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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. 

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!