We’re Back!

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Has anyone seen this movie? I used to watch it all the time when I was a kid.

Welcome back to Well-Fed Redhead! I took a rather lengthy hiatus to get my behind in gear after finishing culinary school and my internship in San Francisco. To briefly summarize the last three months of my life:

  1. I moved back to NYC.
  2. I got a low-paying job at a well-known international vegan restaurant that never had any customers.
  3. I quit that job because it couldn’t support living in the city.
  4. Upon realizing I was destitute and that my lease was up, I packed up my apartment and moved back to my parents house in NJ.
  5. I got a new job in my hometown at a super meaty restaurant that cures its own bacon.

Now that my life has settled down a bit I want to get back to blogging and plan to use this blog for recipe development and as a wellness journal. My job keeps me pretty busy so I will probably only be posting a couple days a week, but the great part of having practically no audience is that I have no pressure to blog every day!

What has been on my mind lately:

  1. Running! I finished physical therapy in April after a whole year of not being able to run. Now I have ran 3 5K’s and 167 miles! I’m kind of obsessed now and think about running all the time. Yet somehow when I’m actually running I still can’t wait for it to be over… (pic from Dailymile.)Picture 1.png
  2. HENRY. Is Henry ever not on my mind? I plead the fifth but it should be known that I am obsessed my cat. In the best cat-lady way possible. Since we last spoke I have had a failed experiment with making raw cat food from scratch. I have also spent hundreds of dollars on vet bills because my precious feline so selflessly took it upon himself to develop chronic asthma while I was away in San Francisco. Yes, cat inhalers do exist. On a positive note, Henry has lost two pounds! IMG_2238.JPG
  3. Coffee. I am officially re-addicted. What is your Starbucks order? Recently I am all about iced coffee with soy milk and one pump of pumpkin spice. It’s a mouthful to say but I love it! 20100627coffee-bucks.jpg
  4. Pitch Perfect! I just saw this last night and it is my new favorite movie. Everyone go see it immediately or we can’t be friends. MV5BMTcyMTMzNzE5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzg5NjM5Nw@@._V1._SY317_.jpg
  5. Pancakes! (Hint: this may or may not be related to tomorrow’s recipe)

I have a delicious fall-inspired recipe to share tomorrow. GET EXCITED!

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Gracias Madre

This was my last weekend in San Francisco. I have four more days at my internship and then I’m heading back to the Big Apple. As much as I love California I’m ready to go back to New York and start my life!

I had one more restaurant I wanted to try before I left town, so yesterday I headed down to the Mission District to eat at Gracias Madre. Gracias Madre is a 100% vegan and 100% organic Mexican restaurant that I have heard really great things about.

When I first walked into the restaurant I was struck by how large and earthy it felt. The table and chairs were all made of unstained wood and the place is huge. I chose to sit outside since it was such a beautiful day yesterday.

There were precious little saltshakers with Himalayan pink sea salt!

It took me a while to decide what to order but I finally settled on the tamales stuffed with zucchini, corn, onion and jalapeno. I ordered mine mojado, which means in a mole sauce.

I like the idea of mole sauce but I’m not sure I actually like it… The tamal came drizzled with cashew cream and with a side of delicious mushy black beans, pico de gallo and spicy pickled veggies. It was good but I kind of wish I’d ordered something else, it didn’t really hold up to the tamales at Millennium.

For dessert I got the Mexican Wedding Cookies with pecan-based dulce de leche ice cream.

The amazingness of this dessert completely made up for the anemic impression the tamale gave me. The ice cream was perfect and the cookies were like pecan shortbread covered in powdered sugar (what’s not to love?).

After dessert I headed over to Mission Dolores. Walking around the Mission area there are tons of beautiful murals all over the place.

Mission Dolores, built in 1791, is the oldest standing mission.

 

The Spanish settlers converted many native Ohlone Indians to Christianity within these walls.

 

Faustino and Obdulina were two of the first Ohlone Indians to be baptized at the mission. Pretty cool, right?

I just have one more week with this little dirty monster before I head back to New York and my own big mushy man! I can’t wait, I miss this face so much!

5 reasons this weekend was so great!

  1. On Friday morning I found a stray kitten on the street outside my apartment. He is pure white, has blue eyes and he’s deaf. Did you know 60-80% of white cats with blue eyes are deaf? And if a white cat has one blue eye and one green or brown they are often deaf in the ear closest to the blue eye? Anyway he is very cute and I love him already and want to take him home to New York to be Henry’s little brother.

2. My boyfriend came to visit me. Wheeeeeee! I missed him so much and I’m so happy he’s here for a whole week!

3. The weather was so great this weekend! Fog shmog, it was beautiful and sunny and warm.

4. We went to Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury, the hippie capital of the country.

This clock always reads 4:20, you know why.

5. There is a lemon tree in the back yard!

It was just one of many ingredients in dinner Saturday night.

vegan froyo and other awesome things

Vegan Froyo.

With homemade mochi.

THERE IS A GOD!

I have already visited Fraiche multiple times and they can expect me back for countless more visits. I was super stoked to find this cute little froyo shop near the placing I’m staying in San Francisco. I have been dreaming about vegan frozen yogurt for so long, and finally my dreams have come true!

Fraiche doesn’t only serve yogurt, they also have freshly pressed juices and organic eggs as well as real frozen yogurt. It obviously caters to women with money to spend since all girls like froyo and the Whole Foods loving trophy-wives will love their local/organic options.

Alas, I am not a trophy wife, just an impoverished vegan with a froyo addiction. I loved the flavor and the texture of their soy yogurt; to me it is a perfectly good substitute for the real deal. I also loved that their toppings all looked fresh and on the lighter side, mostly fruit and granola. The highlight of my experience was the homemade mocha cut into little rustic cubes! Fraiche’s convenient location on my way home from Millennium is both a blessing as a curse as I will most definitely be back to spend a pretty penny on their designer deliciousness.

Other awesome things:

1. California watermelon. Swoon. (This mini seedless baby was from Yosemite!)

2. The Plant burger from The Plant Cafe. Best veggie burger I have ever had in my entire life. I can’t wait to go back and try some of the other items on their menu! I also really hope my return flight to Newark flies through Terminal 2 since they have a location there as well.

3. This book. I found it in the room I’m staying in, it was awesome.

F the East Coast

Hi everyone! Sorry for the hiatus, I was super busy with the end of school!

“Fuck the East Coast”
Grafitti in San Francisco’s Mission district

I am currently in sunny San Francisco for my month-long internship at Millennium Restaurant. This is my first time in the Golden State and I am loving it so far. I could definitely see myself living here some day.

I’m fortunate to be staying in a pretty swanky area of San Francisco. I knew nothing about the city before I came and lucked out booking such a nice place online. I get to wake up with sun pouring in the huge bedroom windows every morning… it is bliss.

I am also kept company by two cuddly kitties and a pint-sized pup. The Patron Saint of Cats looks over me as I sleep, befitting for a cat lady such as myself.

I just finished my first week interning at Millennium and I’m really enjoying it. Working in a restaurant is like Friday Night Dinner every night but with more than one dish per course. It’s intense, but I like intense. Chef Eric Tucker (who is also a NGI Grad!) is a lot less scary than I imagined him to be!

Millennium is definitely more relaxed about dress code than the Natural Gourmet. Tons of the staff have piercings and no one wears hats (which I am relieved about since my cap kept shrinking in the wash and was beginning to cut off the circulation to my brain). I also had to go out and buy black pants to wear since I looked like such a dweeb wearing my hounds tooth eyesores.

Last week I trailed at the pantry station (salads and desserts), worked the prep shift a couple times and accompanied the chef to a catering event. I’ll have more to say about it once I’m further into my internship!

The staff gets to order complimentary meals after their shift, which is a perk I did not know about beforehand! The food is so good, it really is the best vegan food I’ve ever tasted.

A raw salad with sea vegetables, avocado, miso dressing, wasabi sauce and spicy cashews. I have dreams about this salad it was so good!

A polenta dish with a Bolognese sauce, fava beans, sautéed greens and the best pesto of my life.

My favorite dish was the huitlacoche tamale, which I don’t have a picture for. I’ll have to order it again so I can show you guys!

I’ve had two days off, I’m excited to go back tomorrow! I wonder if I’ll always feel this way about work?

cookie monsters

What is the best way to spend a Friday morning?

If you answered “Baking cookies” then you are spot on! That is exactly what my classmates and I did this previous Friday and it was mystical.

Each person baked a recipe so we had plenty of cookies to choose from, I baked Rolled Fig Cookies that we nicknamed “Figlets.” Personally I think they were awesome and like an even tastier and vegan version of a Fig Newton!

There were a couple other vegan recipes:

Pecan Tuiles, these reminded me of the winter holidays!

 

and Gluten-Free Ginger Crisps

 

Other cookies made were:

Jam Dot Cookies (these are the Natural Gourmet Institute’s signature cookie and they’re served at every open house. These were made with butter but I’ve made a vegan version before for the open house with coconut oil instead.)

Macaroons

 

 Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (the unappealing color is from the buckwheat flour)

 

Checkerboard Cookies

 

Raspberry Shortbread Linzer Cookies

 

Chocolate Biscotti

 

Chocolate Cherry Pecan Bombs Bars

:3

sweet breads

Look how cute my lil monkey is:

CTP 209 has been submerged in a whirlwind of refined carbs and sugar as we have delved even deeper into the baking portion of our program since my last post. Last week we made pies all week and I was so pastried out by the time the weekend rolled through. I made this apple galette three days in a row!

On Monday we had our first of two bread making days where we made yeasted breads. I forgot my camera so I couldn’t take any pictures but I  made bagels. I had no idea bagel making was so easy! Some of my favorites of the day were a raisin walnut bulgur loaf and olive bread. Yesterday was Bread 2 where we focused on quick breads and sweet breads. During the first half of the day we made pancakes, waffles and crepes.

Buckwheat pancake, plain crepe and buttermilk waffle!

I have always struggled with getting perfect pancakes, the inside is always raw! But I think I have honed my skill now and have become a pancake pro 🙂 There were these really awesome gluten-free pancakes made out of rice flour. They were kind of funky looking and pale but the texture reminded me of mochi so I liked it (since I’m a mochi whore).

I also made this curry filled chickpea crepe with a side of blanched asparagus! After all the sweetness this was a welcome savory escape for my taste buds.

The second half of the day was spent making either scones or biscuits.

Spicy crushed red pepper and roasted garlic scones

Biscuits!

Pizza flavored scones = Yum!

I made blueberry basil vegan scones! The combination sounds weird but they were excellent and super fresh tasting. I’m so trendy with my food combos 😉

We also had vegan cinnamon buns which were finger-lickin’ good!

The CTP class above us graduates this Friday and we will officially be the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Senior Class! I can’t believe it’s going so fast 😦

Tomorrow is Pizza and Focaccia Day, so let me ask you a question: On a scale of 1-10 how ecited would you be to make pizza all day?

I’m at a 10.5

 

 

 

 

 

intro to baking

Today was the first of what I’m sure will be magical weeks of excellence because it was the first day of our baking segment! I was giddy all day and it wasn’t even because of a sugar high… that comes tomorrow 🙂

We didn’t actually bake today, instead class consisted of a baking lecture demo and then a lecture about converting traditional baked goods into vegan health-supportive ones. Tomorrow we will be converting standard recipes like Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies into vegan cookies by replacing one ingredient at a time. I’m excited!

Today we learned all about different flours.. Did you know that the climate in which wheat is grown affects the kind of baked goods it will produce? Flours from wheat grown in the North are heavier and have a higher protein and gluten content than those grown in the South. Northern wheat is better suited for yeast breads whereas the  lower gluten content in Southern flour is better for pastries. We also learned about leaveners and the difference between baking soda and baking powder. I was surprised that baking powder is just baking soda with an acid (cream of tartar) added in because I always thought it was the other way around!

The chef showed us three different cakes using the three leavening methods:

  1. Chemical leaveners like baking soda and baking powder
  2. Butter and sugar that has been whipped
  3. Egg foams

The first cake was a vegan Carob Walnut Cake that used chemical leaveners. Carob is one of those ingredients that sounds so hippy-dippy and health-nutty that I was dubious of how this cake would taste but it was excellent. I want to recreate this at home ASAP!

I really liked it 🙂

The second cake was actually not a cake but cookies. Why did I call it a cake? It was shortbread cookies, aka The Food of my People. Shortbread contains a ridiculous amount of butter and uses the whipped butter to leaven. This shortbread uses maple crystals instead of white sugar so that’s why it’s kind of brown. I always thought that the little holes in shortbread were for decorative purposes but they are actually there for some of the steam from the butter to escape. Cool right?

I was trying to think of some way to veganize it but I don’t think there’s any way to get that butter flavor. If I replaced it with coconut oil and gave it to my shortbread-loving Scottish mother, she would probably not be impressed. The last cake the chef baked was a Genois that uses whipped eggs as the leavener.

I’m so excited to get my bake on tomorrow!

When I got home from class I drank some kombucha, went to yoga and then came home and saw this weird rash on my arm. It’s raised, hurts when I press it and really freaks me out…

I also have this weird growth on my lap… I wonder what it could be…

pasta party

Today was my favorite day so far at the Natural Gourmet for one reason and that reason starts with “P” and ends with “asta.”

The day started out with a lecture where the Chef entertained us with the history of pasta and then demonstrated how to make fresh pasta using flour and either egg or water. It’s actually really easy to make pasta even though it’s kind of messy to do from scratch, it would be especially difficult in my tiny apartment with negative counter space, but fresh pasta is 10000000000000x better than boxed stuff so I think it would be totally worth it once in a while.

After the demo we got to make out own pasta and had the option of using different types of flours or coloring ingredients like spinach, beet puree or tomato paste. Check out the pretty colors of all the pasta we made!

Once our pasta dough was made we rolled it out into shapes. First we made long lasagna noodles to be used for making filled pasta like tortellini and ravioli, and then we used an attachment on the pasta machine to make fettuccini and spaghetti. This is what a happy pasta maker looks like…

And this is what it looks like when things go terribly wrong… (the crank fell off mid-fettucini)

Purdy corn fettuccini made by replacing ½ cup flour with cornmeal.

Beet pasta!

I barely got any pictures of the finished products but I managed to snap a few.

 

Cannelloni filled with butternut squash and tofu ricotta (I made the tomato sauce!)

 

Tomato spaghetti with basil walnut pesto

Chef also showed us how to make gnocchi. Here are the little gnocchi before…

And after they were cooked in a browned butter sage sauce. I’ve been staying away from dairy recently but gnocchi has a special place in my heart and this dish was calling to me so I had to have a bite. It was divine!

I took some pasta home to cook for dinner but by the time I got home it had turned into this…

It was originally fettucini… I still ate it though and it tasted pretty good even if it was kind of dense.

Tomorrow is our first day of the baking unit and I am pumped! So is Henry, he has his paw on tomorrow because he likes to think ahead and contemplate the future.