Sunday, May 15, 2005

tasty bite of the day: potato spinach "sausage" casserole


I'm a little late with this, but Elise has brought us a recipe for potato spinach "sausage" casserole that I am quite tempted by. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not a lover of casseroles like I am a lover of tofu or mousse or balsamic strawberries. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where casserole was, indeed, a nine-letter four-letter word, but some of my friends were not so lucky, and on occasional visits to their houses, I would be forced to eat things like cream-of-mushroom or tuna casserole. Not that I would really eat these foods. I have always been pretty good at smushing things around so it only looks like I ate some, when in reality, I have succeeded in not having the clumps of casserole mush touch anything but the tip of my fork. And since I have always loved to eat my vegetables, my friends' parents were often so impressed by my wanting seconds of the peas or the spinach or the broccoli that they harldy noticed what I wasn't eating.

This potato spinach "sausage" casserole, on the other hand, looks like just my kind of food, with a few modifications. I love food that is hearty, satisfying, healthy, and simple, and what fits this description better than potatoes, spinach, and "sausage" (the quotations being mine, as I am not an eater of animals, but I am a connoisseur of tofu and veggie "sausage" all things fake-meat)? In fact, this substitution of some sort of soy product in favor of Italian sausage is one of the key modifications I would make - a couple others being the subsitution of veggie broth for chicken broth, and the deletion of the heavy cream and the cheese (though perhaps I would use some nutritional yeast in its place?) - I prefer my hearty dishes thick, not creamy. But I find this dish to be quite inspiring, otherwise. Very homey, simple, nutritios, and adaptable, and I'll bet it makes great leftovers, yet another of my favorite qualities in a dish. Thanks, Elise!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

tasty bite of the day: mousse city


Well, today's post is all about mousse! I don't know how it happened, but lately mousse seems to be everywhere. First, there was the trip to Whole Foods when I was hungry (always a bad idea) and I stocked up on all kinds of goodies that I am ordinarily able to refrain from buying, including single-serving containers of raspberry and espresso mousse. As much as I hate wasteful packaging, my fondness for all things sweet and delicious in small and cleverly arranged portions tends to overwhelm any practical or environmental concerns. And not that I ever stick to just one adorable treat... somehow eating lots of pretty little things never seems like it amounts to more than just a wee bit of dessert. And what better excuse to try a lot of different things!

But that was just the first mousse encounter. Then there was chica's entry on she who eats : strawberry mousse with balsamic vinegar. And I was inspired. I would make my own mousse, only vegan, as I am new to the world of cooking and baking with dairy, not to mention eating it, and cream in particular has always been intimidating and a hindrance to digestion. Well, as I sometimes do, I went into full-on experimental mode, and one thing led to another, and... the mousse was a disaster. As it was such a painful experience for me, I will spare you the details so that you may go through your day unscathed.

However, some quick searching on the web and I realized that were millions of vegan mousse recipes out there, and should I decide to actually follow a recipe next time, I'm sure it will turn out to be quite delicious. In fact, I'm not the only blogger interested in vegan mousse. The bakerina recently posted a "no eggs" mousse pie recipe from the Millenium Restaurant in San Francisco that is made with silken tofu, just like mine was... only this one has a much more balanced list of ingredients, at least as far as the mousse goes. The recipe also includes a cashew crust, a raspberry sauce, and a maple almond praline. Sounds delicious, but I may go for a simple chocolate graham cracker crust instead (at least while PCC still has chocolate Go Go Grahams at half price!), and might pass on the praline... raspberry sauce, though, would be a sure winner.

Oh, and want yet another mousse post? Check out the accidental hedonist's post from the other day: frozen chocolate mousse.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

tasty bite of the day: cool grapes


Not so much a recipe as this is a great idea, delicious:days' post on cool grapes, or grapes that have been frozen and are to be eaten while cold and creamy, is a lovely reminder of one of my favorite summertime snacks, and her close-up photographs of these cool grapes are some very enticing visual aids.

I have never actually frozen the grapes in clusters, though from delicious:day's photographs, it is clear that this is the method she chose. I've always gone through the task of pulling the grapes off their stems first - only slightly laborious when executed with small clusters. When done with several pounds of grapes, however, this can get a tad old, and the next time I visit my mother's house in late summer, with her vines upon vines of green grapes, I'll make sure to try freezing some on the vine.

And if you're liking frozen grapes, might I recommend some other frozen fruits? I'm especially fond of frozen mango, though you'll want to cut it in slivers first, for it can be a bit hard to bite into. Some other favorites are pineapple chunks, wild blueberries, and just-barely-defrosted banana slices.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

tasty bite of the day: strawberry mousse with balsamic vinegar


Now for my second tasty bite, from the food blog that provided the inspiration for my first tasty bite: she who eats. Although Chika didn't seem especially enthralled with her mousse, I thought the idea of strawberry mousse with balsamic vinegar sounded delicious and it seems to have a lot of potential, one of my favorite qualities in a recipe. If anything is better than a great recipe, it's a great recipe that you can twist and tweak to make all sorts of new and delicious variations on to suit your fancy or to utilize the ingredients you have on hand. In fact, this recipe shares some ingredients and flavors with one of my favorite tweak-as-you-please recipes from a simple spinach salad with balsamic vinegar candied nuts and fruit with a balsamic dressing. I make this salad with strawberries all the time, and the combination of the vinegar and strawberries is a classic for a reason - it's delicious.

I was especially intrigued by Chika's idea of pairing mousse with fresh fruit. It was just yesterday that I was eating raspberry mousse, and woe is me for not having considered to eat it with fresh berries sprinkled on top. I'm sure this would have made it seem fresher and it likely would have added a bit of potency and some spark. I suppose I will just have to get some more and try it out again today, for experimentation's sake. :) Or perhaps this time I will make my own. After several years on a restrictive vegan diet, I am still relatively new to the world of cooking with dairy, but perhaps soy cream would work as well? I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for the inspiration, Chika.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

tasty bite of the day: faux taho

How fitting that my very first tasty bite is from one of my favorite food blogs: the scent of green bananas. I am a lover of recipes like Santos' faux taho that are short and sweet in as many senses of those two words as this one is - short both in the length of the list of ingredients and in the preparation time (and let's not forget the time that it would likely take me to eat what looks to be an especially delicious dessert!), and sweet in taste and in the healthy and simple qualities of the ingredients: tofu, ginger, and a little brown sugar.

This isn't the time for me to dwell on the necesseties of consuming sugar each day, whether it be brown sugar as in Santos' creation, or perhaps sugar in the form of honey, or maple syrup, or sucanat, etc... But it is the time for me to extol the blessings of tofu and ginger to those who may be skeptical or unaware. There are many people who shy away from tofu and ginger. Tofu is a health food. It lacks in flavor, and its texture can be sort of chewy or mushy. As for ginger, well, it can be a little strong. Tofu and ginger are often intimidating ingredients for people to work with. But this needn't be the case! And this recipe is a great place to start.

There are several different kinds of tofu, and there is an infinite number of possibilities for its preparation - and both factors make a huge difference in its texture and flavor. I find silken tofu to be the least offensive to newbies, and that is the kind Santos uses in her recipe. As its name indicates, silken tofu is soft - it is often used for things like shakes and puddings and vegan cheesecakes, and it tends to melt in your mouth. Delicious! And with a sweet sauce of ginger that has been mellowed out a bit with a taste of brown sugar, you won't even taste the tofu's much more subtle flavor, also a boon for those who are unitiated. Make this, then make this again. Then try other sauces, then other types of tofu, and soon you will be eating the good stuff right out of the package, too.

Thank you for the great entry, Santos, and thank you to any and all of my new readers. I look forward to more tasty bites soon.