So Delicious Dairy-Free Yogurt

img_6926

Of all the dairy products I’ve had to give up, yogurt is the one I miss the least. Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I was eating yogurt on a daily basis, mostly because I thought it was good for me. You know, healthy gut bacteria and all that. I learned to make it palatable by mixing it with fresh fruit, granola, and a little honey, but I can’t say I ever looked forward to it as much as, say, eggs and bacon.

Nevertheless, when I saw that So Delicious had come out with a dairy-free, coconut-milk-based yogurt, I was curious enough to try it. I’ll cut to the chase: other than being sour, it tastes nothing like yogurt. It has such a strange flavor that if you didn’t tell me it was supposed to be yogurt, I would have no idea what it was. I wouldn’t dream of eating this stuff straight up.

I did try using it in a couple of recipes, though, including a tandoori chicken marinade that calls for a few tablespoons of plain yogurt. The So Delicious yogurt worked fine in this context, probably because the other flavors in the marinade were strong enough to mask its weirdness.

I also used it to make a mango lassi with less favorable results. I tried it several times, tweaking the recipe each time, and all versions came out so poorly that I won’t even post the recipe here.

img_6922
Failed mango lassi. Looks better than it tasted.

I will, however, post the tandoori chicken recipe. Just know that you may be stuck with a pint of So Delicious yogurt that you won’t know what to do with. You could force yourself to eat it for the “active live cultures,” or you could just take a probiotic and call it a day.

img_3837

Tandoori Chicken Recipe

2 chicken quarters or 6 chicken wings
3 tablespoons Sharwood’s Tandoori Spice Curry Powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons plain yogurt (So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk)
3 tablespoons lemon juice

If using chicken quarters, remove skin. With a sharp knife, make 5 to 6 shallow cuts into each side of chicken. Place chicken in a Ziploc bag.

In a small bowl, combine tandoori spice, olive oil, vinegar, yogurt, and lemon juice. Stir well. Pour mixture into Ziploc bag with the chicken, squeeze out excess air, and seal bag shut. Marinade in refrigerator a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Grill chicken over direct high heat for 2 minutes each side, then move chicken to indirect heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Discard remaining marinade.

img_7262
I first discovered this at a British import shop, but you can buy it online.

Jamaica’s Cakes

img_0676

The first time I heard of Jamaica’s Cakes was when the HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm had a storyline about penis-shaped cakes, like the kind you see at bachelorette parties. This bakery doesn’t actually specialize in erotic cakes, but I read that Jamaica, the owner and head baker, made all the cakes that were used in that episode.

When my husband and I got married, I wanted our wedding cake to look like a giant Hostess cupcake. So we ordered exactly that from Jamaica’s. The proportions were a little off, but everyone knew what it was supposed to be — and it was absolutely delicious.

IMG_5342.JPG
My husband and I added the Pez dispensers.

This week I finally tried one of the vegan cupcakes at Jamaica’s. The cake was moist and dense (in a good way), and the frosting was smooth, not gritty or oily. It had too much frosting for my taste — I prefer Big Sugar Bakeshop‘s frosting-to-cake ratio. But I did think that the rainbow sprinkles, along with its not quite uniform shape, gave the cupcake a fun homemade look and childlike appeal.

img_0674
Jamaica’s vegan chocolate cupcake

Now for the bad news. When I asked what they used in place of butter, they told me margarine. Remember margarine, the imitation butter that was all the rage back when people thought butter was bad for you? It’s made mostly of vegetable oil, but after the oil is processed (what is known as hydrogenation), it can’t be recognized by the body. (You may remember the big ado when the no-fat “oleo” was causing “anal leakage.”)

Some margarines are now made to be more healthful, phasing out the use of hydrogenated oils. But I have to admit it still grosses me out. Even though I’m lactose-intolerant, I can handle small amounts of butter, and I would choose butter over margarine any day.

Given this, I probably won’t go back for a cupcake, but I might consider Jamaica’s if I need another custom cake. Just not a vegan one.

JAMAICA’S CAKES, 11511 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

Boba 7

If you find yourself jonesing for boba in downtown LA, you must try Boba 7, a hidden hole-in-the-wall on 7th Street between Olive and Grand. What makes Boba 7 special is that they serve alcoholic boba drinks, including one called “Barack Bobama,” made of soju (a Korean distilled spirit that takes kind of like sake), mint, blueberry, and boba. According to the cheeky menu, you should order this “if you love America and blueberries.”

Another alcoholic boba drink I’m dying to try is the “Bruce Lychee,” containing soju lycheetini and lychee jelly. For a lychee fanatic like me, this sounds like nirvana. And you’ve got to love a drink whose name is a pun on Bruce Lee.

Then there’s a whole column of beverages labeled “Drinks Without Cool Names.” These are your standard boba drinks: flavored teas, milk teas, and smoothies. Like Volcano Tea House (my go-to boba joint), Boba 7 uses non-dairy creamer instead of milk, but theirs doesn’t have that artificial taste that I don’t like about Volcano’s.

So what did I order at Boba 7? The “Horchata Boba.” An example of fusion cuisine at its best, this is homemade cinnamon-flavored rice milk with boba in it. I’ve always loved Mexican horchata because it tastes like rice pudding, but it’s dairy-free. The addition of boba pearls gives it a nice heartiness. These boba aren’t as soft as I prefer, but are great if you like your boba al dente.

horchata
Horchata Boba

My husband had a “Boba Beam,” made with soju, lemonade, Blue Curaçao, and lychee popping boba. The latter are like little lychee bombs that explode on your tongue with a burst of lychee syrup. It’s a peculiar sensory experience not unlike eating Pop Rocks.

Next time I’m definitely getting the “Blood Orange Dreamsicle.” The barista let me try a sample of this ice-blended beauty, and it tastes exactly like an orange Creamsicle. But it’s alcoholic and dairy-free. Which means… time to par-tay!

471-107781-otg_creamsicle_bar_300x300
Imagine this as a boozy smoothie.

Here are just a few other things I love about Boba 7:

  • Menus are printed on laminated sheets, so you can peruse leisurely instead of standing at the counter, squinting at the wall. You can also read their menu online.
  • You can pick your level of sweetness, ranging from 25% to 125%.
  • There’s a drink called “Boba Fête.” For years I’ve been saying Disneyland needs to open a boba truck called “Boba Fett’s.” (Perhaps in the new Star Wars Land. Keep your fingers crossed.)

Just a note that Boba 7 is easy to miss; it doesn’t even have a sign. You have to enter through a fancy Thai restaurant called Soi 7 and walk all the way to the back. You’ll know you’ve reached boba heaven when you see a chalkboard that says “SUCK MY BALLS.” Boba balls, that is.

Be sure to visit Boba 7 in the next month, before they shut down. The employees told me that the owner is hoping to open another shop elsewhere, but the hard part is getting a liquor license. LA needs this place way more than another hipster bar serving overpriced IPAs and artisanal cocktails. You know what those places can do?

suckmyballs

BOBA 7, 518 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014

Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Bars

coconutbliss

As Labor Day marks the official end of summer, I wanted to wrap up my dairy-free summertime treats series with a great ice cream review. Unfortunately, I can’t give a thumbs-up to Coconut Bliss Coconut Almond in Chocolate Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Bars. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m a fan of Coconut Bliss Mint Galactica, and I’m always keeping an eye out for new products from Luna & Larry.

I really wanted to like these because they look just like Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Milk Chocolate Almond Bars, one of my favorite treats from my dairy-eating days. The Häagen-Dazs bars contain the richest, creamiest vanilla ice cream coated in thick, high-quality chocolate studded with crunchy roasted almonds. They’re ridiculously good.

fl_bars_vanillamilkchocolatealmondbar_hero
Häagen-Dazs, the Holy Grail of ice cream bars

The problem is, the Coconut Bliss bars taste nothing like the Häagen-Dazs ones, even though they look alike. The Coconut Bliss ice cream inside the bar is not vanilla-flavored. When I bit into one, I had to check the box again and realized that nowhere on the package does it say “vanilla.” I just assumed because of the Häagen-Dazs resemblance.

The ice cream is, in fact, coconut-flavored. The worst part is that it’s not smooth, but rather thoroughly infused with bits of coconut shavings that give it a gritty texture. If you like coconut shavings, you might like this. I don’t.

On top of that, the chocolate coating is far inferior to the Häagen-Dazs one. It’s just low-quality chocolate. And the almonds taste stale.

All in all, a huge disappointment. Why, Luna & Larry, why?