Friday, February 27, 2009

Come 'n' Get It Curry

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A comforting, couldn't-be-tastier curry courtesy of Colleen. Coconut, ginger, peanut butter, and other spices combined in an absolutely delicious curry sauce, which topped butternut squash, Swiss chard, and red onions. Served atop a bed of fluffy, lovely couscous and aside some of the best roasted Brussels sprouts we've ever had, this curry called our names.

The Goods: Yes, we ate more cake after ravenously devouring today's curry. After an altogether awesome evening last night at the inaugural SF Vegan Drinks (check out the photos!), it was right back to work at the office today, and Colleen's curry certainly sustained us through our tasks. Thanks to all who came out and had a drink with us last night, and make sure to check out Press Pass for a full recap. See you again next month!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mmmm Moroccan

The Chefs: Melissa and Hannah Tai

The Menu: An absolutely stellar meal of Moroccan-inspired pasta. Chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, and a superbly spiced tomato sauce covered hearty strands of brown-rice spaghetti. An herb-mix salad with yummy avocado, dried cranberries, cubed Follow Your Heart mozzarella, and crumbled Mediterranean-style Sunergia Soy Feta made an excellent accompaniment. Oh, and maybe we had a little dessert, too.

The Goods: Yes, that phenomenally gorgeous cake that you see below came to us courtesy of—and couriered by—the lovely Hannah Tai, vegan wedding-cake baker extraordinaire. Her cardamom-spiced cake with chocolate ganache and layers of raspberry and rosewater buttercream matched perfectly with today's Moroccan theme, though both she and Melissa swear they didn't confer beforehand. Today also happens to be a day of firsts! First, Ms. Melissa debuted as chef, and her scrumptious meal blew us all away. Next, tonight will be the first ever SF Vegan Drinks! Woo hoo! We're extremely excited. Finally, today was the first time that we considered partnering with Hannah for some sort of super SF Vegan Drinks surprise, so make sure and keep an eye out for something thrilling in the months to come! Whew. Back to work!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Casserole and Couscous

The Chefs: Aurelia and Frankie

The Menu: Just about the homiest home-cooked meal we've ever had! Aurelia whipped up one of her signature, savory casseroles, this time including perfectly tender potatoes, bright green broccoli, and a hearty dose of melted mozzarella-style Follow Your Heart cheese. She also created a delicious couscous salad with chopped cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and avocado, and, in addition to everything else, we enjoyed steamed artichokes. That delectable dollop on the side? That would be a homemade, and greatly garlicky, aioli, into which we dipped our artichoke leaves, our fingers, and pretty much anything else that wasn't nailed down.

The Goods: You may notice that it says Aurelia and Frankie in the chef category today. Ms. Frankie decided to treat us to a surprise dessert so gorgeous (see below!) that we had to take a photo—before completely devouring it. With limes fresh from the tree in her backyard, Frankie brought in a stellar vegan lime cheesecake, which she decorated with pineapple sage, also from her yard. Hear hear for edible flowers! Tart, tangy, and perfectly textured, this cake was one for the record books. Finally, what's a pirate's favorite vegetable? (Hint: you can find it in today's lunch!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras Munchies!

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A Mardi-Gras-inspired medley! Elizabeth busted out a not-entirely-authentic jambalaya with kidney beans, rice, tomatoes, cheddar cauliflower, and spices. A bright salad with both purple and green lettuces—the somewhat traditional color scheme for the day—cherry tomatoes, avocado, and raisins. For the most thematically appropriate dish, she hid one raisin in a pile of King (pan)cakes!

The Goods: OK, so a raisin is not technically the same as a baby Jesus, and pancakes are not the same as King cake, but just because you don't have the traditional ingredients on hand it's no excuse to miss out on celebrating a big, fat Tuesday. If you're looking for a tasty New Orleans treat today, don't miss our Must-Make Muffaleta!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Multi-course Burritos

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: Big, beautiful burritos, which Lyndsay served stuffed to the brim. Her fantastic fillings included a medley of beans, diced tomatoes, vegan crumbles, corn, and spices, all served over rice on a whole-wheat tortilla, and topped with grated cheddar Teese and spring greens. We doused the so-good, so-filling burritos with Mole sauce and Roasted Green Salsa. Yeah, did we say that these were big? They were!

The Goods: Lyndsay served not only as today's chef, but also played the role of resident Oscar expert, as she's long been a fan of the awards. We swapped favorite moments from last night's show and happily munched our lunches, which is a pretty darn good way to start off the week, we must say. In case you need something to look forward to for the next few days, don't forget that the first ever SF Vegan Drinks happens this Thursday!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hot Dog!(s)

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Fan-freakin'-tastic Friday frankfurters. Colleen warmed some delicious whole-wheat buns, and we piled these pups high with a smorgasbord of sauces. Ketchup, spicy Dijon mustard, relish, barbecue sauce, Artichoke Hummus, Vegenaise, Roasted Green Salsa, and Roasted Mole were just a few of the ample options. Alongside these barely contained buns we enjoyed crispy fries and a vibrant salad with dried cranberries and Swiss chard.

The Goods: Ever wonder just exactly what a group of educated, professional, dedicated vegans talk about during lunch? Saving the animals? Bettering the movement? Opening new, exciting restaurants/boutiques/animal sanctuaries? Not today, friends. Today we discussed such enlightening topics as the work histories of Sandra Oh and Margaret Cho, who had/had not seen Saved by the Bell during their youth, and which of the incredible, delicious treats from Sticky Fingers that arrived yesterday were our favorites. Yes, it's Friday. Yes, that's good news all around.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Peanut-Sauce Pizazz

The Chef: Stacy

The Menu: A creative combination of rice, beans, and broccoli, which we doused in Spicy Peanut Sauce. Inspired by the presence of Napa cabbage in our fridge, Ms. Stacy whipped up a delectable Asian-style salad complete with edamame, dried cranberries, and a lovely sesame dressing. If all that yumminess weren't enough, she also roasted some sweet, simple rutabagas.

The Goods: Salad might rank right next to rice and beans in terms of being something we could (and do!) eat every day. Sure, sure, we know that vegetarians get stereotyped as people who only ever eat salads, but when there are so many incredibly delicious combinations possible, well, why not? What are your favorite, more-exciting-than-iceberg salad recipes?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Right-On Rice 'n' Beans

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A delicious medley of brown basmati rice, chipotle chile-infused pinto beans, Native Kjalii Foods' Roasted Green Salsa and Roasted Molé Sauce, and Turtle Island Marinated Tempeh, all under a layer of melted nacho-style Teese. Yes, this was one of the most flavorful combinations we've had in a long while. Aurelia didn't stop there, and also busted out a light side salad and some lovely sautéed kale with onions and button mushrooms. We'll be in blissful, full-belly comas if anyone needs us.

The Goods: You really just can't go wrong with rice and beans, can you? Perfectly flavorful on their own, they also make an ideal base for any sauce, topping, condiment, or seasoning you could ever want to use in the kitchen. Do tell, what's your favorite rice-and-beans-based dish?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Delicious Delivery

The Chef: Dharma's

The Menu: A freakin' smorgasbord of awesome vegan yumminess from one of our favorite restaurants! Starting from 12 o'clock and moving clockwise, we've got a soup, salad, and rice combination, then the Dan Dan Noodles—cooked noodles in a peanut-sesame sauce with fresh cucumber, tofu, and green onions—then the BBQ Tofu-de-Beast, which looked way more beautiful than beastly with its side servings of mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables. Finally, over on the left side you see the Tofu Rancheros, which featured ice-cream-scoop-sized dollops of guacamole, fresh salsa, tofu scramble, and black beans, all on a corn tortilla. Um, yum.

The Goods: Yes, it's an awesome day when your prestigious publishers have an early morning meeting in Santa Cruz and are nice enough to pick up lunch for everyone before coming back to the office. Joseph and Colleen are, without a doubt, our favorite delivery people! Considering the popularity of our cover contest over on, here's another challenge for you: can you match the dish to the VN staffer? Colleen was able to guess who had ordered each dish without any hints at all—but since you don't have the benefit of working with all of us every day, we'll help you out. OK, there are four dishes visible, and six staffer options (Aurelia, Colleen, Elizabeth, Lyndsay, Melissa, and Stacy—Joseph was too full from breakfast to eat lunch!). Elizabeth and Stacy got the same dish, as did Aurelia and Lyndsay. Let's see how well you know your VegNews-ers! The first person to correctly match all the diners with their dishes will receive a Hawaiian Ruby Guava gift set! Ready? Go!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine Curry

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A subtle, and subtly themed, Valentine's Day curry. See those tasty little red chunks of Swiss-chard stem dotting the curry? In combination with the red-skinned potatoes the chard made for a veritable Valentine's Day card, in food form, of course. Colleen also added some lovely purple potatoes, baby corn, and tofu to the mix, served everything over rice, and topped it all with some fresh cilantro. She also whipped up a bright salad of romaine, grated yellow beets, and blue-cheese-flavored Sheese.

The Goods: Sometimes eating such a lovely meal can put you in a certain mood—namely the mood for love. Since a certain holiday is tomorrow, and we thought you might enjoy a little foray into the world of veg dating. And remember, whether you're happily married or happily unmarried, chocolate affects your brain in much the same way love does, so don't forget to cover something delicious with it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tasty Tuscany

The Chef: Stacy and Kashi

The Menu: A lovely Tuscan Veggie Bake, courtesy of Kashi, which Ms. Stacy expertly heated. This lasagna-type dish featured a nice tomato sauce and some chunky veggies. Stacy roasted her own mixture of Brussels sprouts and Romanesco broccoli, which made for a visually impressive side dish. She also sautéed some delicious Swiss chard and topped it with tomato-garlic soy cheese.

The Goods: There may be a subtle theme to today's lunch: Romanesco broccoli, Swiss chard, Tuscan bake. Seeing a pattern here? Maybe some hard-hitting investigative journalism is required to look into what is clearly a burgeoning trend—European-inspired ingredients. If anyone has an extra round-trip ticket to Europe that you don't plan on using, feel free to send it our way.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Best Wednesday Ever

The Chefs: Aurelia, Kashi, and Frankie

The Menu: Wow. This one's going to be a doozy. So to start off, we enjoyed another frozen offering from Kashi, the Mayan Harvest Bake, which featured amaranth polenta, black beans, kale, sweet potato, pumpkin seeds, and delicious plantains. We were all really impressed with the way the plantains held up after being frozen and reheated—they were perfect! Aurelia busted out a red-quinoa salad with tempeh, red bell pepper, kale, and grated carrots that was a tasty, colorful addition to our plates. Just because we maybe have more vegan cheese in the office right now than we know what to do with, we also enjoyed some light water crackers topped with slices of Cheezly. Whew. Ready for more? Oh yes, there's more. Our beloved Frankie came in today bearing her signature tray of Chocolate-Covered Everything, which today included pretzels, marzipan, pecans, raisins, dates, and—get ready—potato chips. Yeah. We're dead. Here's a little preview of all the assorted chocolaty goodness we're munching on, as modeled by our extraordinary editorial assistants, Melissa and Stacy.
The Goods: It's difficult to imagine that there would be anything else to say after such a lengthy menu, but guess what?! There's more! Yeah, that's how we do things around the VNHQ. Melissa, who just transplanted herself to SF from Japan, was kind enough to bring us some yatsuhashi cookies, which were cinnamony, crispy, and a total treat. Here's Melissa with the artfully wrapped box, straight from Kyoto:
Like we said: Best. Wednesday. Ever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Super-Quick Slices

The Chef: Elizabeth and Kashi

The Menu: Pizza! Kashi recently released a new, vegan pizza—the Sicilian Veggie variety—which we had the pleasure of sampling today. The white-bean-infused tomato sauce was a hit, as was the addition of some melted mozzarella Teese, which we just happened to have on hand. The pizza's crispy crust was also topped with grilled eggplant, roasted red bell peppers, caramelized onions, and kale. Aside from turning on the oven, Elizabeth's big contribution to the meal was chopping up some mizuna, carrots, and bell pepper for a lightning-fast salad.

The Goods: We're deep in the fact-checking trenches this week, so it was a welcome relief to find our freezer full of ready-made lunch options. While the category of "The Chef" might be something of a misnomer today, we were all happy to quickly munch down a couple slices of warm, yummy pizza, and then head right back to work.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bienvenidos Burritos!

The Chef: El Burrito Express

The Menu: No lie, we had burritos. We know, we know, with a title so ambiguous it might have been difficult to decipher just what exactly we ate, but let us assure you—they were big, delicious burritos. Whole-wheat tortillas stuffed with rice, black beans, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa generously surrounded by crispy chips made a filling, fabulous lunch.

The Goods: No, it isn't just that bienvenidos makes a convenient alliteration with burritos (though when have you ever known us to pass one of those up?!); we really were doing some welcoming today at lunch. That's right—it's Ms. Melissa's first official day as an editorial assistant, and if there's one thing that says "welcome to the team" like a big, beany burrito. As it turned out, Melissa told us that her first priority during any trip to California is always to get one as soon as possible, so we were thrilled to welcome her appropriately.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cheese Week: Black Bean Soup

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A stellar soup! Ms. Colleen blended black beans, sweet potatoes, and a tempting array of spices in this thick, filling soup, which she topped with ribbons of sautéed collard greens. She also toasted up some delicious sunflower-seed-crusted bread onto which she melted a little Follow Your Heart mozzarella—this is the last day of Cheese Week after all—with a light dusting of chopped cilantro for garnish.

The Goods: It's Friday! Maybe that's a bit of an obvious one, but it feels good to say it nonetheless. It's always satisfying to get to the end of the week after we've gone to press on Monday—it makes the last issue feel really, officially done. In addition to the joy of being at press, we got to share lunch today with the lovely Ms. Melissa, who'll be starting as an editorial assistant come Monday. It's very exciting to welcome a new member of the VN team, and we're thrilled to have her here!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cheese Week: Muy Mexi Casserole

The Chef: Stacy

The Menu: A super-delicious Mexican-cuisine-inspired casserole, complete with melted cheese all over the top. Ms. Stacy wowed us with her combination of rice, black and pinto beans, corn, and a perfectly spiced tomato sauce, which she layered under melted Cheezly Nacho and Mozzarella Styles. She also served up crispy corn tortillas and Native Kjalii salsa, and a beautiful, leafy salad.

The Goods: Today's lunch utterly delectable, the kind of meal you'd expect if you went over to a good friend's house for dinner and she'd had all day to prepare. Instead, Ms. Stacy busted out this culinary gem in just an hour using our modest test kitchen and ingredients she found on hand. Iron Chef, eat your heart out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cheese Week: Cheese-free Curry

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A delicious meal that was as heavy on color as it was light on cheese. Ms. Aurelia busted out a multicolor masterpiece of red quinoa topped with a super-yummy yellow curry featuring Turtle Island's brand-new Coconut Curry Tempeh. Yeah, you read that right. Also currying favor with the ravenous VN staff were the sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, and collard greens that Aurelia heartily sauced up. Oh, yeah, that was just the main course. We also enjoyed oven-roasted purple cauliflower, carrots, and golden beets, and a fresh, lovely salad of mizuna, cucumber, avocado, and Sunergia Soyfoods' Mediterranean Herb Soy Feta.

The Goods: After two days of non-stop, non-dairy goodness, we were decidedly in the mood for a more whole-foods-type lunch, which Ms. Aurelia graciously provided. While we tend to eat pretty stinking well around the VNHQ, this meal passed muster with flying colors.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cheese Week: Melty Radiatore

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: More cheese! If there's one non-pizza way to enjoy cheese that we just can't get enough of, it's melty, gooey, pasta—much like what you see above. Ms. Elizabeth busted out a quick tomato sauce that she poured over tri-color radiatore, peppered with chunks of mozzarella-style Teese, and then melted more of the cheesey goodness over the top. Lightly braised leafy kale and a simple salad with more of our Bunnicula-style carrots and avocado finished off the plate.

The Goods: Yeah, why have we not had cheese week before? This is quickly becoming a favorite theme here at the VNHQ, but what do you guys think? Cheers for cheese or are you so over queso fake-o?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cheese Week: Caribbean-inspired Pizza

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: What better way to begin the week than with oozingly delicious soy-based mozzarella drizzled over Italian-seasoned tomato sauce and an assortment of whole grain crusts—aka pizza? A collard-romaine salad tossed with both yellow and standard-issue orange carrots, ripe avocado, and crunchy corn kernels completed this work of art. With a sparse supply of fresh produce in the VNHQ kitchen, Lyndsay creatively personalized Follow Your Heart's pizza-making kit with a sprinkling of sweet corn, reviving her—and inspiring our—love for Dominican Republic-style pizza.

The Goods: VN's official Cheese Week begins today, and there's no more delicious way to celebrate the completion of the March/April issue than with everyone's childhood favorite: pizza! Thanks to Follow Your Heart's easy-to-follow pizza package, lunch was ready early—a rarity in the VN kitchen. We were all pleased with the magically meltable mozzarella and would recommend it for all your pizza-making needs. Stay tuned this week for more cheesey creations, and be sure to enter our spa-inspired giveaway for your chance to win a wonderful winter pampering package ...