Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life as a Vegan

For about six months now I have been a vegan. My dad for about forty years has been a macrobiotic, a diet that is mostly vegan except for occasional fish and no refined sugar. I feel brighter, my skin in clearer, and it has given me an unreal amount of energy. This diet change has pushed me to find more delicious vegan/vegetarian restaurants all throughout Los Angeles. Here is a little guide to the best restaurants I have tried and what to get at them.

The M Cafe is a hot-spot for incredible macrobiotic cuisine. My favorite things are the blueberry flaxseed pancakes for breakfast, the ahi tuna burger, the big macro, Bi Bim Bop rice bowl, and for dessert the mini cupcakes that range in flavor from mocha to strawberry. I like to get two or three mini cupcakes so that I can enjoy all the different flavor sensations. I really can't tell the difference between these vegan alternatives and the real stuff.

Cafe Gratitude is relatively new to Los Angeles but has been in Berkeley for many years. They serve huge rice bowls, yummy salads, and absolutely mind-altering desserts. With names like; I am Fortified, I am Pure, and I am irresistible, I leave the Gratitude feeling full, satisfied, and better about myself. My favorite dishes here are the I am Fortified rice bowl with Thai Almond sauce for a very satisfying dinner, the I am Magical is one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had. Also for dessert the I am Irresistible cake is not only the best vegan dessert I have ever had but it is one of the best desserts I have ever had. A combination of coconut and chocolate mousse with a almond cocoa crust, it was so good that my family and I ordered one devoured it and needed to order another which we then devoured in a matter of seconds (the waiter was a little frightened).

When I found this place I thought that it was too good to be true. I kept researching and asking to make sure that what I had heard was true. A completely vegan, raw, refined-sugar-free ice cream parlor! I went for the first time and then I was back three more times within a week. Delicious ice cream, soft-serve, and ice cream sandwiches. I haven't tried nearly enough flavors to pick favorites but everything that I have tasted has been delicious, especially the salted caramel sauce.

I hope you enjoy and that it inspires you to think more seriously about a meat-free or dairy-free wholesome way of living.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Spain and Pop-Tarts

After neglecting this blog for months, I have found myself reaching for a retreat in the form of food, writing, and relaxation, which has brought me here. In the past months I have traveled to Spain; spending three weeks wandering through the narrow European streets, looking for anything that sparks an interest, exploring the food of a different culture, and discovering who I am.

The urge that has sent me here to write this post on the kitchen floor covered in flour, are home-made pop-tarts. This obvious, comforting, delicious dish fulfills the need for a mid-week treat.

My new favorite website for food is Smitten Kitchen. This collection of recipes is both eclectic and concise. Smitten Kitchen has a focus on fresh comfort food made with wholesome ingredients (exactly what I like). These pop-tarts are an example of just this; a recipe made with whole ingredients to make something sweet and special that is known as a very artificial dish. To make these wholesome tarts I first made a simple sweet dough and then filled it with both nutella and strawberry jam. These tarts look a little daunting but are simply a joy to make. As I made them I was reminded of the Sunday afternoon dinners that my mom always reminisces about, the joy that she felt when welcomed into her grandmother's house with homemade cinnamon rolls and delicious iced tea. These pop-tarts are perfect for an overall enjoyable experience.

Here's the recipe...
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)

Jam Filling
3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam

Nutella Filling
9 tablespoons Nutella

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately (see Warm Kitchen note below) or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9" x 13" pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spicy Tomato Soup

After a few rainy days in Los Angeles it is impossible not to feel that need to make a big fire and curl up with some delicious soup. I was bored with the usual rainy day treat of chicken noodle, so instead I reached for tomato. I had some delicious looking tomatoes that I used to make an upbeat tomato soup. I began with olive oil, garlic, and red chili pepper flakes in a pot. I then added the delectable tomatoes with all of its juices. I simply put in some salt to taste, basil, and a little water to guarantee that the dish would come out as a soup rather than a sauce. It was delicious. With the sweetness from the basil and the tomatoes, the underlying garlic and then the heat kicks in right in the end from the chili flakes. This soup truly brightened up my rainy day.

Here's the recipe...

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 cups diced ripe tomatoes
1 cup basil, torn
1/2 cup water
salt to taste

1. In a medium sized pot heat the oil then add the garlic and chili flakes and cook until the garlic is golden.
2. Add in the tomatoes (it might splatter so stand back), stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Add in the water, salt, and basil and stir until incorporated.
4. Simmer for fifteen minutes under medium high heat or until all the ingredients have heated through and are melded together. Enjoy!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sunday Brunch

I always enjoy brunch and lunch get togethers. There is the excitement of the preparing and getting together with friends, that dinner parties include, but with brunch and lunch, after the get together most of the day still awaits you. It enables you to meet your friends in an informal environment while enjoying lighter, more vibrant food than a traditional dinner party.

After a fun, long night with my friends, we felt the need for some serious midmorning food. So with the appeal of brunch calling at me, I offered to cook. I had some deliciously sweet oranges from the Farmer's Market, so I knew that orange juice was a necessity. I normally do not add ice to fresh squeezed orange juice, but I thought that these oranges were so sweet that some ice was necessary to water it down.

I had also made a wonderful frittata and baked french toast that I had made for mother's day the year before. They were both delicious. I opted out of the dill in the frittata and used slightly less blueberries than recommended for the french toast. I am not very found of dill as an herb so I didn't use it and instead added 3 extra tablespoons of scallions I found the blueberries in the french toast slightly problematic because it caused the dish to be a little watered down. So i would recommend only using half a cup of berries and making sure to use fresh berries. I think that this dish would also work with any other kind of berry that you found appealing. The frittata is an Ina Garten recipe and the french toast is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis.

Here's the recipe for the frittata...

1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
12 extra-large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 pound smoked salmon, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I did not use dill, so I added extra scallions)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Saute the onions and butter together in a oven-proof pan for about five minutes (until the onions are translucent).
3. In a bowl beat the eggs then add in the cream, goat cheese, salmon, scallions, dill, salt, and pepper.
4. Pour the egg mixture over the onions and put the pan in the oven for 50 minutes.
5. When the frittata is finished it should puff up and when you insert a knife it should come out clean. Enjoy!

Here's the recipe for the baked french toast...

Butter, for greasing
6 eggs
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup maple syrup, plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 lemon, zested
3 (1-inch thick) slices (8 ounces) day-old challah or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups (12 ounces) fresh or frozen, thawed, and drained blueberries (I suggest using 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 by 13 inch pan.
2. In a large bowl beat the eggs until they are frothy.
3. Add the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest to the eggs.
4. Add the bread cubes to the mixture and make sure that each cube is coated.
5. Stir in the blueberries and then pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
6. In a small bowl mix together the rest of the cinnamon and sugar and evenly sprinkle it over the egg mixture.
7. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is set.
8. Spoon out servings and drizzle them with maple syrup. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gourmet Weeknight Meal

6:00 Wednesday, I was once again searching through my refrigerator looking for the ingredients to create a quick and simple dinner for my mom and I. I found some frozen ahi tuna, frozen peas, and some delicious brown rice spaghetti. I got an idea, pea pasta with grilled ahi tuna. I got to work and it came out magnificently.

Here's the recipe...

2 ahi tuna steaks (fresh or frozen)
1 lemon for juicing
1 bag brown rice spaghetti
1 bag frozen peas
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Begin by heating up a stove top grill and defrosting the tuna steaks if frozen and boil salted water.
2. Salt and pepper both sides of the tuna steaks and squeeze on lemon juice evenly.
3. Brush the grill with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and let it get hot.
4. Cook the tuna steaks on the grill for 5 minutes on each side until almost cooked through.
5. While that cooks put the spaghetti into the boiling water.
6. Get a pan and heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil then add in the garlic and let it cook very lightly.
7. Put the peas and rosemary in the olive oil and garlic and stir every few minutes until the peas are no longer frozen.
8. Take the spaghetti out of the water and stir into the pea mixture with the parmigiano-reggiano until everything is evenly distributed.
9. Slice the ahi tuna, put the spaghetti into bowls and top with sliced ahi tuna. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bake Sale

Last weekend I got my friends together and we had a garage/bake sale to raise money for the devastation in Haiti. When I first heard about the tragedy, I knew i had to do something. But on a teenage budget with twenty dollars to my name, I as an individual was unable to donate. So I thought that the best thing I could do would to make a fundraiser. I set up my garage and my friends and I went through our closets to find the fashions that we could part with. We sold tons of clothes and also sold bake goods. I knew that I had to make something classic that customers would love and were not intimidated to try. So I decided on red velvet cupcakes and the most chocolatey brownies ever created.

For the red velvet cupcakes I indulged in Paula Dean's traditional southern recipe. They turned out delicious!

Here's the recipe...

Ingredients Red Velvet Cupcake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (I make my own buttermilk by taking 1 cup milk and adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (I used 1 1/2 tablespoons and it was PLENTY)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 (12 cup) muffin tins with cupcake papers
2. In a medium bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder together.
3. In a large bowl beat the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla together.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix it until both mixtures become one.
5. Divide the batter among the cupcake tins so that each tin is 3/4 full
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes
7. Cool completely and then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar

1. Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth.
2. Add the sugar at a low speed and beat until it is incorporated.
3. Increase the speed to high so that the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
4. Ice the cupcakes (makes a lot of icying, so you will have extra)

I also felt obligated to make Ina Garten's delicious "Outrageous Brownies," and they were just that, outrageous! For the recipe I omitted the nuts and put in extra chocolate chips.

Here's the recipe...

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (i used whole wheat)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a baking sheet
2. Melt the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler, and allow mixture to cool.
3. In a large bowl stir the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar together.
4. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
5. In a medium bowl mix 1 cup flour, the baking powder, and salt together.
6. Add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture.
7. Toss the remaining chocolate chips in 1/4 cup flour and add to the chocolate mixture.
8. Pour into baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes.
9. Let cool and Enjoy!

After the bake sale my friends and I were exhausted and starving. So I made my favorite dish right now, I call it burrata pizza, it's ridiculously delicious. All the ingredients are super simple but the flavor of each element of the dish jump out at you. I really can't explain how good it is, you must try it.

Here's the recipe...

1 ball whole wheat pizza dough*
3 tablespoons whole wheat flours (for rolling out pizza dough)
20 cherry tomatoes halved
6 large basil leaves julienned
2 balls burrata (a type of mozzarella cheese)
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
* Pizza dough can be purchased at most grocery stores, but if it is not available at your grocery store, as a local pizzeria for some of their dough. The dough doesn't have to be whole wheat, personally i just think it has more flavor.

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Flour a flat surface with the flour and begin to roll out dough. Make the dough as thin as possible without making holes.
3. Once the dough is rolled out, brush the dough with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
4. Cook the dough in the oven for 15 minutes or until crispy.
5. While the crust is still hot, tear the burrata on top of it and then scatter the garlic, basil, and tomato over the crust.
6. Sprinkle the pizza with remaining olive oil and salt to taste. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Welcome to my first blog. I have an obsessive attraction to all things delicious, and always test myself with the absence of recipes to create a delectable meal. Sometimes it turns out as amazing as I had planned, and sometimes it's a different story. But on those special days when they do turn out delicious I aspire to share those recipes with people who will enjoy them as much as my friends and family have. So i want to share those experimental recipes (that work) with you! I go on adventures all over Los Angeles to learn about the food culture throughout the community that I call home. I have created this blog to share those food adventures I embark on. I will retreat here from the craziness of Los Angeles and High School to discover the secrets to delectable experiences in the city.