The Vegansaurus fave finds of 2013! »
Happy new year, everyone! In honor of the passing of the 2013 calendar year, we here at Vegansaurus have compiled a list of our favorite vegan finds of the last 12 months. Keep in mind some of the products were not necessarily new to the market, just new to us! What better way to celebrate the new year by discussing what we loved in 2013? Okay fine, pizza, champagne and friends is pretty good way too.
I’ll start with myself because I, Jenny, am very excited about this list! I would like to be a gentlewoman, but I’m going first. In no particular order, my very favorite vegan finds of 2013 are as follows:
- Green New American Vegetarian
A super restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona! My pal Britney and I stayed in Phoenix two nights, on a trip to see the Grand Canyon. We ate at Green three times. I need to make it back in 2014 for their Big Wac burger and “cream cheese crab” puffs. Nami bakery, another vegan spot, is located right next door and they are so much fun to follow on Instagram (@namivegansweets).
- New Vegan Skincare Finds
On the skincare front, I discovered Too-Faced mascara and Own eye cream! Vegan beauty life-savers!
- Olives for Dinner
More specifically, Erin’s recipe for hearts of palm crab cakes! I love them so much, I make them constantly. You may not know this, but I’m kind of the vegan seafood queen. At least that’s what Holly, aka Veganadian, has dubbed me, and I’m taking it!
- Artisanal vegan cheeses
Last but certainly not least. My two faves this year were the smoked Punk Rawk Labs cashew cheese and Kite Hill’s White Alder. I’d pick some up for my NYE party, but I don’t like sharing them!
Now onto the rest of the Vegansaurus crew!
- Best vegan cheesesteak
Spak Brothers in Pittsburg. The seitan was perfectly sliced thin and fried crisp, with just the right amount of mayo and daiya cheese, and a perfect bun. Worth the road trip!
- Earth Balance’s new cheese puffs and popcorn
Probably the most addictive new food products to hit store shelves…ever? [JB note: Thanks, Rachel! Just picked some up because now I can’t get them out of my head!]
- The Northface Thermoball Hoodie
The best synthetic alternative to down puffies ever made. My day job, Backpacker Magazine, gave them an editor’s choice award; I’ve got one and it rocks!
- Defiant Daughters
Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals and the Sexual Politics of Meat. [Our Sarah was one of the contributors!]
I was thrilled to put to paper some of the many ways that Carol J. Adams’ work has impacted my life and activism career, and to share how my relationship with my brother Asher grew due to our mutual love of Carol’s book The Sexual Politics of Meat and shared commitment to veganism!
- “I am Healthy" juice
From Cafe Gratitude, at Larchmont in LA . It’s pretty standard with kale, celery, cucumber and lemon juice but you can’t beat it.
- Brussels sprouts
I totally fell hard for Brussels sprouts this year; I blame Vedge Restaurant!
- Viva La Vegan grocery express
In Santa Monica. VEGAN GROCERY STORE: need I say more? They have every vegan item you could imagine!
- Sophie’s Kitchen vegan crab cakes
Jenny Bradley turned me on to these and they are SO good in vegan “fish” tacos. [JB note: See everyone?! I am the vegan seafood queen!]
- Follow Your Heart’s fiesta blend shreds
They equal nacho and quesadilla heaven!
- The tofu “egg” salad on gluten-free bread from Flore.
This is the sandwich of the century!
- Stuff I Eat restaurant
In Inglewood, CA. Definitely in my top five fave vegan restaurants ever. They have a variety of comfort foods, and raw fare. It’s reasonably priced and the staff is SO nice and welcoming.
- Stuff I Eat restaurant
It’s vegan soul food! I’ve never had such hospitality at a restaurant before. They told us everything about the food and were genuinely interested in how long we had all been vegan. One of the cooks even came out and sat down at our table!
- The Bad Ass breakfast sandwich from Locali
Not that I found it 2013, but I moved to LA this last year and it was my go-to during my move. I’ve taken all of my guests there, out-of-towners especially. [JB note: it’s true, he took me to Locali to get one before he, Caroline and I hiked to the Hollywood sign a few weeks ago! It’s scrumptious!]
- Wynn hotel
A vegan mother-loving oasis.
- Center City Soft Pretzel Company
My fave Philly soft pretzels are vegan! AND YOU CAN GET THEM SHIPPED TO YOU!
- Paulie Gee’s
The Greenpoint, BK favorite has an extensive vegan menu and their vegan ricotta is out of control!
- Gristle Tattoo
And more generally, the joy of vegan tattoos!
- My new vegan friends Jess and James
The dynamic duo, are just the coolest most best and show me lots of great vegan food and terrible, terrible 90s music. [JB note: there is such a thing as terrible 90s music?]
Cookbook Preview! Vedge: 100 Plates Large And Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking »
Homemade Brussels sprouts. Recipe adapted from Vedge: 100 Plates Large And Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking. They turned out SO well!
Vedge Restaurant is hands-down the best thing that has ever happened to my hometown of Philadelphia, period. A newcomer on the Philly vegan/fine-dining scene, Vedge has recently made pretty much every top vegan restaurant and “awesome place to eat, ever” list I know of. Even the blokes at GQ love it! Vedge, who recently partnered with Williams Sonoma to make sauces I’ve tried and super loved and you should try too, have somehow catapulted vegetable eating into an art form even fit for, gasp, non-vegans! Seriously though, bring non-vegans to Vedge and they won’t sheket about how wonderful it is. Kind of miraculous when you consider that all dishes center around vegetables and the fine dining crowd in Philly is usually on their suit and tie shit (tie shit).
I’ve eaten at Vedge a handful of times and have to say it really is the best ever! The only qualm I have with it is that the plates are admittedly pretty small. Patrons are encouraged to order a few of them “tapas style,” which is code-speak for “buy $100 worth per person,” which you have to do if you want a full meal.
To cut to the chase, owners Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau are soon releasing a new cookbook that highlights the fantastic dishes at their restaurant, tailored to aspiring at-home veggie chefs.
I am indeed glad that Vedge charges what other frou-frou fine-dining places charge, and especially that it doesn’t spend a dime of it on animal exploitation. Totally worth it! Still, I am quite thrilled that my all-time favorite Vedge dish, the Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce, is now available for at-home chefs like myself. Vedge offered a preview to Vegansaurus, and I have had the privilege of making my fave dish at home! Here’s the recipe, reprinted with permission.
Brussels sprouts served at Vedge Restaurant. Image.
Vedge’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce*
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2 to 3
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
½ cup vegan mayo
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 to 3 layers of outer leaves removed and bottom core cut off
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1. Begin by making the sauce, whisking together the mustard,vegan mayo, and water with ½ teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon on the pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Run Brussels sprouts through the slicer blade of a food processor or carefully shave on a mandoline.
3. Heat a large sauté pan on high. Add the olive oil. Just as the oil starts to ripple, add the garlic, then immediately add the shaved Brussels sprouts. Sear for 30 seconds, then stir to prevent the garlic from burning.
4. Add the remaining salt and remaining pepper, then allow the Brussels sprouts to sear for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so they brown evenly. Transfer to serving dish.
5. Drizzle sauce directly on top of the Brussels sprouts.
Enjoy! [Note: I used an oven instead of following the recipes because I served these to a dinner party for nine and ran out of stove space. That worked really well too!]
*Recipe from Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking, copyright © Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, 2013. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available July 2013 wherever books are sold. (omg that sounded so grown up!)
A Serious Eats writer goes vegan for a month, and it’s not annoying! »
López-Alt’s Braised Kale and Chickpea Sandwich with Sumac Onions. WANT!
We’ve had our fair share of journalists who “go vegan” for a short period of time and write about it. Usually you get something pretty obnoxious. But guys, I think we might have something different in our midst! J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats normally writes about hamburgers, but starting Jan. 14th, he decided to try a month of veganism. You can read his first post about it and see that he’s getting sociological on that ass. As an amateur anthropologist (I’m an amateur at a great many things!), I very much appreciate this approach! He’s seeking the “vegan experience” in all its trials and glory.
He starts off well enough. He’s a little uneducated about the health benefits but he seems to be one of the few writers to go down this road who grasps that it is indeed about compassion and not necessarily health. Another point on his side: he doesn’t go for the “humor” many authors try for when they do their obligatory vegan piece. It’s a rare occasion when a meat pun is funny, and it’s almost exclusively when you’re making a penis joke.
Another pro for López-Alt, he doesn’t mess around with a few weak salads, he dives in strong! Here’s his lunch from Day 1:
Brussels Sprout Fried Rice with Crispy Cauliflower, complete with recipe. Damn, son! As Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are my two favorite things (besides Cinnaholic!), this is calling to me like a healthy, well-meaning vegan siren.
He quickly learns that veganism requires planning and “there are animal products hiding everywhere.” So true! He also does a pretty great and comprehensive summary of vegan health needs. As he goes forward, there are times that he (very accidentally) “cheats” but I think becoming vegan is usually a process and “cheating” doesn’t render your efforts meaningless.
Finally, if I may offer some advice to López-Alt (and self-reference!), maybe my 11 Tips for New Vegans would be of some help to him on his month-long mission. Another tip: dude, if there are no vegan options on the menu and you’re at a nice restaurant, you can totally get chefs to make you a custom vegan meal! I’m normally bashful about asking for special treatment but from what I’ve been told, they don’t mind. And I’ve gotten some really awesome and unexpected creations. And, you don’t feel shafted by paying the same price for an entree even though you got it sans ham and gouda! Because that irks me. Good luck, sir!
Recipe: Roasted root vegetables with rosemary biscuits! »
Hey pals, once again my mother did a lovely vegan spread alongside the lame turkey and stuff. The vegan mashed potatoes and vegan stuffing were delish but this was the special center of the vegan Thanksgiving at my house! It’s a roasted-root-veggie cobbler-type thing. We made it once many moons ago from a Martha Stewart recipe but I couldn’t find it anywhere! We found some approximations online but we just sort of did it the way I remembered in the end. Well, a very simple version of it.
You just chop up a bunch of root vegetables (and brussels sprouts because I love them!) like parsnips (I’m so into parsnips now), beets, sweet potatoes and all those good things. Mix them up with salt and olive oil, and then roast them in the oven! Once they are all roasted and you know, tasty, add from a half to a whole cup of vegetable broth, depending on the size of your dish. Then you put the biscuit topping on and bake. Use any biscuit recipe you want; I really really love Bisquick so I just did their basic recipe and added rosemary. Boooom! Roasted root vegetables with rosemary biscuits!
[second picture is of the “vegan” leftovers section in the fridge—how cute is my mom?]
Happy Thanksgiving from Lauren and Eric in Philadelphia! Displayed on one of their plates here are, clockwise from the top, mashed potatoes, stuffing, mac ‘n’ cheese, brussels sprouts and garlic-sauteed green beans, a seitan cutlet, and a dinner roll in the center—and everything was homemade by the two of them. Can you stand it? Their adorable blog about their adorable life being adorably vegan together is almost too much, I mean honestly. Happy Thanksgiving, Lauren and Eric!
Happy Thanksgiving from reader Andi, who writes that her vegan potluck was “bomb dot com. Two types of stuffing, Tofurky, maple chipotle glazed Field Roast, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes with Dandies marshmallows, stuffed acorn squash, sweet potato knishes, pear and endive salad with candied pecans, butternut squash and mushroom tart, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes with gravy. For dessert? A layered chocolate and vanilla crème brûlée custard, pumpkin pie, and baked apples with Soy Whip!”
And that would explain the place settings at what is clearly a desk, and why those two plates are piled obscenely high with food. Andi and friends, your potluck gets the Vegansaurus stamp of gluttonous approval. We are so, so proud of you. Happy Thanksgiving!
Roasted brussels sprouts with twice-roasted garlic, from my table. Just throw your cleaned sprouts in a pan and mix them around with some olive oil and salt, then bake at 400ish until some of them start to blacken. Oh man, they’re so good.
It’s Freezing Out! A Comfort Food Recipe In Approximations »
Cold weather makes me want comfort food and for me, this means brussels sprouts. These green balls of joy are just SO GOOD when not cooked in the American tradition of boiled-till-they-fall-apart!
Make this. It will warm your heart:
First, make a pot of coffee.
Second, cook quinoa using one part grain to three parts water.
Then mince A LOT of garlic.
Saute it in a medium pan with a little olive oil while you cut like, 10 Brussels in half (lengthwise). Throw those in.
Chiffonade almost a handful of basil and add it.
Also, throw in a bit of cauliflower if you’ve got some, especially if it’s purple.
When this junk get too dry, throw in half a coffee mug of white wine (or malt liquor), a splash of Braggs (or soy sauce), a little turmeric, and maybe even some cumin.
Mix everything together (not with yo’ hands!) and then toss in half a handful of nutritional yeast.
Cover the pan with something that is not plastic. It’s done when the Brussels sprouts are soft and the liquid is gone.
Serve over quinoa with fresh lime, a cup of coffee, and a cute plate.
Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts!
This holiday season, millions of Brussels sprouts will make people sad. They will nest in bowls on Thanksgiving tables all over the country like horrible little sulfurous cabbage bombs: alien, over-boiled and reeking of farts, terrifying children and scarring them forever. Dastardly plot by adults drunk with power, or just a sad leftover of English cuisine? By the time you bravely plow through your first forkful of smelly leaf mush, you really don’t care.
It shouldn’t be this way, folks, because get ready for this: Brussels sprouts can be AWESOME. Blah blah healthy blah blah blah vitamins — all that really matters is that they can taste great. Plus, if you bring delicious, non-mushy sprouts to a dinner or potluck, you will look sophisticated, which is what we call it when you remake awful
things from childhood into things that appeal to adults. (See: mac ‘n’ cheese from a restaurant instead of a box; cereal flakes with whole grains and no plastic prize; cartoons about relationships instead of talking animals; Battlestar Galactica.)
I hear you can keep sprouts from going all raunchy by quickly sauteeing them, but that’s boring. The only thing I care about, sprouts-wise, is roasting. It’s magic. The high, dry heat takes away bitterness, boosts sweetness, cooks the insides perfectly and turns the outer leaves into smoky little potato chips, with pretty close to zero effort.
Here’s how to make the magic happen:
Preheat your over to 375 degrees or so. I am impatient and hate having to remember what vegetables roast at what temperature, so I roast all of them at 400 degrees and haven’t broken any yet.
Prep a pound of sprouts by cutting off dry ends and pulling off any dry or mangy-looking outer leaves. Toss them onto a baking sheet and coat them with a few tablespoons of olive oil: not so much that they’re swimming in pools of grease, but enough that they look evenly damp and shiny. Roast for about half an hour or so, stirring a few times starting about 20 minutes in. The time will vary based on sprout
size, your oven, weather, and a million other factors. Trust your nose: Stir them when they first start smelling strong, stir them a few minutes later, and take them out when they’re browned all over, crispy on the outside and soft enough that a fork goes all the way through. Salt them a bunch, like you would French fries.
There! You’re done! Make sure not to burn your fingers on the pan when you pick out the crispy loose leaves. If you have a sprouts skeptic in the house, feed them a few of the nearly blackened leaves: they’re crunchy as potato chips and the caramelized flavor is amazing.
This guest post is brought to you by Arlette Thibodeau, who thinks the word “veggies” sounds stupid, but that sure doesn’t stop her from eating them.
Review: Beretta! »
Beretta is totally fucking awesome. It’s chic, although I hate using that word because it basically negates its meaning. It’s like the word “classy”. Nothing that’s classy can be described with the word “classy.” AM I RIGHT OR WHAT? Beretta is hip, it’s the ALL RIGHT OUTTASIGHT BEST! Inside, you can sit at the bar, or at a long communal table in the middle, or at a personal table. If it’s warm out, you can sit outside along 23rd Street. Even if it’s not terribly warm, they have heating lamps and you own a jacket, you live in fucking San Francisco. They make insane cocktails—some of the bartenders formerly worked at the Tenderloin’s classy Bourbon and Branch—many of which include absinthe! I love it! My favorite is the Dolores Park Swizzle, which is made with rum, lime, maraschino, absinthe and bitters. It’s served on a mountain of crushed ice. It’s the perfect alcoholic beverage. Or you might choose to indulge in a Hemingway, which is white rum, lime, cane syrup, maraschino and grapefruit! Just thinking about their outrageous drink menu, I want to start drinking at 1:30 p.m. on a Monday. Jesus, take the wheel!
Now, all that’s fine and dandy. Great location in the heart of the Mission, super-sleek interior, outside drinking of amazing drinks but WHAT ELSE, VEGANSAURUS? WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS PLACE? SURELY A PLACE SO PRETENTIOUS-SEEMING AND BOURGIE WILL HAVE NOTHING FOR OUR PEOPLE! And that’s where I say, YOU ARE WRONG AND ALSO A JUDGMENTAL JERK I THINK I LOVE YOU! Because Beretta serves up some of the best thin-crust pizza in town MADE WITH VEGAN CHEESE (!!!) AND VEGAN SAUSAGE!!! A recent addition to their menu, we vegans must partake of it in mass quantities so that they know it was worth it! And it is! Because it’s DELICIOUS! I got the potato, rosemary, radicchio, and gorgonzola dolce, sub vegan mozzarella for the gorgonzola and add vegan sausage! HELLO AMAZING CHEESY POTATO SAUSAGE PIZZA! You can substitute vegan cheese FOR FREE on any pizza that already has cheese. Love that! In a world that STILL charges 50 cents when you sub soy milk, WTF?!, this switching cheese for vegan cheese thing is just totally wonderful. I think the vegan cheese is Teese but it might be Follow Your Heart; it’s high-quality. They can make almost all of their appetizers vegan too. Try the persimmon salad and the brussels sprouts, both fantastic.
I really love Beretta. It is now about five steps from my front door (I’m employing hyperbole, but it’s close) and so I plan to be there pretty much every night once the pile of money I’m expecting to land on my face arrives later this afternoon. I’m incredibly excited about Beretta and I want to scream it from the rooftops, I want to dress as a bear and set myself on fire and run down Market Street, screaming its name! Or write about it on Vegansaurus! It was a coin toss, a Russian Roulette if you will. You guys lose, so this is your review. BYE!!!
[photos via yelp]