Jerry James Stone presents: How to cut and store an avocado! »
It seems like a total duh, right? But avocados are beautiful, we love Jerry James Stone, and over the past couple weeks I’ve seen like three avocado halves in the fridge at my office turning brown and shriveling because whoever is using them doesn’t know how to store them properly. This must be stopped!
Thankfully, JJS has the answer:
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!]
Genius, right? Produce! Eat it, love it, care for it.
[Photo by femme run via Flickr]
How to, yo: Make tofu noodles taste good! »
I am a big fan pasta dishes and marinara sauce. I am not a fan of eating lots of grains, including wheat, because they hurt my stomach. So when it comes to noodles, I often choose tofu-style! I’ve come up with some tricks to make them extra-super delectable, as they are a little strange right out of the packaging.
First of all, I drain the water and rinse them off. Then, in a pan, I sauté them up with garlic, salt, pepper and a few drizzles of olive or vegetable oil. This helps them firm up a little. Usually I will caramelize an onion too, but if it’s already in my sauce, I’ll skip that step. If I do sauté up an onion, I do that first, then add the pasta, garlic, seasonings. Once the pasta is in the pan, with or without onion, the cook time is about 10 minutes on medium to medium high heat.
Now what are you gonna make!? Last time I made these noodles, my roommate and I made a sauce by sauteing up chopped tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, more garlic, and kale! It was so good! Sometimes I’ll use them in my cheesy eggplant bake or to make macaroni and cheese with cashew cheddar sauce (minus the chili pepper).
How to, yo: Mold the best pizza crust! »
I just had a pizza party with my family! And I broke my mom’s pizza stone, the night before Mother’s Day. I’m a terrible person! I’m not sure the iTunes gift certificate, coconut wax candle and cock blocker I gave her will make up for slamming her stone in the oven and demolishing it. It was an accident! But since she is a great person, she didn’t even get mad at me. My mom is the best.
I want to give props to Chef Mitch at Source for giving me the inside scoop on molding pizza crust. I was a pretty good home cook before; however, working side by side with him every day has taught me so much. If you come into Source, tell him you love the hints on Vegansaurus. It might render him speechless, which is no easy feat—that guy loves to talk! But I love listening, so it is a match made in restaurant heaven.
Now, whether it’s homemade or store-bought pizza dough you are working with, it is the easiest and best to handle at room temperature, so let your dough sit out for an hour or so. That way when you stretch it, it will stay where you put it. Also, play with the outside edge, which will be the uncovered crust, as little as possible. If you can get away with not touching it at all, that is great: It will make for a wonderful, light, “eggshell” crust that will rise beautifully and impress everyone. Shape and stretch your crust from the inside out. However you do this, DON’T TOUCH THE VERY OUTSIDE PART! That’s it. That’s all I’m trying to say.
This outside crust here is a little extreme, as in, it’s HUGE. But the dough was cold and I had a hard time stretching it. You don’t have to go this big, but you know what they say: Go big or go home! The outside crust was so light and fluffy, I felt like a pro. Do you like how I made myself a half-cheese, half-veggie combo? I need options! And remember when some of you were like “Daiya is gross, it tastes like glue”? Well, I really like it. Follow Your Heart soy mozzarella is my numero uno, but Daiya is my mistress! They better not make me choose, because I love them both so much.
How to, yo: Caramelized onions! »
In my recipes, I talk about caramelizing onions a lot! I always do it, because I like the depth of flavor it adds to food. I remember when I first started hanging out in the kitchen,* learning how to cook, I was like, “Hey, what’s the difference between caramelizing onions and burning them?” No one could give me an answer I liked. I think it’s the difference between browning them to release the sugars and blackening them because the heat was too high. Does that work for you?
I’m also a visual person, so we’ll do this step by step. Pictures included!
2 Tbsp. oil (I’m using olive, but vegetable is more than fine!)
2 red onions
For most recipes, you will probably only need one onion, but for the sake of this demonstration, I’ll be using two. Let’s say, one tablespoon of oil to one onion? I think that sounds good. Caramelizing onions can take up to an hour, so plan accordingly!
Another great thing about caramelizing onions is that you can keep them in the fridge to use later, though I’d say store them no more than five days. Then, when you want to use them for a recipe, heat and go.
Let’s get this onion party started! Heat oil on medium high heat. You will know it’s ready when you flick some cold water into the pan and it sizzles. Add your chopped onion and turn heat down to medium.
Chopped red onions in heated olive oil. Let the caramelizing begin!
Now is the part where you don’t have to do much, but stay close to your onions so you can keep an eye on them. You don’t have to constantly turn them with a spatula, maybe about every 7 to 10 minutes.
My onions took about 50 minutes to caramelize. I turned the heat down low; not only was I in the middle of watching Big Love, but my porcelain pan gets very hot in the middle and I didn’t want my onions to burn. I scooted them to the sides, where less heat was concentrated.
The finished product.
The point at which your onions are done is kind of up to you. I stop cooking mine when they are nicely brown, through and through. You will reach this point anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes. Taste them during your cooking process to see if they’ve achieved a level of caramelization to your liking!
Another little thing I did, which is totally optional, was deglaze my pan with white wine. When I felt my onions were done, I added a healthy splash of wine into the pan, and let it cook into the onions for a minute or two before turning the heat off. This lifts all the caramelized bits off of your pan and back into the onions. Yum! If wine isn’t your thing, you can do this with vegetable stock.
I want to give a shout-out to Chef Fox at Source, because he has given me tons of tips on how to caramelize onions. Thanks, boss!
*Did you know I’ve worked at The Chicago Diner, Cafe Gratitude, and now Source? Well, now you do!
How to, yo: Cashew Cream! »
In my recipes, I use cashew cream a lot! It’s soy and gluten-free, which I think is important when cooking and eating on a vegan diet. Gluten and soy are in EVERYTHING! I need a break. Plus, some of my friends have allergies—nobody gets left out when I’m cooking.
Here is my basic cashew cream recipe. We’ll come back to this one a lot in the future, when I post my recipes for green bean casserole, vodka cream sauce, ranch dressing, and Hawaiian macaroni salad! Those are intense, but if you got the cashew cream down, you’re golden!
First of all, let’s talk about the cashews:
- You want to use dry, unsalted, raw cashews. I usually buy mine from Trader Joe’s, but they are available at Safeway, Whole Foods, and most health food grocers.
- The cashews need to be soaked! 1/3 heaping cup dry cashews, when soaked, equals 1/2 cup of soaked cashews.
- How you get to the ‘soaked’ part is up to you! If you have the time, or are making a raw recipe, soak them in water for at least six hours at room temperature. Any longer and you will want to refrigerate them. Make sure the water covers them, plus extra for what the cashews absorb. However, if you don’t have the time, boil them on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until soft.
- Always dump the water they were soaked or boiled in and then rinse the cashews off!
Now, to make the cream!
1/2 cup soaked cashews
3/4 cup water
Blend!* This will equal about 1 cup cashew cream! If you add a little salt and vanilla extract, it makes a delicious coffee creamer.
*I use a Vita-Mix, which is one of the greatest kitchen tools ever invented. Of course, a blender or food processor will work too, but you may need to strain any chunks.
Homemade BBQ seitan wings and a dollop of cashew-based ranch dressing!
Interview with Susan from The Breakroom Cafe! Plus, they’re serving VEGAN BRUNCH!! »
Have you ever wondered how one of your favorite vegetarian restaurants got their start? Here’s the story of The Breakroom Cafe in downtown Oakland! Susan, a 10-year veteran of working in bars and restaurants (and a kick-ass, awesome girl), and her partner Jason, a former department store manager (and all-around really cool guy), dreamed about opening a vegetarian restaurant and went for it! Coming up on the fourth anniversary of The Breakroom, Susan and Jason reflect on starting their veg business.
Vegansaurus: What was your opening date?
Susan: July 14, 2007. You were there, Anne! I think you just happened to be walking by or something, and you saw we were finally open. I remember us forcing all these free pastries on you.
What made you want to start a vegetarian restaurant?
While living in Cleveland, I always fantasized about moving to another state and running a vegetarian restaurant. After moving to Oakland, I served at a vegan restaurant for a few years, where I learned that there was definitely a market for vegetarian food out here. While browsing Craigslist, Jason found a space available, and voila! To be honest though, I thought this place would be more of a coffee shop that sells veg sandwiches. It turned out to be a sandwich shop that sells coffee.
Where do you draw inspiration for your menu items?
I guess it’s different for each menu item. I remember loving Sloppy Joes as a kid. Remember that Manwich stuff? Loved it! And since becoming vegetarian at 16, I had a craving for it, so I knew we had to have a vegan Sloppy Joe on the menu.M ost of the menu items are veg versions of familiar standard American sandwiches that people may miss eating since becoming vegan/vegetarian.
What’s your most popular dish?
It’s a toss-up between the Meatball, Club and Turkey/Bacon.
If your Sloppy Joe sandwich was a song, what song would it be?
Maybe "Cool It Now," that New Edition song—for those that think it’s too spicy!
Tell us a funny story about an unwitting omnivore who ordered one of your veg sandwiches.
None specifically comes to mind, but there are those that just don’t understand the imitation meat concept. We’ve had people say, “So when it says bacon, it’s not really bacon?” We say “nope,” and the next question is, “But what about the Ham & Swiss sandwich? That’s real ham, right? We answer “No,” and then they move on to questioning the “turkey.”
I noticed that there’s a cock on the front of your building, what’s up with that?
I guess the owner of the previous business Zodiac Desserts put it there. I didn’t even notice it until a few months after we bought the business, a friend and I were walking by the shop and we both noticed it at the same time. I was like “Where the hell did that rooster come from?”
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to start a vegan business, what would it be?
Make food that NON-vegan/-vegetarians will like, and make them believe they could survive not eating meat.
This is Laura here and I just want to chime in because Breakroom just started doing Sunday brunch! It’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and it’s the BOMB! A huge plate of potatoes, veggie ham, tofu scramble, fruit, AND french toast for like 10 bucks! You’ll be full for days! MORE VEGAN BRUNCH IN THE EAST BAY, Y’ALL!!! Oh, and here’s a shitty camera phone picture because I love you:
Uh, and you can check out their Facebook page for more updates and better photos!
Breakroom Cafe: 300 13th Street, Oakland. (510) 836-3864. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Anne Martin is an eater of free pastries and a lover of veg restaurants. She is a Ph.D. Candidate at UC Berkeley’s City & Regional Planning department, and is a member of the Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy. When Anne is not researching or eating vegan Hearty Bagel sandwiches at The Breakroom, you will find her volunteering with Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary.