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Yep, that’s right. I have been living in Slacktown. If you lived in Slacktown, too, I’d say “sue me!” but it’s just me here, crossing the border into Lesser Slackington.
Here are some terrible phone pictures from the fancy meal I had last week at Local Habit, accompanied by brief descriptions.
Corn pudding (more like a slab of slightly sweet polenta) topped with grilled onions, raw carrots, and a light dressing with some strong olive oil. It was tasty, but the olive oil actually overpowered the flavor of the pudding, so I was a bit disappointed in this one. The beer was a Bavarian Hefeweizen which was awesome.
Caramelized onion tart with roasted garlic and fresh tomato. This was my favorite course of the night. The crust was flaky and tender, and all the flavors were very present. I’m a simple gal, so I like me some simple food. The beer was a fruity Saison, brewed specially for this dinner. Also pretty tasty!
By this point I was pretty tipsy, so…no picture of the fourth course – buckwheat noodles with roasted mushrooms, allspice, and roasted veggie broth. The beer paired with this one was a Rye IPA, less strong than your typical IPA, which I liked about it. The mushrooms were good, though I wasn’t a huge fan of the noodles. They had a bit of a plasticky after taste.
I just barely managed to take this picture. This yam and sweet potato tart was another favorite of the night, though the agave caramel was kinda disappointing – more like sauce than caramel. The beer was a fantastic Imperial Porter…very chocolatey, coffee-ee, and all around delicious. That and the Hefeweizen were my favorite beers of the night.
All in all a great experience! Next time I hope they get a little more creative with the vegan options…add a little protein source here and there. They’ve got almond ricotta on their menu, so I know they can do it!
I promise in the next week or so I will post pictures of my tasty 5 course meal from last night, but in the meantime, I’ve run my fancy meal planning script again and have some ideas for the next couple weeks!
Here’s what the script came up with this time…all quite possible to stick closely to.
Stuffed acorn squash (w/creamy tofu rice and beans)
Oxtail-barley stew using Gardein beefless tips
Greek fava bean brunch with whole grain pita (spelt?)
Lentil sweet potato loaf with Thai curry
Any suggestions for the Greek brunch and stuffed squash would be helpful! Haven’t quite got those down in my head yet.
I really wanted this Tikka Masala to work out, but it tasted nothing like I remember. I thought it was pretty good, and my husband really liked it though, so that’s what matters! I wasn’t able to find pre-mixed tikka masala powder, so I searched the wide web of the world to find an approximate spice mixture, then I basically used this recipe. My changes included using slightly different veggies, agave instead of honey, plain coconut yoghurt, and I fried my tofu in safflower oil before adding to the sauce. The tofu came out perfectly! Next time I’m going to use my own tomato sauce instead of canned, tryout only soy creamer, and use a lot less salt.
The picture above is the tikka masala mixed with the Indian-spiced veggies and edamame. I used this recipe except roasted everything instead! They were really tasty.
I have a cold. Again. The second in as many months, and guess what? DO NOT LIKE.
So I haven’t been cooking, but I did manage to stumble upon some old food photos of things I’ve made in the past and never blogged about. I don’t remember many details, but there are a couple yummy looking things here! I’ll start with the crappier photos and work my way up.
I know those are fresh raspberries and chocolate ganache double layered on top of this cake, so I’m guessing it was the chocolate raspberry blackout cake from Vegan with a Vengeance. And yes, I only have ONE cake plate, ok? Don’t ask me why I took this picture of the cake in the refrigerator.
I think these are soba noodles with a light peanut dressing topped with cucumbers, roasted broccoli, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.
Lastly, here’s a creamy carrot, coconut milk, and ginger soup topped with cilantro. Mmmm, pretty!
Tomorrow, a very veg friendly restaurant here in San Diego (The Local Habit) is having a 5 course all vegetarian or vegan brewmaster’s dinner. Gotta go rest up so I’m all better for it! I’m going no matter how I feel though, you better believe it. Here’s what it says on the RSVP about it:
“Join us for this unique food and beer experience as Local Habit Chef Nick Brune and Black Market Brewing Head Brewer Ryan Brooks collaborate to bring you five delicious courses of farm fresh vegetarian/vegan food paired with five craft beers from this up and coming Temecula brewer.
First Course: Corn Pudding with Creole Trinity paired with Bavarian Hefeweizen
Second Course: Caramelized Onion & Tomato Tart paired with Saison with Coriander & Juniper Berries (cask)
Third Course: Truffled Potato Pot Pie with Carrot, Peas & Garlic paired with Anglo-American Brown Ale
Fourth Course: Roasted Mushrooms with Allspice & Nutmeg over Homemade Buckwheat Noodles paired with Rye IPA
Fifth Course: Yam Sweet Potato Tart with Agave Caramel paired with Imperial Porter (cask)”
I’m most excited about the Corn Pudding, but everything sounds so awesome. EEP!
So, my meal planner told me to make a baked or roasted European lentil dish with bread. That could have meant bread on the side of whatever lentil dish I made, but instead I decided to try the Upside-Down Lentil Shepherd’s pie from Appetite for Reduction. Except, I wanted to make that recipe upside-down. So it turned into a more traditional shepherd’s pie, with caulipots (a mixture of mashed cauliflower and potato) on top, and the tasty lentil stew on the bottom. I went about the recipes pretty much normally, except I used a whole cauliflower instead of a half, two zucchinis instead of one, transferred the lentils, then caulipots to a casserole dish and broiled until browned and crispish. For your viewing pleasure, here are the before and after serving pictures:
Today I planned on doing major grocery shopping. The hubby and I had been out of town visiting family, so there wasn’t much in the house. Then the rain came. Real, proper rain in San Diego. What a good excuse to stay in and make dinner from things already in house. While that wasn’t much, it was enough to make this recipe! Mmmm, Mac and Shews. Though I made it with one cup of sauerkraut, no nutritional yeast, and whole wheat rotelli (which works really well, too!). No pictures, but it basically looked like the stuff on Isa’s post, ‘cept not quite as perfect.
Tomorrow I’ll share my two trips to Ubuntu in Napa…one from this past weekend, and one from the beginning of the year. After that I’ll be bringing in my nerd’s eye view for realz, yo. Spreadsheets, anyone? Yeah. Spreadsheets.
Yesterday was the most productive day I’ve had in a long long time! I went to physical therapy, ran every errand on my list (quite a few), cleaned up around the house, and made dinner for my husband and two friends.
I’ve been thinking about this meal for a while, and finally got to put my plan into action. I picked up some summer squash from the farmer’s market and thought, “I wonder what would happen if I baked these in thin slices. Would they turn out like squash crackers?” I decided that if I did bake the squash and maybe some other veggies in thin discs, I could layer them with some sort of filling, top them with some sort of sauce, and have a fancy delicious dinner! The squash didn’t turn into crackers (except maybe the burned ones), but here’s what I ended up with:
Baked Summer Squash and Eggplant slices layered with Butternut Squash “Ricotta”, topped with Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream and Tomato Coulis
First thing’s first – preheat convection oven to 400 degrees, or normal oven to about 425 degrees.
for the cashew cream
I kind of threw this together, so the measurements aren’t exact. sorry!
about 6 cloves roasted garlic
about 1 cup soaked raw cashews
about 1.5 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper to taste
blend everything up in a blender until smooth, then heat through in a pan at medium-low heat. set aside.
for tomato coulis
loosely based on this recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tomato-coulis-alain-coumont
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes (usually this is made with fresh, but I didn’t have any)
8-9 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
5-6 small leaves fresh basil
2 tbsp olive oil
red pepper flakes, salt, pepper to taste
blend everything until smooth!
1 large butternut squash
2 yellow onions
1 package firm organic tofu
salt and pepper to taste
roast the butternut squash (I actually used 1 small and one medium squash, cut them into quarters, brushed them in olive oil in a large roasting pan, and roasted in a 400 degree convection oven for about an hour, covered in foil. I had about 3/4 of a squash leftover, so 1 large squash should be plenty.)
caramelize onions by cutting them in half and slicing them thinly, cooking on low heat for 30-40 minutes with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
when squash and onions are done, drain the tofu and crumble it into a food processor. add onions, squash, salt, and pepper and process until creamy and no chunks remain. you will probably need to scrape down the sides a couple times during the process.
2 medium sized regular zucchini
2 small round zucchini (or more regular zucchini, or any summer squash)
1 large eggplant
slice all veggies into thin rounds (about a quarter of an inch thick)
oil as many large roasting pans or cookie sheets as you want (I did all the veggies in batches using 2 small pans and one large)
lay each slice flat on the pans and brush lightly with olive oil
sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper if you like
bake each batch of veggies for 12-15 minutes
1. start with one slice of eggplant, then scoop a large spoonful of filling on top
2. layer three slices zucchini on top, then another spoonful of filling
3. repeat steps 1 and 2, then top off with an eggplant slice.
4. spoon cashew cream over veggie stack until it flows over the edge
5. spoon tomato coulis onto the top center of the stack
6. garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil
On the side I added a very simple salad of wild arugula (or rocket as I’ve been hearing Jaime Oliver call it a lot lately) and sherry vinegar.
We ate this at room temperature, which worked well for the warm summer evening, but I’m sure you could keep everything warm before assembling and eat it that way if you’re organized enough…I definitely am not!
For dessert we had fresh organic strawberries with a little dulce de leche (recipe from Viva Vegan), and some simple chocolate sauce (melt 72% dark chocolate with some vanilla soymilk).
Lessons learned: Productivity good. Cooking fun. Food yum. Friends nice!
I was going to post my own “Food Network Friday” type entry tonight, but I lost energy somewhere around 3pm, so I will have to save it for tomorrow. Substitution Saturday maybe?
Speaking of substitutions…I tried the seitan I made last night tonight. I don’t think I marinated it enough though…I grilled it on my grill pan, and the really crispy dark brown bits were tasty, but the rest of the bits, I’m sad to say, weren’t up my alley. The flavor of the plain seitan was not what I was expecting, I suppose.
Please give me suggestions! I would be ever so grateful.
I also tried my hand at a well known vegan alfredo sauce made with silken tofu, but alas, I found that lacking as well. It tasted too much like the silken tofu! I guess my tongue has a penchant for tasting my least favorite flavor the most, and ignoring the yummy flavors all around it. I do think I can tweak it by adding more stuff to cover up the silken tofu flavor, I’m just not sure what yet. It is very creamy though! If I ever make it again, I might just leave out the tofu altogether. As the French say, Le sigh! Not a great night for cooking experiments.
I was in Napa Valley the other weekend for a couple combined in-lawish birthday celebrations. While no one in the family is vegan, a couple are cutting dairy out of their diets for health reasons, so I was asked for tips on making soy ice cream! The b-fri’s mom has a big beautiful ice cream maker, and I had access to the best soy ice cream blog ever: http://veganicecream.blogspot.com/. I said I would not only give tips, but I would make it myself!
There were a couple of hitches:
1. No arrowroot in the house. I used cornstarch instead.
2. A couple family members were also trying to cut out sugar, or at least cut down on it. They suggested adding splenda instead of sugar to the mix, but since we were using mostly Hazelnut Soy Delicious creamer (and some So Delicious coconut creamer), I decided that rather than adding fake sugar (which really puts me off), I wouldn’t add any, figuring if the ice cream wasn’t sweet enough people could add their own. I was fairly certain I would have no problem without adding any.
It turned out delicious, if even a bit too sweet for my tastes! The texture was perfect. I was also lucky enough to get some vegan brownie from Whole Foods to go along with it (while everyone else ate very not vegan Tiramisu cake). Terrible cell phone picture follows:
That night I was also able to try out Amy’s Rice Crust Vegan Spinach Pizza, which I would never buy myself (it’s so expensive!) but was happy to have for dinner there. It was a lot tastier than I expected, actually, even after I left it under the broiler for a bit too long. And really, who doesn’ t like a bit of burnt soy cheese now and then?!
Oh I should also mention the sandwich I had for lunch today from Whole Foods (I don’t usually splurge there, but the sandwiches are HUGE and very tasty and reasonably priced, especially since I split it.)
Anyway, we opted for sourdough with dijon, olive spread, grilled veggies, pickles, lettuce, tomato, pepper, and the curried eggless tofu salad, which is my favorite tofu salad no question. Let’s just say I will be getting this exact sandwich every time I go there for lunch now, since they started using Daiya cheese on their vegan pizza. Boo, but yay.
This vegan questionnaire going around caught my eye today, so I’ve decided to hold off the next food porn until tomorrow. Check it, yo!
1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
I know I’ve said this before, but Trader Joe’s refrigerated Vanilla Soymilk is the best EVER. Also Silk Chocolate is great when I’m craving dessert, but don’t want to bake.
2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Definitely planning on chickpea quinoa pilaf from Veganomicon, some sort of Moroccan lentil stew (yay for fall weather!), and a fruit crumble.
3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Kettle corn would have to be my favorite, but I guess that’s not a topping per say. Olive oil and garlic salt is pretty amazing if I’m feeling like a more savory snack.
4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
I’ve messed up quite a lot, but never to completely disastrous results…except perhaps the other day when I made cornmeal-chili crusted baked tofu (again from Veganomicon) and forgot to spray oil on before baking. It was like I’d found triangles of tofu on the beach and decided it would be a good idea to eat them for dinner.
5. Favorite pickled item?
Clausson’s dill pickles cannot be beat, as much as I’ve searched for cheaper pickled cucumbers.
6. How do you organize your recipes?
Huh, organization? What’s that? I have a drawer full of paper and a shelf with cookbooks…
7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Garbage disposal for the most part. I wish I had a place to compost nearby!
8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?
Lentils for sure, perfectly ripe nectarines…some sort of veggie like kale, collards or rapini, probably. Ask me tomorrow and I’m sure I’ll have a different answer.
9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
There are so many! My mom is a great cook. I used to be a ballet dancer (until I was 14) and man could I EAT. I remember one night eating four baked potatoes without being full or gaining weight. Boy were those the good ol’ days.
10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
I helped make the most amazing chocolate peanut butter soy ice cream once. I could LIVE on the stuff. If Double Rainbow made their chocolate peanut butter vegan, I would be in heaven.
11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
I think the Kitchen Aid food processor wins over the mixer…it simplifies so many things!
12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Tarragon or cumin or curry powder or cinnamon…
13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Hmm…The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas, probably. The Semicircular Vegan got it for me before I became vegan, but it’s got ways to veganize everything in it!
14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
There is a local jam company that makes AMAZING tart plum jam.
15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Hmm, possibly Tofu Marsala. It’s so elegant and delicious.
16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Depends on how they’re prepared!
17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Brunch is a lot of fun on the weekends, but otherwise I’ll stick with dinner.
18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
A super large roll of aluminum foil that won’t fit in the drawer and boxes of cereal. Used to keep wine up there, too, but since I moved recently and bought extra counter space (with shelves!) there is more room for that now.
19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs, frozen artichokes, frozen mango.
20. What’s on your grocery list?
fFor now…soymilk, tofurkey, and whatever fruit and veggies are on sale.
21. Favorite grocery store?
Henry’s Market and Trader Joe’s probably…though I also love Whole Foods and Jimbo’s if I’m flush with CASH.
22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.
Fettuccine Alfredo. One of these days I’ll get the courage…
23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway – Amazing photography and really tasty recipes
Get Sconed – YUM
Vegan Dad – Fun and easy recipes, for the most part
24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Trader Joe’s dark chocolate bars, plain and simple. Cheap and sooo good.
25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Hmmm…I have really been cutting back on buying expensive things from the store, but I guess that big bag of raw cashews wasn’t exactly easy on the wallet.
26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
I still haven’t made my own seitan, even though people keep telling me it’s easy. I crave setain cutlets though, so it will happen soon!