Sunday, March 25, 2007

Weekend Eats

I'm still catching up a little from blogging while I was traveling. In Orlando, we found this great little veg place called Garden Cafe. It was reminiscent of Grasshopper. I ordered the Spicy Orange Beef which was very good. If you are ever in the area, stop by this restaurant. It is a little out of the way when you are in the touristy spots, but it is worth the drive. My apologies for the photo, it was taken with my phone.First up an herb storage tip courtesy of aunt. (BTW - She insists I give credit to Rachel Ray where my aunt viewed this nifty little idea) I've always had so much difficulty keeping herbs from the supermarket fresh. In the summer I grow my own and clip as needed. In the cold months, I pay lots of money for way too much of a single herb and they dry out quickly. My aunt/Rachel says wash the herbs when you get home, then wrap them in a wet paper towel and put them in a ziploc. Sooooo simple, but the parsley and mint both fared very well.

Onto the food...

This weekend I tried a couple of new recipes. I'd never made tabbouleh before. It is so easy, you just need to do lots of of chopping. I'm loving the fresh summery taste and the weather is just starting warm up too.

Next up. Lolo over at veganyumyum posted a how-to on roasting peppers awhile back. This was another first for me. I didn't use the gas stove top, but I did use the broiler. This recipe is for Fleh-Fleh Mishweeyeh or Syrian Broiled Pepper Pickles from A Fistful of Lentils. These are mighty tasty. The peppers are sweet and the garlic, salt, cumin, and cider vinegar add lots of punch!

Peppers after broiling and the skins were removed.
Pickles after slicing the peppers and adding the brine.
Next up, there have been a ton of people raving about the Soul Vegetarian Restaurant on the PPK boards. In particular, everyone seems to love the Mac 'n Cheese. I googled and found this article online with a bunch of recipes including that one. This is very cheesy especially after adding a bit of salt. We scarfed this down. Though it makes a huge batch, so there are leftovers.
A quick note - I used Tinkyada brown rice pasta for this. It holds up well and I kind of dig the the flavor. The regular cooking instructions on the bag have an asterisk. When followed, it points to a second set of energy saving instructions. Huh? I was perplexed but flipped over the bag. It said, boil for 1-2 minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 15 min or so. You know what, it worked? I'm thinking, this can be done with regular pasta. Can you imagine how much energy is wasted cooking pasta all the time if it could be done this way? I know it is just a small amount, but multiply that by how many times you cook pasta or rice in a year. How about the rest of the world? I'll let you know how that test goes in the future. If you try it, let me know.

Let's see, what else...

Carrie asked for some details on the PPK potluck. Someone picked the theme of orange, so all food had to be some shade. It was about 20 people. I met a couple of local veg bloggers. Nikki from Iloveheeze and lolo mentioned earlier. It was also nice to meet some of the PPK personalities from the forum. Examples of some of the food: butternut squash pizza, lasagna, quiche with orange pepper coulis, curries, salads, samosas and lots of desserts including sweet potato and pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, and an orange creamsicle cake from Vegan Treats. Someone posted a few pics on the PPK forum. Believe me, there was a ton more food. I think we all started talking and then the photos ceased to be snapped. Can you find me in the pics?

Also Carrie, the orange ginger tofu recipe was from the PPK database. It was good, but if I made it again it would need some tweaking. Maybe it would be better with some sesame oil or cracked red pepper for spice.

Bazu asked about the pumpkin brownies. The chocolate part was espresso brownies, sans espresso from La Dolce Vegan. The pumpkin piece was veganized from this recipe. All I did was use egg replacer and sub apple sauce for about half the oil (and skip the frosting). This batch of pumpkin brownies makes at least double what you need for the swirl, so either halve the recipe when you make it or you'll be cooking a extra pan of pumpkin bread/brownies.

To assemble, pour the chocolate brownie batter in the pan. (9x13 -ish) Then scoop blobs of the pumpkin batter on top. The cream cheese swirl was my own concoction. It was approximately 1/4 cup of Tofutti cream cheese, a tablespoon or so of powdered sugar, a tablespoon or flour, and enough soymilk to make it batter like.

Scoop the cream cheese mixure on top and then swirl all three with a spatula.

Kleo asked for a bird update. Tommy is doing much better thanks to some vitamins I found online. She's got all kinds of new feathers growing in and the vet was really blown away when she saw her last week.

Though today she had a particularly bad day of screaming/biting me/feather pulling. Tommy hates when I read a book or magazine. Attempts to bite me, usually ensue shortly after opening any type of reading material. Since I was home all day and she got lots of snuggle time, I wasn't sure what the deal was with her attitude. When I started doing dishes Tommy began screaming and saying, "Tommy, Tommy, Tommy" over and over. This made me think she wanted a bath, so I got her spray bottle and gave her mist bath. She really enjoyed this and it seemed to calm her down. Maybe the new feathers growing in were irritating her and she need the bath to help out.

At any rate, that's my crazy Tommy bird. I'm still catching up on all the blogs...only about halfway through my list.


Emmy said...

Your tabbouli looks delish. The pepper pickles sound really tasty and very unique. Thanks for that link to the Soul Vegetarian Restaurant. We haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the vegan offerings in Chicago so this will have to do until I can make it over to that part of town.

And the PPK potluck is such a great idea. It sure looks like there was a tasty assortment of food. Too bad there isn't a PPK near me.

Valerie said...

Everything looks really yummy. I love tabbouli. Thanks for the link to the Soul Vegetarian Restaurant article. I think I am going to have to try the Mac'n'Cheese for dinner tonight.

Unknown said...

Your peppers look great!

I use the same brown rice pasta, and I had no idea the "energy saving" instructions would work! I should try that next time!

Did your pasta stick together though? I find that the brown rice pastas stick together more than wheat pastas, and thought that maybe hard boiling (i.e. moving the pasta around) would help prevent that. What do toy think?

Anonymous said...

yum looks good!
nice tips!

KleoPatra said...

Tommy cracks me up! What a great bird, such a personality! Thank you for posting about her 'cause i was wondering how she's doin'. I need some photos, too, if you can... e-mail me if you have any new ones with her gorgeous new feathers... Glad her health is good... and nice the vet noticed and commented!

All the food looks fantastic, particularly the roasted peppers 'n' pickles! Yummmmmmy!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, too, Jody!

I love tabbouli (however ya spell it) and it's cool you made it for the first time with great success. Yeah for you!

Way to google for the mac'n'cheez recipe. That looks like a keeper. I'm always on board for macaroni and cheez!!

Sounds like the PPK potluck was fantastic. How awesome to do that!

bazu said...

Thank you for the brownie recipe and tips! Gives me an idea of something to do with my cans of pumpkin. And I love that herb storage tip, I also use it for salad greens and lettuce.

Your bird sounds so cute!

And I looked at that restaurant's menu and it looks so cool- I could kick myself since I used to live near Orlando- why didn't I go there? (possibly because I was a meat-eating junk food freak back then... moving on...)

Mikaela said...

I like the photo of the peppers in the jar - very pretty :)

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

The pickled peppers look really great! I love pickled things. The PPk potluck sounds superb - thanks for telling us about it. :o)

Unknown said...

Mmmm, pickled peppers. I've always wanted to pickle stuff, but I'm afraid I'll accidentally poison myself.

Carrie™ said...

I think I found you in the photos. Are you wearing jeans & a striped blouse?
Thank you SO MUCH for the link to the recipe. I really want to try that.
I don't have a gas stove either so I always roast peppers in the oven. It seems to work fine.
Glad to hear Tommy is feeling better!

VeganHeartDoc said...

Hi, how was your passover? When's the next PPK get-together?