Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dakota Creek Adventures...

If you read my blog frequently you know that I love Dakota Creek Winery which is one of the fantastical local wineries in town. If you're ever in the area I more than highly recommend going to see them.


Jill and Ken are wonderful; highly knowledgeable and super friendly. Their grounds are gorgeous and their wines equally gorgeous. Auntie Erin and I are heading out tomorrow, picnic in hand, to taste their summer releases.

Heading to Dakota Creek for Auntie and I is like going to see family. Last time we were there I brought a basket of cheese, bread, crackers and olive spread. Upon arrival, we set up inside and were so glad and happy to see that Jill joined in the picnic fun, sharing her wine expertise as we noshed.

Defininitely, definitely DEFINITELY take the time to go see Dakota Creek... their wine is my fave. Really, my ultimate 'go to' drinking wine is Dakota Creek and my go to 'give to a hostess' gift is Dakota Creek. Either way you cut it, you have to go. The end. And scene.

Thank you Jill and Ken for making us feel so welcome whenever we are there :)


p.s. their 'Art at the Winery' event is coming soon... August 21st, 10am to 5pm. A super fun event combining local artists with Dakota Creek wine and local food. These are three of my favorite things!!!

A delicious happy birthday post

So yesterday was my birthday and I was thinking about all the wonderful things I would post about after my day; like my delicious meal that would either be made by Honey or made by a fantastic chef at a fantastic restaurant that Honey would have fantastically taken me for my birthday. Unfortunately though, my happy birthday dinner consisted of this:



An eensy weensy good old pb and j... but I can make it look pretty good in a picture, right?? And yes, I was alone for several hours the evening of my birthday so I DID have time to take pictures of all these things you see here. I am also a huge dork.

So... as to not disappoint (which subsequently means that I will take a little more time to drag out the fact that my birthday was lame not what I was expecting) I will now take you through a delicious, yet very un-cake-like pictoral montage of delicous birthday 'things'.

A special thank you to my parents for taking Noodle and me to lunch and giving me some very fun and fantastical goodies including these lovely note cards featuring cooking 'garb'... I love!


Noodle also got me, courtesy of Nan, some neat Dr. Seuss note cards... we love 'the Seuss'.

Another special thank you to my darling Swiackeys who took pity on me and let me come over for some Veuve, roasted almonds with truffle salt and blueberries. They also had some beautiful flowers, a cupcake balloon and the most adorable birthday pictures drawn by several equally adorable almost five-year-olds (and one two year old). See if you can figure out which picture was drawn by 'the boys' and which picture was drawn by 'the girls'. Thank you friends; I heart you :)



Clearly illustrated by the...

And equally clearly illustrated by the...

And the babe... it's a masterpiece!

Luckily for me, my fantastical parents are hosting some of my closest friends at their beach house this weekend, so I will continue to 'milk' the birthday thing for a while. I am especially looking forward to Nana and Archer's 'sand castle' birthday cake... I promise to take pictures :) I am also looking forward to dinner tomorrow night at La Patisserie with my dad and Terry. I'm thinking I will get Terry's GI-NORMOUS tofu  platter; just because it's fun!

Oh! And bonus birthday surprise... thank you Foodbuzz for (randomly selecting me to win) the wonderful Tom Douglas by Pinzon Bamboo Prep-and-Serve Board with Stainless Steel Cups. It arrived in a gloriously large box that had Noodle Nose going nuts to open! I was the weekly winner of the Foodbuzz 'tell a friend' weekly raffle. Raffle shmaffle... the board is awesome and I'm stoked!





Additional things that I love... here are a couple beautiful pictures of my sweet Noodle Nose preparing 'appetizers' out of his quickie dinner. I made him a cheese quesadilla... what can I say? He likes it!! And some tomatoes (which he had already eaten by the time this shot was taken) and baby cucumber slices. He proceeded to put the cucumber slices on top of the quesadilla and say 'wook mommy, I made lil appetizer!!' Lordy... he is clearly my child; sweetest thing ever...



And this, quite possibly, was the best birthday present ever! As I sipped Veuve with the Swiackeys, I received a text message from our favorite Uncle Kelly... the caption was this: 'the BIGGEST lil' veggie slider in the world! Thanks again for the road grub, El, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!'


I love that our left over burgers from the throwdown (the vegan burgers) are making their way around the western half of America! Love you Uncle Kelly!!

xoxo
E

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vegan vs. Carnivore Throwdown: Vegan menu and recipes

As I mentioned in my initial post, this was such an immense event that I haven't quite recovered from it. I'm still putting things away, eating left overs and recovering physically from the stress of the weekend. That said, it was a ton of fun and I can't wait to do it again next year. I feel bad though, that the initial post didn't have recipes included. It would have been an even more monstrous post and I'm afraid, had I included them, I would have lost any readers at least a quarter of the way through. So here I am, preparing my post for the vegan portion of the throwdown. Honey's recipes are a mystery as of current time; I'll figure those out next.


Also, I wasn't going to post anything today, or be on the computer at all because it's my birthday (smiley); however, I didn't get much of a 'to-do' from my husband and about that much from my child so I find myself with a lot of spare time this evening. Why? because I am not cooking for myself on my birthday and Honey has nothing planned and I certainly doubt he's going to come up with anything. Thank you though, to Nan and Poppey for a lovely 'to do' at lunch time... I can always count on you!

Pity party over and now back to work. I hope you find these recipes simple and interesting and I hope even more that you use them at your next vegan BBQ!

I'm going to go in order of what the judges had from start to finish; and what better way to start the event than with a delicious cocktail! Mine was refreshing and light with a burst of flavor from the garnish and fizz from the float. mmm!

Oh, and note, I have adjusted the amouts in these recipes to fit a 'regular' family vs. a party of 26 plus people. If something doesn't make sense, ask :)

BEVERAGE

Unfortunately, we didn't get a ton of 'really great' pictures of my food.
Honey's food has fantastic pictures... hmmm

FRESH 'ADULT' LIMEAID WITH PROSECCO AND 'SUMMERTIME' GARNISH
Need:
6 limes, squeezed
1/2 cup key lime juice (get Nellie's... it's the best!)
1/4 cup simple syrup infused with lime or lemon rind
1 cups cold water
1/2 cup vodka (I used Burnett's)
Prosecco champagne (you could also use your favorite DRY champagne)
1-2 limes sliced in thin rounds
4 fresh mint leaves, whole
4 fresh strawberries, whole

Do:
Combine lime juice, key lime juice, simple syrup, cold water and vodka and stir. Taste it. This is the most important (and fun) part! Add more vodka if you are a lush feel like it's a little weak, add a little more Nellie's if it's not limey enough... have fun with it!!

When your base is perfecto, pour into a glass to a little less than 3/4 of the way. Put one lime round flat into your glass.

Pop your prosecco and pour it on top. Note, it's a float so don't stir it in, I use a pretty hefty float; about the remaining 1/4 left in the glass... just don't make it too full.

Serve:
Garnish with a fresh, sweet strawberry wrapped in a mint leaf and skewered.

So simple and so so good!
(oh, and it won by the way :))


APPETIZER


ROASTED CORN SALAD WITH BLACK BEANS, RED PEPPER AND WALLA WALLA SWEET ONIONS IN AN ENDIVE BOAT

Need:
For the dressing:
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lime
juice of that same lime
1 Chili in adobo sauce, chopped or torn
1/2 tsp adobo sauce from the can the chili came in
1/2 Tablespoon celery salt
Salt and pepper
For the salad:
4 Ears corn, shucked and roasted on the grill (I'll talk about that in a minute)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 walla walla sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
6-8 heads endive, end cut off and de-leaved as far as you can take it
Coarse sea salt for garnish

Do:
In a 'shakeable container, add all dressing ingredients and shake the heck out of it. Set aside but do take some time to shake the heck out of it every time you either a: walk by it, b: say the word 'like' in any context or c: wash your hands. I don't know.

In regard to your corn, shuck the husks (is that called husking?) and silk. Put them directly on a fairly hot grill and let them go, turning periodically. The goal is to get the crispy, grilly, burny delicious look. When done, which can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, remove and let cool, then, using a knife, cut the kernels off the cob and put them into a large bowl.



Chop all your other veg and add to the bowl of corn kernels. Open your can o' beans (yeah, open that can o' beans) drain, rinse and add into the happy bowl o' veg. 

Toss nicely then find that dressing; give it another health shaky shaky and then pour over your salad. Toss well and let sit. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed; remember, I'm not a big salter/pepperer.

Serve:
When it is to your liking taste wise, get your serving dish and endive leaves, all separated and ready for action. Using a little spoon, spoon the salad into your little endive boat. If you're serving individually, garnish the plate with some coarse rock salt and serve away. If you're serving it on a platter, get all the little boats loaded and ready on the platter then do the coarse sea salt garnish.

Then... enjoy!

THE MAIN COURSE (INCLUDING SALAD)


SPICY BUTTER BEAN ALMOND BURGER

Need:
1/2 can butter beans
1 Tablespoon garlic scapes, chopped (you can also use green garlic)
1/4 cup white sweet onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons celery, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons chili garlic sauce
1/2 Tablespoon spicy curry salt (or salt with a dash of curry)
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons agave nectar
3/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped fairly fine
1/4 to 1/2 cup panko breading
Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls, sliced in half
For the 'sauce':
2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
4 Tablespoons Tofutti vegan sour cream


Do:
Open your butter beans, rinse and drain. Put 1/2 the can in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add chopped scapes (or garlic greens), chopped onion, celery, cilantro and mix together. Mash lightly with the potato masher.

To your main bowl of goodies, add the chili garlic sauce, almonds, salt, curry powder and agave nectar. Stir to combine really well. At this point I used my hands (washed, soaped, cleaned, of course) to make sure everything was evenly combined.

Add the almonds and panko, starting with the 1/4 cup of panko and adding more, up to 1/2 cup if you like.

From there you get to form your patties! Hooray!

We did little sliders which are fun no matter how you look at it; they're just a little more sassy if you ask me. Also, for the bean burgers, they tend to stick together more if they're smaller so bonus two ways: sassy burgers that stick together, aha!


When all formed and ready to go, make sure your grill is hot then pop them on and let them cook! Note: when I made these as a test batch I did not have a burning problem. Our grill at the throwdown cooked significantly hotter than the test grill. Sous Kelly came up with a great idea of dredging the patties in olive oil just before popping on the grill. He saved the day! Not only did they get the grill marks without burning, the olive oil added another 'dimension' to the flavor of the burgers... thank you Kelly!!

ok, some of them are burned... those were the ones before the olive oil trick

Let cook on both sides so you have the lovely grill marks. While cooking, whip together the ridiculously simple sauce by combining the dijon with the vegan sour cream. Also, toast your buns!! This was one thing I wish we would have done. Team carnivore toasted (I should have known with Poppey at the grill) and we didn't... but you should!

Serve:
When burgers are done cooking, put the patties out family style or assemble the teeny burgers for everyone to grab. If you're assembling, I put the sauce on the bottom bun, patty on top and top but caddy whompus but not on the patty. The 'goodies',  aka heirloom tomatoes, lettuce and onion were on the side for guests to choose what they wanted.

Super simple, terribly flavorful and just plain fun to eat! Enjoy :)

THE SALAD THAT WENT WITH THE MAIN...
SWEET POTATO SALAD WITH A SPICY VINAIGRETTE

Need:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and boiled (just barely though... don't over cook!)
1/4  cup walla walla sweet onion, chopped
1/4 heaping cup carrot, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, almost de-seeded... leave some in just for heat :)
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
For the dressing:
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons cumin
1/4 tsp curry
Salt and pepper

Do:
Peel and boil the sweet potatoes... note: they do not take long AT ALL to cook so keep an eye on them because you don't want them to be overcooked or even a little over cooked. As they are in the water, continually test them with a fork. When they are just soft, pull them and run cold water over the top.

While your potatoes are cooking, chop all your other veg and put in a bowl.

In a shakeable jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake the heck out of it. Let sit and shake again. Reapeat nine times. Even better... get your small child to do it; they like that kind of thing!

When your potatoes are cooled, add to the other veg, cover in shaken dressing and toss lightly. You don't want to 'mash' the potatoes so be gentle.

Serve:
On a lovely plate in tuscan shades (or whatever you have) pile a neat stack of potato salad next to your 'assemble by choice' bean burger. Serve and you're on your way!

DESSERT


SINFULLY CHOCOLATE CHERRY BROWNIE WITH CHERRY PORT REDUCTION

Need:
2 teaspoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ultra dark unsweetened cocoa powder (if you have a local chocolate shop, get it there... soo much better)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips (dairy free!!)
1 1/2 cup fresh cherries, de-stemmed and de-seeded

Do:
In a small bowl, combine the flax seed and soy milk. Whip with a fork and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 and grease one 9 by 12 baking pan.

In your Kitchenaid (or in a bowl if you must) combine sugar and applesauce and mix. Add vanilla, then give the flax seed/soy mixture a quick stir and add that to the sugar and applesauce.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Mix well and then add it in batches to the applesauce mixture.

Add the chocolate chips and cherries to the whole mix and once just combined, pour into the prepared baking pan and pop in the oven! Bake for 40 minutes then remove.

Let cool and serve.


For the cherry port reduction, combine 1/2 cup cherries with 2 cups port. Simmer on the stove until thick and rich... about 30 minutes.


Serve:
If you don't have a little chocolate cup (as shown) pop the brownie on a plate and drizzle the reduction around it. Eat and enjoy dessergasm. I'm just saying.


If you have questions on any of these amazing dishes, please, do not hesitate to ask via comment or email me at lapuremama@gmail.com. We were in a frenzy that day and some things did get tweaked here and there. If something doesn't make sense, ask! I'm so so so glad to help!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: Vegan vs. Carnivore BBQ Throwdown!




Talk about one fun weekend! Yesterday was our Foodbuzz 24x24 dinner; our theme? a vegan vs. carnivore (husband vs. wife) summer BBQ throwdown. I don't think anyone, including me, realized the immensity of the job I had set before us. I know for a fact Honey had not a clue what he had gotten himself into. I could tell the realization of what we were up against finally dawned on him (and all of us) the night before as we were feverishly prepping. Here comes Honey walking through the door, phone to ear (with Sous Jeff) and wide eyed panic clear on his face. My personal panic did not set in until about an hour before the guests were set to arrive. I look at our list and I say to Sous Kelly, 'ok, now I think I might panic'. In the end, it wouldn't have mattered if we didn't finish; I mean, these are our closest friends and family, but out of sheer competition, we all wanted to finish!


Who reigned supreme?? Keep reading to find out!

Just a note... Although this blog is a vegan/vegetarian/sometimes pescetarian mish mash of recipes, there will be (sigh) some meat recipes posted from the throwdown. Honey worked so hard, I can't deprive him of his five minutes of 'fame' on my not-famous blog :)

AND HERE WE GO!!


Vegan: Me, carnivore, Honey... each of us had to come up with a starter, main (including a salad), dessert and beverage showcasing ingredients that are fresh and in season for the summer. The goal was to have items you would 'typically' have at a BBQ but put our own spin on them.

From there, our five judges got to taste and rate our offerings based on flavor, creativity and plating.

BUT FIRST...
Meet team veg: Ellen, aka La Pure Mama. Home chef who studied under the incredibly talented Chef Charlotte of the Lake. Paralegal for her patient Poppey, mama to the amazing Noodle Nose, frequent user of the word fantastical and wife of the carnivore. In her spare time she enjoys cooking and baking and as a result, began her blog in early 2009. Since then, her cooking and baking has become more adventurous and her blog, a little popular. Who would have though people would like sarcasm wrapped in a tortilla.


Other than cooking, she enjoys running and other forms of exercise, drink wine and gab book club, spending time with her fabulous friends and family and fine tuning her exceptional (basically professional) 'serious singing' talent. You will frequently find her behind the stove in their home which is where she loves to be, providing fun and tasty food for guests and common dwellers which include the carnivore and the Noodle Nose.

Sous Chef Charlotte, aka Chef Charlotte of the Lake. Overall fantastic party queen, amazing mama and an inspiration to all. And Sous Chef Kelly, aka Uncle Kelly, my veg inspiration and one of the reasons why I like red hair so much.


Meet team carnivore: Allan, aka Dr. Magic Hands. Dad to Noodle Nose, husband of the veggie. Chiropractor of amazing talents and rarely in the kitchen, save a rare Sunday morning egg and sausage 'fest. Despite that, he is quite the grill whisperer; able to obtain just the right kiss of flame by bending the grill to his will, tongs and spatula in hand.

In his spare time he enjoys playing golf and baseball, watching Sports Center to the point of driving his wife insane, spending time with his friends which usually involves an unspoken contest of who can drink the most Sierra Nevada and back seat cooking while his fantastic wife is in meal creation mode. Special talents include the ability to completely butcher a joke into the most un-funny thing you have ever heard, eating vegetarian/vegan food every single day even though he is a carnivore, offering up some pretty serious singing competition to his wife and flashing his amazing smile and thoughtful heart to everyone he crosses.

Sous Chef Dennis, aka Poppey, father-in-law and fellow grill whisperer. And Sous Chef Jeff, Honey's brotha from anotha motha, mr. extreme, fellow meat eater and major sh*t talker.

Here's Jeff, trying to hide that darn bleu cheese again... cheater.

Paying homage to Kat... Let's meet the Joodges: Jamisson, BFF and the bride-to-be. Erin, auntie and one hot mama. Sara, jewelry queen and wife of the major sh*t talker. Mr. John, house hawker, bringer of copious amounts of red wine and general bad influence. Mark, carnivore, yet quite the objective foodie; can do math in his head.


LET THE MADNESS BEGIN...

ROUND ONE: BEVERAGES. This was titled the 'Bonus Beverage Round' but we started with it so the joodges would have something to sip on while we finished up our appetizers.

Vegan Beverage: Cool off with the fresh flavor and tang of this freshly squeezed limeaid spiked with vodka, finished with a refreshing prosecco float and garnished with a fresh Boxx Berry Farm strawberry and mint leaf from the Farmer's Market. Who wouldn't want to drink nine of these? Not me... I did!



Carnivore Beverage: Blast to the past where your boyfriend was a jerk... a soda jerk! The flavors of vanilla and root beer in this adult-altered root beer float will have you screaming for more. Special effects include eerie yet intriguing dry ice smoke.



The judges were a little aprehensive on this one... as said by Jamie 'it's frightening yet delicious!' And of course, a great picture of Jamie, Erin and Sara poking cautiously at their smoky beverages.


ROUND TWO: APPETIZERS

Vegan Appetizer: Fresh in-season corn, roasted and paired with succulent walla walla sweet onion, fresh red bell pepper and black beans. Finished with a spicy chili and adobo vinaigrette and nestled in an endive boat. Hearty, filling and fun to eat but light enough to have twelve.



Schmoozing the judges :)


Carnivore Appetizer: Dive into these Hooters inspired hot wings complete with famous spicy hot wing sauce guaranteed to get your hands dirty. Cool off with the crisp taste of fresh celery and bleu cheese dressing. Hooters girls not included; however, you may be able to talk Honey into putting the outfit on!



Honey got demerit points for using Kraft bleu cheese... here he is trying to hide it :)



ROUND THREE: MAIN (INCLUDING SALAD)

Vegan Main: Travel east with this flavorful middle eastern spiced butter bean burger complimented with chopped almonds for a crunch roasted red peppers, cilantro and fresh in-season garlic scapes. Served on a slider bun with a mouth watering spicy sweet potato salad that will have you dancing for more.


My little bean burgers, all lined up and waiting for the grill!

Heirloom tomatoes and lettuce from the Farmer's Market... ahhh.

Carnivore Main: A juicy beef burger infused with bacon, cilantro, caramelized red onion and moriber (mor-be-yay) cheese. Guaranteed to send you to the emergency room, this tasty treat is served on a slider bun with a classic creamy red potato salad. Note: in case of emergency, ambulance will be on hand.

Not sure if this was coincidence but there were WAY more pictures of the carnivore foods!



ROUND FOUR: DESSERT

Vegan Dessert: An alarmingly rich chocolate brownie complimented with fresh, in-season Washington cherries with a succulent cherry port reduction in a chocolate cup finished with a candied orange and a taste of port and freshly brewed espresso. An overly indulgent dessert uaranteed to have you licking your plate.

You can't see the orange in this shot...


These are the fantastic oranges!


Espresso too! The catch? They all had to share this one :) well...

Carnivore Dessert: This peanut butter cup cookie is small but mighty and will have you reaching for more. A simple peanut butter dough complimented with a miniature peanut butter cup, all melty and gooey; finished with warm peanut butter cup and cream sauce.




AND THE WINNER IS...
TEAM VEG TAKES IT 19 TO 17!! Ok, I didn't win by that much... Honey put up a good fight! But I'll take it... Honey, as Sara would say: 'it's time to pack up your knives... and leave'.
And this one was captured at JUST the right moment!



And this caption is... 'but... I'm team carnivore!!'

Another special thank you to our cinematographer turned photographer, Michael aka Uncle Michael. My younger brother and general fantastic uncle. He will also want me to make sure and include that he does indeed have the sickest dance moves in the living room. When he read that in the program he said, 'I didn't use that word... you know, 'sick', that night... did I?' No Uncle Michael, I made that up myself because there's only one word for what you were busting out that night. And yes, I do have it on video.

Side note... Michael was supposed to video the throwdown which would have been fantabulous except 'someone' apparently forgot to charge the battery; lame (and that someone was definitely NOT me. And that is definitely NOT a lie... she said with sarcasm dripping off every word). So we turned him into our photographer and co-team throwdown intern, asking him to go to the store, go to the house, make the antipasto tray, feed the dogs, wash my car (ok that was a little overboard) AND take pictures, all at the same time. Thank you :)


Oh yes! And the t-shirts... ah the t-shirts. That was one of my 'I have a great idea!' ideas. It would have been even better had I not thought of it THE MORNING of the throwdown which, of course, had me running here and running there to get the supplies I needed (like I needed another project). I sure am glad I did though, they were really the capper, making our event truly 'official'. Everyone at the Farmer's Market wanted to know about them and YES! I did do a little shameless advertising... hey, what can I say, I want lapuremama to be immortalized on Foodbuzz's Top 9 and Blogger's Blog of Note too! Lofty goals, I know. Foodbuzz? Blogger? are you reading?? 

Also, the t-shirts were such a hit (everyone wanted one to show their support to their team of choice) that I'm going to alter the design a little bit and make more. Stay tuned for a giveaway of fantastical proportions featuring a team shirt of your choice, for your wearing pleasure. You know you want one.

All in all, if you have made it through this monstrous post, I will say this once again... it was an amazing day. We were all exhausted by the end but not exhausted enough to finish off team veg's lemonade, about a dozen bottles of Mr. John's copious amounts of red wine, a few bottles of champagne and even a little fizzy water.

The throwdown was met with such enthusiasm that we have officially deemed it an annual event. Next year we're going to either do couples, girls against boys or bring the whole family in. Stay tuned for more info. Also, stay tuned for another post with recipes and more pictures pictures... there were so many good ones, I hate to leave you out of the picture loop. Really, you'll feel like you were there!
 
And here are a few more of my favorites... just to tide you over until the next post.
 
 
 

Vegan
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