Tuesday, May 01, 2007

SGOTW #51: Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers

Normally I post my SGOTW recipes on Sunday, but I didn't get around to making last week's recipe until last night and actually I snuck in my recipe for game #52 too, but I'll save that until Sunday.......
Anyway, I was so excited for last week's game because the number picked just happened to be my newest cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table. This cookbook actually comes with a story too!

A locally owned kitchen store in our area - Now We're Cooking - offers cooking classes. Well, more like cooking demonstrations since most of the classes are not hands-on. I was not happy about this at first, but the classes have grown on me. The first class I attended was a sushi class. I was really hoping to get a chance to try rolling myself - you can only learn so much from watching - but alas, it was a demonstration-only class. A local chef came in and prepared several different sushi rolls for us and as I sat there eating the sumptious morsels that were put in front of me, I realized that even if I wasn't getting any hands-on experience, it certainly wasn't an unpleasant experience to sit and be served fantastic food from a great chef! Almost like a private chef's table tasting. (A big thanks to my MIL for giving me a gift certificate for these classes for my birthday last year!)

Anyway, back to Moosewood...........

One of the classes they offered last month featured a chef/owner/cookbook author from the Moosewood Collective, David Hirsch. The class offered a full dinner prepared by David, as well as a signed cookbook. No way could I resist this one! I have two other Moosewood cookbooks, Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites and Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. I have to admit that I don't cook a lot from either one, but then again, I don't use my cookbooks much at all which is why I am participating in SGOTW in the first place.

It was a fun evening - David Hirsch entertained us with stories from his experiences while he prepared us a lovely vegetarian meal. The first two courses were hands down the hightlights for me - they were fantastic. The meal started with an appetizer of Sicilian Chickpea Spread - a hummus-like bean dip, minus the tahini, enhanced with pine nuts, roasted red peppers and fresh basil - really delicious. Next up was my other favorite of the evening, a Caesar Salad topped with tofu "croutons". The tofu was diced, tossed with a sauce and then baked in the oven. The results were delicious - so delicious that I am inspired to cook once again with tofu, something I used to try to make at home, with mixed results, but have been avoiding in recent years.

After the salad, David served up Red Bean, Potato and Arugula Soup - I loved the peppery bite of the arugula - a very simple but fairly tasty soup. Alas I have to admit that I was not wowed by the main course - Spring Vegetable Sauté. It's a simple dish of carrots, asparagus and artichokes in a simple vegetable-broth based sauce. There was nothing bad about the dish, it just didn't have anything that made it stand out or shine. I think that it was a little too light on the salt - David talked quite a bit while he cooked and I know that I often lose track of what I'm doing if I talk when I cook, so I have a feeling that something went a little wrong with this one.

The meal ended with a yummy Mango Coconut Sorbet. I have a coconut-mango recipe that I actually like a bit better, but it uses Cream of Coconut, a product that contains trans fats, so this sorbet, which contains coconut milk instead, would be a more healthful alternative.

On to the recipe I tried! I had originally intended to make the salad with tofu croutons, but was missing the fennel seeds which I think are pretty essential in this dish, so I opted to make a salmon dish instead. Salmon? That's not vegetarian! Well, although the Moosewood offers primarily vegetarian fare, they do serve fish 5 nights a week at the restaurant, so their cookbooks do include a few fish recipes.

Miso Glazed Salmon

Oven-Roasted Miso Sesame Salmon

This recipe calls for a simple miso-mirin glaze and a short baking time in the oven - very simple. It was a lovely day outside, so we opted to grill the salmon instead of baking it. The dish was good, but I didn't think the miso glaze shined enough for my tastes. I tend to prefer very strong flavors with salmon, so this may just be a matter of personal preference. Of course the miso glaze might have shined through more had I remembered to slash the salmon first, as it says in the recipe. Evenings have been prettied harried around here lately and I've been making a lot of those kinds of mistakes - misreading or skipping over whole parts of the recipe. Ah well, at least I'm still getting nutritious, from-scratch meals on the table most nights!

The Moosewood Restaurant is a very interesting place to read about - it's run by a collective composed of about 12 people who run the restaurant and also serve as chefs and/or cookbook authors. Ithaca, NY is only about 2 hours north of here, and I hear that it's close to NY wine country so I think a weekend trip to the Moosewood is definitely in our future........

Before I go, I should mention that this week's number (for game #52) is 73. I'll post about what I made on Sunday......