Thursday, October 19, 2006

(thursday) food round-up

Hi everyone and welcome to the weekly food round-up. This week, it comes to you on Thursday instead of Friday, because this is going to be a very busy weekend. On Friday, I'm headed to New York City, and then on Saturday, I'm headed to Boston for VegFest! I hope to have good stories and photos from both trips to post for you this weekend.

With the exception of one or two, most of our meals this week came from an intensive bout of batch cooking that we did on Sunday. This allowed us to eat well while having an extremely busy week.

However, the week started off on this lovely note:

Daiku has perfected a Moussaka recipe filled with good stuff (eggplants, mushrooms, tomatoes) without the bad stuff (uh, lamb). We ate this decadent yet surprisingly healthy dish for dinner with an arugula salad topped with a orange-balsamic glaze and a hearty Shiraz wine.

This dish is incredibly easy to make, here is the recipe:

Daiku's Vegan Moussaka: (4 large servings)

  • one medium eggplant, cut into 1/2" slices
  • 1.5-2 C. your favorite tomato sauce
  • 1 cup mushrooms of choice, sliced (we used cremini)
  • 3/4 C. whole wheat bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
1 C. Bechamel Sauce:
  • 2 TB Earth Balance margarine (or vegan non-hydrogenated margarine of choice)
  • 2 TB flour
  • soymilk as needed
  • salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice your eggplants into 1/2 inch slices and sprinkle with salt. Have your eggplant, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and bread crumbs ready to assemble before you make the Bechamel sauce. To make the sauce, melt margarine in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Carefully add the flour and whisk until a light roux has been created. Carefully add soymilk, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a soft boil. Add more soymilk gradually until you have achieved a thick but pourable consistency. To thicken, continue to heat, to thin out, add a bit more soymilk. Salt to taste.

To assemble Moussaka, spread a small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of a medium casserole dish. Follow with a layer of eggplant (salt rinsed off and patted dry), then another layer of tomato sauce. Top with mushrooms and about 1/3 of your bechamel sauce. Repeat, starting with the eggplant, until you have assembled all of your ingredients. End with remaining tomato and bechamel sauces, and top with bread crumbs. Salt and pepper to taste.

Bake for 55-65 minutes until the top is brown, the sides are bubbly, and the eggplant is tender. This is a flexible recipe, sometimes we splash on a little red wine before adding the final layer of sauce. Enjoy!

* * *
The next night, I made a tofu egg salad with: firm tofu, chopped celery, fresh dill, vegannaise, pickles, onions, and spices.

We had this for a smorgasboard-type supper with sliced baguettes, olives, vegetables, grapes, and some more red wine. (On the right, you can see that Daiku also had some cheese: a hunk of Saint Nectaire, a French cheese that is so stinky, even our cats won't come near it!)

Over the weekend, we picked some leeks from our garden.

They had not thrived in our climate (some were smaller than scallions!), but they were too nice to let go to waste.

The first plan was to make a Vichyssoise, a cold leek and potato soup. However, since we were a bit low on potatoes, and still had a variety of squash from the previous week, we decided to make ... Squashyssoise. We roasted a butternut squash in the oven while makeing a soup base with the leeks, homemade leek and vegetable stock, carrots, and spices. (I added a hint of cinnamon, because I love the squash/cinnamon combo). We blended the squash and the soup together and made enough soup for several servings. This soup was good whether served warm or cold.

What are some other things we made in large batches?

New Orleans Red Beans + Rice:

Thanks to his years of living in New Orleans, Daiku has a large repertoire of Cajun/Creole recipes. Unlike most other ones, this one is vegan to start out with, and doesn't need to be modified in any way. The secret is to cook the beans for a long time (we had them on the stove for over 8 hours while we cooked other things) so that their proteins break down and you get the tell-tale "gravy" that makes this style of red beans so distinctive.

Dilled Potato Salad with Green Beans:

I combined roasted red potatoes with steamed green beans, chopped onion and celery, fresh dill, and a dressing of vegannaise, Dijon and yellow mustards, apple cider vinegar, and a dash of olive oil. I just love potato salads of all kinds, and this one absorbed the flavors really well because the ingredients were warm.

2 more batches of pesto:

Several people had blogged about making pesto with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and so I had to try that! Since our basil plant has survived its move inside the house, I took advantage of it to make and freeze 2 batches of pesto for the long winter, when we will be desparate for a taste of anything green! Here are the pine nuts and the pepitas toasting.

* * *
The Battle of the Roasted Vegetables:

Usually, Daiku and I work pretty harmoniously in the kitchen, but every once in a while, we just butt heads. One night, we wanted to roast some vegetables for dinner, but we couldn't decide which ones to make or how to make them. We finally decided to make two separate batches, each roasting our veggies just the way we wanted. Bazu's sweet potatoes had olive oil, pepper, cinnamon, jerk seasoning, and just a touch of brown sugar. Daiku's brussels sprouts had olive oil, raisins and some fried shallots. They ended up going pretty well together.

* * *
Green Tomato Update

Thank you so much to everyone who gave us suggestions and sent us links about what to do with our green tomatoes. We used your ideas for quite a few things.

Some of the green tomatoes ended up ripening:

We made some into fried green tomato sandwiches. I can not believe that I had never eaten this amazing delicacy before! Tart-sweet green tomatoes breaded with cornmeal, fried up and eaten on sliced bread with nothing but a touch of vegannaise... so dreamy.

Shelly had suggested the dill green tomato pickle recipe from the Ball Blue book, which we followed to pickle some of the tomatoes. Well... we didn't actually pickle, since we don't have a canner and don't really know what we're doing. We followed the recipe and put them in jars and then... stuck them in the fridge. They smelled so good- can't wait to try them! We modified the recipe (which called for fresh dill, bay leaves, and garlic) in some of the jars by experimenting with adding peppercorns, peppers, and celery seeds.

We still have some green tomatoes left! These last babies might go into a green tomatoe salsa of some sort.

* * *

Ending with a cliffhanger...

Guess what I received in the mail...

And I've already gone out and bought a ridiculous amount of paraphernalia...

Stay tuned in future food round-ups for a slightly rounder and happier Bazu to bring you creations from... [with apologies to Tania for copying her picture idea]






Urban Vegan said...

holy smokes, you're prolific. it all looks amazing, as usual.

Nikki said...

Moussaka! Yum!

It's funny, everytime I hear that word I think of that skit from SNL with Will Farrell & Chris Walken (I forget who the female was ... Anna Gastior or Rachel Drach maybe) and they were speaking of a sultry time in Greece. It was really funny.

Glad to hear you'll be at Vegfest! :) Will you be going to the Isa and Terry demo?

laura jesser said...

Wow, looks so good! I'm quite interested in the red beans and rice--I love Cajun cooking! Yours looks ABSOULTELY perfect.

I've never tried moussaka, but I think it would be pretty good...

Everyone is making the cutest cupcakes now! I can't wait to see what you cook up!

aTxVegn said...

I love squashyssoise! Looks like you ate well for the week.

Can't wait to hear about Vegfest!

Emmy said...

Wow, sounds like you have a fun, yet busy weekend ahead. I hope you have a great time and look forward to hearing about it :)

That Moussaka looks fabulous. YUM. The whole table setting looks great. What a lovely meal. Rob would totally love the tofu egg salad. That's great you grew leeks this year. It's a shame they didn't get full size. I love the Squashyssoise name!!! Too funny. It sounds like a delicious soup though.

That Red Beans and Rice picture is making me hungry. I really need to have a snack or something before I start visiting blogs....Pepita Pesto sounds so good!!! You both made some scrumptious looking roasted veggies. I love roasted veggies.

Ooooh, you got the Vegan Cupcakes book. I have to wait until next month for mine (I'm getting it for my birthday). Can't wait to see what you make from the cookbook.

Have a wonderful weekend :)

theONLYtania said...

Everything looks great! I have yet to try eggplant.. I keep meaning too! Same with the tofu egg salad.

Hey.. in the pine nuts and pepitas picture.. I can see your reflection.

I am totally rooting for the sweet potatoes over the brussel sprouts :-P

And of course.. love the picture of you and the new book!

Chris said...

Wow! What an awesome spread! I really want to try the moussaka. For me to like eggplant it's gotta be cooked right and that looks like it's cooked just right.

By the way, we had your brats with sauerkraut & potatoes for dinner tonight and it was delicious.

Judy said...

Yum, yum, yum, and yum!

bazu said...

U.V. Thanks! I'm not that prolific, just lazy enough to lump a whole week into one post!
Nikki, I don't know if I know the sketch you're referring to, I remember one with Kirstie Alley, where the Greek- or wait, they were Italian- waiters were licking her face and stuff...! I'm so looking forward to vegfest, and I'll definitely try to make it to Isa's cooking demo, ready with a book to sign and a photo to take (cause I'm a stalker like that!). Are you going to be there?
Laura- you are so nice. A compliment on our red beans and rice, from someone living in the south means a lot! Isn't cajun food the best?
Atxvgn, I promise to take great pictures, no matter how weird I'm going to have to act to get them - he he. And I'll be sure to post 'em!
Emmy, you are so funny- and it's true- if I blogsurf on an empty stomach, watch out! Suddenly, I'll want to make everything I see... like a certain beautiful plum cake...
Tania, whoops! I didn't realize you could see my reflection in there! Oh, and you can even see the basil I used to the left. Hee hee. Too bad I was wearing an XL grey hoodie. And awesome: sweet potatos 1, brussels sprouts 0- I win! Just kidding.
Chris, thanks- I agree that it's sometimes hard to get eggplant just right. Oh, and I'm so glad you guys liked the potatoes/sauerkraut thing! It's comfort food for me.
Judy, thank you! =)

Nikki said...

You bet your sweet potato I'll be there! :)

springsandwells said...

Rock on Bazu!!!
I love your blog so much... and your great Vegan Cupcakes picture!
:) hee hee

Candi said...

WOW, you sure make up for being gone on the weekend! lol! That first picture is gorgeous! Moussaka! YUM!

I've never had tofu eggsalad, but I have to try it! Maybe this weekend!

The leeks and the potato soup look awesome! I especially LOVE that potato dill salad though!

let us know how the pestos turn out and how you like the pumpkin seed one!

Fried green tomato sandwiches look awesome! I love all the canning you did too. That looks fun to me, and being able to have them in the future and at hand is great!

LOL! VCTOTW book! LOL! What a cute picture! You are too cute!!! LOL! Such an amazing little book, huh?

Have a great time this weekend! I am SO SO SO envious of VegFest, and please say hello to Boston for me. I sure miss it!!! Have a great time!!!!!!

Jackie said...

Thanks for the moussaka recipe.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the Vegfest.

wheresmymind said...

If ya see a goofy guy walking around with a big camera taking pix..come on over and say hi!!! I'll be around downtown for various events on Sat :D

Kati said...

All your food looks so delicious - I'll be adding you as a link on my blog, if you don't mind.

And I'm originally from Cortland - yay upstate NY!

Gaia said...

Bazu, I'm in awe ! Everytime I visit you, my jaw drops an inch lower LOL
Everything you guys make is exquisite ! Wow !

I am completely IN LOVE with dill and so I'm in heaven reading this post. ;-)
I think the only difference between your tofu salad and mine is the pickles. I'll try adding some.

Have a great weekend !

Geraldine said...

Wow, what a post!!! Everything looks terrific.

I keep seeing your name around Blogland, thought Id stop by. Your blog rocks!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the moussaka recipe -- can't wait to try it. I'm with Laura, your red beans/rice looks fantastic. I can't seem to get that thick gravy with my beans.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try Daiku's Moussaka. I've been going a little eggplant crazy here. It's so funny how sometimes you get hooked on something and it sort of takes over everything you make.

That's such a cute picture of you. Looking forward to seeing pics of your cupcakes. I'll definitely have to live vicariously through you for a while. I haven't had a sweet tooth for quite some time now and I'm feeling pretty good about that (although the scale doesn't).

Carrie™ said...

Ahhhh!! Everyone is getting this book and it's not available in Canada yet. I'm sooooo jealous.
I love the shots of your table set-up. Looks very homey and comforting. The smorgasboard idea is great. We do that sometimes here too. Stinky cheese! Yum! The stinkier it is, the better it tastes. I also like the name and photo of the squashyssoise! Everything about this post is spectacular!

madeinalaska said...

that is some kind of post .. oh baby.. all of that great food looks flippen awesome!
I too thought your table looks great! so grown up! some day maybe we can do that right now the kids are captivated by candles..
take care

Paulie said...

Squashyssoise! LOL! That's such a cool name for it!

Love the look of the Moussaka too.