Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Apple Pie

Valentine's Pie
Originally uploaded by mysterybridgers

This is the time of apples and therefore apple pie. This pie comes from the "Ten Talents" cookbook. This is a 1960s era vegetarian cookbook that in spite of all the bible thumping is actually a wonderful cookbook. It is kind of like Dr. Bronner's soap, just appreciate the soap and ignore the "ALL ONE" manifesto on the bottle. I have seen the cookbook at just about every bargain bookstore, so I'm sure you could find a copy. This recipe makes the best apple pie I have ever had. We'll see if this one lives up to its legacy. I used unbleached all purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour and added a bunch of different spices, but other than that I followed the recipe for the baked apple pie and the "stir and roll" pie crust. The stir and roll crust is very simple and only contains flour, oil, salt, and soy milk. It makes a surprisingly flaky and tasty crust. The hearts are left over pieces of dough rolled out, cut into heart shapes, and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I baked them in a 425 degree oven for 8 minutes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Early Valentine's Day at Millennium

Millenium Dessert, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Millennium restaurant in SF is a great upscale vegan restaurant that we go to only for special occasions. We had not been in a while and we remembered that they have an aphrodisiac prix-fie dinner every Sunday in the month of February (every other month it is only the Sunday closest to the full moon). The dinner was amazing! I forgot our regular camera and this sad camera phone picture does not do the food justice. We also were so engrossed in our eating that we forgot to take pictures until dessert.

First of all, along with dinner I had a fabulous cocktail called the "Square Root" which had mint, blood orange, acai, vodka, prosecco and some other stuff I don't remember. It was really good! Hubby had a root beer and the server commented on how it was a "root kind of evening." Hee hee.

The dinner started with the course they called "L'Ingrigue." It was a Grilled Avocado Salad with toasted cumin and blood orange aioli, watercress, shaved fennel and oregano, sea vegetable caviar and zaatar. The grilled avocado was really nice and smokey and anything avocado is good in my book. The sea vegetable caviar is killer and I could eat it on everything. It pops in your mouth.

The second course was called "Le Desir" (are you noticing a theme) and was a Chanterelle Mushroom Gratin with pimento scented leek cream and toasted crostini. This was the tastiest thing ever. Hubby said it tasted like a really tasty gravy, but I thought that it was much more than that. I could tell it had lots of mushrooms, garlic, thyme, and truffle oil in it in sort of a creamy sauce. One day I will try to recreate this one.

The third course was called "La Seduction" and we had two choices so we got one of each and switched half way. I had Coconut-Lemongrass-Fava Green Risotto with peanut and sweet soy glazed tempeh "brochette" (a fancy name for tempeh on a stick), king trumpet mushroom tempura, star anise pickled pineapple, watercress and mint salad. Hubby had Smoked Cherry Chard and French Lentil Roulade with crisp olid oil crust, black chanterelle and merlot reduction, meyer lemon and rosemary roasted artichoke and potato gratin, fried capers, grilled endive and blood orange. The fried capers were very tasty!

Finally the meal finished with "La Petit Mort" which was a Brown Sugar Pecan Glazed Orange Cake (pictured above) with mint julep ice cream and kishu mandarins (they were so tiny and so sweet and tasty). This dessert was served with a drink called "Love Potion Number 9," which is just pomegranate juice and lemonade, but still very good in spite of its simplicity. This was by far the best dessert I have had at Millennium. The mint julep ice cream was surrounded by chopped cocoa nibs, which I had never had before, but are quite tasty. I was way too full to finish my entire cake so half of it went home with us and we shared it for breakfast with coffee the next morning as the sun came up over San Francisco. Wonderful!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cheese Plate

Last night for dinner, we had an awesome cheese plate made from things we got at the Ferry Marketplace:

Clockwise from the top: At noon, Semifreddies sweet bagette, at three, fresh "Veggie Jack" cheese from an awesome vendor in the market. We'd like to tell you who, but the packaging for these cheese simply said "please enjoy." So we did. At Six o'clock, seared radicchio, (Quarter it, brush it with olive oil and salt, let it sit for an hour, then sear it in an ultra hot iron skillet for two minutes per side.) At nine, seared Cava Cava oranges, (Peeled, quartered, and then the quarters were each torn in half horizontally, tossed on that super hot skillet right after the radicchio was turned, and seared for just two minutes.)

This all turned out to pair very well with one another. The cheese was strong and cheesy, the radicchio was very bitter, and the oranges were sweet but full of subtle flavors. The end result was a lot of things that complimented each other very well.

We served this with Alexander Valley Vineyard's "New Gewurtz" Gewurtztraminer, (2006) a nice fruity sweet white wine that goes very well with many things, it's a good wine to have when you are unsure of which wine goes with what, since it is sort of wide open, flavorwise. We didn't drink much wine befre this year, so when we started drinking wine (cause it is so cheap here in California,) we started with Gewurtztraminer wine, because it was very accessable, tasty, not a taste that required an educated palette, but still somewhat "wine-like."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday Almond Apricot Cupcakes

Almond Apricot Cupcakes, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

These are also known as "please neighbor stop shining your light into our bedroom window" cupcakes. We'll see if they work.

These are from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (of course). The recipe calls for almond meal, but we used chestnut flour in place of almond meal. Because there is a ton of almond extract in these, they still taste almondy, but have a lovely earthy taste. I used about a 1/4 cup less sugar than what was called for and I am glad I did because they are plenty sweet with the jam on top. A 1/2 teaspoon of jam is baked into the top and then they are glazed with more warmed apricot jam.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Green Tea Cupcakes

From "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World." So far, these were "Optimistic's" favorite cupcakes from this cookbook.

These called for Matcha green tea powder, which of course, we didn't have. So we toasted Jasmine Pearl Green Tea in an iron skillet until fragrant and dry, then ground it to powder in a mortar and pestle. Finally, we took that powder and sifted it through a cheesecloth until the large twiggy bits were in the cloth, and nothing remained in the pestle except a fine green tea dust.

Since the Matcha powder sold in most places is steamed, and steeping or steaming tea will remove most of the caffeine, (in fact, steeping a tea for as little as 30 seconds will extract almost all the caffeine from the leaves,) the Matcha powder is largely decaf. Our green tea powder was full-bore, so eating one or two cupcakes was quite a jolting experience. (Which was dangerous, since they were sooooooo tasty.) For the few days that the cupcakes existed, we were both pretty wired.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tofu Piccata

Tofu Piccata, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This is again from the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook. If you are at all interested in vegetarian cooking I highly recommend this book. I have loved everything out of this book. The tofu piccata is served on jasmine rice and with green beans.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Purple cabbage, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This is sweet and sour red cabbage with seitan and chive mashed potatoes. The cabbage recipe is from a book called The Natural Health Cookbook by Dana Jacobi (another great find for a dollar at the library book sale). This recipe is really simple and just requires a lot of baking time in the oven. It contains onions, red cabbage, apples, seitan and a couple of different kinds of vinegars. It was very very good. I think that my inner Belgian is showing because I really love the combination of cabbage and potatoes (it is not just popular in Germany you know). I didn't realize until I started making the recipe that the seitan is supposed to be deep fried. I thought that this step was totally unnecessary and would only unnecessarily increase the fat content, so the seitan went in straight out of the package. It was still delicious so no need to deep fry the seitan in my opinion. The whole batch of cabbage and potatoes only include 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter, so they are actually pretty low fat. There were plenty of leftovers because the recipe makes a huge batch and the leftovers were just as tasty the second day.