Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pan Asian Weekend

This weekend instead of cooking, we ended up eating dinner out two nights in a row.

Thursday night, I wanted to remake the wonderful "ramen" with veg/tofu gyoza that was a success with Maybelle last week. This time we used tofu noodles, for the extra protein, instead of rice noodles. But, the propensity of the tofu noodles to resist our bites was incredibly disconcerting to mother and child. In addition, last week, I had included spiced red cabbage and soya bean salad as topings for the "ramen". This time, I made too many short cuts. I cooked the soy beans and greens, this time kale, in the soup. It just wasn't as tasty or successful. Though, May did like the greens, she gave up on the noodles altogether. But, the worst failure was the fried tofu. Last time, I used the firm tofu that is made in Cleveland. This time I used a national brand. I didn't buy the Cleveland one, because it is not organic. But, sadly, the tofu that I used didn't fry well. Instead, it went from white bubbling puddles to burnt bits in a second. All in all, there were only a couple of yummy fried chunks.

This meant that on Friday I decided to look elsewhere for Belle's beloved fried tofu. Honestly, I don't know if it is beloved. I know that she seems to consume tofu quite happily and she steadfastly refuses meat. I had read that Peppermint, the Pepper Pike location for the restaurant Mint, was excellent. The restaurant was the understated cliche of an Asian restaurant-dark wood tables, imported tourist art on the wall, assorted non-round white plates. While the staff was very nice, and so kind to Maybelle, our selections, Pad Thai and Chicken Ginger were so bland.

I have never been to Thailand, and I have no problem with Americanized Asian food. In fact, I enjoy the confluence of flavors that result in hybrid cusines. I dream of making the perfect Gobi Manchurian, a dish born of the Chinese in India. Chop Suey, an American Chinese food, is pretty much the only Chinese dish my dad will eat, and as such tastes like childhood to me. For me, Americanized or hybridized or popularized all work, but bland or poorly cooked are quite another thing. These dishes just lacked flavor. But, the trip was not unsucessful, because Belle loved her tofu and rice. So who am I to judge?

Saturday was a much better food day. I awoke thinking that my husband and May had been up for hours only to find that both were like me, sleeping in. While it was the first rested morning I had experienced in ages, May woke up ravenous. I quickly whipped up some Vegan pancakes. I have been trying to perfect a recipe that I found online. As I was in a hurry, I did not look up the recipe but went by memory instead. (Last time I had made the recipe they were so lovely that I thought to myself never again will I melt butter and white egg whites for pancakes. When I produced my gorgeous, I mean food stylist beautiful, pancakes to Maybelle with homemade blackberry syrup, she shuddered. I mean full bodied paroxsym. My husband hadn't dug into his stack yet. I came over to close the computer screen and noticed my mistake. Sadly I had read the recipe incorrectly using baking SODA for baking POWDER. Dad was so pleased that his daughter had a innate discerning palate.) These pancakes, while not super fluffy, were tasty, and not terribly unhealthy. May had a short stack of 5 silver dollars topped with Heinen's Almond butter and bananas.

As there had been few vegetables consumed the previous night for dinner or Saturday morning, I decided to made Baby Pizza and Baby Pasta for lunch. This combo involves my veggie pasta sauce with plenty of carrots, celery, onions and zucchini in the mix. For lunch, I toasted 1 piece of organic wheat bread slathered with the pasta sauce and topped with soy mozzarella cheese--broiled until gooey. This was followed by a side of pasta (like any good Italian-American joint), in this case Barilla whole wheat rotini.

And, then after nap time, my mother babysat so my husband and I could go out to dinner. During my pregnancy, I frequented the Matsuya lunch buffet. We decided to go to Sasa Matsu in Shaker Square. It made me as happy as Matsuya. There was nothing I didn't like about Matsuya. At Sasa, the decor was a little 80s for me but not oppressively, or more importantly unappetizingly, so. But, as the food came out fast, and constantly, Japanese-American tapas or whatever, I didn't pay too much attention. Here too we had the wacko shaped plates. (I want some chef to stand up and say I can be cutting-edge and just use round plates.)

While it is a place that suggests many small things, we were out to spend time together not read the menu, so we started with the grilled sampler. For my husband, the scallops were the star of the evening; the plum wine syrup was subtly sweet. For me, it was the Korean short ribs that were inexpressibly good. For the rest of the evening, there were also grilled peppers, fried peppers, chicken yakitori, and peking duck a l’orange. I felt incomplete without rice, so we ordered vegetable rice takikomi. It was a very nice, rich version of the traditional Japanese kombu-flavored mushroom rice. We finished with a nice baked custard. But, everything we order was excellent--so excellent that we will be returning there today for dim sum.

Veggie Pasta Sauce
Saute in a splash of olive oil the following:
2 t sliced garlic
1/4 cup each finely diced organic carrots, celery, onions, zucchini
1/8 cup or less finely diced organic celery leaves

1 cup canned san marzano tomatoes, crushed
dash of dried oregano


Vegan Pancakes
Mix the following:
1 cup wheat flour
2 T baking power
1 sprinkle baking soda
1 pinch (1/8 t) salt
1 T sugar
1 cup unflavored organic soy milk
1 T olive oil

Cook on an cast-iron griddle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like your site. It's sometimes hard to get good opinions on restaurants, and hear about those off the beaten path. Your write up made me want to try Caffe Roma but without a glass of wine, what's a pasta dinner?! thanks- keep it up