Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Iron Fork Nashville

Last week, I attended my third (of four) Iron Fork Nashville events! It's such a wonderful event--your ticket gets you a ton of food samples from the area's finest restaurants and caterers plus three drinks from the bar. However, the bartender was generous with the ThreeFour Roses bourbon, so I actually only used just one of my drink tickets!

There were a lot of new faces this year; not just among the restaurants, but among the contestants as well. A new addition this year, Perl Catering actually served one of my favorite dishes--a caramelized onion bisque. And there were lots of other great vegetarian options: Finezza, Urban Flats, Wild Iris, Mambu, Provence, and Rumba as well as desserts from Hot & Cold (Mexican caramel paleta dipped in chocolate!) and Cupcake Collection (the city's best cupcakes). I left quite satisfied.

This year's mystery ingredient was green almonds, which a lot of us had mis-heard as green olives. Certainly, the competition was harder with the former rather than the latter. Chris Chamberlain--one of the judges--gives a great description of all the competitors' dishes on the Nashville Scene's BITES blog. I was too busy sampling and socializing to pay much attention to the competition! But I did get a few pictures:

The contestants right in the middle of the action

The wonderful ladies at Finezza serving vegetarian pasta salad and tiramisu--yum!

Me and my new best friend, Tiffany Derry from Top Chef/Top Chef Masters and blogger Beth of Eat.Drink.Smile and her friend, Leslie
The event is a lot of fun and proceeds benefit the Martha O'Bryan Center. Well worth the $40 per ticket. If you're sorry you missed this, then you should definitely think about going to one or both of two more great food events coming up: Generous Helpings on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at the Farmers Market (again--tickets are just $40 per person and will include more food than you can ever hope to eat from the city's best restaurants--buy tickets here) which benefits the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and then  Taste of Music City on Saturday June 4, 2011 (buy tasting tickets for each booth for as little as $1 each in advance) which benefits (hey, whaddyaknow) the Martha O'Bryan Center.

Whew, that's a lot of great food. I'm glad to know that all of these events are vegetarian-friendly, too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chewy Lemon Cookies

I love lemons and lemon flavor. Just about anything lemon--lemon pound cake, lemon squares, lemon cookies, lemonade. You name it--if it's lemon, I probably love it. So I was looking for a lemon cookie to make and this recipe popped up. I've made a few changes, most notably the name. Yes, they are zesty, but the thing I love most about these cookies is that they are chewy! And very sweet and tart and lemony all at once. Like a little drink of lemonade in a cookie. Or a drink of sunshine. I absolutely love this cookie and if you like sweet and dainty lemon cookies, you will too.

Chewy Lemon Cookies
adapted from Zesty Lemon Cookies by Lesli Neilson of the Salt Lake Tribune via Real Mom Kitchen
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 2 eggs
• The zest of one fresh lemon (~1 teaspoon but more is good)
• The juice of one fresh lemon (~1/4 cup)
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• Powdered sugar for dusting

Cream butter and sugar with your mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well on low speed after each. Add in lemon juice and zest and blend again. Add baking powder and flour and mix well. Set dough in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until edges are firm with no color, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

Yields about 3 dozen standard-size cookies, but I made about six dozen silver dollar size cookies.
• Zest your lemon before you juice it.
• If you want perfectly round cookies, chill your dough well so that you can shape your dough into balls. Use a melon baller if you have one.
• You don't have to line your baking sheets, but the bottoms will be much prettier and they're a lot easier to remove!
• I have a lovely German teaspoon (for loose tea) that I used to dust the cookies, but you can use a sifter or a fine strainer. Be sure the cookies have cooled or the powdered sugar will melt.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Product Review: Tandoor Chef Vegetable Pad Thai

Recently, I was contacted by a representative of Tandoor Chef to see if I'd like to try out some of their line of frozen appetizers, naans and entrees. Of course I would! I love Indian food so I was eager to give some a try. I was particularly interested in the frozen dosas, naans and paneer tikka masala.

Unfortunately, my local grocery carries exactly one vegetarian product from their vast line of offerings: vegetable pad thai. Which is not only not a dosa (what I really wanted), but not even Indian.

Nevertheless, I picked it up and brought it home for a try.

I really like Thai food, too though I rarely opt for the pad thai (it usually comes with egg) but this pad thai is egg-free and suitable for vegans. However, I'm familiar enough with the standard product to give a review. My thoughts? Well, it's not the best pad thai I've ever had, but it's pretty good for a frozen entree. The freezing process wasn't kind to the aesthetics of the vegetables, but the taste was just fine. And the peanut flavor was really good and not too spicy (though it has a little kick). Another thing to like about the pad thai is it's part of their new "Balanced Vegetarian" meals (reduced sodium, higher in protein and fiber, and have zero trans fats). That doesn't mean it's low-cal (nearly 500 calories and 19g of fat), but they're better fat and calories than in a typical frozen meal. And likely a LOT less in fat and calories than the pad thai at your local Thai restaurant.

So if you're looking for a lunch option that's a little bit different and you don't mind everyone around you knowing that you're having Thai food (it is quite aromatic! and heavy on the onions for my taste), give it a try. And if you happen to be lucky enough to live near a grocery that has the naans or the dosas, let me know if you've tried them and how they taste!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Morsels Cafe

Tanisha Hall--known for Fleur de Lis Flavors, the wonderful snow cones at the Nashville Farmers' Market--has revamped the Morsels Cafe at the Gordon Jewish Community Center. It's now only the second certified kosher cafe in town (behind Grins on the Vanderbilt Campus). And it's not just kosher--it's vegetarian. Check out the story about Morsels Cafe in The Tennessean.

Hey, we're moving in the right direction. We just need some vegetarian cafes in more easily accessible places! (Shame-filled admission: I've never been to Grins.)

Congratulations and good luck to Tanisha in this new venture!