April 19, 2011
Swiss chard and broccoli rabe
We hosted a vegan Passover Seder for eight, last night, and except for the matzoh ball failure, all the food turned out just as I hoped. I won't bore you with details of the Seder itself — I'll just get right to the food — but I will tell you a little story related to last year's Seder. About a month ago, Miss E was playing in the little room we call the "TV room," when she retrieved a small, towel-wrapped package from a low shelf. She unwrapped it, and with a little squeal, began to eat a half-piece of matzoh. "I think Miss E found last year's Afikomen," said her Papa. We all had a good laugh, and vowed to do better this year in the Afikomen department. In case you don't know, the Afikomen is a piece of matzoh that is broken off at the beginning of the Seder and hidden for one of the children to find after dinner, when it is supposed to be eaten for dessert. The child who finds it is usually rewarded with money or some other prize. Miss E was the only child at the Seder last night, and her mom took her on an Afikomen hunt. She found it, and was rewarded with three Dora band-aides (she is obsessed with both Dora and band-aids) and a dollar bill.
Since I'm on the subject of matzoh, I'll mention that this year we bought Yahuda whole wheat matzoh, and it's the best I've ever tasted. It actually tastes good. Even the confirmed matzoh haters at our Seder were chowing it down.
Charoset appears on the Seder plate and is part of the ceremony. I made mine with apples, an orange, toasted almonds, dates, date syrup, cinnamon and lemon juice.
After the service, we began our meal with soup. There were supposed to be matzoh balls in the soup but unlike last year, they disintegrated as they cooked, so I rescued whatever pieces I could, and added them to the soup, such as they were. The soup was made with dashi — Japanese stock made from soaking dried shiitaki mushrooms and konbu in water. (I soaked mine overnight.) While not exactly traditional to Passover, it made the perfect base for further enhancement with carrots, celery and baby bella mushrooms. The soup was oil-free but incredibly rich in flavor. Best soup ever. Sorry, no photo.
walnut/string bean paté
After the soup course, the table was laden with holiday foods, some of which are pictured here. At the top of the post is a fabulous Swiss chard and broccoli rabe dish that was brought by our daughter-in-law. I'm not fond of chard, but I loved this version, and highly recommend it. Directly above is the walnut and string bean paté I found on Diet Dessert and Dogs blog. I used to make this exact thing with fresh string beans, but Ricki made it with canned, and I figured with all the cooking I was doing, why not save a little time and try the canned version. We found a no-salt-added can of green beans and I have to say, the result was terrific. Everyone commented on how delicious it was. I used Ricki's excellent recipe but added an extra 1/2 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika and some fresh lemon juice for a little extra zip. The picture was taken today of the leftovers, but last night it was served in a larger bowl, covered with sliced green onions.
It's really called mock chopped liver, and tastes like I remember the real stuff tasting, only much better, without any of the bitter under-taste or unhappy animal-associations of the real thing. The recipe is not a newer vegan version of an animal food, it's really quite a traditional recipe coming from the kosher dietary traditions that some Jews follow, that forbid meat and dairy at the same meal. Because it is made with vegetables, it can be served with either meat or dairy. I have a couple of older Jewish cookbooks that contain similar recipes, as well as other "mock" recipes for use at dairy meals. (There are two other versions of mock chopped liver, made with mushrooms and walnuts, on this blog.)
Roasted garlic asparagus with mushrooms
What would a spring holiday dinner be without asparagus? Our youngest son roasted asparagus and garlic, and I stir-fried a lot of sliced mushrooms to serve over the top. I've been craving mushrooms lately, so you'll notice them in more than one dish.
Quinoa pilaf with spinach and olives
Not long ago we tested a recipe for millet pilaf for The Urban Vegan's upcoming cookbook. I loved it, and based last night's quinoa dish on that recipe. Our version contains spinach, celery and black olives, and brings a huge jolt of flavor to the taste buds.
I made cranberry-apple sauce, which Miss E loves, and a large fresh salad with baby greens, red cabbage, cucumber, celery, grape tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and avocado (not pictured). I also made a large pan of potato kugel. The stars must have aligned while I was making the kugel because when I took my first mouthful, it was like I was eating my mother's version. I got it right! (For the Passover version, substitute matzoh for bread. I made a double recipe and used three slices of matzoh.)
For dessert we had a raw pineapple-cherry pie garnished with Coconut Bliss mint galactica ice cream. Still full.
If you are observing Passover this week, Happy Passover. If you'll be celebrating Easter, Happy Easter. If you observe neither, Happy Spring.
Yes, it seems like it took place ages ago, but I never got around to recapping Vegfest. What can I say — I ate lots of foods I wouldn't normally eat, along with some things that I'd like to eat again. What usually happens is we taste so many things we can't remember what they were, and I guess that's true for this year, too. Our work station was near to the folks from Theo Chocolate, and they brought over some lovely samples for us to try. Really good samples. Yes, I'd like to try the chocolate again.
This was my view looking out from my work station, and looking at real, unadulterated apples kept me centered. Last year I was much too close to SO ice cream and Mighty-O Donuts and had self-control issues ...
You can read other, more entertaining recaps, here and here.
Our youngest son and his girlfriend left today for California, where they are moving. He asked me if I knew any vegan bloggers in the Bay area, so I'm asking — who out there is blogging from San Francisco? He'd like to start reading your blogs! I miss them already, and they haven't even gotten there yet.
VegNews is good news
Vegan hot dog in a vegan whole wheat bun. ©2011 cookeasyvegan.blogspot.com
Now that VegNews has taken responsibility for their actions and pledged to reform, I'm ready to forgive and move on. As a graphic designer, I was somewhat sympathetic to their need to use occasional stock photos, but NOT happy when they misrepresented the very basis of their existence by substituting photos of animal foods for vegan ones. When an organization is cavalier about misrepresenting information in one area, it can lead to questions about their honesty in other areas, but I hope the vegan community will support VegNews in moving forward and regaining credibility. Rebuilding trust is a process. Let's be open to it.