December 08, 2011

Sunday brunch for 10 | Spicy cashews

We recently had the pleasure of hosting a brunch for 10 guests. Because the rest of the weekend had involved a lot of cooking, and also considering the early start to the meal, I wanted to keep the menu simple. That doesn't mean I wanted to skimp on flavor, of course, just on preparation time.

The decision was made to serve a soup, salad and muffin brunch. Way back in September 2009, I reviewed a cookbook devoted entirely to soups, Love Soup, by Anna Thomas, and I decided to make one of the memorable soups from that book.

Rich and creamy spicy Indonesian yam and peanut soup with its fragrant ginger-infused base, is entirely worthy of company meals, in my opinion. Yams, carrots and parsnips mingle beautifully with herbs and spices to compose a soup that's perfect for warming guests on a chilly morning. To accompany the soup we had a large salad based on baby greens, dressed with piquant creamy miso salad dressing from The Vegan Table by Colleen Partick-Goudreau, and low-fat chocolate zucchini muffins form The Happy Herbivore Cookbook (reviewed here). To perfectly round out the meal, one of the guests brought a toothsome loaf of homemade whole grain bread.

To finish our little brunch with a sweet flourish, we had yummy Lazy Samoas from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and monkey bread, baked by another guest.


Spicy cashews

This is a snack I found at Manjula's Kitchen that I thought would be a nice thing to add to our usual appetizer tray of olives and artichoke hearts at the brunch described above. It sounded just like the spicy cashews I once bought at an Indian deli in Milwaukee. They tasted like they had been made with eggs, even though I'd been assured they were not. Now, of course, I know it was the Indian black salt, kala namak, that gave the cashews their characteristic sulfur (eggy) taste. The cashews I made with Manjula's recipe tasted exactly the same. I recommend trying the recipe yourself — it's delectably spiced. But I warn you, they have a distinctly eggy flavor.

I used half the oil called for in the recipe, but had a little trouble with the spice mixture coating the nuts, so ended up adding a little more oil to the warm, roasted cashews, and shaking them in a jar with the spice mix, which worked perfectly. Next time I make these I'm going to try something different. I'll oven-roast the cashews without oil, then drizzle a small amount of unheated oil onto the warm nuts and shake them with the spices. I'm trying to use less oil, and am hoping that by not letting the roasting cashews absorb oil in the pan, I can get more mileage from less oil by adding it after they are roasted. What do you think?


There's still time to leave a comment and win a copy of Dynise Balcavage's new cookbook, Celebrate Vegan. Enter here. (Update: the contest has ended.)


  1. Bravo for this brunch, beautiful spread, Andrea! Must try everything here!

  2. Your table looks gorgeous and that soup is just as drool-worthy the second time I'm seeing it.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful brunch! I adore yam & peanut soups, especially with some bread to dip in it. Those lazy samoas are a recipe I'll have to check out.

  4. GiGi,
    Thank you! I think you would like everything we had. The salad dressing was especially good.

    I do like a good soup when the weather turns on me. (Yes, I take it personally when the temperature drops and the sun goes away.)

    I really liked that I wasn't exhausted when the guests arrived, and was able to enjoy the party. Even cleaning up was relatively easy.

  5. Sounds like quite a spread. I'm sure everything was a big hit. The cashew workaround sounds like it will work to me.

  6. Brunch sounds delicious! Especially that soup - I have been thinking about getting that cookbook, and I think you have decided me!

  7. What a tasty looking meal and the pictures are so pretty! Yams and peanuts were made for each other. I'm sure the soup was divine. I've tried so many recipes from Vegan Table, but I've missed that miso dressing somehow. I've recently fallen in love with miso. For many years I shied away from it because I dislike miso soup so much. (I've come to realize it's the nori often in miso soup that puts me off of it.) Anyway, I'm going to have to check it out!

  8. Rose,
    It was simple but satisfying — at least to me! I was meaning to try the cashew change before posting, but realized if I waited until I got around to it, it would never get posted.

    All the soups we tried have been really good — we just keep forgetting to use our cookbooks. I'm trying to do better, as you can see. :)

    Thank you! I agree about the yams and peanuts — the nuts really made a perfect garnish as well as ingredient. You should definitely try the dressing — it was so good. I'm a big fan of both miso soup and nori, though we rarely combine the two, but miso soup is often made with kombu, another seaweed you may not like.

  9. Yummy brunch! love the look of the soup! I'm going to have to branch out from the butternut squash soup I always make and try the yam and peanut one. I'm assuming it'll be freezable too. And your idea for reducing the oil in the spicy cashews sounds like it would totally work. :-)

  10. Chow vegan,
    Butternut squash soup is pretty great, and tastes a lot like the yam soup. You could just add peanuts (and 1/2 cup grated ginger!) to your next squash soup. I'm going to try the cashew recipe soon and post an update when I do. I'm craving some of the spicy nuts right now.

  11. soup and salad is the best. i say simple is delicious!

  12. Bitt,
    Of course, I agree!

  13. Andrea, I wrote a longish comment and it disappeared when I clicked 'Google'! Have you changed the way comments can be left? I don't remember that happening before! Or maybe it went through and is awaiting moderation... I'll check back. But I'll try leaving this on OPenID...


  14. Wow, what a lucky bunch of brunchers, to be invited to your fête! It all looks both beautiful and delicious. If I had to prepare a meal for 10 people I'd be a wreck! But a soup, salad and muffin brunch sounds perfect, and I think maybe even I would be able to handle that. :-) (I know I could handle eating it!)

  15. Penny,
    I think my settings are the same, but the same thing has happened to me on other blogs, so I know how annoying that sort of thing is. Plus, now I won't get to read your comment, and they are usually so much fun to read. I did get two copies of this comment — go figure. I may try changing the settings to see what happens.

    The problem with brunch is it happens so early in the day, no matter how many guests are involved. A couple of years ago I hosted a brunch for 40 people, and I cooked all the food. I was super organized with lists and outlines to follow. Started cooking at 6 a.m., and pulled the whole thing off. Then I never remembered to take a single photo until everything was cleaned up. I was wired! This brunch was nothing compared to that.

  16. andrea i loved brunch everything about it was perfect thanks so much for having us to your home!

  17. Meghan,
    We were delighted to have you at our table!

  18. I'm already crazy about cashews, and you had to go and make them even more addictive with spices and savory seasonings? Man, I bet I could eat those by the handful!

  19. Did you take all of those photos? The photography is especially good. Did you do something special to get the focused/blurry background look?


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