Sunday, March 29, 2009

Roasted Red Peppers with Thyme and Feta

This wonderful combination of roasted red peppers, fresh thyme, meyer lemon juice, and lemon olive oil was introduced to me by the delectable L., who is an inspiration to me in many ways, most notably in the areas of candor and joie de vivre, and, more recently, food. This dish would make a wonderful party appetizer.

At a recent "Girl's Night" at her place, I arrived with food and friend B said "Your brought food to L's! That's like bringing sand to the beach!" I love this line. I want to write a screenplay around it.

There's really nothing like freshly roasted red peppers. I just put them right over my gas stove top and turn them with tongs until the skins are blackened:

Seal them in a plastic bag for 20 minutes, and the skin scrapes off easily with a knife:

Seed and julienne the peppers and marinade with sea salt, lemon olive oil (I used Sciabica's), meyer lemon juice and a generous amount of fresh thyme. L's magic ingredient is to use Sheep's Milk Feta from Israel (available at Trader Joe's).

This dish is one of those amazing, simple dishes that gives a wonderful taste experience for relatively little work. I hope you will enjoy this one in the company of food friends!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Oven-Roasted Assparagus

I've done a lot with asparagus, but if you aren't going to grill it, roast it!

Woody stems removed, some good olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. 450 degrees for 15 minutes, turn with tongs half way. Squeeze of Meyer Lemon and you have yourself one heck of a finger food! Ever seen the movie "Zazie dans le Metro"? Big asparagus scene!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shangri-La: Vegetarian Chinese Food in San Francisco

I enjoyed my first visit to Shangri-La, a vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Irving (between 21st and 22nd) in San Francisco. It's a small place, easy to miss, but obviously a popular dining destination, as the restaurant completely filled up as Anna of Anna's Cool Finds and I spent the shortest two hours dining there (we arrived early at 6pm).

Shangri-La has the largest selection of faux meats I've seen on a menu. Faux goose, duck, shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, even vegetarian tripe!

While I've never been huge on faux meats, I was very curious to try Shangri-La's selection as I read many good reviews of their faux meat products.

I was super excited to try the lemon chicken, a dish I still remember eating in my teens, a sticky, crunchy, deep-fried lemony thing (with chicken).

While nicely presented, I was disappointed that the dish did not correspond to my remembered dish. The server clearly pointed out that the "chicken" was sauteed, not deep fried. However, it was soft and glutinous and the lemon sauce was both cornstarchy and watery.

The Mongolian Beef ( I don't recall ever having the real thing) was excellent: spicy, nice texture (which Anna said was really close to the real thing, and I trust her) and the cabbage was delicious. After a couple of hours, it took on a more glutinous taste, but it was really good.

The lotus root with carrots and snow peas was absolutely fresh and delicious:

The star for me, however, was the chow mein. It had the most divine smokey flavor, had crisp, fresh vegetables, and was perfectly oiled, unlike so many chow meins that are overly greasy.

Next time, and I'm sure they'll be one, I'll order the faux shrimp, but otherwise stick to tofu and vegetable dishes. I think it's fair to say, I'm just not that into faux meat dishes. Certainly, the pricing is very reasonable and the service is extremely gracious. I would love to hear other peoples impressions of this restaurant in the comments.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tomato Vegetable Soup

After a couple of spectacular sunny days, the rain returned and I woke up in a funk. A funk from head to toe: my mood was low, my back ached, my knees popped throughout my morning sun salutations.

So when dinner time rolled around, I was wanting warm, comfort food. But I wanted a kick, a brightness beyond the comfort. The tangy tomato broth and addition of kalamata olives gave this comforting soup of potatoes, cabbage, white beans, kale, and broccoli just the kick I was looking for.

Tomato Vegetable Soup:
2TBS olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 small cloves of garlic, minced
red chili peppers, a pinch
1 russet potato, peeled and diced 1/4"
1 tsp Earth balance
1 cup savoy cabbage, sliced and roughly chopped
8 oz vegetable broth
8oz tomato sauce (I used A.G. Ferrari's Passato di Pomodoro: just tomatoes, basil, and salt)
water as needed
1 cup broccoli florettes
1 cup kale leaves, stems removed, torn into pieces)
6oz white beans, (cooked)
5 kalamata olives, sliced

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot and cook the onions for 2-3 minutes over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring so it doesn't stick. Add the red chili peppers and cook one more minute. Add the potato, Earth Balance, salt and pepper, cover and turn heat up to medium. Cook for about 4 minutes. Add the cabbage, stir well, and cook covered for another 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and tomato sauce. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 8-10 minutes, then add broccoli, kale, white beans and olives. Add water, as needed. Simmer an additional 5-6 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Leek, Cabbage & Kale Soup for St Patrick's Day

Here's a hearty, healthy, and humble green soup for St. Patrick's Day. And not a potato in sight!

This delicious and surprising filling soup combines butter (or Earth Balance or olive oil) leeks, cabbage, and dinosaur kale with vegetable broth and water. A drop of apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper and a clove of garlic add depth.

A great low calorie soup for dieters, this recipe is also a treasure trove of Vitamins K, A, and C. And one that will fit the most modest budget.

Leek, Cabbage & Kale Soup:
1 TBS butter , Earth Balance or olive oil
1 large leek
1/2 savoy cabbage
1/2 large bunch of dinosaur kale, stems removed, and cut into 2" strips
2 cups vegetable broth
water (as needed 1-2 cups)
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
1 clove garlic, pressed

Remove the root ends and the top of the leek to where you see any dirt under the skin. Slice the leek in quarters lenthwise from the root end leaving the top intact. Soak in water for 10 minutes, swishing and opening the leek to remove any trapped dirt. Cut into thin slices.

Melt the butter (or Earth Balance or heat the olive oil) and add the leeks. Cook over med. low heat for 4 minutes, stirring every minute or so to avoid sticking. Cut the cabbage into shreds. Add the cabbage, a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook 4 additional minutes, stirring every minute. Add the vegetable broth, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Turn to a simmer and add the kale. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, if using. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the minced garlic and more salt and pepper. Simmer 2 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper and serve.

Check out this link to previous St. Patrick's Day Recipes from Albion Cooks!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baby Cauliflower, Tofu and Napa Cabbage with Horseradish Cashew Cream Sauce

Modesty aside, this dish was a little bolt of vegan genius! Baby cauliflower, over tea-smoked tofu, with Napa cabbage with a cashew cream-horseradish cream sauce.

I've always loved cauliflower with cheese sauce, but when thinking of a vegan sauce to replace the cheese, horseradish with cashew cream seemed like a winner. And, if only you could taste what a winner it was right now! I steamed the baby cauliflower and cabbage for about 5 minutes. I sauteed tea-smoked tofu in EVOO until lightly crisped. I made the sauce with a 1/2 shallot sauteed in EVOO, with 1/4 cup cashew cream and about a teaspoon each of horseradish and sake. I used water to get the right consistency.

I put the cabbage around the plate, built a little base of the tofu strips, topped with the baby cauliflower, and then spooned the cashew cream-horseradish sauce over the cauliflower and cabbage. The freshness of the vegetables, the smokey tea-flavored tofu and the indulgently creamy bold sauce made an incredibly tasty combination.

The cashew-horseradish cream would make a delicious sauce for any root vegetables! Swap the sake for white wine!


Friday, March 06, 2009

Lunch at La Maison de la Reine

I enjoyed a delicious Young Coconut Drink at a recent lunch at La Maison de la Reine, a Vietnamese restaurant in Town Center in Corte Madera. This is one of the most refreshing drinks I've tasted!

As I took this photo, my brother C said "I see your condition is worsening. Now you're photographing drinks too." (Good thing I had those spare batteries in my bag!) or you'd have missed...

...the Crispy Vegetable Rolls:

the Tofu & Vegetable Curry:

and the Vegetable Pho, which I enjoyed highly spiced, and it really cleared out my cold-ridden sinues!

Highly recommended.