August 06, 2010

Having a great time, wish you were here! Grilling, chocolate caramel sauce, smoothies! | Tandoor Chef

After reading about our friends Claire and Alan's adventures assembling their fancy gas grill and grilling fabulous summer meals, I couldn't wait to be invited out for a summer feast. Believe me, we weren't disappointed — Claire outdid herself with amazing food. We started with a wonderful version of guacamole made from a recipe Claire got from her daughter. It was so full of flavor I couldn't stop eating it. I love avocados, and this was the best guacamole I've had in a long time.

Guacamole ingredients (personal preference decides quantities)
  • ripe avocados
  • finely chopped onions
  • chopped red bell pepper
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime juice
  • salt, pepper cayenne
  • chopped tomato
Mash avocados and mix in all remaining ingredients except tomatoes. Add tomatoes last. Claire burried a pit to the bowl to keep the avocado from turning brown.

On the grill, Claire cooked slabs of lightly oiled eggplant until they were perfectly charred, then served them covered with an amazing olive-garlic sauce, on a bed of home-grown lettuce.

The grilled eggplant with black olive dressing came from "Fresh and Fast" by Amanda Grant. The dressing contained capers, garlic, black olives, cilantro, parsley and olive oil, and was incredible. Here's another recipe, from the blog archives, for spiced olives, that would probably also be wonderful with grilled eggplant.

Zaytun Musabbeh (Spiced olives from Lebanon) by Sureyya Gokeri (serves 6 to 8)
  • 1 lb. pitted green olives or marinated olives
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 firm tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh red or green pepper, chopped
  1. Place olives in a bowl (rinsing the brine is optional) and chop into small pieces.
  2. Add the dried spices to olive oil and then rub into the olives by hand.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the tomatoes and peppers.
  4. Add the tomatoes and peppers just before serving.
There were also grilled zucchini and portabella mushrooms.

And a spicy carrot and cabbage slaw.

This is what my plate looked like.

For dessert Claire baked a plum tart from an old family recipe.

And I brought two versions of chocolate caramel sauce plus fresh fruit to spoon over vanilla ice cream.

I really wanted to make this, but am unlikely to stand over a hot stove for three hours in the summer heat. I might possibly be too lazy to do it in the winter, too, so I was forced to come up with a ridiculously easy (but extremely delicious) version of fake caramel sauce.
Chocolate caramel sauce #1
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt (I used Silk)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used TJ's bourbon vanilla)
  1. Warm the syrup over low-medium heat in a small pot. After a minute or less, when bubbles start to form at the edges, turn the heat to simmer and stir in the chocolate chips. It will take less than a minute for the chips to melt. Stir until combined and creamy.
  2. Have ready, 1/4 cup yogurt in a small bowl or 8 oz. glass measuring cup. Add a large spoonful of the chocolate mixture to the yogurt, and stir to combine. Add this back into the pot and stir until smooth and uniform in color. Remove from heat.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  4. Use as is or refrigerate. It will thicken as it cools but will still be gooey and spoon-able when cold.
Chocolate caramel sauce #2
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk (I used TJ's)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used TJ's bourbon vanilla)
  1. Warm the syrup over low-medium heat in a small pot. After a minute or less, when bubbles start to form at the edges, turn the heat to simmer and stir in the chocolate chips. It will take less than a minute for the chips to melt. Stir until combined and creamy.
  2. Add 1/4 cup coconut milk, and stir to combine. Stir until smooth and uniform in color. Remove from heat.
  3. Add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  4. Use as is or refrigerate. It will thicken as it cools but will not be as thick as version #1. It will be more like a thick syrup.
Two of us preferred the yogurt version, and two preferred the coconut version, but we all liked both!


Mango mango mango

Lately I've been blending up a sunshine-colored breakfast smoothie that's worth waking up for. It's not green, and I feel slightly guilty about that, but it's my favorite shade of orange, and it tastes great.

Mango-orange-yogurt smoothie
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt (I used silk)
1 cup frozen mango chunks (more or less for thicker or thinner smoothie)
Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Sometimes the consistency is so so thick I can eat it with a spoon, like soft serve, and sometimes it's like a thin shake.


More Tandoor Chef samples
We tried two more of the Tandoor Chef frozen food samples I received from Deep Foods. The first was Channa Masala, a delicious chickpea stew. Once again we were impressed with great flavor that reminded us of the kind of food we might expect at an good Indian restaurant. The package contained two five-ounce servings which was just the right amount for us when served with rice, kale and raw veggies. Each serving contains: 160 calories, 7 grams total fat (.5 grams saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 20 grams total carbs, 5 grams fiber, 4 grams sugars, 6 grams protein.

Next we tried Vegetable Masala Burgers. These didn't work as well for us as the other products we sampled. My husband cooked them , following the directions on the box, and they fell apart when removed from the pan. They tasted good — mostly of potato — but were kind of high in fat for their size, while low in fiber and protein. We served them alongside pasta with fresh tomato sauce and raw veggies. The box holds four burgers, and each one contains: 120 calories, 8 grams total fat (1 gram saturated fat), 360mg sodium, 12 grams total carbs, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugar, 2 grams protein.


  1. That eggplant looks amazing--I think I'd take it over the chocolate sauce, even! Your dinner sounds fabulous (love that plum tart, too), as does your smoothie. Can't have green every time, anyway ;)

    Thinking about how to hint to my friends with grills that an invite would be a good idea. . .

  2. It all looks so good! I don't have a BBQ either, but my friends have invited me over for roasted veggies on their grill a couple times, and those are the highlights of my summer so far!

  3. You've got lots of yummy stuff going on here. I'm loving all the grill marks on the veggies!

  4. MMmm - everything looks so good.

    Thanks especially for the chocolate caramel sauce recipe. I've been on a soy yogurt kick lately (Whole Soy & Co.) so I have all the ingredients on hand.

  5. i wish i had vegan friends who were such great cooks! you're very lucky. and they're lucky, too, since they have you. yumm, olive-garlic sauce on eggplant sounds to die for.

  6. Mmmmmm, lovely, all off it. I will be leaving here hungry once more. Will have to try that guacamole.

  7. Ricki,
    The eggplant was pretty amazing, but the chocolate sauce is not to be underestimated. :D

    The original eggplant recipe was for the broiler or a grill pan on the stove, I think, so a grill isn't necessary. But everything tastes so good on the grill. I want one!

    The grill marks are alluring, I agree.

    I've been on a coconut milk yogurt kick lately but ran out, and my husband bought the soy. I'm wondering how the sauce would have turned out with the coconut milk yogurt.

    I do feel lucky to have Claire and Alan for friends, and not just because they're great cooks! On this trip we've been grateful for several friends (not vegetarian) who have cooked us wonderful vegan meals. (We were so stuffed after lunch yesterday I didn't think I could ever eat again! Too bad I didn't have my camera along.)

    You know, I think I'm still full! But if someone offered me guacamole, I might just eat some. :)

  8. What great pictures, and thanks for the spiced olive recipe--it sounds wonderful! Must drink more smoothies...every time I get out the blender these days it's to make a chocolate malt, even though I have frozen mangoes etc. somewhere in the depths of the freezer. You've inspired me to go dig them out!

  9. So much to comment on. Avocados, guacomole yum! I must say my husband makes a killer Guacomole, California style. hee hee.

    Your grilled eggplant looks so delicious and the caramel sauce and plum tart....I would love to have some right now.

  10. It all looks so good...especially the eggplant and grilled veggies...sounds wonderful with the spiced olives...I've got to try that soon.

    The chocolate caramel sauce must be out of this world...thanks for the two recipes...I think I'd like the coconut one...but I'll have to definitely try both!

  11. Zoa,
    Thanks! The olive recipe came from a Middle Eastern cooking class, and I think it would be a perfect topping for the grilled eggplant.

    I think it would be hard to make a guacamole that I wouldn't like. I'll eat an avocado plain, so anything added is a treat. I googled California guacamole and every recipe was different!

    The combo of lettuce, eggplant and olive dressing was excellent. I loved it! The coconut sauce was yummy but my favorite one had the yogurt.

  12. The grilled veggies look amazing! I *so* want my own fancy grill!

    I think I'll have a bowl of ice cream with version #2, please! :D

    Too bad about the patties. The Channa Masala looks excellent though! Have you tried the Amy's frozen indian meals? Meh. I did not care for those one bit. I've been wanting to try Helen's Kitchen's Indian Curry, but for some reason or another it just hasn't happened. It looks so good on the box!

  13. What a lovely array of exotic dishes, Andrea. I will definitely try the lebanese olive recipe! keep having fun!

  14. all these things look delishiouuuus <3

  15. Wow everything looks amazing and sounds delish. I love eggplant!!

  16. I need that mango orange smoothie! YUM

  17. River,
    A fancy grill — or any grill, really, would be so nice to have. I suppose it would need a cover so I could grill out in Seattle in the rain. (Sorry Seattleites, but you know what I mean.)

    The patties were just OK but the chickpeas were delish. I haven't tried any other brands so can't compare. (Too bad you can't eat the box.)

    Thanks! I think you'll like the olive salad.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    I think I now love eggplant best on the grill, covered with olive dressing. Yum! My son says that Japanese eggplants on the grill are amazing.

    I need the mango-orange smoothie every morning! Which reminds me, I'd better replenish my supply of frozen mango.

  18. Your blog posts always make me so hungry, Andrea! And so inspired to try out some more new stuff in the kitchen! Mind you, you can't go wrong, showing me chocolate and caramel sauce! Mmmm.... (Pity I start slimming again tomorrow... :( )

  19. Wow, you made everything look so good! I just got back from Minnesota (well, last night) and I loved seeing this on your blog! Will send link to guacamole artiste.

  20. Penny,
    Why thank you Penny. That's how I feel reading yours, too. There's probably room for a bit of chocolate even on a diet, isn't there?

    Everything WAS so good! Welcome back and enjoy your arboretum class. Bring LOTS of repellent. Seriously.

  21. Holy wow! I am so jealous of all those delicious looking grilled veggies! Grilled eggplant really is the best.

  22. Monique,
    Looking at the photos makes me wish I had a grill.


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