Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sunday Night Dinner with Friends

Maya the Sous Chef
This past weekend I spent an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen. It's where I like to be, so I don't mind. I wanted to make a special dinner for a friend who is going through a very difficult time. So difficult, in fact, that she is having trouble eating (she's NOT an emotional eater!). I'm proud to say that she enjoyed the food and was able to eat. Yeah!

Here's the dinner in it's entirety, along with my thoughts on each dish:
Ever since hosting the Plant-strong Pot Luck at our house, I have been wanting to give Terry Walter's recipe for Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder a try. Everyone was raving about Quinn's take on the soup the night of the party, and Chris L even went as far as saying it was the best dish of the night!
But there wasn't enough to go around, so I, as the host, didn't get a taste. Then Chris-Anna, my business partner, made her own version using white potatoes and brought it to work for us for lunch. Holy cow! The secret is in the use of cashews. This is one extraordinary soup. I followed the recipe exactly, except, of course, substituting vegetable broth for the oil when sauteing the onion. Seriously folks, this is one of the best soups of all time. Get the recipe here.
This Vegan Ceviche could give any salad a run for its money. Consisting of chopped hearts of palm (yum!), tomato, cilantro, red onion, cucumber, red pepper and avocado and dressed simply of lime juice, salt and pepper, it's a new personal favorite. It's fresh, crunchy, and citrusy with a surprise of creaminess from the avocado every few bites. I can't tell you how much I LOVE it, except to say that I'm making it again tonight for my company b-b-q tomorrow.

Want Mama Pea's recipe? get it here.

Next up a salad from Appetite for Reduction called Wild Rice Salad with Oranges and Roasted Beets (p. 39-40). I happen to love beets, so giving this recipe a try was a must for me when my friend Liz said that she had made it recently.

Check out that recipe here.

Did I love it like I thought I would? No. Was it good? Yes. Maybe my expectations were too high based how incredible it sounded.

Actually, I really enjoyed it when using the leftovers, but more on that in a future post.
 Wild Rice Salad with Oranges and Roasted Beets from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Also from Isa Chandra Moskowitz is Baked Falafel (Appetite for Reduction p. 121-122). If you are expecting and craving crispy, fried falafel, this is probably not going to satisfy you. They are extremely dry (I substituted the oil in the recipe with water, so I can't really blame the recipe!), but they went well with the moist salads that I served them with. My oldest daughter has been enjoying the leftovers in her camp lunches and I really like them with a dollop of hummus on top. Recipe here
Appetite for Reduction Baked Falafel

Yum-oh! I tried out a new sugar substitute made from coconut called Coconut Crystals. It's a raw and unprocessed sweetener available at Whole Foods. With half the calories of sugar, I'd say this is an ingredient worth exploring for those times when you do want to bake. You can read all about it here.
Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins from Peas and Thank You

And the best part about spending the weekend in the kitchen cooking for friends? A whole weeks worth of awesome leftovers!


lindsey solganik said...

the soup sounds and looks amazing. Did you find a big difference between using the sweet potato vs. the white potsto?

Healthy Girl said...

yes, Lindsey, there was a huge difference! The version with the sweet potato had a smokey sweetness (the smokeyness was from using a frozen roasted corn from trader joes). The white potato version had fresh corn off the cob and it exploded in your mouth with every bite. I'm telling you, this is a great soup, no matter what you do to it!

Bonnie said...

Wow, all these recipes sound awesome. Can't wait to try them. Thank you!

lindsey solganik said...

so excited to try it, both versions sound great. The only question is which to make first!

katshealthcorner said...

I am very intrigued by those Coconut Crystals. Are they very hard to use?

Healthy Girl said...

Kat-The coconut crystals are not hard to use. You just substitute them for sugar in a 1 to 1 ratio. They look like brown sugar, so your baked goods will have a darker color than if you had used a white sugar, but I know that won't bother you!

JL goes Vegan said...

You are an amazing friend for nourishing your her body and soul. You outdid yourself, Wendy and I love that you get some self-care out of it yourself - yummy leftovers this week!

Mama Pea said...

I love that you made our recipeas! Your ceviche and muffins (and the rest of the food) look great!

Jen said...

Made the ceviche for dinner tonight...yum! I had yellow heirloom tomatoes which made me think about adding fresh orange segments next time I make it.

The Healthy Librarian said...

Did you the cashew butter for the soup--or cashew cream made in the VitaMix?

I saw Mama Peas Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins--and I was wondering how they were.

Thanks for trying them out for us.

Healthy Girl said...

I actually used raw almond butter because that's what I had on hand and I couldn't find raw cashew butter at TJs that day . . . and it worked beautifully.

The muffins are a winner, as is the vast majority of what Mama Pea creates. It's really too bad for all of us that so much of her energy is spent on baking. I want more savory veggie heavy recipes from her!

BMoore Healthy said...

Love cooking for friends! That's the best. :)

Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) said...

Gorgeous, life-sustaining food pics! I can't think of a better way to soothe a friend in need than with food and company like yours.

Chris said...

Okay, so I need to talk about this soup. A-MA-ZING! After I tasted it for the first time at your potluck, I NEEDED more. I made a variation with white potatoes and almond milk. I cooked it in the evening to have for dinner the next night (I usually like when soups have a day to sit and develop their flavors). I tasted it and had to have a small bowl it was so good.....then I had to have another small bowl-really, it was that good. I could not wait for dinner the next day.....

I just made my second big batch of the soup and used sweet potatoes. It is incredibly delcious still, but I like the slightly less sweet taste of the white potatoe and I like the white potato texture a bit more. The soup is so good, it really doesn't matter much either way.

I have two VERY fussy kids and they both ate full bowls.....not the picking/stir it around way, but by big spoonfuls. My son even wanted me to watch him as he put a full spoon in his mouth. He was suprised he liked it so much.

I think this may be my all-time favorite soup ever. :)

stellagirl said...

I have been looking all over for raw cashew butter. I only seem to find roasted. I have no problem find raw almond butter. Any hints out there. I figured if Whole Foods doesn't have it then it doesn't exist. I was wondering if I could make my own with raw cashews and a food processor. Any advice would be appreciated.

Healthy Girl said...

Stella-you cannot go wrong here using raw almond butter. That's what I used. My friend made her own raw cashew butter using cashews and a hand held blender. You could also grind cashews in a food processor or high powered blender. But it's probably just easiest to go with the raw almond butter that you have on hand!

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