Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Restaurant Review: Mo C Mo C Japanese Cuisine

I hadn't planned to eat out, but a couple of friends and I were tired and hungry after attending an event in Princeton, so we stopped by Mo C Mo C Japanese Cuisine. They're omnivores, so we needed a place we could all eat our fill (plus there wasn't anywhere around that was vegan or vegetarian, which seems weird for a college town).

Because I felt I'd had a day light on protein, I started with agedashi tofu. I asked them to leave the bonito flakes off (bonito flakes are dried tuna). It was really good--just crispy enough, and the dipping sauce was perfect.

After my starter, I had two sushi rolls: sweet potato tempura and the vegetable roll with avocado, cucumber, and carrot. The sweet potato tempura roll was good but I've had better (and the better I have had was so good as to put all future sweet potato tempura sushi to shame, unfortunately). The veggie roll was better.

General thoughts: I would definitely eat here again. I want to try the Japanese squash roll and pickled radish roll. It was clean and the food was appealing. My friends also enjoyed their meals. 4.5/5

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One #75

An improvisational carrot and cucumber salad, some vegan banana walnut bread I made, a fruit dip I made from leftover cinnamon frosting and vegan cream cheese with some walnuts on top, a little cup of margarine for my banana bread, and apple slices.

I'm so glad it's apple season! I love apples when they're fresh and crisp (and on sale--who are we kidding here).

This salad was pretty good for a "use what you've got" side. It's essentially the dressing I would use for Waldorf salad (a basic mayonnaise dressing with lemon juice and salt and pepper) with shredded carrot and quick-pickled cucumbers.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Lunchopolis #60

A mushroom pate, dijon mustard, and cornichon sandwich; the Japanese potato salad you saw Friday; apple slices; the very last bit of a cake I made (chocolate with cinnamon frosting--so good); and pineapple chunks (I swear, pineapple is forever).

I bought a different kind of cornichon this time, with caramelized onions in the jar. They're much sweeter and I usually don't like sweet pickles much but they were really good in this sandwich. I love, love, love this combination every time. It's not the prettiest of things, but not everything has to be beautiful. Comfort food is rarely beautiful.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Skater Lunch Box #44

This is one of my better eat-what-is-there experiments this week: Japanese potato salad (recipe below), some leftover broccoli (that was kind of sad, to be honest, but it made for a nice burst of green), a veganized version of Japanese mini hamburgers, a little piggy of sauce for the burgers (ketchup, soy sauce, and rice vinegar), and pineapple chunks.

This is an actual bento, as it includes all the requisite colors, incidentally. (To be a bento, you're supposed to have five colors: White, yellow, red/orange, green, and brown/black/purple. It's one reason bento lunches are so good for you without actually thinking a whole lot about nutrition.)

The mini hamburgers are made from Beyond Beef slider patties, which are gluten free (the whole meal is gluten free, incidentally). I just basted them with the sauce when I pan fried them. This used up the last of the box of sliders in the freezer; I am thus making progress! (Also I prefer this to using the patties for sliders.)

As I was looking for something to make with what I had while in the midst of this eating-down-the-stocks phase, I remembered Japanese potato salad. I had tried a recipe for it before but didn't care for it much. But I have been watching a lot of Japanese YouTube videos of people packing lunches when I'm too exhausted to do anything, and decided that the recipe I'd tried before might have been too Americanized and thus became too bland. So I took myself on a Google spree. I ultimately decided to make a vegan version of this one. It was a really good success! I might try it with a bit of smoked tofu or some eggy tofu sometime (though I worry about eggy tofu turning the whole thing yellow; turmeric is like that), if I want a main dish. This version is more of a side. It's quite different than American potato salads, as it is sweeter and uses a base of mashed potatoes, but it goes well with many of the same things as American potato salad.

Japanese Potato Salad 
Serves: 3

1 medium potato
1/2 medium carrot
About a 4-inch length of Persian or English cucumber
1/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4-inch slice of red onion
2-3 tablespoons vegan mayo
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

Peel and cube the potato. Put into a small saucepan and add cold water to cover. Salt the water a bit and bring to a boil. Boil until a fork easily goes through your potato chunks, about 10-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pan. Quickly and stirring gently to avoid burning, put the pan over heat to evaporate the remaining water. You want the potatoes dry.

Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and mash with a fork. Don't overdo it--you want some texture--but this is not going to be a salad with well-defined potatoes in it. Go for about half or 3/4 mashed.

Peel and cut the carrot into 1/4 moons. Put into a small bowl and add a bit of water. Microwave for a few minutes, until the carrots are tender but will still hold their shape. (We don't want mashed carrots in this salad.) Drain the carrots and add to the potatoes.

Cut the cucumber into 1/2 moons. Salt a bit and toss to ensure all the cucumber pieces are a bit salty. Set aside. This will quick-pickle the cucumbers and give them a good texture in the salad.

Thaw the corn in the microwave, stirring once. For me this usually takes about 20 seconds.

Finely chop the red onion slice.

Mix mayo, vinegar, sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Your potatoes and carrots should have cooled enough that you can be confident they won't cook anything added to them; if not, stop here and come back to them in a few minutes.

Mix everything together. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Temari Rabbit 2-Tier Bento #109

Pineapple chunks (again--a single person versus a pineapple makes for a bit of a pineapple marathon), smoked almonds, cucumber slices, and TVP soboro and frozen vegetable stir fry over rice (which I promise is in there).

The TVP soboro was the taco meat gone wrong I made a while ago, which worked well for soboro. I froze about half of it so while I'm eating down my stocks (and feeling not up to much on this day) I pulled that out to go with these vegetables of somewhat unknown origin. I must have bought them sometime there was some kind of sale. Frozen veggies can be okay sometimes, but for this I think I would have preferred fresh. But I got fed, and pretty easily, so I can't complain. I added some rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil to the veggies and it perked them up significantly. They probably would have been prettier with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

This one is gluten free, incidentally, which I did not realize when I packed it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Thermos 3-Tier Bento #20

The version of koshari found in the Joy of Cooking and some pineapple. This is not pretty, but it is food.

I don't know what made me go to the Joy of Cooking to try to find vegan recipes. Joy is decidedly not vegan-friendly. But there were some promising things in the legumes section, and I needed to use up some lentils. Plus, the Egyptian restaurant I went to as often as I could just closed down, so I needed to find a new source for koshari, the "national dish of Egypt." Koshari is essentially stewed lentils and tomatoes over macaroni with caramelized onions, though there are a lot of variations. Mine didn't turn out super well, I think because the lentils needed a lot longer cooking time than the recipe indicated. I'm going to just accept that any lentil recipe I use needs to have a doubled cooking time.

But this was a good change of pace, and helped me use some stuff up (I'm in use-what-you've-got mode right now because one does need to eat one's stock down every once in a while). This doesn't really require any ingredients that are especially perishable--yes, onions and garlic are perishable but they don't perish as quickly as most things, and the rest of what goes in it is really pantry goods. This is true for a lot of vegan food--even if perishable, it's not that perishable. Tofu keeps in the fridge a lot longer than meat. This was a totally unexpected vegan bonus.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Happy Jackson Snack Boxes #60

Pineapple wedges, some vegan tzatziki (recipe from Loving It Vegan), falafel on a bed of romaine, and tortillas.

This is not the most logical of meals, but it worked.