Count Broccula's veg-head ramblings

My home experiments with vegetarian cooking. Focused on seasonal produce with some vegan stuff thrown in for good measure. I may include random other food-related stuff as I please.

Friday, January 21, 2005

An evening out and a new cookbook

Well, I didn't feel like cooking tonight, so we went to Celestin's, a Carribean place. Piggs and I split the sweet potato fries as an appetizer and for dinner he had the coconut crusted salmon and I had vegetarian gumbo. It was very good. This was the first time I'd had it (I usually have the creole vegetables, and sometimes the corn cakes) and I was pleasantly surprised. First of all, there was no okra. Second, it was spicy -- not overpoweringly so, but a little bit of bite. Enough to make my nose run a little, anyway. It was full of peas, potatoes, corn, yellow squash, red bell pepper, onion, and sliced jalapeno. The broth was tomatoey, but with a lot of spice, too. It was served over white rice. I will definitely order it again.

In other news, my new cookbook arrived from Amazon today, the Art of Persian Cooking . I looked at several, but I liked this one because of a few different things. First of all, it has a recipe for cherry rice (polou), which is one of my favorite Persian dishes and hard to find locally in restaurants, and second, because the extensive sections in the beginning that cover both the history of Persian cooking and entertaining in the Persian home. Also, unlike some other Persian cookbooks I've seen, this one has a number of dessert dishes. I may not ever make them, but I like to look through them.
The history section is particularly interesting, because it includes information about traditional meals served at holidays and other special occasions. Someday I'd like to introduce our kid(s) to their culture, and as a standard-issue white person, I don't have a lot to offer on my side. So traditions like the haft seen table to celebrate the Persian new year (Norooz) are appealing, because they're traditional (and cool, in their way) without also being overtly religious (I don't think we want to bring the kid(s) up Muslim, so that's a good thing).
Unfortunately, I was not able to find a vegetarian Persian cookbook (don't look so skeptical, I used to work the cooking section in a bookstore, and you can find almost anything in a vegetarian version), but that's never really stopped me before. I have no problem just leaving meat out, or substituting fake meat if it seems necessary. I'm quite looking forward to a fake chicken version of fesenjon, which has a pomegranite-walnut sauce. I also make a mean tah dig (which this book strangely calls the "crispy crunchy"), the buttery crust on the bottom of a pot of Iranian rice, so as soon as I figure out how to make veggie gormeh sabzee (a stew with greens like celery leaves, spinach, parsley, and dill) and khoresh gheymeh (a stew with yellow split peas) we'll be good to go!
A quick note -- the spellings of Persian foods vary from book to book, to restaurant, to web site . . . for example "gormeh" might also be "qu'orma," and tah dig is also tadig, tah deek . . . If it sounds like the same thing, it probably is.

So, in sum, no cooking experiments of my own tonight, other than that in a couple minutes I'm going to get up and make my uncle Allan's oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I'm going to sneak in whole wheat flour to replace about a third of the white flour. I'll let you know how it goes. Take care,
The Countess


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