Category Archives: Breakfast

The Maple

Is an outrageously decadent – almost to the point of incivility – brunch sandwich enough to atone for my absence of the past month? I can only hope so. (This is NOT an April Fools’ joke.)

When Marly of Namely Marly asked me to join a panel of 10 vegan bloggers whose mission, should they choose to accept it, would be to veganize Endless Simmer’s America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches, I immediately responded not only “yes,” but that I desperately wanted to do “The Maple,” a brunch-time beast consisting of two slices of maple-currant bread pudding loaded with savory sausage, chipotle cheddar cheese, and tangy shavings of fresh fennel. Not only does this sandwich hit the sweet/savory note that we all know and love, but it’s from Portland – irrefutably known to be the best city in the country. And, as a gluten-free vegan, I could not resist veganizing a meal from a restaurant called Meat Cheese Bread. There’s something irresistible about such blatant irony.

Although I’m quite a competent (dare I say talented?) chef, I’m not exactly known for my recipe-creating abilities, so I tried not to push my luck. I made Maple “Bread Pudding” with millet bread, using Isa’s recipe for “Fronch Toast” in Vegan with a Vengeance, as well as her recipe for “Tempeh and White Bean Sausage Patties” from the same book. I substituted some Maple Caramelized Onions for the fresh fennel because, as far as I’m concerned, fennel is a villainous vegetable – a regular Mr. Wickham of the plant kingdom, if you will.

I did, however, venture into the world of cheese sauce, devising my own recipe for Chipotle “Cheddar” Sauce, which I will provide here for your pleasure! It makes plenty of extra to be used on nachos, in burritos or quesadillas, or as a topping for veggies!

Without further adue, here is my recipe for Chipotle “Cheddar” Sauce, one element of my sandwich. For the full recipe and assembly instructions for The Vegan Maple, head over to Marly’s blog – you’ll find the nine other sandwiches in the series listed immediately following my recipe.

So close your eyes, pretend you’re huddled up for brunch in a cozy lodge somewhere in New England’s maple country, and enjoy! And don’t forget to schedule an hour or two for digestion after eating this sandwich! ;)

Breaking news: America’s Best Sandwiches – Veganized! is now featured on the Huffington Post! Please go comment/like it/share it/tweet it to spread the word and score some points for vegankind. Can’t hyperlink (thanks, WordPress), so:


Caramel Baked Apple(s)

The recipe was for Caramel Baked Apples plural, but I just made one. Not very economical, but kind of cute nonetheless.

My family was having baked apple pancakes for a special breakfast – delicious, I’m sure, but also full of gluten (which I don’t really eat anymore)! I’m not one to be left out of a party though – especially when that party involves food – so I had to find a suitable replacement: apple-based, but totally decadent. I immediately remembered the recipe for Caramel Baked Apples from Celine and Joni’s new book, The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, and I knew that’s where my breakfast destiny lay.

You can’t really go wrong with a recipe described as, “Lots and lots of caramel to cover something healthy, therefore making it, well, not so healthy anymore.” Plus, making your own caramel from scratch makes you feel like a total culinary badass. And being vegan is awesome. So making homemade vegan caramel is just like…wow, too cool for school.

Caramel whipped up, I filled my Granny Smith with the called-for Sucanat/almond/cinnamon/raisin mixture, popped it in the oven, and was greeted 50 minutes later with a natural package of caramel-y bliss.

I don’t think this is the kind of apple a day that keeps the doctor away.

Bok Choy and Chickpeas with Cashews

Okay, we all know I have an insatiable vegan cookbook addiction. Well, you probably don’t know, but if you looked back through my posts, you’d find that everything I make is from a different cookbook. I just outgrew my second full shelf.

Accordingly, there are some cookbooks that I write off in my head–as in, “Oh, I have so many, and that one doesn’t seem especially…special.” For some godforsaken reason, Clean Food was one of those books. I think its dull title threw me off. I mean, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar? How exciting! Viva Vegan? ¡Olé! Peanut Butter Planet? Um, TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER! But Clean Food? Oh, okay…yum?

Consider this post my apology to Terry Walters because this book rocks. I was lucky enough to have wise friends who knew what’s what better than I did–thank you, Newmans! I’ve already made the Maple Nut Granola, Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Pineapple Tempeh Kebabs, and have yet to be disappointed. But as good as all of those recipes were, none of them compared to my Sunday breakfast of Bok Choy and Chickpeas with Cashews.

Obviously not your typical breakfast, but as Terry says, greens are energizing in the morning! I love this dish, not only because it’s to live for, but because it epitomizes what Clean Food is all about. I can almost count the ingredients in this recipe on one hand, and half of them are already in its title! Bok choy, chickpeas, cashews, ginger, liquid aminos, mirin, and olive oil. That’s what I call clean. Clean, simple, quick, wholesome, and full of wonderful textures and flavors.

I love me some pancakes and french toast, but sometimes you just need some fresh, whole-food fare first thing in the morning; and for those times, Clean Food is your best friend. As usual, the moral of the story is, “don’t just a book by its cover…or title!”

And here’s a riddle: what’s more vibrant than a leafy green-packed breakfast? My best friend, Joanna! She’s 22 today, and a little over two years ago, she inspired me to go vegan with her. I love you, Jo!

Finally, I was honored to be interviewed by the lovely Janna of Just Flourishing as part of her “vegan week.” Check out what I have to say about veganism and vegan health here!

Tofu Scramble at Full of Life

Hello all! I’m writing from the kitchen counter of the beach house in San Diego that 18 of my senior friends and I are renting for the week! We finished college last Wednesday, and it’s a Pomona tradition to pass the time between then and graduation weekend (which begins this Friday) by doing absolutely nothing besides lying on the beach and drinking for seven days. I’m not a big drinker myself, so I’ve been lying on the beach twice as hard to make up for my deficiencies in that arena. True to my blog’s namesake, I’ve already finished Pride and Prejudice in just two days. I also brought Wuthering Heights–one of my other favorite novels–with me, but I’m having trouble getting into it while lying on a sunny beach. If you’ve read WH, I’m sure you understand me perfectly!

Anyways, this post actually has nothing to do with San Diego; it just seemed weird to blog without mentioning where I am now. Rather, in the spirit of school being done, I’m going to post about a delicious breakfast I had last weekend while writing my last college paper! My favorite café in which to spend an industrious morning in Claremont is Full of Life. It’s not even vegetarian, but the few vegan options they have are so good that I don’t get bored ordering them on rotation.

I usually get their sandwiches, but on this fine morning I decided that a tofu scramble was what I needed to finish my Global Politics of Food and Agriculture paper. Off the menu, the tofu scramble only includes peppers and onions, but I asked if, in addition to those two, I could have mine with all of the veggies that come with the (non-vegan) omelet: zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes, with avocado on top. They were happy to oblige, for just a little extra!

The portion is generous, especially considering the fine variety of fresh fruit offered on the side. Paired with my soy latte, I couldn’t have hoped for a more satisfying breakfast. Well, except for the fact that Full of Life couldn”t make decent foam for their lattes if the lives that they’re so full of depended on it! ;)

I’m a tofu scramble snob, and I have to say, prior to this guy, I had yet to really enjoy a nooch-less tofu scramble. What can I say? Vegan with a Vengeance spoiled me. This scramble was primarily seasoned with paprika, but I didn’t even miss the nooch! It was perfectly seasoned just how it was. I’ll always prefer good ol’ yeasty scrambles, but I’m finally able to acknowledge that nooch isn’t necessary for a satisfying scramble.

Despite my brain-fueling breakfast, I still ended up pulling a full all-nighter that evening in order to finish my paper for my 1:15 class the next day. But the important thing is that I did finish that paper, that class, and college; and I’ll be living it up here in Mission Beach until Thursday, when I return to Claremont for a whirlwind of a weekend!

Breakfast at Babycakes

Recipe for a good morning downtown:

Step outside into the crisp morning air, surprisingly fresh for LA.

Stumble into Spring for Coffee for soy cappuccinos. Don’t forget to dust them with cinnamon.

Oh, hey, you’re just two blocks from Babycakes NYC! What up, wheat-free, vegan pastries? All hail, coconut oil!

Sample each and every kind of gluten-free teacake sitting on the counter. That includes banana bread, pumpkin bread, cornbread, and cranberry-apple toastie, by the way.

If you’re feeling feisty, maybe have more than one of each. We won’t tell.

Order a spelt biscuit, flaky and “buttery,” unnamed jam and vanilla sauce oozing from its center.

Enjoy every last bite.

Leftover jam, we’ll let slide–but there better not be any crumbs.

Easter Brunch

So I don’t really celebrate Easter, at least not religiously. My sister and I grew up with both Jewish and Christian holiday traditions. In other words–Christmas, Hanukkah, Passover, Easter–we’ve done (and continue to do) them all! My childhood Easter memories really only consist of my mom and dad hiding baskets of candy for Liv and I; brunch was never part of the deal. But after this morning, I’ve decided that Easter brunch is something I can get behind!

At the early hour of 10:00 am, my friend Steph and I beelined to Silver Lake, LA for an all-you-can-eat vegan brunch at Meet Market.

I think Meet Market has brunch every Saturday and Sunday, so this wasn’t a “special” Easter brunch, but it was fun to view it that way! Their brunch consists of tofu scrambled, breakfast potatoes, tofu bacon, pancakes, and french toast (and coffee and OJ).

I wasn’t really feeling the sweet this morning (or maybe I was just really feeling the savory?), so I just stuck with the first three. I did try a bite of Steph’s pancake and french toast though, so I can vouch for them being pretty good! As you can see, Meet Market goes with tofu over tempeh bacon. As far as I’m concerned, tempeh will always be king in the fakin’ bacon department, but this tofu version was a fun twist. They basically cooked the crap out of some really thinly sliced strips of tofu. The result is super toothsome–let’s just say you burn a few calories cutting up your bacon before you eat it! :)

The tofu scramble was studded with onions and bell peppers and had just the right amount of nooch. I’ll admit, it looked a little bland at first (mine are usually yellower), but it was surprisingly flavorful! Definitely my favorite part of the meal. The potatoes were just your average brunchy hash, but they went well with a little ketchup, and complemented the rest of the meal.

Meet Market wasn’t the best vegan brunch I’ve had to date. That award goes to Junior’s or Sweetpea, but they’re both in Portland, so maybe it’s not fair to compare. Plus, Sweetpea’s brunch included kale and tater tots. Hard to beat. Hard. To. Beat.

Still, I’d go back to Meet Market. I really enjoyed the food, the atmosphere was light and relaxed, and they had fun grocery items, like We Can’t Say It’s Cheese Hickory-Smoked Cheddar-Style Spread, which I picked up a tub of! Review to come! Happy Easter and Passover, guys!

My First Buns out of the Oven!

No, I didn’t have twins! Rather, I made my first from-scratch cinnamon rolls!

And I must say, though they weren’t the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had–an idea enforced by my constructively critical cinnabun-queen of a mother–for a first attempt, they were not bad at all! In fact, they came out much better than I expected.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, why is Nora, who is such a good baker, speaking as if cinnamon rolls would be such a challenge (or at least I HOPE you’re all thinking that!) ;)

Well, it was more of the fact that I wasn’t sure how fresh our yeast was and that I used white whole wheat flour instead of the all-purpose flour for which The Joy of Vegan Baking calls, resulting in a pretty tough dough that seemed loathe to rise. I was slaving away over the stand mixer at three in the morning because I couldn’t sleep and I thought it’d be fun to surprise my mom in the morning, since she’d cheekily–and presumptuously–asked me, before going to bed, “what’s for breakfast tomorrow?! My semi-insomniac dad wandered in at about five am and asked me what the hell I was doing with a rolling pin at that hour, and I proceeded to tell him in a discouraged tone that I was trying to make cinnamon rolls, but they were sure to fail. I even asked him if I could just throw the dough away. I’m always emotional about my kitchen failures, but I was so tired at this point that I was seriously on the verge of tears!

After sulkily retreating to bed, I awoke the next morning to a tray of significantly risen doughy rolls. I almost cried again, this time for joy! I popped them in the oven, and felt silly for worrying so much.

These rolls have raisins in the filling, so I thought I’d make an apple cider glaze to go with them instead of a more traditional vanilla one. I followed the recipe in JOVB, but subbed unpasteurized apple juice for the soy milk, and also added some cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and a splash of maple syrup!

They were delicious! A bit dense, but for whole wheat rolls, not too bad! I’d use whole wheat pastry flour next time, although there’s so many good vegan cinnamon roll recipes out there, I’m pretty sure I’ll be trying a few others before I ever come back to this one.

I do know that my next venture into the cinnamon bun world will be in the form of peanut butter or pumpkin ones. Who can say when though? ;)