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Food Anthropologist and Personal Chef

Tag: Tal Ronnen

A delicious 3 day vegan menu plan of client favorites

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Tomato Bisque

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pepper crusted portabello mushrooms with bearnaise sauce and mash

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Cajun portabello sandwich with avocado & remoulade

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Tomato, ‘mozarella’ & pesto pannini

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Black pepper shortcake with blackberry basil sauce and cinnamon cream

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Gardein chick’n scallopini with shitake sake sauce, braised pea shoots & udon noodle cakes

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California gardein chick’n salad wrap

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Lemon pistachio cookies with dried cranberries

 

Working as a personal chef for high profile clients in Los Angeles, I have gradually developed a preference for what I cook and prepare for my clients.  However, as it is food being put in their stomachs and not mine, I don’t have a say in how they eat. My favorite food to create is vegan cuisine.  I have been fortunate to have clients who request vegan meals.  Then I am in my element.  The downside of creating vegan fare, it is time consuming, therefore not always possible to prepare.  My two favorite cookbooks are: Tal Ronnen’s The Conscious Cook and Myra Kornfeld’s The Voluptuous Vegan.  

 Many friends and clients ask me what I prefer to cook. The answer is always vegan fare.  “Why?” they ask, especially as I am not a vegan.  It is simple, I love handling and creating  fruit, vegetables, oils, nuts, herbs, spices. These are the tastiest and most flavorful items I can put together.  I love combining fruits with nuts and herbs, or vegetables with fruit, nuts and herbs.  Also, in this time of cutting out sugar, wheat and dairy from people’s diets, there is so many flavors which burst together in these items. 

The next question asked: “why are you not a vegan?”  Simple, I have a hard time with soy and wheat products.  I can eat them occasionally but not all the time.  Without soy and wheat, I would find it hard to sustain a vegan diet. Also,  I prefer to eat only green veggies because white and yellow veggies are too carb heavy.  Therefore these food limitations decrease my daily dietary needs to only a few items. I need some meat and fish to keep up my energy.  If I could afford my own vegan personal chef, I would attempt a vegan diet, however, as I need to service others and have limited prep time for my own culinary desires, I will remain with chicken and fish to fill my protein needs.

I have put together a 3 day vegan summer menu for a client today; on the list are a sample of the meals my clients enjoy:

Summer Vegan Menu Ideas

 Breakfast ideas:

Tofu scrambled with a choice of spinach, mushrooms and onions. Served with a ‘hollandaise’ sauce. On a Ezekiel wrap or toast.

or

Oatmeal with Almond milk served with chopped maple pecans, dried cranberries and berries

or

Blueberry pancakes with berries or blueberry muffins or buckwheat granola

 

**( add vegan bacon and sausage, although I don’t like most available brands and prefer to leave out)

 

Fruit and veggie smoothies.

 

Lunch ideas:

 Always have lettuce and chopped veggies prepared in the fridge, with homemade vegan dressings.   Dressings include vinaigrette and creamy green ranch.  I currently love making kale salads

 Tomato Bisque (a client favorite)

 or

Cajun Portabello Sandwich with Avocado & Remoulade

 or

Tomato, ‘Mozarella’ & Pesto Panini (a client favorite)

 

Dinner ideas:

 

Old Bay Tofu Crabcakes w Pan-roasted Summer Veggies, Horseradish Cream, with Apple and Beets topping. (a client favorite)

 or

Peppercorn encrusted Portobello fillets with Tomato Béarnaise and Mash Potatoes (a client favorite)

 or

Gardein Chicken Scallopini with Shitake Sake sauce, Braised Pea Shoots and Crispy Udon Noodle Cakes (a client favorite)

 

Desert ideas:

 

Lemon pistachio cookies with dried cranberries

 or

Shortcakes with blackberry basil sauce & cinnamon cream

 

Please note, the lunch and dinner ideas listed above are all recipes from Tal Ronnen’s cookbook.  Although I love these recipes, they are not low in calories, so are not for daily consumption.  For sauces, Ronnen uses raw cashews and Earth Balance, both products are high in calories. 

For a day to day lifestyle,  a carb breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, a kale salad lunch with nuts for protein and a veggie, protein and brown rice dinner sounds ideal to me.  I would love people to comment and add some of their favorite books and recipes.  Especially low calorie and gluten free.

 

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Hello, I’m Hillary and I’m a Nutritarian

Eat Right America

The ability to cook healthy, nutritious meals for other people on a daily basis gives me great pleasure. The additional bonus is that I get paid to create my meals. Initially I felt exhausted when I returned home from a cook date. As I got used to the job and developed more stamina, the exertion required has gotten easier. However, I am not as in shape or eating as well as I was before this occupation began. This month has been my time to ease back into a more healthy way of eating and gaining strength in the gym. Now that I have more upper body strength, it is time to focus on my eating habits. Many hours a week are productively spent wondering around Whole Foods market, I harass the fruit and veg department on a daily basis when they don’t have my key ingredient for a recipe I have planned for that day. 9 out of 10 times they will find the errant produce in their food kitchens. I feel a sense of power being able to command that attention in the store. I have happily settled into being a part of the Venice Whole Foods community.

I have completely gone off track, but felt I needed to give you a sense of my life in Whole Foods. Anyway, meandering around yesterday, on a non working visit, I noticed the Eat Right America pamphlets scattered throughout the store. Curious to know more, I picked up and read about Dr. Fuhrman’s nutrional plan to change your eating habit and addictions within 28 days. I rushed home and signed up online for the 60 day plan. Filling in my information I found out that I needed to throw out all the white foods in my home. No more flour, milk, sugar, pancake mix etc. According to his plan I need to eat an excess of green foods both raw and cooked into soups. Included in this food group are plenty of fruit, some nuts and seeds, no added salt and no foods that weren’t around 100 years ago. I must say I am excited at this prospect and look forward to my daily motivational and informational emails. I will update my progress.

Tal Ronnen

In recognition of my ability to change my eating habits, I am going to add a recipe from vegan chef Tal Ronnen’s book – “The Conscious Cook”. Unfortunately most of his recipes aren’t Eat Right America friendly because he uses lashings of earth balance and some recipes have soy products. Mine and a client favorite is his Tomato Bisque recipe. Note, to make the cashew cream, I put raw cashews in a pot of water, bring to a boil, turn it off and leave for 1 hour. Then I rinse the cashews and add them with some fresh water to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy in texture. Not runny though.

tomato bisque

Sea salt
4 tablespoons Earth Balance
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 (28oz) can whole fire roasted tomatoes, juice included
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
5 cups faux chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups regular Cashew Cream
Parsley for garnish

1. Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the Earth Balance adn stir until melted, being careful not to let it burn. This will create a nonstick effect. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes.

2. Add the stock, tomatoes with juice, parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the Cashew Cream. Continue to simmer (do not boil) for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender, cover the lid with a towel (the hot liquid tends to erupt), and blend on high for several minutes, until very smooth. Pour the soup through a fine-mesh sieve. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley.

The Conscious Cook's Tomato Bisque

Oxo cubes and Betty Friedan


In yesterday’s Guardian newspaper, there were photos out of Duncan McCorquodale’s new book “A Visual History of Cookery”. I liked the Oxo advertisement from the early 1900s. In today’s world, an ad would not present a mother with her children leaning over a pot of stew without a father present, it wouldn’t be deemed politically incorrect. Infact a family unit doesn’t necessarily represent a husband and wife today. In the 1950s American women were expected to be home cooking in the kitchen and taking care of their husband and children’s needs. Married women who didn’t fit the mold were locked away in insane asylums because it was believed that they were mad if they felt unfulfilled as a housewife. This American ideology gradually changed with the publication of Betty Friedan’s book “The Feminine Mystique” in 1963.

Women in the media also had to fight for their positions in the 1970s. Barbara Walters was the first woman tv news anchor allowed to read the news solo. She had been bullied by her male co-anchors and was expected to report the “fluffy” news. Barbara’s stamina rose above the male chauvinism and she led the way for serious female reporters to take their place in prime time television. The “Mary Tyler Moore” show represented an independent woman making choices to leave a fiance a start a new life elsewhere. We have come a long way in fifty years. But there is still further to go.
Better than Bouillon is today’s equivalent of Oxo. I don’t see any ads representing the happy family that uses it. Just a photo of veggies on the pot. The food movement today is concerned about the quality of food. I use this product because it means that I can leave a pot of it in a client’s fridge and if I forget to buy my favorite  brand of Pacific broth, there is the bouillon to fall back on. I do use the the bouillon in Tal Ronnen’s vegan soups. It adds a different salty flavor to the vegetables than a ready made container of broth. In his book “The Conscious Vegan”, which is recommended by Oprah, I especially like his Tomato Bisque soup. He has taught me a new trick. To get a creamy consistency in sauces or soups use raw cashews.

Today I am off to cook in the Pacific Palisades for a family with two grownup sons. They love my food. I mix childhood favorites with healthy fare. Today I will make Chili con carne with coleslaw, Roast yoghurt chicken with mashed butternut squash, sole picatta with spinach, grilled steak and salad. Sounds good to me for a week’s meals!!

Adios for now