Friday, December 21, 2007

Quesadilla Delight

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: These roasted pepper and Cheezly quesadillas were just the kind of treat we've been waiting for all week—something savory to balance out all of the holiday sweets. Perfectly crispy and accented with fresh cilantro and hot sauce, I can guarantee we'll be repeating this main sometime in the very near future. Colleen sautéed a Mexican medley of pinto beans, corn, mushrooms, and celery artfully seasoned with paprika and cumin and—never neglecting her attention for detail—she included homemade guacamole, garlic aioli, some fresh greens, and a neat little lime wedge per each plate.

The Goods: This is the last post ... of 2007. Did we have you sweating there for a minute? Starting next week we will be on our Holiday Hiatus but will return well rested and in good spirits on January 2, 2008. We hope you all enjoy the season of giving by preparing your friends and family some tasty, Café VegNews-inspired meals.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

South Indian Smorgasbord

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Where to even begin? Everything that you see on the plate was amazing, down to the last grain of rice. Speaking of the rice, it was brown with a generous helping of plump raisins. Clockwise from there we had a phenomal broccoli and green pea soup, then a salad with homemade almond-butter dressing. Next to the salad? Oh, just a little coconut-mint chutney. Yeah, you read that right. Next up, a simmered tomato chutney with mustard seeds and a spicy little kick of green chiles. How Jenny manages to come up with these dishes is nothing short of miraculous, and it's fair to say that we like that about her.

The Goods: Today we had a more-official departure celebration for Ms. Katie, whose final day as our editorial assistant is tomorrow. Since we won't have the whole staff here tomorrow, a day in advance seemed like the best time to party. To start the day off, Elizabeth brought in some maple-glazed doughnuts, as they are Katie's favorite. (See below for what happens when you try and put a star-shaped doughnut into oil that's too hot!) Then, Jenny made the amazing lunch you see above. Then, Aurelia made a two-layer vanilla cake with the lemoniest lemon glaze that has ever graced a cake. Unfortunately, the sugar-mad hordes here at the VNHQ devoured the sweet little cake before it had a chance to get photographed. Such is the life of sweets in the office, short and, well, you know....
To make up for it, here's a picture of the doughnut platter, and one of Ms. Katie holding it:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Swan-Song Squash

The Chef: Katie

The Menu: Delicata squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash all roasted to crispy perfection with nutmeg and cinnamon. Sounds like a pretty sweet way to get over the mid-week hump, right? Well, right you are. These veggies, in all their beta-carotene filled splendor, served as a welcome base for the spices which Katie expertly applied. A side of couscous, a loaf of warm sesame bread, and a salad of fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and more of the Cheezly we seem to be putting on everything recently rounded out this colorful plate.

The Goods: Today was the last cooking day for our fantastic intern, Ms. Katie. Remember the earlier posts about her claims of not being able to cook? "Pshaw" is what we say about that notion now. While we're all very sad that her internship is coming to its end, we'll always have the lunch-blog memories. Kudos to Katie on another fantastic meal, and an admirable send-off!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Outer Sunset Freestyle Lasagna

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: As the title clearly states, today we had Aurelia's Outer Sunset Freestyle Lasagna. Maybe you are wondering what that actually means, well, we'll go ahead and fill you in on the details. This fantastic baked pasta consisted of rice noodles, homemade tomato sauce, and, of course, grated Cheezly on top. The holy trinity of pasta, sauce, and cheese was in full, filling effect. The salad was fresh and crisp with romaine, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes. And then, there was the Garlic Bread. Oh yes, it was so good it gets capital letters. If there's anything better than warm, perfectly garlicky garlic bread, we don't even want to know about it.

The Goods: Far be it from us to say that this lunch was miraculous, but, well, it just might have been. It absolutely poured down rain all morning, which inspired Aurelia to make something warm and baked. When we sat down to eat, the skies were lightening a tiny bit, but the rain was still coming down. Then, just as we were finishing off the last few bites, the sun burst through the clouds. Coincidence? We think not. So don't forget: the next time you're trying to coax the sun out from behind the clouds, break out the garlic bread. You'll instantly feel better, whether or not the weather clears up.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Creative Chana Masala

The Chef: Joseph and Colleen

The Menu: Wowza. We know that we're spoiled in terms of eating around here, and there is nothing better than having that notion reaffirmed after the weekend. To merry up this Monday, Joseph and Colleen collaborated on this amazing meal. Basmati rice made the perfect bed for simmered, Indian-spiced chickpeas, spinach, and tomatoes. Cumin, cinnamon, and other savories blended together in sumptuous splendor. To go with a main this fantastic the salad had to be Mr. Joseph's signature salad. He mixed romaine, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, bell peppers, sunflower seeds, and a sesame dressing with little chunks of mozzarella-style Cheezly. Oh, did we also have toasted pappadums? Why yes, yes we did.

The Goods: So to go with a delicious meal there should be a delicious dessert, right? Well, today we were in no short supply of sugary goodies. Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream stopped by on Friday and stocked us with some of their awesome flavors. The pièce de résistance, however, was a rich, chocolaty, pistachio-topped fudge made by our very own Ms. Katie. A fudge this good deserves its own photo, so here you go:

Like we said, wowza.

Friday, December 14, 2007

End-Of-The-Week Scramble

The Chef: Katie

The Menu: Let me tell you a little about our lunch today and about the week now nearly behind us. On the left side of the plate we have a scrumptious heap of tofu scramble that Jenny whipped up for us on Wednesday morning for breakfast. So props to Miss Jenny for filling our tummies more than twice this week! Added to the scramble are the potatoes from Wednesday's lunchtime feast, and for some raw food nutrition we dipped carrot and celery sticks into the delicious sun-dried tomato spread from last Friday's holiday party. Lastly, we enjoyed slices of pizza that we ordered midweek for an after-work movie screening. We ordered it cheeseless and added Cheezely on our own (we are such a clever and resourceful group of vegetarians).

The Goods: Needless to say, we have a lot of fun here at VNHQ whether at work, before, or after. And, no matter what the activity, great food is always called for. With the holidays nearing, we find that our desire for food is only short of our desire to get together and enjoy each other’s company. Now, enough of the warm fuzzy stuff and back to work. There's only one more week until holiday break begins.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Crazy-Good Coconut Rice

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: That's right, this rice was so good, it was crazy. Coconut milk and raisins made this main more like dessert than lunch, and have you ever heard us complain about dessert? Didn't think so. The soup she made was easily one of the most amazing can rehabs we'd ever seen. Starting with just plain ol' canned lentil soup, Jenny managed to create an amazing, squashy coconut-milk infused soup with carrots and corn that was rich and sweet, but totally not overwhelming. This meal was simply amazing, and to prove it there isn't any left!

The Goods: We've been going a little crazy with cookies, cakes, candies, and all other varieties of sweets in the office since the big year-end bash last Friday. Today's lunch was the perfect complement to the sweet stuff, with the added bonus of a little nutritional value.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Big Ol' Buffet

The Chef: The Hungry Vegan

The Menu: Are you settled in? Make sure you're in a comfortable reading position because this is going to be a long one. Ready? Starting from the soup on the left and moving clockwise we have carrot vichyssoise; Indian cumin-scented coconut milk stew; broccoli with tofu; cannelini beans with sautéed kale; braised cabbage with red beans and rice; potatoes with herbs de Provence, lemon, and coarse salt; polenta with stewed peppers and tomatoes; and barley pilaf with mushrooms. Not pictured are the desserts: spiced apple and almond cake and pine nut anise crescents.

The Goods: If that all sounds like a mouthful, you should have seen the meal itself. The Hungry Vegan ships organic, ready-to-eat meals nationwide from its kitchen in South Carolina. Though shipping food across the country is not the most sustainable way to eat, The Hungry Vegan's website welcomes suggestions on how to improve its environmental standing and states that they only use all-natural, organic ingredients. The idea is that you can order a week's worth of food, and not have to worry about making dinner every night. So, we got to taste a collection of different entrées. As for the food itself, some of the dishes may have suffered the effects of their long journey, such as the broccoli, which fell a little flat, and the desserts having a fresh-from-the-fridge tinge. The lemony potatoes and creamy coconut milk stew, however, were favorites here at the VNHQ.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Super Stew

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Everything. All that was in the fridge and organic produce box went into the stew. Well, okay, almost everything. What we're looking at here are sweet potatoes, golden beets, and carrots roasted and then puréed, with steamed kale, sautéed leek, and diced tomatoes all stewed up together. Those with perceptive eyes will be able to spot some of the stuffed mushrooms from yesterday chopped in the salad. And that, as they say, is that.

The Goods: As you've probably guessed, we take words pretty seriously around here, what with trying to put them together in the best possible way all the time. To that effect, there are certain words that we tend not to say (remember "moist" from yesterday?). Inevitably, the word "super" comes up whenever anyone makes anything soupish for lunch, and try as we might, we just can't seem to get away from saying silly things like, "This soup is super." So, today we're not hiding from it. We're embracing it and putting it right in the title. Try and find the next time you see a bowl of soup or stew and don't think the word "super" now. You're welcome.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Delicious Leftovers

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: Oh, wild rice-and-cranberry-stuffed mushrooms, what would life be without you? Well, it would certainly not have been the same lunch today without them, that's for sure. The appetizer theme didn't stop with the mushrooms, as you can see. Crostini topped with either white bean aioli or a red pepper hummus made a crunchy companion to the mushier mushrooms. To complete the meal Aurelia made a great spinach salad with corn, grated carrot, and chopped nuts. Simple and delicious, this meal gave us fullness of bellies and roominess of fridge.

The Goods: No, you didn't miss a post: the mushrooms and crostini were leftovers from our awesome year-end holiday-themed party, which took place last Friday night. It was catered by the very talented vegan chef Jesse Miner, whom you may remember from our March+April Vegan Weddings feature. Chef Miner made an impressive array of finger food, and was even kind enough to send the VN staff home with cookies, which, in case it wasn't already abundantly clear, is the way directly to our hearts.

Of course, a year-end party is a great reason to go a little crazy with dessert, and that's just what our amazing publisher Joseph and associate publisher Colleen did. The photo below, taken today, is an amalgamation of the three, utterly incredible cakes that they had shipped to us from Vegan Treats in Pennsylvania. Oh. God. The cakes were so good. They were as follows: peanut butter bomb cake, coconut, and chocolate brownie cheesecake. Now. The "bomb" part of "peanut butter bomb" means that on top of the cake there are huge gobs of amazing peanut butter frosting, all covered in chocolate. You can see part of this one sticking out from the bottom of the pile. The coconut cake of course has coconut frosting, and the cake itself is so freakin' sweet it makes us want to use the word moist. Here at the VNHQ, we hate using the word moist, but, heck, sometimes it really does describe the spongy, mouthy perfection of a layer of cake. Finally, the brownie cheesecake. Not a chocolate-flavored cheesecake as the name might imply, this is a full-on cheesecake covered in hunks of brownie and drizzled with chocolate, which you can glimpse hanging out at the top of the plate in the photo. Please excuse us for the rest of the day, we are in a hyperglycemic coma.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lovely Lo Mein

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Hello, rice noodles. Jenny's noodle dish today was both new and delish, which makes writing about it almost too easy. Perfectly cooked, flat rice noodles made a comfort-food bed for shaved carrots and whole green peas, and everything got a generous dusting of sesame seeds. To go with her lo mein main, Jenny whipped up some sesame tofu, which was salty and splendid. Did she stop there? No, of course not. Jenny's not a fan of the two-course lunch, so she also prepared a shiitake soup in rich broth.

The Goods: Maybe we say this every day, but we could easily have sat and picked at these noodles all day if there weren't this pesky business about publishing a magazine. Oh wait, we like that part too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Serious Stir-Fry

The Chef: Katie

The Menu: Oh stir-fry over brown rice, you never let us down. After the indulgence of yesterday's mac 'n' cheese, it was great to get back to basics today with Katie's awesome stir-fry. The carrots and broccoli were both perfectly cooked until just tender, neither too crunchy nor too mushy, and the tofu was delicious as always. Katie simmered all this goodness in a ginger-scallion sauce. Sound fancy? Let's just say that these were some brilliant basics. The fresh spinach salad with sunflower seeds and spinach-filled Chinese buns made excellent, healthier-feeling sides.

The Goods: Everyone knows that it's rad to live in San Francisco, right? Well, you can trust us (we're journalists!) on this: it's great. The obvious (like not getting stuck in the snow) aside, one of the best things about our little town is the ready availability of these frozen Chinese-style buns. They can be found in almost every Asian market in the city, of which it seems like there are hundreds, and come in an amazing variety of vegan fillings. Really, it's no small miracle that the whole staff here doesn't more closely resemble the soft, doughy dumplings!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Martes Mac 'n' Cheese

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Yep, it's mac 'n' cheese time again. There are only so many days that the staff here can go without the stuff before things begin to turn ugly. Trust us, you don't want to see a group of mac 'n' cheese-deprived vegans trying to put together a magazine. So, in the interests of inter-office harmony, and because she desperately wanted some, Elizabeth whipped up a super-creamy, baked mac 'n' cheese. The recipe idea came from the forthcoming January+February (check out our new column, Veganize It!) issue, though due to the ingredients on hand a few changes were made. The results? Pretty stinking good, and by-and-large gone, which is just how we like recipes to turn out. In addition to the main, you may notice some sweet potato fries and a salad, and while neither of the sides were as notable as le mac, they did provide some much-needed nutrition to the meal .

The Goods: We've said it before, we'll say it again: If eating enough creamy, vegan mac 'n' cheese to make the devil blush is wrong, we don't want to be right.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Birthday Sandwiches!

The Chef: Banhwich

The Menu: Okay, on very special occasions, we let someone else do the cooking. Today was just such a lunch, as we were celebrating the birthday of our most dedicated volunteer, Ms. Frankie. Banhwich is a local Vietnamese restaurant, and they make some seriously wonderful sandwiches. Today we all got a big sandwich on a fresh, French roll stuffed with tofu, shredded carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, and special sweet tangy sauce. In case that wasn't treat enough, we also ate tofu, bean sprout, and lettuce spring rolls, complete with peanut dipping sauce.

The Goods: We freakin' love birthdays. Well, okay, maybe we love Frankie and the fact that birthdays give us the excuse to make specific lunchtime demands and eat more than we likely should. Either way, lunch today was amazing, and was made even more so by the appearance of a still-warm apple crisp courtesy of Colleen. Maybe it's a little bit difficult to get a photo of crisp that doesn't end up looking like a big, messy pile of gooey goodness, but, you know, around here we like gooey. It's totally appropriate to drool now:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lovely Leftovers

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Some of the items today may look a little familiar. You know how we like to use everything that we can here at VN, so leftovers are always fair game when making lunch. Today we got to relive the splendor that was Jenny's rice and curry combo from yesterday, and indulge in a little something new. Ms. Colleen got to show off her amazing appetizer ability with some excellent sautéed shiitake mushrooms, spinach, and beet greens over crostini. Each one was a savory treat and a perfect balance to the sweetness of the peanut butter in the curry. Of course, the salad was splendid with just a fresh mix of greens, tomatoes, and sliced bell peppers in a balsamic vinaigrette. It seems the word we are looking for here is, "yum."

The Goods: It's Friday. We got to enjoy an awesome lunch in the sun, even though it's December tomorrow. Sure, the wind was a little chilly, but, you know, who's counting? We hope everyone gets to enjoy the weekend and eat something delicious!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Incredible Indian

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Oh my. Oh goodness. This was unquestionably the fanciest and most filling meal of the week so far. Remember how Jenny cooked for the monks when she lived in an ashram? Today, we ate like holy men. Her stellar two-dish meal consisted of basmati rice infused with turmeric, peas, and roasted cashews and then there was a curry. Oh wait, that's right, it was actually one of the most amazing curries ever made. No, really. Sweet potatoes and fresh broccoli swam in a thick, flavorful sauce of coconut milk, peanut butter, and pitch-perfect curry spices. The whole-grain bread was brought to us by one of today's guests, more on them in a moment. Maybe it's a good idea to just take a minute and admire the food again.

The Goods: Hooray for guests! Though we weren't quick enough to snap a group photo today, it's always nice to have friends stop by, especially when we can share food as fantastic as today's. So, on today's guest list we had Ms. Helen, a volunteer who's unstoppable behind the table at trade shows, and Matt Flanzer and Maria Brenner, a contributing writer and former VegBuzz columnist, respectively.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Marvelous Mexican

The Chef: Katie

The Menu: First off, it says "marvelous" in today's title for a reason. This meal was utterly excellent, another hit from Ms. I-Can't-Cook Katie. So, starting from the top we've got some lovely, warmed sprouted wheat tortillas, then superb roasted sweet potatoes, a fresh, simple tomato and avocado salad, and the main attraction: beautiful black beans with red bell pepper on a bed of just-right rice. That little dollop on top of the beans? Oh, that's what started out as vegan mayonnaise and got dressed up with light vinegar and lime juice to make a tangy topping.

The Goods: If there's any other good news after a meal like this, we're not sure we even want to hear it. An entirely satisfying midday meal, we could all easily curl up and take a nice long catnap in the sun while Katie's delicious food digests.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Broiled Tofu, Baked Butternut

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Basics. Today was all about simplicity as we are putting the final touches on our January+February issue, and needed to not spend much time making lunch. So, for an on-deadline meal we've got basic broiled tofu, basic baked butternut squash, and a not-quite-as-basic salad that got a teeny bit spruced up with some cubes of mozzarella-style Cheezly and capers.

The Goods: Yep, we're under a little time pressure here today, so you'll have to forgive us the short post. But, since it was another nice, light meal, maybe the sparsity of words here is appropriate? We hope you all had more time for lunch!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Simple Soup

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: After the four-day pigout that was Thanksgiving weekend, we all needed something light and lovely for lunch today, and Aurelia made it happen. A fresh, easy soup of mushrooms, kale, mung bean noodles, tomatoes, and yellow bell pepper perfectly complemented a marinated, raw, kale salad. The tart, acidic marinade of the salad dressed up a bunch of beautiful purple kale that came in our organic box today.

The Goods: Most of us did not do such a hot job of avoiding the ol' overeating monster over the weekend, so get ready to see some wafer-thin meals this week. After stuffing ourselves silly with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and their various holiday cohorts, fresh veggies promise to bring us back to nutrient-dense reality. And for those of you who are hungry for recipes, today's salad will be in the January+February issue.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck

The Chefs: Everyone!

The Menu: Where to begin? Everyone contributed to today's plentiful spread, which was so amazingly filling that none of us is likely to have enough room to squeeze in a single cranberry tomorrow. At 12 o'clock on this fine plate we have the traditional canned cranberry sauce, courtesy of Ms. Frankie. One of our most devoted volunteers, she comes in a couple times a week and keeps us all honest. Moving clockwise we have boiled yucca with traditional Cuban mojito, which in this case is a delicious, raw-garlic sauce—not a minty mixed drink. Next up Aurelia made some damn fine swiss chard with onions, garlic, and just a touch of chile pepper heat. Joseph brought in a huge casserole dish of lovely roasted winter vegetables, garnished here with a rosemary sprig. And finishing off the plate we have Elizabeth's salad with persimmons, pomegranate, and roasted pecans. Oof.

The Goods: Since it's most likely that everyone will be eating a huge amount tomorrow we figured the best way to prepare was to eat a huge amount today. Makes sense, right? Well, maybe not, but what a fantastic way to celebrate. Since it was a special occasion, we had a little something extra in the form of an amazing, gluten-free apple crisp made by Ms. Colleen with apples that grew on her backyard tree. Paired with an extra-rich, super-creamy, non-egg nog from Joseph, the dessert course was as incredible as the rest of the meal. See? Teamwork at the office really does pay off!

Happy Turkey-Free Thanksgiving from all of us here at VegNews! We'll be back on Monday with your regularly scheduled lunch-cast.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sketti Sauce

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Okay, where it says "Elizabeth" next to "chef" is pretty much a lie. This is her dad's pasta sauce, which has always been referred to in their house as "sketti," regardless of pasta shape. We think it may be a direct translation from the Italian word "spaghetti" which means, "I'm too lazy to say the word spaghetti in its entirety." That Dad, he makes a nice-a sauce-a, and , even nicer, he's usually willing to share. So today we have whole-wheat rotini with sketti sauce and Yves Veggie Brats in Zesty Italian, salad with olive pugliese croutons, and, wouldn't you know it, some olive pugliese slices.

The Goods: Sometimes, the best meals are the ones you re-heat. It's already established that we are all about the leftovers here at VN, especially when they come in the form of a hearty Italian lunch.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Looks Like Lentils

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: Today Aurelia served up some mighty tasty lentil soup. It consisted of puréed tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and, of course, lentils. It was flavored to perfection with North African spices and a generous dash of cinnamon. The perfect complement to a flawless lentil soup is the perfect bread accompaniment, and Aurelia brought it home—literally—with this amazing Algerian flat bread called Kesra from her recent trip to Paris. With a side salad to boot, this meal was grade A, vegan style.

The Goods: Soup is a tough dish to capture in photograph. By the looks of this picture, or any of our soup photographs, you might not be 100-percent convinced of its deliciousness. So, we are asking you to take our word for it. Soup is quickly becoming a favorite around here, and we want our blog following to be just as stoked about the greatness of soup as we are.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Silky Pumpkin Soup

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu:
You'd think Jenny's life depended on her cooking because every time she enters the kitchen (well, it's really a kichenette) she creates something extraordinarily delicious. Today was no exception. She used her instinctual creativity to make a simply divine soup using butternut squash, potatoes, nutmeg, and—here's where she gets inventive—a healthy, but not too healthy, dose of Silk's Pumpkin Spice Soymilk. In addition to the soup, Jenny prepared a rich couscous with faux bleu cheese and a refreshing salad with bell peppers, avocado, carrots, celery, and walnuts. She rounded out the meal with Asian dumplings filled with mushrooms and greens. Jenny might not really be cooking to save her life, but she sure saved our day with this warm, yummy dish.

The Goods:
The fog never lifted today, so soup was just the solution to put some warmth back into our bones and bellies. We are enjoying our fresh, weekly produce box and are always looking for an excuse to make hearty, winter vegetables into warm, silky soups.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pizza and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

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The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Our unseasonable warmth quickly reverted to completely seasonable cold today,and Colleen decided to warm us with an amazing curried sweet potato and roasted red pepper soup that had just a kick of spice. Even the spice wusses among us were able to handle it, which was to everyone's benefit as it was a seriously sumptuous soup. And yes, that is a delicious sampling of pizza you see on the side. Colleen is our resident fancy-pants chef, so when she makes pizza it has sliced green olives, capers, and rosemary. Oh yes it does. Wondering about the cheese? It's Cheezly, a vegan cheese from England which is not yet widely available in the US—something we hope will soon be rectified!

The Goods: See above. Really, fresh pizza out of the oven makes us all pretty happy little campers around here. We also had the pleasure of the company of Pam and Roy Webb, two long-time friends of VegNews. When we get to have guests as charming as Pam and Roy, it doesn't even bother us to have to share the pizza.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fusilli Fanatics

The Chef: Katie

The Menu: So Monday, we had pasta and Tuesday we had rice. You know what that means for Wednesday? Rice pasta! Ms. Katie whipped up a nice, light rice pasta with sauteed spinach, peas, capers, and roasted almonds, which was perfect for our unseasonably warm day here today. She's quickly becoming completely fearless, first trying her hand at tofu scramble last week and then taking on artichokes today. The enormous 'chokes actually got divvied up; we didn't all get a single head-sized serving. With a crunchy salad and Judy's Breadsticks Lovestick slices, this meal was as good as it is gone.

The Goods: A word on recipes: there have been a few commentors (thanks for commenting!) who've asked for recipes for the meals shown here. Chances are, if there is a recipe, we'll tell you how to find it, as in the case of the Mac 'n' Cheese from way back in October which will be featured in our January+February issue. Most of the time, however, we just throw something together from what's on-hand in the kitchen, so there isn't a recipe to share. We hope you get inspired to make something equally off-the-cuff for your next meal!

And finally: what's a pirate's favorite vegetable? Arrrrrrtichokes

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: As you may already know, the VNHQ is in San Francisco. As you may also already know, we like treats. So, combining the elements of "San Francisco" and "treat," Elizabeth created a tomato-infused take on a certain boxed rice product. In fact, her dad tends to make this as a side dish, though to be fair, his usually turns out much better. Today the rice cooker decided to act up, so while the rice does have little pieces of browned angel hair pasta, said pieces got a little mushy during cooking. What can we say? This may be why Elizabeth chose a career in magazines and not the culinary arts. Curried carrots and garlicky collards, however, are pretty much un-screw-up-able, despite some valiant efforts.

The Goods: You know, we are pretty lucky to get a nice, hot lunch for free every day here at VN, even when someone's having a slightly off chef day. Ok, now get back to work!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pasta Perfecta

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: Does anyone not like pasta salad? Today we got treated to amazing, creamy pasta salad created by Ms. Aurelia. Carrots, broccoli, peas, and fresh tomatoes made this delicious dish just a tad healthier than your average bowl of nice, warm pasta. Oh on the side there? That's right, it's breadsticks. Fresh from the oven with garlic and Parma twisted inside the ready-made dough, these little suckers were as tasty as they were toasty warm. And, of course, like in all of Aurelia's wonderful meals, the salad today was exceptional. Avocados, hearts of palm, and shredded carrots topped butter lettuce and made a perfect pairing with the veggies in the pasta.

The Goods: Today we fed the masses. It's a real treat to have invited guests join us for lunch, and today we got them in spades. Some of our special guest stars today included Laurie Bradley, our amazing West Coast Sales Rep; Paul Saccone, a long-time friend of VegNews; and Robert Cheeke, vegan pro-body builder extraordinaire. Here's the whole gang, though of course it's impossible to get 12 people all smiling and looking at the camera at once.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Paella Part Deux

The Chef: Katie

The Menu: Jenny's just-as-tasty-the-second-day paella and an enormous salad using cucumbers from Jenny's Cuban salad, leftover mandarins from Joe's exotic soup, tomato slices, and a sprinkle of faux cheese.

The Goods: This Friday kicks off the Green Festival here in San Francisco and some of our staff are already on the scene. If you're in the area, stop by the VegNews booth and we'll sell you a subscription in person! Getting back to the topic of lunch, there are only a couple of us here today so we decided to pack up our paella and dine at the beach. Happy Friday to all!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Paella Penchant

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Holy crap. It's paella. As you can see, Jenny has once again outdone herself in making a gorgeous, tasty meal. So what we've got here is a paella with green beans, carrots, corn, and red bell pepper. According to Jenny, the little dome is the way that paella is always served in her house, and who are we to argue with something so fun to admire? Of course, we didn't admire it for very long before scarfing it down, but whatever. Surrounding her magnificent main dish we had little yam-flour based faux shrimp. Jenny cooked them up with some artichoke hearts and a curry mix packet that was intended for use on fish. The result? A decidedly non-fishy delicacy. Oh right, there's more. The third of her four-course meal was a garbanzo bean and diced tomato soup in broth, and then finishing everything off was a simple salad of sliced cucumber and parsely. Gah. So much good food, so little time!

The Goods: In case it wasn't already clear from her stunning presentation, Jenny is a total perfectionist when it comes to her food. We like that, and not just because it means that we get treated to amazing meals. (Okay, mainly because it means we get treated to amazing meals...)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Soup Surprise

The Chef: Joseph

The Menu: A simply sumptuous soup and salad surprise from our very own Mr. Joseph Connelly. Let's start at the top, because seriously, this soup was tops. Joseph proves yet again that working with what you have on-hand is the best way to go, as he doctored up a dried red lentil and bulgur soup mix with mandarin oranges, sweet potato, and fresh spinach. In case, like us, you hadn't previously considered oranges to be soup ingredients, start considering. They were amazing little bites of sweet in perfect harmony with the warm, filling soup. But wait, there's more. The salad was also fantastic, with both romaine and spinach, shredded carrots, apple, sunflower seeds, and Joseph's secret dressing. The pièce de résistance: super-garlicky garlic bread. If eating four pieces of garlic bread in one sitting is wrong, no one here wants to be right.

The Goods: Joseph invented lunch. No really, it's true. Okay, he invented the VegNews staff lunch, and we are all pretty thrilled that he did. It's not every day that he works from the office, so it really is a treat when he busts out a lunch like this one.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Creamy Soup, Roasted Squash

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Tricky cream of broccoli soup, which of course means that there isn't any cream in it. The trick part lies in blending up some waxy Yellow Finn potatoes and (shh, don't tell anyone) a handful or so of cashews. The creaminess makes it feel decadent, but then, blammo, there's the broccoli to bring back the nutritional edge. For sides, we got a little treat of cinnamon, cumin seed, and paprika roasted acorn squash. This is a favorite around the VNHQ; it makes the whole office smell like warming cinnamon. To round out the warmth, we had a quick salad with apple, yellow bell pepper, and avocado, and finished everything off with more rolls from Elizabeth's mom. She is still awesome.

The Goods: Did we mention that it's cold here now? Of course, it's not cold like other parts of the country, but, dang, we needed some nice, hearty soup to warm us up today. Since we got a big bag of the potatoes in our weekly organic grocery delivery (check out Organic Express if you're in the SF area!), a creamy soup was the natural fit. Yum!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Lunch of Brunch

The Chef: Katie

The Menu: Can you really over-use the word "perfect" when it comes to a lunch like this? No joke, Katie made perfect tofu scramble with black beans and tomatoes, perfectly roasted rosemary potatoes, and absolutely perfect garlicky collard greens. Naturally, the meal was finished off with slices of fresh avocado, just like all perfect meals. The dinner rolls were compliments of Elizabeth's mom, who is awesome. That's the technical term for someone who makes amazing dinner rolls and is willing to share them.

The Goods: Okay, somehow here at VegNews we've had a string of interns who claim not to be able to cook. This is, of course, total honkey. The gorgeousness that you see above you was Katie's first-ever tofu scramble, and she nailed it. Oh what's that? Yeah, it was also her first time making collards, and well, not to overstate things, but did you already read about how they were perfect? They totally were. Kudos to Katie, an accomplished intern and chef!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Freeloader Friday

The Chef: Katie

The Menu: It's not deja vu; it's leftovers. In the upper left portion of this feast we have yesterday's Cuban-Thai extravaganza, dolled-up with a fresh mint sprig. Katie also added a little crunch to our pear and faux bleu cheese salad with some walnuts. On the right, Tuesday's crostini with broccoli spread makes a reappearance, and who could resist another bowl of that warm, tomato bisque?

The Goods: Another week of delectable lunches and already it's Friday. Here at VNHQ Fridays are unique in that some of our editorial team works from home. Although the office is rather empty, the refrigerator is not. It houses miscellaneous leftovers from our Monday through Thursday meals and beckons our skeleton crew to revisit the flavors of the week. By some inexplicable culinary phenomenon, food tastes even better the second time around, and for the record, we'd just like to say that being a freeloader also means being resourceful, sensible, and unwasteful. Seconds please!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thai Food Thursday

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: Where to begin? Jenny sharpened her cooking chops while living in an ashram, and let me tell you, those monks ate well. For her debut blog lunch she made three fantastic dishes: rice with toasted mustard seeds, curried coconut lentils with tomato, and potato, eggplant, and acorn squash curry. Basically, it was a religious experience in a bowl.

The Goods: Jenny is our resident Cuban, which means when she cooks we could feed a small army. Suffice to say that we really, really like that about her. Every week she comes up with something new and wonderful, and makes the best use of coconut milk out of anyone in the office. While the dishes she made today weren't traditional Cuban fare, she describes them as "Thai food Cuban style." We describe them as "gone."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Birthday Halloween Bonanza

The Chef: Colleen (we usually only cook once per week each, but today was an exception, see below)

The Menu: It's scary sometimes just how good lunch can be. Today we were treated to cumin- and rosemary-roasted sweet potato fries, perfectly cooked veggie dogs with all the fixin's, and the salad that is fast becoming our signature—mixed greens, pear, apple, and bleu cheese. (FYI, fixin's in this case translates to: baked beans, avocado, dijon mustard, garlic and/or chili flavored mayo, and, of course, ketchup. Yum!)

The Goods: We happened to be celebrating two of our favorite Scorpios, Aurelia d'Andrea and Jen Pickens, two indispensible members of our editorial team. Not to mention the best holiday ever, All Hallow's Eve, which we've chosen to represent here with an emblematic pumpkin. In honor of the birthdays, our intern extraordinaire Katie made, get this, two cakes. That's right, two. One was a two-layer chocolate raspberry extravaganza, the other was a cinnamon, pumpkin, and chocolate-chip cake with cinnamon vanilla icing. We would show pictures, but that would mean removing our faces from said cakes, which will not be happening any time soon. Happy birthdays to our ladies, and Happy Halloween to all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Comfort Me!

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Oh let's see. It looks like maybe some fall tomato bisque, some little bites of crostini with roasted red pepper and broccoli spreads, and oh, why look, it's an absolutely phenomenal mac 'n' cheese. Seriously, this is the best thing you'll put in your mouth this year. Creamy, savory, and crispy—thanks to some freshly made bread crumbs—this mac is wonderful for all the things it is, but the secret of its success lies in what it isn't. Curious? Don't fret, the recipe is in our January+February issue, but you'll have to wait until then.

The Goods: It's been getting steadily colder here in SF. Short of wrapping ourselves in afghans and calling in sick, this warm, hearty meal was the best way to feel cozy and comforted. Of course, a lunch of this caliber wouldn't have been complete without a delicious drink in a supporting role, and thankfully we are testing out Silk's new Pumpkin Spice flavor. Check out the November edition of the VegNewsletter for a full review!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Inaugural Post: Mexican Medley

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Hello! By which we of course mean, hello, look at that food. Welcome to the very first post of Café VegNews, the very first blog by VegNews Magazine. Everyone here is so excited to share our daily staff lunches with the world, just like the proud food-parents we are!

Ok, we'll try and limit the gratuitous exclamation points, but really, this is thrilling. Here at the VNHQ we all sit down to lunch together every day, and enjoy phenomenal meals prepared right here in the office by a designated staffer. Of course, everything we serve here is vegan, because that's how we do lunch in these parts. And so, without further ado, to the food!

The Chefs: Colleen and Elizabeth

The Menu: Holy moly Mexican food (though today we went sin molé). Sure, sometimes tossing a can of diced tomatoes into the rice cooker will get the job done for Spanish rice, but not when Colleen's cooking. Diced orange bell peppers, sautéed onions, paprika, garlic, cumin, and just a touch of red pepper flakes made this a savory specialty. Moving clockwise around the plate you'll see a superb sauté of summer squash, black beans, and tomatoes. Totally traditional? No. Completely eaten within minutes? Yes. For toppings we scooped on the roasted corn dip (or "corndiment" as its creator, Chef Ben Adams, would say) and finished off with just a dab of vegan garlic mayo. Toasty corn tortillas and a fresh, decidedly non-Mexican salad of mixed baby greens, yellow bell peppers, baby tomatoes, and soy bleu cheese in a basalmic vinaigrette rounded out this feast.

The Goods: Colleen just returned from a few days in Mexico. If lunches like this are what she brings back from vacation, we'll be shipping her around the world shortly.