Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lotsa fun

Pretty big post coming at you, so sit back...

A week or so ago, Bob and I went to a vegan cooking class at our health food store, Earth Fare. The event was sponsored through UGA's Speak Out for Species, and it was fun to be around so many vegans--the chef was not vegan, though he was cooking vegan for all of us, so it was almost as if the tables were turned in our favor, for once! Anyway, he shared this incredible recipe with us for mocha chocolate pie, which Bob and I promptly tried out for ourselves.

Mocha Chocolate Pie

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup Kahlùa (or cold coffee)
1 block silken tofu
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup or other honey substitute
1 graham cracker pie crust

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, then remove from heat and stir in the liqueur, vanilla, and syrup. In a blender, whiz the tofu until smooth, then add the chocolate mixture and blend together. Pour into the pie crust and chill 4 hours, until firm.

It's that easy and that delicious. We shared it with some of Bob's family and they immediately demanded the recipe.

I had an eggplant sitting around that I needed to cook, so I started hunting all your blogs for a good eggplant recipe. I found one here that sounds delicious (and I am sure I will try it soon!), but then I remembered that I have been meaning to try Fatfree Vegan's eggplant parmesan, which has been raved about over and over in the blogging community. It took quite a while to put together and made a mess of quite a few dishes, but in the end it was completely worth it. Delicious--so creamy and flavorful.

Reading fellow bloggers' comments, it seems that many people had a problem with the dish being mushy. I didn't have that problem. I ended up baking it about 40 minutes and then let it sit for 10 minutes before serving, and it came out fairly clean and solid.

I served the eggplant parmesan with a spinach salad and this lite goddess dressing, also from Fatfree Vegan. This dressing is so good, and contains far less fat than Annie's Goddess Dressing. I ended up adding more soy sauce to the dressing than the recipe called for, which gave it a bit more flavor and thinned it out a bit (because when I first made it, it got almost solid in the refrigerator).

As you might remember, I have been really trying to add some more variety to my breakfasts in the mornings. It's been going really well--I've been eating a lot of oatmeal, but oatmeal can be varied endlessly so it's been fun to play with. And, I've learned that you can cook oatmeal in the microwave with great results, which makes it actually do-able for rushed mornings. The best oatmeal recipe I've come up with so far is this:

1/2 cup rolled oats soaked in 1/2 cup soy milk for 10 minutes
1/4 cup applesauce
Frozen blueberries
Maple syrup
Ground flax seed meal

Microwave for about 2 minutes, then stir in the flax seeds and some extra milk and enjoy!

This one is oats soaked in soy milk, then I added 1/2 a banana, maple syrup, and cinnamon. It's really good with peanut butter stirred in at the end. Yum!

Mixed grain porridge. It contains brown and wild rice, millet, amaranth, and barley. I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, and then stirred in some maple syrup and raisins and some soy milk. It was pretty good, but it's better left over.

These pancakes from The Grit Cookbook were a weekend treat. I used white whole wheat flour, which I just recently tried for the first time. It was great in the pancakes, and I'm having fun learning how to put it in everything! These I served with sliced bananas and some warmed strawberry preserves. Pancakes are Bob's favorite breakfast, and he loved these.

Speaking of The Grit, I still had a gift card for a meal there that I received for my birthday. It was a beautiful day today, and Bob and I decided to walk to The Grit for lunch. This time, I remembered to take my camera.

We sat outside and took in the beautiful 80 degree weather. Bob ordered the Mid-E Platter with falafel, hummus, and tabbouli salad:

And I went with the day's Noodle Bowl, which was grilled tofu and veggies in a wasabi-coconut sauce.

Very decadent and full of flavor. Their noodle bowl changes daily, but I've never had one that disappointed me. We considered getting a vegan grasshopper cupcake for dessert, but we both had such a filling lunch that we had to skip it.

We also stopped by our Asian market today, and I was so excited about our findings that I wanted to share them.

Dried wakame and hijiki, some nori strips, rice noodles, green and red Thai curry paste, bok choy, Thai eggplants, Napa cabbage. $14.40 total. Later this week, I will show you what we make with all this stuff!


Candi said...

Going to a vegan cooking class sounds like so much fun! The pie looks really good! The class was worth it for that alone! Lol!

The eggplant parm looks really good, and I'm so glad you tried it out because I wanted to also! Now I'm determined! lol! I love all of Susan's recipes!

I'm impressed with your breakfast variety! I'm still stuck on easy smoothies and running out the door with one in hand!

Oh - I want to go to The Grit! What a cool place. I love the presentation of the food too! Looks very good!

Lucky you with the Asian market finds! The Thai eggplant has me intrigued! :) I wonder what you will make with those!

bazu said...

Wow- what a fabulous round-up of food. It all looks great, but I have to admit that first pie is just calling my name! How delicious does that look?? Oh, the pictures from the Grit are wonderful too- you've been eating really well, my friend!

Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

oh yum! i've been telling myself over and over that i need to start eating more oatmeal in the morning.

i do believe that your recipe sounds like just the thing i've needed to inspire me.

thanks for sharing!

Melody said...

Everything looks awesome! I make a similar pie that I call death by chocolate! (basically the same ingredients, but I do a chocolate cookie crust)..

If you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for your cooking class? I am advertising my cooking classes differently now that I used to. I used to teach for Community Education and they set the price and paid me 20/hr plus the cost of my ingredients.

I am charging 60 bucks a person for a 3 hour class and each person will be able to bring home 5 tupperwear containers full of food.

I usually make 5 dishes based on a theme (soups, asian, italian, inidan, ethnic,tofu that type of thing) or an entire meal with apps, main dish, salad/soup and dessert.
Would you pay that? just curious?

scottishvegan said...

I would love to go to a vegan cooking class! That sounds so much fun! The chocolate pie looks great! I have been meaning to try Susan’s Goddess Dressing for ages…it sounds so delicious! I love oatmeal/porridge too. I only recently tried adding cardamom for the first time…yummy! The Grit sounds awesome…I love the hummus with the veggie stuck in it!

Kati said...

The Grit looks like such a cute restaurant! Those noodles are definitely calling my name...and that pie! Oh, that pie... Isn't white whole wheat flour the best? I've been putting it in everything, too, ever since I first discovered it. :)

vko said...

Have been considering taking a vegan cooking class when I can find the time- but you have definitely reminded me to make the time!

The chocolate pie looks scrumptious, as does all your food from The Grit. What a great place- I loved the distressed brick and the little cafe seating- how fun!

And can't wait to see what you cook up with all that fun stuff from the asia market. The thai eggplant looks especially interesting- I thought they were tomatillos at first. Looking forward to that post.

KleoPatra said...

Oh my, i <3 The Grit! And here i was just enjoying their recipes when you do 'em... they serve groovy dishes there. YUMMY! That hummus dish looks fantastic! I love me a good tabouli salad. Lovely! Is that dressing in the silver mini bowl tahini there?? The grilled tofu w/the wasabi coconut sauce really looks filling and delectable! This place must be excellent!

If you go back and get the vegan grasshopper cupcake, please show this cutie off... i would love to see what it looks like. My imagination is running wild. (I have a little mini love affair with the real grasshoppers of the world, but that's another story!)

Can i just tell you that i adore the pancakes you made? So pretty witht he strawb preserves 'n' sliced bananas... I'm not so hot on oatmeal or porridge but i like how you describe the different things you can do with it... Maybe someday i try, try again. Good for you to get variety in your b'fasts, Laura. I do salute you!

That pie has got to be, what can i say? RAD!!! Wow, to go to a vegan cooking class and make that mocha chocolate pie that looks like heaven on a plate... sweeeeeeet!!!

The eggplant dish looks really good. I am fearful of the eggplant because everytime i make anything w/it, it's Mush City. Ugh. There's not too much worse than mushy veggies, unless yer tryin' to make 'em that way on purpose. The eggplant parmesan you made really appears firm 'n' tasty. Well done!

Lookin'n forward to what you do w/those great Asian store finds, Laura.

aTxVegn said...

Everything looks amazing, Laura! That chocolate pie is just too easy to make. And I love your breakfasts. I make the oatmeal pb thingy all the time. The Grit food looks incredible. You're lucky to have that place.

Don't you love shopping at the Asian market? I can't wait to see how you use the sea veggies.

laura jesser said...

Candi, you should definitely try out the eggplant parm recipe--but try it sometime when you have plenty of time (or some extra hands, or both). And we just got a Magic Bullet, so I know what you mean about the smoothies--they're so easy!

Bazu, the pie is super-chocolatey (just my style) and it was such a tease at the cooking class--there were so many of us there that we each only got a small chunk of the pie to taste, like 2 bites. But really, that's all I could eat at once anyway! :)

DGMGV, I've loved getting to know oatmeal better. And I love how healthy it is--plenty of protein and fiber to start the day!

Melody, I answered your question in a comment on your blog. But I do have to say, I'm all about death by chocolate! It's my biggest vice. Your pie would be perfect...

Scottish vegan, I only recently tried using cardamom as well, mostly because it's usually so expensive. But I've found that by buying it in bulk, it's really not that bad! Mmm, and you should really try the goddess dressing--if you like a strong tahini flavor, I recommend adding a bit more than the recipe uses.

Kati, you were probably the one who got me interested in white whole wheat flour. And yes, I think it's great--I wish I had discovered it a long time ago!

VKO, vegan cooking classes are so rare here that whenever one comes up, I jump on the opportunity. About The Grit, the food is only 1/2 of what makes it so amazing. The artsy, indie feel of the place is so unique--I can't ever imagine finding its atmosphere anywhere else.

Kleo, don't worry--even if I don't go back and buy the grasshopper cupcake, I will be trying my hand sometime very soon at making them myself! I have the recipe. And yes--the dressing is lemon tahini. Amazing! I have been eggplant-phobic for a long time because it can be kind of hard to deal with, but I enjoy its taste and texture so much that it really is high time I learn how to work with it better!

Diann, I do love the Asian market, and only hope to find such a place nearby when I move to Atlanta!

Kate said...

I wish we had vegan cooking class around here, it sounds like such a great experience. Glad you liked the eggplant parm. I am using the cheese sauce from that recipe to make lasagna tonight

laura jesser said...

Kate, I was really amazed in particular by the cheese sauce. I'm sure it will be delicious in a lasagna!

Jackie said...

Thanks for the recipe for the Mocha Chocolate Pie.

The apple pie looks great. I am sure everyone loved the pies. I agree with you that many really overdo it at weddings and should rather put the money in their new homes.

laura jesser said...

Jackie, you're welcome--if you make it, I hope you enjoy it. When I got married it was a small affair, and my mom and I pretty much did everything on our own, with some help from some close family friends. Not only was it frugal, but it was still lovely, and it was very rewarding on "the big day" to look around and realize what we had accomplished.

Anonymous said...

the pie looks awesome! love all the foods.

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

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