Sunday, June 27, 2010

three swings and a hit

Tonight is actually the first time I've cooked anything since the last time I posted.  While it was slightly less messy to have other people preparing my food, it was only marginally more relaxing this time around.

On Thursday, we had another management dinner.  We were so rowdy, the VP ended up buying a bottle of wine for the neighboring table as an apology for our behavior.  Don't let his contrite behavior fool you, though - he was complicit in his own (quieter) way.  Eschewing the Brazilian steakhouse this time in favor of Redstone Grill, dinner involved less meat only in a way that involved each person getting their own plate, rather than servers continually presenting a "parade of meats" on skewers, even if your little placard says NO.  There were exactly two items on the menu that I could eat, which is still two more than there were at the last dinner.  I spent more time than was probably necessary trying to decide between a pesto and tomato flatbread or a fairly generic salad.  I went with the flatbread.  Aside from the [male] colleague seated across from me challenging me to a pickled ginger eating contest, nothing blog-worthy happened.  After a while, you can't really put a comical twist on the same tired remarks about what the crazy vegetarian is going to eat in these delightful veg-unfriendly suburbs.

Friday night's dinner was far more enjoyable, both for the culinary and the company.  I met up with a dear old friend for dinner at Cedars.  It has been far too long since I've seen her, which probably helped me in my adventurous menu choices.  Mister and I have a fairly standard order when we go:
  • an appetizer of falafel, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), hummus, and baba ghanoush
  • fries with grilled peppers and onions
  • Mister gets a falafel sandwich or spanakopita
  • I get Imam Baldi
Following Dear Friend's lead, I started my meal with the Tabbouli salad, which was surprisingly parsley-heavy.  The tomatoes were uniform in dice and marinated to perfection, and there was just barely enough bulghur to hold everything together.  I would definitely recommend this and will get it again in the future.  At my urging, Dear Friend ordered the Imam Baldi and I ordered the Vegetable Sayadia.  It was very tasty, kind of like a Lebanese risotto, though there were far more mushrooms involved than I would have liked.  In the most ladylike way possible, I shifted them, one by one, to the side of my plate and happily shoveled the rest into my mouth.  It was a delightful dinner, complete with fun and intimate conversation.

I finally got to make Fusion Enchiladas and Mango & Black Bean Salad for tonight's dinner.  The enchiladas are from the Sept/Oct 2009 issue of Clean Eating magazine.  I have been holding on to the salad recipe from the March 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine.  I made the Fusion Enchiladas immediately after purchasing that issue of Clean Eating, noting at that time that I would have to make them again, substituting seitan for the recipe-prescribed sirloin.  I did just that tonight and it came out much better.

I marinated the seitan briefly with a crushed [huge] clove of garlic and a tsp of cumin, then browned it as much as you can brown fake meat in a nonstick saute pan.  I stirred in a diced red pepper, a cup of frozen corn, and two cups of baby spinach, and while that cooked I pureed the "refried" edamame with its various components (click the link above for the recipe).  It occurred to me while I was cooking just how miserably displayed my growing photography skills were when I made this in September, so I decided to get some action shots, rather than just an ugly and concealing whole wheat tortilla lump.

a thin layer of pureed "refried" edamame, topped with the seitan filling

all my ducks (enchiladas) in a row, ready for their brief baking time

I believe I pulled the salad recipe out of a special feature Cooking Light was doing about 6 essential foods to eat each day - the ingredient highlighted in this recipe was the black beans, but I was thoroughly impressed with all the ingredients and how they played so well together.
I did learn a fairly valuable lesson while preparing the salad: ripe mango is really slippery.  I don't know what, if anything, can be done about that for future preps (and they will happen!), but I nearly lost that little sucker right off of my cutting board a few times!

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