Saturday, November 04, 2006

food round-up

Hi everyone, and welcome to this week's food round-up. This week included some seriously good eats. (Sorry, Alton) As always, remember to click on any image below if you want to enlarge it.

The week started off on a high note, as we had our friends Heather and Eric over for dinner Saturday night. It's always nice to be able to set a nice table and share food and conversation with great people such as them!

What did we have for dinner? Well, we were inspired the night before they came over by watching an episode of Delicious T.V. How great is it that we have a totally vegetarian (and mostly vegan) cooking show on PBS? Did you know that this show, hosted by chef Toni Fiore was actually going to be on the Food Network, but at the last minute the "evil ones" asked her if she wouldn't be willing to have just a few fish and chicken dishes, I guess to make her show more marketable. Well, fortunately, Toni wasn't willing to do that, and her show is on PBS instead. If your local affiliate does not carry this show, make sure to ask them to do that! Let them know there is an audience for this type of thing. (Show's URL:

But I digress. Daiku and I thought both the Polenta con Fungi Porcini (Polenta with Mushroom Ragu) and the Fennel with Tomatoes, Onion, and Raisins sounded fabulous so we decided to make those things.

While both Daiku and I have always been fond of raw fennel in salads and even put small amounts of it on pizza or in red sauce in the past, this dish of braised fennel was a revlation. (We replaced the raisins with olives) It was so sweet and mellow and awesome. And the mushrooms (a mixture of fresh and dried) went so well with the polenta. A very hearty, wintery meal.

For dessert, Heather and Eric brought us a vegan dessert! It was so cool of them.

It was a Moosewood cookbook recipe chocolate cake with a chocolate orange frosting that was unbelievable. Chocolate and orange is one of my favorite combinations of all time, and this cake really delivered on flavor as well as texture.

Thanks for hanging out with us and tempting our palates, Eric and Heather!

Here's a pasta dish Daiku created one night:

It was a red sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, peas, and a whole lot of other things. But the secret ingredient that made it hearty was... Vegemite! That's right, just a tiny smidge of Vegemite woke the flavors up and added a certain indescribable depth of flavor to the whole thing. We gobbled it up.

Another thing I have been gobbling up lately is breakfast ice cream. Thanks to Gaia for being the inspiration for this because I have it at least a few times a week. This week I tried several kinds, including this one with bananas, blackberries, cherry juice and soymilk.


Here's a nutritional powerhouse that's often under-used (at least by me): blackstrap molasses. It is one of the best sources of calcium and iron, but the flavor can be too intense for me. But one way I can always incorporate it into my diet is with beans.

For this delicious and easy meal, open up a can or two or pinto beans and simmer them with cumin, corriander, black pepper, some chipotle peppers (I used the canned kind in adobo) and a bunch of blackstrap molasses.

Neither Daiku or I are "meat and potatoes" eaters (thankfully!) But sometimes we're "potatoes and potatoes" kinds of people- in other words, we often eat an entire meal comprised of sides. It is so satisfying. For example:

Here we had some southern butter beans, some guacamole, a mesclun salad with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and almonds, and a delicious mash of roasted sweet potato, baby potatoes, and parsnip. The parsnip added such flavor to the mash, and the sweet potato added color and sweetness. So good- and not an entree in sight!

One of my favorite things to snack on is simple crudites. One thing we added to the rotation this week is raw fennel. Italians often eat raw fennel as an appetizer, and it really does open the appetite and aid digestion. Try it with your favorite dip! (We learned this both from Toni Fiore of Delicious T.V. and our supermarket check-out person, who was Italian, and was really excited that we were buying 3 pounds of fennel bulbs! We chatted for a while and she confirmed that the best way to eat it is raw with just a dash of salt and olive oil. Yum)

I received a mail-order catalog from Bob's Red Mill yesterday. This catalog was cool because it was so informative- it's like a mini primer for any kind of flour you might have and be wondering what to do with. It also featured a bunch of recipes, one of which we tried for dinner last night:

These veggie burgers held together really well- was it the barley or the adzuki beans?...

We had them in pita pockets with carrot slaw and a mayonnaise-Dijon mustard sauce. Try these burgers, they are good! I increased all the seasonings in the recipe, and added in some sauteed mushrooms. Another wintery combination to sink your teeth into.

Sometimes when someone encourages you strongly to make something, you just really have to make it. Such was the case with Candi when she made Susan's "Impossible Pumpkin Pie" from

I love the idea of crustless pie, and this one seemed so exquisite yet simple. Crustless, dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free? How could you go wrong?

So of course I had to bake it. Instead of the 1/2 cup of rice flour called for in the recipe, I tried some... fufu!! My advice? DON'T USE FUFU in this recipe!! (Some of you might remember my previous adventures in fufu land!) But the pie actually came out superbly, and by the second day was even better because it was less... fufu-esque, shall we say.

Here it was cooling:

You'll notice I used an 11 inch tart pan because I don't have any pie dishes, and the recipe called for a 9 inch deep-dish pie pan. But it came out beautifully anyway. Look how the sides pulled away to make a "crust"!

Gorgeous with a cup of eggnog (spiked with rum, because we're naughty even when we're nice)

Ahh, eggnog. I'm one of those freakish types that actually likes all the traditionally hated foods (eggnog, fruitcake, brussels sproutes, bring 'em on!) And you know the holidays are starting when Vitasoy rolls out the Holly Nog!! (Hint a little bit of this stuff also gives a kick to breakfast ice cream...)




Eat Peace Please said...

What a slew of food Bazu (and Daiku). I love your side-meal. That is totally my sort of thing and I thank you for all the wonderful details. Silk is the only Nog I've had and this year it tastes worse (I used to like it). Vitasoy will be tried next.

Thanks for the "burger" recipe too, I'm going to try that. About blackstrap molasses, I add it to soups and lentils too, not just beans. Try it.

And the fennel... I am too scared still to try it raw but I just used my 5th bulb yesterday (which is only 1 week after I had fennel for the very first time). Yeah, everything looks wonderful here.

Village Mama said...

in a cookie monster voice: 'me want everything'!

I especially love the 'sides' meal. When I was in Brazil in '96 they had "by the pound" buffets all over the place; your pretty-nutrient packed plate reminds me of some awesome pounds of meals I enjoyed. Yum!!

b36Kitchen said...

i too am a lover of all things "hated" especially brussel sprouts. I'm roasting up a huge batch of them for dinner tonight. my husband hate hate hates them so more for me. Everything looks great. I love the side's meal.


springsandwells said...

Wow Bazu!
So many great ideas and great looking meals! First off, I have to say that Candi's enthusiastic pitch for that pie got my attention too. I think I'll try one in the next week or two.

All this fennel talk had me contemplating a fennel bulb at the farmer's market this morning. I couldn't quite do it. When I used to live in Italy, especially out in rural tuscany, we ate a LOT of fennel. A bit too much for my tastes... It feels like I've hit my life-time max. And yet, I can feel the pro-fennel momentum growing!

I like the beans & Molasses idea. I think i will try that. Sounds like something Musty would eat too (he's a bit less health-food-enthusiastic than i am!).

:) amey

trac said...

Beautiful, beautiful meals! I didn't know that there was a veg/vegan cooking show. I always wished for one. I checked the local listings and now have my dvd set to record. Thanks so much - you have no idea how much that information made my day :-)

Emmy said...

Oh that dinner looks lovely that you had for you and your friends. If I'm ever in your neck of the woods, I'm inviting myself over! LOL I absolutely love any dish involving polenta. That's awesome your friends brought a tasty vegan dessert with them too. What a great meal :)

I had no idea there was a new vegetarian cooking show on PBS. I see once again the Detroit PBS doesn't carry it. I'll have to try and catch at it my parents' house. They get the Toledo, Ohio PBS station.

Yum. Daiku's pasta looks great. Love that he used wider noodles in it. Mmmmm! I'm just picturing it without the peas....that's one of the vegetables I won't eat...but I do like pea pods...go figure?

The breakfast ice cream looks delish and what a pretty goblet you served it in :) I just love that you had a meal comprised of sides. Almost like a tapas meal but served on one plate. How neat and very tasty looking too.

Rob would love that veg burger in the pita, especially with the dijon mayo. Skip the mustard sauce and I'm there :)

And thanks for the heads up about what not to use fufu in. I still have to get my hands on some. I want to try it. Your pumpkin pie looks delightful and your dishes with matching cup and saucer are so charming.

And thank you for the lovely Birthday and Anniversary wishes :)

SusanV said...

I'm going to have to show my ignorance and say that I had no idea what fufu was until this post, so thanks for the education. And if looks are any indication, I'd say your pie with fufu was better than my pie with rice flour. It really looks beautiful, and I'm glad the recipe worked out for you.

aTxVegn said...

Wow, Bazu, everything looks fantastic! We don't get DeliciousTV down here, but I have seen the website.

Your dinner party table looks so inviting. Polenta and mushrooms, yum! But I'm just not a fennel fan. I think it's like cilantro, either you love it or hate it. (I do love cilantro!) Maybe if I roasted it I could get a subtle flavor I would like.

I saw some Vegemite the other day and started to get some but didn't. What does it taste like straight out of the jar?

I have 15 pie plates and one tart pan I rarely use. I'm going to start putting my pies into the tart pan cuz they're so pretty! Yours turned out perfect.

Urban Vegan said...

What a feast for the eyes, Bazu. And what a gogeous table you set. Hmmm...are you the Martha Stweart of veganism?

[Just kidding. You're the anti-Martha.] ;)

Anonymous said...

Great food pics. I'm jealous - since giving up cable tv, PBS cooking on Saturday is my alternative to FoodTV. The station down here kept teasing us by putting DeliciousTV on the schedule for a few weeks but they kept pre-empting it.

KleoPatra said...


Lucky Heather and Eric... what a fesat!! The polenta with mushrooms looks awesome and how cool of your buds to bring such a delectable dessert, very nice!!

Breakfast ice cream... mmmmmmmmmmmm! Such a feast to break the fast there.

Also loving the pinto beans with the fixin's to spice 'em up. Gorgeous with blackstrap molasses, my friend. And the veggie burger in the pita on the beautiful plate with the carrots and that sauce. WOWZA! Any recipe that gets added sauteed 'shrooms is up my alley. Looki'n good. And way to make the crustless vegan pumpkin pie.

Holly Nog, wow... it's gettin' to be that time of year. ZOIKS!

Jackie said...

Another great week of food :)

I just remembered I have some polenta which I need to use very shortly so the Polenta Con Fungi Porcini recipe will come in handy.

Kati said...

Boy, all your food looks've inspired me to want to try fennel, as well. I never buy it because I never really knew what to do with it - it figures I wouldn't think to just eat it raw!

I had two slices of the impossible pumpkin pie this morning for breakfast, after deciding it needed to sit in the fridge overnight. It was quite good and I love that it's so simple to make. It's actually the first of Susanv's recipes that I've tried, but I'm hooked now and will be going back for more!

Thanks for pointing out the Veggie Revolution blog - I definitely want to check out that book.

Gaia said...

You both are awesome ! I cannot believe your posts, they are just so incredible !

You made my day with the Vitasoy Eggnog ! I have to find it somewhere :) I also love all the Christmas food you mentionned :)

Candi said...

The dinner looks great! And how sweet that they brought you a vegan cake! (a great one too!) :)

Daiku's pasta dish looks good too. So pretty. I bet I'd love that! I don't own vegemite yet though.

Oh! Breakfast ice cream! We go through phases now where we eat all kinds of breakfast ice cream until we run out of fresh and frozen fruits. Lol! They are so good, and easy enough that Britty can make it for me! :)

Thanks for the baked beans idea. I really dislike the taste of black strap molasses, but love the nutritional value. Your beans are a great way to hide the taste! :)

I LOVE your dinner of side dishes!! Looks so fancy. Who needs an entree when you have a dish like that!

Your pie looks great!! I'm glad I influenced you to try it. Lol! I forgot to say, "Leave the fufu out of this!" Lol!!!! Too bad the fufu didn't work out too well here. The pie looks really good though, especially next to that "egg"nog! (spiked "egg"nog! Even better!) :P

wheresmymind said...

Breakfast Ice Cream?? Inspired idear :D

Paulie said...

Breakfast ice cream? What a top idea! I'm gonna start eating ice cream for breakfast now instead of the shredded cardboard with nuts and raisins I usually force feed myself...


Nikki said...

Okay, so many things to say...

1. I've only seen Delicious TV once but I liked it. I confess that I like Cristina Cooks better, but I could really get more into that if she dropped the cheesy folk singer in the kitchen.

2. Blackstrap molasses is awesome!

3. Fennel in any capacity is like a party for your insides.

4. Those veggie burgers look amazing.

5. You can invite me to dinner any time. I'll bring the nog. :)

Melissa said...

Ooo I didn't know vitasoy made nog...I'll have to keep an eye out. Now I'm all excited!

KleoPatra said...

Bazu, i had to return for another look at the food pr0n... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Eat Peace Please said...

I'm back just like Kleo!

The Mumbai Vegan said...

the pictures look amazing....!!!! I was showing them to my sis and she agrees with me.. !! WOW!!!

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable!!! Everything looks delicious. I'm so with you on the crudites and sides for dinner. Sometimes I'm stuck in that "main dish" mentality (ingrained in my upbringing I guess) and feel like I need a main dish, a starch and a veggie. I really really must get out of that mind set more often. Sides are always the best part of the meal!!!

Since I've been hiding under a rock during the holidays I've totally missed out on vitasoy eggnog. Wow! Eggnog is one of the few holiday items I used to love. Can't wait to try the Holly Nog.

I feel your holiday pain Bazu. Really, I do. I hope that you are able to find a way to escape the anxiety during this holiday season. One of the things we've found works for us to show people we're serious is to leave town. Seriously. Out of the country works best but sometimes you can find a nearby b&b or inexpensive hotel in a fun little town (TN??). Make sure everyone knows WELL in advance that you will be gone during the holidays.

My heart goes out to you.