Market Chef : Julie Hasson

September 14, 2011 |  by  |  Chef Demos
I was going to start writing this post about 45 minutes ago, and take my time carefully crafting each sentence and idea as I always do – as you, dear readers, have come to expect of me! I say was because after talking to Julie Hasson on the phone, I just had to pop over to, a collection of videos she made with her husband where she teaches you how to make ALL kinds of scrumptious looking vegan treats. It was entrancing and drool-inducing. The fact that I hadn’t had dinner yet and it was already 9 pm wasn’t helping me tear my eyes from the screen, as I’m one of those weirdos for whom food on TV seems to satiate me in some odd way. Everything Julie cooks looks amazing, but may I recommend the chocolate chip cookie video? If you can make it to the Market this weekend, rumor has it she’ll be baking up those very same cookies and you’d be crazy to miss it.

Growing up with a health-conscious, garden-growing mom who knew her way around the kitchen in LA in the 70’s, Hasson was surrounded by good food from early days. This foundation sprouted her realization that food was important and something to love and appreciate, and this realization lead to the decision to attend culinary school after high school at UCLA, which had a culinary program at the time. Julie found herself cooking her way around LA restaurants during and after culinary school and found she had a bit of a penchant for baking. Around the time of the rise of Starbucks and the “coffeehouse boom” as Hasson describes it, she and her husband Jay opened Baby Cakes, a wholesale bakery in LA that catered to coffeeshops around town. Six fun, floury, buttery years later, she and Jay were a little burned out and ready for a change of scene. Longing to try a new city on for size, the two settled on Boise, where they wasted no time opening a baking and catering company. Julie says “I just knew I had to do food, I guess I just can’t not do food”. It was then that she began to write articles here and there for national food magazines such as Cooking Light and Bon Appetit. She began working on cookbooks a bit as well and after 6 years in Idaho, they were ready for another scene change – this time to our fair city! She has since put out 5 non-vegan cookbooks and a recent 6th called Vegan Diner, which features those incredible-looking aforementioned chocolate chip cookies, among countless, delicious sounding others.

After going vegan 5 years ago, prompted by a combination of reading Fast Food Nation and their teenage sons’ decision to become a vegetarian, recipe development wasn’t just for cookbooks anymore – it was about simply finding delicious ways to eat on their new plant-based diet!Then,  two years ago, she and Jay took that popular Portland plunge – they decided to start a food cart! Only 5 weeks passed between when they acquired the cart and their opening day, so it was a whirlwind birth of a dream, but Native Bowl seems to be treating everyone- the Hasson’s and everyone in Portland with $6 and an appetite – very well! “I love what I do. it’s really nice to connect with both the food and with people. When I was just writing books, it was really solitary, I was in the kitchen all the time – having to develop recipes all day. But I really didn’t get to see people and it’s so great to see immediate feedback and to really see reactions” she says of the busy, happy life of a food cart owner.Come visit Julie at the Montavilla Market this weekend, and check out her books HERE

Julie’s Soft And Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have quickly become our family’s favorite, which says a lot. We’re a very tough crowd to please when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. These babies are soft and chewy, and take only minutes to whip together. They also happen to be much lower in fat that traditional chocolate chip cookies.

Makes about 18 2-inch cookies

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of fine sea salt
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons soymilk or other non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal, preferably golden
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat silicone baking mats.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, oil, soymilk, flax meal and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring just until mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, 2-inchs apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove the trays from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Vegan Diner, by Julie Hasson, 2011, Running Press

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