Thursday, May 17, 2007

Everybody Loves Cake

Last night we celebrated a friend's birthday with a dinner party and finished up with cake and plenty of wine and good conversation at our place. The friend is thinking more and more about veganism (she is very passionate about her two rescued dogs and helping any that she finds on the streets) so I thought, what better way to help her get a step closer than showing her that vegans can still enjoy traditional foods, such as the birthday cake! I made the Super Moist Chocolate Cake and topped it with Coconut Pecan Frosting, both from vegweb. They came highly recommended from the website so I wasn't nervous about it turning out bad. Now I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've iced a cake, so I'm a novice at best. Even though many said the recipe was enough for a two-layer cake, I didn't seem to have enough for the sides. Oh well .... I took the icing that remained and balled it up on top of the cake as a candle stand. The cake was deliciously moist and chocolatey, and how can you not love icing with pecans, coconut, and a not-so-healthy dose of sugar? I served the cake up with some So Delicious Vanilla soy ice cream. Everyone was impressed, the birthday girl even took some home (thank goodness! otherwise I would have eaten it all).

Prior to the cake, we dined at ones of my favorite non-vegan/vegetarian places in midtown Houston; Tafia. I have been there a handful of times, and the food has always been excellent. Last night I started off with a Champassion cocktail and a bowl of curried squash soup. The cocktail, as always, was excellent. The soup had a nice flavor (corn broth based), but it was mostly broth and not much squash, and I didn't even get a hint of spicy curry. It was quite busy last night, so between our appetizer and main course, there were mini-bread rolls that were unfortunately not vegan. Instead of going with my usual baked tofu and portobello mushroom entree (the mushroom is wonderful, the tofu mediocre) and a side, I decided that since there would be cake later, I would go light and eat two vegetable side dishes instead. I had curried cauliflower and pan-roasted carrots with dukkah. The cauliflower was good, but again, no hint of spicy curry and they were a little stingy on the cauliflower. The carrots were awesome, it was my second time having them there. I will be sad to see them leave the menu (it changes seasonally). Dukkah, in case you didn't know (I had to ask the first time) is an Egyptian spice blend. I found a recipe on the web that calls for sesame seeds, roasted chickpeas, hazelnuts, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt, and black peppercorn. I don't know if that's what they used but I'm definitely going to try it out at home. The atmosphere at Tafia is always upbeat and busy, which I enjoy. Plus they also value locally sourced ingredients. The downside to Tafia is that the menu is somewhat limited for vegans as far as entrees go. Although they change out the seasonal meat entrees, the standard tofu and mushrooms is always there. Their alcoholic beverages are also waaaayyyyy overpriced. I appreciate that they serve Texas wine and all, but c'mon, $9 a glass?!? If you're ever in the midtown area though, I do suggest trying it. I've never seen a dead restaurant there, so make reservations!

Earlier this week I used the eggplants and some squash from the farmer's market to make pitas stuffed with eggplant salad from Mediterranean Vegan. We also stuffed some fresh spinach and hummus into the pita. In the background are cherries (expensive but soooo good) and a piece of grilled sweet chili tofu from Whole Foods. A fresh, simple meal that made plenty of good leftovers for lunch.


vko said...

Your friend must have decided to go vegan instantly after that yummy cake!

Well, I think it's wonderful that she is making the difference between those two dogs that she loves so much & animals that have become meat on her plate. It's nice that she has a friend like you to show her how easy it can be to choose compassion.

vko said...

hi there- me again...I just tagged you for 7 random things about yourself if you feel like doing it...hope you don't mind!

Vegan*asm said...

Wow, we have crossed paths a couple of times without knowing it. I work at T'afia as a hostess. It has been one of my favorite restaurants in Houston since I found out about it 2 years ago (prior to going vegan). I really appreciate and admire the philosophy of being as local as possible. I know what you mean about limited selection for vegans, but they will make anything they can vegan for you. I eat there every night, so I get quite creative with the menu. Have you ever been to lounge on Tues-Thurs? It's a lot of fun, and all the free food you want with purchase of a drink. Hope to see you there sometime.