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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thai Times

The Chef: Aurelia and Vanida Thai Kitchen

The Menu: A tantalizing tray of Thai food! Ms. Aurelia cooked us up some delicious brown rice, which we used as a base for the great dishes from one of our favorite local restaurants. Tofu with cashews, eggplant with basil, flat noodles with veggies, and a broccoli-packed yellow coconut curry made for this entirely satisfying afternoon meal. For dessert, we were treated to the sweet surprise of Nada Moo ice cream, which went perfectly with the warm day.

The Goods: There were two other very exciting elements of lunch today, both of which are pictured below. Paul Shapiro of The Humane Society of the United States—who's in California campaigning tirelessly for Yes! on Prop. 2—joined us for lunch and treated us not only to his fantastic company, but also to tales of pranks that had us in stitches. If there's anything better than having a hilarious guest join us for lunch, it's getting to share the hot-off-the-presses November+December issue of VegNews with that guest! Oh, and did we mention that this is the Veggie Awards issue and that HSUS was named Favorite Non-Profit Organization for the second year in a row? Here's Paul with the VN staff and our fancy new magazines:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Extra-Super Awesome Surprise

The Chef: Frankie

The Menu: Chocolate-covered everything! No, like, literally, everything. Frankie just came in to the office—on her day off no less!—to bring us a sweet smorgasbord of chocolate-covered goodies. Included in this incredible array were peanut-butter-filled pretzels, regular pretzels, faux-cream-cheese-filled dates, raspberry jam, peanut butter, coffee beans, and toasted almonds. Oh, did we mention that she just made these out of the goodness of her heart? Because she did. Are we dead with joy? Yes.

The Goods: It just really doesn't get much better than a surprise delivery of epic, chocolate-covered proportions. Frankie, as you may recall, spoils us routinely with her homemade goodies, but this is an extravagance, even by her standards. Also, did we mention that she is maybe absolutely our favorite person on the planet? Because she is, hands down.

Pumpkin Pasta Bake

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A savory, scrumptious curried-pumpkin pasta. With some sautéed garlic, onions, sage, and curry powder, this simple pumpkin sauce was thick and velvety. Topped with Corn Flake crumbs, this dish might have been a mac 'n' cheese variation, just maybe. It's not like we know anyone in this office who is obsessed with mac 'n' cheese, of course. For a salad, Elizabeth grated some fresh zucchini, chopped a little Swiss chard, and tossed some tomato over butter lettuce. Oh, and is that a slice of bread slathered with garlic dipping sauce? Yes, yes it is. That is what happens when there are conversations in the office about garlic sauces shortly before lunch.

The Goods: Today we got another dose of gorgeous sunshine, which was made all the more enjoyable by our guest, Mr. Gene Baur, whom some of you may know from a little operation called Farm Sanctuary. (In fact, we know that many of you are already fans of Farm Sanctuary, since you voted them Favorite Animal Sanctuary in the 2008 Veggie Awards, which were just announced today!) Congrats to Gene, the rest of the Farm Sanctuary team, and all the other Veggie Award winners! Be sure to keep an eye out for the November+December issue of VegNews, which should be hitting newsstands this week to see who all won.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Season Eatings

The Chef: Jenny

The Menu: A hearty and filling bisque. Ms. Jenny had us salivating at our desks as the aroma of acorn squash wafted into our workspace. Whipped up with carrot and potato, then spiced with rosemary, nutmeg—oh, and our usual addition of Parma—this seasonal dish hit the spot. Italian-inspired couscous made an appearance alongside, successfully squelching any and all hunger pangs.

The Goods: Between the bisque and guest appearance of sunshine, we were feeling the heat this afternoon. Not that we're complaining—it was more than welcome after a chilly Monday morning gave way to residual sniffles from last week's sickness streak. We'll take a healthy dose of vitamin D and fresh air over fluorescent lighting any day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Curry Picante

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: One of the spiciest dishes to have graced our plates in ages! Ms. Lyndsay made a hearty, delicious, and very very spicy green curry. She simmered potatoes, garbanzo beans, and butternut squash in a thick coconut-milk based curry sauce, and served the entire dish over brown basmati rice. Alongside she prepared a fresh salad of greens, carrots, and tomatoes, which offered us a little respite from the heat of the curry.

The Goods: Did we mention that today's meal was extra-super-hot, spice-wise? Because it was. Maybe some of us are still sweating. Maybe sweat talk isn't totally appropriate on a food blog. Maybe. While the palates of the office vary in our heat thresholds, we all enjoyed the immune-system boost from today's heat, since there are still a few sniffles hanging around the office. Something else we all agreed on was the deliciousness of dessert, which was kindly provided by one Joseph Connelly. He brought in the new Lovely Oh's—aka chocolate-covered sandwich cookies from Liz Lovely—and let's just say, there aren't many of them left. In case anyone is wondering, chocolate seems to be very effective at cooling a mouth afire with spice. Here are the three varieties we tried: regular, mint, and peanut butter, and Joseph's highly fashionable headwear.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bagel Bonanza

The Chef: Java Beach

The Menu: Bagels sandwiches galore! Onion, sesame, poppyseed, and everything bagels provided the hearty bases for our sandwiches today. Most of us went for the hummus sandwich, which featured—you guessed it—hummus, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Our side servings of Fritos also made their way into the sandwiches themselves, which we highly recommend for those who like a crunchy sandwich. In the background you can see Elizabeth's Italian soda, though not pictured are Aurelia's espresso, Jenny's latte, Colleen's lemonade, and Joseph's salad and peasant pie.

The Goods: As you probably already noticed, today was not a typical lunch day here at the VNHQ. To celebrate the grand opening of Java Beach's second location—which is just a couple blocks from our office—we enjoyed a lovely lunch at two of their outdoor tables. While it would have been nice to see a few more completely vegan options on the menu, we didn't want to miss the opportunity to support an independant, local café. Here's the VN gang with owner Pat Maguire:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Comforting Casserole

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: An absolutely delicious, homey casserole. Aurelia layered sliced potatoes, kale, and zucchini under a smoked paprika-infused tofu topping and flavored the dish with lots of garlic. The result was a wonderful, satisfying meal that helped to further recoup those of us who are still feeling under the weather. To complement her savory main, Aurelia also made a vibrant salad of greens, tomatoes, avocado, onion, and carrots, which she served with a garlic-loaded vinaigrette.

The Goods: Today was another unusually warm day at the VNHQ, and we were all glad for it. Since there are still a couple sickies in the office, the sunny weather worked to our advantage for making everyone feel better. Speaking of feeling better, how do you feel after last night's presidential debate? Better, worse, indifferent?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stand-Up Soup

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Goods: Soup! Even though the sun was bright and shining today, a few of us are still fighting off colds, so soup seemed the simple solution. Elizabeth whipped up a "cream" of broccoli, using potatoes as the base for this thick, hearty soup. Yes, the broccoli on top is being totally supported by the soup underneath it. For an extra immune-system boost, there might have been enough garlic in the pot to keep us all healthy for the next year, or at least there was enough to make the soup yummy. To balance the density of the main course, Elizabeth made a light salad and served the remaining basil biscuits from yesterday.

The Goods: We easily could have sat outside and soaked in the sun all afternoon, but then there's this whole "publishing a magazine" thing that's supposed to happen. In case anyone wants to invent some sort of device that allows for maximum editorial productivity while simultaneously absorbing our necessary daily vitamin D by sitting in lounge chairs, we might know a few eager customers.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Primo Primavera

The Chefs: Jenny, Lyndsay, and Abby

The Menu: An absolutely delicious pasta primavera. You know what the best thing about primavera is? You can use an incredible variety of veggies in this adaptable dish. Today, Jenny tossed in fresh red and yellow bell peppers, halved cherry tomatoes, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil. Abby busted out some of her signature biscuits, which also featured the fresh basil. Lyndsay was on salad duty and did a fine job, combining greens, tomatoes, and avocado.

The Goods: After the craziness of the weekend—namely one Vegan à Go-Go! Book Bash and one World Veg Festival—it was great to have such a hearty meal to start out the week. In addition to the great grub, we were also treated to the fab company of Vegan Body Building's Robert Cheeke, and fellow muscle man Ricardo Moreira. As if our two guests weren't enough to perk us up, Joseph scored some delicious cupcakes from Sugar Beat Sweets over the weekend, which we enthusiastically devoured. Here are the two people in attendance least likely to be seen with cupcakes, what with their killer workout schedules and all:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Joe Surprise!

The Chef: Joseph

The Menu: A hearty meal of black bean stew served over fluffy basmati rice. Joseph seasoned the stew with all the "c" spices (well, okay, some of them), including cumin, curry, and chili powder. Of course, no meal at the VNHQ goes un-Parma-ed, and today's main course was no exception. Joseph also made one of his signature everything-in-the-kitchen salads, which featured fresh butter lettuce, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and chopped broccoli.

The Goods: You know it's a special day when Joseph stops in to make lunch. Today was no exception to that rule as we are all aflutter getting ready for tonight's big party! Oh, not to mention World Veg Festival Weekend. Oh, also not to mention the relaunch of Or that the editorial deadline for the January+February issue was on Monday. Yeah, okay, maybe we've been a little bit busy recently. Of course, the topic of conversation was last night's vice presidential debate, which we all watched. So let's hear it, what did you think?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Scrumptious Stir-Fry

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: An absolutely delicious stir-fry full of our favorite ingredients. Aurelia expertly combined broccoli, seitan, zucchini, peanuts, and a special blend of Asian spices, all of which she served over basmati rice with peas. De-freakin'-licious, like we said. Of course, the side salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, avocado, and a freshly made lemon dressing wasn't half bad either. And just in case that wasn't enough, she managed to turn tortillas into crispy, spiced wontons. Yes, it was magic but unfortunately it was a particularly tasty kind of magic, and all the evidence was eaten.

The Goods: If there's anything better than a midday stir-fry, we don't even want to know about it. Today's a crazy one here in the VNHQ, as we're gearing up for both the much-anticipated re-launch of, and maybe there's a little something going on tomorrow night. Maybe that little something is called the Vegan à Go-Go! Book Bash, and just maybe we couldn't be any more excited about it. Be sure to check Press Pass for the full post-party report!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Biscuits 'n' Gravy

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Biscuits, gravy, and home-style potatoes. Oh, did we mention that Ms. Abby busted these sundried-tomato-infused biscuits out from scratch right here in our kitchen? Yeah, she did. Equally delicious—and homemade—was the country gravy which we slathered on top of the biscuits. A side of perfectly tender home-style potatoes was just the right thing to finish off this breakfast-inspired lunch.

The Goods: Abby is quickly establishing herself as the go-to breakfast gal, and we like that. The tantalizing smell of baking biscuits made it extremely hard for us not to just eat them standing up, straight out of the oven. Thankfully we were able to restrain ourselves long enough to get the full effect of gravy and potatoes, which made the meal extra-satisfying. Frankie, who's our resident Southern Belle, even said that the biscuits were better than her mother's. If that's not a compliment, we don't know what is.