Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Curative Cuisine has A LOT cookin' these days.

Hi there. I don't think I've ever spent this much time in my life in my literal and figurative "apron", so to speak. But I'm into it. And getting more into it by the day. So, I last left you with the San Pedro group. Latin day. So, last week, instead of going over on my usual Tuesday and doing the usual lunch/dinner thing for my San Pedro Three, or SP3, shall we call them - we mixed it up. The way the pricing model I've designed works is that the more people that are enrolled in the group or program of eaters or whatever (I really need to decide on some language here, apparently), the less price it is per person/per meal. So, there is an incentive to bring your friends on board. But of course the friends and family of the SP3 should get a chance to taste this JessicaDoesTruNorth action first, right? This is something we've been talking about. So, we forewent usual Tuesday for a huge Community Meal on Thursday. I made a flyer. The SP3 sent it out.

Now, here's what you need to know about the SP3: 2 out of 3 of them were (or are) employed most of their working lives in community organization of some kind. I started to get a call from one of the SP3 every day in the week that led up to the Community Meal informing me of more RSVPs. The number hit 18. I hit the wall sideways. Max went to Austin for work, so I didn't have my taste-tester/cheering squad that I usually do and I was left alone at home shopping and planning and trying not to freak out. Those of you who have been a part of The Curative Cuisine journey from the get-go know that this was/is a leap of faith for me. I am no great chef. But I am finding out more and more that 1) I'm better than I think I am, perhaps, 2) what I'm making exists in a niche, and is therefore generally accepted in a spirit of "wow, we can't believe you did that" - there are not Iron Chef-level expectations, here, in other words, and 3) if I can be self-employed, I really need to be. Let me re-phrase that: I desire self-employment, and it will happen without me starving, going into debt, or draining our savings. So telling myself I can do this when I'm not 100% sure and just rolling up the damn psychic sleeves and dropping some stories and just pulling it out is all going to inevitably be a part of the journey toward that holy grail called I Am My Own Boss And I'm Actually Paying My Bills.

I know my SP3 like spice and bright palettes, and I was inspired by the fresh supply of new spring produce, so I wanted a lot of fresh/raw food to start, and I wanted a lot of different textures and flavors. I wanted each of those 18ish people to walk out having experienced a taste connection with at least something present. It ended up as a sort of festival of sides meets southwest picnic. So here's where it went:

Fresh Crudites Platter - carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery, cauliflower, non-gmo corn/salt & oil free chips, brown rice tortilla triangles.

Dips for Crudites - (all homemade, which kind of goes without saying at this point, but maybe not) - garlic hummus, guacamole, pineapple pico de gallo.

Mains/Sides - jerk asparagus, broccoli slaw, garlicky kale with mushrooms, quinoa pilaf-stuffed roasted bell peppers, 3-bean chili, cornbread, bbq tempeh.

Dessert - baked apples with carmelized maple walnuts and raisins, a la mode with coconut ice cream (the one thing I served store-bought - Larry & Luna's - how could I not? I have no ice cream maker, also, or else I would have probably done my own thing).

And, just as a reminder: all ORGANIC, VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE, OIL-FREE WITH NO SALT OR SUGAR ADDED. So, I chopped. And I shopped. And I chopped. And I shopped some more. I made friends at Whole Foods, where I needed two carts and enlisted a courtesy clerk to be my bitch. I made friends at the Farmers Market, where I wiped this one sweet farmer out of his entire asparagus harvest in one fall swoop. And then I chopped some more. I had a plan, people. I worked it out. The timing of Wednesday from about 5:00 p.m. to Thursday at about 10:00 p.m. was pretty much consciously executed, even down to bathroom breaks. I have a lot of pictures of prep and my day in the kitchen, and not a lot of pictures of finished presentation and people eating because at that point - I was too busy to be taking photos! The SP3 gave an introduction (that was so sweet and amazing - love these people. They are becoming my San Pedro family. That is totally how I want this to always feel), we ate some pupus (Hawaiian for hors de'vours, people), I talked a bit about myself and what we were going to be eating, and then we feasted and we talked and we feasted and I answered questions and we feasted and talked. It was great. I cannot have imagined it going any better. Highlights reel:

- on of the SP3 invited his ex-wife, who has taken a 100-hour course directly from PAUL PITCHFORD. I freaked out like a rabid Bieber fan on her. Everyone was like, "Who's that?". It was awesome.

- I knew I was going to mess up something. I mean, come on. I'm me. I have super human novice kitchen moments all the time - let's be clear. So, at 9:30 p.m. as I'm cleaning up/doing dishes/going to put some leftovers in the fridge, I let out a shriek of giggling as I realize...that the broccoli slaw (two huge bowls of it) are...still in the fridge where I put them at like 3:00 p.m. More awesome.

- I have scheduled a 1:1 meeting with one of the women who was there for tomorrow, and am excited to give her some recipes and knowledge that she needs on her journey.

- Mega interest in the San Pedro group did come out of this. We have gone from 3 to 5, with about 3-4 more watching from the rafters, waiting for the right time. Everyone wants to wait until it's cheaper per person...but I'm struggling to understand why they don't all just JOIN and then there WILL be enough people for it to be WAY affordable per person. But people like to hedge their bets to save a buck, I get it. These are rough times.

- I got to meet the SP3's family. Seeing these people that are becoming so endeared to me that I'm lovingly feeding weekly interact with grandchildren, daughters, neighbors, etc...THEIR people...and share with them what they're doing and reinforce the need to be healthy to sow a rich legacy of wellness in this community...oh man. This is what I'm in this for - THAT RIGHT THERE.

...and so there were enough leftovers to feed a small vegan TruNorth army (especially on the broccoli slaw front - Max is a great disposal system), I went way overboard (when asked about the amount of foods, one of the SP3 was overheard saying, "Yeah. She tends to go mad." LOL! Yes!), but we definitely moved the San Pedro deal and therefore The Curative Cuisine forward about three notches, and...

Whatever I was trying to prove to myself, I think I finally did.

I cannot give a complete Healing with Whole Foods nutritional analysis of everything...there's just too much. But if you have particular questions, as always - holla atcha girl. But recipes! Now that I can do. Didn't think I'd leave you hanging, did you? But first, pictures aka proof:

This was the scene at the leftovers counter by the end. Fresh cut veggies, baked apples, stuffed peppers, extra quinoa pilaf, etc.

Pineapple Pico de Gallo and Guac, yo.

Mushrooms and garlic just waiting for kale.

If you know me, you know I am having a life-long obsession with mushrooms.

Quinoa Pilaf -stuffed Bell Peppers. Love the different colored peppers.

Fuzzy BBQ Tempeh. It didn't taste out of focus.

Prepping veggie mix for southwest quinoa pilaf action.

Eat in color, people.

More pepper babies waiting to be stuffed.

I'm also obsessed with G's Pineapple Pico. Have you noticed? Maybe you should make it already and see for yourself.

Just give me some chips and I'm there.

So, having just reviewed this post so far, I realized I've left out the week before the crazy Community Meal and the week after (yesterday). San Pedro Week 3 Menu was a Teriyaki Tofu Stir Fry for lunch and a huge salad (which my mother would refer to as a "Praise God Salad" - loaded up with veggies, sprouts, seeds, etc. - also known as the "Thrive Salad" sorta-thing, if you are a Brendan Brazer fan like Max and J) and the Mac n Cheese bake for dinner.

I've seriously got to get better at taking pictures of food, people. If you are a photographer and you have some tips or tricks or can tell me what camera I need to buy, I need your help. If you're in L.A., let's trade for food?

I've already posted the recipe for Mac n Cheese back here (I just didn't use oil or Daiya), and Stir Fry Tips here (except, of course, I fried using broth not oil), so there you go. And the San Pedro Week 5 menu (as week 4 was the Community Meal) was *special*. One of the SP3 was out of town, at TruNorth for a fast and cleanse for a week, and the other 2...let's just say they aren't as 100% committed to the TruNorth no added salt/sugar/gluten- and oil-free thing. I literally received an e-mail the night before with the words "and ___ is gone so just regular vegan". Lol! "Regular" vegan. So, I could have gone really slutty at this moment and blown their minds apart with rich, processed, amazing vegan mimicry that would tittilate their dying desire for cheesy meaty-ness. But that's not cool. I decided on a middle ground. A treat for the remaining SP2 that wouldn't undermine the entire journey so far. Faux Chicken Caesar Salad. Using the Gardein Tuscan Breasts, because I wanted them at least to know stuff like that exists. I'd rather have them go gluten than go steak, you know what I mean? And these two are becoming notorious for putting sriracha on everything (I try not to look), so I decided soyrizo enchiladas (which are still gluten free) with a little cheddar Daiya cheese with the heat turned up would really blow their socks off. And it did. NOTE: I remained vegan, no sugar added, and no oil added (I'm so good at broth sauteing now - why would I stop? There was some in the soyrizo, of course), and the only gluten in the whole day was the little bit of gardein each serving of salad had. Yes, I use processed stuff, including 2 faux meats and 1 faux cheese. But it was fun and worth it. Everyone deserves to live a little. It's not burgers and milkshakes, you know?

These may be the best enchiladas I've ever made. Enchiladas I now have down to a science, and they're getting better each time.

Yes, please.

Not chicken. Dairy, gluten, sugar, & oil free.

I kind of want to eat that right now.

High in protein, low in fat.

Alright, you've scrolled long enough, dear reader. Let's catch up on recipe action:

Gardein "Chicken Caesar" Salad was easy enough - fresh organic red leaf lettuce mixed with organic hearts of romaine, tossed in Organicville's V/GF/Agave-sweetened Caesar Dressing with chopped tomatoes and carrots, and I added some pumpkin and sunflower seeds for a nutritional (and crunch) boost. With the Gardein Tuscan cutlets, I toss the basil sauce, rinse each cutlet, cut in half to expose more surface area and rub with a mix of pepper, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and a pinch of allspice before cooking in a hot pan with a little broth so they don't stick for about 5 minutes each side or until desired crispy golden-ness is achieved. Chop, top, and serve on the bed of salad.

The enchiladas were basically the recipe I posted here, with some red chili flakes and chili powder to up the heat a bit. I used 2 things of soyrizo and 2 cans of black beans, also. I used the El Burrito brand of soyrizo, not Trader Joe's, for no reason other than I didn't have any other reason to go to Trader Joe's.

G's Pineapple Pico recipe is here. For the cornbread, I used Pamela's brand gluten-free cornbread mix, and did direct substitutions of applesauce instead of margarine, egg replacer instead of eggs, a squirt of Bragg's instead of salt and agave instead of sugar (making this oil-free, gluten-free, vegan, and salt free). It was easy, and it turned out just fine. The chili recipe is here. The baked apples are basically a version of what I did here with pears, except I didn't use honey nor earth balance (to keep this oil-free) - I used maple syrup, and instead of all those nuts and berries, I just used organic raisins and walnuts. And a pinch of nutmeg. For the BBQ're probably wondering how I did it oil-free. The trick is to use a cast iron pan so you can get it really hot enough to cook the tempeh using only broth, and then adding BBQ (I get crazy and really make sure each one is individually coated each side), and lowering the heat slightly and letting them get the appropriate scald on each side.

And the rest...obviously for the dinner, I multiplied many of these recipes x2 or x3, but here they are, my adapted versions of new classics put forth by Isa Chandra Moskowitz in Appetite for Reduction (hummus, jerk asparagus, garlicky mushrooms and kale) and Susan O'Brien in The Gluten-Free Vegan (stuffed peppers). The guac is all me! I'm an avocado-crazed animal.

Oil-Free Garlic Hummus________________________________________________________________

1 can chickpeas, liquid reserved

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons veggie broth

½ teaspoon paprika

Squirt of bragg’s

1 tablespoon (or less) tahini

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If more liquid is needed for proper ratio, use 2-3 teaspoons of the chickpea liquid.

Salt-Free Party Guacamole______________________________________________________

6-8 avocados

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Cilantro (fresh, 1-3 cups, finely chopped)

3 teaspoons garlic powder

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mashing avocados until desired consistency. To prevent browning if it's going to sit out, store with a couple avocado pits in the bowl with the guac. This and the lime juice help.

Broccoli Slaw (basically Isa's "Coolslaw" recipe with a bag of Trader Joe's organic broccoli slaw instead of traditional cabbage mix)_______________________________________________________________

¼ cup cashew pieces

2 tablespoons chopped white onion

½ cup water

5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (I found this to be a lot. Try 3-4 and go from there.)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I added a bit more dijon, also)

1 teaspoon agave nectar

Squirt of bragg’s (if you haven't noticed, I tend to do this in leu of salt. Very low sodium, and salty tasting)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (14 oz) bag organic Trader Joe's broccoli slaw mix

Soak the cashews for at least a couple hours to overnight. Drain the water. Leave the coleslaw out for a few hours before preparing the salad as it will take the dressing more if it has time to wilt slightly. To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a food processor. Blend for at least 5 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides often, until completely smooth. It’s really important that you blend for the full time and soaked the cashews well, otherwise your dressing may be grainy. Pour the coleslaw mix into a mixing bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Let it sit for at least 45 minutes to get the cabbage nice and wilted so that it will absorb the dressing. Stir occasionally. Taste for salt=bragg’s and chill until ready to serve.

Garlicky Kale with Mushrooms_____________________________________________

1 teaspoon veggie broth, for sauteing (if I don't have enough homemade, I use Pacific brand low-sodium veggie stock)

6 cloves garlic, minced

Squirt of bragg’s

8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 lb. kale, coarse stems removed, leaves sliced or torn into pieces

Several pinches of freshly ground pepper

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the broth for about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add more broth if you need to in order to not burn the garlic. Add the mushrooms and squirt the bragg’s. Let them cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until the moisture has released and the mushrooms are slightly browned. Add the kale and pepper, and use tongs to sauté for about 10 more minutes. Add splashes of water if the pan seems dry. The kale should be tender and cooked down pretty well. Serve immediately.

Jerk Asparagus____________________________________________________

2 teaspoons veggie broth, for sauteing

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

1 pound asparagus, coarse ends removed

Splash of Bragg’s

¼ teaspoon allspice

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Lime wedges, to serve

Use cast iron pan. Preheat over medium high heat and sauté the ginger and garlic in broth for about 30 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and thyme, plus a splash of water. Let it sizzle for a few seconds. Add the asparagus, salt, and spices. Use tongs to toss and coat, adding a few splashes of water if it seems dry. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the asparagus is tender and the ends are slightly frizzled. Serve immediately.

Southwest Quinoa Pilaf-Stuffed Bell Peppers__________________________________________

3 bell peppers of varying colors, halved

1 tablespoon veggie broth, for sauteing

1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup frozen frozen peas

2 carrots, finely chopped into small dice

2 cups of quinoa, rinsed well

Squirt of Bragg’s

4 cups veggie broth (or 2 cups veggie broth and 2 water, or what have you)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bring 4 cups of veggie broth/water/liquid to boil in a large stockpot with the rinsed quinoa. Cover, lower heat to simmer, and let simmer for 45-50 minutes or until tender and cooked throughout. While the quinoa is cooking, in a separate large pan, sauté onion on high heat in 1 tablespoon of veggie broth until softened, then add carrot, peas, Bragg’s, and pepper and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, then add the cooked quinoa (when it is finished and fluffy), toss until combined thoroughly, and set aside. Clean and half each bell pepper, fill with quinoa, and bake in a large baking dish, with about ¼ cup of water in the bottom. Bake for about 30 minutes. The peppers should be soft, so if they are not, add another 5 or 10 minutes. You don’t want them to collapse, so check often. Serve hot.

Reasons to stay tuned:
- I appreciate it greatly. :)
- More tasty vegan recipes all the time.
- More exciting news from Curative Cuisine...involving a certain someone becoming the L.A. Vegan Restaurant Examiner for!
- I can't believe I'm typing this...but I tweet now. Follow me for fun if you do this whole twitter thing, too @CurativeCuisine.
- I've been getting creative in my new at-home kitchen (which is almost ready to be unveiled), trying to find ways to use the random leftover produce The Curative Cuisine's endeavors leave us with. More on that in posts to come.

And now...a moment of gratitude. For you. I have 18 followers. This astounds me. The amount of supportive feedback I get humbles me. I couldn't do this without you that have stood for me and for my excursion into cooking and blogging and into discovering the truth of how curative our cuisine really can be.

Mahalo Nui Loa,
Max and I at a wedding in La Jolla recently. My favorite person to feed.


  1. Jess. Holy crap this stuff looks so delicious. I want to go vegan so badly... been veggie for over a year now, but need to give up the dairy still. you are slowly convincing me with these photos though... keep it up ;) and invite me over to dinner! LOL

  2. The amazing Mrs. Hollenbrau! Thanks for stopping by. Dinner at my place - anytime, baby! And I'm going to send you some dairy-free cheesiness resources to fuel your conversion process. ;-) Be on the lookout