Oh cooking, how I love thee
So, I'm making good progress with my list of planned meals. Last night, I made a fabulous salad that, coincidentally, met the criteria for the ppk's VeganMofo Iron Chef challenge (pears and nuts) - apart from being 12 hours late. Ah well, I'm going to talk about it here anyhoo, because it rocked my socks off.
This is my Compelling Salad (named for my friend Neibi's comments upon sampling it): Waldorf with a hint of Caesar - it's like a vegan amalgamation of the salad trends of the last 40 years!! What's it got in it? Torn cos lettuce, VwaV's Tempeh Bacon, walnuts, luscious organic pears and a dressing made from the Blue Sheese, adapted from one on their recipes page (scroll about 2/3 way down the page).
I had this again today, and added fresh ripe strawberries - took the salad from pretty damned fine to OMG knee trembling good. Highly recommended. Share with your friends. Or not. I recommend that you leave the dressing for at least an hour, if not longer, before using - the flavours meld and intensify and the sharp sudden "blue" taste is not as prominent.
I came home from a grumpy day at work and set to work on an Indian feast - 2 hours later, check out the spread:
I had so much fun!! I used every damn pan in my house and have a huge amount of washing up facing me tomorrow night, but ye gods those were 2 well spent hours. My mood has lifted immensely, and I feel like I've achieved something brilliant.
I decided to make three curries: Tofu Saag, Channa Masala and Baigan Bharta. Here's the starting point (well, really, the third of the way through point, because I'd roasted the eggplant and made the ginger/garlic paste and chopped the leeks and deseeded the green chillies and steamed and blended the spinach...but let's pretend the prep has been done already, and this is the start point, okay?)
I've started getting a little compulsive about TV chef prepping my ingredients...I should probably stop watching Lifestyle Food, shouldn't I?
Baigan Bharta base - eggplant that has been roasted and peeled and mashed, leeks (or onion) finely chopped, tomato roughly chopped, and ginger and garlic minced together.
The end result, full of plump peas. It was nice, but I don't know if it was the eggplant (the first time I've used an heirloom eggplant), but this was a little watery and didn't pack the smoky punch of flavour I was hoping for.
Tofu Saag base - silverbeet that has been steamed in its own liquid, squeezed out and blended smooth with peanut oil and lemon juice, leeks and silverbeet stems minced together, tomato (my addition to the recipe) and organic tofu.
The finished product - all hot and creamy (due to the addition of the remainder of the dressing from the Compelling Salad!) and probably my favourite of the three curries tonight.
Channa Masala base - much the same as the Baigan Bharta - leeks, ginger/garlic, tomatoes, chillies, and a rinsed tin of chickpeas.
My second favourite of the night - I added sundried tomato paste instead of tomato paste, and some tamarind paste, and those two really lifted the flavours up a lot. Fresh and hot and tasty.
All served with brown basmati rice cooked with stock, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods, as well as mango chutney and lime pickle. Num. Num. Num.
The recipes were all pulled from the web, ingredients scrawled on a piece of paper, and then I guessed at the amounts of spice and additions outside of the recipes. So I don't really have any recipes to offer, but I do recommend looking up the dishes and taking a recipe from the first google page (it's what I do) and giving it a bash and then adapting it as you go.
I'm taking this in to work tomorrow to share with a workmate. I find cooking for other people, whether it be readers of VeganMoFo, or someone at work who is fascinated by vegan food, means that I cook better and more often than I normally would - I guess it's all about showing off, eh? It's a win/win situation, 'cos I'm feeling healthy and happy with the cooking I'm doing, and also I get to witness other people enjoying it, which does a person's heart good.
Tomorrow...*goes to check list*...I think either Barley Risotto or Sesame Broccoli and Smoked Tofu...hmmmm...