Manresa Bread Project

Manresa Pumpernickel Rye Bread

Is it bad to eat nothing but bread for lunch? And for dinner too? This is what happens when you get a loaf of bread from Manresa, a Michelin two-star restaurant in Los Gatos, California.

Dubbed the Manresa Bread Project, they’ve been selling their restaurant bread at the Campbell farmer’s market. And they recently opened up a booth at the California Avenue Palo Alto farmer’s market. I’ve seen the long lines and thought “What’s that all about?” But loaded down with fruit and veggies for the week, I had no desire to wait in line to find out.

Then, one fine morning, I happened to be in front of the booth without such a line. Now’s my chance to see what’s all the fuss. All of their bread is vegan except for the brioche and obviously, anything with cheese.

I got the pumpernickel rye for 8 bucks. Taking the paper bag, I was surprised at the hefty weight (1 pound and 8 1/2 ounces). Looking into the bag, it’s not a large loaf by any means, only 4 x 4 x 4 inches. Hmmm, it seems to be quite heavy for its size, I hope I didn’t just spend 8 dollars on a brick.

I heaved the loaf home and have a slice. Packed full of seeds, as you can see, but it’s not dense tasting at all. In fact, it’s flavorful and delicious. I may be biased though as rye is my favorite type of bread. I thought I would make sandwiches but it’s good just by itself all on its own. Hence, lunch and dinner.

P.S. I had a slice as a snack too.

Teriyaki Roasted Tofu

Teriyaki Roasted Tofu

Roasting is still my favorite way to prepare tofu. It’s super easy and relatively quick as there’s no need to press the tofu before using it. I’ve already combined it with buffalo sauce, pesto sauce and black bean sauce. Today, it’s teriyaki.

Before doing anything else, get the rice going in the rice cooker (if serving with rice and if you have a rice cooker otherwise ignore this part). While the rice is cooking, prep the tofu for the oven.

Once the tofu is roasting, make the sauce and any additional sides like a vegetable. In theory, everything should be done right around the same time.

Teriyaki Roasted Tofu
Serves 2

1 14-ounce block of extra-firm tofu
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 green onion, chopped for garnish
Sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, combine the oil, salt and paprika. Cut the tofu into cubes and gently toss to coat with the mixture. Place each tofu cube in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast for 15 minutes on one side, flip over to the other side and roast for another 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

While the tofu is roasting, make the teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Sauce
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water

In a sauce pan or wok, add all of the ingredients except the cornstarch mixture. On medium warm heat, stir until the brown sugar is completely dissolved. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk to combine. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens, about 4 minutes or so. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When ready to serve, transfer most of the sauce to a bowl. Then add the tofu to the pan and spoon as much sauce as desired onto the tofu and toss until thoroughly coated. Garnish with the green onions and sesame seeds.

Voodoo Van

Voodoo Van Vegan Seitan Sandwich

While there’s been an increase in the number of food trucks near me, I haven’t seen all that many with good vegan options. Some have nothing at all, some are so close with a vegetarian option but it might as well be nothing.

Then there’s Voodoo Van with their Mister Sister vegan seitan sandwich – spicy sweet jerk marinated seitan topped with red onions. It’s tangy, meaty and filling, I washed it all down with a cucumber soda.

The only problem is they’re not closer to me on a regular basis, I never even heard of Voodoo Van until I spotted their food truck at this year’s Sunset Magazine Celebration. The weekend festival is like an open house at Sunset Magazine’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

You can tour their test kitchen, check out various presentations, exhibits and products. There was an outdoor/backyard oven manufacturer handing out pizza samples fresh out of their oven. Luckily, I got there just in time for a slice that had just olive oil and rosemary. So good, I could have eaten the whole thing for lunch but I didn’t want to gobble up all their samples.

Plus I would have missed out one mighty tasty seitan sandwich.

Relax, Isa Does It

Muffin Pan Mini Omelets

I’ll been eating well lately. Really well. Yup, I’ve been living the good life trying out recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s latest cookbook, Isa Does It. Everything I’ve made so far has been either super easy or easy enough and delectable.

Starting with the first meal of the day, Muffin Pan Mini Omelets (page 247), served with giant strawberries and homestyle potatoes. Aren’t those the cutest little tofu omelets?

It’s certainly a nice change from always having tofu scrambles. And they’re fun to make too, you can watch them rise a bit while they’re baking, then deflate towards the end of the cooking time.

Lentil-Quinoa Stew

I’m still learning to cook lentils and quinoa but I’ve come a long ways from having been at best indifferent to lentils for years and unsure how to pronounce quinoa (say “KEEN-wah”). Now look at me, I’m making Lentil-Quinoa Stew with Lots of Kale (page 148).

Pleasantly surprised at how much flavor is packed into this stew and with such simple ingredients, I’ve since made it several times even without kale and serving it with other veggies instead.

Smoky Incan Stew

More quinoa, this time with beans in Smoky Incan Stew (page 165). Since the quinoa soaked up quite a bit of the broth, I added the leftover tomato juice as mentioned in the notes. I love these helpful little tips and tidbits included in some of the recipes.

To add my own note: I didn’t have red quinoa called for in the recipe but I did have red lentils and swap around the colors, it’s still a bright and flavorful stew.

Cheddary Broccoli Soup

Cheddary Broccoli Soup (page 53), yes, another soup. This was back when I was having jaw pain so there was a lot of soups and stews going on. Having never tried broccoli cheddar soup before, I didn’t expect it to be so rich and without any sort of processed vegan cheese. Not that I have anything against store-bought cheese but cheddar cheesy taste from real ingredients, that’s a winner.

Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta

Finally off of soups, my jaw has healed and I’m back to my munching and crunching ways. Since fresh basil started showing up at the farmer’s market, what’s better than pesto? Bestest Oil-Free Pesto (page 128) for Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta with Breaded Tofu (page 126).

No oil necessary in this pesto, it’s replaced with vegetable broth. But alas, I only had Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, not wanting my pesto to taste chicken-y, I just used plain water and it’s totally fine. I usually prefer to bake my tofu but the skillet pan method wasn’t too messy and didn’t take too long. Besides, the nicely browned breading was well worth the effort.

There’s so many more recipes to try now that I can chew food again. From the few I’ve made so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Isa Does It becomes the go-to vegan cookbook for generations to come.

Still on the fence? Download the free e-book from Amazon, Breville presents Make It Vegan: Recipes from the Yiddish-speaking, Nebraska-living, post-punk vegan, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Most of the 10 recipes in it are from Isa Does It and includes the breaded tofu pictured above. You don’t even need a actual Kindle, just download the Kindle app for your mobile device or computer. The directions are right there on the product page.

Related Posts
Heavenly Cheesecake From Vegan Pie in the Sky
Chickpea Cutlets From Veganomicon
2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma From Appetite for Reduction

This post contains Amazon links, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on any of the links and make a purchase of anything.

Spring Garlic Has Sprung

Spring Garlic

For as long as I’ve been a herbivore (and it’s been a long time), I’m still discovering vegetables that are new to me. The variety and variations in the plant kingdom is simply astounding. Oh sure, I have my favorites that I eat on a regular basis, but I also like to try out new vegetables whenever I stumble across them at the farmer’s market.

My newest such “discovery” is spring garlic also known as green garlic, which is just younger garlic with the stalk still attached. It looks a bit like an overgrown scallion. Although the ones pictured above seem to be slightly older, I had other spring garlic with more slender bulbs. You can eat the whole thing, it has a milder, sweeter garlic taste.

Stir-fried Kale with Spring Garlic

To get the full flavor of the spring garlic, I just go with a simple and quick stir-fry of kale with the spring garlic so that the freshness of the ingredients shines through. Other green vegetables would work too. You can also use it in recipes that call for regular garlic. It’s fun to experiment in different dishes but they have a short season. Get them while you can.

Surviving on Soft Foods

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

I feel like such a fool. In my defense, I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong. Little did I know I was heading down the road to overexerting my jaw. It had all the makings of a perfect storm – just back from a teeth cleaning with an unfamiliar substitute dental hygienist, a tendency to chew on one side of my mouth, and munching away on chewy and hard things like tortilla wraps and nuts.

To give my jaw a break and a chance to heal, I’ve been living a soft foods diet. You would not believe how long it took me to come to this realization (hence the feeling like a fool part).

I started with the usual suspects: mashed potatoes, hummus, yogurt and any number of smoothies from Blueberry Banana to Oatmeal-Carrot Cookie.


It’s also been soups galore around here, easy to make and comforting to eat bowls of jook (Chinese rice porridge). I just make sure to cut into teeny tiny pieces whatever extras going into the jook. And the immersion blender has been my best friend for smooth blended soups like Beet Soup and Chipotle Cauliflower Corn Chowder.

Thai Lime Rice and Punjap Eggplant

It’s times like this when it’s handy to have things like Tasty Bite Punjap Eggplant sitting around the pantry. Roasted eggplant in a tomato and onion sauce that’s so soft it’s practically a sauce, served with quick cook steel cut oatmeal instead of rice. And to get some greens in, saag spinach.

Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Gyoza

Instead of pan frying Trader Joe’s frozen Thai Vegetable Gyoza, I dropped them into boiling water for what amounts to very large wontons. Cook on medium to low heat for about 8 minutes or so, and eaten with a dipping sauce of ketchup mixed with a little soy sauce and sriracha.

Vegan Apricot Almond Scone

Luckily, I can still enjoy Sweet Aha! scones and cupcakes since they’re so fluffy and moist. Although I had to be extra careful eating the almond and apricot parts of the above scone.

My jaw is finally getting a little better, albeit at glacial speed. The hard part is not prematurely jumping back into eating everything and re-injuring myself. It’s probably going to be awhile yet before it’s totally back to normal. Any other ideas on what to eat?

Vegan “Salisbury Steak” Asian Style

Vegan "Salisbury Steak" Asian Style

A recipe transformation hit the kitchen today and made a bit of a mess. Instead of neatly dumping the ingredients for an Asian Lentil Loaf into a pan and be done with it, patties were formed to become Asian Salisbury Steak with ramen noodles no less.

I gotta say despite the extra time and cleanup, the transformation was for the better. A crisp patty instead of a limp slice of lentil loaf is a plus any day in my book. Of course since it’s baked, it’s only crisp when it’s first out of the oven. And who knew ramen is so good with gravy on it?

Vegan “Salisbury Steak” Asian Style
Makes about 10 patties

4 Chinese dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft, then chopped
1 medium leek, white and some of the green part, chopped
2 cups cooked and seasoned lentils
2 handfuls panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste
A sprig of cilantro, chopped (optional garnish)

1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the lentils. Add in the rest of the ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Scoop out a 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty on a oiled baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, gently flip over and bake another 15 minutes.

While the patties are baking, make the gravy. Heat the broth with the soy sauce and sugar. Combine the cornstarch with a little bit of cold water and mix until smooth. When the broth comes to a boil, slowly add the cornstarch mixture and stir to desired thickness.

Serve the patties with ramen noodles and top with the gravy and cilantro if using.

One Handsome Owl

Vegan Handsome Owl Sandwich

Ah, the joys of a road trip on spring break – the open road, the sun on your face, the wind rushing by, the challenge of finding something vegan to eat. For me, it’s that long stretch between San Jose and the Central Coast where eating options are bleak.

Any snacks that I actually remember to bring with me have long been eaten. Sure there’s always fast food chains or unknown restaurants where vegan inquiries are met with blank stares and the sound of crickets.

Then an Ike’s Place opened in Salinas of all places. Although Google maps had me driving the long way around to get there. Maybe it thought I should do a little sightseeing before arriving at Ike’s. It’s actually located not that far off of the 101 freeway.

Typical Ike’s, there’s something for everyone with separate sections of meat, vegetarian and vegan sandwiches made by super friendly folks. And the wait wasn’t too bad either.

I previously tried the Meatless Mike and the Vegan Backstabber at their Redwood Shores location. This time I went with a Vegan Handsome Owl – teriyaki, vegan breaded chicken, vegan cheese and wasabi mayo on dutch-crunch bread.

Delicious, a bit messy to eat, but so nice to be able to enjoy a good vegan meal at a pit stop.

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