March 2, 2008
Oh yeah. An all-vegan dinner party. Whose chefs, with the exception of me, are not vegan. Aren’t my friends great?
What was most impressive about this dinner party was not its veganness, however—that accomplishment may have impressed my lacto-ovo and omni friends, but most of you know that’s no problem. The feat lay in cooking all our dishes in a tiny, dirty dorm kitchen with a stove that only has the strength to heat two burners at a time, a considerable shortage of pots and utensils, an oversensitive fire alarm, and a handful of neighbors trying to make their own dinners. Sure, I broke my blender. Sure, we had to waft smoke out the windows with plastic bags. But the food was excellent. And for managing as successfully as we did despite the circumstances, I am particularly proud of us.
On to the fare. What you see above is a vegetable stir fry with fried tofu and a most delectable peanut sauce (not pictured). I’m not responsible for any of that, although I did graciously offer my taste-testing services to its cooks.
At first I was just going to make dessert (more on that later), but we thought we might not have enough food (ha!), so I decided to make a double recipe of my easy-delicious staple, Mac and Cheese from FatFree Vegan Kitchen:
Good as always. Below you see a full plate, which has both of the above dishes plus “Mullatkes”: potato-sweet potato latkes, loosely based on the Potato Latke recipe in Veganomicon. There were about ten gazillion of these, the majority of which we ate while we cooked. I think they might have been the best latkes I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lotta latkes in my day. (Sorry, I just can’t resist the opportunity to make latke puns.) And we even had vegan sour cream on the side! It was practically Channukah.
Not pictured are the tasty but unphotogenic Tom Yum Soup, Amy Winehouse, eighty-three dirty dishes, and Cappuccino Cupcakes. The cupcakes are my babies and thus get their own post. So stay tuned…and throw a dinner party this weekend.
January 28, 2008
No, not Kix. (Though I do love my Kix.) I’m talking about vegan mac and cheese.
I was very pleased with the recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen, and while I’ve been meaning to try other recipes, I always just feel like making that one. It’s quick, simple, and so good. So when I promised to make lunch today and realized that the cupboard was rather bare, it seemed a divine signal to see how my parents reacted to cheeseless mac and cheese.
Thumbs up! They both had seconds and my dad almost went for thirds. True, that may have had something to do with how long I kept them waiting for it, but I think they liked it, too.
Tomorrow: back to making actual dinners.
January 16, 2008
When my mom requested pasta for dinner, I decided to test a nutritional yeast sauce on her and my unsuspecting father. Since I just made Mac and Cheese, I flipped through a couple cookbooks and settled on Fettuccine Alfreda from Vegan with a Vengeance. We didn’t have fettuccine, so it became Linguine Alfreda (yep, those are roasted Brussels sprouts you see on the side). For some reason all the pasta recipes in both VwaV and Veganomicon call for half a pound of pasta for four people, but that’s never enough for us. I made a pound of pasta and a recipe-and-a-half of the sauce, which turned out to be unnecessary.
Like Mac and Cheese, this is a great quick recipe. You can make the sauce in the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. The toasted pine nuts make it nice and creamy. (Plus toasted pine nuts are just delicious; I used to eat them plain as a snack or make a spread out of them.) My mom, who is cholesterol conscious, said she’d like to have the recipe as an alternative to Alfredo sauce. Music to my ears!
Our only complaint about this dish is that it’s not the most attractive. It’s kind of tan and gruel-y. My mom thought it looked like something else I won’t repeat—this is dinner, after all. Making it on tan whole wheat pasta didn’t help; next time I’ll use spinach linguine. (Garnishing it with a few spinach leaves improved its aesthetic appeal.) But I don’t really care, anyway. For me it’s taste that counts, and it tasted, well, tasty.
January 13, 2008
I’m one of those rare freaks of nature who never really liked cheese. I ate cheese on pizza, pasta, and bagels, but that was all, and it wasn’t hard to give up. (Ice cream—now that’s a different story.) I think I had mac and cheese once when I was little and was so grossed out I never tried it again.
So vegan mac and cheese isn’t really replacing anything for me. It just tastes good. I hated Kraft, but I love nutritional yeast. I eat it on popcorn, pasta, and by the spoonful. But it can be an acquired taste, and for dairy-eaters who are used to real cheese, the vegan version can be disappointing.
That’s why I waited until my parents had other dinner plans to make this dish, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen. (Another one of my favorite blogs—Susan just celebrated her 2nd year and 400th post, so go take a look at her collection!) I halved the recipe and it came out quite well. It’s creamy, salty, and flavorful. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that I’m not hard to please in the mac and cheese department.) Just as important for a dish like this, it was a breeze to make—it took about fifteen minutes, and much of that was pasta-cooking time.
I had my parents sample it before they left to see if I could make it for them. My mom liked it okay, but my dad was quite enthusiastic. I’m curious to try other recipes, but this one could become a staple.
January 11, 2008
Last night I decided to try Lolo’s Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale, and Stir-Fried Noodles. If you haven’t seen Lolo’s blog, VeganYumYum, do yourself a favor and go visit. I came upon it as a fledgling vegan and it, more than anything else, got me into cooking.
Of course, she makes everything look so artful and easy! This is a wonderful recipe, especially if you’re trying to turn someone onto tofu, but be aware that if you double the recipe, as I did, the meal can a take a while to prepare. (I’m sure making the marinade and dipping sauce in advance would help.) The sauces are very tasty, and tofu cooked this way has a great texture and taste. We were glad to have leftovers.
I had never cooked kale before, although I’ve eaten it plenty of times. Un- or undercooked, kale has a bitter taste that a lot of people don’t like. But cooked this way that bitterness disappeared—it had everything I like about spinach, plus some texture.
I’ll definitely make this again when I have a little time and a head of kale on hand.
January 10, 2008
Yet another Veganomicon hit. If you don’t have this cookbook, go buy it! Last night I made this pasta with the yummy basil-cilantro pesto they recommend. The only change I made to the recipe was to double the amount of pasta to a pound—half a pound isn’t quite enough for the three of us. I would have made more pesto but I didn’t have enough basil. It was fine the way it was, though.
After we finished our meal, my parents confessed that they’d been pleasantly surprised by the food so far. (Clearly they had expected me to serve them boiled sawdust.) I hope to change more minds tomorrow—we’re celebrating my dad’s birthday, and I’m planning to make the Tea-Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce from you-know-what-cookbook.