Saturday, February 26, 2011

Festive Vegetarian Challenge!

I'm getting really far behind, because there have just been too many highly edible foodstuffs parading through my apartment recently.  Several of them were on display for EW and NWY's president's day weekend visit, when they brought friend and vegetarian NT over for food, sake, and kirin.  It was very difficult for me to find vegetarian dishes without peppers, since my entire milieu in the kitchen is all about HOT food and MEAT.  Eventually I settled on a loosely japanese theme, which started with tempura green beans:

Thanks to NT for putting the batter for these together while I was freaking out in the pre-meal end stages.  They look great, and the batter was great, but for me the batter was too yeasty for the sweet green beans.  I would have liked a batter that was slightly saltier and had less beer in it.  This is probably party due to the fact that the recipe called for a light beer, and I had forgotten how dark kirin is.  Oh well, you can't REALLY go wrong with deep fried, as long as you don't start a fire (which I didn't this time, thankfully!)

The main courses were vegetable makizushi and chinese sesame noodles:

This noodle preparation is supposedly very popular for chinese brunch (although I'm not sure I lend any credence at all to the introductory blurb in the recipe).  It's mai fun with sesame oil, almond butter, honey, and rice vinegar.  I thought it was going to be WAY too sweet, (especially since the recipe called for sambal, which I left out), but bizarrely the almond butter and rice vinegar combined into this unstoppable combination that became double unstoppable when the sake and dozen or so bottles of kirin had disappeared.

For makizushi, I had cucumber avocado, mango, asparagus with wasabi cream, and shiitake mushroom with scallion:

I was NOT happy with the way the sushi turned out.  It turns out that sushi making (especially for beginners) is an art that requires a little bit more attention than I had available as I freaked out in the final half hour before service.  They turned out so ugly!  I also rolled them way too thick, just like I did in my practice.  I think that the next time I do sushi I need to use a smaller grain of rice and only about half a sheet of nori per roll-- hopefully that will result in a roll that isn't a tiny speck of vegetable in a 2 in roll of rice.  Regardless of my dissatisfaction though, there were ZERO LEFTOVERS from dinner (including the sushi), so I can't be too disappointed.  Everyone seemed to agree that the cucumber avocado was the best-- which doesn't surprise me because that was my favorite too.

Dinner was completed with an off theme but still delicious tres leches cake:

This was easily my favorite dish of the night.  By a factor of like 5 to 1.  It was SO GOOD.  The whipped cream topping I made FRESH in my stand mixer, and that was unbelievable by itself, but the overnight-soaked sponge cake / evaporated /condensed milk conglomeration paired with it was out of this world.  God, it was so good.  I got out of bed like 2 hours early the next morning just so I could eat a giant slice for breakfast.  This was Alton Brown's recipe, and it is a KEEPER!  I should note to myself though that I thought I had fucked it up several times, because when the cake comes out of the oven it is about 1/4 as thick as it ends up being, so I thought I hadn't beaten my eggs enough and they had collapsed.  That is probably a little true, but it didn't end up really mattering after the cake soaked in sugar cream for 20 hours.  UNGGGGGH Just looking at it makes me want a slice, it was really excellent.  We even learned that, all this time, tres leches cake has been one of EW's favorites!  Who knew something so packed with dairy could possibly meet his satisfaction! I'm glad I went off theme!

Between the zero leftover meal and the 1 slice leftover for my breakfast the next morning magic cake, I think the vegetarian challenge was a success, which is pretty surprising given how off script I had to go.  I'm glad I got the chance to push my boundaries in the kitchen!

1 comment:

rachel neil said...

I'm starting to add more vegetarian dishes to our dining room table and less meat dishes.