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Tapas For Dinner

I like to consider myself a “foodie.” I love good food, and by good food, I mean things that most people would find a bit odd. The more unusual the ingredients, the more apt I am to order it. Oh, and did I mention that I’m also a vegetarian-trying-really-hard-to-be-vegan? That limits the choices significantly. Most restaurants have a must have meat policy, and if you’re lucky you can find a salad where the meat is optional, or pasta w/ marinara sauce, or some incarnation of something loaded with cheese. Once in a blue moon you’ll find a restaurant that has a special vegetarian menu, and then even less frequently a vegan choice or two. It is not an easy thing to find truly good vegan food, unless you live in a very large city or hippie type village. Trust me on this, I’ve searched!

So, we’ve taken to cooking quite a bit, my daughter and I.

Through a series of odd happenstances, I came upon a cookbook called “The Blooming Platter,” by a gal named Betsy Dijulio. I “liked” her Facebook page, bought her cookbook, started cooking from it and posting to her blog and Facebook page my feedback on her recipes. We began chatting back and forth, and she ended up inviting me to her West Coast launch party for her cookbook in San Francisco, at a restaurant called Millenium, in the Hotel California on Geary St. just blocks away from Union Square.

She was just as amazing in person as she was on-line. And the food was DIVINE! Every bite was a thrill to my mouth. You know the kind of good where you smile every time you bite into something? And they paired each course with a different wine. My stomach is growling just thinking about it! But I digress… the point is, after such a fabulous dinner, we went into hyper-drive with trying new recipes, from Betsy’s cookbook, VeggieTimes and blogs on the internet. She’d cook at her house and bring me left-overs, and vice versa. Finally we decided to join forces and have a ‘tapas and wine tasting party” just for our two little families.

We selected the menu and my daughter set about researching and locating wines. Many of the ingredients we had on hand and then we shopped and shopped finding all more unusual things we needed. We each took on a dessert to prepare the night before, then planned to spend all the next day cooking. Well, as often happens with us, things didn’t go quite the way we had intended, and we ended up with only half a day to cook. Fortunately I got the jump on prep work ahead of time, so we weren’t too far behind.

We had more fun! We diced and sliced and sauteed and food processed our little hearts out, with our two little helpers by our sides. The oldest pushed crusts into the individual tarts pans like a pro, and the littlest dotted each macadamia shortbread topped with lemon mousse with a raspberry.

Sweaty and frazzled, and the kitchen looking like a bomb went off in it, we finally got everything to the buffet table, mostly hot, an hour later than planned.

It was a feast fit a king, if I do say so myself, although there was at least one among us who might have disagreed, maybe two, and one of those prefers stuff that requires a slathering of burn-your-mouth-hot salsa to more subtle tastes (he shall remain nameless – but those of you who know him can guess!)

Vegan “Cheddar Cheese Spread w/ Blackberry Chutney

Click here to see recipe

Collard Green Stuffed Phyllo Triangles

Risotto Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Grape Tomato and Spinach Pesto Tarts

Click here to see recipe

Macadamia Shortbread with Lemon Mousse topped w/ Raspberries

Betsy’s Recipes were far superior to the others. We’ll be heading back to her cookbook over and over, and can hardly wait for Vol. II (Hear that, Betsy?)

Oh, and the guy who wasn’t crazy about the food? He did most of the clean-up. Gotta love ‘im!

One more quick picture…I just LOVE my napkin holders! I couldn’t find any that were rustic enough to suit my crazy taste, so I bought a bunch of beads and wire, and made my own! When I open my Etsy store, I think these will be among the wares that I sell!

About tatterednworn

I am a woman who has committed to living a creative life.

8 responses »

  1. Janet, I am so honored and flattered by your praise. And I am also gratified to know that my cookbook played even a small role in launching your two familie on your vegan culinary journey. You and Andra with your grandkids/kids are so much like my mother was with us: she made the simplest occurrence into a special occasion. Daily life with her was a joy and you are giving that same treasured gift to your little girls.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Betsy! Yeah, you pretty much rock! It must feel good to know you are such a positive influence. I’ve tried a number of sources for vegan recipes, and most leave me a bit unsatisfied. Your combinations of spices fill the bill for me, and I’m just excited to have others discover you, too. I see there are at least 2 blooming vegans in my new circle of friends, so hopefully they will take my advice and try The Blooming Platter! Thanks for your kind words!

  2. Oh Janet, my mouth is watering! I too am 90% vegan. I still eat fish and on occasion small bits of cheese. I have a couple of good vegan cook/baking books. I can pass along their titles. I also just read Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet which was fantastic! Can’t recommend it enough. I’m looking forward to more posts about yummy, healthy for you, foods!

    • I’m so happy to see another “almost” vegan in our midst. Patty is, too! I hope you’ll try Betsy’s book. It is seriously the yummiest I’ve found, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend. I loved her book before we became friends!

  3. Yummy let’s do it again when you get back up on your feet!

    • I was thinking you could do it yourself (like right now!) and bring me some food! Hahaha! Just kidding! I would like that very much. It was a lot of fun. I’ve been CRAVING the vegan cheddar cheese spread and blackberry chutney. Wonder if it’s as good w/ frozen blackberries? Probably close, huh?

  4. I shouldn’t be here at dinner time! I did want to stop by. I love your story, I really enjoyed reading it. I must say you have a great sense of humor.

    I am also a sucker or anyone that call me Love. (from FB conversation).It reminds me of the my UK days , but that is a whole other story!



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