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Food Anthropologist and Personal Chef

Tag: vegan

Cafe Gratitude opening in Venice, CA on Monday

ImageImageImageImageI am creamyImageThai Sauce

All Vegan food lovers living on LA’s Westside, have eagerly been waiting for the opening of Venice’s Cafe Gratitude.  The local residents have been watching the building’s structure slowly get built over the last few months, but, until now, there has been no signs of an opening.  I am here to inform you from good authority of my friend Maria, a pastry chef in the Larchmont location, Monday is finally the day when the Venice location will open their doors.

Today I needed to be in the Larchmont area for a meeting, therefore I finally went and tried out CG for myself.  Walking into the impressive, green-friendly building, filled with good-looking, fresh-faced, thirty-something crowd, I immediately felt the energy resonating the company name.

For lunch, I tried the tacos and german chocolate cake.

The tacos and salad burst with local, fresh flavors, complimented with a white, delicious sauce dribbled over the tacos. Also, the salad leaves with pea shoots had a perfectly dressed, delicious tasting salad dressing, with a slight punch to it.

However, the German chocolate cake was dry and although the chocolate was delicious, I am not a fan of the coconut layer. Chocolate and coconut do not make a food marriage. As a fan, and also a cook of vegan fare, I will compare Real Food Daily and Veggie Grill to Cafe Gratitude. CG definitely comes out tops.

Real Food Daily is a dated preparation of Vegan fare, and offers too much in the form of old fashioned, heavy sauces and soy / wheat products to replace meat.  As soy and wheat are not healthy replacements for meat, they need to adapt to a more nut and veggie based cuisine. Also, I have it on good authority that they use white sugar in their desserts, whilst CG is using coconut sugar and agave, as sweeteners.

The newly popped up chain of popular Veggie Grills provides meat loving Americans with vegan alternatives which mirror their burgers and salads.  Although tasty, the menu is heavy on soy and wheat dishes to replace meat. If I gave up meat, wheat and soy would not be the alternatives. 

I look forward to becoming a regular at our new Vegan haunt once it opens next week and hope to see many of you there.  For now, I am going to leave you with a couple of delicious recipes straight from Cafe Gratitude’s website:

Salad Dressing:  “I am creamy” (Hemp Seed Ranch)

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbl. tamari
1 cup water
1/2 cup soaked sunflower seeds
1 cup hemp seeds
1 tsp. garlic
1 Tbl. chopped jalapeno
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp.black pepper
1 Tbl. dried dill
Blend the above ingredients well
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro 
Blend well
Thai Sauce
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno –  remove seeds
  • 1/4 cup ginger juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbl. tamari
  • 1 Tbl.. salt
  • 1 Tbl. agave
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch basil
  • 1.5 cups almond butter (or peanut butter if you don’t mind it not being raw)

Blend well in vita mix or high speed blender




Real Food Daily, Cashew Cheese Nachos recipe and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Petition

Inside Real Food Daily in West Hollywood

Once again I am back on my aim to cook delicious and nutritious vegan meals that delights commited meat eaters. A client and her family are slowly achieving this goal, so I get to cook many delicious vegan dishes that anyone will enjoy.

For help and inspiration, one of my sources is the popular restaurant Real Food Daily. I now eat at the original one in Santa Monica. The West Hollywood restaurant is better known.

Here is a copy of their menu:
RFD menu

My client has children to satisfy, they wanted the cashew cheese nachos. The cashew cheese is delicious and easy to make. A great crowd pleaser for an appetizer where you need to cater to someone who needs to eat dairy free.

RFD's Cashew Cheese Nachos

“RFD’s tempting take on this cheesy favorite has layers of all the gooey and yummy things that make Mexican food so satisfying. Using a frying pan rather than saucepan to fry tortillas provides more surface so that you can cook larger batches without crowding.”

1 cup canola oil
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into wedges
Sea salt
1/3 cup melted Cashew Cheddar Cheese (recipe follows)
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 cup pico de gallo
1/4 guacamole
2 Tbsp. tofu sour cream
1 green onion (white and green parts), thinly sliced,

Heat the oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the tortillas and fry, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, or until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chips to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt.

Arrange the warm chips over a large platter. Spoon the warm melted cheese over the chips, then spoon the over the cheese. Spoon the pica the gallo over the beans and top with the guacamole. Drizzle with on the sour cream, sprinkle with the green onion, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 cups

“This cheese is great for shredding or melting. Cashews work better than other nuts because they blend into such a creamy, rich consistency. If you are not satisfied with the cheese’s final consistency or texture, blame the agar flakes; all store-bought brands of agar flakes are cut differently which unfortunately affects the amount if measured by volume. If you rather not learn the hard way like as I did, go by the provided weight rather than cup weight.”

1 1/4 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
3 1/2 cups unsweetened soymilk
1 cup agar flakes (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup yellow miso
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

Using the pulse button, finely grind the cashews in a food processor; don’t allow the cashews to turn into a paste. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Pulse three more times to blend in the spices; set aside.

Combine in the soymilk, agar, and oil in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-high, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the agar is dissolved.

With the food processor running, gradually pour the soymilk mixture through the feed tube and into the cashew mixture. Blend for 2 minutes or until very smooth and creamy, and then blend in the miso and lemon juice.

The cheese will keep will keep 4 days covered and refrigerated.

Transer the cheese to a container, cover and refrigerate about 4 hours until very firm. Once its firm, grate or slice as desired.

Use the cheese immediately as melted cheese. Alternatively, make the cheese in advance, cover and refrigerate. When you’re ready to use the cheese, melt it in a saucepan over medium-high heat until smooth and creamy, stirring frequently. If needed, add more soymilk for a thinner consistency.

Stir in 2 Tbsp. minced jalapeno pepper chiles into 2 cups of melted cheese.

On a final note, if you haven’t done so already, please sign Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. His goal is to bring more nutritious food to school dinners in America. Here is the website to add yourself to: http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution/petition