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: www.delicioustv.com)
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 Fatfreevegan.com.
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...)