Posts Tagged avocado

Christmas with Candle 79

Candle 79 is one of those “dream” vegan restaurants…one that you absolutely don’t miss if you have the chance to eat there.  Sadly, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Candle 79 myself, and I have no plans to travel to New York in the near future.  However, with the Candle 79 Cookbook, everyone has the chance to experience their food!

The cookbook is a large hardback volume with gorgeous color photos and delectable sounding recipes.  Including appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, sides, sauces, brunch, desserts and drinks, there are plenty of different types of dishes to try.  What first caught my attention about this book is that it is high end, yet it doesn’t call for expensive ingredients or crazy techniques.  It’s just good cooking methods mixed with quality ingredients and interesting flavor profiles, resulting in delicious food.

I received the cookbook just before Christmas, which seemed like a great time to try out a few recipes.  We had a few friends over for Christmas dinner, and Dave made steak for their entree.  I wanted to prepare some sort of vegetable side dish, and the Wild Mushroom and Cipollini Salad with Fresh Horseradish Dressing seemed like a perfect match.

The salad starts by roasting the onions and sauteing the mushrooms.  I couldn’t find cipollini onions, so I used small sweet onions instead.  The flavorful and creamy horseradish dressing calls for sauteed shallot, horseradish, silken tofu, white wine vinegar and olive oil.  It was a perfect, rich and spicy counterpart to the fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes.  The recipe calls for pre-mixing and plating the salad, but I chose to serve it buffet style so that everyone could choose the quantity of ingredients.

The dressing also made a nice sauce for my entree, which was Gardein Beefless Tips.

After Christmas, I went to visit my family for a vacation in Anna Maria Island, Florida.  I wanted to cook a nice big fancy meal for them as a gift, making interesting vegan food that wouldn’t scare my brother away.  I chose the Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Cakes with Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce and Apricot Chutney as the entree.

(The only plates at the rental house were bright red!)

Upon searching for images of this dish online, I found out that at the restaurant they serve the cake on top of a round of vegetables, so that is what I did.  The base is Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce, which includes coconut milk, onion, tomato paste, cilantro and spices.  The sauce was very tasty, but personally I could’ve used a little more spice.  I roasted the cauliflower very simply with olive oil and salt, and even my self-professed cauliflower-hating brother liked it.  To make the cakes, you combine chickpeas, onion, celery, flour and spices, including Old Bay.  I didn’t have access to a food processor, so I just mashed everything up with a fork.  My cakes were probably a little more chunky than they’re intended to be, but they held together fine.  The apricot chutney toed the line between savory and sweet, with onion, ginger and agave nectar.  It was decidedly not apricot season, so I bought dried apricots and reconstituted them in hot water.  To top it all off, you sprinkle on some toasted slivered almonds, which provided a nice texture contrast.

This dish was a little bit of work, and it’s definitely not weeknight meal material, but I would make it again for company or a fancy dinner at home.

I wanted to try one more recipe, and I got some really nice avocados in my recent CSA delivery, so I chose the Stuffed Avocado with Quinoa Pilaf and Chipotle-Avocado Dressing.  I’m watching my fat intake, so the stuffed avocado half became more of an avocado sliver, but this dish was delicious regardless.  The recipe is technically a salad and calls for mixed greens as the base, but I had kale in the fridge and steamed it to use instead.  This turned out to be a good decision, because the kale stood up well to the somewhat heavily dressed quinoa pilaf.  The pilaf incorporates corn, bell pepper, carrot, scallions and parsley, and you mix it with the dressing of  shallot, cilantro, guajillo chile, chipotle chile powder, white wine vinegar and even more avocado.  The dressing was very strong in flavor, but didn’t overpower the vegetables, and radish and hemp seeds were nice fresh toppings.  Plus, now I have chipotle chili powder in the pantry and I want to put it in everything.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the recipes in the Candle 79 Cookbook.  The recipes are well written, and range from simple to complex, so there’s something for everyone.  Some recipes that I hope to try in the future are Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Sage Leaves,  Kale, Vegetable, and Spelt Berry Salad with Chive Vinaigrette, the famous Seitan Picatta, and Chile-Grilled Tofu with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  The words, opinions and photos here are entirely my own.

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August Cleanse: Days 5-7

My cleanse is still going strong!  I’m still almost always hungry, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Day 5

My breakfast smoothie on day 5 consisted of banana, raspberries, kale, udo’s, almond milk and chocolate hempshake.  Very tasty.  I also took my multi and b complex supplement.  For a snack I had a peach, a pear and blueberry green tea.

For lunch, I topped the quinoa salad with black beans and mango with some perfectly ripe avocado, all served over spinach.  The avocado greatly improved the quinoa salad in my opinion, but really, what doesn’t avocado improve?

Afternoon snack was carrot sticks, cucumber and green pepper strips with more roasted eggplant and garlic hummus.

For dinner I made Brown Rice ‘n’ Beans Jumble-aya from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan with steamed green beans.  I bought the suggested file powder, but was worried that I wouldn’t like it when I smelled it cooking.  Luckily it balances well with the rest of the ingredients and I liked it just fine.  I don’t think I’ll be going crazy with the file powder quite yet though.  Also, the brown rice didn’t cook all the way in the 45 minutes cooking time called for.  I let it cook for 10 extra minutes and the rice was still quite al dente.  Overall, this is a very good dish that I would definitely make again.  After dinner I had peppermint tea and called it a night.

Day 6

This smoothie had basil, kale, blueberries, peach, chia seed and amazon acai hempshake.  Basil – weird, I know, but I had some basil wasting away in the fridge and nothing else to do with it so I decided to experiment.  I wouldn’t call basil in a smoothie good necessarily, but it wasn’t bad either.  The basil flavor was definitely big but not overpowering.  I want to continue experimenting, maybe with fresh ginger and some spices.  Along with the smoothie I took coQ10 and a multi.

The rest of Thursday was less interesting.  My morning snack was a plum, two apricots, almonds and coffee with unsweetened almond milk.  Lunch was more quinoa salad with black beans and mango, topped with avocado and served over spinach.  Afternoon snack was carrot sticks and cucumber with the last of the roasted eggplant and garlic hummus.  Dinner was leftover brown rice ‘n’ beans jumble-aya and steamed green beans, followed by wild sweet orange tea.

Day 7

Friday morning’s smoothie was kale, banana, blueberries, kiwi, orange juice, almond butter and flax.  Another odd combination, perhaps, but I was out of almond milk and this worked okay.  Also had the b complex and multi.  I poured up some coffee soon as I got to work, with unsweetened almond milk.

I took a morning snack to work and didn’t get a chance to eat it because we were having new student orientation.  It’s a pretty intense day for me, I basically answer questions non-stop and have to be “on” and smile all day.  It only happens twice a year though, and it’s fun getting to meet all the new students.  I finally got a little break at lunchtime, so I ate my snack of a pear and a nectarine, then had lunch, the last of the quinoa/black bean/mango salad over spinach.  Afternoon snack was carrot sticks, cucumber and celery with non-honey honey mustard dressing.  For dinner I had more of the jumble-aya with green beans.  I had intentions of exercising when I got home, but I was so beat after work that I quickly settled onto the couch with a beer, and had a few more as the night went on.  While watching a movie a few hours after dinner I realized I was absolutely starving, not the kind of hunger I could ignore.  I wanted some plain popcorn but didn’t have any, so I settled for a handful of dill pickle cashews.

One week of the cleanse done!  Other than time spent on food preparation it’s been easy so far, and I haven’t really experienced any cravings.  One noted benefit is that my skin seems to be clearing up.  Also, I lost just under three pounds!  In one week!  That’s really good for me, normally I have to be happy to lose ONE pound every TWO weeks.

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