Friday, November 04, 2005



Oh that Ombudsman, he is a tricky one. Always raining on my food-related-cravings parade. Him being a vegan and all, us going out for French food when I cannot dream of anything but pot au feu, is all but impossible. I can hardly sit there dining on rich, fatted foods while he nibbles on an anemic carrot, now can I? Once in awhile though, I find I have made a completely vegan meal and miracle of miracles, his restrictions and my cravings collide, so I invite him over for a meal we both enjoy in excess. Am I a peach of a girl, or what?

My tasty (and sucessful. Oh yes, very sucessful) cinnamon beef noodle dinner behind me, I was pondering what other savory dishes can take such a strong and pervasive ingredient that is so typically associated with desserts. Lots of North African dishes came to mind, and a few more Asian meals, but that wasn't what I was seeking. So I kept thinking about it. And then? Eureka! Tzimmes. Mmm. Tzimmes. A root vegetable (classically, sweet potato and carrot) and dried fruit (dried plums and apricots) dish that has always haunted me with its heavily spiced, sweetened heartiness.

What has always been to me, a side dish, (and always made to perfection by my father. It's one of his two signature dishes.) I transformed it to a vegan (stew-like, even though for the picture I left the broth in the pot) entree with the addition of the extra chewy, (and, in a fun way, squeaky) flavor-absorbing seitan, an Asian wheat gluten product widely available these days in your finer grocery stores. I cut back quite a bit on the sweetening, and upped the other ingredients to a more palate pleasing level. Still, it came together quite quickly, about 21 minutes from start to finish.

So I was psyched to be able to feed us both with it's deeply satisfying and robust flavors. All at once it is fragrant, complex, texturally varied, soul stirring, and nearly impossible to stop eating. It is also (bonus!) even better the next day. A perfect autumn dish indeed. (Even if it is quite balmy outside) Try it, and enjoy!

1 large brown onion, large dice
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled, large dice
4 large carrots, peeled, large dice
2 parsnips, peeled, large dice
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup dried plums, halved
1/4 cup sultanas or dried apricots
1 large apple, peeled, large dice
1 medium red skinned potato, peeled, large dice
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
Small pinch cinnamon
1 large (or two small) orange, zest and juice
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup seitan, rough cut

In a large sauce pan, saute the onion and garlic in some olive oil (about a teaspoon) over medium high heat until slightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and water to cover. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are all softened. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove a few pieces of the white potato, mash with a few drops of the broth, then return to the stew to thicken slightly. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Serves four to six



Are you in the UK? Then enter to win one of three Jamie Oliver Flavour Shakers! Answer the following question and send it on a postcard or the back of a sealed envelope with your name, address, and telephone number to Flavour Shaker Competition, c/o Gillian Cowburn, The Westmorland Gazette, 1 Wainwright's Yard, Kendal, LA9 4DP, to arrive by first post next Friday, November 11. Usual Gazette rules apply. QUESTION: What's the name of Jamie Oliver's latest television series on Channel 4. (Here, I'll help you cheat: It's called 'Jamie's Great Italian Escape')

Coca Cola (TM) is fading out Vanilla and Diet Vanilla Coke, replacing them with Vanilla Black Cherry by next year.

Tzimmes is a traditional Jewish casserole. It is a sweet dish, a combination of fruit, meat, and vegetables cooked slowly over very low heat, flavored with sugar or honey and cinnamon. There are endless varieties on the theme. -Absolute

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Its a very small group that like tzimmes, and an even small one that likes seitan.
Yea. It was SO good though, I really had to share...
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