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."