Monday, May 28, 2012

Moroccan Spiced Eggplant with Pomegranate Glaze

The first time I made this dish, I ate it all in one sitting, an entire eggplant, gone. Gulp! And there was no photo to share, because not only did I inhale it, but because the half moon slices of eggplant were exceptionally caramelized - delicious! - they were most unphotogenic.  So I had to make the dish again. Really, the sacrifices I make as a blogger!

Inspired by Sassy Radish's pomegranate glazed eggplant, my version added some spices and fresh herbs, rounding out the dish as more Moroccan than Middle Eastern. But as her post described, Olga had quite a feast the night she made her dish and I seriously wonder whether her slices of eggplant were indeed 1/8 of an inch and cooked for 45 minutes. For my first attempt, the slices were 1/4 of an inch and cooked a little under 40 minutes and some of them were charred, albeit, tasty bits of eggplant that needed to be scraped off the baking pan!

In my second attempt at this dish, I cubed the eggplant and tossed it with the glaze and lined the baking sheet with foil. I also doubled the proportions because this was so incredibly good that I hoped my personal restraint would allow there to be leftovers since this is just as good at room temperature as hot out of the oven.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pomegranate Molasses - DIY Pantry

Pomegranate molasses - I can't believe that is the direct translation of this condiment. It is also referred to as a syrup, but most recipes in English will refer to it as molasses. It is an ingredient that that is prevalent in Middle Eastern cuisines but also Moroccan as well. Ding ding ding! That would be the magic word for why I fell in love with this intriguing syrup.

The combination of tart and sweet makes this the perfect base for glazing meats, fish, roasted vegetables such as hard squashes, potatoes (both sweet and waxy), and for drizzling over pilafs or rice dishes. While you can easily purchase it in a Middle Eastern grocery store, not every one lives in a place that hosts such stores. Happily, it is quite simple to make at home.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Vegan Ranch Dressing

Let me admit up front that the whole purpose for this post was to make vegan ranch dressing. Yes, really. Who knew that cashews soaked in water for hours and blended into submission could produce such a gorgeous ranch dressing! I am so utterly fascinated with how much vegan cooking as evolved in the past 10 years - when I wasn't paying attention - that it is nearing obsessive. Luckily it's a healthy one!

Sure, you could make a ranch dressing with silken tofu which isn't that far from this dressing. But so many people are eschewing anything soy that cashews seemed to have come to vegans' rescue when creamy goodness is the only thing that will finish off a dish.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stovetop Corn and Roasted Poblanos

If you peer around the next seasonal corner you will see corn growing and soon it will be arriving in the markets. Here in paradise, I mean Southern California, it is only weeks away and I finally got around to making this dish posted on The New York Times from last summer - better late than never!

This dish is for when your peppers - sweet and spicy - are overflowing, whether in the marketplace or the garden. Classic Mexican flavors of roasted poblanos, corn, jalapeno and lime juice combine to make a memorable side dish. Or spoon it into a soft taco a la these Charred Corn Tacos.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Raw Nut Fudge Brownies

Have you tried raw desserts yet? They will blow your mind, if not for the taste, then for the deliciousness AND healthfulness they are (yes, I just invented that word, healthfulness, because it is truthy!) First of all, if they are chocolate in nature, then they are packed with raw cacao powder. Some even consider it a superfood, and believe that eating chocolate bars with a high percentage of cacao have health benefits. No matter what you believe, these raw nut fudge/brownies are addictive. So choose to believe that they are also good for you!

Secondly, raw chefs are ingenious in their ability to use plant-based ingredients to mimic desserts like mousse, chocolate cake, key lime pie, you name it! At Co-opportunity, we even sell raw frozen treats! 

This recipe comes to me from my good friend and spiritual advisor Nora Herold who has turned my thinking around on both raw and vegan food (along with Isa Chandra of course!) So while I cannot credit the initial recipe that Nora used, this is her version, with a few modification of my own - couldn't resist!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grasshopper Pie - Vegan

Mint and chocolate - they are almost as good a combination as peanut butter and chocolate, at least in my world. So when I decided to make my second vegan dessert I remembered my old favorite from childhood, grasshopper pie. Of course I had no idea what went into the making of the traditional version, other than creme de menthe, but this version is nothing short of a chemistry miracle! Of course it is by my favorite food goddess, Isa Chandra of Post Punk Kitchen and and co-author of Vegan Pie in the Sky.

One thing to know about Isa Chandra's recipes - they are perfect exactly as they are - do not try to substitute. I have learned the hard way, twice. Take the time to find the exact ingredients, it makes a difference. For example, this pie calls for agar powder, not flakes. I had flakes in the cupboard and thought in my rakish and devil may care way about ingredients that I could substitute. WRONG! It was soup, not pie, and thank you to all of my lovely friends who spooned it up anyway! Luckily the co-op I work at has an amazing bulk herb and spice section and we carry agar powder, so my second attempt using the correct ingredients was spectacular!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mint Extract - DIY Pantry

Mint extract - it's not the most popular of extracts but it is as simple to make as the most popular (that would be vanilla). Crush fresh mint leaves - or "muddle" them as bartenders do for Mojitos - and pour vodka over the leaves packed tightly in a jar. Shake once a day for three weeks, and voila! ze mint extract!

As with so many of my DIY adventures, the adventure begins from necessity. Remembering grasshopper pie from my childhood - chocolate and mint combine in fluffy goodness all tucked into an oreo-like cookie crust - I realized that homemade mint extract would be a cinch to make. And it was!

As a child, grasshopper pie was never made at home but when I spied it at family gatherings or potlucks, second helpings were a must! Of course since my new love - Isa Chandra of Post Punk Kitchen - makes a vegan version, mine was as well. The next post in a few days will detail the recipe and a gorgeous picture.

Unlike vanilla extract, mint's versatility is a bit limited, mostly in desserts. And knowing how few desserts are actually on this blog - only 13 out of 400 plus posts! - I guess I'll have to be making some more sweet treats in the future. If any readers want to suggest some desserts that would use mint, please do not hesitate to fire away in the comment section!