This past Saturday my cousin, Reenie, decided to have a little family get-together at her place to exchange very late Christmas prezzies and break bread. Of course us four vegans (me, Mike, Robyn and Kate) had to fend for ourselves, though Reenie did offer to make us something. Not wanting to put the burden on her (and of course because we love to cook), Kate and I took the liberty of bringing our own dishes to share. Unfortunately by the time we got there everyone else had already eaten. Eh, no matter. More yummies for us!
To start, Kate made a delicious butternut squash and spinach lasagna. It was very different from the usual tomato sauce and tofutti cream cheese ensamble I often make, but it was unbelievably creamy. The tofu cream sauce was so smoothe and yummy. I'm gonna have to snag the recipe.
I'll have to get some pictures of the whole yummy thing from Kate, but for now- Here is the money shot, right here:
Since Kate was making the entrée, I decided to make an appetizer (at the request of my cousin). I let Mike thumb through all my recipe books until he found something that looked interesting. Of course the winning cook book was Veganomicon. Mikey chose Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empañadas. It was under 'appetizers', and it makes 12, so I figured it'd be small enough as a side dish. Lo and behold- these babies could make a meal on their own. They are so thick and filling! They kinda remind me of calzones without the cheese.
This recipe had a lot of working with dough and dough measurements. I've made many meals with dough, but I always gotta cringe because it takes so much time and focus and even though I've succeeded many times (such as with my pizzas), I can't help but feel a tiny bit of trepidation stepping into these things. Dough can be finicky. So can my fingers.
But! In the end it really worked out. Terry's and Isa's instructions make pastry preparation so easy. A lot of cook book authors talk to the reader as if they're seasoned pros, but not these two ladies! They make you feel confident in what you're doing, with simple steps designed for the beginner and advanced chefs alike.
The dough was perfect! It held together beautifully and puffed out to just the right amount of billowy goodness. With the addition of cornmeal, the flavour had a resemblance to ritz crackers with a hint of butter (thanks to the veggie shortening).
The inside was filled with roasted acorn squash, nummy black beans, sauteéd onions, jalepeños, crushed coriander seeds, garlic, cumin, salt, fresh lime juice and maple syrup.
The smell of roasting acorn squash wafting throughout the house is amazing, I must say. I've only ever sauteéd and simmered squash before, so this was a new and pleasant experience for me. :)
Now, I had flip-flopped on the idea of making dessert for the get-together since I was trying my hardest to be healthy and Mike is trying to refrain from eating sugary foods until his work-out regime is under way. In the end, we flipped a coin and decided I was going to make brownies. V-con's Fudgey Wudgey Blueberry Brownies sounded quite intriguing, so I went ahead with them.
The point of this recipe was to taste an amazing fudge flavour mixed with a tart, blueberry flavour. However, all I tasted was chocolate. The chocolate was great. A brownie is a brownie, right? But I was so looking forward to that hint of blueberry throughout!
Before I go and blame the recipe, I believe it just may have been a fault of my own. 1. I didn't use as many blueberries as was suggested. 2. The blueberry spreadable fruit I used doesn't even taste like blueberry on it's own. I just kinda believed that the flavour would cook itself into existence once I placed it in the oven.
Well, I was wrong.
Regardless, the brownies did their job in satisfying my sweet tooth. I had been craving brownies for nearly two weeks and I finally got it out of my system (for now).
Sunday night dinner, however, wasn't nearly as tasty or sweet as Saturday's. Trying to be good, I went with How it All Vegan's 'Winter Sicky Soup'.
This soup called for collard greens, butternut squash, carrots, garlic, lemon slices, curry, cayenne, ginger, fresh rosemary, miso, green onions and burdock and dandelion roots. These last two I had never heard of as being edible. Heck, I had never even heard of a burdock, period. Luckily, Mike was able to find the burdock roots at Whole Foods, but they were fresh out of the dandelion variety. Not to be disheartened, I told Mike to go ahead and pick up some dandelion greens. I know they are two very different things, but it had 'dandelion' in the name and it was edible, so that was good enough. In the end it didn't really matter because I couldn't tell the difference between them and the collards.
The soup definitely had a 'healthy' flavour, but then that's probably why it's a good soup to eat when you're sick. Chock-full of healthy roots and greens and topped with spicey, nasal-clearing cayenne, this soup'll most likely have you feeling better in no time. For us non-ill people, it was tasty enough to dip in bread and leave us feeling satiated.
I'm not sure I would rush to make this again. The burdock root tasted a little like... well... dirt. But next time I or a loved one has the sniffles, I think I'll be pulling out the ol' burdock.
Lastly, for lunch this week, I made V-Con's Lentil Salad. As you know, I've made tons of lentil salads from other cook books, but this one has got to be the best. Instead of simmering in water, these babies are soaking in veggie broth, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and dried tarragon.
I have to admit, I had a little trouble picking out the leaves, cloves and sprigs when it came time to strain the beans, as the steam was fogging up my glasses. :-/
After straining, I mixed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tons of dijon, lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped tomatoes, grated carrots, grated radishes and a pinch of black pepper.
Why, quite possibly the best darn lentil salad I ever did taste!
I'm having fun with this V-con. I already have so many plans (but without ignoring my other fabulous cook books). Next week? Seitan burgers!