THERE IS NO EXACT RECIPE FOR SUCCESS. But Jason Wrobel, who graces the cover of our new issue along with Whitney Lauritsen, seems to have a pretty reliable one for a life well lived. “Keep trusting in your dreams and your unique vision for your life,” the star of the world’s first primetime cooking series How to Live to 100 told us when we spoke to him recently. “So many people told me for years that it “couldn’t be done” or that they “already tried and were told no” – but honestly, I didn’t listen.” It is lucky for us, and the rest of the world, that he didn’t. We will get to relish his trademark blend of virtuoso cooking skills, hilarity, and encyclopedic nutritional knowledge every Friday at 6pm PST/9pm EST on Cooking Channel– starting with tonight’s premiere episode, “Goin’ Back to Cauli.” And to whet our appetite, Jason shares his recipe for Vegan Caesar Salad, and more food for thought in our exclusive chat, immediately following the recipe.

VEGAN CAESAR SALAD WITH WILD CAPERS & HEMP SEEDS

For the dressing:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ to 1/3 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 ¼ teaspoons Dijon or spicy mustard
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ tablespoon ground chia seeds
3 gloves fresh garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons vegan parmesan cheese, grated

For the salad:
4 to 6 small heads of romaine lettuce (preferably baby romaine)
½ cup wild or organic capers
¼ cup raw hemp seeds
¼ cup vegan parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup dulse flakes or shredded nori sheets (optional)
Sprinkle of ground black pepper

To make the salad dressing, add all ingredients to a blender and process on high speed for 20-30 seconds until very smooth and creamy. If need be, add a slight amount of additional lemon juice or water to thin to your desired consistency. Set aside.

Wash the heads of romaine lettuce and dry with a kitchen towel (do not break apart the individual leaves – leave the heads fully composed). Cut off the hard base of the stems and make a small, lengthwise base cut on the underside of the lettuce heads so that they can lay flat on a plate without rolling or tipping over. Liberally drizzle the dressing over the top of each romaine head and top with capers, hemp seeds, vegan parmesan cheese, dulse flakes and ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 large or 6 small servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time:  15 minutes

Cook’s Note: If you cannot find vegan parmesan in your area, you can order online from a brand like Parmela, or substitute a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Give us a little taste of the creative process behind “How to Live to 100.”
For 4 broadcast episodes and 6 webisodes, it’s a three week shoot. The creative process is very interesting and challenging. Since the format of the series features a “hero” ingredient in each episode, my mission is to construct delicious and easy recipes that showcase that specific ingredient. Recipe development can be intense, really fun and, at times, frustrating. Don’t even get me started on how much I filled the compost bin with “Cauliflower Rice Pudding” or “Cauliflower Flan”. Needless to say, I stuck with only savory recipes for episode one, “Goin’ back to Cauli”. I shall one day unlock the power of cauliflower for desserts!

It can’t be easy landing a primetime TV show. How on earth did you do it?
Honestly, it was a magical combination of being prepared for the opportunity and being in the right place at the right time. I think that interest, demand and acceptance for this style of cuisine is at an all-time high. So many variables lined up in perfect formation to make this happen. I kept making my food my way and putting myself out into the world via YouTube, social media and live speaking appearances. I always knew in my heart that I would host a TV show. It’s always been my dream – even as a little boy. Well, that was after I abandoned the idea of being an archaeologist. Indiana Jones was the man! Seriously though, I think my approach to landing a TV series can be best elucidated by Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Great quote. Let’s pretend I’m Paula from Alabama and I don’t know a lick about vegan cuisine. How would you persuade me to watch your show?
I’d tell Paula she doesn’t have to give up any of the taste, texture, flavor or amazing mouth feel of the food she’s used to. You want spicy, crispy, meaty Buffalo Wings, mama? We’ve got buckets-full. You want al dente Pasta Primavera? Italian grandmas have me on speed dial, yo. Oh, and creamy Coconut Cream Pie? It’s like a Caribbean vacation for your mouth. The intention of my recipes on the show is to recreate familiar, comfort-food dishes that people know and love with healthy ingredients and superfoods. That way, people are still enjoying the heck out of their food while leaving out all the excess fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium. Everyone wins, and Paula’s family stays happy, healthy and satisfied.

Ok, now let’s say Paula watches your show and decides to go vegan. What’s your advice for the “newbie vegan?”
My big piece of advice is to start with doing your research. I would suggest downloading a ton of amazing vegan recipes online for free or buying a few well-reviewed cookbooks. Then get educated on the nutritional requirements of a vegan lifestyle – you can get all the protein, amino acids, magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamins B12, D3, K2, etc. your body needs from plant-based foods exclusively. But you need to know WHICH foods to eat and WHEN to eat them to have balanced, optimal nutrition. Lastly, buy three pieces of essential equipment to make your life in the kitchen easier: a high-speed blender, a really good chef’s knife and a quality cutting board. As far as delicacies, my favorite food category right now is non-dairy cheese. There are INSANELY delicious brands of cheese on the market from brands like Daiya, Treeline, Kite Hill, Punk Rawk Labs… honestly the list is freakin’ huge now! We are reaching a new level of amazingness- from product innovation to consumer demand – for non-dairy and vegan products. It’s an exciting time to live this lifestyle and hearing things like “I really wish they made a vegan version of… (fill in the blank)” doesn’t exist anymore.

A vegan cheese-themed viewing party of How to Live to 100 would be just the thing. Speaking of your show, any funny or triumphant anecdotes you can share?
Two moments come to mind. The first was doing the “Goin’ Back to Cauli” episode where I was making Cauliflower Lentil Tacos and Guacamole in the kitchen. After we wrap our kitchen segments, the crew usually eats the finished recipes from the set. So, all these really masculine dudes from Atlanta (who are the brilliant lighting crew) are chowing down on the tacos and just beside themselves with astonishment over the taste. In fact, a few of the guys asked me for the recipe and their wives made it for them AGAIN for dinner that same night! That’s what I call a win. The second moment was making the Strawberry Tomato Crepes for the “Attack of the Scrumptious Tomato” episode. Crepes are notoriously finicky for sticking to the crepe pan (especially the first one or two crepes out of the pan). So, the batter was looking good and I was feeling pretty confident, so I decided to improvise and go for a big flip – having NEVER flipped a crepe in mid-air before. I’ll let you watch the episode and see how that one turned out.

Interview by Julie Gueraseva / Photo courtesy of Jason Wrobel 

Tune in tonight, January 3rd at 6pm PST/9pm EST for the season premiere of How to Live to 100. Use the hashtag #howtoliveto100 to talk about the show on your favorite social media sites.

Pick up a copy of our brand new Issue Three to read our in-depth feature on Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen on page 60.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ISSUE THREE of LAIKA Has Arrived!

DEAREST READERS, IT IS WITH ABSOLUTE JOY THAT WE PRESENT our Third Issue: The Irresistible Issue! Built with so much heart — it celebrates the wonderment and enchantment of living life with love and compassion. You get closer, because you can’t take your eyes off the dynamic duo gracing our cover – Jason Wrobel, the magnetic star of the Cooking Channel’s How To Live to 100, and Whitney Lauritsen, the powerhouse force behind Eco-Vegan Gal. Individually, they are breaking new ground. And together, they are a captivating example of the camaraderie and mutual support of the vibrant vegan community. Inside the issue, you’ll delve into stories that will stay with you – of influencers who are shaping the world, exciting product developments, big-picture ideas. You’ll get drawn in with compelling, exclusive content, gorgeous photography, and thought-provoking essays. We criss-cross the country, travel to Canada and France, and come back to you with subject matter you won’t find anywhere else.

We bring you tasty tales of culinary creators from the East Coast to the Midwest – all of them innovating in the world of vegan cuisine, using a variety of exciting techniques and styles.

We take you on unforgettable journeys that you won’t want to end – to places where remarkable animals are free to be themselves among their allies – their incredible human caregivers. Like the ones you’ll find in our feature “The Compatriots,” photographed at three different sanctuaries on the West Coast- Animal Place Sanctuary, and Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA and Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA.

We continue to bring you the yummiest can’t-look-away-from discoveries from the world of beauty – all curated with great care. And all, as always, vegan and cruelty-free.

We showcase super-fun, showstopping fashion that you covet not only because it turns heads, but because it allows your to wear your heart on your sleeve.

We cover fascinating individuals from a variety of creative spheres, who are good at what they do, and also do good for others. Like the hypertalented DJ and producer Eli Escobar, whose passion for music and dedication to living compassionately are equally inspiring.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We hope you’ll develop as big of a crush on our Third Issue as we have right now. This is our biggest issue yet, brimming with hard-to-resist material. And stay tuned for web-only extras and behind-the-scenes goodies. We are so grateful to have your love and support, dearest readers. See you soon!..

 

Cover and Media Dream Team feature photographed by Melissa Schwartz • Taste Makers photographed by Balarama HellerThe Compatriots photographed by Sylvia Elzafon Play With Makeup photographed by Ashley Barhamand Just Chill photographed by Lauren Perlstein In Tune photographed by Joel Barhamand

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

THE INTREPID CHEF: MAKINI HOWELL

Chef Howell with Copper in front of her food truck, Plum Burgers.

JUST TRY TO KEEP UP WITH CHEF MAKINI HOWELL. She has been running Seattle’s much-loved vegan hot spot Plum Bistro for a number of years now (along with its sister eateries, Plum Café, Plum Juice Bar and Quickie Too Tacoma); earlier this year she released her first cookbook, Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro; and now, she is quite literally on the move. That is because Makini recently unleashed Plum Burgers on the streets of Seattle—the city’s first vegan food truck, and the nation’s first vegan burger truck. She’s a bit of a trailblazer, this lady. “A food truck is NOT for the faint of heart! I have run out of gas on a hill, had to stand up to (really big guys) for my spot on the street, and work lightning fast to lock down all of the best spots to park in town,” Makini told us. “Once you get it on the road, though, you feel like girls rock!” She raised the money for the truck via a charming crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter last year, and finally made her dream a reality over this summer. The truck’s menu and visual identity all skillfully tie in with the well-defined branding of Plum. “The design is simple with a usable clean look and a classy logo. I saw a lot of trucks around town with screaming logos and I wanted to keep ours understated,” Makini explains. “The color of the truck is connected to the cookbook, and we have two burgers from the book on the truck—the Jerk Yam and the BBQ Oyster Mush.” Before she was a chef, Makini worked for years in New York City as a menswear designer at Jay-Z’s Rocawear fashion label, which explains her eye for branding. The truck also features her infamous Mac & Yease, and while she keeps the recipe for it under wraps (a girl’s gotta leave some things to the imagination, right?), she does have a recipe for the equally-delicious Smoky Mac in her book, and shares it with us here—perfect as a side dish for any holiday dinner party. (And we all know that side dishes are really the main dishes.)

PLUM’S SMOKY MAC

Ingredients:

FOR THE PASTA:
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 ounces smoked tofu (such as Plum
brand), minced to roughly resemble
bacon bits
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

FOR THE SAUCE:
3 cups unsweetened soy milk
4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons unsalted vegan buttery
spread (such as Earth Balance
brand)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Savory Soy Cream (recipe below)*
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
5 cups (22.5 ounces) shredded vegan
mozzarella or cheddar cheese (such
as Daiya brand), divided
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Make the dish:

To make the pasta, bring a large pot of water and the salt to a boil
over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package
instructions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium sauté pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tofu
and cook until crispy, about 2 to 4 minutes. Put the onion, garlic, and
thyme leaves in the same pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until
the onion is soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the pan
from the heat and set aside.

To make the sauce, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk
with the thyme and garlic until hot but not boiling, about 7 minutes.
Strain out the solids using a fine-mesh sieve and set the milk aside.

Melt the buttery spread in a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over
medium-low heat. Whisk in the our and cook for about 1 minute,
stirring constantly. Make sure this roux doesn’t darken; turn down
the heat if it’s in danger of browning.

Whisk the milk into the roux. Continue to whisk over medium-low
heat until the roux is smooth, about 1 minute more. Stir in the soy
cream until it is thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Season to
taste with salt and pepper, and remove the pan from the heat.

Add the cooked macaroni, 4 cups of the cheese, and the red pepper
akes, and fold together until the macaroni is coated. Scrape the
mac into a large baking dish (3 quarts is about right, or use 2 smaller
dishes). Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese and tofu-onion mixture
over the top, then dust with the panko. Bake until the mac is bubbly
in the center, crispy on top, and heated through, about 30 minutes.
Makes 6 to 8 servings

*SAVORY SOY CREAM
Ingredients
1 Cup unsweetened soy milk
2 Cups canola oil
1 Tablespoon agave syrup
1¼ Tablespoons freshly squeezed
lemon juice
Vanilla extract, for sweetening (optional)
Ground cinnamon, for sweetening (optional)

Put the milk in a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix. (The more powerful the blender, the creamier the consistency of the final cream.) With the machine running, drizzle in the oil very slowly, until it is thoroughly blended with the milk. Continue blending for another minute or so, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream.

Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and whisk in the agave syrup, lemon juice and vanilla and cinnamon to taste.

Store the cream in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. It will firm up to about the consistency of mayonnaise.
Makes about 3 cups.

For Plum Burger’s latest locations, follow Plum on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

Written by Julie Gueraseva

Photo of Makini Howell courtesy of Angel Ceballos
Photo of Smoky Mac courtesy of Charity Burggraaf