Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hey there!

I have been M.I.A. because the Yo Soy life has been super crazy as of late. But fear not--I am now on hiatus and so starting this week I'll have all the time in the world to eat and post. Woo! And I have had some good vegan adventures this past week to gab about. See ya soooooooooooon!!!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Get Wael Soon Mujadarrah

I always take any chance I get to eat with my friend Wael's family. Even their regular weekday dinners are massive feasts. There's usually smoky baba ghanoush, hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush, lentil dishes, and lots of pita to scoop it all up--all made from scratch of course. Wael makes fun of me for still talking about this dinner we had at his sister's house in New Jersey a few summers ago. It was one of the best meals of my life but for them it was just another Sunday night. Thanksgiving at the Abifaker house is a whole other story--the amount of American and Arabic dishes covering the table is rivaled only by my Oma's Christmas smorgasbord.

Last October, Wael got in a terrible car accident and I quickly learned that the Lebanese answer a crisis with lots and lots of food and chocolate. The hospital room was like a little cafeteria--everyday we visitors were treated to a new middle eastern delicacy. And that was when I became obsessed with Mujadarrah.

Mujadarrah is the best kind of dish: simple and reeeediculously good-tasting. I managed to completely mess it up when I made it today by using precooked lentils. The texture of mujadarrah is supposed to be kind of like guacamole, but today mine came out more like just beans and rice. Because I used precooked lentils instead of boiling dry ones, there was no lentil slime to mix with the rice and onions which creates a delightfully mushy consistency. Today I added some guacamole I had laying around to try to fudge the texture.

So go! Make it! Eat it! Luvvvv it! Here is the recipe, straight from Mrs. Abifaker herself. (There is also a recipe for it in Veganomicon but c'mon now, would you rather have this middle eastern dish from two chicas from Queens or from a true Lebanese cook?)

Get Wael Soon Mujadarrah

1 cup lentils
1 onion
1/2 cup rice
3-4 tbs of oil (your choice)
3 cups water

Heat the lentils in water until they boil. Once they have boiled add the rice and allow to boil. While the other stuff is boiling, chop up the onion and sauté it in a pan with the oil until they brown. Add the onions to the rice and lentils and set the heat to low and simmer. Stir occasionally (the more you stir the creamier it will be). Add more water if you feel the rice and lentils are not soft enough. Once it's at your desired texture,salt to your liking and serve.

And in case you are wondering, Wael is doing much better now. Here he is looking super cute back in the fall when he was still in his wheelchair. I can't wait for that bugger to get his little tush back to California!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

La Vida Dolce

Tuesday was our last day of principle shooting! We had Chipotle for lunch, which everyone seemed to agree was bad. You can absolutely tell that the place is owned by McDonalds. Everyone's food was tiny, gross, or both. I ordered a fajita salad which was slimy black beans with a truckload of guacamole and two slices of bell pepper. It was totally unappetizing and I am totally dumbfounded that when this Culver City location of the franchise opened recently people waited in line for over an hour to get lunch there.

After our disappointing lunch, Canada and George went to walk down the street to get some cupcakes from Bluebird. They took forever though and when they returned I found out why--they had actually gone to Dolce Isola and brought back sorbet!!! Literally every time we went to lunch at Dolce Isola over the season, I would ask for a taste of their peach sorbet and come back and tell everyone how mind blowing it is. So those two tricksters brought back peach and coconut. The coconut turned out to be even better than the peach! It wasn't really sweetened which was awesome. You would never guess that either one didn't have dairy. See George and Canada digging in above. What a sweet way to end season five!

Dolce Isola
2869 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Karaoke Coconut Pancakes

Saturday night we had a crazy karaoke showdown in Koreatown for Kirby Von Scrumptious' 25th bday. We drank lots of Hite, danced on tables, and belted out Ace of Base like it was our job. So needless to say, it was necessary to fuel myself with a good meal beforehand so I could last into the wee hours of the night.

My new favorite recipe is VWAV's Coconut Pancakes. These pancakes are so coconut-y that they are almost chewy--in a good way. Next time I will omit the salt though. Top them with some Grade B maple syrup and you've got yourself enough sugar and deliciousness to power you through at least four to six eighties power ballads. These suckers would DEFINITELY be on my list of Dishes With Which to Seduce Michael Phelps Should He Ever Stop By My House For Breakfast. Speaking of which--holy crap! Michael Phelps! Did you guys see that 1/100th of a second win on Friday??? Oh my godddd.

Just when I was getting to think Michael Phelps is just too good to be true, my friend sent me this link, which argues, quite convincingly, that The World's Fastest Swimmer might also be a bit of a tool. See Exhibit A here:

Oh well--I still wouldn't turn him away if he came knocking on my door!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

M Cafe: A good choice if you are a hungover vegan going to work on the westside

My friend Phil and I had a super excellent time dancing the night away at a party at Custom Hotel on Tuesday. Unfortunately, that meant that Wednesday was a bit of a headache-y nightmare. After getting about three hours of sleep, I spent the whole drive to work trying to keep my eyelids pried open while deciding where to go to get a good old fashioned hangover breakfast. I settled on this tofu scramble from M Cafe.

The scramble itself was actually kinda gross. The only flavor came from onions which is fine but it's bland next to other scrambles which have herbs/spices/sauces to pump them up. No matter though, I was hungover, remember? So of course I totally ate most of them. The sides were the better part of the meal: tempeh bacon, a tasty sweet potato hash with bell peppers, strawberries, and really awesome toast made with a sweet cranberry walnut bread.

Not the best meal, but when you've had one too many mojitos:
alcohol-soaking-up ability > taste

So danke, M Cafe!

M Cafe de Chaya
9343 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Monday, August 11, 2008

Portobello Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Before seeing The Pineapple Express on Saturday, I threw together this lunch, inspired by Veganomicon's Portabello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing. I had to adjust the portions in the dressing quite a bit--those PPK gals can be so heavy-handed with oil! The salad was great. Wish I could say the same for the movie, but despite James Franco being a very sexy stoner, The Pineapple Express was exquisitely bad. Can't win 'em all I s'pose.

Roasted Portabello and Artichoke Hearts over Wilted Arugula with Mustard Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette (modified from Veganomicon):
1/8 cup sweet hot smooth mustard
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp maple syrup

Stir ingredients. Done!

For the salad:

2 Portabello caps
3-4 artichoke hearts (I use canned)
2 handfuls arugula
3/4 cup teriyaki sauce (I used Trader Joe's Island Soyaki which has pineapple juice in it. It's so good I could drink it like a cocktail.)

Marinate the portabellos in the teriyaki sauce for at least 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn caps over and bake ten more minutes. Meanwhile, push the arugula around a pan on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes until wilted to your liking. Slice the cooled portobellos and assemble the salad with the artichoke hearts, arugula, and dressing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympimania Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

I love the Olympics! Especially the summer olympics. Especially diving, gymnastics, and swimming. Especially swimming. Especially Michael Phelps. For the past week I have been showing this picture to anyone who enters my office. Its Hottie McSixPack himself wearing the awesomely revealing Lzr Speedo. You should print it out and display it on your desk like I have. It really helps brighten up a room.

On Friday I headed over to Kirby Von Scrumptious' pad to watch the Opening Ceremonies and I whipped up some of Veganomicon's Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies to bring along. They were easy and delicious, although next time I might add more of the raspberry preserves to make the flavor come out a little more. These were pretty damn tasty--I might even put them on my Seduce-Michael-Phelps menu that I am mentally concocting in case I am ever presented with the opportunity to woo the fastest swimmer in the world with an amazing meal. Until that night comes, I'll just have to settle for devouring these on Kirby's couch. Le sigh.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Another sign that The Devil has infiltrated Culver City

Bad News: After 11 years in Culver City, Cooks Double Dutch is closing due to skyrocketing rent.

Good News: The business is packing up and moving across town to my hood--Silver Lake!

Bad News: Only the catering side of the business will be operating. The restaurant is no more.

Dammnit!!!! I really love Double Dutch and am very sad to see it get pushed out of Culver City. When I whined to the staff about not bringing the restaurant with the rest of the biz to the east side with them, they said I could just place an order with catering for me and ten of my friends. While that seems slightly crazy, I wouldn't be surprised if I break down someday and place a call for ten orders of their perfect sweet potato fries. But the liklihood of me sharing them with ten friends is slim, I could wipe those puppies off on the walk home.

For our last ever meal from the restaurant, I opted to try the Vegan Mac 'N' Cheeze. I'm not really a fan of fake cheese but I figured that since Double Dutch does other vegan classics so well (like their tofu burger and tempeh club which are both the best on the west side by far) their knock off of macaroni and cheese would be great too. Well, it wasn't the tastiest thing in the world. The cheese flavor was subtle. It really tasted more like noodles with oil than anything else and the few "cheese" chunks were crumbly and generally not too appetizing. With that said, I love the taste of just noodles and oil, I just don't love paying ten dollars for it (so I guess it's a good thing production buys my lunch!).

Even though my last meal at Double Dutch wasn't a total success, I will still miss the place dearly. So adieu, my love, and good luck East of Vermont!

Top photo taken by GreengirlLA on Flickr

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Crafty: How crewmembers can be overweight even after running around like maniacs 16 hours a day.

Here is Mark, the Craft Service Key on our show, prepping a tray of agave-sweetened iced Yerba Mate teas to pass around as we shot at a ranch in the valley where it was hot hot HOT. Ah Crafty. You are simultaneously my worst nightmare and my biggest joy in life.

For those of you unfamiliar with the art that is craft services, allow me to fill you in. Craft services refers to the food and drink that is constantly provided on set for the crew. It differs from catering, which, according to union guidelines, must provide a full sit-down meal every six hours. On most shows, there is usually a crafty truck, which is like headquarters, with big refrigerators and amenities like a popcorn machine, espresso machine, etc. Then there is the crafty set-up which is usually right on the set where your friendly Crafty team sets up a smorgasbord of tasty treats and drinks which you can spend all day perpetually stuffing into your face. In addition to this constant flow of foodstuffs, crafty provides a "snack" three hours after every catering meal.

Now this snack isn't like the celery and peanut butter you might give a kid when he comes home from school, the "snack" is basically a full-on meal just like lunch, the main difference being you eat it while you work, you don't get a break. One day they might have a buffet of thai dishes, another day there might be an array of gourmet sandwiches. Lucky for me, the crafty guys on our show happen to be awesome and they always make sure that every snack has a good vegan option. And I don't just mean that when they order sandwiches they give me a caprese and tell me to remove the cheese. There is always a substantial, delicious vegan option. This is really impressive considering they go out of their way to do that just for moi, the only vegan on the crew.

Today, for our second snack, crafty had these amazing mango summer rolls. Fresh mango, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, cilantro, and mint were all wrapped up in sesame-studded rice paper. They were huge--actually more like a sandwich wrap than a roll--and I totally had more than I should have. And therein lies the problem with crafty--it's a daily struggle to resist stuffing my face full of treats all day long. Click here for a very funny and accurate description of craft services from KCRW's "Martini Shot" series. So if you have a weight problem, you better not work in show biz because it's a dieter's worst fear realized.

In other news, if you are in the L.A. area I highly recommend you try to catch the show at Largo at the Coronet tonight. It's Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen doing one-acts written by Paul Thomas Anderson. Kirby Von Scrumptious and I went last night (tonight is the only other night) and it was delightful! Technically they are sold out but they save some tickets to sell at the door. It was also a starfest--I haven't been in a room with so many famous people since going to the Grammys. We sat right behind Jack Black amongst others. So if celeb sighting is something you're into, Largo is the place to be tonight.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blueberry Oatmeal Flummery

I am not the biggest blueberry fan, but lately they have been mighty scrumptious looking at the store and online: VeganYumYum's Blueberry Grunt and Fatfree Vegan's Blueberry-Oat Bars have been floating around my brain, as has this article about flummery in the New York Times. So I decided to succumb to the blueberry pain and this weekend I whipped together a Blueberry Oatmeal Flummery, flummery being a fancy British word for pie filling eaten sans crust. Leave it to the Brits...

I was going to make this the traditional way, but I had some oatmeal hanging out from two roommates ago. Figuring this would be a good way to finally get rid of it, I decided to throw it in the mix. The result was very good fresh out of the oven, especially with some unsweetened vanilla rice milk poured over top. Unlike most flummery, however, which is even better when it's chilled--this turned into a rubbery mess after a night in the fridge. So you should either eat it right away or eliminate the oatmeal part if you want to keep it around for a while. Bon appetit!

Blueberry Oatmeal Flummery
(modified from this recipe at Fat Free Vegan--I basically halved the oatmeal part and folded it into the blueberries instead of layering them)

1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsps cornstarch, mixed with enough water to make a paste

1 1/2 cups regular (not instant) oatmeal
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
4 oz. unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsps. agave nectar
3 tbsps. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil an 8x8 baking pan.

In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, agave nectar, and juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, stir in the vanilla and the cornstarch mixture. Continue to stir as the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

Put 1 1/2 cups of the oatmeal into a blender and grind it to a fine powder. Pour it into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the remaining oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir in the apple sauce, agave nectar, water, and vanilla, and mix well.

Fold oatmeal mix into the blueberries. Put new mixture into the oiled baking dish. Bake 5-8 minutes or until oatmeal has softened. Serve warm with rice milk or soy creamer.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"The Happy Vegan" Does Its Job

Truth be told, this week has not been the best. So when we went to Tender Greens this week, I splurged and ordered "The Happy Vegan" which just so happens to be the tastiest salad this side of the equator. Even thought we go to TG at least once a week, I rarely get The Happy Vegan because it's a bit of a calorie-fest, so I tend to opt for something lighter. But today I knew a big bowl of oil and carbs was exactly what I needed.

The salad is really five in one. There is a tangy tabbouleh, a vinegary mix of pasta pearls and corn, a garlic-cilantro hummus, a sweet blend of farro wheat and dried cranberries, and mixed greens with lemon vinaigrette, all served with a slice of crusty grilled French bread. I'd happily take just one of those salads as my lunch, but throw them all together and you get five times the happiness!!! Tender Greens obviously has a very astute and accurate menu-writing department. My Happy Vegan along with my cheer-up trip to Alvaro Street (more on that later) have helped make this week slightly less terrible, so big thanks to TG!!!