Sunday, September 12, 2010

Working Weekend in the Gardein

A little work in the yard this weekend, tending the garden, a little landscaping and installing a drain line in the back yard where if floods every rainy season.  The drain line is has been procrastinated over for about forever.  Every winter I think, Damn, I should have put in a drain line before the rain started.  Once the yard is flooded it's nearly impossible to work in the soggy clay that passes for dirt.  In the summer, with no hint of rain and the clay hardened to the consistency of stone there's not much urgency around starting to trench.

The only reason that the drain is finally being installed is because we have hired Jake's buddy JD as a day laborer.  He's going to school at Palomar and playing on the baseball team and trying to earn a little spending money in his spare time.  Since I had a willing day laborer I figured that now was as good a time as any.  Of course, JD was probably less willing when he found out how hard that ground is, but he struggled through and the drain went in today.  Now he has some work to do filling the trenches back in.

Anyway, I managed to do enough manual labor to work up an appetite.  I decided to try a few new things this weekend.  Saturday night I decided to try a recipe for Mushroom-Spinach Puff Pastries.  Lacking any spinach and having some leftover ricotta I converted the recipe into Mushroom-Ricotta Puff Pastries.  Used some slightly stale baguette, grape tomatoes and basil from the garden, a little fresh mozarella and some of our basil-olive oil with a few other odds and ends and made a panzanella (bread salad) as a side.  Not too bad, all things considered.

This morning it was time to use up some of our haul of tomatillos.  This is one of the few items doing really well in the garden this year.  Well, the tomatillos and the grape tomatoes.  Anyway, I have kind of a glut of the tomatillos, so I decided on a Three Chile Dry-Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.  Actually, I didn't have the right chiles.  It called for serrano, jalapeño and pequin, but all I had from the garden was jalapeños, red jalapeños and a couple Thai and cayennes.  So I made do with those and also tweaked the recipe with a little smoked salt.  You start out roasting all the vegies in a cast iron pan.
Pan-roasting the vegies
Then it's everybody into the whirlpool.
Blend 'em all up.
Once I had the salsa I decided to use it as green enchilada sauce.  Whipped up a little brunch of Potato and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole.  I had intended to make it vegan, just to practice for the next time Tee comes to visit.  Turns out, vegan cheese does not keep as well as the real thing.  My vegan cheddar was making a break for Roquefort, pretty little green spots breaking out all over it.  So it was regular cheddar and Cotija instead.
Potato-Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Actually, I can't really say that vegan cheese does not keep as well as real dairy cheese.  Real cheese doesn't last long enough in my fridge to have a chance to go bad.  Between me and Leo it doesn't stand a chance.

Finally, tonight I tried another new acquisiton; Gardein Beefless Tips.  These are actually good fake meat products, none of the oatmeal/tube sock stuff previously mentioned.

Nick and I first became acquainted with Gardein about a month ago, courtesy of a trip to the Tilted Kilt in Temecula.  The Tilted Kilt is a relatively new bar, essentially what a Hooters would be if you transported one to Scotland.  Like Hooters, they feature lots of beers on tap, waitresses with huge - breas, er, beers, and clientèle who are probably less than completely discriminating about the food.  Still, the beer was good as was the entertainment, which consisted of the four guys at the end of the bar hitting on a very attractive bartender by shouting a Schwazenegger-esque "Sarah Conner!"  Apparently they thought she looked like the Linda Hamilton of 1984.  Personally I didn't see the resemblance.  As it turned out, the bartender was seriously insulted and apparently PISSED.  She was like "Linda Hamilton!?  She's so OLD!."  Apparently she couldn't grasp the concept of being compared to someone as she looked 26 years ago.

So, to the Gardein.  The guys left, so the entertainment was over and Nick and I decided to move on to greener pastures, which is to say the Yardhouse.  The Yardhouse has always had very good food, but was a little short on vegetarian cuisine.  On this trip we discovered that the Yardhouse updated their menu and now offer twenty-some-odd items that can be made with Gardein.  We decided to experiment and ordered the Gardein Sliders, made with a sort of pulled pork.  They were delicious.  We have subsequently had several other items.  Their Thai Chicken Pizza with Gardein instead of chicken is excellent.

After a little research I discovered that some Gardein products are available in the freezer case at our local Albertsons.  I picked up, among other things, the beefless tips, which tonight went into a Not-Beef with Broccoli stir fry, with a little Asian Carrot-Daikon Slaw on the side.

The stir fry was very good, but pescetarian as it turns out, because I used oyster sauce in the recipe.  The beefless-tips are tasty and have a pretty nice texture, but they are more like little meat balls than beef tips.  I think in the future I'm going to try them in pasta sauces or maybe even in a little albondigas.  Denise suggested stroganoff.  I think I will give that a try.

The slaw was not a great hit, but at least I used up the daikon for which I was trying to figure some use other than composting.  It was just shredded carrots and shredded daikon with chopped parsley and a dressing of 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp tamari and 1 tsp sesame oil.  I also threw in some roasted sesame seeds.  It was supposed to be served on top of spinach, but I had no spinach so I served it neat.  Though it wasn't great, I think the recipe has potential; maybe a little cilantro instead of parsley and definitely include the spinach.

At least the Gardein was a success.  Next up their Chick'n Scallopini.

Damn, I nearly forgot.  Dessert!  I found a little something that's been hiding in the pantry for about nine months and decided to offer it up as a sort of tribute to the start of the Christmas shopping season, which surely must be happening any day now.  Enjoy!
Santa S'more Pie!


Blogger Garage Sailing said...

Your Santa S'more Pie was the highlight of my day, by far!
Love the photos!

September 16, 2010 at 7:29 PM  

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