vegetable diaries

thank you, gracias madre

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 23, 2010

Gracias Madre

organic vegan mexican cuisine. what on earth could possibly be better? well, maybe a Babycakes donut for dessert, but i’m going to stay focused on my lunch here. the owner’s of Cafe Gratitude have recently opened Gracias Madre in san francisco and they seem to be doing quite well. they still offer community seating but there is no “question of the day.”  hooray! there is also bar seating available if you’re feeling shy, need to eat alone or drink (they serve alcohol).

guacamole con tostadas at Gracias Madre

for lunch i tried the enchiladas con mole poblano, which is mole enchiladas topped with mushrooms and cheese, served with sauteed greens and beans. it’s fantastic and i highly recommend it if you need something tasty and filling. i also ordered the guacamole con tostadas, which was great, too. the guacamole is a good size portion for two people, however the tostadas were beyond crunchy. if they could be just a bit less hard i think it would save on my teeth, but it’s still worth ordering.

enchiladas con mole poblano at Gracias Madre

i didn’t get to try any of the desserts because i was so full, but next time i go i will try something. the coconut-lime cheesecake sounds heavenly.

you can’t go wrong at Gracias Madre and it’s such a delight to have fresh, organic, VEGAN, mexican food in the bay area!

Gracias Madre
2211 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415-683-1346
www.gracias-madre.com

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creamed cauliflower soup- recipe

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 17, 2010

creamed cauliflower soup

This recipe is inspired from Yamuna Devi’s recipe in her cookbook “The Vegetarian Table- India.” My version uses only cauliflower and no potatoes or rice. This is perfect for a rainy day or when your throat needs something soothing and your belly needs something delicious!

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

2 smallish cauliflower heads, cut into large florets
6 ½ cups water
½ tbsp ground coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 serrano chilies, chopped
1 ½ tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
fresh ground pepper (to taste)
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped cilantro

Method

1. Combine the cauliflower, water, coriander, turmeric, ginger, and serrano chilies in a soup pot. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
2. When the vegetables are cooked, use an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender) puree until the mixture is smooth.
3. Reheat the soup.
4. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the mustards seeds to the soup and stir. Add the chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

creamed cauliflower soup

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, indian, recipes, vegan | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

ajanta on my brain

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 14, 2010

bheh, khumbi aur matar (lotus root) at Ajanta

if you are in berkeley (solano avenue to be exact) and are in need of unique and delicious indian food for cheap (lunch=cheap, dinner=moderate), then i highly recommend eating at Ajanta. i’ve been to many indian restaurants and none of them can compare to Ajanta’s varied menu and awesome preparation of regional dishes. although they are not a vegan restaurant there are usually a few vegan lunch specials from which to choose. your lunch will include yummy aromatic rice (brown rice is an option for a little more money), kala chana (black chickpeas), or saag (pureed spinach). Ajanta’s menu changes weekly, so there are always new and interesting things to try. some things stay on the menu depending on season and popularity (i think), so if you fall in love with their sambhar like i did, then rest assured it’s been on the menu for a couple of months now… and hopefully they will keep it on! i’m also quite fond of the bheh, khumbi aur matar (lotus root, shiitake mushrooms, and peas cooked with caramelized onions, ginger, garlic and spices). however i think my favourite is their hyderabadi baingan baghare (organic eggplant slices sauteed and cooked in a sauce made with onions, sesame seeds, tamarind, coconut powder, cashew paste, ginger, garlic, and spices). i don’t have a photo but take my words that you MUST order the baingan baghare if you see it on the menu. it is so rich and the eggplants are like tender little gems that explode in your mouth.

i’ve visited Ajanta for dinner, too but nothing can beat the fantastically cheap and filling lunch specials ($10 or less!).

brown rice & kala chana at Ajanta

i love the caramelized onions on the rice…

sambhar with vegetables at Ajanta

the sambhar is a south indian dish and includes toor dal (lentils) cooked with spices, tamarind eggplant, okra, carrots and potatoes. i didn’t mention this yet but Ajanta is prepared to serve your food spicy HOT if you so desire. i ordered the sambhar “hot” but for the other dishes i recommend ordering them “medium” if you’re not used to the heat. if you like the heat then by all means you should go for HOT!

lobhia aur khumbi (curried black eye peas) at Ajanta

Ajanta
1888 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94707
510-526-4373
www.ajantarestaurant.com

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, indian, sf bay area, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

a millennium moment- mm mmm mmmmm

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 13, 2010

pumpkin curry at Millennium

hi. i love Millennium! here are some more photos from a recent visit.

my pumpkin curry was supreme! i was shocked by the huge portion.. look at all that forbidden black rice. i actually couldn’t finish it!

brussel sprouts at Millennium

i was really impressed with these sprouts! they were so flavourful and were complimented by little bites of smokey tofu cubes. millennium’s b-sprouts were the inspiration for my brussel sprouts.

cajun style tempeh at Millennium

this was my chum’s dinner..

pear crisp with rosemary ice cream at Millennium

oh joy! i was so stuffed from my pumpkin curry that i really had a heck of time knocking back my pear crisp. but i did. YUM!

Millennium
580 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-345-3900
www.millenniumrestaurant.com

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ginger & garlicky tamari brussel sprouts- recipe

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 13, 2010

ginger & garlicky tamari brussel sprouts

welcome to my lunch! brussel sprouts are one of my favourites and this recipe is quick and easy to make. the results are amazing. for those people who aren’t fond brussel sprouts, i hope this recipe will turn you around!

Ginger & Garlicky Tamari Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh Brussel sprouts, halved
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated with a microplane
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
lots of freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 ½ tbsp wheat-free tamari (or to taste)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
freshly chopped cilantro for garish

Method

Add the oil to a 10-inch skillet and heat the pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot add the ginger and garlic (don’t let them burn!). Next add the Brussel sprouts, cayenne and black pepper, then add the tamari and combine well. Turn the sprouts so that they are face down on the pan. Cover the pan and cook for five or so minutes, or until they start to brown. When the sprouts start to get nicely brown, stir and turn off the heat. I prefer my Brussel sprouts to have a nice bite (not soggy), so I don’t like to overcook them. A good rule of thumb is to aim for retaining their bright green colour. Add the sesame seeds and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

ginger & garlicky tamari brussel sprouts

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vegan in ventura: mary’s secret garden

Posted by vegetablediaries on December 27, 2009

raw apple pie: Mary's Secret Garden

while i was in ventura i had the lucky opportunity to visit Mary’s Secret Garden for lunch. oh my, what a fine dining surprise! i didn’t know what to expect because i didn’t read any of the reviews online, and all i knew was that it was ALL vegan and filled with awesomeness. first off, this place is pretty tiny. we had lunch around noon and didn’t have to wait for a table, however i think you should probably make a reservation just in case.

fresh thai spring rolls: Mary's Secret Garden

the food! wow, what a great menu.. everything is organic and there are cooked and raw food plates available, with lots of gluten-free options (gf is clearly marked on the menu). when our server first came over to greet us he said “Mary recommends you try the fresh thai spring rolls as an appetizer..” okay, i thought this was really endearing because i don’t usually hear what the owner suggests.. it seemed quaint to me and i like that. so, we did order the fresh thai spring rolls and they were amazing! i loved the spicy peanut sauce so much that i ate it by itself when the spring rolls were all finished.

middle east platter: Mary's Secret Garden

for the main course i ordered the middle east platter, which included syrian falafel with tahini sauce, hummus, tabouli, grilled pita bread and kalamata olives (i’m not fond of olives, but there were only two on my plate, so no biggie). everything was delicious and quite filling. my friend ordered the thai yellow curry stew, which was also so tasty! there were stewed kabocha squash, carrots, potatoes, red onions, ginger and basil leaves in a creamy curried coconut sauce; served over brown rice, with your choice of protein (shrymp, tofu or chycken). then they topped the hell out of it with fresh cilantro (my favourite!). i really am excited to go back because there are so many wonderful things to try, including a bazillion shakes!

thai yellow curry with tofu: Mary's Secret Garden

and now for dessert.. i ordered the raw chocolate hazelnut pie ala mode: rich chocolate coconut and hazelnut filling topped with chopped hazelnuts and chocolate ganache and served with homemade raw vanilla bean ice cream. i didn’t even finish it (which is a very very rare thing) because it was so insanely rich!

raw chocolate hazelnut pie: Mary's Secret Garden

my friend ordered the raw apple pie: layered, thinly sliced and well spiced apples, over a pecan date crust, topped with a sweet cashew cream and raspberry sauce. both of these desserts are lookers, but i think the apple pie would win the beauty contest!

raw apple pie: Mary's Secret Garden

after writing about my lunch, i want to go back NOW!

Mary’s Secret Garden
100 South Fir Street
Ventura, CA 93001
805-641-FOOD
www.maryssecretgarden.com

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, los angeles, raw, vegan | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

carpinteria’s chamomile cafe YUMYUM

Posted by vegetablediaries on December 16, 2009

big box o' desserts from Chamomile Cafe

hooray for discovery: Chamomile Cafe! i discovered this delightful cafe in carpinteria, and it’s mostly all vegan with the exception that they serve wild salmon, eggs, and dairy. it’s also mostly organic! as for the bakery part of the cafe, half of the goods are vegan and they are questionably vegan in a major way because they are so incredibly delectable. in my big box o’ desserts i tried the blueberry pie in miniature, pecan muffin, oatmeal raisin walnut cookie, zucchini muffin, and the lemon poppyseed muffin with blueberries sprinkled on top. these didn’t last very long.. i shared them with my family and i sort of ate them up! the baked goods are not cheap, but also not overly priced in my opinion because they use organic ingredients and they are insanely good. that pie is made with organic blueberries! this place was like finding a little gem all covered in tar (did you know the beaches in carpinteria are dotted with tar?) by the way, i’ve learned that mineral spirits are the answer to tar stains!

blueberry pie from Chamomile Cafe

and now onto lunch: i tried the grilled veggie panino, which is made from their handmade organic ciabatta rolls (YUM) and then inside goes the eggplant, mushrooms, red onions, tomatoes, radish sprouts, vegan ranch, and dijon. you’ll want to be a fan of dijon if you order this. although it’s not overly dijon-y, the mustard is quite noticeable in a very delicious way. i really enjoyed my sandwich and it also came with a small side salad. i would like to try their dinner menu sometime because it’s all vegan except for the wild salmon. my pescatarian, gluten-free friend enjoyed the wild salmon tacos. thank you, Chamomile Cafe!

veggie panino from Chamomile Cafe

i should have moved the lettuce off of the tomato, but you get the idea.

Chamomile Cafe

Chamomile Cafe
915 Linden Ave.
Carpinteria, CA 93013
805-566-5954
www.chamomilecafe.com

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, los angeles, vegan bakery, vegan cafe, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

eating at gingergrass in silverlake

Posted by vegetablediaries on December 6, 2009

Gingergrass tofu lunch plate

i was really excited to eat at Gingergrass again because it had been a long time, however my experience with my tasty lunch turned into an afternoon of nursing what i think was an MSG overdose. i asked Gingergrass if they use MSG and they confirmed that they do not use it, but it is included in the shrimp chips and hoisin sauce that they don’t make in house, which really means that they DO use it but not intentionally, i presume. maybe you can order your lunch without MSG… it’s certainly worth asking. anyways, i enjoyed my lunch until i got up and walked back to my car. i’ll give you the details of my lunch and you can decide if it’s worth the MSG risk. i personally like to feel fresh and energetic after eating and that was certainly not my experience after eating at Gingergrass, which boasts “fresh vietnamese cuisine.”

so, my lunch! i ordered the gingergrass tofu for $8.95: crispy organic tofu with shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy served with vegan nuoc cham sauce. you also get a heaping scoop of broken white rice and vietnamese slaw. overall i thought the dish was over-seasoned with the sauce and there was too much sodium. however i did enjoy the crispy tofu and shiitake mushrooms. i think they coat the tofu in rice flour, which gives it a light and crisp texture. and for more positives, they have a nice outdoor patio and friendly wait staff. there are also many vegan options.

Gingergrass
2396 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
323-644-1600
www.gingergrass.com

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shojin organic & natural, part two

Posted by vegetablediaries on November 30, 2009

Shojin

i’ve been eating at Shojin since they opened last year and it’s been amazing to see how well they are doing and how their menu is constantly growing and changing. in addition, they also offer cooking classes, which i’m hoping to attend soon. it’s always a treat to eat at Shojin and here are some photos from a recent visit.

the bento box! you must must try the pumpkin croquette and the hamburg steak (i’m not a fan of seitan but Shojin makes it so YUM)! i also tasted the okara cake and spicy tofu and they are delicious, too. it’s truly a hard decision when ordering at Shojin but they offer great lunch specials so you can try different things. the bento box also includes a big bowl of brown rice and a small bowl of the daily soup. it’s a fantastic lunch deal for $10!

Shojin's bento box!

and now to my favourite, dessert! i tried the spiced pumpkin tart with chocolate ice cream and thought it was really good. i was a bit hesitant because i usually don’t like to mix pumpkin with chocolate but it actually went together quite nicely. on my last visit to Shojin i ordered the chocolate and banana parfait and thought it was exquisite. there were layers of vanilla ice cream, fudgey sauce, almonds, and bananas. i don’t have a photo but you can find it on their website.

Shojin's spiced pumpkin tart

i’ve also tried the shitake avocado sushi rolls and enjoyed them. there are so many things to try.. i can’t wait for my next visit! to see my part one review of Shojin you can go here.

by the way, i took my meat loving family to Shojin and everyone, including my finicky-eater-10 year old niece loved it!

Shojin Organic & Natural
333 S. Alameda St. Suite 310
(Little Tokyo Shopping Center 3F)
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 617-0305
www.theshojin.com/

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goodbye thanksgiving, hello shopping madness

Posted by vegetablediaries on November 29, 2009

 

brussel sprouts, parsnips, and butternut squash all ready for roasting

well, now that the big feast is behind us and the mad rush of shopping has begun i find it quite appealing to hole up in the house and roast the remaining year away! to start things off i roasted these vegetables on t-day with fresh thyme, olive oil, cracked black pepper and kosher salt. it’s so easy to just take a big bowl and dump all of your veggies in it, add the oil, etc. and toss with your hands. i line a baking sheet with foil and spread the vegetables evenly on it and bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes (depending on how big the veggies are). tonight i roasted brussel sprouts with whole cloves of garlic, et al. and it smelled so magical. everything gets so caramelized and delicious you will never want to leave the house!

 

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