Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Angry Soup

It was supposed to be a white bean stew with roasted turnips and crimini mushrooms, aptly seasoned and created to reflect the changing weather. Joanna, who is usually right, had warned me not to cook when I was angry because it would come out in the food. You will notice that there are only two soups on the menu this week. B*$#* was right again, at least she didn't gloat.

I kept telling him over and over, you'd better get an attitude adjustment or your food is going to suck. Then, I came home from my yoga class and Joel shoved a spoon full of this scary mash in my mouth. Usually, my reaction is, "OH MY GOD" (in a good way)....this time I said "Um, well, what can we do to FUNK this thing up?" Neighbor (our old neighbor, Mark) and I kept referring to it as a pretty girl who needed make-up, or maybe some sexy boots. But, as it turned out, all the make-up, jewelry, boots and fishnet tights were not going to fix this fugly one. It got nastier as Joel poured more ingredients in and BIGGER. And, the worst was that he wanted to keep it pure vegan, why, what the hell? His last addition, only made it hateful. He shoved it off to the side and said something (I have no idea what).

I had such a crap week at work last week that my head space was sorely lacking Sunday morning when I started to cook. It just worsened as the time went by. Luckily, the foul mood localized itself in just the one Angry Soup as it became known around the house. Artists and musicians can sometimes turn their anger into a creative force and make something great, but not chefs. What I made that day is usually followed by some kind of exclamation like,"Bad Dog. Get the F outside." I made every mistake possible. Broth was too watery, slightly burned bottom, forgotten seasonings. But I was determined to prove Jo wrong and make it good again. I pureed it partially, added truffle oil, dropped the vegan aspirations and put in goat cheese. But as the soup's volume grew and grew, its mediocrity became more painful. My soul sank lower and lower. How could goat cheese not work? The 10 gallons of puke-like failure laughed at me. People in public avoided me.

A few minutes later, I saw something that resembled my husband but different, it's face was flat and it's eyes were buggin' (like Vincent D'onofrio in Men in Black) and it was carrying the HUGE ASS pot of ANGRY soup out the backdoor. The guy who came in WAS my husband and he was sweet and happy. And the soup was gone. I get shivers thinking about that soup. It was one big ole pot of mean, grumpy gnarliness. So, there is something to be said for that book "Mean Soup".

Finally, on Monday, I had had enough. Faced with the options of cheering up or filing for divorce, I gave in. I took the Angry Soup for a short walk down a long alley. I returned a different person. It felt like the Zoloft, Celexa, and Ecstasy all kicked in at once. I half expected to wake up this morning, Uncle Remus style, to a backyard full of raccoons, possums, squirrels and other cute critters serenading me with thanks. ZIPPIDEEDOODAH, ZIPPIDEEYAY, MY OH MY THAT SOUP REALLY SUCKED!"

Now we can talk about the soups that rocked. The Spinach Gorgonzola is a a riff on the Spinach Asiago we used to sell. Undertones of marsala and carmelized onion cut through the creamy goodness of the gorgonzola creating a wonderful wintertime soup. The Roasted Butternut Squash also came out very nice. Though it too asked for cream, I left if Vegan and spiked up the seasoning by leaving it a bit thick and concentrated with hints of garlic and ginger.

The Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad is back, as well as the Blueberry Almond Granola. Their return is based on their successful sales record as much as our desire to eat them. The Calamata Olive and Sundried Tomato Dip is a new one. I resisted the urge to do the typical cream cheese base and opted for the healthier garbanzo and roasted garlic base. We also have a few containers of Three Olive Tapenade for those who are interested. I made some Roasted Garlic Hummus, but not just because I had extra chick peas and garlic laying around. Joanna challenged me by saying Grandma's Hummus from the Farmers Market kicks my hummus' ass. I tweaked my recipe and made probably the best version I have created. I even tried to influence Jo by telling her the girl who sells it at the Farmer's Market is pretty. I recounted the story of how one time we bonded by showing each other our linear scars on our arms from sheet pans. I thought jealousy my taint her her opinion of the competition. (Joanna: I actually said "if you are so chubby, why don't you get the recipe smartass) But to no avail, Grandma's kicks my ass. They are at the triangle and pleasant valley markets if you want to try the best hummus and baba ganouj in town.

The Sesame Ginger Carrots return as well as the Roasted Sweet Potato Hash with Corn. A Barley with Roasted Crimini, Carmelized Onion, and Asparagus is new and came out great. It is a nice wintry dish. Although it is vegan, it would love some asiago cheese or goat cheese on top, unlike the Angry Soup.

We made the Arugula Salad with Baby Red Potatoes, Green Beans, Cannellini Beans, Roasted Sweet Peppers, and a Lemon Parsley Citronette. It has become a house favorite.
Thanks again for all your support. We look forward to seeing you guys TODAY!

Joanna's Note: Everything on the menu turned out wonderful, as in "oh my god, delish". That calamata olive and sundried tomato dip is insane and his hummus turned out incredible. I just needed to turn up the heat a bit and keep him on his toes. This was a rough one but in the end, all settled well and now I embark on making the house look clean. Please drop by. We haven't set a hard date for the next VCSC, but there will be a nice break after this one....HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!

Monday, November 1, 2010

When Yoga and VCSC Collide!

One of my favorite things to do is to create a meal using just the ingredients I have on hand when the cupboard is seemingly bare. Last week, two new dishes were born out of that same situation. I was too sick to go to the store and my desire was to eat something healthy and invigorating. All we had were the leftover ingredients from the previous Violet Crown and Joanna’s failed experiment in making kicheree, which is some kind of yogi miracle food. The two debut dishes are a Spicy Healthy Vegetable Soup with chipotle and tomato broth. The second we shall call the Lazy Yogi Curry.

I made the soup by slowly cooking down some celery, red peppers, onion, tomato, garlic and ginger until it was a wonderful carmelized mash. I guess in Spain this would be like a sofrito. I then added tomato paste and blended up chipotle peppers to make it rich and spicy. After adding the vegetable stock, in came any vegetable I could find in the house which included hominy, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, lentils and spinach. We had a bizarre combo that was wonderful and a few bowls of it seemed to nurse us back to health. I am looking forward to making it just so I can eat it again. (Joanna's note: I announced this morning that I could eat anything I wanted that was prepared for the VCSC and no one could stop me, I don't know why I'm always saving it, crazy me.)

The Lazy Yogi Curry is another dish I can’t wait to make again. The name is a playful jab at Joanna and a cooking experiment that never got off the ground. Many of her cooking experiments suffer the same fate. Products are bought and languish on the shelf until I figure out how to use them. A few months ago, she declared that our daily diet would include a yoga inspired kicheree whose base is the mung bean. I had never cooked with these, but have stared at them for weeks (Joanna's note: "months really"). They are cool looking little green balls that are apparently packed with healthy benefits. I sautéed some onion and carrots with large amounts of garlic, ginger, and that wonderful garlic chile condiment from Madam Mam's. If you have not eaten there, please check it out. It is one of my favorite restaurants and the spicy chile paste is a wonderful thing to eat. After a healthy dose of soy and mirin, I added the mung beans, arugula, and sweet potato. It was a truly surprising and delightful bowl of food that changed the way I felt that day. (UPDATE UPDATE. The playful jab wasn’t as playful as thought and I just got bitched out for referring to her as lazy. The name of this dish is now Bitcheree. She likes that better.)

And now the rest of the food……

The Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad and Mom’s Insulted Tuna Salad are back. They both sold out easily and Jo didn’t get any tuna. She bitched out a bit. See a pattern here? I will hold some back this time. Living in this house is like being on that old radio program The Bickersons. The Truffled White Bean Dip has also received requests and returns. We will debut the Blueberry Almond Granola (Joanna's note: It's addictive.). I know that eating oats is good for you, but I just can’t get used to the mushiness of oatmeal. This seems like a better method of consumption, especially combined in a bowl with yogurt or Kefir.

The Carrot Ginger Soup sold out so fast last week, we thought we had better bring it back. Joanna among others, had requested the Pork Green Chile and with the wonderful weather change, I couldn’t imagine a better dish to be eating. The third soup is the Spicy Healthy Vegetable Soup mentioned at the top of the page. (Joanna's note: There is a surprise soup to for those who stop by, not enough quantity to mention....)

As promised, the Brussel Sprouts with Soy Dijon is back. We should have plenty because I bought a 10# bag of Brussels. The Bitcheree has already been mentioned. We also have another debut, Farro with Butternut Squash, Roasted Crimini Mushrooms, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. The bags of Organic Italian Farro have been calling my name at Costco for some time now and I gave in. It is an ancient Italian grain that tastes great and is an excellent source of fiber, protein, and iron. (Thanks back of package marketing, just the words I needed!) I look forward to cooking with it and plan on treating it like a risotto. I would just reheat it in a sauté pan over a medium high heat with some nice olive oil. For the Gluten Free bunch, it is a wheat product. I had wanted to use pumpkin in celebration of Halloween, but when it comes down to it, I prefer butternut squash.

This week is a Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Cranberries, Sweet Almonds, Pickled Red Onions, and a White Balsamic Vinaigrette. I have to admit, it also was inspired by the back of a package. This one was the Ocean Spray Cranberries. Don’t worry, it is our own recipe and should be a wonderful salad.

Joanna's Note: This is a special thanks to Mark and Frances who both came over and helped out this weekend. We couldn't do it without you guys. It's just a bit more festive over the boiling pots of food and the dirty dishes when there is someone else in the mix. Thanks to you guys!

Thanks for all of your great support and look forward to seeing you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Heeeerreeee's Johnny!

Well, I mean, here's Joel.........

Hey Guys,
Sorry about the lack of a blog. I spent my time focusing on cooking the food this weekend and not on the computer. I was a little rusty after such a long layoff. I am really looking forward to the VCSC on Tuesdays. For the record, the food came out great and I was very happy with all of the dishes. A big thanks to my friends Sam and Francis who helped me prep this weekend. I had such a better experience with some help (Joanna's note): I guess he meant besides me). Now the food...

We went with the tried and true classics on this section. The Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad needs no introduction. It has never missed a supper club. Mom's Insulted Tuna Salad is also back based on a few requests we received. The third snack is a new favorite of mine, the Sundried Tomato and Basil Dip. It used to be the old Sundried Tomato and Feta Dip until one day I was rightfully chided for not having enough vegan offerings. I replaced the feta in the recipe with extra roasted garlic and sundried tomatoes, added a splash of sherry vinegar and the new dip tastes better than the old. It reminds me of the classic Lebanese red pepper and walnut dip. It is delicious!

The Carrot Ginger Soup received a good amount of requests and is back. I also received requests to not mess it up this time. These requests were accompanied by pointed threats so I was very careful and this is one of the best versions we have ever produced. What can I say, I would hate to have my hands broken. Meredith, you can quit calling my mom now. You are scaring her.
We have been eating a lot of the Amy's Veggie Chile lately and it served as inspiration for our new soup. The Three Bean Chili with Sweet Potato and Corn makes it debut this week. It took some tinkering, but this is some good stuff. A combination of pinto, kidney, and white beans in a thick red chile stew (ancho, new mexico reds, and chipotles) with celery, onion, red pepper, sweet pot, corn, and lots of the chile boom pow rub. This is just a vegetarian middle finger to the chili purist who don't believe in beans in their chili. No meat. Three Beans. Vegan. I probably should not even call it chili, but our marketing and legal departments OK'd it.
Last we have the Cauliflower and Goat Cheese. Definitely not vegan but one of the richest and most delicious soups we make. I ate one cold and had no problem with it. Though it does taste better hot, it would still taste good served in a dirty sock. Creamy goodness.

Speaking of cauliflower, I over purchased cauliflower this week so it also makes an appearance as a side. The Oven Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Peppers with Coriander, Lemon, and Chiles is a dish we used to serve at a high end catering company in Vail. The high heat of the oven carmelizes parts of the cauliflower and brings out new flavors in a vegetable that I used to avoid. This dish changed all of that and now I am a big fan of it.
I used to also dislike Brussel Sprouts as well until a hot oven changed all that. The Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Soy Dijon is our second side. I got shorted by the produce company on the Brussels so these will sell out fast. Sorry about that, I can do them again if need be next time around. We sat around last night when they came out of the oven snacking on the crispy leaves that had fallen off like they were potato chips. I am not sure if I have encountered a vegetable that doesn't like olive oil, salt, and a hot oven.
The SpagheThai is also on the menu. Whole Wheat Spaghetti in a garlicky sesame ginger sauce with scallions, sweet peppers, shredded carrots, and cilantro. There is some excess sauce, as in the dish is a little "saucy" (like my wife), but I'm pretty sure it won't go to waste. This stuff is addictive.
Red Quinoa with roma tomatoes, corn, roasted peppers, and lemon is the final side. This is a "good and good for you" dish. Plus it is so very pretty to look at as well. This is what I consider to be the summer quinoa and is fine served cold. As opposed to the white version that was served hot with the roasted criminis and carmelized onions. Yum.
Breaking News...Breaking News.....Joel mixed up one more dish, Whole Wheat Rotini and Roma Tomato Pasta Salad with Basil Almond Pesto, red peppers and parmesan. It's lovely.

Arugula with goat cheese, baby gold potatoes, french green beans, cannellini beans, sweet onion and a lemon mostaza vinaigrette. We made many different versions of this salad over the summer and I enjoyed it every time. Especially when I fried the potatoes in bacon (Joanna note: mmmmm bacon). But now that I am on freakin Zocor, the bacon has left the building and we have a much healthier version. You can even take off the goat cheese if you want to keep it vegan. This salad is a meal in itself and would taste great with a grilled piece of chicken or fish on top of it.

That's all for now. Thanks for being great friends of the VCSC and we will see you Tuesday 4-7:30.

Joanna's note: Joel really outdid himself this time. Every single dish hit's it with that crazy addictive taste that makes you keep eating even when you aren't hungry. Please come take a taste or two. Yeah!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good News/Bad News

There is some good news and some bad news this week. The good news is that the third Tacodeli is one month ahead of schedule and could open by the beginning part of May. The bad news is that the VCSC will have to take a break for a bit because my job is intense right now. I am very excited about the new location because we are finally in central Austin. It is located at 4200 North Lamar, across the street from the state school and Central Market, just north of the Ferrari dealership. Hopefully we will see you there. And now for the food.

The Sundried Tomato Spread is a new one and it came out great. Based on the Sundried Tomato Feta Dip, this has no gluten or dairy. It is great used as a dip with some crackers or as a spread on a sandwich or quesadilla. Joanna has requested a return of the Tuna Salad and will actually be making it this week. She is the executive taster, so I have no doubts that it will taste great. We had some yummy Guacamole on Sunday with achiote marinated pork chops and it provided some inspiration for the third snack. We will be making this fresh on Thursday so imagine yourself in a restaurant in Mexico with tableside preparation, salty margarita in your hand. I'm there!

The Spring weather has been so unpredictable lately. Daily temperature swings have been extreme. This is reflected in the soups selections. The Pozole (a pork and hominy stew) and the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger are great for cold days. The Gazpacho is more apt for the warm ones. The Pozole is something I made on the fly two years ago for the kitchen and the results were amazing. It is always such a compliment when the Mexicans in the kitchen like something I cook. They are brutally honest, especially when I tackle something authentic. I simmered natural pork shoulder from sprouts in a tomato and red chile spiked pork broth. It was good, but when I added the hominy it went great. I would suggest garnishing this with some chopped cilantro and radish. The Butternut Squash Soup was a challenge because I was determined to keep it vegan and gluten free. Normally, I use half and half for some wonderful richness. Instead, I subbed in roasted garlic and ginger. It’s pretty darn delicious and healthy too.

Joanna read an article about a Grilled Vegetable Salad and wanted a similar item on the menu. I am going to marinate zucchini, yellow squash, red bells, and onions in olive oil and garlic and get the grill going. The veg will be accompanied by oven dried tomatoes, fresh basil, and a light sherry vinaigrette.
The French Lentils with butternut squash and scallions is a new one. It has a small hint of red curry and came out tasting wonderful. The Israeli Cous Cous with Sundried Tomato, Calamata Olives, and Feta has not been made yet, but is one of our favorite dishes and whatever is leftover, I’m pretty sure Joanna will hoard and eat all weekend.

The Salad this week is a Classic Caesar Salad with hand shaved parmesan and garlicky croutons. It may be basic, but I love it. So does Jo, who again was reading an article and requested the Ceasar. I always found it interesting that the birthplace was Tijuana, Mexico. If I am not mistaken, Caesar Cardini’s restaurant was a speakeasy just south of the border frequented by famous movie stars looking to get away.

Hope you like the food and well see you Thursday.

Joanna’s Note:
Guys, don’t forget that Rachel with Mingle Jewelry will be joining us as well as Luscious. I love having an additional seller at the VCSC, especially since this one is before a hiatus. I know you guys wonder if we will ever be consistent, but I hope you all understand this is something fun we do and can’t always commit to regularity. I’ll miss the delicious food, but look forward to building my yoga business. You can keep track of my thriving new venture on my blog, yogadenada.blogspot.com (which I’ll be posting on very soon). Or fan Yogadenada on facebook. My favorites this week are the Pozole (out—of—this—world), the Sundried Tomato Dip and always the Tuna. I know I’m going to love the Caesar Salad (the dressing is amazing). Looking forward to seeing every one. Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Wow, check out our fridge during production, it's so beautiful with all the colors of yumminess. Also, Joel makes up a delicious veggie stock every VCSC, it's so amazing watching all the vegetables come together and this one was exceptional. Here is a little peek of what we eat on non-production weeks. On production weeks there is alot of snips and tasters and malty goodness (beer).
One of the things I love about cooking is the challenges that come up in the kitchen that allow you the opportunity to create new things. Last week, Jake and Joanna asked me to recreate the Annie's Goddess Dressing that they plow through. Upon review of the ingredients, it seemed nothing more than a sesame soy dressing and we are paying $5 for a tiny eight ounce bottle. That bottle must have some thick glass because it looks the same size as the 16 ounce Wishbone Italian dressing. I went to work blending up soy, apple cider vinegar, tahini, garlic, cilantro, oil and 20 minutes later nervously presented the family with a test product. The boy is my harshest critic and a tough one to please. He has a pretty refined palate for an eight year old. When his thumb slowly raised after tasting the dressing, so did my heart. Of course my heart crashed a few moments later when he told me I should work on my butter and parmesan noodle skills (not as good as mom’s) and dissed on the new wheat free soy sauce we have been using.
The second challenge was to produce a non-gross vegan egg salad. I love egg salad but I have to watch my cholesterol. Making egg salad with only egg whites is a pain in the butt and you end up with a lot of boiled egg yolks left over. By the way, never feed boiled egg yolks to dogs unless you've lost your sense of smell or really enjoy the smell of dogfart. I started at the downtown farmer's market where one of the farmers has a chicken who lays vegan eggs. . . . kidding.
Actually, I knew the trick was to get tofu to look and taste like egg salad and do a better job than Tom’s Tobooleh. I bought some silken tofu and mashed it up with tumeric, mustard, and a tiny bit of roasted garlic and vegonaise to mimic the egg yolk. For the egg white, I grated a block of firm tofu on the box grate and diced another block by hand to simulate the irregular shapes and texture you get when you chop egg whites. I seasoned the mix with whole grain mustard, vegonaise, diced celery, red onion, green onion, and dill. I would say it is 86% as good as regular egg salad. Gaining points for its health properties but losing points for some of the water that is released by the tofu (not a big deal, just stir). Please let me know what you guys think. If anyone has any cooking challenges or wants to know how to make something, please let me know and we can work on a recipe.
Now for this weeks recipe which is 75% vegan and 95% gluten free.

The Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad is here of course. The Egg Salad and The Eggless Salad make debuts. The Truffled White Bean Dip also makes a return.

The Carrot Ginger Soup is back. We also have Pork Green Chile which came out very nice using a natural pork shoulder and country ribs from Sprouts. Last night was the wrong night to run out of gloves. I had to peel 12 pounds of roasted chiles with my bare hands and now know why the Mexicans scream like they do in the cojunto song “Sopreso en el bano”. And finally, there is a Split Pea Soup. I love the stuff and even made a detour on a road trip in California to eat at the birthplace of Split Pea soup. I've never made one before and I really liked the result. I cooked the split peas with onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaves, and salt. I carmelized some diced carrot and onion and added it in at the end with some roasted garlic to simulate the richness of ham hock. It is definitely some badass porridge. The only problem is the consistency. It tightened up as it cooled so you might need to rehydrate a bit with some water when you reheat. Now I know now why split pea soup is so hard to get out of the Campbells Can.

The Sides are all vegan and gluten free this week. I started with a Winter Quinoa with roasted crimini mushrooms, toasted pistachios, carmelized onions, and fresh herbs. I used a white quinoa to distinguish from the Summer Quinoa where we use the red. The Sweet Potato Hash is back and is a straightforward mix of roasted sweet potatoes, fresh corn, sautéed red bell and red onion, and cilantro. The Green Asia Saute is a new one. I was in the mood for green veggies and this one packs a bunch of them. It is a mix of oven roasted brussel sprouts, broccoli, bok choy, and spinach. It comes with a hoisin ginger stir fry sauce that is delicious, but concentrated so only use what you need. The leftover sauce can be used for other veg sautés or as a marinade for anything that used to swim, cluck, oink, or moo. Time and product permitting, I was going to do the roasted carrots with thai chile sauce from last week as a bonus veg.

The Salad is a Roasted Beets and Rutabegas on Mixed Greens with a White Balsamic Vinaigrette, Toasted Walnuts, and Citrus Segments.
Hope you guys like the food. Let me know if you don’t and we’ll fix it. Thanks again for all of the support.

Joanna's notes: It's all amazing and what a week. I am pretty sure he mixed up some rubs too, so keep a look out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Vegan's World............

This week's menu is dedicated to the vegans whom I let down last time out. All six sides and soups are vegan. Update, there is one soup that is not vegan, at a last minute tasting, dairy was added and for those of you non-vegans, all I can say is “wow”. Look for the Spicy Sweet Potato and Red Pepper, if you don’t mind some heat, you are going to love this one. There is a vegan snack option (chipotle black bean dip) and the salad can be made vegan on request. I used to consider vegans to be cheese racists, but ever since “MY DIVERTICULITIS”, I have a different opinion. I actually try to eat vegan most of the time. That being said, let’s start with the least vegan part of the menu.

The Chipotle Black Bean Dip is back and is the only snack vegan option this week. This works great as a dip, a filling for quesadillas, or a base for the classic 9-layer-dip (one of Joel’s all-time favorite “go to’s” for any party at our house or yours). It also has 13 grams of fiber per serving. So when I say this dip is the shit, I mean it. Really though, it does taste great. We were going to give the Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad a break, but we had a pretty firm request from our friend, Shannon, to keep it on the menu. Thanks Shannon for your undying love and support, (Love Joanna). Joanna has also requested the Ma’s Insulted Tuna Salad as well. Neither of these are vegan, but I do sub in whole grain mustard for some of the mayo to try and keep things lighter. The Sun-dried Tomato Feta Dip won the vote against the roasted garlic hummus. We really like this snack a lot around the house and just had hummus last week.

The Spicy Sweet Potato and Red Pepper is a new one. I haven’t made a test batch, but I have a plan. Using Sofrito technology, I thought I would caramelize the red bells with some onions and parsley. Just cook them down into indiscriminate bliss before adding the veggie stock and sweet potatoes then pureeing. Toasted pepitas would be a great compliment sprinkled on top. (This soup turned out superb).
The White Bean with Roasted Garlic normally has asiago cheese in it. We are keeping it vegan this time. To compensate for the richness of the cheese, I added some caramelized onions and bumped up the roasted garlic. That is why it made the title. The Hearty Veg Soup will feature yellow and green squash, beans, celery, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes in tomato spiked homemade veg broth. This should turn out delicious, colorful, and beautiful, as well as good for you.

The SpagheThai is back for the second time in a row. We got pretty positive reviews on that and I felt like making it again. Not really making it again, but eating it again. I do have whole-wheat spaghetti noodles this time. (Joanna demanded the original style). The Five Bean Salad with simple vinaigrette has fresh green beans, edamame, garbanzo beans, red kidney beans, and white beans along with some fresh herbs, diced onion and red bell pepper. It is a take on one of my mom’s classic weekend dishes we had growing up. The Roasted Sesame Ginger Carrots is a new one. We catered an event at the Umlauf Sculpture Gardens awhile back. Joanna was adamant that we not do the standard veg tray because no one ever eats them. That is exactly why I wanted to do one. We call those table anchors. To compromise, I did a roasted vegetable crudite which included carrots roasted with ginger and garlic and dressed with sesame and orange. It was very popular and we had to refill that tray multiple times throughout the evening. (Joanna inserts) He’s not telling you that this was the birth of the original brussel sprout that has been finding it’s way into the menus since.

Recently, Tacodeli has been sourcing its spinach from a small farm in Poteet Texas. It is so delicious. Next time you are in, please order a side of the sautéed spinach. Hopefully, I can feature this on the Spinach Salad with Sherry Dijon Vin., Goat Cheese, Dried Cherries, and Toasted Walnuts.

Notes from Joanna:
Thanks again. It’s turned out to be a busy week all around but we are having fun in the kitchen and I'm learning how to make the Chicken Salad (a secret of which I have signed an oath to never tell the recipe, I might even learn how to make the tuna salad as well.) We look forward to seeing you on Thursday and hope you are all enjoying the sunshine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Science Fair

Hey guys, Joanna here, announcing something big in the Fried household, Joel’s new tool. Yep, that’s right, he got a brand new tool. And, it’s big.....and handy....... What? It’s a burr mixer, geez, calm down. For those of you not in the industry, a burr mixer is a giant stick blender that can very quickly turn the rowdiest and roughest of vegetables into beautiful soup. Joel is so happy he smiles when he burrs. Production at the VCSC household has been greatly enhanced and we are getting things done way quicker.

This week in the VCSC we’ve been focusing on eggs…eggs in coke, eggs in coffee, eggs in apple cider vinegar, wine, grape kool-aid and orange crush. Yum, I know you guys are ready for some of that, EGGS, yummy. No, not for the VCSC, it’s Brentwood’s Science Fair. We now know that apple cider vinegar does some wicked stuff to egg shells. Drop a raw egg in the shell in a cup of apple cider vinegar sometime and see what happens. Here’s some pictures for entertainment.

And here’s Joel……
Thanks again to everyone who showed up last time around. It was good to be cooking again. We appreciate the business and hope you liked what you bought. I enjoyed sitting around the table talking food and music with people from different angles in my life. It's all about the sign posts. I love the way a kitchen can bring people together. It probably has something to do with why we dedicated about 40 percent of our house to the kitchen.

I would like to start off with the soups because that is the section I am most excited about. Fred requested the Spinach Asiago soup and I was happy to oblige. It is delicious and doesn’t require much chopping. I like easy. One of our discussions last week involved mushroom soup and how good it is on cold winter days. So we will also serving the Creamy Crimini with Marsala, one of my favorites. The Cauliflower with Goat Cheese soup brings it altogether. This is a soup I made over the holidays. Same recipe as the Cauliflower with Gouda from awhile back, but sub in the goat cheese.

The Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Peppers with Lemon and Coriander makes a return, signaling a week concentrated on lovely cauliflower. Like the Brussel Sprouts, I hated cauliflower as a kid, but this dish made me change my mind. Just heat it up in a sauté pan or the microwave. There were a few requests (Joanna says demands) for the SpagheThai, a whole wheat noodle dish with sesame ginger sauce, cilantro, and green onions that can be served hot or cold. I couldn’t find any whole wheat spaghetti so I bought an organic whole wheat linguine instead.
I figured it would be similar to pad thai noodles. I am going to leave the name the same but if you can think of a cool name using words that rhyme with linguine and thai without getting naughty, go for it.
A Sweet Potato Salad completes the veggie section. This is a version of the Three Potato Salad we did a while back, but with only two potatoes. There were some red creamers at Costco that looked pretty so I bought some to add with the Sweet Potatoes. Like the SpagheThai, this dish can be served hot or cold. The potatoes are mixed with corn, sweet peppers, cilantro, hard-boiled egg white, whole grain mustard, olive oil, and a bit of mayonnaise for creaminess. This is a much healthier alternative to the traditional potato salad.

The Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad leads off the Snax. Joanna was so offended by the cinnamon in the nuts that she didn’t talk to me for a few days and then she would mutter cinnamon in disgust when she would see me walking through Tacodeli. I went back to the old ways and hopefully this batch will appease her. We also brought back the Sun-dried Tomato and Feta dip with Basil (a favorite). The Roasted Red Pepper dip completes the trio. This dip is a good excuse to eat raw vegetables or can be used as a sandwich spread as well.

The Salad this week is a classic downtown version of mixed greens, blue cheese, lightly sweetened walnuts and sherry balsamic vinaigrette. I used to call it the Mathis because Kathryn Mathis was my chef at the Bitter End and we served something similar. I think I can pay a more fitting tribute to her than this salad. It’s a well-known and popular salad because it tastes good.

In Closing
We look forward to seeing you guys this time around. There is lots of fun and activity going on in the household this week, and changes and some new beginnings. We look forward to sharing it with you. Menu, sizes, dietary concerns and pricing will be posted in the email going out Wednesday evening.

Again, thank you so much. We’ll see you on Thursday.