Wine & Cheese (featuring a cashew cheese guide & Our Daily Red wine review)

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….in this day and age of culinary veganism, aged nut cheese = love. Continue reading

Recreation: The Farm’s Herb-Crusted Tofu Marsala

Breaded and herbed tofu cutlets with steamed pea shoots, mashed potatoes and chanterelle mushroom marsala sauce.

Ah, The Farm Cafe’s Herb-Crusted Tofu Marsala. It’s been a while, but I swear, I’ve been on more than one awkward date where this dish owns my attention over the person sitting across the table. It’s Italian fine dining meets Northwest greatness meets home cooking meets a plate high in the running for my last meal request.

The dish is constructed as a multi-layered tower of wonder that’s been impressing vegfolks and omnis alike for years.  On The Farm’s menu (which I understand has been sporadically featuring vegan specials the past couple of years), it’s described as, “Breaded and herbed tofu cutlets with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and crimini mushroom Marsala“. Yes, indeed.

Witness: Mashed Potatoes

This recreation features local chanterelle mushrooms, the addition of smoked salt in the breading, the absence of roasted garlic in the potatoes, yet the incorporation of minced garlic scapes in the sauce, and a generous side of some green with steamed snow peas & shoots. All of the produce used was acquired locally from farmers markets, and the herbs were from a gift from a friend’s garden (Thanks, Liz!).

You can find the original recipe here on Everyday Dish with the lovely Julie  Hasson.

Why I don’t make this more often is beyond me, but I’ll say this much, it’s time to restock on Marsala. Who’s coming over for dinner next week?

Baja Tempeh Tacos WITHOUT CILANTRO

Baja Tempeh from Veganomicon, romaine, mango & avocado tossed with fresh lime juice, refried black beans with jalapeño, vegan queso & handmade flour tortillas from La Palapa. Propped up by mini avocados and paired with a guava & fresh mango mimosa.

This requires a deep breath to mutter, but sometimes I wish I was a fan of cilantro. I wish I didn’t have to dramatically avoid it. Why wouldn’t I want to a) stop the name-calling and pitying eye rolling from its devotees and b) live as a fan of this vibrant green herb that’s essential to Mexican, Indian, Korean, Thai cuisine and more? Alas, I’m a hater. Yeah, yeah, I can handle it meddled into jarred salsas and curries, I guess, but sprinkle on the fresh stuff and I can’t eat my food. My mouth will not open and I will start gagging if it unknowingly comes remotely close to my nose or mouth.

To clarify: it doesn’t taste like soap, it tastes like shit. I’ll pick it off my food if I must, but I would prefer to pass, or run, in the opposite direction. I can quickly think of two recent  “no cilantro, please” examples where, sure enough, my order came with cilantro and I was physically unable to continue with my meal. There’s a certain food cart I’ve taken a leave of absence from. Very recently, I picked sporadic crisps of cilantro off a slice of pizza and it was a tough go.  Generous doses of sriracha and hunger helped.  My cilantro-loving dinner companions luck out. I clearly didn’t eat much Mexican food (with the non-exception of boring bean, cheese and lettuce tacos from the bell) growing up, because I wasn’t fully aware of this hatred until my move to Portland in 2004 and introduction to West Coast burritos. What’s this new herb I’m trying? – Oh wait, I DESPISE IT.

In my own cooking, I substitute a whole lot of fresh basil - especially Thai basil in Southeast Asian dishes, shiso, mint and oregano leaves. And if I must (more freely in recent years of culinary sanity), dried coriander. I’m not going to put some crazy hope into the growth of my taste buds or building up a tolerance when I’m Thailand later this year or going to make up stories about my evolution as a so-called super-taster – who knows! What I do know is that it is possible to enjoy fresh tacos without the dreaded c herb – you simply need fresh ingredients and a little something special, like mango. Which yeah, would probably be even ‘better’ with cilantro, but that’s (perhaps) you, and not me. Even when, ironically, there is a leftover bundle of said herb in my fridge, courtesy of my dear house guests. Little did my friend know that this plant was my enemy and by bringing it forth into my house, a look of fear would take over my normally smiling face. The things we learned at our reunion!

What I’m saying is, it’s such an ON/OFF switch ingredient, and I wish it was labelled more often. I’m looking at you, cilantro pesto.

Just sayin’