Tag Archives: "cheese"

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: http://huff.to/e3XDhr

Better Life Cuisine

Better life, better food, better portion sizes, better prices, better…enzyme activity? Why hadn’t I been here yet?!

That’s pretty much exactly what I was thinking as I left Better Life Cuisine in Santa Monica a few nights ago after finishing a lovely raw meal that pretty much satisfied all of the above criteria. Of course, part of the answer to that question is that it’s a relatively new restaurant, and another part is that it’s an hour away (or more with traffic!). But theoretically, it’s a good question.

The name of the restaurant is on a forward-facing sign–but trust me, this is indeed a photo of Better Life!

Better Life is an all-vegan, all-organic, all-raw café, juice/smoothie bar, and restaurant (complete with a vast and well-stocked pastry case!). I know, it sounds too good to be true. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much trouble deciding what to order at a restaurant! I eventually settled on the Fiesta Platter. I love mezze platter type things (like The Voracious Vegan and her love for “snacky” meals!), and it meant I didn’t have to choose between trying different things.

The Fiesta Platter consists of Tuna, salmon, fried beans, guacamole, ricotta, bruschetta, pico de gallo, and flax crackers. As you can see, Better Life labels all their menu items as what they’re supposed to resemble, without really telling you what each one actually is. It makes ordering a little more interesting than it would otherwise be, but I think it’s cute.

The bruschetta (in front) was easily the best thing on the platter. After my first bite, I definitely wished I had just ordered the straight-up bruschetta plate! It’s Better Life’s “breadbar” topped with creamy pesto sauce, tomatoes, basil, and their parmesan. The breadbar was perfectly chewy, and the pesto sauce was out of this world!

Then, there were the five patés/salads (four of them nut-based): salmon, tuna, guacamole, fried beans, and ricotta, all of which were drenched in a delicious yet unnamed sauce. Gotta love the element of mystery. In fact, it was a mystery to me which lump was which until I asked my server! :)

The salmon and tuna were sweet and not too fish-like, but since I’ve never had fish and the smell grosses me out, something about them being named “salmon” and “tuna” salads put me off. I can’t even eat veggie sushi because the fishy taste of the nori makes me gag–it’s a problem, people! Considering that visceral hesitation, the fact that I still kind of enjoyed them says a lot!

I didn’t love any of the patés on their own, but piled together on the flax crackers with some “rawmesan” they made for a super satisfying meal! And that’s not to mention the perfect salad I had on the side…

Yes, that’s a kale salad! Possibly coated in cashews and nutritional yeast? Whatever it was, me likey. By the way, every entrée at Better Life comes with a side salad, and as you can see, they don’t skimp on the portions!

Speaking of salad’s, this is Better Life’s “Egg” Salad! I know–unbelievable. I got another meal to go (so I could have one less mediocre dining hall meal the next day!) and I chose this salad to go with it. I think it’s enough of a triumph to make vegan egg salad, let alone raw vegan egg salad! This wonderful dish consists of veggies (chives?) and shredded coconut meat in a dreamy, creamy yellow cashew-based sauce! It might not have tasted exactly like egg salad, but that’s only because it was better. Plus, it leaves you feeling glowing, not heavy. :)

The actual entrée I got to go was the Lasagna (we’ve all heard “rawsagna” one too many times, haven’t we?).

Marinara sauce, zucchini, mushroom, grilled onion, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese.

Three different raw vegan cheeses in one lasagna? Yes, please! The ricotta was awesome in this lasagna–much better than it was on its own in the platter. I asked for a side of that heavenly pesto sauce to go with it too…

It rounded out all the flavors so well, that I’m almost ready to call Better Life to tell them they should permanently incorporate it into the dish!

If you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Better Life Cuisine. Not only was the food a veritable party in the mouth (or is that just because I had the fiesta platter?), but there was so much of it! Raw restaurants are known for tiny portions, and Better Life spits in the face of that stereotype. And to get that giant, raw, organic entrée with a salad for only 10-12 bucks total? Now that‘s the way to bring raw into the mainstream!

Wine and Cheese

How did this vegan spend her Friday night? I think the title says it all.

Earlier that day, Steph and I headed to the store with our Barnivore list of vegan wines, hoping to strike it big. We returned victorious with a bottle of organic (and vegan of course!) Bonterra Muscat–a super sweet dessert wine. The perfect accompaniment to the three wheels of Dr-Cow raw nut cheeses we’d ordered a few days before.

We opted for the Aged Cashew, the Aged Cashew & Crystal Algae, and the Aged Cashew & Brazil Nut cheeses. They cost us a pretty penny (especially with the cold shipping), and we were pretty surprised at how small they were. Yes, they’re extremely rich, and three wheels of cheese was maybe a little decadent for only three of us (Steph, Dawn, and I), but still–for how much money it cost us to obtain these, they were laughably tiny. Probably an inch and a half in diameter?

Anyways, complaining aside, these raw cheeses were something. They have a super complex, earthy, dare I say, moldy, flavor, and went superbly with our sweet wine, TJ’s multigrain crackers, and apple slices.

The cashew and–surprise!–the algae cheeses were definitely our favorites. The brazil nut cheese just tasted too much like…brazil nuts. What did we expect? The algae was a bit tangier than the plain cashew, but both were a nice balance of sharp and mellow. Plus, check out the color of that algae cheese! Hubba hubba.

It was a very enjoyable and sophisticated–for college students at least!–night of booze and eats, although next time we all agreed that we’d hit up Mooifood’s raw vegan nut cheeses in lieu of Dr-Cow’s. Dr-Cow’s was fun to try, but Mooifood is local (LA) and their cheese comes in more flavors (herbs herbs herbs!) and colors. Hopefully theirs will also be cheaper and–crosses fingers–come in a serving size larger than a pillbox. :)

Good ‘Ol Tempe(h)

So last week I was home in Tempe again for less than 24 hours. Why, you might ask? Well, I was lucky enough to get a cancellation appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale to address my general malaise of the past seven months, and if you’re the Mayo Clinic, you know you don’t let three or four hundred miles prevent your attendance. In the world of doctor visits, that there is prime real estate, yo.

Of course, the whole thing was a hassle, but I certainly ate well during my short visit home. First of all, my dad is super adorable, and prepared an Indian feast–both of our favorites–for just the two of us. He made two dishes, along with brown rice.

Ginger chickpeas

And a potato/cauliflower/pea dish.

The chickpeas were phenomenal. We both agreed that the second dish was just mediocre, but my dad said the recipe was weird, and he had to doctor it up. Still, it was Indian food, so it can only be so bad, right?

P.S. The only thing cuter than my dad making this dinner for us was that, when I was about to take the above shot, he was like, “Wait, wait!” and made sure there was enough cilantro garnish. :) Oh, dad.

We scarfed down our meal in order to make our 10:30 showing of Avatar in IMAX 3-D. I loved the movie, and even though it was just my dad and I, I sort of felt like my sister Olivia was there because she looks exactly like Neytiri:

I’m sorry. I got carried away. She’s going to KILL me when she sees that.

Before I flew home the next day, I hit up my favorite (and Tempe’s only!) vegan restaurant, Green! My Mayo physician had just told me to eat a lot of gluten in the next month to make sure that my upcoming tests for gluten intolerance would be accurate, so I knew I was getting a sandwich. I chose one that I’ve always avoided because it seemed boring: The “Green” Burger. House ground and packed oats and barley veggie burger with fresh lettuce and tomato, vegan mayo, ketchup and pickles.

Lots of gluten! :) Oats and barley in the burger, and wheat in the bun.

To spice things up, I requested Cheddar Daiya and caramelized onions, and got it on an Ezekiel bun. Unfortunately, they forgot my onions, but I was able to forgive them since the Daiya rendered this sandwich one mean vegan cheeseburger.

Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna

There’s been some Mexi-love going down in my house lately, first in the form of the Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna with Avocado from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

This is another recipe I’ve wanted to make as long as I can remember, so I’m glad I finally got around to it. Alternating layers of spicy beans and tomatoes, avocado, corn tortillas, and Daiya cheese make this dish a veritable fiesta!

Cooked avocado is different, but I’m always pleasantly surprised by how good it is.

My dad commented on how light and fresh it was, especially considering that lasagna is usually pretty heavy. I think that lightness is attributable not only to the fact that this lasagna is vegan and loaded with veggies, but to the lime (squeezed on between layers and on top) and cilantro.

More lime please!

We still had a lot of Daiya hanging around the next day, so nachos it was! These were even better than my Teese-y nachos from over the summer! Actually, MUCH better.

The great thing about living in Arizona is that you can eat al fresco in the middle of the winter:

TJ’s Reduced Guilt Tortilla Chips, Refried Black Beans (I made my own using the recipe in Yellow Rose Recipes!), Cheddar and Italian Daiya “cheese,” guacamole (also made from scratch, but just off the top of my head), and lotsa salsa. My dad and I devoured this lunch.

On an entirely different note, I’m running my 2nd half marathon tomorrow morning: the P.F. Chang’s Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2.

I got 2:10:47 in my first half last September, so I’m going for under 2:00 this time. Wish me luck! I’m gonna get started on my carbo-loading dinner from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook!

Sweet Potato Lentil Chili

What better way to ring in the new year than a giant pot of chili? It may seem random, but if you think about it, chili is hearty, warming, and perfect for sharing communally with all your friends and family.

That was my thinking when I made a triple recipe of Dreena’s Sweet Potato Lentil Chili from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan last Friday for our family’s all-day New Year’s open house.

This recipe’s been on my “to-make” list for ages, so I was glad that when I could finally make it, I could make it for 100 people!

Naturally, we have an insane amount of leftovers (even when I thought I’d finished them, my mom informed me that there’s more in the freezer…). As you can see, I’ve been enjoying them with TJ’s tortilla chips. This chili is chunky and perfect for dipping.

More Daiya

Sorry to be repetitive, but my food life hasn’t been very diverse lately. But hell, screw diversity if my life can just become one big Daiya fest.

Italian Daiya quesadilla. Or maybe I should call it tortilla panini because this meal wasn’t Mexican-inspired at all… ;)

Spinach, tomatoes, red onions, spices (rosemary, thyme, oregano, and garlic powder), and of course, Italian Daiya! Not quite as good as the cheddar/black bean one from a few days, ago, but still. Also, as my Daiya supply dwindles, I’ve made my way through most of my Food for Life gluten-free tortillas, and I have to say that their texture is really weird. They start out kind of hard and shiny (I miss soft, doughy, floury tortillas!), but after you microwave them, they literally turn to rock. I like crispy quesadillas, but these don’t get crispy in a good, grill-y kind of way; they get crispy in the stale, overcooked sense. Not super flavorful either. But hey–you could fill a (non-leather) boot with Daiya and I’d probably eat it.

And, a “cheese” quesadilla, straight up. Junior high after school snack style. Using both Cheddar and Italian Daiya is the way to go!

(You can see that I kinda overcookednuked the cheese on the edge–it got a bit tough. Oh well. Look at the middle!)

And, I’ll finish with two pieces of news, both of which the majority of you won’t care about. :)

One, I finished the rough draft of the introduction of my thesis (on veganism) and it’s 26.5 pages long. This is only one of four chapters, which presents a problem as 70ish is the goal, and not 100. But I’m proud of myself for getting something done anyways. Ignore the fact that it took me two months to write it, and that the entire rough draft is due in one month. I said IGNORE it.

Two, back to Daiya! My favorite restaurant–Green–in Tempe is now serving Daiya. I had it straight from the @daiyacheese Twitter feed! I thought I couldn’t love Green anymore than I already did, but I stand corrected. I think I know the first place I’m headed come Thanksgiving break…