Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy Herbivore Chocolate Banana Bread

Happy Herbivore's delicious Chocolate Banana Bread. This is a test recipe for her upcoming cookbook, so you'll have to wait to bake your own loaf. :)

I was in New York City last weekend and had the immense pleasure of trying some new (to me) vegetarian/vegan restaurants there. I'll try to get those posts up as quickly as possible.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chana Palak Masala

This bowl of deliciousness is Happy Herbivore's wonderful Chana Palak Masala. Since it's a tester recipe, you'll have to wait for her cookbook to be released, but believe me, it's going to be worth the wait! The Chana Palak Masala shown here is spicy, aromatic, and comforting. I loved every bite and I'm quite grateful that I have leftovers!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hell's Kitchen

On tonight's episode of Hell's Kitchen, Chef Ramsay tested the chefs' palates with three dishes: chicken parmesan, beef stew, and sausage ravioli. What was missing from each dish? The animals! Each dish was made with soy-based meat and NONE of the chefs were able to identify the missing ingredient. Petrozza said the ravioli filling was "beautiful," "awesome," and "wonderful, wonderful, wonderful." Ben said they "must've gone to a damn good vegetarian store or something cuz, I mean, you know, it tasted like meat." Score one for the vegetarian meat substitutes. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Raw and the Baked

My aspiring raw foodie friend, R (I've blogged about her here), has requested her blog moniker be Rawie, so that is what she'll be called henceforth. Yesterday, Rawie very generously took me to lunch for my birthday to Euphoria Loves Rawvolution, a raw restaurant in Santa Monica that my massage therapist has been wanting me to try. It's a cafe with interesting yogic paintings on the walls and wooden tables. There's a tiny juice bar with two bar stools, the ordering is done at the cash register, and food is brought to the tables. Customers bus their own plates. The restaurant has a pretty good vibe overall, but the service was a bit questionable. We sat down w/ menus to decide what we wanted, were served water, and then went to order. While we were ordering, our water glasses were cleared and our table given to someone else. We'd almost finished our meals by the time we were given water again.

Enough of all that, though. Let's get to the food. You can find the menu here. I ordered Coco-phoria (from the menu: Curried coconut jerky sandwich, drizzled with tangy mayonnaise, served atop onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and Onion Bread). Do you see the onion bread issue? That was resolved by ordering it on apple bread, which tasted like dried apples and cinnamon. It was quite good. Unfortunately, I had to pick huge onion slices off my sandwich because they didn't think I meant business when I asked for no onions. Since the apple bread was really chewy, like a thick fruit leather, I deconstructed my sandwich to eat it. I had the bread with tomato slices on it, then ate the coconut jerky, which was very nicely spiced, and lettuce with a fork. My meal was very tasty and something I'd definitely try again.

Rawie let me taste her meal, too. She chose a salad combo of Kale Salad, Herbed Olive Couscous, and No-Bean Hummus. All three were good, but nothing special, if you ask me.

After our meals, Rawie was craving a smoothie or a cookie and the juice bar lady was kind enough to let us sample their strawberry smoothie and their mango smoothie. I didn't realize this was possible, but both were gross. They both had weird aftertastes and something that overpowered the fresh fruit. So, what did we do? Hightailed it back to Juliano's Raw for shakes! I had the same chocolate shake I had last time and Rawie had the Kreamy Electrolyte Lemonade (from the menu: Lemons, Honey, Ginger, Strawberries & Electrolytes), also a blended drink. She said it was really good. I might try that next time, substituting agave nectar for the honey. By the way, I asked the hostess why raw restaurants tend to use so much honey and she said that bee pollen and honey are considered some of the healthiest things a person can consume. I've heard that honey is hard on the liver and that it has the same effect on blood sugar as refined sugar, so that surprised me.

Interior shot of Juliano's Raw in Santa Monica

This is a banana bread test recipe for Happy Herbivore's upcoming cookbook. Although it tasted good, it didn't set up for me in the middle and I'm thinking it probably had something to do with my insistence on using my grandma's pretty glass loaf pan (it says Glasbake on the bottom).

Is it at all evident that I'm actually using a camera now instead of my cell phone for photos?

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Birthday Itself

As promised, today should be the last time you have to hear all about this wonderful birthday of mine (until next year, that is!). Thanks to all my fabulous friends and family, I had an amazingly festive birthday today. Many of my gifts were food related, so expect to see evidence of them on this blog in posts to come. :)

Although I didn't take any food photos today, I ate more than I should have! The day began with my thoughtful boss throwing me (and the executive vice president, who shares my birthday) a breakfast bagel party. She cleverly thought to put my candle in a little bowl of fruit, which really touched me. Along with my fruit, I had a sun-dried tomato bagel. Remember that I'm used to eating a Luna bar for breakfast, so fruit and a bagel is a big breakfast in my book!

For lunch, we all went to Kay 'n Dave's, a Mexican restaurant that has 7 vegetarian dishes (!) and doesn't use lard in any of their cooking. I had the fresh veggie plate because I'd eaten too much refined flour for my taste in that huge bagel. My dish was supposed to come with tortillas, but they never arrived, and I was quite content with what I had. A nice mixture of veggies with rice and beans on the side was more than satisfying for this birthday girl.

Of course, I had to have dinner, too, so off I went to Follow Your Heart (yes, again!) for a vegan reuben (yes, again!). Instead of birthday cake, I had a vegan chocolate peanut butter shake for dessert. It was worth every last sinful sip (remind me I wrote that when I attempt to murder my scale tomorrow morning)!

Thus concludes the birthday adventures of Vegyogini for 2008. Thank you for indulging me and for all your birthday wishes!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Birthday Party

I warned you that I'd be posting about my birthday until the day had actually passed! Today, I had a little birthday party at my mom's house (thank you, Mom!). As usual, I made and bought too much food, but that just means I have yummy leftovers for the week.

We had MorningStar Farms Grillers Vegan burgers, which are my favorite burgers, and LightLife Smart Dogs on Ezekiel buns. I made two fantastic side salads:

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango from Veganomicon.

Orange, Mint, and Asparagus Pasta Salad from a Vegetarian Times e-mail.

Since my mom was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I wanted to make these salads gluten-free for her. The quinoa salad was naturally gluten-free and I used quinoa pasta for the pasta salad to make that gluten-free, too. Both salads were fantastic! I loved the bright, fresh flavors of the cilantro and mango in the quinoa salad and of the orange and mint in the pasta salad. I'm not sure why those photos look like they were taken under water; they don't do the salads justice!

I turned to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for dessert, making two cupcake varieties that I'd never attempted.

Cookies 'n' Cream Cupcakes

Sexy Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes

Of the two, I preferred the latter. The cake is moist and light and I love that they're topped with (Trader Joe's) organic raspberry jam, raspberries, and a drizzle of glaze. Don't get me wrong; the Cookies 'n' Cream (I used Trader Joe's version of Oreos, called Joe-Joes) were very good, too. I think I'm just not much of a buttercream person. I received a LOT of compliments on the way these looked and tasted, so I was bursting with pride! For my mom, I picked up a box of Cherrybrook Kitchen* gluten-free chocolate cake mix and vanilla frosting mix. They turned out very nicely, as well.

Thank you to everyone who was kind enough to spend their Sunday afternoon celebrating my birthday with me (including fellow blogger Happy Herbivore and her husband, who I met in person for the first time today)! I appreciate all of you very much!

*An added bonus of Cherrybrook Kitchen's products, for my family, at least, is that all their products are completely nut-free and made in a nut-free facility. Both my brother and my mom's husband are deathly allergic to peanuts, making Cherrybrook Kitchen products an excellent choice for their needs.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Early Birthday Brunch

First things first: All the photos in this post were taken by and are courtesy of the immensely talented Foodeater of To Live and Eat in L.A., a fellow Taurus. We've already revealed that my birthday is May 5 (yes, you will be reading about this until the actual date has passed; I love birthdays!) and hers is May 10. This birthday brunch included our other L.A. vegan Taurus, Your Vegan Mom, in spirit. She was supposed to be part of the actual celebration, but is with her family in Shreveport, LA for a few months. Her blog highlights their Shreveport adventures for your reading pleasure and we three will celebrate together upon her return!

Foodeater and I decided on Madeleine Bistro for our birthday celebration because their brunch menu now features donuts! Now, anyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that donuts were not something I would've touched with a 10-foot pole pre-veganism except for maybe once every 5 years. I am very weight-conscious and donuts just don't fit within my comfort zone. However, 1) this was a birthday brunch, 2) vegan donuts just sound infinitely (although, truthfully, not much) healthier than real donuts, and 3) how could I possibly pass up donuts created by the amazing Chef David Anderson? The donuts you see here are currently the only flavor at Madeleine's (our wonderful waitress, who shares my birthday, told us that other flavors are in the works) and they were donut perfection. Warm, light, and soft with a coating of sugar and served with fresh strawberry compote. They were shaped like jelly donuts (i.e. without a hole), but they were not filled. I liked that we could add compote as desired instead of dealing with whatever amount of filling would've fit inside the donut.

I'd never tried rhubarb, but I'd always wanted to, so I ordered strawberry rhubarb crepes for my meal. The filling was actually strawberry rhubarb compote and some kind of vanilla cream that was approximately the consistency of yogurt. These crepes were delicious! I was a bit chagrined, though, that the flavor of the rhubarb wasn't apparent in the compote, so I still feel as though I haven't tried it! Oh, those are yummy home fries on the side with homemade ketchup.

As if the above were not gluttonous enough, our waitress surprised us with matching ramekins of homemade vanilla ice cream with a strawberry fan and candle! Can you tell how fabulous our waitress was? We were stuffed, but still managed to eat our ice cream after making wishes and blowing out our candles (I admit, I finished mine! Foodeater had more restraint). Normally, I'm not a vanilla ice cream fan. This vanilla ice cream, however, was very flavorful, like a toasted vanilla marshmallow. So good!

Stay tuned for more exciting birthday adventures, including, if all goes as planned, a multitude of cupcakes and a couple side salads that I've never prepared before (I know, but who else is going to make me vegan birthday food?).