Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This and That

Here is a hodgepodge of what's been going on in the kitchen (or somebody else's kitchen - meaning a store) for the past month or so. It is pic heavy, so please accept my apologies in advance (yeah right, who doesn't love food porn?).

Leahey vegan mac & cheeze. I did not want to try this, but Andy is into packaged up fake cheeze stuff, so it happened. I'm glad that it did, because it was really good. I wish I didn't have to look at the pic, because I want more!

PCC chocolate cheezecake. This was pretty good. It didn't have exactly the texture of cheesecake, but not bad. I'm not that into super dense chocolate things like this. Probably because if I'm going for a chocolate overload, I would rather have a small piece of organic fair trade snobby high end stuff that is at least 70% cacao.

PCC chocolate chip cookies in a bag. I have never seen these before. They reminded me of a packaged cookie, but in a good way. It was between a crunchy cookie and a soft cookie.

Milano Cookies. I went out of the house and came back to some milano cookies baked by Andy. He had seen this recipe and it had been eating away at him. The cookies could have been a little thinner (his critique, not mine). I think the middle stuff was spot on.

Vegetarian Times' "best" vegan lasagna ever. NOT. Have you ever made a recipe that called for lots of fattening stuff and the result wasn't really worth it? This would be it. I prefer a veggie lasagna that has no fake meat, a tofu ricotta that doesn't require tofutti, and lots of veggies. It was ok, but nothing special. They say it serves 8, but their nutritional info is for a much smaller piece. If you fix their math, it's around 1,000 calories for 1/8 of the lasagna - which is a normal sized serving. ugh.

Here are the pics from St. Patty's Day.

Irish Soda Bread. From the Joy of Vegan Baking. It was ok, but was sort of dense. At least it didn't taste like a pile of baking soda like some others I have tried. It didn't call for caraway seeds and raisins, but I added them in.
Colcannon, Carrots & Parsnips, and Corned Seitan. The veggie sides were really good. I used the leftovers to make quesadillas the next day.
The corned seitan was not good. I had cut way back on the salt, but it was still way too salty. Good news is that the seitan texture was just how I like it, so I'll be trying some of her other seitan recipes.

Apple Duff. Basically you take an apple, core it (I also cut it in 1/2), fill it with cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins (in this case raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries). Then you wrap it up in puff pastry and bake. It was good, but the puff pastry wasn't that flavorful. Perhaps some sort of wash on the outside was needed.
Super Green Tofu Quiche. I didn't make this for St. Patty's day, but really should have. This is your basic tofu quiche w/ onions, broccoli and spinach. The main herb was tarragon. It was really good. This past weekend, I made the same thing with the addition of kale.
PS. Guava, this is my typical brunch food

Here's Tubs caught mid yawn.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Persian Cooking Class & Pi Day

I took the Flavors of Persia class at PCC (so did yasmin in an earlier class). It was taught by Omid Roustaei. If you are in the area and haven't taken a class taught by Omid, you should make an effort to do so. He is an awesome instructor. He also teaches The Main Course series, each of which are around 15 hours of learning the basics of cooking deconstructed. I want to take that class, but haven't had a chance to fit it into my schedule.

Back to Persian cooking. The class was really fun and filled with stories about Omid's experiences growing up and why each dish was important and when they would eat it. A food processor is definitely useful because there is a lot of fine chopping that needs to be done.

The food was like nothing I've had before, and I hope I have a chance to explore more Persian food in the future (because it is delicious).

Khoresh-e-Fesenjoon (left)(Pomegranate-Walnut Stew with Chicken Style Seitan)
Polo (Steamed Basmati Rice with Saffron)
Koresh-e-Ghormeh Sabzi (Persian Fresh Herb Stew)

Amazing! The pomegranate stew was very tangy. The walnuts are ground very fine so that you don't know they are there. The herb stew earned it's name because it had a ton of fresh herbs in it. A good contrast to the pomegranate stew.
Havij Polo (Saffron Carrot Rice Pilaf with Roasted Tofu). The rice had orange marmalade in it so it had an interesting sweet flavor. As you can see, the tofu was roasted to perfection with a lot of spices.

Baghlavah (Persian Baklava). Persian baklava is different because it has a simple sugar syrup with rose water instead of honey (yay, no honey), cardamom instead of cinnamon, and almonds (or pistachios) instead of walnuts. In class he used coconut oil instead of butter.

The next week, I made 3 of the dishes at home because I knew Andy would love them.

Pomegranate stew with Polo. This tasted just like the stew Omid made in class. I should have ground up the walnuts more. It was surprisingly easy to make. This is not a dish that you can have a huge portion of because it is so sweet and sour and rich all at the same time, but it will definitely be a favorite that I will look forward to.

The classes that I have taken lately have made me reconsider hating saffron. When used correctly, it adds to a dish. Though I still don't like it super strong. Omid grinds his saffron so that it's flavor spreads through the dish better.

Baklava. I made a 1/2 batch. I greased up every sheet and I spread the nut filling between 4 layers rather than 2. It was very crispy when it came out of the oven and it stayed that way. It looks pale in the pic, but it wasn't in real life. Note to self: Do not make baklava if it's not going to be eaten by more than 2 people. Otherwise sugar overload will ensue.


Sorry for the super huge post, but I'm trying to catch up from my slacking without posting every day. 3/14/2009 was Pi Day, so Pizza Pi had their annual Pi weekend. Nerdy deliousness. I'm sure you're all getting sick of seeing pics of pizza, but I promise you I didn't order the same ol' same ol'.

Cheezy Breadsticks. We get these once in a while instead of the plain ones. There was also a caesar's salad, but I didn't take a pic.
I think this was called St. Patrick's Revenge. The sauce was some form of artichoke topped with green peppers, spinach and other green veggies/herbs that made for a pizza that I hope they keep on their menu. In honor of Pi Day, they also made stuffed crust pizza upon request.
Cheezeburger sandwich. This was good, but I like it in pizza version bestest. The sandwich wasn't open faced, I did it do you could see the inside.
Dessert Pizza. mmmmmm..... yogurt and fruit. I should have ordered it on a stuffed crust.


I saw this cat from a distance and wondered how tubs had gotten outside. Then I figured it out and took a very bad pic of the neighbor cat before he took off. He is HUGE!
Here is a slightly better pic of him heading back home. If you click on it to get a better view, you can see that it looks like one eye opens up more than the other.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Indian Cooking Class

I took the Indian Food at the Speed of Life cooking class at PCC this month. It was taught by Archana Verma. She had a ton of interesting stories to tell about the recipes and life growing up in India. Not to mention all of the great food that she made. I'll be on the lookout for more classes taught by Archana - so should you if you're in the Seattle/Eastside area.

The class was a demo style class (vs. hands on). I think this made more sense because there was a lot of info / techniques that there wouldn't have been time for if it were a hands on class.

The class was especially fun because I took it with 3 people that I know.

Chai. You gotta have this w/ Indian food. It's the law or should be. Heaven would be a tea cart that delivered chai to me multiple times during the day.

Cilantro Mint Chutney. It was really good. I could eat this stuff by the plateful.

Masoor Dal (curried red lentils). Deeeelicious. If I'm eating chutney by the plateful, then I'm drinking dal by the bucketful. Seriously, I'm super picky about dal and this one was awesome.

Jeera Pulao (cumin rice) & Chana Masala (Garbanzo bean curry). The chana masala was a total winner. Archana somehow got into my head and made all of my favorites! I'm also really picky about chana masala and this one was perfect for me. It had the right balance of tomato to spice to garbanzo.
Unfortunately, If you're not careful, you can get curry on your teeth. These are parts of the other 2 vegans in the class.

Mixed Vegetable Subzi in a wrap. OMG this was really good w/ all of the fresh veggies. The wrap itself is by IndianLife and it has spinach in it - I use these all the time and they freeze well.
Here's another view of the wrap showing off it's tomato side. Don't you love the dirty plate? My plate (above) wasn't dirty because I had licked it clean. I can give Kobie a run for his money in the plate licking department.

Here's a rare pic of Nibbler. He hates having his picture taken, even when the flash is off. That's the snow we had last week in the background. grumble.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's day!

I'll be cooking up a pile o' food today for St. Patty's day. I'm on an upturn in my uneven "desire to cook" sinewave. Which is good news because when I'm on a downturn, the food isn't that healthy (enter the spud puppy, cousin of the tot).

The weather has been freaky here. On Sunday, I woke up to snow on the ground (grumble). It thankfully melted. There was also alternating sun and rain that day with high winds (almost the kind that will knock down trees), and some hail thrown in for good measure.

Here are 2 cooking classes that I completed sometime this year at PCC... Both were demo style (vs. hands on), so I got to lounge around while the instructors did all the work.

Romancing the Green (aka seaweed class)

The instructor, Ami Karnosh, is a nutritionist and she shared a lot of good info about how healthy seaweed is. A lot of it was new to me, so the class was a success for me. Seaweed kicks ass.

Fruity Spirulina Smoothie. Thanks to my sister, I was paranoid about spirulina. Then I thought about all the stupid info she has injected into my head and I thought what the hell, I'll drink it anyhow. Guess what, I'm still alive and my brain is functioning just fine. White Bean Spread & Delightfully Simple Biscuit Crackers. The crackers tasted good.

I wasn't a huge fan of the white bean spread because I tend to not like them. I prefer a straight up hummus. It also had too much of a seaweedy taste for me though I can't figure out why because I've had kombu before. huh. Star of the Party Hijiki Pate. This was good. I think w/ less tofu it would be better -- I'm a hijiki girl and I can't get enough of it's flavor.
Superior Potato Salad with Dulse. This was the best potato salad EVER. It had oil in it instead of veganaise, which I like because I prefer simpler ingredients when possible. I didn't notice an overwhelming dulse flavor (which by the way, I am a huge fan of).

Coconut Mango Jiggle. I made it at home (with pineapple instead of mango) and it was delicious. It is sort of like coconut jello. I think it would be even better w/ a small amount of nutmeg on top.

Meal Planning for Busy People.

Ok, I'm not that busy, but I thought it would help me speed up my time spent in the kitchen. No such luck. I already do the things she mentioned, but never thought of it in a formal way because they are kind of obvious. I prefer to take classes that demo more recipes, teach me some history or health info on the food/region the food is from.

I was fairly annoyed because I had emailed to ask if the recipes demo'd in class were vegan and they said yes. It turns out that 1 of the 3 recipes was not. She made the most dairy laden spanikopita ever. I was not happy at all and played games on my phone. I'm glad there is such a thing as tofu based vegan spanikopita. end of rant.

That aside, I did get 2 kick ass recipes out of the class.

Lentil base for Shepherd's pie & Spelt Biscuits. These lentils are very flavorful thanks to red wine and balsamic vinegar. I doubt I'd ever use them for shepherd's pie because they are so awesome on their own.

The spelt biscuits used coconut oil and thus had a nice coconut undertone.
They were so good, that I made them at home. Yes, most of the recipes in the classes that I take are really good, but it's saying something if I make them that quickly after I take a class.


Sable and the Judge are sucking up sun together. Awww! hugs 'n kisses. More on their relationship later... Don't ask me why, but everybody seems to love lying on that thin once blue rug by the door. Well, I'm off to attempt corned seitan.

Friday, March 13, 2009

beans and grains class

Here is the writeup on the Beans, Grains and More class that I took at PCC last month. It was taught by the awesome Marie Donadio, who also teaches the soup classes that I take.

I've been taking at least 1 class per week of some sort or another (including knitting and organic gardening). I'm looking forward to a break so that I can find the energy to try more of the recipes that I learned about in the classes.

Kosharri Be-Gebba Masrri. This is street food in Egypt. I wish a Kosharri cart would open up in Seattle. The main components are macaroni, rice, lentils, chickpeas (not used in class), carmelized onions, and a tomato sauce. It seems like a strange combination, but it is really satisfying. Yasmin also posted on this dish. Warm Grain Salad with Herb-roasted Root Vegetables. This salad had spelt berries in it which were really good. It was sweet and vinegary. Chickpea onion stew on top of Simple Quinoa Pilaf. I love all things chickpea, so this was a favorite for me. Millet Vegetable Balls and Savory Mushroom Gravy. These were surprisingly tasty. I say that because I typically don't have luck w/ millet. Marie said that they would freeze well, which is music to my lazy ears.
Oat and Nut Fruit Crisp. This was really good because it was made in part by yours truly. It was served with Coconut Bliss.


I love how Peepa is using Tubs as a pillow as he is getting a bath. Peepa knows how to relax.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

steppin' out (on my kitchen)

I think the cold is making me lazy or slowing down my ability to move, like I'm going into some sort of hibernation w/out the benefit of delicious sleep. I don't want to cook or do much at all. Even blog :). All I want to do is to take a bath so I can get warm.

Case in point. I went out to eat a lot in February and I'm just now blogging about it.

I went to the same places that I always seem to go...

Pizza Pi.

Bread sticks in a white dippping sauce. I think we broke tradition and got these instead of our normal caesar's salad.

Pink Lady Pizza. Potatoes, olives, and other yummy stuff. I should make a vow to stop saying yummy. It's sort of like saying "ummm". You'd never hear me say it in person. Anyhow, ummmm, I always get this pizza. I almost got something different, but since Andy was getting an unknown entity, I had to keep something the same. yeah, that's it.
No-Meatball Sub. I think. It was crunchy, cheeZy good.
Cafe Flora.

I've learned that unless they have something really special on their dinner menu, it's best to go to brunch here.

I have no idea and keep forgetting to ask why they put boxes around some of the items on their menu.

Cinnamon rolls. no pic because I was really spacey from the tea I was drinking. Just thought I'd mention them to torture you.

Mushroom gravy & biscuits. the biscuits were good, but the gravy was meh. Though I did eat it for leftovers the next day w/out complaint.

Pesto Tofu Scramble. The make really great tasting scrambles. I loved the pesto on top. mmmm... crunchy potatoes.

Since this post is all about steppin' out, I'm using this squirrel pic because I don't really have a good cat/dog pic that fits. I'll have to work on that w/ Mr. Kobie. Anyhow, I'm sure Joanna will love this squirrel even though he's not as plump as her favorite.
Time to go make some tea or something hot because my fingers are really cold right now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Onion pancakes extraordinaire

Ever since my friend, Jane, brought me some amazing onion pancakes (pan fried dough with green onions), I have been pleading with her to have her dad show me how to make them.

This past Saturday, Jane organized a pancake making workshop. I think her mom and dad were very sweet to take time to show me how to make them. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! And of course many thanks to Jane for having me over to her house :)

Her dad showed me how to make them and her mom showed me how to fry them up. Here are step by step pics.

First I will introduce you to the chefs. Here is Jane's dad and daughter.
Here is Jane's mom. Now onto the instructions. The dough isn't just a yeast dough. It also has baking powder in it to help it rise while being cooked.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle.
sprinkle some salt on the dough,
then spread on some oil,
then sprinkle on chopped green onions roll the dough into a long snake.
Roll the dough snake, so it looks like a cinnamon roll. here are all of the onion pancakes in cinnamon roll form. They rested for a while. Not too long.roll out each "cinnamon roll" until it is very thin.
Fry them in a covered frying pan with a tiny bit of oil. When the pancake starts to bubble, it's time to flip. You will end up with a stack of very delicious pancakes that have a nice onion flavor. Here is the start of the stack.

Jane and her mom made the most incredible feast & it was all vegan. Yay!

Here are some soybeans that her mother in law had boiled, drained, put spices on (5 spice), then baked in the oven. They were sort of chewy and very very good.
Soup with tofu and enoki mushrooms.
A big bowl of delicious mushrooms including woodear mushrooms and some frozen then thawed tofu. This was a great dish for me because I love mushrooms :)pea vines. They are really good. They taste a tiny bit like spinach.

Kabocha (?) squash. I think everybody that reads this blog is a squash lover. The skin of this type of squash is edible.
Edamame. yummy.
Tofu, sesame oil, cilantro and some spicy red pepper mix. The cilantro was from Jane's garden. It still surprises me what will live/grow in the Seattle winter.
Wow! as you can tell that was a huge and wonderful feast. I brought some of the onion bread home and it didn't last long. I was nice and gave Andy 1/2 of them. I also got some of the other leftovers to bring to Andy, but I ate them myself.
After the feast, Jane's daughter played the piano for us, which was a treat. She plays very well. She has an upcoming recital, so wish her well.

Here is a pic of the only time I have seen Faline stealing some of Kobie's food. This is not something she or the other cats do. Typically it's the other way around.
This was before Faline stopped eating. It took many weeks, but it turned out she has a hyperactive thyroid. She is now on meds and has stabilized. For some reason when she was initially having issues, the thyroid tests came back as normal. She just wanted to put us all through a long discovery process and stress me out.