Food filled weekend
This weekend I had the pleasure of helping my friend Nick prepare a six course meal for 12 people. He's not a chef, but he enjoys cooking so much that he often ends up throwing these big fetes and cooking ridiculously huge pots of jambalaya or beef stew or the like. Such was the case this weekend- he signed himself up to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner for a group of friends. He's insane.
Anyways, the meal was by no means vegan, but as usual I like to pick up tricks that can be adapted and just see what he comes up with. I always get some great new ideas. The first course was these little roasted beet napoleans. They were super easy and I can think of a few ways to make them vegan. Essentially, you are just roasting beats for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees, then taking them out, carefully slicing them, and sticking them in a bowl of red wine vinegar. Then you stack them with sliced rounds of goat cheese. The vegan way? Maybe thin slices of tofutti cream cheese that have been mixed with the green onions? I will have to give it a try- look how dear they turned out. (Oh yes, and use a well cookie cutter to get them perfectly rounded like that.)
Next up was delicious butternut squash soup, the recipe for which is available in every cookbook on the planet. Then, in place of traditional sweet potatoes, we made sweet potato gnocchi with a sage butter cream sauce. They were so awesome. The recipe was essentially the epicurious one except we didn't use the cheese. The process is simpler then you might think. You are essentially roasting and peeling the sweet potatoes, then mashing them up and using them as a base for dough. So you add in some salt, pepper and egg replacer, along with a bunch of flour, then roll it out thin, cut it up into little squares, then roll them off the bottom of a fork. Lastly, you cook them like pasta with the sauce of your heart's desire. They were fabulous.
The rest of the meal was rather meat and dairy filled, but we finished up with these delish pecan shortbread cookies, which are just a hop, a skip, and a tub of earth balance away from being vegan. They were topped with some spiced pumpkin pie filling and a dollop of whip cream- a sort of deconstructed pumpkin pie. I'm telling you, Nick is just full of ideas.
*UPDATE* Urban Vegan has a step-by-step guide to sweet potato gnocchi with a yummy-looking cream sauce. Give it a shot here.