Posts Tagged Vegan Lunch Box Around The World

My First Try at Personal Cheffing

The very last component of the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College is the externship.  While many students completed their externships at restaurants or with catering companies, I chose to spend mine trying out personal cheffing, since it is what I am considering as a possible future career.  I recruited some vegan friends on The PPK who were interested in trying it out as well, from the client’s perspective.  In California, legally, food has to be prepared in a professional facility like a commercial kitchen, or in the client’s home, which is where personal cheffing comes in.

For my first assignment, I cooked a special dinner for Megan and her roommates.  The birthday boy’s favorite cuisines are Central American and Middle Eastern, and I chose to go Central American for the challenge, as I didn’t really have much experience in the area.  Note – This was before Viva Vegan came out, which would have made my planning a whole lot easier!  I did as much research as possible in order to present a somewhat-authentic meal.  I didn’t have time to take pictures, as I was serving each course plated, but Megan’s sister was kind enough to snap some shots.

First, I brought out Strawberry Agua Fresca and some South American beers.  BevMo didn’t have any Central American beers, so we had to settle for South.

The agua fresca was just strawberries, water, a little sugar, and lime juice blended up and strained.  Delicious!

The appetizer was chorizo-spiced mushroom papusas with curtido and hot sauce.

For the filling, I sauteed some diced mushrooms with a chorizo seasoning mix based on this recipe, then added some fresh cilantro as I stuffed the papusas.  The curtido recipe is from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.

I chose a cold soup that I could make ahead for the second course, to free up some burners and cooking time in preparation for the main course.

This is Mark Bittman’s Savory Cold Mango Soup.  Not authentically Central American, but close enough flavor-wise to go with the meal.  I wasn’t sure how well this would turn out, but the diners really liked it.

For the salad course, I chose Hearts of Palm Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette.  Except that the grocery store I went to, which is usually very well stocked, didn’t have hearts of palm.  So, it turned into an artichoke heart salad, which was probably just as good.  The recipe didn’t call for avocado, but I figured there oughta be avocado somewhere in the meal.

The entree was a large plate of food, and the diners were starting to get full by this point, but they tried their darndest to eat as much as possible!

This is Tofu Pepian, Gallo Pinto, Sauteed Kale and Roasted Plantains.  The pepian sauce is from this recipe.  It was really easy to make, and ridiculously flavorful.  It was my first time working with tomatillos, so I was pleased to find out that they are relatively easy to work with.  I breaded the tofu with the method of the Cajun Spiced Tofu from Yellow Rose Recipes.  I used this Gallo Pinto recipe, which was super duper delicious, and the kale was simply chopped and sauteed in a bit of oil with some salt.  The ripe plantains were tossed with some oil and roasted at 425F, just until they started to brown.

Dessert was the birthday boy’s choice…

Smlove Pie from Veganomicon.  This picture cannot express how amazingly delicious this pie is.  It’s somewhat time-consuming to make, but so very worth it.

After this meal I was exhausted and their kitchen was a mess, but they thoroughly enjoyed the meal and I learned a lot about planning and executing a catered dinner.  I’ll return soon to tell you about the rest of my externship experiences!

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Laptop Lunchbox Around the World

I’ve gotten back into the habit of taking my Laptop Lunchbox to work a few times a week, and I’ve been enjoying it.  To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to prepare a few of the menus from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, which I purchased a while ago but hadn’t cooked from yet.  I picked the menus to use what I had received in my CSA delivery.

First up was Thailand #1:  Pad Thai, Red Curry Vegetables, Thai Cucumber Salad and an Asian Pear

For being so simple, the red curry vegetables were really good.  The cucumber salad was your standard asian cucumber salad, light and fresh.  The pad thai component was supposed to be from a boxed pad thai, but my grocery store didn’t have a vegan brand, so I chose peanut noodles instead and added some tofu.  The noodles weren’t very good, but that wasn’t the cookbook’s fault.

Next up, Germany:  Cabbage Rolls, Beet Salad, Applesauce and Spitzbuben cookies.  Except I didn’t feel like I needed cookies, so I subbed some pretzels and chocolate.  Pretzels and chocolate are German, right?

I was super happy with this lunch.  The beet salad was really simple to make and really tasty.  The cabbage rolls, with a filling of walnuts, chickpeas and brown rice, were surprisingly good.  I thought the recipe was a little simple, but was really pleased with how the flavors came together.  And, the filling held together nicely without any crazy binders.

Nummy cabbage rolls!

For my last themed lunch, New England:  New England Chowder, Fish Crackers, Boston Brown Bread Muffins with Vegan Cream Cheese and a Pear.  I thought the meal was a little carb heavy and protein light, so I cut out the crackers and added some fishy tempeh – tempeh marinated in vegetarian fish sauce.

I also added some cherries to fill the fourth position because, well, cherries are fantastic!  The chowder was good but maybe a little bland.  I felt like it could’ve used some flavor of the sea, say, from seaweed, but I guess that wouldn’t be very kid friendly.  The brown bread muffins had fantastic flavor, but were undercooked in the middle, which was probably my fault.

Here are a few more lunches.

shirataki noodles with sugar snap peas and mushrooms, baked tofu, celery

sourdough bread, Amy’s lentil vegetable soup, carrot sticks, soy nuggets with barbecue sauce, pecan cranberry clusters

roasted cauliflower, springtime risotto with asparagus and fresh peas, salad with french dressing, prunes and dried apricots

One day when I didn’t have a whole lot of food to take, I packed this cute little bento box which I had never used.

Bottom layer:  kiwi with radish flowers, carrots and celery, mixed nuts and mini chocolate chips.  Top layer:  steamed broccoli with mustard-apricot sauce, brown rice and chickpeas with gomasio.  This was tasty and fun, but really small!  I don’t know how people eat this tiny amount of food and aren’t still hungry!

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