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Appetizer Plate: Mixed Warmed Almonds & Olives, Patas Bravas, Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Aioli, & Grilled Eggplant in Tomato Vinaigrette Warm Almonds & Mixed Olives Grilled Eggplant in Tomato Vinaigrette Crispy Potatoes Quinoa Paella
Natilla Spanish Custard with Citru, Vanilla, Cinnamon & Strawberries

Spanish Vegan Cooking Class

Well, hey there! I’ve been meaning to recap this Spanish themed vegan cooking class for quite sometime, but I’ve just been swamped! A few weekends ago, my Mom & I attended another awesome vegan cooking class with Chef Jenn at Sea Rocket Bistro. People always question, “a VEGAN cooking class at a SEAFOOD restaurant?” The answer is “yes.” Kinda kooky at first thought, I know, but this is vegan friendly joint - in addition to these seasonal vegan cooking classes, they hosted the first ever LOVELIKEBEER event, launched the first dish in LLB’s permanent menu series, recently hosted an all vegan brunch, & always have a handful of vegan items on the menu. Needless to say, it’s a great place to take a mixed crowd, as there is something for everyone, & I appreciate that! 

Anyway, back to the class. This Spanish inspired all vegan menu was built around small plates served “tapas” style, a main course of Quinoa Paella, & a delicious Spanish style coconut custard! Yum. Here’s a bit more detail!

The Menu: 

  • Warm Almonds with Mixed Olives: "Assorted olives mixed with garlic, herbs, citrus, red pepper flakes, & olive oil, served with warm toasted almonds." These were wonderful! I could’ve eaten these all day! Perfect to snack on with a lovely cocktail, or glass of spanish rose. 
  • Grilled Eggplant in Tomato Vinaigrette: "Thick rounds of Japanese eggplant slightly grilled & topped with a "sauce" of  raw roma tomatoes, Spanish olive oil, sherry vinegar, green onions, capers, garlic, & basil.” This is such light & refreshing dish. This would be a perfect appetizer to serve at a summer soiree when eggplant is in its peak season.I love eggplant, but my mom has never been an eggplant fan, but this dish made her a believer!
  • Patatas Bravas"New potatoes roasted with fresh chives & parsley & topped with a Spanish style "brava" sauce of pureed tomatoes, onion, carrot, garlic, white wine, sherry vinegar, olive oil, Tabasco, agave, sweet pimenton, cumin, & fresh thyme.” The brava sauce was delicious - slightly sweet with a bit of heat! I wanted to put this sauce on everything from toasted bread, to roasted veggies. 
  • Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Aioli"Cauliflower florets simply roasted with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper, topped with a vegan take on aioli - a blend of pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, evoo, salt & pepper.” I think cauliflower gets a bum rap! To any of you who think it tastes like dirty gym socks, I dare you to roast it until it’s tender & caramelized! Simply delicious & even better with a creamy aioli!
  • Vegetable Quinoa Paella:Quinoa toasted & simmered in white wine, vegetable stock, & saffron, served with piquillo peppers, roma tomatoes, fresh peas, garbanzo beans, & thinly sliced fennel.” I loved this healthful twist on “traditional” paella, which utilizes protein rich quinoa in place of rice. My favorite NYE tradition is whipping up a pot of paella to serve with champagne, & will definitely be making this again. I enjoyed the combination of vegetables in this recipe, but you can substitute with whatever your little heart desires. And…who else cannot get enough of saffron? So rich & fragrant!
  • Natillas" Spanish Style Custard: ”Almond milk, coconut milk, & coconut cream infused with vanilla,cinnamon, lemon & lime zest, thickened with silken tofu & blended into a creamy pudding. Served chilled & topped with cinnamon & fresh strawberries.” Natillas is a Spanish term referring to a custard dish made with milk & eggs. Isn’t it wonderful that we can veganize almost anything these days. I’m obsessed with dessert, especially dessert that consists of coconut cream! This rich & creamy custard was a delightful end to our meal. I really love strawberries, & am so excited to see them arriving at the farmers’ markets, but this custard would be lovely top with any seasonal fruit variety!

I’ve been to almost all of Chef Jenn’s classes, & this was one of my favorites to date! If you are a San Diegan & haven’t attended a class yet I highly encourage you to join us. The classes are hands-on - so you learn A LOT. It’s also a great way to meet new friends. What better way to connect with others than cooking a meal together? The best part is, after all that prep & cooking, everyone sits communal style to enjoy the meal, paired with thoughtfully selected craft beer or wine. Oftentimes, we even make enough for leftovers to take home. Be sure to check Chef Jenn’s website for upcoming classes. I believe the next one will be scheduled for the spring. We’re hoping it’s for Easter brunch!

Calabacitas Tostadas & Mexican Red Rice Mini Sweet Tamales

Vegan Mexican Pop-up Cooking Class

I had such a great time at yet another vegan cooking class with Chef Jenn Felmley at Sea Rocket Bistro yesterday. 

I’ve taken several classes with Chef Jenn & they keep getting better & better. The theme for yesterday’s class: Vegan Mexican. Yes! I love, love, love, Mexican food & it’s one of my favorite foods to veganize. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than drinking an ice cold craft beer while preparing a vegan Mexican feast with friends. 

Vegan Mexican Menu: 

  • Mexican Red Rice
  • Hand Mashed Pinto Beans
  • Salsa Fresca
  • Guacamole Sauce
  • Calabacitas Tostadas
  • Mini Sweet Tamales

Looks awesome, right? I just had one question - what is “calabacitas?” For those of you in the dark like I was, calabacitas is a traditional Southwestern dish of sautéed summer squash, corn, onions & peppers, & can be enjoyed either as a side or as a vegetarian filling for tacos, or in this case - tostadas! As local squash is abundant at the markets this time of year, this is the perfect recipe to learn as we move into the summer months. 

The participants broke up into groups separately preparing the tamales, beans & rice, & tostadas as separate teams. My Mom & I - “team Vegenista” - along with another lovely vegan gal, tackled the tostadas, which required a lot of prep - chopping veggies, sautéing veggies, & frying up tortillas. This is the kind of prep work I find relaxing, especially with an adult beverage in hand.  When all the components came together, we plated the food & got down to business - feasting!

As always, Chef Jenn facilitated a fantastic feast & I got to walk away with a whole bunch of new recipes to add to my inventory. Lucky for you, Chef Jenn is allowing me to share the tostada recipe. Please note that some of the tostada components were made as separate recipes in class, but I included some recommendations for substitutions. 

"Chef Jenn’s Calabacitas Tostadas"

Calabacitas

  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • 1 small zucchini, small diced
  • 1 small yellow squash 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded & small diced
  • 1 cup onion, small diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup roasted poblano pepper, peeled, sedded & small diced
  • 1/2 cup Daiya shredded cheese (we used the pepperjack shreds)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add squash mixture & lightly season with salt & pepper. Cook until the squash just begins to soften, about 5 minutes
  2. Stir in garlic, tomato, onion, corn, poblano pepper & 1/4 cup water. Cover, reduce heat to low, & simmer about 5 minutes (or until vegetables are tender).
  3. In a small bowl, combine almond milk & cornstarch; stir to dissolve.
  4. Increase heat to medium, remove lid & stir cornstarch & almond milk mixture into the sautéed veggies. Cook until the sauce begins to simmer & thicken. 
  5. Turn off the heat & add in both types of cheese. Add oregano & season to taste with salt & pepper. 
Tostada Shells
  •  6 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  1. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a heavy small skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Fry tortillas, 1 at a time, turning once or twice & pressing with tongs to immerse, until golden brown 45 to 60 seconds per tortilla. Drain briefly on paper towels. 
Tostada Fixings
  • 1 1/2 cup mashed pinto beans (recipe made in class, I would recommend Amy’s refried beans as a simple alternative) 
  • 1 cup avocado sauce (recipe made in class, use your favorite guacamole) 
  • 1/2 cups Salsa Fresca (recipe made in class, use store bought or your favorite recipe)
Garnishes
  • 1 cup cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup radishes, sliced
Spread tortillas with a layer of refried beans, top with Calabacitas & garnish with cabbage & radish slices. Serve with a dollop of guacamole & salsa fresca. 
I cannot wait to make calabacitas again for tostadas, taco, or burrito filling, & as we do Mexican food themed birthdays in my family, I am excited to have a new recipe to add to the mix! 
Chef Jenn teaches vegan classes at Sea Rocket every few months, & rumor has it the next class will be French themed (thanks to my Mom’s suggestion) in July, for Bastille Day. I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime check out Chef Jenn’s website for more info on upcoming classes. 
Sea Rocket Bistro Potatoes Mushrooms & herbs cooking Menu Luck of the Irish Pea Soup Vegan Shepherd's Pie Vegan Chocolate Pudding Prepping Carrots Chopped Chocolate Class in action

Saint Paddy’s Day Vegan Pop-up Cooking Class

A few nights ago my Mom & I attended a "Saint Patrick’s Day Pop-up Cooking Class" taught by Chef Jenn Felmley & hosted by Sea Rocket Bistro. What a blast! Her classes are always fantastic, but this has been my favorite  class to date. The class size was a bit more intimate than in classes past, so Chef Jenn was able to more readily answer questions & share tips & techniques. Oh & the menu she planned for us was awesome:

  • Luck of the Irish Pea Soup
  • Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Potato Topping
  • Whiskey Glazed Carrots
  • Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorite vegan comfort foods. I absolutely live for the version served at Stone World Bistro, & have always wanted to add a similar recipe to my repertoire. Thanks to Chef Jenn, I now have an awesome recipe in my hands, & so do you. She is graciously allowing me to share it here: 

"Chef Jenn’s Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Potato Topping"

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb yams, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, divided use 
  • ¼ to ½ cup vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône
  • 4+ 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided use
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms, trimmed & quartered
  • 2 sprigs thyme  
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • ½ lb zucchini, medium diced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 3/4 lb carrots (about 4 medium), cut into 3/4-inch-thick pieces & blanched
  • ½ lb green beans or yellow wax beans, cut into 1/4 inch rounds 
  • ½ cup tempeh, steamed & crumbled
  • 1 cup vegetable stock 
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water

Instructions: 

  1. Cover potatoes with cold water in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot, simmer until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain in a colander & rest for 8 minutes. Repeat with yams.
  2. Place 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil , ¼ cup vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon coconut milk into the bottom of a large bowl. Add potatoes & mash. Adding additional coconut oil as needed. Mash till smooth & season with salt and pepper. 
  3. For yams: place ½ Tbsp coconut oil, 2 Tbsp vegetable stock & 2 Tbsp coconut milk into the bottom of a large bowl. Add yams & mash. Adding additional coconut oil as needed. Mash till smooth & season with salt & pepper.
  4. Add red wine to a medium sauce pot, reduce to ½ cup; over medium heat.
  5. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, thyme & rosemary sprigs to the pan, lightly season with salt & pepper. Cook; stirring occasionally until they give off liquid & start to turn a rich golden brown (adding additional oil if needed). Remove pan from heat & add Cognac. Return pan to the heat & cook till liquid is evaporated. Remove mushrooms from the pan & set aside
  6. Add 1 Tbsp oil & heat over medium heat; zucchini, cook till just begins to soften & turns golden brown. Remove zucchini from the pan & set aside. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon oil (more if needed) & heat over medium heat; add onions. Cook stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic, carrots, green beans, & tempeh; cook till fragrant.
  8. Place all of the cooked vegetables in to a baking dish.
  9. Add vegetable stock to reduced wine & simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Whisk together corn starch & water, to remove any lumps. 
  11. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to stock & red wine, whisking constantly. Whisk & scrape (the bottom of the pan) with a rubber spatula; constantly until thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Pour thickened sauce over vegetables.
  12. Spoon mashed potatoes & yams (alternating to create stripes) over vegetables & spread evenly to cover. Cook until top is golden, about 15 minutes.
I loved the look of the alternating stripes of potatoes & also appreciated the mix of white potatoes & yams. It boosted the flavor & added additional nutrients. This dish is filling & comforting, yet packs a punch in the veggie department, so it’s much more healthful than a “traditional” recipe. While it’s a bit of a labor of love, the end result was worth it.                                                                                                                                                              
If you are San Diego based & enjoy cooking & eating vegan foods, I highly recommend you sign up for a future class. The next class theme is "Vegan Cinco De Mayo." YES! I will have all the details when the date & menu is set. Click here to learn more about Chef Jenn & see her full list of upcoming classes. 
Sea Rocket Bistro Chef Jenn Vegan Cooking Class Vegetable Tempura Arugula & Spinach Salad with Cherries Polenta Cakes with Tomato-Garlic Sauce Lavender Tea Cookies with Berry Compote

Fall Vegan Pop-up Cooking Class

Well…wouldn’t you know it? My Internet has been down for the last 4 days, & with the holiday weekend, it wasn’t fixed until today! With everything else that has broken or malfunctioned (or fried by my own hand) it really came as no surprise to me when my Internet went down! So now I am even more behind than before & don’t even know where to begin picking up. Still working on my Vida Vegan Con posts (sorry!), so I’ll pick up where life after VVC left off…

So, after 3 jam-packed days in Portland, my travel-buddy Mom & I somehow managed to muster the energy, & attention span, to attend a vegan cooking class with Chef Jenn at Sea Rocket Bistro. I know, right? A sustainable seafood restaurant hosing vegan cooking classes? Weird! But the chef & owners here have an appreciation for vegans & vegan cuisine (after all they were the hosts of the inaugural all-vegan LOVELIKEBEER event) & hold a vegan class every few months. With a menu line up like this, these classes are not to be missed: 

  • Vegetable Tempura with Green Goddess Dipping Sauce
  • Arugula & Spinach Salad with Fresh Cherries & Shiraz dipping sauce
  • "Cheesy" Polenta Cakes with Sautéed Tomato & Garlic Sauce Topped with Fresh Basil
  • Lavender Tea Cookie with Seasonal Fruit Compote

As always, I had a blast & Chef Jenn is such a fantastic teacher. Her classes are very hands-on, with 3-4 students tackling each dish while she does her best to circulate, answer questions, give tips & expertise, & make sure everything is running smoothly. 

My Mom & I worked on the Lavender Tea Cookies & they were a breeze to prepare. Tea cookies always remind me of my Scottish Great-Grandmother, so I was so excited to learn a vegan recipe to make in her honor. These are infused with dried lavender, which gives off the loveliest of herbal aromas, but do not over-power the taste of the cookie (make sure to chop it very fine). Coconut oil was used in place of butter & made this very flaky cookie seem simultaneously “buttery.” The seasonal fruit compote was a blend of fresh blackberries & lemon verbena leaves - such a gorgeous combination. The lemon verbena gave an herbal edge to the summery tart berries & complimented the lavender cookie beautifully. My “G.G.” would approve!

Other highlights - the tempura - so scrumptious - but definitely not something I will attempt at home with my track record. However, the goddess dip they were paired with will become a staple for dipping crudités, & the salad was to die for! I’m definitely a fan of fruited salads, but have never thought to use fresh cherries & they were just exquisite with the Shiraz dressing. I think this would make a lovely Fall salad, perhaps on the Thanksgiving table, with dried Montmorency cherries in place of the fresh ones! 

Yet again, more fun times with Chef Jenn, & if you are in San Diego check out her schedule of classes. Although she is not veg herself, she loves to prepare veg cuisine & will leave you with an arsenal of great tips & recipes!

Coral Tree Farms Chef Jenn Goats! Heirloom Watermelon Tomato Salad Zucchini Fritter, Goat Cheese & Herbs St. Germain Grapefruit Popsicles Heirloom Tomatoes & Peppers Red Cabbage

Urban Farm Cooking Class

I spent my Sunday afternoon at Coral Tree Farm & Nursery, a family owned & operated “urban farm” in Encinitas, at the "Urban Farm Cooking Class" led by my friend Chef Jenn Felmley.  

Coral Tree Farm is a unique operation that grows organically produced vegetables & fruits in the heart of an Encinitas neighborhood, just a few miles from the beach! Produce grown on the farm includes many heirloom varieties of lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, beets, chard, kale, red cabbage, squash, pumpkins, etc. Coral Tree is also a member of the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. They adopt small farm breeds in need of recovery & currently host a flock of goats, 11 breeds of heritage chickens, ducks & quail. The farm is pasture free, cruelty free, & antibiotic free.

The chickens & ducks were camera shy, but not the goats & I fell in love! They were such characters, so friendly & inquisitive, & seemed very content in their refuge here. While this farm does produce goats milk & eggs, the animals are not raised to be slaughtered. While I typically don’t eat eggs & am losing my taste for cheese, at this stage in my journey I can support the small family farmers who are preserving animal breeds & treating them humanely, while providing milk & eggs to those who wish to consume it. What I absolutely cannot support are the large, subsidized, & inhumane factory farms. 

The menu today consisted of 3 courses made up of 90% Coral Tree produce: 

  • Tomato Salad with Garlic Croutons & Basil Vinaigrette
  • Zucchini Fritters with Goat Cheese & Fresh Herbs
  • St Germain Grapefruit Popsicles

In the summer, I cannot get enough of tomato salads, especially when basil is involved! Give me a “Panzanella Salad” or “Caprese Sandwich” with some FYH Mozzarella & I am a happy girl! I absolutely l loved the fresh “Basil Vinaigrette” Jenn made & I will definitely be recreating it soon! After Friday night’s fritter debacle, I was so happy to see a demo & a different fritter recipe! I can now clearly see where the Skinny Bitch recipe went wrong & make another fritter attempt before squash season is over! OMG & the boozy “St. Germain Grapefruit Popsicles” were so refreshing & amazing! I am wondering if I can make this into a sorbet???

This was a lot of fun & great to see an urban farm in action! I want a couple of goats for cuddling & a nice big garden! 

Summer Vegan Cooking Class with Chef Jenn

Last night I kicked off my “Week of Vegan Food” at the "Summer Vegan Hands-on Cooking Class" with Chef Jenn Felmley at Sea Rocket Bistro! Sea Rocket is known for their focus on local & sustainable foods, so of course, many of the items & vegetables provided for the class were organic & sourced from local farms like Suzie’s Farm, my CSA!

                     

                     

Chef Jenn in Action!

Much like the vegan cooking class my Mom & I took at Sur La Table several months ago, the participants were broken up into small groups of 4, with each group tackling 1 recipe. Each recipe had a designated station with all of the ingredients & necessary gadgets at our fingertips. While each group prepped, Chef Jenn was available to give demonstrations, answer questions, & give advice.

Lots of Prepping…

And Prepping…

Prepping…

And More Prepping!

Then everything started to come together!

"Quick Dill Pickled Vegetables" 

"New England Style Baked Cannellini Beans"

"Green & Burgandy Bean & Potato Salad" with Herb Dijon Dressing

"Homemade Vegan Burgers" served with all the fixings on Bread & Cie vegan ciabatta

"Strawberry Cornmeal Galette" served with Vanilla-Coconut Whipped Cream

"Cheers" to Chef Jenn & the group for all of our hard work!

After 2 hours of prepping we were able to enjoy a craft beer & the “vegan” fruits of our labor! Our meal included a special beer paring of Green Flash Brewing Co’s Extra Special Bitter Beer.” 

The class was awesome & the meal was lovely! What a great summer menu! I learned some great tips & techniques, & left with a full belly & a handful of new vegan recipes that I cannot wait to re-create at home! As I do, I will share the recipes with you here! 

This class was so popular that Sea Rocket will be hosting another vegan cooking class on August 29, 2011. Chef Jenn also offers private chef services, cooking parties & teaches classes at other locations around San Diego - including a vegetarian Urban Farm Class that I am hoping to attend! For more info about Chef Jenn & her offerings check out her website chefjenncooks.com.

Up next…tonight’s Vegan BBQ Class with Spork Foods & tomorrow night’s Vegan Beer Night II!

Vegan Cooking Class at Sea Rocket Bistro!

I love it! With so many great things going on around town I think “Vegan San Diego” is finally on the map! Here is another great event to add to your calendar!

Vegan Cooking Class at Sea Rocket Bistro

When: Sunday, July 24, 2011 6:00 PM

Where: Sea Rocket Bistro - 3382 30th Street San Diego, CA 92104

Sea Rocket Bistro is hosting a Vegan Cooking Class with Guest Chef Jenn Felmley! The class will include one-on-one instruction from a professional culinary instructor, is totally hands-on, & after each dish has been prepared, everyone sits down to enjoy the meal together! You’ll learn all steps of the cooking process from beginning to end, & recipes are provided for you to take home.

Here is the summertime menu that Jenn is planning, subject to minor changes:

  • Green Bean, Red Bean & Fingerling Potato Salad with Herb Dijon Dressing
  • Homemade Vegan Burgers with all the fixings & quick pickles on vegan buns from Bread and Cie
  • "New England" Style Baked Cannellini Beans
  • Strawberry Cornmeal Galette with Coconut “Whipped Cream”

Menu includes a local craft beer pairing with the entree. Cost for the class is $65 per person & seats can be reserved by calling Elena at (619) 997-8043 or e-mailing elena@searocketbistro.com.

Can’t wait! Hope to see you there!