of Organic Athlete, and Adrian, Mariana, and Emilia Carstens, who happen to be related to a certain senior editor. Emilia happens to be the cutest baby on the planet—yes, that's her official title—so it would be a crime for us to keep her to ourselves. Here she is with today's incredible chef!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Slaw Food

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Some of the brightest collard-green wraps we've ever seen! These large, leafy beauties were stuffed with a chickpea-couscous pilaf, sautéed squash with onions and tofu, and a red cabbage and shredded carrot slaw. Yes, all these ingredients were items we just happened to have on-hand, and yes, they somehow worked out well together.

The Goods: We're big fans of the impromptu menu here at the VNHQ, as you might have noticed. As you can see, we just might have developed a collective taste for colorful coleslaw, and couldn't more highly recommend reacquainting yourself with cabbage. The best thing about slaw? It takes roughly ten seconds of chopping and shredding, maybe another five for mixing up a marinade, and voila!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Welcome Back Curry

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: In another installment of her signature dish, Ms. Lyndsay concocted a crazy-good green curry, which she served over brown basmati rice. The savory, coconut-milk-flavored dish featured both sweet and russet potatoes, broccoli, peas, onions, garlic, and big, toothsome chunks of tofu. With the slightly spicy green curry sauce, all the other ingredients came together in perfect one-bowl-meal harmony, to which we say woot.

The Goods: Since weekends around these parts can be a little on the intense side, it's always nice to start the workweek off with a warm, comforting meal—just like the one we thoroughly enjoyed today. We also got to share the meal with one Paul Saccone—a longtime friend of VN—and Ms. Tara Failey, a sometime VN contributor. We only wish we'd had more time to enjoy their company, as today's also our editorial deadline and we're swamped! Gung hay fat choy!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cookbook Week: The Vegan Table

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup alongside olive oil-brushed, toasted ciabatta and a healthy helping of fresh salad greens. If I do say so myself, our vegan table was lookin' and tastin' pretty snazzy, thanks to Ms. Colleen's immaculate culinary creation. Crunchy bread dipped in a smooth pumpkin-purée, seasoned with a medley of sweet and savory spices made a perfect pair. Yum.

The Goods: With half of the VN staff out at the WIPP Women's Leadership Conference, the office is feeling a wee bit empty this afternoon, which made us extra excited to fill up with this hearty meal inspired by Collen Patrick-Goudreau's soon-to-be-available cookbook. Yes, from the author of the celebrated The Joy of Vegan Baking comes a second and equally magnificent roster of recipes. With more than 200 to choose from, Ms. Colleen did an excellent job. Her version of this autumn-inspired soup made for a perfect cookbook week finale. Although MIA here in the VN kitchen, she was kind enough to whip up this batch of made-from-scratch soup and have it hand-delivered. Thanks, Colleen!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cookbook Week: This Crazy Vegan Life

The Chef: Stacy

The Menu: A crazy vegan feast! For Ms. Stacy's second foray into the VNHQ kitchens she armed herself with This Crazy Vegan Life, a new book from Christina Pirello. The resultant Moroccan Lentil Stew and Chili-Spiced Cornbread were absolutely delicious. Big, hearty bites of butternut squash and sweet potato bolstered the lentil stew, and the cornbread had a perfectly grainy texture. From her own repertoire, Stacy busted out a spinach salad with shredded red cabbage, chopped tomatoes, avocado, and, of course, craisins.

The Goods: Stacy finds lentils "intriguing" and couldn't resist the call of this stew. While she was a little unsure about how much "a generous pinch" translates to, we're very certain that her spice usage was right on—there were lots of clean plates!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cookbook Week: Vegan Soul Kitchen

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: More stellar soul food! Yeah, um, maybe we totally love having soul food twice in the same week, and maybe, just maybe, we were all totally blown away by the loveliness of this plate. Oh, did you actually want to know what all that gorgeousness is? Well, fine. Ms. Aurelia's Open-Faced BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches with Carrot-Cayenne Coleslaw started out with toasted, fluffy rosemary focaccia, which she topped with some super spicy barbecue-style tempeh, and, of course, the crazy-colorful slaw. Is that not the prettiest little cabbage you ever did see? Yeah. Yum.

The Goods: Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen promises to be one hell of a cookbook, especially if today's lunch is any indication. First of all, look at that plate. Gaw. Secondly, Aurelia reported that the recipes were easy to follow and put together, though she did recommend reading them all the way through before beginning—let's just say that the coleslaw was incredibly delicious, despite not having marinated overnight. It would be difficult to describe how very much we enjoyed these sandwiches, so instead we'll leave you with a little Radiohead, which, according to VSK, is this meal's soundtrack!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cookbook Week: The Tropical Vegan Kitchen

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A trip to the tropics! Well, at least a lunchtime taste transportation to the tropics. From Donna Klein's brand new book, Elizabeth whipped up a pile of Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas. You might notice that the black beans in the photo are looking a little pale, which is primarily due to the fact that they are pinto beans. Even with the substitution, these 'dillas were delicious thanks to their secret ingredient—green chiles. Crispy whole-wheat tortillas wrapped everything up, and a side salad of kale, lettuce, craisins, and shredded carrot completed the meal.

The Goods: Yeah, about being a vegan in the tropics. About that. If Klein's book is any indication of the tropical vegan lifestyle, you very well might be getting future Café VegNews dispatches from the shores of the Caribbean. Today's chef is strongly in favor of implementing this strategy. The bright flavors of the quesadillas perfectly matched the optimistic mood we're all in following today's inauguration!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cookbook Week: The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: Some seriously good soul food! Today's Tofu-Tater Wraps started out with whole-wheat tortillas, which Ms. Lyndsay topped with marinated tofu and very peppery seasoned potatoes. Next came a layer of spinach, tomatoes, onions, and avocado, all of which we doused with a savory dijon-soy dressing. Hearty and healthy are definitely how we'd describe this meal, which is just how we like to start out the week.

The Goods: Yes! Cookbook week is back by popular demand! Well, OK, technically no one demanded it, but we couldn't bear to keep all the great cookbooks in the office to ourselves. This week we'll all be making meals straight from the pages of hot, new cookbooks. Today's effort comes from The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy by Afya Ibomu, and, according to Lyndsay, the recipe was very easy to follow and well-organized. According to all of us, the results were delicious and we can't wait to bring you more cookbook-centered creations! Happy MLK day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Super-Satisfying Sandwiches

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Maybe just about the most amazing sandwiches ever to be produced at the VNHQ. Maybe. Colleen toasted some perfectly crunchy rustic bread, made her signature cumin-seed-infused hummus, marinated tofu in teriyaki sauce, tossed chopped cherry tomatoes with basil and garlic, ripped fat leaves of lettuce from their heads, and, oh yes, she caramelized onions to go on top. These behemoth hand-holds were perfectly accompanied by a huge, hearty marinated kale salad with thick slices of button mushrooms and a generous sprinkling of craisins.

The Goods: Holy crap, this was one phenomenal meal! The only way to properly enjoy such a fantastic feast was to eat al fresco, in the nearly 60-degree sunshine that's currently shining down on us here in San Francisco. Today's lunch was a lovely end to the workweek (the afternoon doesn't count!), and a satisfying beginning to the weekend, which promises to be full of fun. The Fancy Food Show will be going on, there are events to attend, organizations to start, and books to write. Though, of course, first thing's first—if anyone needs us tomorrow, we'll be lying on beach towels in the sun.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Delicious Debut

The Chef: Stacy

The Menu: An absolutely to-die-for spread of barbecue-sauce-smothered faux ribs, courtesy of Frankie's Falsies. Heated to perfection, these meat-ish treats were served with a huge, beautiful salad of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and crushed pecans straight from the holiday kitchen exploits of Stacy's mother. Finally, steak-cut french fries and sweet-potato fries, which were superbly seasoned completed the plate.

The Goods: That's right—that's a never-before-seen name gracing the chef category! Today we enthusiastically welcomed Ms. Stacy, our editorial assistant, into the club of cooks with her debut in the VNHQ kitchen. It was a delicious and auspicious beginning, and we's already hungry for next Thursday's lunch! Well, okay, maybe we're technically still full right now, but theoretically, we're super stoked. Hooray for Stacy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guamanian Grub

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: Get ready, we've gone Guamanian. Today's savory, delicious meal was comprised of brown basmati rice, which Aurelia topped with spicy coconut spinach. We each could have eaten roughly nine tons of this spinach—it was like the most decadent creamed spinach you've ever had, then add a tangy combination of island-inspired spices. Alongside the superb main course, we enjoyed a traditional Guamanian finadene sauce, huge salad of mixed greens, sliced mushrooms, grated carrots, and chopped tomatoes. Warm wedges of whole-wheat tortilla finished off the plate.

The Goods: Recipe testing continued today, which means a couple of things: 1. we get to taste something new and fabulous and 2. you will soon get to see this recipe in print! Of course, you'll want to check out Robin Robertson's Global Vegan column for this faraway, scrumptious treat. Speaking of things faraway, don't miss the New Year's first installments of Press Pass!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Awesome Ayurveda

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: An array Ayurvedic eats. From the top we had the kale-infused savory chickpea pancakes. Yes, they are an amalgam of goodness, and yes, for the first time in her life Elizabeth succeeded in flipping them in the pan—woo hoo! Moving clockwise we enjoyed a lovely, comforting kitchari with yellow split peas and brown basmati rice. In the foreground you see a mixed vegetable korma, which featured "cheddar" cauliflower (aka cauliflower with a lovely golden color), potatoes, raisins, green beans, and peas. Though it isn't pictured, we also dug into some chai-spiced rice pudding for dessert, which was followed promptly by a delivery of chocolates from Frankie. Yes, it's possible that some of us are spoiled.

The Goods: No, Elizabeth hasn't discovered her latent calling to the ancient teachings of Ayurveda—not quite yet anyway. Today's lunch was completely comprised of tester recipes for our March+April issue, and let's just say that you might want to get a copy in your hands as soon as it comes out. Sadly, there are still a few weeks to wait, so in the meantime, console yourself with some of our other favorites.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pretty Pancakes

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: A return to one of our favorite lunch themes: brunch! Ms. Lyndsay busted out some absolutely delicious pancakes, which we generously drizzled with maple syrup. As a savory side she scrambled up some sausage-style t.v.p (textured vegetable protein, for anyone not hip to our jive) and broccoli.

The Goods: You might recall that we went a little pancake crazy not too long ago, and now have about 800 bags of pancake mix—to go with our 800 pounds of craisins—just waiting to be whipped up into yummy lunches. Aside from the obvious (aka making pancakes) what's your favorite use of pancake mix? Let us know in the comments and you just might see your suggestion put into practice in an upcoming post!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Simple Stir-Fry

The Chef: Joseph

The Menu: A mostly Asian-food-inspired lunch, with one notable Irish twist. Joseph cooked up a savory blend of curried amaranth and red quinoa, over which he served a very deliciously garlicky stir-fry of snap peas, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, water chestnuts, and tofu. It's always a treat to get vegetable gyoza, and today's dumplings had a lovely gingery bite. Finally, our plates were completed with some very colorful mashed potatoes.

The Goods: Huzzah! Mark your calendars! Today was officially the first day of 2009 that found us dining al fresco. The added sunshine certainly boosted our spirits—we hear that's one of the side effects of absorping vitamin D. Since we're in such good moods, a little treat seems in order. A number of you guys have commented that you'd like to see recipes on this here blog, and while the brutal truth is that we very rarely use recipes to create our lunches, we also don't want to leave you hanging. So, please enjoy our Simple Evening Pasta recipe, which makes such a lovely meal that it graces the cover of our current issue!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Five-Star Soup

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: An incredible three-squash soup! Colleen blended acorn, butternut, and delicata squashes together with an Indian-food-inspired blend of spices for this thick, filling main course. Alongside our bowls were slices of perfectly crunchy rosemary crostini, and a mixed green salad with our favorite new add-in: craisins. All together this was one satisfying meal, utterly worthy of the five-star rating.

The Goods: Get ready, we've got gobs of goods today! First, we got to share this amazing lunch with Mr. Billy Hulting, who just happens to be a rockstar. No, literally, that's what he does for a living. Billy plays percussion for Zappa Plays Zappa, and we just learned that the band is nominated for a Grammy! Woo hoo! In his limited free time, Billy also helps to organize WorldFest, a totally-vegan eco-friendly festival in Los Angeles, where you're sure to find a VegNews booth. Accompanying Billy was his delightful mother, Pat, who lives here in San Francisco and whom we hope to see again soon! As if all this wasn't enough, we were also treated to some insanely good candy cane brownies from Sticky Fingers. Yes, you read that right: candy cane brownies. If anyone needs us this afternoon, we'll be under our desks in hyperglycemic comas.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cosmic Casserole

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: An out-of-this-world sweet potato casserole, which Aurelia topped with layered phyllo dough and Parma. Yes, we are wearing our extra-fancy pants today around the VNHQ. Not only did she bust out the delicious main course, she also prepared a quinoa, corn, and dried cranberry (or craisins, if that's how you roll) salad, which she garnished with crispy onions. Finally, a simple mixed-green salad with a perfect vinaigrette finished off the meal.

The Goods: If there's phyllo dough in the office, you can bet that Aurelia will up her already high culinary ante. We couldn't be happier about this fact, and would encourage anyone who's been shy toward this crispy dough in the past to break out and give it a try. Speaking of trying new things, if you've never tossed craisins in your grain salad before, you're crazy! We are the proud owners of roughly 800 pounds of craisins thanks to the generosity of Ms. Abby, who left them in our hands in order to avoid being charged for taking them back to Missouri with her. Thanks, Abby!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mucho Mexican Food

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A delicious spread of crispy corn tortillas, savory black beans, sautéed bell peppers and onions, and salsa. Um, yum. The fantastic main course was accompanied by some absolutely outrageously good oven-roasted potatoes and a large, fresh salad with orange slices and marinated tofu. Yes, we could totally eat like this all the time. Like, right now—even having just eaten.

The Goods: Aside from the highly satisfying meal, the goods today include the fact that we're in full swing again here in the VNHQ. Elizabeth is everyone's envy with her fabulously stylish arm sling (and purse full of heavy-duty ibuprofen!), and is thankful for the warm wishes. There's lots of work to do, so it's great to have a full team on the job.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Coconut Roasted Vegetable Stew

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: A wintery blend of roasted sweet and russet potatoes, butternut squash, and fresh peas atop a mound of brown rice perfected with a pinch of Parma. Lyndsay was kind enough to incorporate a hint of sweet coconut and savory spice on this drizzly day, which satiated our stomachs and minds with warm tropical flavors and accompanied daydreams. An assortment of desserts salvaged from the pre-holiday surplus, including, but certainly not limited to, Sun Flour Baking Company's snickerdoodles and dark pecan Brooklyn Fudge took the edge off our mutual post-holiday sugar withdrawal.

The Goods: On our first official day back from the holiday break, we happily welcomed the arrival of 2009 and our new editorial assistant, Stacy Blondin, with this delightfully delicious menu. It was elegantly paired with a thought-provoking discussion of Stacy's only loathed legume, the lima bean, which we were all thankful Lyndsay omitted from the day's offerings. One lingering question was where a desperate shopper might actually find this neglected ingredient, other than among Rainbow Grocery's infinite bulk-food selections. One standard ingredient we did miss, however, was Elizabeth. Unfortunately, she was unable to join the celebration due to an ill-fated morning bike ride to the VNHQ, which left her sprained, stitched, and sedated. (Get well soon, E!) With our tummies tamed, we made a beeline back to our respective work stations, anxious to embark on the New Year's tasks, among them the next issue of VegNews ...