Friday, August 29, 2008

In-The-Fridge Smorgasbord

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A tantalizing trio of treats. Colleen always adds a gourmet flair to her meals, as evidenced today in a roasted-corn and black bean salad with tomato, avocado, and olives, an Asian-food-inspired stir fry with shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, homemade seitan, and tofu-based House Foods Tofu Shirataki noodles, and finally, she toasted rosemary focaccia with Dr. Cow cheese and basil. Yeah, Fridays are good eating-days around these parts.

The Goods: Tonight's the night we're going to make it happen, tonight we'll put all other things aside. All things other than karaoke, that is! As a sweet sendoff to our lovely Lisa, we're going out "singing" this evening. What does this have to do with lunch? Nothing. Do you fondly recall our past karaoke exploits? We certainly hope so. Happy long-weekend Friday!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vietnamese Sandwiches!

The Chef: Baguette Express, and Aurelia

The Menu: Vietnamese sandwiches, as we might have already said. These fluffy, crunchy rolls came stuffed with shredded carrots, sliced cucumber, cilantro, jalapeños, and saucy rice noodles. Aurelia made a delicious and vibrant marinated-kale salad, with steamed squash, chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, and avocado, which was a perfectly light companion to our bready subs.

The Goods: Since not everyone will be in the office tomorrow—her last official day—we celebrated Lisa's time as our editorial assistant extraordinaire today. She'd never tried a Vietnamese sandwich, so deciding what to serve for lunch was a snap. She's also mentioned, maybe once or twice, that she's kind of got a thing for tiramisu. Well, mention and ye shall receive around here. Check our incredible dessert from the Living Lights Culinary Arts Institute, and our lovely Lisa:

And, since it's a special occasion, here's a bonus shot of Lisa with the rest of the VN gang:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Farewell (Tofu) Fingers

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: A trio of Lisa's signature dishes. First off, her timeless tofu fingers provided a deliciously crunchy main course, then her extra-garlicky mashed potatoes with basil were a scrumptious side, and finally her special blended garlic-mustard vinaigrette dressed a simple spinach salad.

The Goods: Today was Lisa's last day as a chef at VN! Her internship is coming to a close, and although she isn't officially leaving us until Friday, today was her farewell to the office kitchen. We were all thrilled that she chose to go out in high (read: garlicky!) style, and we'll certainly miss her trusty tofu fingers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fog City Eggplant

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Here's a huge shock: Elizabeth made a marinara. She officially swears this is the last time she'll make the same old sauce—at least for this month. But! Today, underneath the sauce was an unfamiliar and delicious oven-roasted, cornflake-crusted eggplant, which added a new element. A filling salad of baby greens, white beans, cherry tomatoes, and avocado went really well with toasted focaccia. You know what else goes really well with focaccia? Dr. Cow cashew and macadamia nut cheeses. Holy heck, we just can't get enough of these yummy, tangy cheeses!

The Goods: Today we thoroughly enjoyed the company of Ellen Anderson, aka the Fog City Vegan. We got to chat all about her upcoming vegan wedding, and how a certain other notable Ellen scooped some of her wedding plans! Thankfully, the city cast off its foggy shroud today, and we enjoyed some real, actual sunshine for once. Just having Ellen here would have been treat enough, but combined with the stellar weather, today's lunch was one for the record books.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Brains and Beans

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu:
Following a cozy bowl of thick black-bean soup, we munched on warmed tortillas topped with steamed Jasmine rice, a flavorful tofu chile, and a large serving of sliced just-ripe avocadoes.

The Scoop:
There are only three of us here today, and so, on an unusually quiet Monday at the office, we were happy to host a favorite longtime friend of VegNews, San Francisco State University journalism professor Don Menn. Regailing us with stories of his global travels, the joys of teaching, and his communist youth, the silver-haired vegetarian offered us a thrilling—if temporary—escape from our editorial bubble, and what with all that avocado, we consumed just enough EFAs to keep up with the lively tête-à-tête.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Easy Amy's

The Chef: Colleen and Amy's Kitchen

The Menu:
A vibrant garden salad of romaine hearts, vine-ripened tomatoes, and smooth avocado provide a delightfully cool and crisp backdrop to left-over warm spinach wraps, followed by a sweet sliver of watermelon.

The Goods:
It's really amazing that there were any of these much sought-after spinach wraps left after yesterday's feast, but, with so many stellar meals to sample, I suppose we had to draw the line at fourths. Lucky for the few of us here today, we were able to savor a second round of these delightful offerings from Amy's, without, once again, having to lift a finger.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amy's Indian Buffet

The Chefs: Michelle and Erica from Amy's Kitchen!

The Menu: As you can see, we had no shortage of excellent Indian items for today's lunch. The very lovely Michelle and Erica came and prepared an insane array of goodies straight from their kitchens. Starting at the top and moving clockwise, we enjoyed some delicious Curried Lentil soup, then came the Mattar Tofu meal with curried peas and rice, then the Vegetable Korma meal with rice and dal, then the Spinach Tofu Wrap—which was absolutely packed with spinach, so good—and then there was the Samosa Wrap. Whew.

The Goods: It was such a pleasure to have our two guests come and bust out this great meal for us! Everything we tasted today was delicious. When Michelle asked us all what our favorite item was, everyone's answer came out something like, "Well, I really liked the spinach wrap, but I also really liked the soup. And the tofu. And the samosa. And everything else." This meal was definitely one for the record books—everything was great and we all walked away from the table totally stuffed. Here are Michelle and Erica with the VN gang on this not-quite-sunny day:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hot (Not) Dogs

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: A lightning-fast preparation of veggie dogs, toasted buns, and plenty of fixin's. Lisa busted out a lovely mustard-garlic aioli, then we topped our dogs with two flavors of Gold Mine Sauerkraut, and helped ourselves to various pickled goodies, including giardiniera, cured olives, and dilly beans from McSweet Pickled Gourmet. A light spinach salad tossed in a vinaigrette completed the plate, and we're pretty sure that there was enough vinegar in the meal to preserve us all for years to come.

The Goods: We spent the majority of this morning hashing out the 2009 editorial calendar, which can be quite the involved process. There are now so many good ideas on the table, and it will be exciting to get started putting together a whole year's worth of new, fantastic issues. All this planning, however, didn't leave much time for lunch prep, so we were happy to have some nearly ready-to-go options.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Addictive Amaranth

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A(nother) warm, gooey polenta-style mush made with amaranth, which was topped with sautéed swiss chard, garbanzo beans, raisins, tomatoes, and garlic. Lots of garlic. In case there wasn't enough in the main dish, we also had garlic and basil muffins (from our upcoming November+December issue!), and a bright salad of romaine, tomatoes, grated carrots, and cucumber that was dressed in a lemon-garlic sauce—naturally.

The Goods: It's possible that Elizabeth needs some sort of professional intervention. Amaranth is slowly taking over her life, and it's only a matter of time until we find her one morning obsessively huddled over the rice cooker, jittering while her next hit simmers. Until then, of course, we're happy to enable her—especially since it means we get to eat like this.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Compelling Curry

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: A stop-you-in-your-tracks amazing curry. Jenny was out of the office last week on vacation, and we certainly missed her dependable Monday curry. Today's was an extraordinary melding of butternut squash, garbanzo beans, coconut milk, and basil. As if the absolutely incredible main weren't enough, she also made perfumed rice—aka very aromatic rice simmered with spices—and a delicious simple salad of greens, tomatoes, and chopped pistachios.

The Goods: It's great to have the office back at full capacity and in full swing this week, and this meal was just what we needed to start out right. Of course, there's a thick blanket of fog outside, so having a scrumptious, colorful meal inside was a great break from the bleak outlook of the city.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Delicious Ribs, Savory Stir-Fry

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: If there's anything more tantalizing than the smell of ribs wafting out of the kitchen right around 12:25, we don't even want to know about it. Colleen busted out an amazing, homey lunch of Frankie's faux ribs, a stir fry of broccoli, carrots, celery, and swiss chard that was punctuated with garlic and ginger, and crispy herbed chips made with leftover tortillas. It's entirely possible that we say this every Friday, but cleaning out the fridge has never been so delicious.

The Goods: Even though it's overcast and chilly, the excitement of Friday is palpable here at the VNHQ. Well, okay, to be perfectly honest, it's not just the upcoming weekend that has us abuzz—there's something extremely exciting coming your way soon, something we've been at work on for months and months. We're just starting to see some final designs for our brand new website, and we couldn't possibly be happier. Seriously, you might want to clear your schedules for a week or two come early October, you'll definitely need it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Culture-Clash Chapatis

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: A whip-quick mix of black beans blended with garlic, onions and shiitake mushrooms sautéed with some of the sauce from yesterday, and chopped romaine spread over spinach-flavored chapatis. We're not sure if this meal counts as Indian, Mexican, or miscellaneous, but we are sure that it was tasty.

The Goods: Since Aurelia—who would have been today's chef—is en route to AR 2008, Lisa stepped up to make another meal. As we've probably mentioned before, we're big fans of the happy-accident style of cooking that involves throwing together whatever is on-hand in the kitchen and calling it lunch. Add a couple artistically placed drops of hot sauce, and it's cuisine!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ready-Made Eats

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: A mélange of ready-to-go Indian items, including chana masala, vegetable curry, and dhal from Devya Indian Gourmet. Served over lovely, fluffy rice and alongside steamed lemon-and-herb-tossed green beans and swiss chard, these flavorful treats were both yummy and easy. Oh, and that slice of faux-meat hanging out at the top of the plate? That would be none other than the famous Tofurky roast, which was an unexpected treat.

The Goods: Really, is there anything better than a delicious lunch that takes minutes to throw together? We didn't think so. On days when you'd really rather spend your lunch hour enjoying a satisfying meal while sitting in the sun—instead of spending 45 minutes chopping in the kitchen and 10 scarfing something down—it's always nice to know that prefab sauces, curries, and mains can help get you out into the sunshine. Wait, did we mention that it was sunny today? The last few weeks have been one big foggy, drippy mess, so we were all a little extra excited to get our vitamin D today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rad Ratatouille

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A quick ratatouille tossed together from what we had on hand. More specifically, tomato sauce, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs made a lovely medley for our sauce, and the savory main was served over an amaranth polenta. Today's simple salad was made extra garlicky with garlic-rubbed croutons and a lemon-garlic dressing.

The Goods: Sometimes we can all use a new grain in our lives. While Elizabeth is a committed pasta lover, the amaranth called to her today. Though she had imagined more of a fluffy, rice-like consistency, the more-porridgy dish that she ended up with was a pleasant surprise. Moral of the story? Don't forget the lesser-loved grains: amaranth, teff, and quinoa!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ridiculously Good Roasted Vegetables

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: An incredibly yummy open-face roasted-vegetable sandwich featuring mashed avocado, toasted bread, and herbed bell peppers, eggplant, onions, and shiitake mushrooms. A fresh salad of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber perfectly complemented the homey goodness of the sandwiches.

The Goods: We were very happy that Ms. Colleen busted out an all-vegetable lunch today since reading over the entries in our monthly giveaway might have turned us off fake meat—at least for the day. In a nearly unanimous decision, Patricia was the clear winner for her response:

I was a 4th grader in 1971 and I don't know what was worse—the 10 cans of WHAM I had just spent a month of allowance on & made my mother drive all over Buffalo, NY hunting it down only to gag at it OR the "mock loaf" my Polish grandma made me out of kasha, nuts and some grey gravy shaped into little chicken-like legs that made me cry.

Patricia, send us an email and we'll send out your very own can of vegetarian haggis pronto. Congratulations!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cookbook Week: The Recap

The Chef: Everyone!

The Menu: Today we dined on the lovely leftovers from Cookbook Week. Starting from six o'clock and moving clockwise, you see a reincarnation of Aurelia's amazing chickpea socca, a messy-yet-yummy enchilada, then some of the molasses-drenched baked beans, and finally, a little salad of romaine, chopped carrots, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans.

The Goods: This week has certainly been an experience in delicious eats for us here at the VNHQ. All of the cookbooks, even that one that is really a magazine, provided highly reliable recipes and decidedly satisfying lunches. Don't forget, today's your last day to enter our monthly giveaway. What do you think? Should we make Cookbook Week a more regular feature?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cookbook Week: You Won't Believe It's Vegan

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: In what is easily the fanciest meal that has ever graced our lunch plates, Aurelia made two outrageously delicious dishes from Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty's You Won't Believe It's Vegan. On the left you see Chickpea Socca, which featured a delectable marinara topped with chickpea-flour polenta, a rich white bean purée, sautéed greens, and finally caramelized leeks. Um, yum. Oh, and on the right? That's just a little molasses-laden, extremely tasty Tomato Pudding. Yeah, you know, no big deal.

The Goods: So, if anyone should need any of the VN staff, please come looking for us under our desks, happily dozing in cuisine-induced comas. Today's lunch was knock-your-socks-off good, and we'll likely be thinking about it well past dinnertime. For more on YWBIV, make sure to check out the November+December issue of VegNews for a full review! The level of elegance of our meal was unexpected, but conveniently appropriate as today marks the 200th entry on Café VegNews!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cookbook Week: Veganomicon

The Chef: Lisa

The Menu: A three-fold citrusy feast. Lisa busted out the Chickpea Cutlets from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's Veganomicon, which she'd enjoyed in the past but never made for herself. She smothered the toothsome main in an original lemon-curry gravy, and paired it with some recycled lime-infused rice from yesterday, and freshly steamed green beans with lemon.

The Goods: Today's meal was totally filling, but the high lemon content made everything taste light and fresh. Though the delicious flavors were certainly the highlight of the meal, it's nice to know that if by some strange twist of fate the entire VN crew was set adrift today that we'd be safe from scurvy. In somewhat more realistic and decidedly more exciting news, make sure to look for Terry Hope Romero's VN debut in our September+October Food Issue!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cookbook Week: VegNews Magazine

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Super-dark brown bread, sweet and syrupy baked beans, vibrant cilantro- and lime-flavored rice, and savory roasted root-vegetable enchiladas drizzled with rich chipotle cashew cream. Maybe this all sounds like a hodgepodge, but there's a good reason, we swear!

The Goods: Okay, you caught us. VegNews Magazine is not technically a cookbook. But! It does contain recipes, and since those recipes need to be tested before they are deemed suitable for print, we figured maybe no one would mind getting a sneak preview of a couple dishes from our November+December lineup. That's right—come late October when the winter issue hits the stands, you too will get to try out these cold-weather goodies. The results of the testing today were unanimous: pleased palates and full bellies! If you want to spend the next couple months dreaming of those enchiladas, you'd be right to do so.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cookbook Week: Vegan Express

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: That's right, we actually followed a recipe! All this week on Café VegNews we'll be making meals from actual cookbooks, just for something new and different. To kick this week off, Ms. Jenny made the very delicious Singapore-style Yellow Curry Rice Noodles with Tofu from Nava Atlas' Vegan Express. These lovely noodles were tossed with shaved carrots, cubed tofu, and chopped red pepper, and served with a fresh salad featuring multi-colored swiss chard, tofu, and lemon slices.

The Goods: We're all about trying new things this week, as well as busting out some of our tried-and-true cookbook favorites. Although Jenny hadn't made anything out of Vegan Express before today, she was impressed with the vibrant photos and the fact that the dessert recipes seemed doable even for a non-baker like herself. In case you haven't seen it yet, there's a full review of Vegan Express in our July+August Music Issue. Continuing the just-in-case theme, make sure to cast your vote in our 2008 Veggie Awards survey! And, finally, there are still four days to make a claim on the July Café VegNews giveaway—don't forget to leave a comment, lest someone else make off with your haggis.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sensational Stir Fry

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A fan-freakin'-tastic stir fry of broccoli, zucchini, carrots, ginger, kale, shiitake mushrooms, and tofu. Served over yummy curry-flavored udon noodles, Colleen's Asian-inspired creation was a one-dish meal to die for. We've been a little burrito and mac 'n' cheese heavy recently, so this savory stiry fry was a welcome, veggie-packed change of pace.

The Goods: Okay, this is big. Are you ready? Voting is open for our 2008 Veggie Awards! This is the largest survey of its kind in the world, and is one of our most-favorite features every year since we get to find out what our readers really love. Make sure and vote for your favorite restaurants, blogs, bakeries, cookbook authors, and more! Last year 20,000 people voted, and we hope to make that 30,000 this year with new categories like Favorite Animal Sanctuary and Favorite Online Forum. Polls are open now and will be open until August 31. Congrats to all of our amazing nominees!