Thursday, April 13, 2006

Birthday Cake, Dharma's, and a Matzoh Lasagna recipe

Check out this beautiful birthday cake my brother ordered for my mum's birthday! Not only was it beautifully decorated, it was easily the best carrot cake I've ever tasted - moist and tasty, but wonderfully light (and no nuts!) The frosting was cream cheese - delish! The cake came from Aki's in San Jose ( (408) 287-5404), a special-occasion cake bakery that's been in business for over 40 years. Apparently, their guava cake is also to die for.

To further celebrate mum's birthday, we also enjoyed a healthy meal at Dharma's, a vegetarian natural foods restaurant in Capitola (near Santa Cruz). Founded in 1981, Dharma's offers a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, including veggie burgers and dogs, sandwiches, Mexican and Japanese favorites, pasta, veggie sautes, and desserts. Dharma's is (oddly) located in a little mall and provides a large casual dining room. A little on the dark side, the restaurant is made cheerier by the decor which includes lots of Christmas lights along the walls, a large flowery trellis at the front door, and a hokey "lava rock" fountain with smoke that appealed to the kids. You place your order at the counter and they call you when your cafeteria trays of food are ready. I was ordering for four and found there was an extra mac & cheese meal at pick-up. When I explained I had only wanted one, they politely corrected the order and refunded my money.

The food was excellent! Mum had the Bo Thai: veggies and baked tofu in peanut sauce with rice noodles, bean sprouts, scallions, and peanuts:

I had a taste and the peanut sauce was creamy and delicious and not really like other peanut sauces I've had. I couldn't tell what their secret was. I had the Mexican Saute: veggies and baked tofu over brown rice with salsa, melted cheese, olives, tomatoes and a side of tortilla chips.

It was very tasty - the veggies were lightly cooked and crunchy, the tofu firm and tasty, and the salsa sauce was spicy. We both ordered the small sautes ($7.95), but they were huge platefuls that we could barely finish. It was the healthiest tasting meal I've had at a restaurant in very long time. For the kids, I ordered the mac & cheese (too spicy for my child - it was mustards and very good) which came with a large side salad ($6.45), and a Big Cheese sandwich (a whole wheat grilled cheese) which was much enjoyed and came with tortilla chips and a salad ($3.95).

The place filled up quickly and there were obviously a lot of regulars. The person in front of me ordered a bowl of brown rice with tahini sauce ($3.80) and as I scanned the meals of my fellow guests, everyone seemed to be eating something different. Dharma's is located at 4250 Capitola Road in Capitola and is open 7 days a week from 8am-9pm. They have a breakfast menu that we just missed (8am - noon) and an extensive and interesting beverage selection that included organic juices, Hansen sodas, herbal teas, Reeds Ginger Brew, Thomas Kemper (root beer and creme soda), mango lassis, ice cream and soy shakes, as well as wine and beer (no coke or sprite here). If you're looking for a healthy, vegetarian meal in the Santa Cruz area, Dharma's is an excellent choice.

Although we are not attending our friends' Seder this year, I do want to recommend this wonderful Matzoh Lasagna Recipe that is usually our very popular contribution. I use my favorite bottled red sauce rather than making the sauce from scratch. I have also noted the following adjustments on my hard-copy of this recipe:

  • Soften the matzoh crackers in warm water before including in this recipe (run under the tap for 2 seconds) - maybe try wine next time?

  • Use more spinach (up to 5 cups) - make this much moister.

    So soak your matzohs and go crazy with the spinach and you'll have a very tasty Passover dish!


    Blogger cookiecrumb said...

    Happy B-day, Catherine's mum!
    Catherine, I'm so glad you provided that matzo lasagna recipe. I've been intrigued ever since you mentioned it.
    I have to laugh at the linked recipe: Matzo is spelled three different ways, mozzarella two, parmesan two (neither of them correct), and we're told to cook it for 30 inches.
    However! (And this is the beauty of the Internets), you've made it successfully, and I trust you.

    11:40 AM  
    Blogger Catherine said...

    LOL! I didn't notice the 30 inches!

    I'm really not sure which matzoh spelling is correct - I should have consulted an expert on that.

    The spelling is bad but the recipe is good (with my adjustments).

    12:36 PM  
    Anonymous Stevi said...

    happy birthday to your mother Catherine. what a wonderful cake, so in season!

    2:26 PM  
    Blogger Catherine said...

    Hi Stevi,

    thanks so much!

    9:06 PM  
    Blogger Tea said...

    Catherine--thanks for mentioning Dharma's. I've been there once before, but never got the name or location (was taken there with a friend and didn't pay attention to the directions). I've been trying to re-find it for about a year, but no one I asked knew about the "vegetarian place in the mall south of Santa Cruz." Thanks! And happy birthday to your mum. My mom's birthday is tomorrow.

    9:40 AM  
    Blogger karina said...

    What a fun post! Wish I could visit Dharma's. Sounds fabulous! Happy Birthday to your Mum!

    10:53 AM  
    Blogger Jessica Levine said...

    For another delicious matzoh lasagna recipe and other Passover Recipes visit Hartley Confections:

    6:38 PM  

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