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

Friday, July 19, 2013

TRAVEL GUIDE: VEGAN IN BERLIN

REFERRED TO AS “VEGAN PARADISE” IN A RECENT GUIDED TOUR, Berlin is the undisputed heart of Germany’s nearly one million-strong vegan population. Reasons to love Berlin are countless. A diverse range of fabulous vegan food abounds in the capital: innovative restaurants, cafés and snack bars that cater to every taste, from fast food to haute vegetable cuisine. There are a multitude of places to shop for vegan food: not only are there small vegan grocery stores, but also two vegan supermarkets. There is a thriving vegan fashion scene; tons of options to get beautified, vegan-style; and of course, an active animal rights community. Here are some of my absolute faves and hidden gems:

FASHION
Berlin has something known as “the vegan avenue” in the neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg!

[1] The best place for compassionate and chic fashion shopping is Dear Goods. You will find clothing for girls and boys as well as a small selection of jewelry, bags, wallets, and home accessories. But the store is not only animal friendly; eco- and human-friendliness is also crucial for the owner Nicole Noli. Dear Goods is located in Schivelbeiner Straße 35, 10439 Berlin

[2] To complete your vegan outfit, go next door to Avesu. There, you’ll find elegant and chic footwear from Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather, sneakers from Veja or Ethletics, non-leather Doc Martens, and hiking boots from Vegetarian Shoes. They carry tons of styles for women, men, and children. Avesu is located in Schivelbeiner Straße 35, 10439 Berlin

The vegan and eco conscious brand Jonny’s Vegan (pictured) launched recently. The first collection soon became a favorite of veganistas and shoe lovers alike. Manufactured with fair labour in Spain. (Available at Avesu.)

[3] Founded by twin sisters Anja and Sandra Umann, Umasan is the world’s first vegan high fashion brand based in Berlin. They only use the finest eco-innovative materials such as Seacell, Soyfiber, Bamboo, Protein Fiber, Energear, Smartcel and Tencel. As for the designs: timeless, avant-garde and incredibly chic and comfortable. The Umasan flagship store is located in Linienstrasse 40, 10119 Berlin

[4] Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather. This innovative vegan brand has built a cult following not only in Germany, but has crossed over internationally. Large selection available at Avesu.

BONUS! Also part of “vegan avenue” is the vegan supermarket Veganz. It’s right next to Avesu and Dear Goods. Your can find everything there, from fruits and veggies, to raw foods, a huge freezer filled with vegan ice cream, pizza, every vegan meat imaginable, as well as a great selection of cheese, plant-based milk drinks, candy bars, cookies, and chocolate. Basically everything that makes you feel as if you’re in vegan food heaven. The bistro Goodies is located in the entrance area of Veganz, serving bagels, salads as well as smoothies, coffee and raw cake. Veganz is located in Schivelbeiner Str. 34, 10439 Berlin. Recently a second location opened in Friedrichshain in Warschauer Strasse 33, 10243 Berlin.

DINING

[1] My favorite place for a lazy afternoon with coffee and cake: The prettiest location in town is Café Vux, where the yummiest bagels, the most delicious cakes and the best coffee are served. Located in the popular district Neukoelln and right across the street from the vegetarian & vegan Italian restaurant Ponte Verde for a seamless transition from late afternoon coffee to the dinner table. Sunday is brunch day at Café Vux. Café Vux is located in Wipperstrasse 14, 12055 Berlin

[2] The best vegan food in Berlin: The vegetarian restaurant Cookies Cream is a hidden gem in Berlin-Mitte. Once you have made your reservation (please note that you wish to eat vegan) and made your way through the delivery yard at the back of the Westin Grand hotel, you will enjoy a delicious three-course meal made from fresh regional and seasonal ingredients in a stylish but yet inviting location. Cookies Cream is located in Behrenstrasse 55, 10115 Berlin

[3] The absolutely divine Vanilla Chocolate Cupcake at Café Vux.

[4] A very particular Berlin speciality: Vöner serves the typical Berlin dish – a döner, a doner kebab – vegan style. Located in Friedrichshain, one of the districts where the vegan scene is really happening, Vöner has become an institution for greasy, savory and delicious fast food. Insider tip: order the “Wagenburger” and french fries with vegan cheese sauce. You’ll be saying, “Mega lecker!” (it means “extremely delicious” in German). Vöner is located in Boxhagener Straße 56, 10245 Berlin

 

VEGAN BEAUTY
These brands are not to be missed:

Over 30 years ago, Ingrid Stamm founded i+m Naturkosmetik: the Berlin-based natural cosmetics brand. At that time, she was a pioneer – and she still is. The brand is certified organic, 100% vegan, uses only cold pressed oils, no artificial ingredients or mineral oils, no preservatives, like parabens, does not test on animals, and supports fair trade projects. The product range includes skin, hair, and body care. The packaging is also environmentally friendly, following the cradle to cradle design. Reflecting the spirit of i+m’s hometown, the Berlin-line was created, which also comes in a very nice travelling package with shower gel, body cream, hair shampoo, and conditioner. This makes a great, eco friendly, and vegan souvenir for all loved ones at home, or a way to remember this trip when back home. The products are available at whole food stores, such as Bio Company, LPG Biomarkt, Basic, Alnatura or Bio Company.

Luckily, great cruelty free and vegan beauty products can be found all over town. Here are a few brands and where they can be found:

Drugstores: Terra Naturi (Mueller), Alverde (DM) and Alterra (Rossmann) – organic skin and haircare, vegan products are clearly labeled

Supermarkets: bulldog (Rewe) – organic and vegan skin care for men

Health food stores and organic supermarkets: benecos skin and hair care as well as make up (tip: great nail polish) is an organic brand with a great vegan selection.

One of the first German organic skin care brands was Dr. Hauschka, with many vegan products to choose from. (Tip: the Cleansing Milk is a staple in my bathroom.)

ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISM IN BERLIN
When it comes to meeting like-minded people and fellow animal rights activists, Berlin Vegan is the place to go. Twice a month this group of regulars meets in a vegan location to share news, tips and plan upcoming activities. New faces are more than welcome, and help for their various projects such as a website, a restaurant guide app, and an annual summer festival is always highly appreciated. This year the summer festival will take place August 31st, 2013 at Alexanderplatz. Yummy food, great people, informative speeches and cookery shows – be there, or be square.

 

About the author: Franziska Schmid is a vegan writer and blogger living in Berlin. When she became a vegan in 2008, she wanted to continue to visit nice restaurants and cafés, enjoy good food, cosmetics, and use red lipstick and wear cool shoes. She started her site Veggie Love to share her finds and inspire others.

LAIKA Magazine is available at Berlin’s do you read me?! bookstore! They currently stock the Premier Issue, with our Second Issue coming there soon!

 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

THE SECOND ISSUE HAS ARRIVED!

LOVELY READERS, WE ARE SO THRILLED TO SHARE OUR Second Issue: Summer Abundance Issue! Brimming with vibrant content, bursting with color— this is the place where creativity and compassion converge. We have compelling profiles on future luminaries like our amazing cover star Clara Polito, who at only sixteen years old is already leaving an indelible mark on the world with her vegan bakery Clara Cakes and her passionate activism. Style and substance come together in our first-of-its kind stunning 8 page feature on vegan and ethical fashion, styled by Joshua Katcher. And we continue to showcase the most brilliant discoveries in everything from food to beauty. Of course, as always, we dig deeper with uncompromising features on animals. Like the photo essay and exclusive narrative from groundbreaking photographer Jo-Anne McArthur— for the first time in print, including never-before-seen images from her archives. Contributors like renown author James McWilliams return with spectacularly thought-provoking essays.

Clara Polito Clara Cakes Laika

We get invited into the homes and lives of paradigm-shifting trailblazers like triathlete and Vega founder Brendan Brazier, who shares his lifelong expert knowledge on wellness; and Chef and restaurateur Makini Howell of the celebrated Plum Bistro who gives us an inside look into her signature cuisine. We travel around the country to bring you the most fascinating stories from activists, some who are raising their kids vegan, and others who are declaring their compassion in the form of tattoos.

And that’s just the beginning! With nearly 20 pages more content than the Premier Issue, we have the most innovative and exciting subject matter in the vegan community covered. Made with love, from the heart, this issue is a bold declaration of the limitless possibilities of compassionate living and the abundance of sensory enjoyment that it holds for everyone.

We hope you love our Second Issue: Summer Abundance Issue as much as we loved making it! It will be arriving to our subscribers in the first week of July and hitting newsstands soon after that, and is now available to order on our site! Stay tuned for extras, outtakes, and behind-the-scenes videos. We’re so thrilled and grateful to have you along for this ride!

Cover photographed by Sylvia Elzafon

Clara Polito feature “Girl Wonder” photographed by Joel Barhamand

Fashion feature “Summer Fling” photographed by Balarama Heller

“Philly Flavor” photographed by Hannah Kaminsky