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For the most part I dread fall like most people dread Tetanus shots. It’s cold, it’s rainy, my nose starts running, my throat gets sore, and going for a run has turned into an avoided chore as opposed to a relaxing excuse to get outside. And don’t get me started on the staticy hair. But enough of my seasonal bellyaching. Fall does have its plus sides, the most significant of which being: soup season! And I guess that whole leaf-changing thing is cool too.

Here are two soup recipes without which I’d never make it through the cold, dreary, bone-chilling months ahead. They keep me warm and happy, and almost make me forget my disdain for cold weather… almost.

Peanuty Sweet Potato Soup
The above smooth and creamy, peanut-buttery soup is made from pureed sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and red pepper, topped with a drizzle of maple syrup, sesame seeds and roasted sunflower seeds. I adapted my version from this Ellie Krieger recipe, my goal being to come as close as possible to the super popular West African Peanut Soup featured at Balasia. And let me tell you, I came pretty freaking close. So at the risk of accidentally sharing any of the Balasia chef’s secrets, I’ll just leave you with the above linked recipe, and let you go crazy with your own adaptations. I will say the crunchy seed toppings were a no-brainer for me, since there’s something about scallions that I just can’t get behind.

Curried Split PeaThis Curried Split Pea soup is spicy, flavorful and extremely hearty. Now when I hear the words “spilt pea soup” I don’t exactly pair them with adjectives like “delicious,” “exciting,” or “bursting with flavor.” However, I can assure you the following split pea soup recipe is indeed delicious, exciting, and positively bursting with flavor. I made this for a boyfriend for our anniversary (we decided to cook for each other instead of buying each other stuff). So I took a risky shot in the dark and attempted to make a pear and cheese ravioli from scratch, reminiscent of something we ate in Italy over the summer. The dessert was a no brainer – crazy ice cream. I scoured the internet for some recipes and decided on corn ice cream, and Parmigiano Regianno ice cream with a balsamic strawberry glaze. Those were a hit. The ravioli was quite good though my method could have used a little work; it was my first time rolling pasta so I had no clue what I was doing. But the split pea soup was the highlight of the evening! Who would have known. Now as with most recipes, here I tripled (sometimes quadrupled) the amount of spices called for. I just wasn’t going to get the kind of flavor I was looking for using 1/4 teaspoon of cardamon powder, so I threw in several teaspoons (ok that’s a lot more than quadrupled… svettupled perhaps?). Red pepper flakes and a good amount of salt (at the end of the cooking process, mind you) gave this soup an extra kick. The grated carrot garnish added a wonderful little burst of freshness. The cilantro was nonexistent since there’s nothing that grosses me out more than raw cilantro. I followed this Isa Chandra recipe almost exactly, aside from adding more spices than called for, and some extra heat with red pepper flakes.

Now, please excuse me as I go burrow under the covers and wait for spring.

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love eggplant (yes, yes we do!
crazy sushi pictures
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goat stew
1
gambella in pictures
1
what is ethiopian food
1
why does a banana included in an ethiopi
1
reasons to love eggplant (there are so many)
1
lasagna sandwich
eggplant funny feeling in my mouth
ethiopian food good nasty
hawkshaw hawkins
ethiopia bleh
sushi pile
fourfoodies wordpress
bland gross vegetarian food
eggplant volcano recipes
cream cheese sushi is gross
ethiopian food is so gross
christmas lighting on ceiling
plastic flower hair pins

People really enter some funny stuff into search engines. If you have a Google toolbar on your browser somewhere, just start typing in some generalized, open-ended statements and you’ll see what I mean. Ok, here’s an example:

Why is...

Fun right? Ok, one more:

Sarah Palin is...

Anyway, one of the most entertaining activities surrounding this blog in my opinion is reading the terms that people search for, ending them up here. It’s usually stuff like “Sette Luna menu” or “Petra downtown Bethlehem” but often enough I end up with some pretty unreserved, precisely worded searches. Sometimes, these searches require further comment, in which case my thoughts are in italics.

love eggplant
we sure do!

eggplant funny feeling in my mouth

eggplant volcano recipes
I’m really not sure what this person was hoping to find ?

reasons to love eggplant
there are so many <3

crazy sushi pictures
I literally get this one multiple times each week, people are seriously interested in crazy sushi pictures.

sushi pile

cream cheese sushi is gross
TELL ME ABOUT IT

lasagna sandwich
that sounds starchy and weird, and to the best of my knowledge I’ve never mentioned one, but ok.

ethiopian food good nasty
it’s good!

why does a banana included in an ethiopi
:)

ethiopia bleh

ethiopian food is so gross
I don’t know who you people are, but you need to repent and step into the light. Ethiopian food is God’s gift to the palate.

hawkshaw hawkins

bland gross vegetarian food
well that’s certainly the last thing you’ll find here!!!!!!!

plastic flower hair pins
I mentioned a plastic flower hair pin once, parenthetically, months ago.

I promise there are food-related posts coming very soon. One (big surprise) Ethiopian restaurant, some Manhattan things and some Lehigh Valley things. Thanks for reading, and enjoy those crazy sushi pictures.

Well I had planned on posting a big thing on the PA Energy Fest last weekend, and the Celtic Classic Fest this weekend, unfortunately last weekend I was too busy working the Balasia stand to really see anything worthy of mention, and today it is raining, so that’s the end of that plan. I did take a 30 second break at the Energy Fest to take a few random pictures:

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DSC00767Doesn’t this look like a good time?! It was fun, the food was awesome (in our stand anyway, I didn’t try anyone else’s food) and the biodegradable utensils were made out of corn. Which I thought was pretty cool.

I spent yesterday in NYC, getting my art fix and much-needed Ethiopian food fix.

DSC00790James Cohan Gallery

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DSC00780Jaume Plensa’s “In the Midst of Dreams” at Galerie Lelong

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DSC00842Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

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grafthis isn’t art, it’s a cool iphone application that makes pictures look like polaroids. But I guess some would call this graffiti art. I’d call it an interesting backdrop.

ch-marketWe stopped in Chelsea Market on our way to dinner

fatwitchand I attempted to spoil my appetite with a caramel Fat Witch brownie. My appetite, however, refused to be spoiled (it was a really good brownie though)

meskAfter a loooong walk and one short cab ride, we finally made it to the restaurant.  Meskerem is located at 124 MacDougal St in Greenwich Village; it’s a cute little hole in the wall (or I guess in this case, ground) tucked down below eye-level. It seats maybe 30 people, and if you’re going as a party of two, be prepared to get intimately aquatinted with the people sitting next to you, as the tables literally sit mere inches from each other.

veg-comboWe both ordered the Vegetarian Combo.  The food was fantastic; I found the portions a bit small, but at the same time, our entrees came out to only about $14 each. The vegetables were cooked to a tender perfection (still with a bit of bite though), and the bean purees were spicy and comforting.  The yellow split peas remain my favorite dish, with the sauteed cabbage coming in at a close second. It all tasted very traditional, but I have yet to see a freaking mesob anywhere in any American Ethiopian restaurants. Anyway, Meskerem was a fantastic experience, delicious food, no wait at all, and cheap!

If you missed out experiencing Balasia before the restaurant closed, you’ll have a chance to catch Wendy Landiak at the PA Energy Fest in Kempton this weekend, Friday the 18th through Sunday the 20th. The chef has access to a full-blown kitchen this year, so expect restaurant-quality dishes. Indian fusion and BBQ tofu may or may not be involved.

yummy Balasia food

Balasia food porn, just for kicks

Also, if you’ll take notice of our happenings on the right-hand side of the page, LV Eggplant is now on Twitter, as result of a conversation between Josh and I that went something like this:
Carolyn: you never update the blog, I know you go out to eat all the time, is it so hard to snap a couple pictures and tell the internet whether the food was good or crappy, huh?! (whine whine whine whine)
Josh: um yeah… I’ll get around to it

Repeat the above dialogue once a week for several weeks. Eventually, we decided Josh could handle 140 character tweets every once in a while, without having to commit to writing a whole post. So feel free to follow us as we tweet mini-reviews and share random food info as we discover it throughout the LV!

Though I think I’ve made it pretty clear my heart belongs to one indian buffet only, I’ve been finding myself eating at Nawab fairly often lately (fairly often = twice in the past 3 months). Since Spice India opened, I felt no need to ever return to Nawab, but, with a little coaxing from a friend of mine who cannot get enough of their particular Chicken Tikki Masala, I have returned, and haven’t regretted it.

Nawab

Now, I think Spice India scores some major, major advantages in the sheer size of their buffet, the variety, the authenticity, and the spice levels, as compared to Nawab. Plus the fact that their naan is made fresh to order. But I’m learning Nawab does have its advantages as well. They have consistency on their side, so for those who are fans of Nawab’s lunch buffet, you can always pretty much bank on the same exact dishes being there everyday. Which, by the way, normally consist of some kind of saag, channa masala, mattar paneer, curried cauliflower, chicken tikki masala, samosas, naan, and veggie pakoras. Their other big plus, I’m convinced, is their chicken tikki masala. Or in my case, the sauce (not interested in the chicken). My tikki masala-loving friend shared with me her Nawab routine, part of which consisted of her filling a condiment bowl with the chicken tikki masala sauce, and using it to dunk her naan. So I tried the sauce, and now I do it too! It really is spectacular. Totally Americanized tikki masala I’m sure, as it’s a bit sweet and tomato-soupy tasting, but dang is it good! I definitely find myself craving it all the time now, and I’m guaranteed to get it at Nawab. Now to be fair, Spice India has put out a tofu tikki masala dish before, which absolutely rocked my socks off (and it had tofu in it, come on!) but it’s not a staple of theirs. More like a fun surprise. Last Nawab plus: it’s cheaper.  If that matters to you.

Nawab is located at 13 E. 4th St in Bethlehem. And their superior, spicier rival Spice India is located at 2407 Mickley Ave in Whitehall, just off of Schadt Ave from MacArthur Rd.

Which do YOU prefer?

I really don’t spend much time dining out in Allentown, but, inspired by Beyond Scrapple‘s recommendation, I tried Winston’s West Indian & American Restaurant the other night, and I’m so glad I did. Located at 619 7th St. (between Tilghman and Allen), Winston’s serves up standard Jamaican food like jerk chicken, oxtail, tripe and beans, cow foot, stewed red snapper, and fantastic curry sauces that can only be the result of a long, slow simmering process.
Winston'sWhy don’t I ever remember to take pictures of the outside of the restaurant before I go in? Clearly this was after dinner, and nighttime.

makeshift veggie entreeDespite all of the exotic meaty things on the menu, I stuck with my vegetarianism and ordered rice and beans with sauteed veggies, asking our behind-the-counter server if he could please pile whatever curry sauces he had available onto my rice. If there’s one thing in life that never ceases to excite me, it’s trying new curry. And let me tell you, that chicken curry was am-a-zing. The goat curry was delicious too, but wow, I couldn’t get enough of the chicken curry sauce (literally, I asked for extra). The cabbage was nicely cooked and yummy, but I would have loved to dump another gallon of curry sauce on top of it. I didn’t want to go overboard with my requests though. Our meals also came with a nice little pile of fried plantains, which were soft and fruity with just a little crispiness to the edges. Fantastic.

jerk chickenDenise was going to order vegetarian too, but after seeing their plaque on the wall for the Valley’s Best Chicken, she decided to try the jerk chicken. She assured me the chicken was “fall off the bone tender” and completely saturated with flavor, the spicy dry rub and tangy jerk sauce combining their delicious forces to make the entree flavorful and satisfying.

WinstonWinston himself, the genius behind this Jamaican gem on 7th Street. I asked him if he was the chef, to which he responded “Oh, sometimes.”  Humble, down to earth, and good grief can this man whip up a delicious curry sauce. Winston’s is a wonderful addition to the Lehigh Valley’s assortment of high-quality ethnic restaurants, and seriously, you can’t beat a $7 entree!

Polenta RoundsThis meal was fantastic. FANTASTIC I TELL YOU! I got the idea from this Giada De Laurentiis recipe, but adapted it quite a bit. Included in these adaptions is my own pesto recipe, which will flat-out knock your socks off. But first things first, I cooked up some Bob’s Red Mill polenta with boiling water and a pinch of salt, then I added in about 1/4 cup coconut milk once the corn had absorbed most of the water. Bob’s instructions were to simmer the polenta for 30 mins, however, after 10 minutes things were looking pretty good to me, so I turned off the heat and spread the polenta out into a small square baking sheet.  I gave it a few minutes to cool and set, then I cut the rounds out with a glass cup. Simple!

Since I don’t eat chicken I was trying to figure out what would be a nice replacement to top these cute little rounds. I went with sauteed julienned zucchini for one of them, since I have a nice zucchini surplus right now thanks to my generous next-door neighbor and her garden (why do I feel like such a mooch reaping the benefits from someone else’s garden?). Oh I should have topped the zucchini one with pumpkin or sunflower seeds or something, now that I think about it.  For a nice little crunch.  Note to self, do that next time.  And since I’ve been on a fish kick lately, I pan-seared some halibut with salt and pepper, and topped it with tomatoes on one, dried cranberries on the other.

polenta rounds on a dumb plate

I might broil the polenta for a minute or two next time.  It had a pleasantly soft and creamy texture to it, but I think a little crust action on top might be nice as well. This meal was seriously freaking delicious. This was also my first experience with polenta (not counting my one encounter with Polenta-in-a-tube from Weiss) which I feel was a raging success. The coconut milk really adds a nice creaminess and flavor to it. But to be honest, the real star here is the Pea Pesto.

pesto: the before shot

You will need:

1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup (packed) torn fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
splash of balsamic vinegar
splash of tamari
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
walnuts or pine nuts
3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/3 – 3/4 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts (I used both this time. Sometimes when I’m feeling crazy I throw in a few pecans.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful of fresh spinach
handful of fresh basil leaves
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
splash of Tamari
pinch of red pepper flakes
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
water to thin, if needed

Whir everything together in a food processor until you have a mostly smooth (you want a little bit of texture in there), heavenly, insanely delicious pesto. Hopefully your food processor isn’t a sad little mini version like mine is.
pesto - the delicious after shotYes, this pesto is vegan, and no, you absolutely do not need parmigiano reggiano to make it so face-stuffingly good that you will want to eat it with a spoon. That was in italics by the way because I was thinking about how Giada De Laurentiis would say it. Nutritional yeast, fortified and inactive, is basically a tangy vegan Godsend, as it can be substituted for parm in most recipes, especially in a recipe like this when there are so many other flavors going on. It certainly gives this pesto a nice cheesy bite to it. If you’re trying to cut back on dairy a bit, give nutritional yeast a try. You can find it in the bulk/natural food section at Wegmans and at most health food stores. Once the weather turns scary cold and I’m forced to retreat indoors making warm comfort food to take my mind off of the horrid conditions outside, I’m planning on making vegan mac and cheese using nutritional yeast and pureed squash! Crazy right!?