Monday, April 30, 2012

The No Name, No Picture Recipe.

For months now I've been meaning to take back control of the freezer. It is just stuffed.
One easy way to start seemed to just start using some of the many soups, entrees and items that have been living there. So working from the bottom up, the first to go was the two packages of the Vegan "Tuna" Rolls. For someone who does not like overly processed foods, I seem to have an unhealthy attachment to this item. A casserole it was to be.
Fast forward to a trip down the asiles of Trader Joe's, where I picked up the Organic Brown Rice Pasta, Backed Potato Chips, Mushrooms, and... NO mushroom soup. Yikes. But then a can of Organic Split Pea soup caught my eye, and I thought, why not? All I was missing now was the Cheese.
The next day we were at the Health Food Store, and they had just started stocking the Daiya Wedges.
The only one left was the Havarti with Garlic and JalapeƱo, so into the cart it went.
A quick taste of the stuff at home confirmed that it was both awesome and would blend well with the other ingredients for the dish.
A half of a red onion, some garlic, and three celery ribs got chopped up along with about eight brown mushrooms, each quartered. These went into a pot where the split pea soup was warming up. A few minutes in there, and the contents of the "Tuna" rolls were added to the mix. The mess was then poured into a big mixing bowl and eight oz. of the undercooked pasta were added as well. 
About 2/3 of the grated cheese got to join the party, a few dashes of black peper, a few mixes with the big spoon, and into the lightly greased 8x8 dish it went.
The potato chips (A new bag at this point, as chips do not make it through the night here...) were smashed, and the remaining 1/3 of the cheese mixed in. The crunchy delight went on to cover the casserole, and a few dashed of Parma sealed the deal.
After 45 min in a 350 over, the meal was served, and devoured. It was a winner.
The moral of the story is that sometime you have to think out of the recipe box. And start cleaning those freezers!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eating in Protugal

I don't speak the language. Add to that that the general assumption in the guide books is that this is not a veggie friendly country, and well, you will understand that I was fully prepared to live on bread alone.
(NOT a bad thing in my book, BTW).
I am here to tell you that there are a good number of veggie and veggie friendly restaurants.
In Lisbon, we dinned at Terra on the first day. Their website is awesome too. Lisbon is a hilly city, and although it looked to be a short walk from the city center, there were lots of stairs and step climbs. All the better to get one ready to chow down!
It's buffet with indoor and outdoor seating. It was a warm and star studded night, and we had some really great food while seated on the patio. Attentive and friendly staff rounds out this lovely place. 
Porto in the north is a very different vibe from Lisbon. We had a very nice dinner at Nakite. We were early, by Portuguese standarts, but the food was very good, and the chef quite talented.
Let's skip over the sandwiches and the steamed vegetable plats that made up the rest of the trip and jump straight to our last true veggie meal, and what a winner it was.
Our last full day was in Sintra. Full of windy narrow roads, mansions and above all castles, this place is amazingly beautiful.
We stopped for lunch at Almaca Restaurante Vegetariano. We arrived minutes before closing, but the gracious and warm folks behind the counter assured us it was all right. We got to see and understand what the lunch plates were, placed our order, and sat down to soak in the cool mellow vibe of this place.

First, there was a surprise : garlic bread. Bursting with loads of fresh garlic on toasted whole meal bread, it was really good.
Then came the entrees. There was SO much food, we could have shared.
The partner had the mini potato pies, and there was a side of grain, salad and cooked vegetable. I had a bit, it was wonderful.
I had the tofu on a bed of cooked red cabbage and a side of roasted potatoes.
No kidding, this was the best tofu ever. There were capers and the taste was out of this world good.
We chatted some with the person who turned out to be the owner, and she was so happy we found her restaurant on Happycow!
The restaurant itself is very cute, open, and well appointed.
This meal and experience have to be the best ever, or at least top three, vegetarian dinning I've ever had.
As if there was not enough reason to go visit Sintra, now there is one more.
When in Portugal, do not miss eating here!

We did visit the health food store, which has a number of outlets throughout the country, Celeiro Dieta. There was a fair number of prepared yummy looking food. The branch in Lisbon's city center has a restaurant, but we did not make it there, as they are lunch only.

Tassajara Cookbook

For years I've been dreaming of spending time at Tassajara. So far it remains just that.
While killing time at the library, I came across this beautiful book, and well, fell in love.
A quick trip to my favorite online store, and mere days later this puppy was in my hands.
This is not a book for the new cook by any means. There are a lot of assumptions made throughout.
If you do get a copy, please be sure to read the forward. Understanding the principles of Zen cooking will help guide one to success with this book.
All five initial recipes were a great success! I meant to only make one or two, but got carried away...
The Kabob is a combination of The Tassajara Marinated Tofu and a Fauxsages from, along with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
Counter clockwise, Tuscan White Bean Salad,  Quinoa Caviar, Artichoke-Walnut Spread, and Mexican Tempeh Salad. Simply an awesome meal, with leftovers for days.