Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Vegan Pizza Day: A SLC Guide to Vegan Pizza

Cornmeal Crust Pizza with Crumbled Vegan Ground Sausage, Vegan Pepperoni Slices and Pineapple Chucks All Smothered in Mozzarella Teese and Chicago based Teese teamed together to create the first annual vegan pizza day, which is today Saturday 1/29/2011. (It's also my brother Mike's birthday! Happy Birthday!)
     I'll be honest. I was never a big fan of vegan pizza. For years, I would order cheeseless pizza and just load up with toppings, but that was never really satisfying. Actually, I remember a time when a place missed up our order with pepperoni or parmesan cheese but gave it to us anyway. We ended up giving it to a homeless man, and his response was, "Where is the cheese?!". This from a man without a home. Needless to say vegan pizza has come a long way.
Enter The Daiya!

     Follow Your Heart's Vegan Gourmet was the first decent vegan cheese but it didn't really melt. It was still better than a cheeseless pizza but I doubt it would fool any no vegans. Everything all changed when Daiya came along, a vegan cheese that melts AND stretches. Honestly, I never thought veganism would come that far. Several nonvegan friends have said it taste like the real thing. Cheese was the veganism's achilles heel, but not anymore!
A Salt Lake Guide to Vegan Friendly Pizzerias

     Living in Salt Lake, we have two places where you can get pizza with vegan cheese, The Pie's Delivery/Take Out Location and Este. Daiya said all Nick and Willy's location now have their cheese, but I haven't been to able to confirm. It's not like we're Philadelphia with an all-vegan pizzeria, Blackbird (Their Cubano and Philly cheesesteaks rock, too!),  but we're doing just fine. Because I live just a few blocks from The Pie, I've never been to Este. However, their menu clearly indicates what can be made Vegan with a "V" next to it. They even run ads in S.L.U.G. that say, "Eat vegan". I wasn't able to locate one, but check out an issue of S.L.U.G. and it might be there. The ads include coupons as well. UPDATE: ReDirect Guide's ISaveGreen is offering a coupon for free garlic knots or zeppoles, both are vegan or can be made vegan according to their menu, with a purchase of $15 or more. Get the coupon HERE.

The Pie is more of a secret. Their website doesn't mention their vegan menu., but last time I was in they had a copy on the order window. They have vegan specialty pizzas, such as Vegan Bar-B-Que 'Beef' Pie and Vegan Xtreme Veggie Pie as well as Zappis (like a calazone) and Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings. I'll try to take pictures of the vegan menu to post online. The sad part is that despite having five locations, vegan cheese is only available at the takeout/delivery location in Salt Lake.

Less secret is Sage's Cafe. Every Tuesday, they host all you can eat vegan pizza and salad night. They don't deal with Teese or Daiya but make their own nutritional cheese sauce, which is like going back in vegan time. However, they make up for it with innovative pizzas such as cheeseburger, breakfast, taco and even dessert pizzas. You never know what the chefs are going to cook up so the surprise is part of the experience. I plan on doing a complete post on their pizza night so keep checking back.  
 UPDATE: The review of their pizza night can be found HERE.

Cakewalk Baking Company not only makes delectable desserts, but occasionally they make pizza pockets and pizza rolls. The pizza pockets are way better than the rolls. Just saying. I'm pretty certain they use Teese. Follow them on facebook to find out what they have as well as events coming up.

I haven't been to the Pie Hole yet but based on the comments. I contacted them and here is their response. "We do Vegan pie by the slice on Sundays and Tuesdays. But any day we can make a whole vegan pie for you! Options for sauces are: Vegan red w/ nutritional yeast cheese, BBQ sauce, Thai Peanut Sauce, Hummus, olive oil. And top that with your choice of veggies!" Follow them on facebook for the daily slice updates.   

Tofurky Makes A Pizza: A Guide to Frozen Vegan Pizza
      When I heard Tofuky made a vegan pizza I was stoked. Everything they make is delicious, they are one company who understands that the needs of vegans don't have always have to be fat free. Their breakfast links and sausages are simply delicious. But the dropped the ball on the vegan pizza. First off, the crust is whole wheat, which is forgivable. Not to mention that pictures don't lie, the picture on the box shows a cheese lined pizza loaded with vegan pepperoni. Inside the box is a different story, the pizza is loaded with pepperoni but is lacking in Daiya cheese. Just look at how much red (sauce) is in the picture. I'm not sure if it's a cost saving measure or what, but they need to increase the amount of cheese on their pizzas. Just a note that this wasn't a fluke but similiar results happened with other pizzas and their italian sausage one. In my opinion, the reigning champ of frozen vegan pizza is Tofutti. It reminds me of Ellio's pizza that I had as a kid. Unfortunately, it's hard to find in stores. does sell it though. In fairness, Amy's does make a few vegan pizzas that are pretty decent. I recommend the Rice Crust Spinach Pizza.
Homemade Pizza DIY Style:
     As you can see, I wasn't up for the frozen pizza and I just had pizza from the Pie last weekend so I was looking to switch it up a bit. I started with a frozen organic corn meal crust from Vicolo's. It's loaded with almost as much fat as you should eat in a day so just try not to eat the whole thing. Then I layered an organic pizza sauce from Eden foods. Then, I shredded almost half a tube of Teese on top. I'll admit that I'm a Daiya addicted but I heard Teese reformulated their cheese so I gave it a whirl. I was impressed! It melted and stretched just like Daiya. As a bonus, Teese uses organic soybeans unlike the conventional Diaya. For Salt Lake readers, the only local source of Teese is Cakewalk. (They also carry a bunch of other brands such as Daiya and Cheezly.) Then, I pan fried some Gimme Lean Sausage (mixed with some rice and crushed fennel seeds) and Lightlife's Vegan Pepperoni slices. For the final touch, I added canned organic pineapple. Happy Vegan Pizza Day. Any Leftovers?
Pie Pizzeria (SLC) on Urbanspoon
Este Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lunch for Chumps.

Curried Tempeh-Mango Salad Sammiches with Fresh Mango Slices
     Let's face it lunch is one of the worst meals of the day. Generally, I'm away from my kitchen which means that I have limited options. You can only eat some many Tofurky and PB&Js  sandwiches before you go crazy. So I turned to the trusty Vegan with a Vengeance. The recipe came together really easy. The dressing part is made with Vegannaise so I knew it would be good. I also choose to marinate the tempeh overnight, which helped to infuse the flavors. The first time I had it, I wasn't impressed. The flavors seemed subdued out of the fridge. So the second time, I decided to heat it up. Now that's the result I was looking for. The flavors seemed to really pop. Oh, and as the picture reveals, I used the sprouted barley whole wheat bread from Alvarado Street Bakery. The recipe calls for pitas, which I would follow next time since stuff was falling out of the sides. Not sure this satisfied my disaffection with lunch since I need to heat it up. Regardless, it's still another alternative to the standard sandwich.
Garden Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing and Homemade Basil Garlic Polenta Croutons
     I've already professed my love for Veggie Works. Not only was the entree (as long as I didn't deviate from the famed Singing Cowboy) always great. The restaurant also had an unlimited salad bar. Without fail, we would always clean out the vegan ranch dressing. I'm sure they had other dressings, I just never noticed. Anyways, thanks to a friend I have the Veggie Works Vegan Cookbook. I've been making the dressing ever since. So when I saw another ranch dressing recipe in The 30-Minute Vegan, I had to see how it would hold up. Well, the base is vegannaise. That should tell you how great the dressing is. It's amazing and might cause some dust to gather on Veggie Works cookbook, at least the ranch section. It also reminds me of the ranch from Vertical Diner. The recipe even gives suggestions if you want to make this more as a dip than a dressing. Something that would work perfect with breaded and fried vegan chicken tenders ala Vertical Diner's Tender Tigers.
Garlic Basil Polenta Croutons

     I've been eating a lot of salads lately, but it's been missing something. Croutons! I'm pretty addicted to the Whole Foods Seasoned Croutons. If you catch me at the right moment, you would see me snacking on them. I guess they're too good. So I decided to fix what wasn't broken. I've always wanted to make croutons but never got around to it. This recipe is from Dreeana Burton's Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. To be honest, I've never even eaten polenta, but the results were disappointing. The croutons were soft and squishy, not exactly what I was looking for. To be fair, she suggests a pizza stone and mentions that larger squares require longer cooking so maybe I muffed up. I also ignored her advice to peel the polenta. I'm not a fan of waste. Oh and I also used a flavored polenta instead of plain hoping to match up to the other croutons. Just make sure to use an organic variety to avoid genetically modified corn.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winning Hearts and Stomachs.

Spicy Cornmeal Crusted Tempeh with Tamarind Sweet Potatoes and Gingered Green Kale
     I've been told the way to win over a woman's heart is through her stomach. So when someone special came over I decided to don my apron and chef's hat and see what I could come up with. I love trying to combine different recipes together to come up with a restaurant style meal (see my A Feast Fit for a Joe). The theme for this meal was ginger, which was found in every dish.  
    Gingered Green Kale
     One of my New Year's resolution is to break my addiction to making broccoli. It's just so easy to through some in the steamer basket and serve alongside the dish. I've been looking for new ways to cook greens that I normally overlook in the produce department. Not to mention that Kale is one of the most nutrionally dense greens out there. Well, it's tied for first, anyway. This recipe comes from The 30-Minute Vegan: Over 175 Quick, Delicious, and Healthy Recipes for Everyday Cooking. One of the best parts about this and their other cook book (Taste of the East), is that they include variations with each recipe, which was good because Whole Foods was out of Collard Greens that the recipe called for. The variations for this recipe call for kale or swiss chard, which turned out well since the kale was on sale. So now I just need to find a recipe for mustard greens and I'll be done with one resolution. The recipe came together really easy (and in much less time than the 30 minutes stated) and had a great taste that didn't overpower the kale. I might double to ginger and leave the spines on for a more crunchy texture.
 Tamarind Sweet Potatoes
     My second resolution is to break my addiction to brown rice. Like broccoli, making brown rice is simple soak and press start on the rice cooker. I was hoping to make this be the starch of meal. It was also the wild card. I've been meaning to do more with sweet potatoes. The results were incredible. The tamarind provides an excellent tangy flavor that is hard to describe; just dip in finger into the paste and you'll understand. My local Indian grocery store, which also carries fresh curry leaves!, had about 5 different types. I used concentrate, yet the recipe calls for paste. Not sure what, if anything, the difference is. The sauce also calls for Medjool dates that I've been snacking on lately. A new love for sure. The recipe from The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of the East: 150 Asian-Inspired Recipes was spot on. I wouldn't change much but try the variations listed (broccoli, cauliflower or carrots). Oh and I probably wouldn't overcook the sweet potatoes. 
Spicy Cornmeal Crusted Tempeh
     My friend, Kevin over at, bought me the Candle cookbook. I've been to both Candle locations and they're both impressive. Living out West, I don't have the opportunity to eat there often so the cookbook is a good way to get my fill. Though my local Whole Foods does carry their 3 of their desserts, but I have yet to try them. Since I was trying to impress, I didn't want to try something new so I turned to this tried and true recipe. Normally, I lower the soy sauce and bake them after breading instead of frying, but I followed the recipe exactly. The frying is great because it doesn't dry out the tempeh. Well, I did alter slightly and dipped the tempeh triangles in some soymilk before breading. I've also used Egg Replacer and that works well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mele Kalikimaka

Coconut Pancakes with Pineapple Sauce

     In the winter months, a homemade breakfast is a rarity. I'm always checking the forecast, anxiously waiting the next storm and heading to the hill. I used the lull in storms to stay home and make a breakfast that didn't come out of a box. When it comes to breakfast, I generally reach for one of my all time favorite cookbooks, Isa's Vegan Brunch. The recipes are so easy, don't require lots of ingredients and nearly everything I've made has come out amazing. But this comes from her first cookbook Vegan with Vengeance. It's a recipe I've been meaning to try for a while.
     I read cookbooks like people read magazines. I always have pages marked and web browser tabs open.  In the end, I have more recipes to try than days in the week, but I tend to forget what I want to make. I tried a new tactic to combat my forgetfulness: writing the recipes on a dry erase board that hangs on my fridge.

     I wasn't successful. It took a month or two for me to get around to it but I'm glad I did because they were delicious. The batter was simple and just required folding in some shredded coconut to a traditional pancake recipe.
     The star of this recipe was the pineapple sauce. Basically, a can of pineapple in juice with some tapioca starch added and then heated up. Viola! Instant yummyness. I want to try making this sauce with other fruits (cherries! peaches!). But don't tell maple syrup.