12 July 2010

All Hail Deborah Madison – The Fourth Feast

Fresh Fig & Honey Galette (p.696)

My mother is the true pastry gal, as I barely claim to partake in the cake arts.  My grandmother used to say that you could only be a master of pies or cakes, but not both.  I grew up cheerfully volunteering to run out to our backyard to pick tart cherries, gooseberries, blackberries, apples, or (huzzah!) rhubarb, or strawberries – knowing that a warm, gooey, juicy pie would exist on the other end of that chore.  After making my first cakes in college, I thought my fate was sealed: I would be a cake girl, never to know the ways of the pastry life.

Fresh figs have made their annual, albeit brief, arrival in San Diego!  In honor of my father’s birthday, I decided to create this galette using some of Big J.B.’s famous Texas honey from the family farm! 

Maybe I redeemed myself in Pastryland this weekend, maybe not.  This was as beautiful as it was delicious, and I owe many thanks to Sam for grinding the anise seed by hand in my small (but mighty) mortar and pestle.  Sometimes I like to think of him as my ‘chef de partie’, but he deserves a better title and role.  Maybe the ‘chef d'hilarité beau’ is more appropriate!

Side note:  I’m starting to feel like Julie Powell a la The Julie & Julia Project, made famous by Meryl Streep and Amy Adams last year.  However…I would (gladly and ambitiously) rather conquer Madison’s 724 pages of vegetarian goodness than brave a chapter on aspics by the glorious Julia Child (may she rest in peace).

10 July 2010

All Hail Deborah Madison – Part the Third

Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu with Coconut Rice (p.601)

I’m finding that this cookbook is quickly surpassing my loyalty to Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook due to Deborah Madison’s accessible ingredients, process, and über-tasty results.  Hey, isn’t that what really counts?

The next time I decide to go out for Thai food, I’ll really consider making this again to appease my taste buds’ desire for a little pizzazz and sweetness.  (Sorry – the photos don’t do it justice *at all*). 

At any rate, everything except the coconut milk, anise, and cloves were in my pantry – just waiting to be celebrated in the perfect dish. 

I would like to think that Eric Northman would have enjoyed it as well. 

09 July 2010

All Hail Deborah Madison – Part Deux

Another Mushroom Pizza

The title is not derogatory, folks – it was titled by this weekend’s ‘Deity of Dough’ (pizza & tart) and ‘Vixen of Vegetables.’  Now that I’m all out of monikers, on to the real treat:  the pizza!

I gave myself a little break (I hear you crying out, “Cheater! Cheater!” already) by obtaining some refrigerated herb dough from Trader Joe’s, and focused on the filling.  Procuring one pound of tasty mushrooms, such as shiitake and oyster, sauté them in olive oil with garlic, grape tomatoes and onions, as well as some thyme and red wine vinegar.  Fontina and parmesan cheesified the top of Madison’s (p.514) AMAZING pie.  I don’t know how I’ll ever top this for Sam; I think he is hoping to see this treat on many a future dinner plate!  Thank heavens for leftovers…

05 July 2010

All Hail Deborah Madison! – Part One

Please don’t mistake one for the other:

Dolley Madison = The First Lady of Fashion

Deborah Madison = Goddess of Vegetarian Cooking

We have spent the past couple of weekends in homage to the latter of the two, after I finally procured a gently used (but autographed!) copy of Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  May I also mention that, somehow, most of this weekend’s treats were divined by the grace of my infrequently used food processor.quesa2

The first recipe choice was the Quesadilla with Smoky Black Bean Spread (p.123) & Salsa, including the Black Bean-Smoked Chile Dip (p. 98) .  Who knew that San Diego’s version of the grilled cheese sandwich could be a little fancy pants?!  It could be made with staples that you should already have in your pantry:quesa1

  • black beans
  • coriander
  • cayenne
  • cumin
  • salt
  • fresh cilantro
  • lime 

This little ditty of a dip is spread on corn tortillas, then topped with scallions, queso fresco (or goat cheese), a serrano chile, some additional cilantro and some fresh salsa.  After topping with another tortilla, the quesadilla is toasted (er, lightly fried) in a buttered skillet.  Served with the guacamole mentioned in a previous blog entry, and….oh my.  Just enough of a kick to keep us tuned into the Padres action and True Blood’s sassiness.  Delicioso!!

04 July 2010

Roasted Pasilla/Poblano Guacamole

Adapted from Rick Bayless' Mexico, One Plate at a Time

Happy Independence Day, folks! For this holiday, Sam and I chose to play in the kitchen while watching the Padres play some ball, followed by a little True Blood.

As Sam is Guacamole's (yes, with a capital 'G') biggest fan, we decided to make a very special variety -- roasting the peppers and tomatoes under the broiler and then blending them with garlic in the food processor.  The (adapted) recipe is included below!

Side note: the Black Bean Quesadillas and Boca Negra cake are the other creations in progress right now...with the bourbon cream currently chilling in the refrigerator.  Details to come...


Roasted Pasilla Guacamole

2 medium, fresh, poblano chiles

2 small, tomatoes

2 cloves, roasted garlic

3T cilantro, chopped

3 large avocados (I love California for its readily-available HASS avocados!)

2T fresh lime juice

1 jalapeño (to your preferred heat level)

-Lay the large peppers and tomatoes on a aluminum, baking sheet and broil for about 10-12 minutes until they blister and become blackened a bit.  Then, place the peppers in a bowl and cover with a towel (the steam will soften the skin and make it a bit easier to remove).  After about five minutes, remove the stem, seeds and skin.  Although I've heard that it's easier to use a damp paper towel to remove the skin...fingers worked much more efficiently.

-Toss the skinned (?) peppers into the food processor with the garlic and pulse briefly.

-Coarsely chop the tomatoes and mince the jalapeño.  Add to the peppers, but do not process

-Pit the avocados and remove the flesh with a spoon.  Mash with the back of the spoon or a potato masher.

-Add the pepper/tomato/garlic mixture to the avocados.  Juice half of a lime over this green gorgeousness, then add the cilantro and salt (to taste), and blend.  Taste, and add additional lime juice and salt to taste.

-Serves 1-2 hungry guacamole fans over the course of a couple snacks and a meal.  Happy Fourth of July!

03 July 2010

Loving Hut

North Park/University Heights - San Diego, CA

Let me start by saying that Jyoti Bihanga has been my absolute favoritest of the favorite spots for a hearty, comfort-food meal since moving to Sandy Eggo five years ago. It has become a tradition for my pre-race, carb-loading dinners:feasting on the Infinite Blue (veggies, tofu, brown rice with tamari dressing) or PLB (Peace, Light, & Bliss) Burger; the iced Nirvana Tea never fails to quench my thirst. They’re known for an entirely vegetarian/vegan menu, but Loving Hut may be the newest discovery for meatless choices, choices, choices!

Back to Loving Hut, evidently an international chain; one would not necessarily expect such a contemporary culinary treasure to be hiding out in a strip mall on El Cajon Boulevard, adjacent to a Laundromat, Subway, and Domino’s Pizza. However, Jenna had recommended this for many a moon, so we decided to check it out after experiencing the entertaining, frequently shirtless, teen-angst-fest flick, Eclipse. Yum, yum, yum! The food, not the flick.

We started with the Summer Rolls, which lived up to their moniker - both light, crisp, and cheery. Well, maybe not the latter of the three. It’s no secret that I love surprises, and frequently ask servers to pick between choices for me; allowing them to use their (hopefully) thorough knowledge of the establishment’s ‘best’ so my selections aren’t always a gastronomic shot in the dark. We couldn’t help but be humored by the response our server gave when I asked for him to assist with the decision between the Yum Yum Wontons Soup or Lemon Grass Soy-Chicken for an entree and Mango Tango or Peaceful Pink smoothie. “Um, it depends what you like. They’re two different things. One is mango, one is cranberry.” I asked which was better, and he looked extremely puzzled. “Like I said, one is mango and one is cranberry. They’re just different.” When I probed a bit further for input on the entree, “One is soup and one has rice.” Again, I asked which was better; which he would recommend for my first Loving Hut meal. “They are different. Do you want soup or rice?” Loved it, Loving Hut.

I decided I liked mangos and also rice. So, that’s what I got - and both were soooo delicious. Sam had the Delight Broccoli (sautéed veggies and tofu on brown rice) with the Compassion Orange libation. (Us:”Why is it called the ‘Compassion Orange?” — Server: “Um, it is compassionate, I guess. No meat?”)

We’ll head back, maybe not for the oddly feathery, soy chicken (where did the feathery/hairy bits come from?) but definitely to try something else or enjoy one of the other delights one of us shared. I am dying to taste the vegan carrot cake!! Loving, loving, loving the Loving Hut!

02 July 2010

Indigo Grill – Date Night!


Date night on Friday meant joining Sam for dinner at a fave San Diego spot –Indigo Grill– for one of my fave, go-to vegetarian dishes, ‘Good Things Growing.’  Unfortunately, part of the ambiance is the dimly lit interior, so I couldn’t get a photo. :(
We started with the Stacked Beet Salad (orange segments, shaved fennel, lime-caraway dressing & dried beet chips) and the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup flavored with cilantro pesto, roasted corn, beet puree, creme fraiche. The delicate, white sangria was a perfectly mellow accompaniment to the salad and the entree to come…’Good Things Growing.’
If you are ever looking for a warm, savory dish with a variety of flavors, then quickly ‘trolley’ yourself down to Little Italy, my friend!  The presentation is gorgeous, celebrating the earthy sampler of Indian corn pudding, baked whole butternut squash with bourbon-pecan butter, caramelized plantain, honey roasted garlic, chile relleno, flatbread, pipan tofu with mole negro.  My fork couldn’t help but repeatedly dive into the corn pudding and tofu…chased with the mole and chile relleno.
Dessert?  I had picked up a slice of Irish Cream Cake from
Heaven Sent Desserts earlier in the day, to follow a chilly little walk on the Bay.  Hurrah for date night!