Tag Archives: tempeh

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

Adventures of Nic and Nora Continued…

Sorry I’ve been so slow getting to Part II of the Nic & Nora installment. Considering there are only seven days until I’m officially done with all college work (and eighteen days until I graduate!), things have been pretty hectic around here! Plus, I’m sure you’ve all already read Nicole’s summary of our time together! :)

The second day of her visit, we decided to lay low and chillax at Pomona before making our way back into the city the next day. We went out for a leisurely brunch (well, lunch since we missed tofu scramble hours!) at Full of Life Café in the Claremont village. Then I took Nicole to the village gluten-free shop as well as my favorite local natural foods store, Ecoterra! From there, we headed to Pomona’s organic farm because I obviously had to show off California’s produce-producing prowess (say that five times fast!) to my East-coast friend!

Then, Nicole decided to be completely and totally awesome and take my senior portraits for me! I’ve been shooting a lot of senior portraits for my fellow graduates-to-be in the past month, so it was weird–and fun!–to get on the other side of the lens for a change. I think Nicole appreciated shooting someone who knew what it’s like to have awkward subjects who don’t know how to pose, so it went pretty smoothly! Here’s my favorite one:

Thanks, Nicole! I love them. And don’t worry, fashion-conscious readers, I have since gotten my roots touched up.

After a meal at the dining hall with my friends–hey, I had to give her the full Pomona College experience!–we spent a lazy evening planning out the next phase of our adventures, which began bright and early the next day! We met Alix (of Cute and Delicious), her boyfriend Shawn, and some of their friends at Pure Luck Restaurant in LA for lunch. After being greeted with a Tupperware of gorgeous, fresh-baked cupcakes (Alix, you’re too sweet!), we sat down to experience la comida de LA.

There are many reasons that Pure Luck has always been on my list of must-visit restaurants, but one of them is their insane selection of fried appetizers! I generally avoid fried foods, but I always make exceptions for special items–like, um, let me see, fried pickles and gnocchi?

Fried Dill Pickle Chipssliced dill pickles, dusted with cornmeal and fried in peanut oil–and Potato Palssmall potato dumplings (gnocchi), lightly fried in peanut oil.

Both were served with a special veganaise-based barbecue dipping sauce. Crispy AND cute–who can resist anything called a “potato pal?!”It just wants to be your friend and pop into your mouth.

If fried appetizers are the first reason I’ve always hungered for Pure Luck, jackfruit is definitely the second! Fruit…that’s used as a substitute for meat…what?…

In order to wrap my mind around this concept, I ordered the Tacos, one with jackfruit and one with grilled tofu to hedge my bets. I was served a plate of soft corn tortillas, each with their respective filling, topped with diced onions, cilantro, and fresh tomatillo salsa. Nicole gave me her extra cilantro because she’s one of the unlucky few who think it tastes like soap. Turns out, unripe jackfruit, like tofu, really has no flavor of its own and easily absorbs taco seasonings. In other words, it was delicious, and had a texture that others have described as being similar to “pulled pork” (I wouldn’t know!).

After lunch, we walked across the street to Scoops, then sadly parted ways. Nicole and I decided to spend the rest of our afternoon window shopping on Melrose (and walking off all that fried food!). Okay, so maybe we actually shopped a little. But we mostly just strolled along the iconic street taking photos. I nabbed this shot in a flower shop before the owner kindly told us to stow our cameras:

All of a sudden, it was dinner time! Funny how that happens. Good thing Melrose Ave. was also home to M Café, a macrobiotic, mostly-vegan gem. M Café has a mouth-watering menu, but they also have a wonderful salad bar display, so that’s what I opted for. Kale with Spicy Peanut Dressing? I’ll take it.

Curried Tempeh Salad? Sure, why not!

Kale, peanut butter, and tempeh are pretty much the three keys to my heart, so M Café had me at hello. If they’d had kabocha squash, I might have gone into foodie shock–close call!

I also tried one of the Inari Sushi. I hate nori seaweed, so sushi made with dried tofu skins (a.k.a. inari) is an exciting alternative that I didn’t want to pass up. Stuffed with brown rice and topped with lotus root, this little bundle was good looking, but a little bit dry. Still, it was fun to try.

Bellies full, we schlepped off to our downtown LA hotel that my darling mother was generous enough to book for us, watched Saturday Night Live, and fell asleep with visions of babycakes dancing in our heads…

Nic and Nora Do Santa Monica

And by Nic, I mean Nicole from Another One Bites the Crust, everyone’s favorite New Haven vegan blogger! I picked up Nicole bright and early Thursday morning outside the West Hollywood Buffalo Exchange, and we headed straight to Santa Monica for a lovely lunch at Real Food Daily. This was our first time meeting each other in person, but we’ve been blogging/Twitter/Facebook/Gmail/Flickr (yes, basically every social media platform possible) friends for so long, that it was more like picking up an old friend–nothing could be more natural!

Sitting at a lovely inner-balcony table overlooking RFD’s juice bar, Nicole and I enjoyed some damn good salads.

The East coaster got her SoCal on and ordered the Mexicali Salad, while I, being the peanut butter fiend that I am, ordered the Yin Yang Salad: Cabbages, romaine, carrots, cucumbers, edamame, cilantro, sesame seeds, peanuts, and peanut dressing (I also added blackened tempeh!)

From there, we headed to the Santa Monica Beach and Pier. Besides her general awesomeness, the best part of having Nicole here was that I wasn’t the only one walking around with my DSLR glued to my face (in and out of restaurants)!

Taken of each other crossing the bridge to the beach.

If there’s one place that’s exemplary for taking random portraits of interesting strangers, it’s the pier. Kids, cyclists, beach bums, fishermen, artists, straight up creepy men…

 

Forgot to mention the ever-present dogs on music stands in that list…

This guy was such a ham! I usually try to sneak my people-watching portraits, but he couldn’t get enough!

After a grueling afternoon of window shopping, portraiture, foodie chatter, and walking with the sand between our toes (ha!), these two vegan bloggers needed some coffee. And not just any coffee–good coffee. Intelligentsia coffee. Silverlake is kind of on the way back to Claremont? Maybe?

Oh, what a soy cappuccino it was. The microfoam! The latte art! The humanity! Just kidding. Funnily enough, it was cheaper than Nicole’s $4.00 cup of specialty joe.

Silverlake also happens to be a hot spot for vegan restaurants. After debating between nearby Flore and Cru, we went with Cru. I guess we were more in the food for fancy schmancy than comfort food.

(Nicole’s photo)

We ordered the Bruschetta Rustica (Sunflower bread with traditional chopped tomato and basil spread and cashew cheese) to share, but it turns out Nicole really can’t do cashew cheese, so I may or may not have gotten a whole raw appetizer to myself! Sorry, Nicole, but I loved it! Not quite as good as Better Life’s raw bruschetta though…

For entrées, we both ordered the Body Ecology Bowl:

Sautéed kabocha squash and spinach over quinoa with homemade sauerkraut and salad. The kabocha was phenomenal (but what kabocha isn’t?), but it didn’t really seem to go well with the strange mélange of pickled vegetables. Next time, I’d order one of Cru’s classy raw entrées. Also, I think their desserts might use honey, so beware, vegans!

So much for day ones. Days two and three to come!

Love Hut, Baby, Love Hut!

So Stephanie and I had a friend date Saturday night at Loving Hut, although it kinda sounds like a better place for an actual date, doesn’t it?

Formerly known as Veggie Era, the restaurant only recently joined the worldwide LH franchise–or should I say the far-reaching empire of the Supreme Master? (You’ll either know what I’m talking about, or you won’t!) Steph and I were afraid the menu would have changed for the worst, but I didn’t notice too many differences. My favorite entrée is still on it–you’ll see!

We started the meal with two appetizers, the first of which were the Tempeh Squares:

I very rarely eat battered ‘n fried foods, but this was the only tempeh on the menu. :) The sweet soy sauce was the perfect accompaniment.

The Veggie Pancake contained tomatoes, cabbage, and onions, but honestly just tasted like potatoes. Still, it was good in that satisfyingly carby kind of way. Probably not an “order again” though.

Steph had the Eggplant Tofu with Basil. I had a bite, and it was good, but I’m not generally a huge fan of eggplant in Asian cuisine. Steph’s an eggplant fiend though. It was full of vibrant colors, that’s for sure!

And behold, one of my favorite faux meat dishes of all time:

Sweet & Spicy Lady: Soy protein chunks and zucchini sautéed with garlic & sweet chili sauce.

I think I’ve posted about this dish before. The texture and flavor of that soy chicken is in-freaking-credible! Crispy and chewy and juicy. Let’s just say, I have trouble ordering anything else whenever I go to Veggie Era…I mean, Loving Hut! Ah! I’ll have to force myself to branch out next time and order something else.

Check Loving Hut’s website to see if there’s a location near you! I think the odds are in your favor. Each one has a different menu, which I find exciting. I can’t wait to try the one in Phoenix next time I’m home.

Green with Envy

At least that’s how I think you’ll feel as you read this post. You’re welcome.

I don’t think Green has ever come up in my blog before (at least not more than in passing), which is bizarre, considering that it’s been – and continues to be – my favorite restaurant since I went vegan. It’s vegan fast food – okay, maybe not fast food, but quick, comfort food – at its finest.

Green is a completely vegan restaurant in North Tempe, almost in Scottsdale, but not quite. Tempe(h) for the win! Now that I think of it, it’s really the only vegan restaurant I know of in Tempe, and maybe Phoenix. There’s plenty of vegetarian places, many of which have a ton of vegan options or are mostly vegan, but I think Green’s the only one that’s legit enough to not only be 100% vegan, but 500% more delicious than everywhere else.

Green has a mix of Asian and American options, including appetizers and salads, customizable flatbread pizzas, po-boys, sammies, burgers, stir-fry bowls, and, most importantly, the infamous tsoynamis.

This guy used to be a special, but eventually was added to the regular menu. Um, I wonder why?…

The Mexicali burger: Green’s homemade burger patty with organic garbanzo hummus, zesty nacho cheese, vegan mayo and spicy chipotle sauce. With the only side I ever order: tahini coleslaw! On an Ezekiel bun, of course! If you could have your junk food on whole grain bread for only a dollar extra, wouldn’t you do it too? There’s not much to say about this burger except that, like all their sandwiches, the flavors come together just right, providing you with a melty, gooey mess that’s as satisfyingly wonderful as it is difficult to eat without your formerly clean face becoming a casualty of the meal. The coleslaw is cool and rich, with little flecks of peanuts balancing out the creamy tahini dressing. It’s always the perfect foil to the warm and hearty sammies.

This sandwich is a special, and only a special, for now: the Tempeh Reuben!

I’ve never had a real reuben before – if you can even call a sandwich made of ground toxin- and antibiotic-laden flesh “real,” that is – but this one was amazing. Spicy, toothsome tempeh, tangy sauerkraut, and creamy vegan thousand-island dressing. Mmm.

This here is another favorite, not least because it’s oh-so-adorable name.
The Texas “moo-shroom” po-boy: “pulled” and shredded portabella with caramelized onions and peppers slow cooked in Green’s espresso BBQ sauce.

As you can see, they don’t skimp on the filling. It usually takes me a few minutes to eat the stuff outside my sandwich with a fork before I even take a real bite. Not complaining though…

The moo-shroom po-boy is even messier than the Mexicali burger. Just look at how saucy it is. (pun INTENDED!)

Although I usually order sandwiches or stir-fry bowls (their mock chicken is one of my favorite faux meats of all time!), occasionally I’m up for a pizza. My only problem being overcoming my revulsion – fear? haha – of white flour, as I’m pretty sure these aren’t whole wheat flatbreads.

Butttttt, that sentiment is pretty easily overcome when this awaits me:

Green’s namesake, the Greenza! Homemade pesto sauce (basil and pine nut) with vegan mozzarella cheese (they use Teese). This one was topped with artichoke hearts, spinach, and caramelized onions.

Here’s one that my friend ordered! The Western: Green’s vegan BBQ sauce with vegan mozzarella cheese. Jo topped hers with roasted jalapeños and mock chicken because she’s bad-ass like that!

No visit to Green would be complete without the obligatory Tsoynami (Think a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but vegan and 3265561487x more amazing).

Green makes their own vegan “tsoft tserve,” and it’s the best fro-yo style vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. And the mix-ins. Oh, the mix-ins. Imagine every vegan thing you’d ever want on a sundae at your disposal, and that’s how Green rolls. Fruit (berries, bananas, and tropical fruit), multiple forms of chocolate, various flavors of Newman’s O’s, graham crackers, vegan mocha puffs, “captain crunch,” and “berry crunch,” pretzels, nuts, ricemellow fluff, flavored syrups, and of course, PEANUT BUTTER. And not just any peanut butter, organic Maranatha peanut butter. Sometimes they even have special mix-ins, like orange pound cake. There’s about 15 pre-made combos, but I usually design my own.

Here’s the PB&J (Strawberries, PB, and graham crackers) with bananas added:

And a special: the Monsoon, which, if I remember correctly, was chocolate syrup, chocolate cake, and chocolate chips. Of course I had to add PB to it.

I wish I had pics of all the Green meals I’ve had before I got my camera, but that post would be unbearably lengthy, so maybe it’s for the best. But I can guarantee you that this won’t be the last you hear of my favorite restaurant.

Sweet Potato and Tempeh, Together Again + Broccoli Quiche!

Sweet potatoes and tempeh have always been two of my favorite foods, but recently (starting with my Sesame Scrambled Tempeh and Kale with Sweet Potatoes), I’ve begun to realize that the only thing better than tempeh or sweet potatoes are tempeh and sweet potatoes together. So, to continue the trend, of course I had to make the Sweet & Sour Chipotle Tempeh with Sweet Potatoes from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan! This guy’s been bookmarked forever, so it’s about time!

This dish is absolutely loaded with good stuff in addition to the tempeh and sweet taters, like pineapple and bell peppers! Also, be warned, the recipe title does not lie – the sauce really is sweet (among its many ingredients are 1/4 cup unrefined sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup ketchup, and 1 tsp molasses, and that’s coupled with pineapple and sweet potatoes). My dad and I thought it was great, but it was a little too much for my mom. I think next time I might knock the sugar down a tiny bit, but only a tiny bit – it is supposed to be “sweet and sour” after all!

I served it, as Dreena suggests, alongside some Coconut-Lime Basmati Rice, also from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Sprinkled with cashew bits:

The rice is great – simple enough to yield to the bolder flavors of the entrée, but the coconut milk and lime juice/zest give it just enough character to give it a presence as a side dish.

Next up, my first eggless quiche (or maybe my first quiche, for that matter)! I made the Classic Broccoli Quiche from Vegan Brunch to serve as my family’s breakfast–or lunch, or dinner, or midmorning snack–throughout the week. I followed the recipe to a tee, except for adding a little extra turmeric for maximum egg color-replication power! Bow chicka bow bow! I used a Wholly Wholesome whole-wheat pie crust instead of making my own (the same crust I used for my Peanut Butter-Carob-Cookie Dough Pie, actually!) Oh, and I did add a significant amount of salt to taste, in case you give this quiche a go! Since Isa told me to, I decorated it with cherry tomatoes like a good girl.

Mmm, so delicious. I’ve definitely been quiche-deprived since going vegan. As it was in the oven, I wondered why Isa didn’t call for the same “eggy”-tasting black salt here that she calls for in her omelets. Don’t get me wrong – the quiche ended up being awesome as it was, and maybe black salt wouldn’t work well. But that said, I’d like to try it next time with some black salt and see if the addition would make it even more quiche-like. Gotta love experiments.

Look, the little tomato on top is as shriveled as the colons of all the omnivores who are eating nasty, egg-laden quiches.

Oh, did I mention that my sister and I whipped up Dreena’s Maple Banana Loaf a couple days ago? Oops! Because we definitely did!

Banana bread is probably my favorite–and most nostalgic because I always loved my mom’s growing up–baked good, so I’m always on the lookout for new recipes so I can someday proclaim one of them to be the ultimate banana bread. The Lower-Fat Banana Bread from Veganomicon has always been my go-to, but this one was probably just as good (and had less fat: only 1 Tbs of oil!). Next time, I might make it without chocolate chips though so the maple flavor could really shine through because I didn’t think the bread actually tasted like maple. It was more like banana bread that happened to be sweetened with maple syrup, ya know? Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the very small portion that I allowed myself to have since I’m still trying to avoid gluten for the most part.

Sesame Scrambled Tempeh and Greens with Yams

I made the Sesame Scrambled Tempeh with Greens and Yams from Vegan Brunch (I subbed tempeh for the ‘fu the recipe calls for). Three of my favorite foods! Anyhow, it was absolutely delicious. It’s a pretty simple recipe – besides the ingredients in the title, the recipe just includes some garlic, ginger, red pepper, and soy sauce, but that’s about it!

This dish was rich and flavorful, sweet and salty, but still simple and down to earth (and quite easy to prepare). I’m sure I’ll try the recipe with the intended tofu at some point, but given that tempeh’s my favorite out of the holy trinity of vegan proteins – tofu/tempeh/seitan – I was definitely happy with it this way! I just used the cooking method that Isa gives for Basic Scrambled Tempeh a few pages before.

I’ve kind of dropped off the Vegan Brunch radar since my initial kick, but this recipe reminded me that I need to get back in there! So you have that to look forward to.