Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vegan Broccoli Slaw

I can't take photos worth a crap.  Sorry.  I might just leave out photos for the most part, except to show steps that are actually difficult to explain with words.  See, look at this pathetic photo:

But I promise the food in the bowl looks way better in real life and is quite tasty, so you should try this at home.  This recipe is adapted from the recipe at the following website:
I changed it to make it gluten free, onion free, and less sugary.  Also, the recipe seemed to call for too much dressing, but you can certainly add more if you like.

Vegan Broccoli Slaw

1 bag coleslaw mix (about 14 oz.)
1 1/2 large broccoli trees, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (more to taste)
pinch of dried ground ginger

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix the last 7 ingredients in a cup, stir, and pour over the vegetable and nut mixture.  This salad retains the dressing flavor quite well, so it will keep for at least a day (probably longer, but we gobbled it up pretty quickly so I can't make any promises).

If you want some spice, I'd add some sriracha to the dressing (I'll probably try this the next time I make some!)

This slaw is so light and crunchy and flavorful.  I hope you like!

Soon to come: Vegan Stuffed Eggplant (gluten free)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our China's Debut

So it's been a while.  Howdy!

I'd like to tell you today about an engagement dinner Matt and I prepared for our dear friends Victoria and Josh earlier this summer.  I kept it simple--only 3 courses: 1st course, main course, and dessert.  We were very excited that we would get to use our china which we registered for and haven't had a chance to even open!  Cloth napkins, good wine, and good company--the evening turned out quite well.  Matt and Victoria took pictures for me, but I haven't gotten them yet, so I'll post the pictures as they come.

I recently read The Supper of the Lamb which I highly recommend if you care about food like I do.  (Note: It was written in the 60's, so there is some sexist talk; when I was reading it I thought it was written in the 90's and I felt very confused toward the end).   Anyway, in that book, the author said that when you have guests you should never make something you are not familiar with (so nothing new).  Well, that's pretty good practice, I suppose.  Except I've never made the same thing more than once (or twice AT THE MOST), and if I took his advice, I'd never be able to have people over except for hummus.  It also helps that I have a very supportive group of friends who are eager to try new things and patient with my manic cooking habits.  They never expect me to make a "tried and true" recipe.

I hope you all feel inspired to take risks and experiment in your own kitchen, and sometimes throw caution to the wind!

First Course: Savory Spinach and Cilantro Custard

First course was a savory custard with spinach, cilantro, garlic, coconut milk, and mushrooms.  I adapted it from this webpage recipe: but I substituted cilantro for half of the spinach, used fresh garlic instead of roasted, and chose coconut milk instead of cream.  I also added a mushroom topping.

The day before, I cooked the custard to make sure the flavors difused.  I used coconut milk instead of cream, which added a twinge of sweetness along with intense creaminess.  I let it warm in a saucepan and added spinach, cilantro, garlic, salt, black pepper, and white pepper.  After cooking for about 10 minutes, I let it cool and set it in the fridge to cool completely.  

The next day, I added some fresh cilantro and the eggs for the custard and blended the mixture.  I baked it as the directions specified, and it turned out quite lovely.

The day before the dinner, I also made some pepper infused oil.  I heated olive oil in a pan and added red pepper flakes to it.  I let it warm until the flakes started to turn brown.  I then strained the infused oil into a jar.

I used that infused oil to sautee some slice shitake mushrooms (also adding salt).  Those sauteed mushrooms went right on top of each serving of custard after it was inverted onto a plate.

I topped of that mushroom topping with some chopped enoki mushrooms -- they have a subtle flavor, and they look like parmesan cheese.  It was pretty.

We drank a rose wine (Trader Joe's petite syrah rose wine) before dinner and with this course.

Main Course: Beouf Bourginon with Country French Bread and Potatoes au Gratin

The main course was Beouf Bourginon, which I was terrified of messing up so I used this recipe exactly:
Since I used the recipe to the letter, there's no need to go over the directions again here -- just take a look at that page, or any other Julia Child rendition of the food.

For all my caution, I made my own beef stock and made the mistake of putting salt in it - so in my opinion, the stew turned out a little salty, but everyone seemed to like it fine.  Also, the recipe says to take out the onions and carrots which cooked with the stew - and that's fine, but I'll say they still tasted pretty good to me, and I ate them with lunch the next day.  No need to waste!

Matt made some delicious bread to go with the meal (I'd love to share the recipe, but he ran out of white flour and just used whatever he could find--cornmeal, wheat flour, oats--and he doesn't even know what was in it).  So we decided to call it Country French Bread.  Anyway, it was delicious, and I personally thought it was way better than the stew.

Matt made a potatoes au gratin with the rind of the brie cheese (which I used for dessert), some bacon bits, and chives.

We drank 2 bottles of Cotes de Rhone wine with this meal - two different brands from the Wine Merchant (I can't recall what the brands were, but they were on the inexpensive side).

Dessert: Layered Apricot Cheesecake

Dessert was a layered apricot "cheesecake," my own invention.  This is not what it sounds like at all, I'll tell you right now.  It was a series of very different layers, one of which was cheese.

The bottom layer was a mixture of almonds and raisins (an a teensy bit of salt and cinnamon and nutmeg) which were ground together in a food processor till they formed a paste.  

The second layer was brie cheese (a triple-cream cows milk cheese).  I had to sample several bries before getting the right one--most of them had sharp flavors, not at all conducive to a dessert creation.  To make sure the layer was even, I melted the brie in a double boiler.  After pouring it into the mugs on top of the first layer, I let it cool in the refrigerator to harden before continuing with the layering.  

The third layer was fresh apricots pureed with honey and creme fraiche (See here for how to make creme fraiche at home).  Then the dessert was topped with whipped cream sweetened with honey, and a sprinkle of sliced almonds.  I served this dessert in our china coffee cups, which was pretty cute.

If I had it to do over, I would add honey to the brie when it was melted.  The brie, plus the touch of salt I added to the crust, just seemed to give a savory taste as opposed to a sweeter one, and more honey might have helped with that.

With dessert we sipped on some Don Pedro brandy (my absolute favorite brand).