Category Archives: vegan food

It’s 2012, The Year of Blogging; The Year of Whole Foods

Whoa…has it really been…THREE MONTHS since my last blog post? Thank goodness Google remembers my password to WordPress for me- it’s been that long, ya’ll. It’s been so long I actually forgot the 6th anniversary- November 11- of this here Tuna Toast blog! I’m a bad blog mom, seriously.

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Client Profile: The Vegan

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve started catering and personal-cheffing because I could no longer push away my desire to cook and feed people. I can say with every fiber in my being that I love cooking more than anything else, and after some prodding from friends and family, I’m finally doing it.

I plan to post the occasional profile of some of my clients, which for the most part will focus on the food and less on the actual person. First up: The Vegan. Continue reading

Weekday Lunch: Tender Greens, Hollywood


I first tried Tender Greens a couple of years ago when it first opened in Culver City and fell in love with the concept of fresh salads and proteins prepared right in front of your eyes. I was happy when one opened up near my office, and yesterday my friend Dmitri and I decided to go for lunch.

The place was packed at 12:45pm, and it’s easy to see why- Tender Greens is a mecca of healthy, delicious options that are all reasonably priced. I opted for something I get often- The Happy Vegan- not because I’m vegan, but because it’s damned good and I’m a whore for hummus…a Hummus Whore, if you will. For around $10 you get a gigantic green salad dressed with a sherry vinagrette, a scoop of edamame hummus, another of tabbouleh, yet another of red quinoa and yet another (I know, wow right?) of a particularly delcious farro salad with toasted hazelnuts and dried cranberries. It’s always way too much for me to finish but I love the different flavors and textures this dish offers. Too bad I didn’t lift up the green salad veil to reveal all of the elements on my plate…but you get the idea. Actually, here is a better photo from another blog.

My not-so-great pic of the Happy Vegan!
Dmitri made me remember why I created a rule called If Cheeks Are On A Menu I Must Order Them which I broke when choosing the vegan plate; luckily he was wise and got the Braised Lamb Cheek Sandwich from the specials board. For those of you who know the heaven that are beef cheeks, halibut cheeks or any cheeks you know his sandwich was slammin’ because honestly, the meat off the head of most animals is the most delcious part. Really. Although I was perfectly happy with my hummus I would be lying if I didn’t say one whiff of that gorgeous sandwich didn’t give me a tinge of regret. I mean, just look at this thing:

This might be the World’s Most Perfect Sandwich
At least I can take heart in knowing that I’ll be returning to Tender Greens many more times and will have another opportunity to get that sandwich. Actually there are quite a few things I’ve yet to sample so I’m looking forward to my next visit.

Want a cookie the size of my head to totally take the “healthy” out of that salad?
Tender Greens Hollywood
6290 West Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 382-0380

Quick Post: Beet Green & Carrot Top Soup

Don’t worry- this soup doesn’t contain one creepy, red headed comedian but instead some healthy, vibrant greens that you might otherwise toss in the garbage. I had a lot of greens left over from the tart I’d made for a vegetarian dinner party, so I figured I’d try them in a soup.

It started just like all of my other soups do: sauté diced onions, carrots and celery, then some minced garlic and thyme. Then I chopped up the beet greens and carrot tops, slightly worried that it would taste too “green” but went with it anyway. After a few minutes I added veggie stock and let the whole thing simmer for about 20 minutes before whipping out my new favorite kitchen tool- the Cuisinart hand blender- and pureed the whole thing. (By the way, I highly recommend getting this if you make pureed soups often like I do. It saves you from having to ladle hot soup into a blender, then pureeing, then putting back into the pot.)

The soup, like the tart, was savory, rich and tasty and I was amazed that beet and carrot tops could create such an amazing soup! Definitely a keeper!

It made a couple of nice lunches- one veggie- served with an avocado, arugula and hummus tartine:

And another with a turkey sandwich on quinoa bread:

Good and good for you!

Cooking for 40

Holy cow- I truly stink at photography- ironic, really, since my father used to be a professional photographer. Sorry Papa, even though I got your Punctuality Gene and Cooking Gene, it looks as if the Photography Gene only landed in my sister and not me. I just spent the last few minutes downloading photos from my camera only to see shot after awful, blurry shot of much of the food I cooked or ate over the last couple of months. Yes, it’s been THAT long since I last blogged, but trust me- based on those crappy photos I’m saving you, dear reader, from being exposed to my poor documentation of some really good food. I simply did it no justice!

These photos fall into that category as well, but I couldn’t NOT post about the first time I cooked for close to 40 people. Yep- forty. J and I decided to throw a party for his band/crew family to celebrate the end of the year since the guys travel so much and we hardly ever get a chance to hang out. You know what? It wasn’t so hard. I did it bit by bit over the course of five days, and although I was sweatin’ it a little on party day, it all came together fairly painlessly. After all, I did get the Planning Ahead Gene from my dad as well.

On the first day, I made the savory pastry crust for four mushroom and gruyere tarts and tossed them in the freezer. The next, I made 7 quarts of pureed butternut squash soup which also went into the freezer, and made the mushroom filling for the aforementioned tarts. They day before the party I marinated the pork tenderloin and made a big batch of caramelized onion jam for the sliders, and prepped both the carnivore and vegan version of bacon wrapped dates. All that was left to do on the actual day of the party was put it all together, and make 4 quarts of Barefoot Contessa’s famous mac ‘n cheese!

Here’s the evidence:

Two kinds of salami, purchased at Nicole’s Gourmet Imports in South Pasadena:

I love savory tarts and have made this mushroom and gruyere version many times.

If you make four and then cut each into 12-15 pieces, you immediately have enough for a large party:

Two kinds of sliders: Garlic/balsamic/rosemary-marinated pork tenderloin and vegan bratwurst, both topped with sweet caramelized onion jam, arugula and spicy dijon mustard on Trader Joe’s slider buns:

Little pastry cups filled with a mixture of crème fraiche, horseradish, lemon zest and chives topped with flakes of smoked salmon:

Up front: Crudités of lightly blanched green beans, asparagus and sugar snap peas served with hummus:

The Barefoot Contessa’s rich, beautiful macaroni and cheese made with three cheese, a pinch of nutmeg and topped with fresh breadcrumbs. I skipped the tomatoes since they weren’t (and still aren’t) in season:

You can’t have a party without cheese, crackers and assorted other nibbles like olives and cornichons!

I rented chafing dishes for the first time ever- along with heat lamps, tables and chairs from Dolphin Party Rentals in Pasadena- everything was awesome and they deliver and pick up. So easy. That soup chafer is filled with butternut squash soup, one of my favorites. The only real trouble making that is breaking down five squash- peeling, seeding, cutting….but worth the effort:

On the left: Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo. On the right: veggie bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with soyrizo. Honestly, they were equally delicious and one of the most popular items at the party. Just buy seeded dates, stuff cooked sausage or soyrizo into each, wrap with your choice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. You can do this the night before, then bake them on a cookie sheet the day of the party:

Call me crazy, but cooking this much food was so fun…my love of cooking only grows by the minute, and I’ve started to just make most dishes based on what I personally like to eat instead of following recipes. Of course when there is a recipe as good Barefoot Contessa’s mac ‘n cheese, you gotta make it! There are few things in life as satisfying as seeing the smiles on friends’ faces when they eat something you made for them, and I’m glad we did it!

What’s your favorite party dish?