Wednesday, March 12, 2008

100 Posts and some Dal Balls

So I missed celebrating my 100th blog post. This is the 102nd. So I'll celebrate that instead. Yay! 102 Posts! Who'da thought I'd end up sticking with this?

Sorry my last post was such a complaining-fest. And thanks for all the great comments- It's good to know I'm not along in this big world!

Today's featured dish is a bit odd...Perhaps because it was Mike's idea? Nevertheless, it was a great idea and once tweaked a bit, will be fantabulous. He cooked red lentils and polenta separately and then mixed them together with "chicken" broth powder and sage and some quinoa flakes to make little balls (dal balls). Then he baked them on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. They ended up crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. We served them over rice with gravy on top. They were a great texture, but a little short on flavor.

The next night I cut the leftover (very solid) dal/polenta mixture into triangles and breaded them with a nutritional yeast, garlic, crushed rice crisp cereal mixture and greased a baking sheet up real good before baking them. These reminded me of fried cheese or fried chicken or something. Again, the flavor was not very strong, but the texture was awesome. We had these with beans and rice and coleslaw. I recommend wrapping it all up in a corn tortilla with some homemade salsa!

Tonight I tried to duplicate one of my favorite soups from the Seward Co-op. While I do all my grocery shopping at my co-op, I always check out the Seward when I venture over the great divide to Minneapolis. When I was in grad school at St. Kate's campus nearby, I had this knack for randomly going to the Seward on days when they were serving their Vegan Cashew Mushroom Soup. Like every time. It's pretty much the most rich, creamy, amazingly delicious mushroom soup you've ever had. In case you live nearby, they're serving it this Friday!

Anyways, since I hold this soup on a golden, diamond-studded pedestal, my version did not live up to its namesake. But it's still really good! I think the trick is to use an insane amount of cashews in a fancy Vita-Mix blender. Unfortunately, I don't have a blender like this and was too lazy to even try my food processor. So I used cashew butter because it was on sale last month.

Cream of Cashew and Mushroom Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 lb. white button mushrooms, cut into chunky slices
1 portabello mushroom, cut into bite-sized slices
4 cups of almond milk (or other non-dairy milk), unsweetened
1/2 cup raw cashew butter
ground black pepper and salt to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add thyme and mushroom and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Then add most of the almond milk, reserving about 3/4 cup. In a little bowl or jar, mix cashew butter with the reserved milk until smooth. I used a little whisk and it worked nicely. Then add to the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 30 minutes until soup has thickened a bit. Serve with more black pepper and some extra cashews on top!

Note: I know Rachel Ray and everyone else says that you shouldn't wash mushrooms or they'll absorb water and get tough. Yeah, yeah, just wipe them with a damp towel. I completely disregard these instructions anyways, but you certainly can for this because you're putting them in SOUP. That's liquid anyways, so a little water won't hurt anything and at least they won't have dirt on them.

For anyone that lives in the Twin Cities: I'm teaching a class on cooking leafy greens at Mississippi Market on Sunday March 16th and a class on using neti pots for relieving sinus congestion on March 19. Plus, in May we've got a couple more vegan cooking classes. Check out the website for details.


Jennifer said...

Happy 102nd post!

What an interesting dish Mike came up with. You guys will have to add more spices next time you make them.

Ooooh, wrapping things in tortillas and topping them with salsa is perhaps my favorite way to eat food! Hehe!

That soup sounds fantastic! Do you think you could use the soup as a sort of 'marinade' in certain casseroles and such like you do with cream of mushroom in a can?

Courtney said...

Happy 102nd post--and happy 100th post 2 posts ago!

I have never had that soup at Seward before...maybe I will venture over there tomorrow and get myself some. Thanks for the tip!

That is so neat that you are teaching a class on cooking greens! I am going to look into attending!