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
Collard Green Stuffed Phyllo Triangles
Risotto Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Grape Tomato and Spinach Pesto Tarts
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!