Come Dine With Me - part dieu:)
Okay, so I promised you more recipes from my vegan dinner party and here I deliver. I'm still on a bit of a high from not just the success of my dinner party but also the amount of views I've had on my blog over the past few days - it has truly blown me away. This is all thanks to The Vegan Society because they were kind enough to post a link to my blog on their facebook page:) I feel like I'm in a new phase of my blog, which is very exciting and it can only get better! The next big change will come from our move to Cornwall when I finally have my own kitchen - of course I'm totally exaggerating when I say 'finally' because in reality it's only been a few months but it feels like an eternity:( My main requirement is a gas stove because I am at the end of my tether with electric hobs - those things are a fully fledged nightmare, aaarrrrggggh! No temperature control whatsoever and I have a habit of turning on the wrong one and wondering half an hour later why my spuds aren't boiling - not amusing.
Anyway, time enough for my house hunting post. For now some shameless product placement;) I don't cheat when cooking. I like to do everything myself from scratch. It's just the way I am. However, when I discover a product that not only makes my life a little bit easier but is also vegan friendly in a 'I can't believe that's Vegan' kinda way I feel compelled to use it just in case they stop making it because of people like me who would rather slave over perfecting said dish than simply buying it from the supermarket freezer.
Jus-Rol is one of those products. From the get go let's get one thing clear, not all their pastry is vegan friendly. As far as I'm aware it is only the puff and shortcrust - which would obviously leave the filo as the odd one out, which is cool bananas by me. It does say 'vegan friendly' on the box so just have a look if you're worried.
Dinner parties can be a tad stressful. Juggling different dishes, making sure everything gets to the table hot. Ensuring the whole evening flows seemlessly from one dish to the next so sometimes a shortcut is welcome - especially if it's a specialist item like pastry, which, let's face it, requires a knack and I'm not entirely sure I have that knack.
To aid this seemless flow and give the illusion that I'm actually in control I try to prepare most of my menu in advance. I would go as far to say that I do very little cooking when my guests arrive, which usually means preparing some things the day before like the nibbles and dessert. On the day I make sure everything is ready to go especially if I'm doing a hot dish for either starter or main. So that means being sad enough to chop everything and put them into little ramekins - y'know, like in those cookery shows? I sometimes worry about myself.
I assure you if you do the same it will take a lot of the worry out of your dinner party and mean you can spend more time with your guests. I wouldn't say I'm the perfect host but I'm definitely getting better. I reckon in a few years time I will have nailed this 'hostess with the mostess' lark!
minted pea, apsaragus and caramelised red onion tart (made with jus-roll puff pastry)
1 1/2 sheets jus-roll pastry
1 pack of fine stem asparagus
2 cups frozen peas
4/5 red onions
handful freshly chopped mint
juice half lemon
salt and pepper
Remember to put the pastry in the fridge to defrost several hours before you need it.
To make the minted pea puree place the peas in a bowl, cover with freshly boiled water and leave to sit for a few minutes. Drain and place in a food processor along with the chopped mint, a glug of olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Blitz until you get a coarse puree - try to not to over do it, as few whole peas here and there is nice. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large frying pan. Finely slice the red onions lengthways. Add to the pan, season and allow to sweat for several minutes before sprinkling on a tablespoon of unrefined, organic, fairtrade sugar. Add a little more oil is necessary and allow to gently sweat for 30mins. You can add a touch sugar half way through to encourage the caramelisation. Set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degreed celsius/350 degree celsius. Cut the pastry sheet into 4 squares and half the other half sheet (this is to make 6 tarts).
Spread on the pea puree ensuring to leave a rim around the tart for the pastry to puff up. Place the prepared asparagus (washed and trimmed) on top of the puree and then the red onion. Bake for 25-30mins.
individual summer puddings
loaf of white bread (a good loaf not the plastic bread sort)
2 punnets blackberries
2 punnets raspberries
1 punnet blueberries
1 cup frozen cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Place the berries in a pan with the sugar and water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for several minutes until the berries begin to exude their juices and soften. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't soften too much. Take off the heat and leave to one side.
Cut the bread into thick slices and remove the crusts. Use teacups for your moulds. Dip the bread the summer fruits so it soaks up the juices. Shape the bread to fit the teacup ensuring there are no gaps. Fill each with the summer fruits mixture to the brim. Cover the top with some more soaked bread.
There may be juice left at the end so just spoon it evenly over the top of the cups. Place in fridge overnight. To serve loosen the pudding with a knife, placing a plate on top, turning it over and gently tapping with the handle of a knife until the pudding easily slips out.
whipped coconut cream (from Chloe Coscarelli's blog)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Place the coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Do the same with the bowl and whisk you're going to be using.
The next day scrape the top layer of cream out of the top of can leaving the remaining liquid at the bottom. Place in the cooled bowl along with the powdered sugar and whisk until fluffy. Put the cream into a serving bowl, cover and place in fridge until ready to use.
This cream is delicious beyond words - trust me! My Mum licked the bowl clean:)
p.s. major apologies for the rubbish pics - these are from the night and I already felt a bit weird taking photos in front of my guests so they are hurried mess. Och well!