Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

My friend Jake is an excellent cook, fortunately for me he is always very considerate of my vegetarian lifestyle. This summer his specialty has been Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps, but when I came over for dinner he made a vegetarian version, Mushroom Lettuce Wraps! So delicious and full of flavor; I had to recreate them at home. Now they have become a favorite in my home as well!

Mushrooms are a perfect substitute for meat, because they are very susceptible to flavoring and when you cook them down they have a hardy, almost meaty texture.

Remember that when cooking mushrooms, it is important to wash them well, and that the mushrooms cook down a lot! Meaning that 2 baskets of mushrooms can only feed about 2 people.

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Mushroom Lettuce Wraps A La Chef Jake 

2 Baskets of Mushrooms (Cremini, button, portabello, whatever’s clever)-finely chopped

1/4 Inch of Ginger- Grated

1 T Coconut Oil

1 Clove Garlic-minced

1/2 red or white onion- finely chopped

1/2 Can water chestnuts-chopped (Optional)

1 T Sambal (Asian Garlic-Chili sauce) (to taste, depending on desired heat level)

1 Head of Butter Lettuce

1/4 Chopped Cilantro- for condiment

1 Sliced Avocado- for condiment

In Large Skillet, Sautee Onion and garlic in 1/2 T of Coconut Oil, once soft(About 10 minutes) add rest of Coconut oil, ginger, mushrooms, water chestnuts. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until all moisture is out of mushrooms, add Sambal to taste. Let Cool, Assemble as if making a taco, where the butter lettuce leaf is the tortilla and the mushroom the filling! Add Avocado and cilantro for extra flavor.  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Friendly Sushi Spots and Oishii Vegetable Miso Soup

As a vegetarian, good sushi is hard to come by. There are always the staple vegetarian rolls; Vegetable Roll, Avocado Roll and Cucumber Roll, but after awhile they are rather boring, so when I go to a sushi spot that puts more thought into the vegetarian dishes, I’m always overjoyed!  Many non vegetarians think that Sushi restaurants have nothing to offer vegetarians, however Japanese is one of my favorite cuisines. My go to items at Sushi restaurants are the side salad, usually coming with delicious gingery dressing, an avocado roll and Shishito Peppers (hold the Bonito aka fish flakes). The following are three of my favorite vegetarian friendly Sushi Spots in Los Angeles:

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Wabi-Sabi on Venice’s Abbot Kinney has amazing side dishes such as pan fried sweet miso eggplant, chili garlic edamame, and kale salad. Of course they offer the  signature vegetarian sushi: vegetable and cucumber rolls. In my eyes the star Wabi-Sabi dish is the huge Vegan Mushroom Miso soup with Tofu, vegetables sautéed in spicy garlic black bean paste and last but not least delicious cubes of crispy rice. This dish is enough to feed a small family, but you’ll find it hard to share. It is so delicious, rich and versatile that it is hard to stop eating. It is a must for vegetarians and vegans alike.  If you’re hungry for something sweet- the green tea creme brûlée is to die for.

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The Izaka-ya in Manhattan Beach or on Third Street in West Hollywood have such high quality sushi rice that their simple Avocado Roll is absolutely delightful. They have a tapas menu, full of ornate and delicious small plates; such as the kinpira lotus root, agedashi tofu, shishito peppers, sauteed pumpkin, cucumber salad, etc.  The best vegetarian item on the Menu is the Tofu Chample; perfectly cooked vegetables with delicious soft tofu. I thoroughly recommend this spot! Not to mention my boyfriend claims it has the best (fish) sushi in LA!

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Last but not least is Shikibu, a restaurant practicing macrobiotic rules by solely using Brown Rice for sushi. Shikibu has simple sushi for vegetarians, including Carrot Kimpira, mixed vegetable and avocado rolls. They have a delicious carrot ginger dressing which can be found on the Tofu Salad, a crisp simple salad with delicious slabs of fresh tofu. The shining star at Shikibu is the Crispy Rice with Carrot Kimpira, it is crunchy, spicy, and has a tiny homemade pickle on top…. Perfection… OISHII DESU!!!

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I was inspired by Wabi-Sabi’s vegan Miso soup. So I created my own:

Oishii Vegetable Miso Soup

2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil

4 cloves garlic- sliced

2 cubes marinated tofu-chopped into small squares

1 inch piece of ginger minced

1/2 yellow onion- chopped

1 cob corn- chopped of cob

1/2 zucchini- quartered rounds

3/4 Cup Miso

12 Cups Water

2 dozen green beans- chopped in thirds

Handfull of mixed mushrooms- sliced

1/2 Head of green Cabbage- chopped

3 carrots- peeled and cut in small rounds

Splash of Soy Sauce

1.Heat Big Soup pot, add Toasted Sesame Oil

2. Sautee Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Tofu until onion is soft (about 5 minutes)

3. Add water, miso, and chopped vegetables

4. Taste for flavor– add splash of soy sauce if necessary.

5. Let Soup come to a boil, turn down to simmer for 35-50 minutes (until carrots are soft)

6. Enjoy!!

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Kale Sweet Kale

Fresh, delicious, filling, versatile. Kale.

Tender Greens is a great Mini Chain Restaurant in Southern California. They serve organic gourmet food in a production line style.

My Personal Favorite dishes at Tender Greens are the Simple Kale Salad w/ Roasted Vegetables with a side of Mashed Potatoes or the Tomato Soup.  The Kale is tossed with a Parmesan and Lemon Garlic dressing, emulating a caesar dressing. The Roasted Vegetables are a medley of seasonal vegetable. The mashed potatoes are something special, so delicious, unforgettable.

This week I played with Vegan Recipes, focusing on fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market and lean vegan proteins.  Last night for a dinner party, I prepared the vegetables and Tofu and let my friends bring their own Chicken to grill.  That way everyone is happy, the Vegetarian doesn’t have to touch or attempt to cook meat and the meat eaters are able to properly cook their meat!! (I’m learning to expand me knowledge of cooking meat, but not quite there yet!) Please enjoy recipes for last night’s Flexitarian Meal!!

Chopped Kale Salad, Zesty Roasted Brocoli, and Grilled Tofu

Chopped Kale Salad, Zesty Roasted Brocoli, and Grilled Tofu

           Chopped Kale Salad

            Ingredients

           1 large bunch of Curly Kale or Dino Kale

           1 Ripe Avocado-Cubed

           8-10 Baby Tomatoes (Make sure they are sweet and delicious)- Quartered

          1/4 of a Red Onion- Finally Diced

          1/4 Cup Hazelnuts- Diced

          1/4 Parmesan (Optional for non-vegans)

          1 Lemon-Juiced

          1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

          2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

          Salt and Pepper

Rinse and Dry Kale. Cut the Stalk out of each leaf. Julienne cut the Kale (the finer the pieces the more it’s able to moisten and break down).

Place Kale in Large bowl, add lemon, Soy Sauce, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper.  Massage liquids into to Kale using your hands.  Massaging the kale will make it more tender and flavorful. At this point you can store kale in the refrigerator  for up to 5 days, adding vegetables for a salad or mixing w Eggs, adding to stir fries, there are endless uses for Kale, especially when it is pre-prepped.

For this salad, the next step is to add all the chopped vegetables and nuts and toss. Enjoy!

Zesty Roasted Brocoli

Ingredients

1-2 Heads of Broccoli

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Pinch of Chili Flakes

1 Lemon- Juiced

Pinch of Chili Flakes

2 Tablespoons Roasted Pine nuts

Salt and Pepper

Preheat Oven to 425.

Chop florets off the stem, cut the large florets in half.

Toss with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, Pinch of Chili Flakes

Even Place on Baking/Roasting sheet

Roast for Approximately 20 Minutes-or until Broccoli is Crispy on the outside

Grilled Tofu or Chicken

1 Cube Marinated Tofu (preferably Trader Joes Savory)

Your Favorite Marinade

Marinate and Grill it up!!!

Hope you enjoy this Delicious Flexitarian Menu!

Avocado Toast and Eveleigh

Since having a quick 18-month vegan stint I have a special place in my heart for Avocado toast. Perfectly filling, naturally delicious and easy to make! When I spot avocado toast on a menu, I know the chef has a soft spot in their heart for Vegans and Vegetarians…. I always try it.

Deep in the heart of the Hollywood Hills, on the Sunset Strip there is a charming spot called Eveleigh. At night time, you can find tasty small plates, hand crafted cocktails, beautiful people, ….. but for me Eveleigh is all about the beautiful, breezy Brunch with a view. There are not too many vegetarian-friendly items on the menu, and the egg dishes didn’t overwhelm my taste buds, but all was redeemed with a side of their Avocado Toast and French press coffee. Check them out…. http://www.theeveleigh.com

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Recently I concocted a very special Avocado toast worth sharing:

Chili Basil Avocado Toast or AAA(Alisha’s Awesome Avocado Toast)

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Toast 3 Slices hearty bread (Udi’s Gluten free bread is a great alternative)

Slice 2 Ripe avocados and spread onto the toast

Chop up a handful of fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle basil onto toast

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon chili flakes over toast

Place 6-7 Roasted Pepitas(Pumpkin Seeds) on each toast

Drizzle high quality Olive Oil

Grind salt and pepper over toasts and you are ready to enjoy!!!

Alisha’s Frittata

My favorite thing for breakfast is Frittata.  Growing up my dad would sautee some vegetables, chop up some herbs, and mix in eggs to create a delicious scramble.  After watching him do it 100 times, I took it to a new level, the Frittata. I love frittatas, because they are delicious, a great source of protein and you can experiment with all sorts of ingredients. Another great thing about the Frittata is that they can be sliced into nice, neat pieces that can be easily heated for another meal!

There are several restaurants around town(LA) that make a decent frittata, like Comme Ca, Gjelina, and Tasting Kitchen, but homemade is the way to go!!

 

Alisha Frittata

The Basic Alisha Frittata

Start with 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil in a medium skillet

Sauté 1 Onion Chopped, 1 Bell Pepper (Season with Salt and Pepper)

While you wait for Onion and Bell Pepper to tenderize (10 minutes), chop other  vegetables that take a shorter time to cook down, such as mushrooms, baby tomatoes, and a leafy green like spinach or kale.

Once Onion and bell pepper are tender, mix in other vegetables. These vegetables will cook down fast (4-6 minutes).

It will look like a wonderful vegetable medley ready to eat…. but don’t forget the main ingredient… Fresh, organic eggs! (Or just plain eggs if you can’t find fresh ones).

Crack 4-5 Eggs in medium bowl, season with Salt, Pepper and Finely chopped Fresh Herbs (rosemary and Thyme), pour a splash(1 Tablespoon) of Milk or water, stir it up and poor it evenly over vegetable medley.

Cook over medium heat for approximately 8-10 minutes; place lid on skillet, turn heat to low and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Frittata is down when all egg mixture is cooked solid. Use your finger to poke it to determine readiness.

Serve with toast, avocado, fruit or if you eat meat, sausage or bacon!!

ENJOY!

Vegetarian Foodie

I am a vegetarian foodie. Yes I know what you must be thinking… that the two do NOT go hand in hand. Usually when foodies come to mind, you think of people who love pancetta or bacon on EVERYTHING, and love trying odd cuts of meat.

Fortunately for me and my vegetarian kin there has been a surgence in small plate vegetable dishes that focus on packing as much flavor and charm into a side dish as possible.

The Avocado and Nut Salad to the left can be found at one of LA’s hottest STEAK houses, Craft, in Century City, along with many other delicious side dishes, such as potato gratin, a variety of mushrooms and a wonderful beat salad!

Kale is almost always featured on fine dining and farm fresh menus either as a delicious salad with nuts and berries or stir fried with sesame or ginger.  However, there are the occasional heartbreaking moments when a dark leafy green such as kale or swiss chard is served with pork belly or minced pancetta… seriously pancetta always comes back to haunt me. The Pop-Up Restaurant Wolf In Sheep’s Clothingon Abbott Kinney features a tragically delicious looking pork belly with Kale, but they compensate by serving an amazing Kale salad with salty hard cheese, nuts and sometimes fruit.

I love going out to eat, I love finding a new delicious hotspot. I HATE it when my friends or family ask “Well, are you going to be able to eat anything here??” Usually the question comes when I’m a third of the way through reading the delicious small plates full of amazing vegetable options and am already daydreaming of recreating them at home. I retort with an exasperated “Yes!” (It’s about the trillionth time I’ve been asked the question.) Like I said being a vegetarian foodie is a bit of an oxymoron.

Today, my recommendation is Gjelina, located on Venice’s Hippest Street, Abbott Kinney. Gjelina’s menu is set, there are no substitutions or changes allowed. Usually I would be put off by this, because so many dishes have little bits of meat or fish flakes(bottarga), but the vegetarian options that are available are absolutely exquisite. The Squash Blossom Pizza is to die for, featuring melted burrata, fresh baby tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, thyme and a melt-in-your-mouth wood fired crust! There is a whole section on the menu dedicated to Vegetables, each one oozing with flavor and charm.  Don’t miss the grilled Broccolini, Cauliflower or the Fava beans(to add a little protein in the mix)! Also the Kale salad is one of my favorites in town, featuring a light citrusy vinaigrette, fennel and bread crumbs. Go check out the menu, and make sure to make reservations well in advance, and request to sit on the patio, it’s magical.

*Not every vegetarian-looking item on the menu is fully vegetarian, make sure to ask your server! Hopefully they’re not pretentious and will be kind about it! Also, if you are on a budget, directly next door to Gjelina is GTA(Gjelina Take Away) where you can order many of the same salads and pizzas as well as sandwiches without the cost of the fine dining.

By the way…..   Gjelina serves the most amazing brunch!  Oatmeal pancakes w/ Creme Fraiche and Raspberries and Poached eggs with asparagus, mushroom and breadcrumbs are my two favorites. They serve many of their savory lunch dishes as well as amazing coffee.

Well Hello!

Welcome to Kale Couture! Kale excites me. It’s dark nutrient-rich leaves are the vehicle for endless tasty creations. Kale Couture will explore the world of Kale and vegetarian cuisine; including the art of cooking with Kale, seeking restaurants with the best prepared Kale, and how to have a diverse and delicious vegetarian diet.

Each post will have a recommendation for restaurants or stores who have excellently prepared vegetarian cuisine. Most shared meals mean varied food preferences, including people on low-carb diets, pale diets (which are often meat heavy), steak lovers, and Veggies!!  I often find myself at steak houses, modern gastropubs, and sushi spots.  I will help my fellow vegetarians navigate traditionally meat friendly places, hint… It’s all about delicious sides!   Most of the restaurants featured will be in LA, but look out for some special guest spots found out of town. Along with recommendations, each post will feature a vegetarian recipe!!

Most of my recipes and the ones I will share will be easily made vegan.  I have no problem excluding meat from my diet, but cheese is simply too delectable to abandon.  The exception of recipes that can be made vegan will be the occasional desert or breakfast.

So please, sit back, relax and enjoy the banter of a vegetarian foodie!