Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pre-Christmas Curry

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: What's quickly becoming Lyndsay's signature dish: a lovely, light green curry with tons of veggies. Today's installment included sweet and russet potatoes, broccoli, and tofu, all served over perfectly fluffy rice. A side salad of romaine, grated carrot, and sliced cucumber helped us cool our mouths from the curry's heat, which was admittedly much milder today than it has been in the past.

The Goods: We're all in full-on it's-almost-the-holidays-and-we-have-tons-to-get-done mode. which means that it was especially nice to have a warm, filling lunch today. The office might be accurately compared to Santa's workshop right now, as Ms. Lyndsay, who handles all the orders for gift packs, is busily fulfilling away. While we couldn't be more excited to take a nice holiday break, it does come with just a touch of bad news. Since our offices will be closed starting tomorrow, we won't be eating lunch here and blogging about it! This is, offically, the last Café VegNews entry of 2008. We'll see you next year! Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night—filled with vegan food, of course!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Splashy Soup

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A basic, blended butternut squash and potato soup topped with a raw kale chiffonade and garlic-rubbed toast. Yes, using fancy food words like "chiffonade" makes it sound more like a meal, and less like just a bowl of soup! Since there are still a good number of sickies in the office, Elizabeth added extra crushed red pepper, garlic, and cinnamon to the pot, which served the dual purpose of being both good for us and tasty.

The Goods: We're winding up for a nice, long holiday break here at the VNHQ, which means trying to not only get as much work done as possible, but also involves trying to eat all the goodies that have been pouring into the office recently. Just to give you an idea of what we're dealing with over here, there are currently three kinds of fudge, caramels, almond brittle, doughnuts, and cinnamon rolls—all vegan, of course—within arm's reach. Yes, the holidays definitely make us all a little, ahem, jollier, and we're pretty freakin' thrilled about it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Farewell Fiesta

The Chefs: Aurelia and Colleen

The Menu: A multicourse Mexican meal, which brought together two of our favorite chefs! For this all-out feast we dined on homemade black-bean tamales, courtesy of Ms. Aurelia. If there's anything more exciting to see coming out of the kitchen than these adorable, bundled tamales, we don't even want to know about it. Colleen whipped up an assortment of side dishes, including chips, salsa, freshly made guacamole, Nacho Chreese sauce, and a lovely salad of romaine, marinated tofu, cucumber, and tangerine wedges.

The Goods: Today's meal definitely counts as "the goods" but unfortunately, it also comes accompanied by "the bads." Yes, today is a very sad day here at the VNHQ as it's Ms. Abby's last day at VegNews! We've really loved working with her during the last few months, and—even though we relish any opportunity for a fancy lunch—we all wish that today were just another day! Bon voyage, Abby!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Miraculous Mish-Mash

The Chef: Joseph

The Menu: A health-promoting conglomeration of brown rice, black beans, corn, zucchini, garlic, onions, and spices, all topped off with fried onion crispy bits. Okay, so maybe fried onions aren't exactly what most people consider health food, but they do add a delicious crunch. In fact, we liked them so much we also generously portioned them onto our salads, which were mostly comprised of actually healthy items, like carrots and greens.

The Goods: It's definitely cold and flu season around the VNHQ, as evidenced by the fact that Joseph, who's usually excused from kitchen duty, has stepped in twice this week to take over for incapacitated coworkers. We're hoping that the imminent arrival of our January+February issue, in conjunction with Joseph's cold-fighting lunch, will miraculously rally our sickened spirits in time for a healthy weekend!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bye Bye Breakfast

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Once again, Abby dazzled us with a bounty of breakfast items. Did she whip up a batch of fresh biscuits? Yes, yes she did. Did she also create some of the most savory, delicious, bean-based sausage patties we've ever had? Why, yes, she did that too. We sandwiched said sausage and biscuits with dairy-free cheese slices, greens, and condiments, and gorged on sides of herb-roasted potatoes and a bright fruit salad of apples, pears, and dried cranberries. Yes, yum is the appropriate word.

The Goods: The greatness of today's lunch was only slightly tarnished by the knowledge that it marked Miss Abby's final turn as the VNHQ chef, as her editorial assistant days are nearing their end. While we'll miss all her amazing breakfast goodies, we'll certainly miss having her in the office more! (And that's saying something. Seriously, she makes a mean biscuit!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cheesy Casserole

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A lovely, hearty, cheese-laden potato-kale casserole. Yes, one of those adjectives is our favorite. Aurelia's signature dish—the casserole—boasted a bubbling tomato sauce spiced with cayenne and paprika, which the perfectly tender potatoes and rich cheese tempered nicely. Of course, by "cheese" we mean cheddar-flavor Teese. Duh. A fresh salad of mixed greens, shaved carrots, and homemade vinaigrette made a perfect side and whole-wheat tortilla points (like toast points, but, you know, not made of toast) served as vehicles for scooping any saucy remnants off our plates.

The Goods: Today's meal was an extra-special treat, not only because the food was delicious but because we got to share it with two of our fabulous writers, Jesse Miner and Mat Thomas. This time of year, with all its attendant baked goods, chocolates, and other treats, it's always nice to get to share a non-sugary, nourishing meal with friends. And once the final savory bite is bitten, we dig right back into the sweet stuff. As our highly insightful editorial assistant Abby noted, anything that comes in a holiday box doesn't count as bad for you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Righteous Risotto

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A not-quite-seasonal springtime risotto. With crisp asparagus, flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, and some very zesty lemon zest, this rich dish really hit the spot on an extremely cold winter's day. With a simple spinach salad, and maybe a little dessert, the meal was complete.

The Goods: Since we're perpetually working four months in advance of the actual date, we sometimes run into a little trouble of having to test recipes with seasonal ingredients that are, to put it bluntly, totally out of season. Nonetheless, we're sure that this yummy main course will be even better come March, just in time for the March+April installment of Jesse Miner's column, High-Tech Chef, in VegNews! Want to know what else you'll find in that issue? Oh, just a little something we ate after lunch called Neapolitan Bars, courtesy of Ms. Hannah Kaminsky's My Sweet Vegan column. Yes, your curiosity in said bars is well founded.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cold-Fighting Curry

The Chef: Joseph

The Menu: A delicious double-duty sweet potato curry. Joseph went all out today, adding sweet potatoes, dinosaur kale, beans, garlic, and spices to a really excellent yellow curry, which he served over a blend of rice and amaranth. The whole thing came together as one fortifying, satisfying meal. Oh, and that little bowl on the side? That would be some freshly popped popcorn which was drizzled with Earth Balance, nutritional yeast, and Parma. Yes, there are health benefits to popcorn—we'll just have to get back to you later about what they are.

The Goods: Today's regularly scheduled chef is out sick, so Joseph stepped in to make sure we all didn't starve. A couple other staffers have been under the weather, so a seriously healthy meal was definitely in order for today. During lunch we discussed some of the most extreme cold fighters—like chewing on cinnamon sticks, consuming more green chiles than is usually humanly possible, and all those other wacky "traditional" cures. What are your best bets for staying healthy during cold and flu season?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Warm-Up Wraps

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A light lunch of very yummy wraps. Like all good things, these started with whole-wheat tortillas, which we then topped with freshly made hummus and a salad of marinated collard greens, shredded carrots, cubed tofu, sliced mushrooms, and chopped onions. In a word, today's eats were stupendous.

The Goods: So, as delectable as Colleen's meal was, it also served a secret agenda. What could possibly be better than a freshly made wrap of greens, you ask? Oh, maybe a little something we like to call the VN Holiday Party which will be held tonight at Millennium! We consider ourselves very lucky to get to dine in such high style this evening, and in preparation for what is sure to be a flat-out phenomenal meal, Colleen was kind enough to keep lunch on the lighter side. Now that our stomachs are all warmed up to the idea of food, they'll be good and ready to get stuffed with amazing edibles this evening! As we're pretty sure ours isn't the only festivity going on tonight, let us officially say, Happy Holiday Party Season!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sugar and Spice

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: A sweet, savory, and satisfying breakfast. Abby busted out made-from-scratch black bean faux sausage patties seasoned with smoky herbs and spices, and baked marinated tofu for a killer savory combo. Baked oatmeal with cranberries, brown sugar, and a muesli topping made for a hearty side dish that easily doubled as dessert. Sliced organic apples rounded out the plate with a fresh, tangy bite, leaving us all stuffed and happy.

The Goods: There's nothing better than relaxing in the rays with a plateful of food, forgetting the stressors of the workweek and holiday season. Speaking of holiday stress, have you finished your shopping yet? Or, like some VN staffers, have you neglected to even start? Here at the VNHQ, we've got you covered. Check out our just-announced Holiday Blowout Sale, featuring 1-year subscriptions for $15, and our awesome VIP-worthy gift pack for only $40! There, we just saved you a lot of time and headache, not to mention set you up to be the coolest gift-giver around.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crazy-Good Casserole

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A phenomenal casserole chock-full of flavor. Aurelia continued her reign as the VNHQ casserole connoisseur with this tasty combo of spicy tomato sauce, Teese, broccoli, carrots, and greens, all sprinkled with a crunchy bread-crumb and fried-onion topping. A side spinach salad with carrots, onion, and garbanzo beans added a fresh, light element, and made for one seriously delicious lunch.

The Goods: There's nothing better than one of Aurelia's casseroles, especially when it's supplemented by sunshine-filled al fresco dining. Throw in Sjaak's chocolate bites for dessert and a post-lunch game of smashball, and we couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bountiful Bibimbop

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A totally killer Korean-ish meal of bibimbop. Okay, this might not technically be the most authentic dish ever served, but it was pretty palatable nonetheless. The rice blend—including black-eyed peas, green peas, and pinto beans—made a lovely base for sesame-marinated Swiss chard, roasted acorn squash, sautéed butternut squash, and a sweet red chile paste sauce.

The Goods: These days, we're using squash any way we can around the VNHQ, and couldn't be happier about it. While it might seem like two varieties in one meal would catapult us into squash-overload mode, it was actually lovely to get to compare the flavors of the butternut and acorn squashes in today's lunch. Wait, have we said squash enough times in this post? Squash, squash, squash. Now go out and squash someone you love—culinarily, of course.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Superb Stuffed Squash

The Chefs: Lyndsay and Aurelia

The Menu: An extra-yummy, fall-inspired main course of soy-chorizo-stuffed acorn squash. Lyndsay and Aurelia tag-teamed the cooking duties today, and the result was a seriously delicious meal. Perfectly tender roasted acorn squash housed a savory m
élange of couscous and soy chorizo, which was sautéed with tons of onions and garlic. Yes, we like it when two talented chefs team up to bring us lunch. A bright salad of romaine, black beans, shredded carrots, and a little couscous leftover from the filling made a splendid side.

The Goods: It's the start of another busy week here at the VNHQ, kind of like all of those that have preceeded it. Of course, it always helps to get the workweek started off right to enjoy a filling, delicious meal, and today's lunch did the job quite nicely. Okay, maybe we also brewed up a big pot of coffee this morning, and intend to taste test a few new coffees later this afternoon. Can we help it if companies submit coffee for product reviews? Indeed we cannot—nor, frankly, would we want to, especially on a Monday.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Garlic 'n' Greens

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: A tasty trio utilizing our favorite ingredient—garlic! Lyndsay spoiled us with a hearty helping of penne pasta tossed in garlic-infused olive oil, with Swiss chard and extra sautéed garlic added for maximum flavor. Thick slices of roasted garlic artisan bread were the perfect counterpart, while a robust kale salad with iceberg lettuce, broccoli, and carrots balanced the fragrant dishes.

The Goods: It's obvious that here at the VNHQ, there's no such thing as too much garlic. On top of having a fantastic lunch, we managed to get a little vitamin D, thanks to the sun's surprising appearance. The fact that it's December and 60 degrees outside might seem ridiculous to our cold-weather compatriots, but we couldn't be happier.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Woo Hoo, Waffles!

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Holy crap it's waffles. We're talking like, big, fluffy, gorgeous waffles. Maybe Abby had the ideal combination of leftover pancake mix, a waffle iron, and ingenuity when she made today's amazing lunch. As if the best freaking waffles we've ever had weren't enough, she also busted out some perfectly roasted potatoes with lemon-infused olive oil and herbed sea salt, and made a savory spinach salad with black beans and carrots. This bears repeating: holy crap.

The Goods: There's not really much left to say after describing how totally yummy today's lunch was. True, it is a surprisingly lovely day here in the city and we got to dine al fresco, but we'd be hard pressed to think of something more exciting than waffles. Really.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Build-Your-Own Birthday Burritos

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A birthday bonanza of burritos! In celebration of the birthday of one Frankie McGee, Ms. Aurelia busted out some first-rate burritos. Warm flour tortillas made the base for Mexican-spiced rice, savory pinto beans, chopped lettuce, roasted butternut squash, sliced avocado, fresh salsa, chopped scallions, and two—count 'em—kinds of vegan cheese, namely saucy Nacho Chreese and shredded cheddar Teese. Um, yum. That's pretty much all there is to say about a spread like this. Oh, did we mention that the festivities got going a bit early with a taste testing of some artisan olive oils and sea-salt blends? Yeah, they did. They also extended beyond the burritos with an absolutely delicious apple crisp from Ms. Colleen, who used apples right from her own tree as a special treat.

The Goods: Who says eating all day long should be reserved for holidays? Around the VNHQ, we'll go ahead and take just about any excuse to share a big, fantastic meal, and Frankie's birthday is certainly no exception. Here's a brief list of things that would suffer drastically if we didn't have Frankie:

1. Our plants—they would all be dead.
2. Our intake of chocolate-covered everything.
3. Our happiness! Frankie is a much-loved member of the VN crew—we'd be lost without her!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Award-Winning African Stew

The Chef: Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen

The Menu: An award-winning West African sweet potato stew served over a perfectly fluffy bed of millet and absolutely delicious winter salad. The savory stew had tomatoes, swiss chard, peanut butter, and just a little kick of ginger. A slightly sweet salad of greens, persimmons, and dried cranberries dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette completed the yummy meal.

The Goods: Today's lunch was full of treats! First of all, it's not every day that we have a cookbook author come over and make lunch for us. Not only did we get the day off from cooking, but lunch was absolutely scrumptious. Jill also gave us her tips for perfect pressure-cooker meals, which sounded totally ideal for the coming winter nights. Here's the whole gang:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beautiful Butternut Soup

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A Thanksgiving-leftover-inspired spread complete with roasted butternut squash soup, extra-super-garlicky garlic bread, and a fall salad with mixed greens, sliced pears, dried cranberries, and candied pecans. Can Thanksgiving-themed food go on forever, please? Today's soup had the extra-savory spice of toasted cumin seed, which gave it a slightly exotic flavor. Oh, and in case it wasn't already clear, we love us some garlic bread—with extra garlic, of course.

The Goods: This is the kind of meal every week should start off with: delicious, colorful, and celebratory in feeling. Maybe some of us swore we'd never eat again after the delectable deluge that was last Thursday, but then again, maybe some of us knew we were lying when we swore that particular oath. Here's to being back in action after the holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The Chef: El Burrito Express

The Menu: Burritos! Yay! It's always a special treat when we get these awesome, filling whole-wheat-tortillas stuffed with perfectly seasoned rice, super-yummy refried beans, lettuce, salsa, and guacamole. You know we sort of have a thing for salads here at the VNHQ, but for burrito days there's nothing better than a big pile of tortilla chips and fresh salsas on the side.

The Goods: Maybe we just finished proofing our January+February issue and couldn't be more thrilled about it. Maybe tomorrow is Thanksgiving, aka adopt-a-turkey day, and we figured today was the best time to practice eating more than is advisable in a single meal—something that you might remember we kind of tend to do this time of year. And maybe, just maybe, we freakin' love burritos. Put all these things together and what do you have? A slew of great reasons to let someone else make lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed the warm burritos, sheltered in the office from the cold, nasty rain that's happening outside right now. This will be the last post for the week, since our offices will be closed on account of eating for the next two days. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Presto Polenta

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A, shall we say, creative concoction that is probably best described as "polenta." No, it wasn't made from cornmeal, like traditional polenta, but rather from blended garbanzo beans, lemon juice, olive oil, cooked amaranth, and spices. Elizabeth topped this unique blend of grains and beans with roasted butternut squash that she slathered in cinnamon, and sautéed collard greens with extra garlic.

The Goods: They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and maybe we'd like to submit that hunger, paired with overly watery amaranth and a couple cans of garbanzo beans is the estranged uncle of invention—you know, that one who shows up to family reunions every so often, so you have to be just nice enough because you can't actually remember if you liked him or not the last time you saw each other. Whatever your family ties, available ingredients, or ever-so-slight kitchen mishaps, there's one thing we know for sure: any meal is a hit when it ends with an array of vegan caramels, toffees, and brittles. Oh heck yes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Soup du Joer

The Chef: Joseph

The Menu
: A lovely, hearty soup, perfectly baked sweet potato fries, and a lightly lavender-flavored scone. Joseph was inspired to come into the office and treat us to a yummy soup of blended potatoes, brown rice, fresh tomatoes, spinach, and a blend of curry and other spices. The sweet potato fries were smothered in garlic, which made them extra delicious. Oh, did we mention that extra garlic makes everything extra delicious? Yeah, it does. The scone was actually brought in this morning by Ms. Elizabeth, but who's to say that scones can't be enjoyed just as much at lunch as they are at breakfast?

The Goods: Are you wondering about the other purpose of putting more garlic than any office should consume during a single day into all of our meals recently? It's to keep away the vampires, naturally. With the recent surge in vamp-mania—thanks to the number one box office movie, and a popular HBO show—one can never be too careful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rockin' Roasted Chowder

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Maybe the best chowder that's ever been made. Seriously, Colleen blended up a savory delight that had us all over the moon with how tasty it was. Sweet potatoes, roasted eggplant and peppers, hearty amounts of garlic, and just the right spices came together in this thick, satisfying chowder. Oh, and that bright, lovely salad? That would be a marinated swiss chard salad, complete with fresh garlic dressing. Of course, no meal is complete without open-faced quesadillas, and thankfully we had some Teese just waiting to be melted over tortillas.

The Goods: Today, pretty much everything is "the goods." The sun is out, the food was awesome, and we're wrapping up another busy, bustling week here at the VNHQ. If looking forward to a well-deserved weekend is a crime, lock us up!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pancake Palooza

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: A plethora of pancakes, as you can probably tell from the photo above. Maybe this breakfasty bounty has something to do with a Taste Test feature in an upcoming issue, just maybe. In case anyone was wondering, there are lots and lots of vegan pancake mixes out there! Ms. Abby paired the pancake goodness with soy chorizo and chopped apples for little bursts of sweet and savory.

The Goods: It's a good thing that Abby had already secured her place in the kitchen as our resident breakfast maker, and that she was willing to have today's menu dictated by our editorial needs. Yes, the taste testing process is probably one of our favorite parts of putting together this little magazine of ours. For your reference, eating these many pancakes, silver-dollar-sized though they may be, makes one feel as though her body has become roughly 90 percent batter, five percent syrup, and the rest vital organs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tasty Trifecta

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A hearty, warming trio of treats! Aurelia busted out a delicious enchilada casserole with black beans, corn, kale, and a savory green enchilada sauce. Next up, a marinated kale salad with chopped onions and sesame-oil marinade provided a fresh balance to the casserole and chowder. Oh, did we say chowder? Sorry, we're well aware that it's technically pronounced "chowdah." Today's thick, smoky chowdah was chock-full of delicious corn and potatoes, and helped us battle the blahs induced by the suddenly chilly, overcast weather we're experiencing.

The Goods: Aurelia is the reigning queen of casseroles in the office, and it's always an awesome lunch when she whips one up. As Frankie commented during lunch, the gray skies outside have us officially feeling like it's soup season, so expect to be seeing a fair share of liquid lunches around these parts in the weeks to come!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yes! on Yellow Curry

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A most-delicious, hearty yellow curry. Served over perfectly tender brown rice, Colleen's main dish was an absolutely stellar coconut-milk-based curry with nice big bites of super-soft potatoes and fresh, flavorful spinach, which she topped with freshly chopped cilantro. Yes on yellow curry; yes on yum. Our standard salad of greens, shredded carrots, and avocado was the perfect balance to the curry's richness.

The Goods: We know, it's been two weeks since election day, but maybe some of us got in the habit of voting Yes!, and maybe those habits are hard to break. Regardless of your political leanings and whether or not the election is a far-flung memory at this point, a dish as delicious as Colleen's is sure to curry favor with your lunch-mates.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Atomic Potatoes, Fiendishly Good Tofu

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: Breaded tofu, cheesy mashed potatoes, and a big green salad filled our plates today. Ms. Lyndsay marinated her 'fu before bathing it in breading and frying it up, and she applied her patented chopping method to a nice, big head of romaine for the salad. The potatoes, as you can see, came out a very vibrant orange, but more on that later.

The Goods: Okay, it's later. So, as you may already know the VN crew attended the San Francisco Green Festival over the weekend. The Green Festivals are great opportunities for us to not only get the word out about VegNews, but also to get the scoop on new products, meet new people, and so forth. One of the new products we discovered was an instant mashed potato mix from Road's End Organics, flavored with their signature Chreese. The product is so new, in fact, that they weren't quite able to perfect the amount of orange, though we have it on good authority that once the insta-taters hit the shelves, the effect will be more mashed potato, less sweet potato.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Meat and Poatoes Mash

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Well, it's definitely food. Edible food even. Maybe not the most attractive presentation that's ever come out of our kitchen, but it was definitely edible. If we had to try and pare it down to one type of cuisine, today's lunch would probably fall into a category something like Mexi-homestyle-raw-scramble. You know, the usual. Scrambled potatoes and Frankie's Falsies seitan met with healthy doses of garlic, onion, and cumin. A spinach and red swiss chard salad with grated carrots and fresh guacamole served as satisfying sides.

The Goods: Today's meal definitely followed the 3-D theory of cooking, i.e., Decide what you want to make, Discover that you don't have the ingredients to make that particular dish, and Distract your diners with fresh guacamole. Does this method ever fail? Probably, but thankfully it seemed to work for Elizabeth today. Or maybe it had a little something to do with the fact that it's 70 freakin' degrees outside right now, and we were all blissful about getting some vitamin D back in our lives. Either way, you can come tell us all about your lunch, your cooking theories, or your favorite way to spend time in the sun over at the Green Festival this weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spicy Soup, Cool Couscous

The Chefs: Aurelia and Colleen

The Menu: A perfectly balanced pairing of spicy butternut squash soup with a cool couscous salad. Aurelia made the fiery soup, using green curry paste for a depth of flavor and spice that was utterly delicious. Garlicky croutons that were tossed with hearty amounts of Parma made a savory addition to the velvety soup. Colleen's couscous salad, full of fresh basil, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, and swiss chard provided a lovely counterpoint. Did we also top that with tons of Parma? Yes, yes we did.

The Goods: We're gearing up for the Green Festival here in SF this weekend, and, evidently, so are a number of our friends. We had the good fortune of hosting Yvonne Smith, aka The Traveling Vegetarian, vegan chef Justin Lucke, and festival volunteer extraordinaire Paul Saccone today. Just to make the afternoon a little sweeter, Rey Ortega of Sun Flour Baking Co., stopped by with two things we love: freshly baked cookies and Dan Piraro.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Frankie's Falsies, the Return

The Chefs: Abby and Frankie

The Menu: A mouth-watering amalgam of flavors. Frankie brought in some extra-delicious barbecue-sauce-drenched seitan, which she had of course made at home and brought to us as a special treat. Served over a perfectly fluffy rice pilaf blend, these yummy nuggets really hit the spot. Alongside you see some cheddar cauliflower—which is vegan, despite the suspicious-sounding name—and a lovely spinach salad with grated carrot and big chunks of avocado.

The Goods: If there's anything better than a surprise delivery of awesome faux meat, we don't even want to know about it. Frankie, and her fabulous "falsies" are always pleasant additions to our mid-week routine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lunch à l'Orange

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: What was to be an autumnal shepherd's pie, but somehow turned out, um, different. But isn't a stew of curried butternut squash, potatoes, garbanzo beans, tomato sauce, and carrots with a side of mashed potatoes really just as good? Well, that's what we got. Elizabeth blended yukon gold and sweet potatoes for the mash, and finished it off with a thorough dusting of cinnamon. A very sprouty salad and slices of fresh bread made nice sides to the strongly savory main courses.

The Goods: If you're thinking that maybe there's a little misleading going on in today's title, you might be right. There was nothing that actually had the flavor of orange in the dishes, though the vast majority of the vegetables used were decidedly beta-carotene colored.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Booya Burgers

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: Totally bad-ass burgers, which Ms. Lyndsay whipped up from scratch. Yes, we're pretty sure that means she loves us. Yes, we freakin' love her too, especially since she paired her totally tasty main course with perfectly seasoned sweet potato fries. Swoon. The burgers were served on fluffy buns and topped with nice big slices of cheddar-flavor Teese. Seriously, burgers and fries never had it so good. Of course, no meal here at the VNHQ would be complete without a big side salad, and today we dressed ours with a sweet mustard-flax blend.

The Goods: You want goods aside from the awesome eats? Well, fine. We're gearing up for the Green Festival this weekend here in SF, and we still have a couple pairs of tickets up for grabs from today's special giveaway at, but they're going fast! Not local to SF? Not to worry, we've also got today's regularly scheduled giveaway, which happens to be a dozen Little Devils from Sticky Fingers Bakery! Oh yes, that would be the same Sticky Fingers Bakery that was recently named Best Vegan Dessert on

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rockin' Roasted Soup

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: An absolutely perfect fall soup of roasted butternut squash, spinach, and spices. This smooth, velvety soup was beautifully blended, and had just the right amount of balsamic-vinegar tang. Colleen also made a lovely couscous salad with fresh carrots, collard greens, shiitake mushrooms, and onions. An extra-garlicky salad dressing adorned a simple green salad, which nicely rounded out the meal.

The Goods: For anyone who doesn't already have Friday night plans, make sure to catch the premier of Whale Wars—a new series about the exploits of everyone's favorite vegan pirates, the Sea Shepherd crew—tonight on Animal Planet. Otherwise, it's been sort of an eventful week, maybe this weekend is the time to take it easy for about five minutes and enjoy a lazy Sunday—and then promptly get back to work of course!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Superb Starches

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Maybe we've been going a little insane with the international combinations here at the VNHQ, and maybe that's just the way we like it. Today Abby busted out two lovely starchy dishes: onion-roasted home fries and sesame teriyaki noodles. We could smell the onions cooking well before lunch was served, which whetted our appetites. By adding carrots, tofu, and broccoli to a box of Simply Asia Sesame Teriyaki, Abby made sure that there was plenty of food for the horde of hungry coworkers, which worked out well since we devoured everything in no time flat. For a little greenery, a simple spinach salad with carrots and flaxseed dressing made a perfect vehicle for Parma—err, make that a perfect complement to the starch-based main courses.

The Goods: Today's abundant meal paired nicely with the abundant sunshine we enjoyed while dining al fresco. Sure, maybe it doesn't make sense per se to be getting tan at lunch since it's technically November now, but really, who are we to argue with just a little bit more vitamin D?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Curry and Couscous

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: A spicy combination of vegetable-packed green curry and tomato-sauce simmered couscous. Sound good? Oh, maybe that's because it was. Lyndsay put tons of fresh, delicious veggies in her curry, including broccoli, sweet potatoes, non-sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, spinach, and onions. If there's anything we like better than a big plate of vegetables, it's a big plate of vegetables that also has a great grain dish. The Israeli couscous with chickpeas, carrots, and a savory tomato sauce balanced out the spicy green curry.

The Goods: Oh, we don't know. Maybe a little something called Prop. 2 won in a landslide victory. Maybe we now have a president with whom the international community is excited to work. Maybe, after all the anticipation and excitement, we can get back to work! Well, at least get back to obsessing over, which sort of counts as work for us.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

International Insanity

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A recipe testing feast! Maybe you can tell that Elizabeth was too excited about today to get any sleep last night, as she came in carrying tupperware full of test recipes from the forthcoming January+February issue. Considering today's dishes, in addition to the dim sum we had a little while back, let's just say that the Jan+Feb issue is not lacking in international inspiration. To start with the one American dish, the bowl on the top right-hand side is filled with thick, savory clam-free chowdah. Yes, that is the technical spelling of "chowdah." Moving clockwise, our next stop is India for some aloo tikki and palak chaat, both doused with a spiced vegan yogurt. From there we head to Korea for bibimbop, which, it must be said, was totally bangin'. Not pictured are the kimchi that accompanied the bibimbop, nor the whoopie pies we enjoyed for dessert.

The Goods: Okay, for real. This is the last time we're going to say it. Vote Yes on Prop. 2! It's your absolute last chance to be a part of this historic ballot initiative, and 20 million animals in California will thank you for it. Oh, also, maybe this country is getting new leadership today. Could we possibly be any more excited? No. Are we all atwitter, constantly checking the swing- state maps? Indeed. Was it a good thing that lunch today was freakin' huge so that none of us has to worry about cooking dinner tonight and can stay glued to the results as they're announced? Quite.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Crazy-Good Curry

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: As the title subtly implies, today's dishes were extra delicious. Aurelia made what might have easily been the yummiest curry-infused tomato sauce ever, in which she simmered carrots, potatoes, and Swiss chard. Added to the savory main was a serving of rice and lentil pilaf, which soaked up the tomato sauce and served as a vehicle for big dollops of vegan sour cream. On the lighter side of the plate, Aurelia's fresh salad of romaine and grated carrot was perfectly dressed in a homemade garlicky vinaigrette. Did we say yum already? Because, yum.

The Goods: Holy crap it's election day tomorrow!! Not eight months from now, not three weeks from now, not even 10 days from now, but tomorrow, as in the day that directly follows this one. That's pretty much the only topic of conversation here at the VNHQ today, as we hope is true all over the country. Oh, did we mention that maybe there's a slight chance that we're super excited/nervous about the election? Go ahead and consider our nails bitten, and then go vote tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mixed Emotion Mac 'n' Cheese

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu
: Today's spectacular lunch centered on VN's signature mac 'n' cheese, the recipe for which you can find on our shiny new website. In case you didn't already know, we might love the mac 'n' cheese almost as much as we love the website. Colleen also busted out some seriously delicious sautéed greens, which nicely balanced out the savory main course. Oh, and maybe she also made a stellar apple crisp with apples straight from the tree in her yard.

The Goods: We've got a mixed bag of emotions here today. On the one hand, it's Halloween, it's Friday, and it looks like Prop. 2 is one day closer to passing, all of which excites us greatly. On the other hand, today is Ms. Jenny's last day here at the VNHQ, and we'll miss her!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chardy Colcannon, Cheesy Chili

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A rustic menu of Swiss chard-packed colcannon, and Southwestern Black Bean Chili from Amy's Kitchen. Elizabeth made extra-fluffy potatoes with a potato ricer, and then mashed them together with sautéed Swiss chard for this homey, comforting main course. Chili was a great fit for the menu since it's decidedly overcast outside today, and if there's anything better than a warm bowl of chili, it's one that's topped with grated cheddar-flavored Teese.

The Goods: If you are of the opinion that it looks like this meal was thrown together in a hurry, you just might be right. Since a little something that we like to call the relaunch of yesterday, maybe we are all a little on the extra-busy side, which is only complicated by the fact that we're having a hard time prying ourselves away from the new site. We hope you love it as much as we do!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Celebration Extravaganza

The Chef: Banhwich

The Menu: Vietnamese sandwiches! And spring rolls! And exclamation points! Okay, so maybe we are a little excited, but more on that later. Let's just say that these sandwiches were quite possibly the freshest ones we've ever had. The bread was delicious, the tofu was perfectly marinated, and even the cilantro haters (okay, make that hater—there's only one) in the office found the fresh green delectable. Oh, and those spring rolls? Yeah, all we can say is that perhaps we ate more of them than was advisable. Yum! Since we are pulling out all the stops today, we also had a sweet treat in the form of an incredibly rich chocolate cake with thick, amazing peanut butter frosting from Sugar Beat Sweets,which you see pictured below and modeled by VN's resident hand model, Aurelia.

The Goods: Um, okay. Are you sitting down? Item number one: tomorrow is our fabulous editorial director/hand model's birthday, which would have been reason enough to celebrate on its own. Item two: today is the one-year anniversary of Café VegNews! That's right, our very first blog is officially a year old. Oh, but what's that you say? You're looking for more reasons to celebrate? Well maybe our brand-new, freaking gorgeous, extra-exciting website has finally launched! We've got a completely redesigned for your perusal. You just might want to go ahead and make sure that you don't have any plans for later, since you'll be flaking on them! Oh, did we mention that there are daily giveaways on the new site? And maybe we also have a little something we like to call the Tree Free edition—aka a completely digital version of the magazine—the first issue of which is free so you can decide just how much you love it! If anyone needs us, we will all be dead from excitement for the next 24 hours. Eeeek!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Diner Food Delights

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Abby continued her brunch streak and cranked out this sweet and savory combination of classic diner dishes with a vegan twist. Fluffy whole-wheat blueberry pancakes topped with Earth Balance and pure maple syrup, hash browns, and polenta triangles were a stellar tribute to comforting breakfasts of the past.

The Goods: Similar to her past pancake foray, Abby received a little help from a time-saving mix hidden on a back shelf. Whole blueberries, flax seed, and soy protein made these fluffy cakes healthier than their sweet, spiced taste would care to let on. And what's that delicious substance weaving through the hash browns, making its way to the polenta as a perfectly melted topping? Oh, that'd be cheddar Teese, our new best friend from Chicago Soydairy. Feel free to let the mouth-watering commence.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Faux Meat Farewell

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: A tangy stir-fry of broccoli, kale, and mock meats stood nicely next to a hearty helping of rice noodles flavored with teriyaki sauce and shredded carrots. Aromatic roasted acorn squash with Indian spices completed the tantalizing trio, making a flavorful and filling lunch. Adding a true taste of adventure to our culinary quest, Ms. Jenny incorporated one of the lesser-known mock meats—vegetarian intestines. Yes, you read that correctly. Intestines. Only with her skills could such a curious ingredient be turned into an A+ lunch, with no complaints from the diners.

The Goods: Last week's gorgeous sunshine seems to have gotten lost on its morning commute, leaving the VNHQ a little gloomy. Today, the down-and-out weather is on par with our official announcement of Ms. Jenny's last lunch as chef. Sad but true, our beloved office manager is soon leaving for sunnier skies. Café VegNews will miss her creative lunches and superb culinary skills, but we're sure to remember her farewell lunch of intestine ingenuity!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Inspired Indian

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A scrumptious lunch of Indian-spice-simmered yellow potatoes and spinach, served over a bed of brown basmati rice that Colleen infused with toasted mustard seeds. Maybe having a ready-made Indian sauce on-hand contributed to the ease of this meal, and maybe it was the touch of coconut milk and her own spice blend that Colleen added that made it phenomenal. The potatoes were absolutely perfectly cooked, and the whole thing could not have been more delicious. To keep in theme, Colleen used a peach chutney as the base for her salad dressing, which made for a superb side.

The Goods: This weekend should set some sort of record for "most vegan weddings," as three VN staffers will be attending vegan weddings tomorrow. Well, okay, two staffers are going together, but still, what are the chances of two vegan weddings during the same weekend, much less on the same day? Regardless of whether or not we need to call the Guinness book people, congratulations to the wonderful couples: Margaret and Justin, and Kelly and Justin. Oh, that's right, the same day and veganism aren't all the couples have in common!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Delightful Dim Sum

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: An array of yummy dim sum! We served up big bowls of congee—a rice soup with mushrooms, tofu, and spices—and filled our plates with crispy guotie (aka potstickers, these were stuffed with tofu and edamame), savory siu mai, and super-spicy cha sui bao. Faux meat fresh from the Asian market stood in for the traditional animal-based fillings for the siu mai and cha siu bao, and while these may not be the most perfect-looking dumplings anyone's ever seen, they certainly were tasty!

The Goods: In Asia, it's common to eat hot soup on hot days since the added heat helps get the sweat going, which of course cools you down. It's another gorgeously sunny day here in SF, so we thought, why argue with a tasty tradition? Maybe right now you're thinking that come January, you'd really like to have the recipes for all this dim sum for your Chinese New Year party. Maybe you're thinking that it would not anger you to see these recipes in the January+February issue of VegNews. Maybe you should totally make sure to keep an eye out for that issue, because these goodies are only a fraction of the insane eats you'll find in there!

The Extra: Guess what?! We have some very exciting news that warranted a special section on today's entry. In fact, it warranted a whole new blog! That's right, in addition to the, ahem, award-winning blog which you are currently reading, and Press Pass, our after-hours editors' blog, we are thrilled to bring you This Just In. Our brand-new blog chronicles all the insane, amazing, exciting, and sometimes strange loot that gets sent our way for product review. You want to be the first to know about a new vegan cheese? Look no further. Wondering what to load up on candy-wise before Halloween? We might have an idea or two. Since so much comes straight to us, we figure the only way to be fair is to give it straight to you. Well, okay, at least we'll blog about it right away for you. Now that you know about it, go check out This Just In, and tell us what you think!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sensational Salads

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A sampling of delicious salads! Aurelia made two internationally inspired dishes, each of which we ate with gusto. The Mexican-themed, very colorful black bean, corn, and red bell pepper salad was a festive feast, and the Asian noodle salad with fresh romaine, grated carrot, chopped seitan, and more bell peppers was equally enjoyable. Little rice crackers served as scoops for the bean salad, and added a toothsome crunch to the meal.

The Goods: It's freaking hot. Like, really hot. Not like we-live-in-San-Francisco-and-aren't-used-to-the-heat hot, but actually, technically hot. We are talking more than 70 degrees. If it weren't for some work to be done on a certain forthcoming website relaunch, we'd all be beach-bound. In addition to basking in the outrageously gorgeous sunshine, we also got to bask in the sunshiny company of one Ms. Erin Williams of the Humane Society of the United States, who's in California campaigning right up until election day for Yes! on Prop. 2. It's always great to have guests, but it's especially nice to have guests who bring good news, like Prop. 2 being ahead in the polls!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Booya Benedict

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: A brilliant brunch of Faux Eggs Benny, straight from How It All Vegan. Ms. Lyndsay really knocked our socks off with this decadent lunch of brunch. She toasted whole-grain bread and topped it with marinated tofu, perfectly crispy faux bacon, fresh green tomatoes, and one of the richest hollandaise sauces we've ever tasted. Her side salad with spiced-flax-oil dressing was the perfect balance to the super-savory main.

The Goods: As you may already know, we had a little party for Sarah Kramer a couple weeks ago. High on the success of the event, Lyndsay told us that she made this recipe once at home, and was at first a bit daunted by the idea of expanding it for the VN lunch crowd, but we're happy to report that it came off without a hitch. In fact, if Lyndsay were to open an all-eggless-benedict catering company, we're pretty sure we know who would be first in line for her services.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweet Greens, Savory Beans

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: A delicious meal of sautéed greens drizzled with molasses, a basmati rice medley full of spices, and a savory blend of black beans, tomatoes, and potatoes. The sweetness of the greens was a perfect complement to the hearty mixture of potatoes and beans, and the rice was an unexpected treat.

The Goods: We may have been lulled into a false sense of security with last week's warm weather. Though the sun is still technically visible, the temperature has decidedly dropped. Thankfully, Ms. Jenny never fails to keep us warm from the inside out with her filling, delectable meals.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Soup, Salad, and a Surprise!

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A delicious take on the classic soup-and-salad lunch. Since we had a butternut squash in the kitchen, Colleen roasted it with cinnamon and other spices, then puréed it into a silky soup with just a touch of coconut milk. Even though it's still sunny and bright outside, this rich soup was a gentle reminder that it technically is fall. For the salad, she mixed fluffy couscous with red bell pepper, broccoli, cucumber, and fresh basil. Did we douse it with Parma? Yes. Was it awesome? Yes. And speaking of awesome, yes, that is an open-faced spinach-topped quesadilla you see.

The Goods:
But, you say, the cheese on the quesadilla looks so melty, how can that possibly be vegan? Surprise! It's cheddar Teese! That's right, the guys at Chicago Soydairy—which was just named Company of the Year in the 2008 Veggie Awards—are coming out with a new flavor of Teese, and we're happy to be taste testers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Breakfast Bonanza

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: An utterly stellar breakfast. First of all, let's just be clear that Abby actually made breakfast for all of us today as well. That's right, that big, lovely chocolate-chip scone you see at the bottom right of the plate was one of the batch that she brought in and warmed up. Yes, we were met with warm scones this morning. If there's anything better than that, we don't even want to know about it. Oh, well, maybe with the possible exception of lunch, which was also incredible. Savory sides of red- and yellow-bell-pepper-infused tofu scramble and spinach-pilaf salad were the perfect balance to the sweet scones, and for those of us who were feeling French today, a little baguette and jam finished off the plate.

The Goods: We just pretty much can't say enough how much we like eating breakfast at lunch, especially when the food is this good. For a little visualization to illustrate the point, imagine a happily fed person with their arms completely outstretched to the side. Yes, we like it this much.