Cook! Product Reviews

I mentioned in my post about FoodBuzz Blogger Festival that I really enjoyed the products from Cook! at at the Taste Pavilion. I reached out about working with them and they sent me some samples.

Before I jump into the products, let me tell you a little more about the company. It was founded my Nona Lim in San Francisco, who was inspired to create convenient and healthy food from cooking Singaporean food with her father as a child. She began consulting with physicians and testing allergy-free recipes with the goal of producing clean and nutritious meals. This means no dairy, no gluten, no preservatives, no transfats, and no high fructose corn syrup. Only ingredients from local organic and sustainable farms.

Then in 2011 Nona started the Cook! Delicous Detox program. Cook! provided its clean and healthy pre-made meals to a few test clients for a week and the clients began to see health improvements right away.

Today Cook! offers various meal programs and retail products. The three meal plans are Detox, Maintain, and Customize. You can select the program that is best for you and your health goals. You can find their packaged retail products in stores around the Bay Area.  The meal plans can be shipped nationwide, but the retail products can only be shipped to the Bay Area at this time.

I am not now, nor have I even been on, the detox meal program, but I think it is a fantastic idea. I think delivery meal programs are a good idea for people who either do not know how cook or do not have the time. But most of them are full of chemicals and poor quality food, which seems counteractive. This program, however, actually provides healthy food.  I also like the detox aspect of it. You need to get all the bad stuff out of your body so the good stuff can get in and start healing you.

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Now for the samples Cook! sent me. They arrived at my door step the next day, still frozen. This really impressed me, I have heard of other meal services arriving a week or more later. They come in individual packages that contain 1.5 servings each. You just pour out the contents and heat over the stove.

Thai Green Curry: I tried this one at the Taste Pavilion and it was so good I wanted to try it again. It a little creamy and very flavorful. It has a nice selection of veggies that are cooked perfectly.  I had this over rice for dinner one night after a long day and it totally hit the spot.

Tomato Soup: I have always thought that the “classic” canned tomato soup tasted nothing like tomatoes. But this soup was like biting into a sweet, vine-ripend tomato! It is perfectly seasoned too.  What I liked most is that it is not totally pureed. It still had a bit of texture, proving that it was made from fresh tomatoes. I went nicely with a piece of sourdough for lunch after a brisk bike ride.

Asian Lemongrass: I hate to say it, but I was not a fan of this soup. I love lemongrass, but I could not taste the it at all. It was actually kind of bland. However, the veggies and noodles were cooked perfectly. And I liked the big chunks of tofu. I think this has the potential to be a great veggie soup, just need some tweaking.

Thank you so much Cook!, I think this a terrific company with a mantra that the whole food industry should adopt! I hope we can work together again in the future.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Saturday Nigh Gala

This was hands down the best part of the whole festival. We could purchase guest tickets for this event, so once again I brought my sweetheart. It was exciting to get dress-up up and have “adult time” as Michael phrased it.

After the Taste Pavilion, it was such a lovely day so we walked through the city for awhile. Then we changed and head to to the Sir Francis Drake a bit early to grab a drink. I had a very yummy cocktail called “Nothing Rhymes with Orange” and Michael of course had an Anchor Steam.


Then shuttles took us over to the California Academy of Sciences for the gala. We started in the lobby where they servred melon agua fresca and this ahi appetizers that Michael loved, and once again I will just take his word for it. Then we wandered through the museum, passed the sharks and rays, and down stairs to the aquarium.

Sorry it’s so dark, best I could do!

There was an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. They had a special apricot martini that I could not get passed the first sip. I quickly switched to wine, Cupcake Vineyards to be exact. I started with a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Most of the passsed hors d’oeuvres were actually vegan! They had eggplant veggie crepes and veggie sushi rolls. Plus little tables with spreads, crackers, and nuts.

We mingled and stared at the fish. Michael even ran into an old friend and I ran into Kristianne (My San Francisco Kitchen) whom I had cocktails with the night before. She joined us for the rest of the night.

They ushered us back upstairs for a buffet dinner. We sat at a table with Danica from Danica’s Daily and her husband, Blair from Slovenian Roots Quest and her husband, and Petra from Strawberry Pesto.

I was kinda disappoint that the only vegan options were salads. Michael laughed and said, “I thought all you eat is vegetables?” I am not going to complain too much since they were actually really good.

The first table had an avocado and grapefruit salad in a wine vinaigrette, and a yellow beat salad.

The second table had an fennel and escarole salad in a champagne dressing, and an arugula and endive salad in a sherry vinaigrette.

For dessert I switched to the Sparkling Presecco. Their vegan options were an apple pate and almond raspberry cake bites. Kristianne literally grabbed one of everything, it was pretty funny.

Afterwards we just took the shuttle back and drove home. We were exhausted, but had a lot of fun. I am looking forward to next year already!

Thank you again to Foodbuzz and all the sponsors!

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Taste Pavilion

The second day of the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival started with a scavenger hunt at the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building…at 8:30 in the morning….I was still sleeping at 8:30 in the morning. I showed up around 10:30 and did not feel like doing the scavenger by myself. I did explore the vendor booths and use the $6 worth of tokens FoodBuzz gave me for a yummy spicy raw lettuce wrap from Alive!‘s booth. I sat and ate with a lovely view of the foggy Bay Bridge.

Messy but the gulls were happy to help.
Afterwards I slowly walked through the city to the Metreon for the Taste Pavilion. We could bring a guest to this event for free, so of course I invited my sweetheart. Michael was happy to help me sample local food and drinks. His favorite was the steak from grass-fed beef, which I will just take his word for it since beef might be the farthest thing from vegan.
I am going to discuss my three  favorite vendors:
Locally grown organic vegan snacks! And they are made from dehydrated veggies! The founder Justin was excited when he saw the name of my blog and told me all about the awesome organic produce they use. I love kale chips, and their Chessy Kale Chips really wowed me. The “cheese” is actually sunflower seeds and soy-free miso. The Seasoned Zucchini Sticks would be great to munch on and wash down with a beer during a game.
Aloha, my braddah! Liko was inspired to start an organic handmade ice pop company from his memories of making ice pops with his Tutu (Hawaiian for Grandma). Michael and I were not only happy to talk story with him, but more than happy to sample all of his delicious frozen treats. Michael liked the Yellow Watermelon Mint. I loved the Passionfruit Coconut, it reminded me of this shave ice I got almost everyday when I met my parents in Maui last summer.
Oh my, the Thai Green Curry might be the best I have ever had—and if you have read this blog before you know my love for Thai curry. Cook! is a gluten-free and dairy-free meal service for California, but they also have packaged retail products for sale. Michael loved the Zucchini Soup. I hope their products make their way to San Jose soon!
See my other blog, Drink Vegan Beer, for my review of Bison Brewing Company.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Review of Millennium

After the cocktail reception at Harry Denton’s Starlight lounge, we were turned loose in the city to dine at the restaurant of our choice compliments of FoodBuzz.

I chose Millennium, a mostly vegan restaurant located in The Hotel California. It was right around the corner from the Sir Francis Drake so I didn’t have to walk very far at all. It has a more modern decor, which goes nicely with the local organic menu.

They had a very nice liquor and wine list, but I went with beer. You can check out the review of California Common on my other blog, Drink Vegan Beer.

As my appetizer, the minute the waitress described the soup of the day I wanted it. Cauliflower and leek puree with chipotle oil and fried potato chips. It was creamy but light. The leaks stood out without being over powering (a problem I have when making leak soup). And I loved the spice from the chipotle oil. And the potato chip was fried perfectly.

For my entree, I selected the Sweet Soy, Chile and Peanut Glazed Tempeh. It came with anise and coconut black rice, snow peas, and Asian pear pieces. The glaze on the tempeh was so good, a little spicy but balanced with a little sweet. The veggies were just a little crisp still, which I love. The anise in the rice was very interesting and went well with the spiciness of the tempeh. And the Asian pear was a nice complement to the whole dish.

I lucked out and scored a free dessert because of FourSquare! I checked-in and received a coupon for a free dessert with the purchase of an appetizer and an entree.

I chose their signature, the Chocolate Almond Midnight. It was just rich enough without being over the top. The raspberry sauce drizzled over it provided a nice tart contrast. What really made this dish was the almond cashew crust.

As much as I loved Hawaii, I am happy to be back on the mainland where there are fabulous restaurants I can actually eat at again! I am so making Michael take me back here next time we go to the city for dinner.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival 2012: Cocktails at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room

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The first event for the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival was a cocktail reception at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, which is located on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. After my long and boring train ride to the city, I was more than happy to enjoy a drink and some conversation.

They had two complimentary cocktails, a peach spritzers and hibiscus martini. I hated the peach one but the martini was amazing. I had two!

There were vegan some hors d’oeuvres too! Sesame tofu with a little wakame, spicy melon skewers, mini beat salads. All went very well with my cocktails.

Another amazing thing—the view! It was a little foggy so we could not see the bay very well, so it was just a fantastic view of the city.

I had cocktails with two very lovely ladies, Brigitt from cook with b and Kristianne from My San Francisco Kitchen.  I also met the author of a blog I already love, Emily from Newly Wife. Check out their blogs too!

As for the Starlight room itself, the decor is a bit outdated and worn, but overall it’s a nice place. The service was great too. I would definitely recommend it for a cocktail before or after dinner, especially for a fun date night.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival

This weekend I attended the 4th annual FoodBuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco. I would like to thank FoodBuzz for hosting such a great event. I had a lot of fun! I would also like to thank my friend Jacklin for letting me stay at her place in the city. It was so nice to catch up and to not have to take the train back to San Jose at midnight. I am going to break-up my recap into four parts:

Cocktail Reception at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room
Dine About Town: Review of Millennium
Taste Pavilion
Saturday Night Gala at The Academy of Sciences

Peas and Carrots Gravy, Brought to you by Foodbuzz and Green Giant

You know what is even better than delicious vegetables? Free delicious vegetables! Foodbuzz Tastemaker program selected me for a free product coupon from Green Giant. I’ve preached the benefits of fresh produce on my blog several times before, but I sadly know that fresh produce is impractical for some people. Sometimes life gets in the way of using that lovely fresh spinach or broccoli that you bought with the best intentions. You might be too busy, too broke, or have picky kids. This is not an excuse to cut vegetables out of diet all together. It means frozen produce is your best bet. And, as if always ripe veggies all year round wasn’t cool enough, Green Giant has steamer bags. You don’t have to dirty another dish.

I was very excited when my coupon came in the mail, mainly because I hardly ever win things. But sadly, when I got to the store, I got a little discouraged. I had a hard time finding a steamer bag product that was vegan. In order to make their products as convenient as possible, some of the steamer bags come in their own sauce, usually a butter or cheese sauce. Now, I want to stress that my discouragement is not Green Giant’s fault. They have several products in their line that are sauce-free and vegan. The lack of options was because I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific. I went to another larger grocery store, I found a bag of delicious Green Giant sweet peas. 

The minute I saw the bag, for some reason I thought of white gravy with peas and carrots. I imagined it over some breaded and baked tofu with a roll on the side. A very tasty Sunday night dinner. 

Peas and Carrots Gravy

1/2 of an onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced into pea-sized pieces
1/2 bag Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Sweet Peas
1/2 cup to 1 cup of water or vegetable broth, for cooking the vegetables 
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup flour
2 cups water
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp oregano 
Salt and pepper to taste 

Chop the onions, garlic, and carrots. 

So, realized I didn’t have any oil or butter after I had chopped everything. I didn’t have enough money to run out and buy some, so I thought I would have to postpone this to Friday when I get paid again. Then I remembered a trick I saw on  VegWeb TV’s Youtube Channel. Sauté your veggies in a bit of water or vegetable broth! This won’t work if you want to caramelize, but just cooking through and softening is fine. This also cuts down on the fat too.

In a large skillet, heat about 1/4 cup of water or broth over medium heat. Once the water is heated, add the onions. Cook until the onions are translucent and the water is mostly gone.

Add some more water or broth, and then add the garlic and carrots. Cook until the carrots are soft and the water is mostly gone. 

While the carrots cook, microwave the bag of sweet peas according to the instructions. 

Add half the bag to the skillet, and save the rest for either a side dish or for something else. 

In a small bowl, mix together the 1 cup vegetable broth, soy sauce and flour into a slurry. Mix well to get the lumps out. 

Turn the heat down to low, and add the slurry to the skillet. The flour will start to cook and it will thicken up quickly. Just keep mixing so it doesn’t get lumpy. 

Add the final 2 cups of water and continue to mix until smooth. 

Add the sage, oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Let it cook a few more minutes on low to thicken up. 

I served the gravy generously over some breaded tofu from my South Dinner post, except I baked it instead of frying it, and a homemade roll. I even had some peas on the side for some extra green. 
The gravy is creamy, rich, and just a hint of sweetness from the peas. I will happily be eating the leftover gravy for the next few days. Thank you Foodbuzz and Green Giant!