19 April 2010

Foodie Bookshelf: Barbecued Tempeh Spread

Just a head's up first about some changes around the blog. I have a bit of a recipe-collecting obsession, but I rarely actually *cook* from the recipes I collect! I'm trying to remedy this by paring down my google reader from 150 blogs to 75 to give me more time to cook and to blog. I'm going to try to blog twice a week and to cook more from blogs and cookbooks that I've been meaning to try. I also left Tuesdays with Dorie, in hopes that I'll have more time to do desserts from different sources now.

So we're back into spring/summer recipes, and I'm going back through stuff I cooked last year that I never got around to blogging. I can't believe I missed this one, because it's one of my favorite recipes! This is barbecue tempeh spread, and it comes from an unassuming little book called Simple Vegetarian Pleasures. The book isn't illustrated, but it's chock full of tasty vegetarian recipes, most of which are actually quite easy.

This was my one of my first attempts at cooking with tempeh, and I found that I love the stuff. At my co-op in Iowa City, it wasn't much more expensive than tofu, but the texture is to me much more palatable. As you can see here, when you chop it up and combine it with other ingredients it's not unlike meat, and the barbecue spread is rich and flavorful. It may not taste exactly like barbecue, but it's an entirely pleasant substitute for sandwiches.

I also tried a dessert recipe called "Wacky Cake." Apparently this is a fairly well-known retro cake, but I'd never tried it. I had run out of vanilla, so I actually replaced the vanilla in the recipe with anise extract for a licorice-flavored Wacky Cake, and it was a pretty good substitution! The glaze is sweet and sticky, and I liked pouring it on the cake in the pan because that's a much less messy way to do it. It's best the first day, but stays fairly moist.

Barbecued Tempeh Spread
Simple Vegetarian Pleasures

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp chili powder
8 oz. tempeh, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely diced
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp molasses
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a medium, non-stick skillet over medium. Stir in chili powder and cook ten seconds, then stir in tempeh and toss to coat. Cook, tossing frequently, about seven minutes or until golden. Scrape into a bowl and let cool. Stir in celery and onion. In a small bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Pour over tempeh and toss well. Cover and chill a half hour to three days.

Wacky Cake
Simple Vegetarian Pleasures

1-1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat to 350, 325 if using Pyrex. A good ten minutes later, start cake. Place flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt in an 8 x 8 cake pan. Stir with a fork until uniform in color. Pour on water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar and immediately stir with the fork until completely blended. Use rubber spatula to help get anything in the corners. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Cool cake completely on wire rack, about two minutes. Don't unmold. For the glaze, combine sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa in small saucepan and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to a lively simmer and stir constantly for two minutes. Remove from heat and stir five minutes or until cool. Add vanilla, then pour glaze on the cake. Let cool completely before serving, about an hour.

13 April 2010

TWD: Swedish Visiting Cake

I just started muttering "My Swedish Visiting Cake brings all the girls to the yard..." I may be beyond help. Anyway, this cake was the Tuesdays with Dorie pick for today, and I found it absolutely delicious! I made it during that cold weekend of baking, which was perfect. The cast iron really does allow for a crisp crust, and though I left it in the oven on the long side to let the middle get golden, the bottom was still just a medium brown. The cake had a lovely dense, moist crumb, and like the Coconut Tea Cake it was really good for breakfast.

08 April 2010

Quick Hit: Pomegranate Kir Royale

I hadn't decided whether to blog about this because I couldn't get a great photo with my phone, but it was a really tasty drink! It's the pomegranate kir royale at Bonefish Grille, something that you may only be able to get in the wintertime, but it's worth it. Bonefish is a chain restaurant, so grab some friends and plunk down on your nearest barstools to order a few as soon as you get the chance. Look for some more tasty reviews coming up soon!

02 April 2010

From the Pantry: Tater Tot Casserole

Last weekend, I cooked up a bit of a storm. After getting back from New York, I was on a simple food kick, mainly because of all the time I spent flipping through my aunt's collection of Real Simple magazine. I also wanted to do a last round of comfort food on a day where it was cold enough to run the oven, so I ended up with a number of items including this ultimate comfort food, tater tot casserole. I've been needing to eat more fruits and veggies, and this recipe has plenty: a box of frozen corn, a box of frozen peas, and a couple of onions. I also just happened to have a bag of tater tots in the freezer, so it used those in a way that balanced out fried with healthy. I modified the recipe from this one by Jael Baldwin. I actually did intend to include beans (black) but I completely forgot them! It didn't really matter, though.

Vegetarian Tater Tot Casserole

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 bag frozen tater tots
1 can water
2 small yellow onions
1 small box frozen peas
1 small box frozen corn
onion powder
garlic powder

Stir together cream of mushroom soup and water in 13×9 pan. Add approximately 1/4-1/3 of the tater tots, and the frozen veggies. Roughly chop the onion and sprinkle over. Shake on some garlic and onion powder. Spread the remaining tots in a single layer on top. Bake in 375 oven for about 45-50 minutes. You should have crispy tater tots on top without them being burnt, and the mixture beneath should be happily bubbling.

01 April 2010

Eating Out: Baltimore, Raleigh, and New York

I've been a bit remiss in restaurant reviews lately, even though I don't actually go to that many restaurants. This first picture was taken at my birthday brunch, when my friend Rachelle took me out to my favorite restaurant in Baltimore, the Golden West Cafe. I almost always get the same thing, Huevos Montulenos, which are pictured more appetizingly below along with a few of the tater tots I really cannot go without. They come with chipotle mayo and ranch, which is enough to make me happy. The huevos are also really good, mostly because of the fried plantains. I can't get enough of those things.

I also went to a couple of very good restaurants a couple of weeks ago in New York, though the lighting wasn't really blog-worthy for photographing. We went to lunch at Blosom Cafe, a vegan place on the Upper West Side (I think it's Columbus and 82nd). The service was pretty terrible, though I blame it all on this one egotistical waiter and would be willing to try again. It's a bit pricey, but not terrible. I had a Southern Seitan sandwich, which could've done with less bread, but I'll forgive them because the sweet potato fries were amazing, as were the charred brussels sprouts I ordered as a side. We also had the carrot cake, which was yummy, and some very tasty tea.

For dinner after a screening of Alice and Wonderland, we went to the midtown Europa Cafe (there are multiple locations). It's a good place for a light meal, with a menu that includes quiches, crepes, and salads as well as some more substantial entrees. I had a very tasty salad with warm goat cheese on top, and the next day I tried my aunt's leftover spinach quiche, which was amazing. This last photo is actually from a holiday trip to Raleigh in December, and it's mostly there to prove a point. Vegetarians, order sides in chain restaurants! We went to the Bonefish Grille and my veggie sides and salad were just as tasty as my parents' pricier entrees.