Tag Archives: vegetarian

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

In this case, the beauty of the dishes is quite obvious. One thing that’s been a struggle for me with vegetarian dishes up until recently, other than the fact that there’s no meat on the plate, is that often it’s difficult to make the plate really “pop” without the meal looking like just a bowl of succotash or some kind of meat-less stew.

Those of you that have followed this odd little blog for the last few months know one of my early homemade dishes was a great vegetarian ravioli (cheese/mushroom) with a fantastic homemade pumpkin sauce. For those that missed it, it’s the main pic of the blog, and the entire dish is shown below.


I learned from that meal that plating a killer vegetarian dish CAN be done.  After last weekend’s indulgences over the Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s time to get back to the ‘root’ of things, so to speak.  There’s a place in one of my favorite cities in the US (San Antonio) that puts a delicious and savory spin on classic Tex-Mex. Here, the folks at “Los Barrios Restaurant” (www.LosBarrios1.com) have outdone themselves with a beautiful quesadilla of sauted mixed vegetables and a flavorful avocado salad.  Image

The dish itself is easy to plate. It features one of my favorite ‘cheats’ by using a biscuit cutter or ring mold to plate up the rice to keep it from taking up too much room on the plate. I bought a pyramid mold for things like rice and starches.  You can look forward to some nifty meals featuring that food-mold in coming weeks.

The well cooked tortillas add some nice browning to the plate, and the vegetables add considerable color for eye-appeal. Throw in some delicious charro beans, and it’s a fantastic meal that’s easy to get on a plate.

There are some cultures that naturally lend themselves to the idea of vegetarian dishes, and one belongs to the great people of India. More often than not, the plating I’ve seen of Indian cuisine is somewhat utilitarian, and not always dramatic, although easy to pull off at home.  I’m going to show you a meal that’s presented on a gorgeous banana leaf and is still somewhat utilitarian. The dish is called “Mudda Pappu” and the dish itself comes from “Sailu’s Kitchen” (http://www.sailusfood.com/2006/06/03/mudda-pappu-tur-dal-red-gram-lentil/).


It’s a very creative way of using a cooking ingredient to plate a classic lentil-based meal.  Several cultures use banana leaves to cook food, from Asian, to Mexican, to Indian.  This is a great example of how to use an ingredient for cooking as a method to plate.

Another creative way to plate an appetizer is to use slate.  As seen below, you can buy yourself a piece of slate, some chalk you can borrow from your kid’s school kit, and you’re set.  “Haystack Goatcheese” (http://www.haystackgoatcheese.com/last-minute-gifts-for-the-turophile-in-your-life/) offers up a great way to showcase your opening course for a dinner party.


This is another one of those items you can have your kids help plate up.  It’s straight forward, Mom & Dad can slice up the different cheeses, and your kids can plate the complementary items (dried fruits, jams, & nuts) and write the names for you. Everyone wins with this appetizer, and you can give your kids credit in front of your guests.

Last idea for the day is a classic favorite: the perogie. Yes, I know it can be spelled many different ways, depending on which Central/Eastern European country your favorite recipe comes from. “Follow Me Foodie” (http://www.followmefoodie.com/2014/02/graze-vegetarianvegangluten-free-restaurant/) offers a beautiful review of a perogie dish served at a Vancouver restaurant called “Graze.” The meal is a yam & eggplant perogie with some incredibly complex flavors.


This one is a little tough for me to cook up at this stage. The plating isn’t “fancy for fancy’s sake” which you know always bugs me. But there are some dishes that are beyond my skill level to create in my own little kitchen. For example, if I were to try something like this, I wouldn’t make the dough from scratch. I’d probably buy a pie dough and try to adjust the flavor, and the thickness to more correctly match what’s expected for a perogie. The presentation is simple, colorful, and makes me hungry just looking at it.

Vegetarian meals from Mexican, Central/Eastern European, and Indian cultures were up today, and clearly show it’s possible to create and plate a robust, and delicious vegetarian, or vegan dish! Get in your kitchen this next week, and make something a little out of your comfort zone.  You might surprise yourself.



Empanadas (Sweet AND savory)

Hi everyone.

So a little background.  Growing up as a Mexican/American in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood, I grew up enjoying empanadas.  The interesting thing about this little factoid is that I grew up enjoying SWEET ones only; usually pumpkin and sometimes pineapple.  It never occurred to me that you could make savory ones until I got to college.  I know, I’m occasionally slow.

Anyhow, today we’ve got some vegetarian empanadas (asparagus/fava bean) right at the top.  These come to us courtesy from Laylita.com (http://laylita.com/recipes/2013/06/02/asparagus-empanadas-with-fava-beans-peas-and-goat-cheese/).


The 1/2 moon shape of these delicious treats looks fantastic on a plate.  These look to have a pie-crimp style of sealing the empanadas.  So if you’ve baked pies before, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting these to ‘pop’ on your plate.

You’ll notice that most of the plates I’ve shown thus far are white, and basic shapes.  This plate fits the food perfectly.  It’s a highly patterned plate which compliments the fine crimping work done on the empanadas.  Again, it’s not fancy for the sake of being fancy, but it IS done well!

So on top of your normal plates you use daily for your kick-butt plating, keep a set of fancier plates for special occasions and holidays, so when you go all out on making the food look/taste amazing, you’ll have plates that have just a bit of flourish to compliment what you’re cooking.

Up next, we’ve got a recipe for baked chicken, bean, and cheese empanadas.  These look a little less

adorned along the edge where they were sealed; yours truly likes to use the fork to get a good crimp/seal on my own empanadas.


This is another case where the plate isn’t a solid color.  But again, please note the plate isn’t so ‘busy’ that it detracts from your food that you spent a good amount of time cooking.  Before I forget, here’s the link to the $10 Buck Dinners site – http://www.10buckdinners.com/baked-chicken-bean-and-cheese-empanadas/ where you will find this great (and inexpensive) meal.  A touch of salad, and the nicely browned empanadas give your plate plenty of color for eye appeal.

This next one was my favorite for the day.  It’s a baked beef empanada brought to you from the good people over at The Little Ferraro Kitchen (http://littleferrarokitchen.com/2013/12/baked-beef-empanadas-2-dips/).


As much as I liked the first plate for serving this dish ‘family style,’ I like this presentation better.  While I’m not 100% certain empanadas are seen only as ‘peasant food,’ I know they are definitely a delicious and rustic meal in most cases.  So the simple cutting board plating method is a cool way to add a little relaxed, old-world style to your meal.  And hey…who doesn’t have a cutting board lying around?

We’ll get back to using a nifty presentation tool for food in the next couple of days.  For your Friday, simple, delicious, and self-contained food for you to enjoy.

Be sure to try these recipes for yourself and let me know how it goes.  Have a great weekend, everyone!