Check out my foodie adventures at Foodspotting and Foodgawker

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Green Chai and Almond Smoothie from Parsley: Denver

When I was in Denver visiting my friend Chelsea (and pouring beer at the Great American Beer Festival), we had lunch at this quaint little organic cafe called Parsley.

Jason ordered a sandwich with Applegate Farms roasted turkey, Croatian fig spread, organic lettuce and brie cheese. I got myself a veggie sammie called the Tree Hugger: marinated artichokes, tomatoes (instead of the red peppers), fresh mozzarella, organic lettuce and balsamic dressing. The sammies at that place are delicious, but what I really wanted to tell you about is their smoothies.

I ordered this Green Chai smoothie made with bananas, soy milk, agave, green chai tea and organic almonds that they roast and grind to a fine powder.

I knew I would try to replicate this as soon as I got home. This smoothie is earthy with subtle chai notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger and allspice--a really nice change from my usual berry-laden smoothie routine...


* 1.5 to 2 bananas, frozen in chunks
* 2 Tbsp. pure all-natural almond butter
* 2 Tbsp. almond meal
* 3 Tbsp. agave
* 1/4 cup soymilk
* 3/4 cup cold green chai tea

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. You can adjust the amount of tea and bananas to alter the consistency to your liking. I would also add in a quick little shake of some of the chai spices if you really want a stronger chai flavor.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recreating Ubuntu

In honor of Ubuntu receiving its first Michelin Star, I decided to attempt to re-create some of Jeremy Fox's brilliant dishes. Since his cookbook is not yet in print, I scoured the internet for some of his recipes and found several here and here, including his famous Cauliflower in a Cast-iron Pot. My friend Jesse had raved about this dish, but, unfortunately it was not on the menu during my visit. I also wish I could have tried the beloved strawberry sofrito pizza, because I am forever intrigued by fruit used in savory preparations. Strawberries and onions?! I don't knoooow...but I do know that I trust Jeremy Fox.

Lavender Marcona Almonds
Of course, I had to figure out how to recreate the Lavender Marcona Almonds even though you can purchase them, among other things, at the Ubuntu Annex.

Turns out, it's really more of a no-recipe recipe. To make things easier, I bought a bag of Marcona almonds from trader Joe's that are already lightly oiled and sprinkled with sea salt. In a mortar and pestle, I ground up about 1/2 tsp. of lavender and added about a tablespoon of cane sugar and ground it up a little more to mix thorough. Then, I mixed the lavender sugar with about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of almonds and added in 1 tsp. of good quality olive oil to moisten it all up. That's it! Note: Lavender in food is a bit of personal preference--it truly depends on how much you like the flavor of lavender. I use it conservatively,because I find that, if you use too much, your food might end up tasting like soap. Also, if you prefer the nuts warmed, you can lightly toast them for a couple of minutes before you mix in the lavender sugar and olive oil.

Green Bean and Plum Salad

Fruit used in another savory composition?! I would never have paired green beans and plums, but Jeremy obviously put a little thought into this pairing because it was an outstanding combination.

This salad looks extremely simple--delicately composed of simple ingredients, but I found it to be a little complicated once I added up all the individual steps. For one thing, trying to shave ripe plums on a mandoline proved to be a small disaster, so I ended up slicing them by hand. The salad was clean and fresh, bursting with intense flavors. Once again, in Ubuntu, we trust.

Grits Infused with Goat's Milk

I also tried to recreate a dish I had tried at Ubuntu: grits infused with goat's milk with domaine de la chance egg, homemade goat ricotta, green tomato jam, and autumn thinnings. In my adaptation, I cooked polenta in goat's milk whey (leftover from making some goat's milk feta) alongside some roasted tomatoes and sweet yellow peppers and topped it all off with a fried egg and a generous heap of parmigiano reggiano. While the dish looked beautiful, I didn't really like the flavor of the polenta, so I won't post the recipe here. Ubuntu is, by far, one of my favorite restaurants, and I can't wait to go back! After all, I do have a birthday coming up on November 28 (and that means fall season vegetables!!!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Notoberfest Success

So, the BeerandNosh Notoberfest was a total success! Nearly 200 people flooded into Mars Bar and wandered around collecting various foodie treats such as Ryan Farr’s famous Chicharrones (passed around in a big bowl by someone chanting “converts all vegetarians” which really made me laugh) and some of Steve’s coveted Ollalieberry Sour by Valley Brewing.

But what I really want to tell you about is the Humphrey Slocombe ice cream treats served by yours truly and the Man Behind the Genius, affectionately known as Jake.

Photo courtesy of Jesse of BeerandNosh:

I want to point out that the ice cream pictured above was not my finest scooping moment. Can you tell how much ice cream scooping I've done in my life? Not enough, apparently. After this sad jagged little scoop, the experts reminded me that I have to rinse the scooper before EVERY scoop. Right, got it.

Jake and I feverishly served up the following goodies:

Brandy Barrel Aged “Collaborative Evil” Ice Cream

Sour Pomegranate Beer and Coconut Sherbet

Luna Blanca Ice Cream made with Orange and Coriander

Honey Ice Cream with Wort Syrup

Root Beer Ice Cream Floats with Valley Brew Skullsplitter Root Beer

Russian Imperial Stout Ice Cream Floats with Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout

Russian Imperial Stout Ice Cream Floats with Whipped Crème Fraiche and Iced Coffee

Double IPA Shortbread (the hoppiest cookie that ever hopped)

Prosciutto Ice Cream Sandwiches in Boccolone Lard Shortbread Cookies

Jake’s Chex Mix with Gruyere and Black Pepper

Jake used to be a pastry chef so he has had LOTS of experience making ice cream and the man can seriously turn anything into ice cream. Each time he brought out a new tub of his custom creations, I immediately seized a spoonful and thought "no, this is my favorite!" In the end, I think I narrowed my favorite down to either the sour pomegranate beer and coconut sherbet or the honey ice cream with swirls of sticky, sweet wort syrup (provided by Valley Brewing, of course). The sour pomegranate and coconut sherbet was amazing--it tasted like sour beer meets coconut milk, but Jake didn't even use any coconut milk to acheive such an intense flavor--he made his own by cooking down large amounts of dessicated coconut!

When I asked Jake about naming his shop, he said it was a play upon Mr. Humphrey and Mrs. Slocombe from a 1970's BBC Comedy called Are You Being Served. He is the sweetest guy you will ever meet, and man, does he mean business when it comes to ice cream. Bold, intense and complex flavors, or, as Jake likes to say, Ice Cream with Attitude. He tells me he likes to do combination flavors. I agree--who likes a one dimensional flavor of ice cream?!

I cannot quantify how much beer and ice cream I consumed while simultaneously scooping up ice cream cones and assembling floats. If you saw me behind the tiki bar, I almost always had either a spoonful of ice cream or some Ollaliberry Sour in my left hand while assembling floats with my right hand. This combo was h-e-a-v-e-n-l-y…until I discovered that there really is a limit to how much beer and ice cream one can consume before it starts creating a foamy monsoon in your tummy. Luckily, even with the plethora of meat items, I did manage to snag a delicious Mariquita Farms salad with organic greens with roasted squash, apples, and beets and a pomegranate vinaigrette.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ubuntu: Napa, California

Today is the 2-year birthday of this blog! Two. Years. When I started this blog, I didn't really conceptualize all the effort, photography and time that would go into documenting what I am cooking, eating, and drinking. But it's worth it--it holds me accountable for what I am doing in the kitchen and giving careful thought to what I choose to consume every day. But now, I also think about what I am recommending to you to consume! Happy Birthday, morgansmenu!

I know a lot of people who have a bit of a birthday routine. My brother likes to have a celebratory dinner at Nobu. One friend of mine always throws a birthday bash, complete with birthday decorations and party hats. Another friend of mine takes menu requests from her husband on his brithday and makes him whatever his heart desires. Sadly, I have never really had a birthday tradition--mostly because it's on November 28, which is always around the Thanksgiving holidays (and sometimes on Thanksgiving day) and friends are busy with family and holiday plans. But now, after just one meal at Ubuntu, I hope to start my very own birthday tradition by celebrating at my new favorite restaurant.
Ubuntu is a collaboration between Jeremy Fox and his wife, Pastry Chef Deanie Fox. Jeremy has said in interviews that rather than being a "vegetarian restaurant" it is more of a vegetable restaurant that can also appeal to open-minded omnivores. Such careful attention is paid to the quality and versatility of vegetables that I was totally surprised to learn that Jeremy is actually a meat eater! Jeremy is meticulous about his "seed to stalk" cuisine where every single part of a vegetable is used and recreated in unique preparations. Ubuntu has its own biodynamic garden in Napa to source about 75% of its needs so instead of relying on what they can buy from farms, they have more control over their dishes based on what they choose to grow.
The dishes are served "small plates" style and my only disappointment was that the vague menu descriptions did not adequately explain what would actually come to your table (see my translated descriptions below). Above all, I am beyond impressed by Jeremy's incredible creativity and masterful technique in everything he does. The ritual of deconstructing every element of his dishes quickly becomes a relaxing routine as you settle into your seat hoping to stay awhile...

Lavender Marcona Almonds with lavender sugar and sea salt.
Crispy garden fritters made with the "nasty bits" with creme fraiche, vegetable "parts", tiny beets, "trail mix". These fritters had a very earthly complex flavor that was complemented with what I can only describe as a beet and seed paste.
Heirloom tomatoes, simply sliced, 'polka' corn pudding, burrata cheese with corn pulp crunchies, surrey arugula, assorted basil, saba. The corn "pudding" was a midly sweet puree with an intense corn flavor. The "fritters"--the most interesting component--seemed like corn pulp and husk pieces that had been compressed and dehydrated to create a crisp cracker.
Carta da Musica, with virtually the entire summer garden: barely dressed, round pond olive-oil-lemon-sea salt, truffled pecorino. I am desperately curious about why this salad comes out on a pig-shaped wooden board. Eating this salad--with your hands--was such a gratifying experience. At first, I was looking around for some dressing to moisten the greens, but I quickly realized that this was an intentional omission. I quickly yielded to the methodical ritual of scooping up the edible flowers and spicy mustard greens with thick curls of truffled pecorino cheese and using my fingers to press into a delicate and flavorful beet and hazelnut "dirt". The greens and flowers are also neatly piled onto a thin crispy disc similar to a papadum.
Organic grits from arbuckle infused with goat's milk with domaine de la chance egg, homemade goat ricotta, green tomato jam, autumn thinnings. I fell in love with these grits. The end.
Summer squash of all ages, roast-puree-condimento with stuffed blossom, scented with our vadouvan, mint. Squash was cooked with three different preparations from raw to roasted to pureed and foamed with French vadouvan spices that provide sweet curry accents. This dish captured my heart--it is one of the best dishes I have ever eaten.
At this point, I was completed enveloped in mind-blowing-divine foodie ecstacy. The time had come to order dessert, but I am so full that I can only order one dish. This is me agonizing over my choices. Do I get Deanie's signature dessert--a vanilla bean "cheesecake" in a jar with blueberry-huckleberry-sunberry and teeccino-nut crumble??
In the end, I opted for a corn cake with roasted nectarines, blackberry compote, corn pudding, beet shoots, honey ice cream and popcorn dust.
I left the restaurant feeling inspired as though I had just been to a temple where baby zucchini and heirloom tomatoes each sat on a decorated throne for all to worship and adore. The food is so clean, creative and pure that it created a sort of spiritual renewal within me--no wonder the restaurant is also attached to a yoga studio--I am starting to see the whole picture.

Because the menu changes daily according to the fruits of their garden, and because I just can't get e-n-o-u-g-h, I tried to track down a few more gorgeous photos so you can continue to oogle and swoon at these works of art.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Welcome Home Salad with Nectarines and Roasted Cipollini Onions

In the midst of drafting memos and reading discovery requests (are you yawning yet?), I often find myself thinking about food--from what I am going to make for dinner to menu planning for some event that doesn't even exist yet. I don't think you understand--I love menu planning. I think that it should be a national policy to ask every person--maybe on graduation day from high school or college--Tell us, graduate: "What do you like to talk about?" This would be the perfect steer-you-in-the-right-direction question because when people love something-when they are passionate about something, it shows. Their eyes light up. Their voice becomes animated and excited. You can just tell. Then you hand them a card with their destined profession (matched up to their passions, of course, this isn't a caste system!) and dust your hands off and send them on their way!

So, the only problem with this scenario is that, in my case, if you had asked me this profound question on the day I graduated from college, I don't know what I would have said. Maybe my love for writing. But what I liked to talk about would not have been food. Because that didn't fully develop until about my second year into law school--when I was already full speed ahead on a one way path down a certain raging river, if you catch my drift. Ha!

So there it is. The lawyer who loves to talk about food.

My form of daydreaming frequently consists of menu planning. Sexy, I know. So when two of my friends, Aja and Erin, drove up from Los Angeles to San Francisco, they arrived weary and hungry--and full of junk food and candy eaten out of boredom and/or desperation along the way. I decided to make them something light yet comforting: some polenta cakes and a simple salad of mixed greens topped with heirloom tomatoes, slices of sweet nectarine and roasted cipollini onions.
Cipollini onions are sweeter than yellow or white onions, but not quite as sweet as shallots, but they are also small and flat which makes for perfect roasting. Instead of following a recipe, I gave them a good rub of olive oil, sea salt and pepper and then a quick douse of balsamic vinegar and put them in the oven at 350 degrees until they turned soft and melted, about 20-25 minutes. For the greens, I drizzled a little bit of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some sea salt and pepper. Keep it simple because the "dressing" and flavor will all come from the juices from the onions, which you can drizzle over the salad after the onions are roasted. Now, I added a last minute quick grating of some Parmegiano Reggiano, but you can leave this out if you want to keep it vegan...


Thursday, October 8, 2009


Vegenaaaaaaaaise! This staple of mine is a Follow Your Heart product that I simply will not even attempt to sell you on because there is no way to do so unless you just go out and abandon your Best Foods mayo and just try some. One taste and I am certain you will be hooked.
Egg free. Dairy free. Cholesterol free. Preservative free. Vegan. DELICIOUS.

Mostly, I use it in sandwiches or as a base for dips or, if I am feeling fancy, I might make some lemon-basil aioli. If you need 50 more ideas for various uses, check out this blogger who is a vegenaise fan.

The ingredients to this yummy sandwich moistener: grapeseed oil, filtered water, brown rice syrup, apple cider vinegar, soy protein, sea salt, mustard flour, and lemon juice concentrate.

Pure and simple. Get some.
Note: They also now have a reduced-fat version, which I have yet to get my hands on.
And while I'm at it, if you need a vegetarian bacon option for your sandwich: try Baconnaise. It makes the best vegetarian BLT!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vegan Avocado "Cream"

If you got caught doing something naughty (we won't get into the particulars, okay?), would you feel better about it if, in fact, it wasn't actually naughty--but just seemed naughty?! I would. That's kind of how I feel about some of my attempts to make "healthier" versions of things--especially vegan versions of things. Like when I make "sausage gravy" that is-get this-made with fat-free "sausage" and fat-free cannellini beans. It's like I am tricking my mind--and I'm not talking about the kind of mind trick Heintz is playing with their green ketchup. That's just wrong--I don't care if it "tastes the same". It's more like a gentle coercion of my mind and tastebuds into thinking that I am being incredibly indulgent on a Sunday morning when I scoop gravy over warm biscuits.

Same thing goes for using silken tofu to make vegan dishes creamy and rich like fettucine alfredo or even flourless chocolate cake!
This avocado "cream" blends silken tofu and avocado with a healthy dose of fresh parsley, scallions and basil to make an incredibly decadent topping. Depending on what you want to use it for, you can adjust its consistency by adding a little more water or lemon juice. Suggestions for use: sopes, salads, tacos or taquitos, sandwiches, dip for veggies, and tortilla wraps...


* 1 shallot, minced finely
* 1 clove garlic, minced finely
* 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
* 4 tsp. lemon juice
* 1/2 ripe avocado
* 6 ounces silken tofu
* 1 scallion, chopped
* 1.5 Tbsp. fresh parsley leaves, chopped
* 2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped
* 1/4 tsp. sea salt
* 1/4 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
* 2 Tbsp. water

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth. Add more water if necessary to thin it out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mango Lassi

In an effort to appease the ongoing Indian Food Mania, I've mastered making my favorite Indian beverage: the Mango Lassi. I used to drink them (read: guzzle) and think "whaaaaaaat is in that?!". Then one day, I asked the good people at Punjabi Tandoor who told me: sweetened mango puree, yogurt, milk, and sugar. That's it?! YES.

Now, I am sorry that I don't have a photo for you (I consumed it all before I even thought of taking a picture), but what is more important than a photo is the secret ingredient: canned sweetened kesar mango pulp or puree, which can mostly likely be found in Indian grocers or other ethnic shops. The mango flavor is intense (as though mangoes have been stewed down and strained until it is thick and sticky) and it is usually made with mango, sugar and citric acid so avoid anything that starts adding syrups or other unnatural substances.


* 1 cup plain yogurt (I used low-fat)
* 3/4 cup sweetened kesar mango pulp (I used Rani brand)
* 2 Tbsp. natural sugar
* 1/2 cup milk (I used soymilk)

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth and sugar has dissolved. You can add more milk if you want a thinner consistency.

Serves 2.

Yes, it really is that easy. And now it can be yours!

If you are looking to make a big batch (pitcher for a dinner party?), here is what I did:

* 1 large 30 oz. can mango puree
* 4 cups plain yogurt
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup simple syrup

YUM. Get your lassi on.