Sunday, September 25, 2011

Black Rice, Mango, and Sugar Snap Pea Salad

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to celebrate a truly wonderful occasion: the graduation of my friend Jessica. Aside from her PhD, Jessica also holds the honor of being the first human being to appear on my blog, and she has always been a willing guinea pig for new recipes. When she asked me to prepare a dish to share at her celebration, I felt honored. Jessica is a phenomenal cook, and I knew expectations would be high for the food at one of her events, so I had to deliver.

I decided on this versatile and satisfying dish I had sampled at Marie Simmons’s recent book signing. It’s flavorful enough to stand out, but still collaborate with any other dish. It also makes a great vegetarian main course as well as a bright, fresh starter for omnivores. Like all of Simmons’s other recipes, it is perfectly balanced, easy to make, and won me raves from Jessica and her guests. I can’t count how many people requested the recipe for this dish, so here it is; apologies for the delays!

Black Rice, Mango and Sugar Snap Pea Salad
adapted from Marie Simmons’s Fresh and Fast Vegetarian

8 ounces stringless sugar snap peas, sliced diagonally in 1/2” pieces
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced in 1/2” pieces
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Forbidden Rice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Fill a medium saucepan 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil, add the 1 teaspoon salt and sugar snap peas and cook for 1 minute. Remove the snap peas, rinse with cold water, and set aside. Add the rice to the boiling water and cook for 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until combined.

In a large container, combine the rice, mangos, snap peas, 1/4 cup of cilantro, and onion. Drizzle with 2/3 of the dressing, adding more if desired. Top with the sesame seeds and remaining cilantro, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Year Anniversary: Chocolate Orange Almond Cake

What is that quotation about “the best laid plans of mice and men...”? Well, bloggers ought to be included in that as well. For the past month I have been contemplating what I might write about for my one year anniversary post. Nothing seemed quite monumental enough to commemorate the last year of my eating and writing life. So, apparently I sidestepped the issue by completely ignoring my blog for a month and thus avoiding the problem. Oh well.

So, I’m asking you to suspend reality for a moment and imagine that today is the one year anniversary of Dinner Peace, and celebrate the occasion with me! In honor of “today,” I am providing the recipe that started it all: Chocolate Orange Almond Cake.

A little over a year ago, I asked my mom what she wanted for her birthday cake. She has always loved the Chocolate Orange Almond Cake from Prolific Oven, but as it’s not vegan, she asked me to make a compassionate approximation of her favorite dessert. After a lazy summer, I felt up to the challenge. I prepared the two different cakes, two frostings and photographed the result, intending to post it on facebook with the caption “the most productive thing I’ve done all summer.” Well, that photograph was the impetus for everything that has come since. This year I prepared the cake once again, photographed it as beautifully as possible, and am now providing the accompanying recipe. Bitter cocoa, tart, sweet oranges, and a subtle almond flavor comprise one of the most delicious birthday cakes I’ve ever had!

Chocolate Orange Almond Cake

Prepare 1 recipe Chocolate Cake

Prepare 1 recipe Yellow Cake (substitute almond extract for the vanilla extract)

Prepare 1 recipe Chocolate Frosting

Orange Frosting

1/2 cup non dairy butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 to 4 tablespoons orange juice

Once the cakes have cooled completely, slice each cake in half. Lay one half of the yellow cake on a plate. Spread 1/3 of the orange frosting over the top. Cover with one half of the chocolate cake. Cover with another third of the orange frosting. Lay the second half of the yellow cake on top. Cover with the last third of the orange frosting. Top with the second half of the chocolate cake. Cover the top and sides of the cake completely with chocolate frosting. Allow to set in the refrigerator until ready to serve.