Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lemon Cake, Falafel, A Dud, and New Year!

I'll start with the dud of the week. My friend JJTWH recommended the "Winter Root Vegetable Ragout under a wild rice pancake" from Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Suppers" cookbook. Here are the beautiful veggies I used. Aren't those pink turnips lovely!?

Here is the finished dish. I used a bit of blended silken tofu in the "pancake" instead of eggs. It's a generally okay dish, but a bit too vinegary. The book recommended eating it with sour cream. I actually had some tofutti sour cream in the fridge, and it did add a lot to the flavor. Still, that stuff is so processed and creepy that I couldn't have more than a dollop of it. The biggest problem is that after one bite, Musty decided he didn't like it at all. And it was an entire 9x12 casserole dish FULL. So, I have been doing my best to eat it, but I'm really not all that crazy about it either. I so hate to throw food away, but I'm afraid a large chunk of this one might hit the trash soon. :(

Last night we had dinner over in San Jose with our friend J&E. They are so cool! We had a great time. J made a big green salad and a big pot of Green Paella (full of veggies!) - a little nod to St. Patrick's day. It was delish! I asked if I could bring dessert... I had something in mind.
This is the Lemon Pudding Cake with Blueberry Glaze from "Voluptous Vegan." It's so elegant and flavorful and EASY! What a great combo! Here it is, still in the springform pan.
Here it is, unsprung! Sorry about the dark picture, it was the best I could do. You can't see the bottom layer of cake here.
Here is a slice: You can see the lemon cake on the bottom layer, the lemon "pudding" middle layer, and the blueberry glaze on top. It's also got no cane sugar in it, which is a nice touch (still plenty of sweetner though!). What a great cake - I definitely recommend it!
After our dinner J&E took us to our favorite middle eastern restaurant in San Jose ("Casablanca" in Willow Glen), which we found out is one of their favorite places too! They've got a little grocery section - so I got some pomegranate molasses, some lebanese couscous (thanks for the head's up Susan V!), some vegan baklava, and some vegan candies. Also, I got a falafel sandwhich to have for lunch today. WOW! It was even better than I remembered. The sandwich has tahini, falafel, onions, cabbage, eggplant, potatoes, spices, and other good stuff in there. It is INSANELY GOOD. And Vegan! Without any modifications! Wow. J&E also got a big tub of babaghanoush, which we sampled when we got back home - man, it was some seriously delicious stuff. I'll get some next time I go back for sure.
Tonight we had a simple and very, very good dinner. I made some glazed tempeh (following the "star-anise glazed tempeh" recipe from "Vegetarian Suppers"), some garlicky roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts, and two bunches of braised collards. We both loved this meal.
Lastly, Tuesday is Persian New Year, or NoRooz. I'm not Iranian, but I have many connections to Iran and I have adopted this holiday into my life with full-fledged enthusiasm. It is my favorite holiday of the year! It's sort of funny being so excited about a holiday that no one else even knows is going on. One of the many beautiful parts of celebrating NoRooz is the "Haft Sin Table" - an arrangement of 7 things that start with the letter "s" in Farsi. (Haft=7, Sin="s"). NoRooz is a very ancient, pre-Islamic holiday that goes back to Zoroastarian times. Today the seven things are a bit variable, and most haft sin tables end up with way more than 7 things. Here you'll see my table with: candles, a mirror, spring flowers, garlic, vinegar, apples, sweets, coins, a goldfish (I use a plastic one - which is a bit funny since the fish is supposed to symbolize "life"), some eggs (I use glass ones - again a bit funny, but I don't currently want to welcome in "fertility," so I'm fine with fake eggs!), sumac (a Persian spice), a book of poetry by Rumi, some sprouted wheat grass, some rose water... To learn more about this magical holiday, and what all these goodies symbolize, click here or here or here. Also, keep your eye out for some serious Persian food posting!
Now I"m going to have a piece of cake for dessert!


  1. Sorry the Root Vegetable Ragout was a dude :( Whenever I'm not too sure about a recipe, I halve it so if I don't like it, not as much is wasted.

    Oh and the cake is beautiful!

  2. I look forward to the Persian food posting. You mentioned sumac, and I love that stuff, but have never had it in the house myself.

    Lucky you having falafel with eggplant and cabbage and all that goodness! I've only had those packed falafel options once before, at maoz in philly, and it was amazing.

  3. Sorry about your dud...but I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who makes big casseroles of something that a certain someone won't help me eat! I feel your pain. ;)

    That lemon cake looks awesome! The different layers are so pretty.

    Thanks for sharing about NoRooz, too. I love learning about different holidays around the world!

  4. Ugh, I know the feeling--when Bob decides that he doesn't like something, then it's up to me to finish the WHOLE thing. It's even worse when you're not exactly crazy about it either. Oh well--it happens! On a much nicer note, that pudding cake looks to die for! Seriously, I could almost be persuaded to buy the whole cookbook just to have that recipe! It looks so gorgeous, too... fancy. I'm looking forward to reading about your NoRooz celebration!

  5. The cake looks wonderful, and the falafel sandwich sounds amazing! (I've never had one with so much stuff!) Personally, I could live on baba ganoush--and one day I may try. It's a wonder I ever do anything else with eggplants!

    I'm really looking forward to hearing what you do with the Lebanese couscous. I've still got a half bag of it to experiment with.

  6. As usual for your desserts, that lemon pudding cake looks amazing! Made a note of that Casablanca place. It sounds great! Vegan baklava?!

    Also, there was a Persian new year celebration here in Berkeley last week. I was riding by somewhere that evening and ran across it. Great music, and a fire-jumping activity that looked fun. I thought of you when I saw it! Here's a write-up on it:

  7. That falafel sounds amazing- my favorite falafel comes from a little place in Brooklyn, and they put pickled cabbage and other goodies on it- I say, bring on the toppings!
    Your tart/cake things also looks fabulous.
    Happy nowrooz to you! I'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

  8. Sorry about the dud- whenever that happens to me, I try to ease it's pain with liquid aminos & hot sauce!

    The cake looks great- am going to have to try the deserts in that book. As does your tempeh dinner, so yummy.

    The sandwich sounds amazing- I love falafel, but I 've never had all that stuff with it before am going to have to recreate that one.

    Thanks for sharing your persian new year table- how fun!

  9. Hi Orangie!
    Yes, halving the recipe would have been good idea... After my friend's recommendation, I was so sure we would like it. I also didn't realize how much it was going to make! Oh well... live and learn!

    Hi Jess,
    Yea, sumac is great! Such a neat flavor, isn't it? I wish that great falafel place was closer (it's about 35 minutes away) - but at least we know where to find them when we need them!

    Hi Kati,
    hee hee. When musty likes something he eats so much of it! So, then I learn to make so much food. And then, if he doesn't like it ... I'm stuck with TONS of food! ha ha

    Hi Laura!
    Ha! Regarding having to eat the whole thing, see my response to Kati. And it is especially a drag when you're not crazy about it. :) I've had "Voluptuous Vegan" for quite a while now - someone gave it to me ... but I only just recently started using it. It's got some very very good recipes in it! Some are fancy, but many are easy and delicious.

    Hi Susan!
    Oh! I wish I could send you some of this baba ghanoush, it was some of the yummiest I've ever had. Sooo good. The Lebanese couscous is crazy and cool! I'm excited to experiment with it. I loved seeing how big they got in your chickpea soup recipe... fun.

    Hi Jen!
    Yeah, the vegan baklava was a score! It's the pre-made kind, in a little package (not the fresh one they make themselves). But still, that's good enough for me! The fire jumping ceremony is really fun. Unfortunately, I forgot to do it this year. On the Wednesday before NoRooz you jump over a fire - and there's a traditional saying you say as you jump - and the idea is to burn off the last year and get a fresh start before the new year. NoRooz rules!

    Hi Bazu,
    Happy NoRooz! I'll be thinking of you too. Yes, the pickled cabbage is a very special, magical ingredient - isn't it? Funny, we were all talking about how important the cabbage is!

    Hi VKO,
    It would be fun to try to recreate these amazing falafels. I've been wanting to get one of those little sandwich grillers for a long time, I think it adds a lot to these. Maybe you could get the same affect with a broiler though! :)

  10. Anonymous6:35 AM

    that pudding cake looks amazing!, well i love your blog, you have such interesting food always!!


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