Recipe: Baba Ganoush

Week 7 of the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking on Reddit is an interesting week. The challenge is “New To Me.” Interesting but hard to do. I was a bit lost at first then I had some lunch. I found some discounted baba ganoush at the supermarket and I decided to try it. I’ve never really liked eggplants and my one attempt to cook with them several years ago was disastrous. Any way the dip was lovely and eggplants were on special so I decided to try making my own.

I used this recipe here.

Ingredients:

1 or 2 Eggplants (totaling 2 pounds or 900 grams).
3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
2-3 Tablespoons of Tahini.
1-2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped.
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin.
Juice of one Lemon (about 2 1/2 tablespoons).
Salt and Cayenne Pepper to taste. (I didn’t have cayenne pepper so i left it out).
1 Tablespoon of chopped Parsley.

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).

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The eggplants – pre roasting

Poke the eggplants in several places with a fork. (I forgot this step but it doesn’t seem to have mattered). Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil.
Place on a baking sheet, cut side down and roast until very tender, about 35-40 minutes.Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

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The eggplants – post roasting

Scoop the Eggplant flesh into a large bowl and mash well with a fork.

Combine the Eggplant, Garlic, remaining Olive Oil, Tahini, Cumin, Lemon Juice, Parsley, Salt, and Cayenne. Mash well.

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The finished product

Allow to cool and eat.

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On toast

Verdict: Great. I like making my own of this because I can control the amount of tahini (less) and garlic (more). I liked the cheezy flavor and it also makes for a great pasta sauce.

Recipe: Pickled Cauliflower Salad

For week 6 of the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking on Reddit the challenge was Cauliflower. My experiences with cauliflower has previously been steamed, cauliflower cheese or just eaten raw. I like cauliflower but I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat it.

So I Googled cauliflower recipes and saw one for pickled cauliflower. I love pickles and anything that involves vinegar but I didn’t want to make a big batch and preserve it for a long period. I decided to make a small batch and turn it into a salad.

Ingredients:

Pickling Liquid.

1/3 Cup of White Wine Vinegar.
2/3 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar.
1/4 Cup of Dry Sherry.
1/3 Cup of Water.
1 Tablespoon of Seeded Mustard.
2 Tablespoons of Sugar.
2 Tablespoons of Salt.
1/2 Teaspoon of Carraway Seeds.
Pinch of Chilli Powder.

1 Small Onion.
1 1/2 Cups of Cauliflower, fresh.

Note: The pickling liquid is made up of stuff I had in my pantry. You can use whatever vinegar’s and seasonings you like.

Method:

Place ingredients for Pickling Liquid in a saucepan and heat to boiling point.

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Boiling pickling liquid

Cut up Onion and Cauliflower into small to medium pieces. Random sizes are better because then you get different textures and levels of acidity.

Place the pieces in a sealable container and pour over boiling liquid. Seal and place in fridge for 2 hours. You can refrigerate for less or more time it depends on how strong a flavor you want. Just make sure that the contents have cooled completely before using.

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About to go into the fridge

Cut up salad ingredients and place in a bowl. I used Tomato, Spinach and Blanched Green Beans. Drain the pickles through a sieve and wash under cold water. Leave some of the seeds on the pickles for extra flavor and texture. Drain thoroughly and add to salad.

Mix and eat.

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The salad

Verdict: Yummy. The pickle turned out great! The onion and cauliflower was cooked enough to soften and take away some of the rawness, especially in the case of the onion, but not so much that you lost the natural sweetness. The carraway seeds left on the pickle were lovely and provided little bursts of flavor. As for the salad it was okay. The other vegetables were a nice flavor and they broke up the acidity of the pickle but it could have used a creamy element (avocado?) to tie it together. I will definitely try this again, maybe it some different vegetables.

Restaurant: Halloween @ Eggless Dessert Cafe

I have been to Eggless a number of times, in fact I make a point to go at least once a month. Why? Because the menu changes every month! The current menu (October 2013) is favorite previous desserts as nominated and voted for by customers. When going to Eggless it’s best to get there early, otherwise you’ll end up on the waiting list. It can be anywhere from a 20 minute wait to 40 minutes. They do try to get people in as fats as possible but it’s a small venue and VERY popular. For good reason.

Ken, the owner, is a happy go lucky guy who like to fist bump everyone he meets. He love to interact with the customers and especially loves the children. Earlier this month while I was waiting outside in the cold Ken came out to check the line, sat down next to me, said “hey, how are you?” and wrapped a blanket around my shoulders. Sweet guy.

Once I was sat next to a group of 4 teenagers who had ordered multiples of every single dessert on the menu; one of the waitress’s and I were looking at them and wondering ‘how have you not been sick yet?’

So on to Halloween. For various special days like Valentines and Halloween Eggless does a themed night. They decorate the cafe, put on costumes and develop a few special menu items.

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Haunted lanterns

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More ghosts

 They also encourage their clientele to get involved. For Halloween this year the deal was that if you wore a costume you got 10% off and access to the special menu items. There were lots of great costumes from the basic, an older woman in a penguin onesie (very cute) to the more elaborate Mad Hatter and Alice. My personal favorite were the couple that were dressed as Daria and Harry Dresden. I had to change my costume idea at the last minute and ended up being some kind of whimsical cat thing. I was joined by a few friends who I will be referring to as Vampire and Witch, because I forgot to ask them if it was okay to mentioning them by name here. Witch was an Eggless virgin!

Anyway this is my costume:

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My make up

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My hastily thrown together outfit

We arrived early, 7:30pm for an 8pm opening, and were pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t many people there. We got in the line and very soon there was a long line forming behind us. A little after 8 the blinds went up and we were greeted by the zombie staff staring at us through the window. (I apologies but I forgot to take a photo of the zombies). We were seated and served promptly.

I ordered a pot of Earl Grey tea and one of the special dessert, playfully titled “Trick or Treat.”

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Earl grey tea

The tea was nice, good quality tea, with a lovely citrusy flavor. The tea was served with rice milk (you can also have soy) and sugar. There is enough in a pot for 2 and a half cups of tea. I have been trying a different tea each visit and so far my favourite has been the jasmine tea.

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Trick or Treat

The Trick or Treat dessert was Turkish Delight Ice Cream, Strawberry Jelly and Minted White Peach with Raspberry Compote.

The Ice Cream, which was served in a decorated cardboard box, was very creamy and sweet but could have used some more rose water in my opinion. In the Ice Cream there was bits of Turkish Delight which were made hard and chewy by the cold of the Ice Cream. Contained in the Ice Cream were a few surprises, the box did warn me to eat at my own risk. There were a few sprinkles of salt which made a nice change from the creaminess. There was also a piece of green hard candy which when eaten fizzed in my mouth. That was quite fun until Witch tarted to call it snot. Thanks Witch.

The Jelly was okay, it had good texture but because I ate it after having tasted the other items in the plate, which were sweeter, it became a bit flavorless.

The Peaches were my favorite item on the dish. The fruit was ripe but still had a firm texture, there was enough fresh mint to make an impact, but not over power and the Raspberry compote was lightly sweetened and quite sharp complementing the peaches nicely. )On a side note I just had to cringe when a woman at a nearby table tried a piece of the peach then offered another piece to a small child asking the child “would you like some apple?” Seriously?!)

Vampire ordered another dish from the special menu, a Black Velvet and Black Cherry Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream. Awesomely the pudding was actually black! It’s attention to detail like this that makes this place great.

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Black Velvet and Black Cherry Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream

Vampire seemed to enjoy her dessert and I tried a little of the pudding which was nice and chocolaty.

Witch ordered a Chai Hot Chocolate and an I Can’t Believe It’s Not Snickers Sundae.

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Chai Hot Chocolate

Witch said the Chai Hot Chocolate was yummy and an interesting idea. I haven’t tried this drink but I can vow for the yumminess of the regular hot chocolate.

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I Can’t Believe It’s Not Snickers Sundae

The Sundae is peanut butter ice cream, with butterscotch sauce, roasted peanuts & chocolate ganache. It;s yummy. This was the dessert I ordered the very first time I went to Eggless and I’m thrilled to see it back. In the words of Witch when she ordered it “it’s chocolate and peanuts, that’s always going to be fantastic.”

We were still a bit hungry after our desserts (well Vampire wasn’t)  and we really didn’t want to leave so we ordered something else. Witch got a drink called Teh Tarik and we got some Dessert Nachos to share.

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Teh Tarik

Teh Tarik is an Asian tea drink that is basically strong, sweet milky tea. Witch said “I’m glad I’ve tried it and I will finish it, but i wouldn’t order again.” She’s not a fan of milk in tea. When I tried this drink a little while ago I was amused to realize that it tasted just like how I make a cup of tea at home.

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Dessert nachos

The Dessert Nachos are something I’ve been eyeing off for a while, they’ve appeared on a few of the Eggless menu’s over the last few months but I hadn’t got a round to ordering some. They’ve had a few different topping combinations on the nachos; this weeks is black sticky rice, banana slices, banana mousse and vanilla ice cream.

The Nachos themselves are popcorn that had somehow been shaped into corn chips. They’re coated with a mix of icing sugar and a little salt, they’re absolutely  delicious! The sticky rice was a little plain but had a nice nuttiness and added some great texture. The banana mousse was lovely but I feel that the dish was let down a little by the ice cream. At Eggless the ice creams are all made in store except for the basic vanilla which is store bought. I personally don’t think the dessert is as special when you put a ball of So Good on top of it; especially when the quality if everything else is so fantastic.

Witch and Vampire both had some of the Nachos as well and Witch loved the chips as much as I did.

Food: Eggless’s dishes are always excellent. The ever changing menu means that there’s always a reason to go back and the desserts themselves are always inventive and contain interesting combinations of flavours. Oh and they also do a few small savoury options which are quite yummy too. 4.5/5

Setting: Small, comfortable, warm. Lots of people in a small space but not so noisy that you can’t have a good conversation. 4/5

Service: Usually pretty good. The owner is attentive, if a little over energetic. Just watching him sometimes makes me feel tired, The other staff know the menu well and remember the regulars. Always friendly and helpful too. 4/5

Overall: I love Eggless, so I’m a bit biased really. The theme nights are great but it’s well worth a visit at any time of year even if you have to wait outside in the cold. Oh and if you ever see something on the menu with a salted caramel sauce on it. Order it! Eggless’s salted caramel sauce is plate lickingly good! 4/5

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