Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Farewell February

One word can sum up February 2010, it's an evil four letter word - SNOW!  The last few days of February saw us buried under 31 inches of the nasty white stuff.  It knocked out our power and left us very cold for a few days.  When the power final came back on we needed some serious comfort food, warm comfort food.  Hello Vegan Cinnamon Buns!
I followed the Cinnamon Bun recipe from Vegan Brunch and it was a great success.  The buns were soft and sticky and perfect.  We'll be making them again very soon I'm sure.  Vegan Brunch has become my favorite cook book, every recipe we've tried has turned out perfect. I have and love Veganomicon, but for some reason Vegan Brunch is the book I seem to always gravitate toward first. 
I enjoyed the Cinnamon Buns, but for me the ultimate comfort food is warm Spinach, Artichoke & Roasted Garlic dip served with toasted pita's.
Warm Spinach, Artichoke & Roasted Garlic Dip
2 Cups Cashews (salted are ok, just add less salt later)
1 large jar of marinated artichoke hearts drained
1 small head of  roasted garlic (see below for directions)
1/4 cup of olive oil (keep more on hand to use as needed)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup of vegan mayonnaise (I use Follow Your Heart's Vegenaise)
2 cups of frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained
a pinch of dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated vegan cheese

 In a food processor combine cashews, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic, olive oil, vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, oregano, salt & pepper and process until thick and creamy.  Drizzle extra olive oil as needed to obtain the creamy texture, you can replace the extra olive oil with water if you'd like but only use a couple of teaspoons at a time, you don't want make your dip to thin.  When everything is nice and creamy transfer to a large mixing bowl and hand mix in the chopped spinach.  Taste and adjust salt & pepper as needed.  When the spinach is completely mixed transfer to an oven proof dish, sprinkle the grated vegan cheese on top and bake at 350 for 25 mins or until top is golden.  Serve warm.

Optional variations: 1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers mixed in after the spinach
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts
 (I hate water chestnuts and never use them, but I'm told they're good in this dip.)

Roasted Garlic
Clean a head/bulb of garlic. Chop off the top of the bulb so that you can see all of the individual garlic cloves.  Place the bulb in a baking pan with an inch of water on the bottom.  Drizzle with olive oil and cover with tin foil.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 1 hour.  Allow the roasted garlic to cool.  The roasted garlic cloves will slip away from the skin of the bulb and be ready to use in all of your favorite recipes.

February wasn't all bad and snowy.  Mike and I celebrated our Anniversary by slipping away to Soy & Sake  This year was our 17th year together as old married people - wow! It's true what they say about time and flying.  Enough about that, more about Soy & Sake. We ate like we were on our way to the chair.  Everything was so good.  I'm going to embarrass myself and show everything we ordered.  My absolutely favorite was the Bourbon Chicken appetizer. Mike's favorites were this deep fried shrimp thing and steamed pork buns.

We also ordered the Citrus Beef, and Butterfly Soy Chops that came with this amazing side of Collard Greens that had little bits of vegan ham- so good!
We loved Soy & Sake and will definitely be back. 

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