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:
This is where I show you my “nerd’s eye view” and tell you how much I love spreadsheets. A lot!
Well, I do…and I have quite a few that are food related. One for restaurants I love and frequent (categorized by distance, price range, ethnicity), one for new restaurants I’d like to try, one for my grocery list, and one for meal planning!
I’ve been cooking a lot more lately, so I decided it would be awesome to have a spreadsheet with a few different categories to help me plan meals. I came up with four basic columns: Protein, Starch, Type of meal, and Ethnicity. I was basing this list off the assumption that I would have a CSA membership and could use whatever produce I had that week, and each week I could use a random number generator to select something from each category for each meal. Each!
My husband, also a huge nerd, was really into my idea, and took it even one step further. He decided to write a computer script for me that would generate 5 meals at a time, without using the same ingredient twice. Unfortunately I have yet to start getting a CSA box, but I have started planning and making meals! Here’s what the script chose for me for last week:
Some of these combinations sound pretty weird, I know, but I mostly use them as inspirational guidelines. For instance, my European baked dish ended up as Lentil Shepherd’s Pie using recipes from Appetite for Reduction, and my American Brunch became Chipotle Chili With Sweet Potatoes And Brussel Sprouts.
Over the next few days I’ll go through all the meals I came up with using my awesome spreadsheet/script, but in the meantime, here’s a soy-ginger-garlic broth based soup I made for my sick husband last week. (Finally started using a real camera again, hooray!)
Asian style soup for the sick – with broccoli, sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, cilantro, green onions, and freshly cooked chickpeas! The broth is a mixture of fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, veggie broth, and green onions, strained.
Two yummy cakes I’ve made over the past few months:
Coconut cake with lemon curd filling and cream cheese frosting. Best cake I’ve ever made, hands down. This was the second year in a row I made it for my husband’s birthday, and it might just become a yearly tradition! If you want the recipe, just ask! The lemon curd is the real star. So tangy and refreshing! Luckily there is always some leftover to eat by itself.
Look at that. Two posts in one day! That’s some good making up for lost posts, man.
So, I’m sort of a minimalist. I grew up in a cluttered home, and unfortunately picked up a bit of the clutter bug. I try my best to fight against it, and have grown to hate collecting things. Throwing or giving things away feels SO GOOD. Maybe that’s why I’m such a foodie, and choose to pretty much only spend my money on good eatin’. You buy foodstuffs, you eat foodstuffs, then the foodstuffs are gone. (I won’t mention my often cluttered refrigerator. I like to pretend that doesn’t exist, thanks.)
Anyway, I like to splurge on food! So, in the past 9 or 10 months I’ve gone with my husband to Ubuntu, an all vegetarian (fancy!) restaurant in Napa, CA. We’ve gone for lunch both times to avoid crowds and were better off for it…natural light for crappy camera phone pictures makes a world of difference!
This place, while expensive is THE SHIZZ. People still say that, right? Well I AM. UBUNTU IS THE SHIZZ. Most of their produce comes from their backyard garden, and 3/4ths of the menu is vegan. My three course meal from our first trip there:
Beets! Beet tartar, roasted beets, shaved beets, beet chips, kale chips (candied kinda, and SO GOOD), crushed olives, beet hazelnut “soil”.
Roasted heirloom potatoes, fresh radishes, poached radishes in sauerkraut broth, sauerkraut mousse, and one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted: caramelized sauerkraut. I really have to make that some day.
Dessert was fennel pollen cake (?!) with poached apples (or pears maybe?), meyer lemon sorbet, satsuma orange caramel, and more hazelnut deliciousness.
Meal number two, which I just had last weekend, was technically a two and a half course meal since we split the dessert. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the salads, but I will tell you about them!
Mine was heirloom tomatoes presented in various ways with a creamy corn pudding garnish. The highlight was BY FAR the battered and fried tomatoes. I could have eaten a whole bowl of them! Sadly I have been disappointed with pretty much every tomato I’ve come into contact with in the past year, and these were no exception. For garden grown heirlooms they should have been bursting with flavor! Alas. My husband’s salad was different types of squash presented in different ways, also tasty.
The main courses were suited to our tastes perfectly. Mine was stewed and fried chickpeas with romesco sauce and arugula. Boy do I love me some chickpeas.
His was homemade tiny pasta that they were calling flagiola or something, but all my research on their shape shows that it’s commonly known as acini di pepe (peppercorns), in a smoky spicy brothy sauce. (Shown in the background of the picture above).
The dessert we split was similar to the last, and equally mouth-watering. Meyer lemon cake with pears(?), pluot reduction, black olive caramel, olive oil sorbet (some of the most refreshing stuff I’ve ever eaten), and some crazy delicious hazelnut brittle. The olive caramel was probably my least favorite thing on the dish…it didn’t quite compliment the cake in my opinion. Interesting flavor though, not at all bad by itself!
If you’ve got a bit of extra cash on hand and happen to be in Napa, I highly recommend this place. But hey, it’s got a Michelin star, so my recommendation probably isn’t worth much…
PS. I know “tomorrow” turned into “three days from now”, but I will make up for it by posting a bonus entry later today!
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.
I’ll be out of town Saturday – Tuesday, so just in case I don’t get a chance to blog (really don’t think I will), I’m counting this as my second MoFo post. Accept it!
I’ve eaten Mexican-style food at least once a day for the past, oh, I don’t know, 5 days now, but somehow I don’t get sick of it! Here’s what I made for dinner that has also been my lunch this week (boy I really gotta start using a camera that’s NOT my phone):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Chipotle Field Roast sausage links, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups short grain brown rice (uncooked)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can roasted and chopped green chiles
5 cups water
1 vegan bouillon cube or equivalent
1 can pinto beans (or equivalent amount fresh cooked beans)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pan, or in my case, dutch oven
Add onion, cook until translucent
Add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and oregano, cook for about a minute
Add sausage, cook until crispy and browned on one or both sides
Add garlic, cook until soft (a minute or so)
Add rice, mix in and toast for a minute or two
Add tomatoes with juice and chiles, stir to deglaze pan
Add water and bouillon, bring to a low boil
Cook for 15 minutes
Add pinto beans with liquid
Cover pot, simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked to your liking. Depending on how long you simmer, it will start off as a really thick stew, and over time become more of a creamy rice dish. If you’d rather have a dryer rice dish, add less water, and you should be good to go.
I topped each bowl with salsa since I had neither lime juice nor cilantro in the house, which I would have added otherwise. I used my favorite salsa in the whole world, locally made La Salsa Chilena. If you get a chance to try this stuff, DO IT!! For added nutrients, I’d throw in some greens or have salad or broccoli on the side next time.
Last week was restaurant week in San Diego, and though most of the menus weren’t very vegan friendly, I did manage to find one place with 3 vegan options. My husband and I went, he got a 3 course meal, I got 2 courses, and we shared his dessert. Oh, you want to know the restaurant? Indigo Grill!
Please excuse my fairly awful cellphone pictures.
My first course was this INSANE beet salad:
Description: orange segments, shaved fennel, lime-caraway dressing, dried beet chips (plus GIGANTIC roasted beet chunks/slices)
This picture may not make the salad look huge, but trust me, it was enough for FOUR people as a first course.
My main course was Good Things Growing
Description from website: Indian corn pudding, baked whole butternut squash with bourbon-pecan butter, caramelized plantain, honey roasted garlic, flatbread, pipan tofu with mole negro
Veganized version (pictured above): Butternut squash, roasted root veggies, grilled tofu (only one piece sadly), stuffed spicy pepper with pickled onions, caramelized plantains, roasted garlic, mixed greens with sliced pear.
Dessert was three types of really good sorbet: strawberry guava, grapefruit, and tangerine.
Overall, the meal was better than average, but nothing to get too excited about. If they actually veganized everything on the normal “Good Things Growing” plate, I have a feeling I would be dwelling on how good it was. In reality, nothing on the plate was especially memorable, and probably not worth $24. The beet salad, however, was only $10, and well worth it! Next time, I’ll ask to add grilled tofu and let that be my whole meal.