I have two eating personalities at war within me: one is a real '70s California Girl. She gets genuine pleasure from sprouts and sesame dressing and jiggly blocks of tofu. She lives for brown-rice pudding and chia seeds blended into a gray-green smoothie that has a texture akin to getting sand blown in your face. She wants to take all her meetings in the back of a dingy health-food store, surrounded by women with long grey braids and purple hemp Nehru-collar coats. She will always try an algae shot or some aloe water.
But then there's the girl I like to call Luxury Foods Pizza Queen. She subsists solely on hamburgers, fancy prosciutto sandwiches, and late-night pizza, possibly followed by a Funfetti doughnut. She feels a unique mix of nausea and elation at all times. She is living her truth — and it's also giving her diarrhea.
In an effort to streamline my adult life and stay healthy as a woman with a chronic illness, I've had to kiss Pizza Queen good night for the most part. But sometimes she comes roaring out with a vengeance, demanding to be heard. Which is why it was so amazing when my friend Jessica Murnane, founder of One Part Plant, introduced me to Butcher's Daughter.
This place is more than a café — it's a lifestyle. Founder Heather Tierney's mission is to treat veggies like you would meat and create the kinds of dishes (a spaghetti-squash carbonara, an egg sandwich with tempeh bacon, avocado, and homemade ketchup) that both California Girl and Pizza Queen can get behind. I also love the ambience of the place (the Nolita location in NYC is my home base, although it's also popping in Venice Beach) with its proto-Etsy hanging plants/reclaimed wood energy. Plus, the color-blocked graphic design on the prepackaged juices is so on point that Pantone should take a look and get inspired.
Butcher's Daughter has been generous enough to share two of my favorite recipes — a grilled cheese that can easily be made vegan and a smoothie that tastes way more indulgent than the ingredients would suggest — so you can capture some of this magic at home. And even if you're culinarily challenged like me, these recipes are simple enough that you could impress a friend without even boiling water.
We've all had that "I goddamned deserve this!" moment with a brownie or In-N-Out (pick your poison) and the "I guess I need this" moment with a salad or three. It turns out the two realities can live in sweet, sweet harmony — just ask the Butcher's Daughter.
SEASONAL GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
GRILLED ASPARAGUS WITH BRIE
(Please note that you can substitute vegan cheese as well.)
Makes 4 sandwiches
2 medium white onions
3 tbs. grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
1 bunch of thyme
3 tbs. butter, plus more for grilling sandwich
1⁄2 cup Vegenaise "mayo"
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1⁄4 cup horseradish
2 bunches of medium asparagus
1 loaf of sourdough, or even brioche
1⁄4 wheel of Brie (soft ripened cheese) or Camembert
Step 1: Start with caramelizing your onions. Place onions, either diced or sliced, in a large smoking-hot pot with the grapeseed oil. Let onions cook down, stirring every 5 minutes to ensure even browning. Once onions have a dark chocolate-brown color, season with salt and pepper. The taste should have a nutty and caramelized depth to it. Finish cooking onions with 1⁄4 cup of chopped thyme and butter.
Step 2: Mix Vegenaise, Dijon, and horseradish in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper; make sure it has a nice balance of spice from the horseradish and Dijon.