Uhhh....what? I'm just taking pictures...why would you assume that I have a...what are they called....a food blog?
Yeah. I'm not a good liar.
For this meal, I wanted to be as close to vegan as possible. I knew that my guests would eat dairy products when out at friends, but I'd really prefer to make my guests feel as comfortable (and unconflicted) as possible when eating at my home.
As an appetizer, I served some melba rounds with preserved bruschetta. Everyone that I serve this bruschetta to seems to really like it. Personally, I'm not a big fan.
For the main, I wanted to do something interactive. I think it sets an informal tone while allowing guests to customize their own meal. This is particularly useful when you have guests that have food restrictions and are fussy eaters. Of course, you don't get the 'wow factor' that you might get when you put down nicely plated food or even set out a large dish for a family-style dinner. But, you can always add in these elements in your side dishes or for the dessert.
For the main, I prepared a mise-en-place of ingredients for quesadillas. The selection of ingredients included black beans, mushrooms, shallots, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, chipotles in adobo sauce and vegan cheese (Daiya).
Daiya is a Canadian-based cheese company that is known among vegans as being one of the better options. It started appearing in Ottawa a couple of years ago. It melts up well, tastes good and you wouldn't even miss mozzarella if you use it.
The picture of the quesadilla is a bit shoddy -- due to time constraints. But, basically, we put one fajita shell on the pan, flipped it after a minute and then added the desired ingredients. Then, the second fajita goes on top. After a couple of minutes, we carefully flipped the whole thing. I'd also recommend putting a lid on the pan while it cooks just to get a bit of steam to the cheese.
I think it went over well. The only issue is that it wouldn't really work if you had a lot of guests because each quesadilla basically requires its own pan and you don't want people eating at different times or eating cold food while they wait for others to finish.
In addition to the quesadillas, I went with Noble Pig's Sweet Potato Chips with Lime.
Easy to make and tasted great! I thought I might have too much with two pans of thinly sliced sweets potatoes (about 3 large). But, they shrank down a fair bit and I'm sure if I had made more, they would have been eaten.
My guests brought a nice salad (no picture) and the meal was great!
The dessert was a bit more of an experiment. I thought it would be a calculated experiment to make trifle, which everyone loves, but use soy milk. But I learned the hard way that soy milk doesn't work with regular instant pudding mixes the same way that milk does. Apparently animal fat (found in milk) is required for the pudding to actually thicken up. It probably didn't help the thickening issue that I also bought kosher instant pudding to make sure that it didn't have any gelatine in it. Next time, I'll buy a vegan instant pudding mix.
In the end, I had to head up the milkshake-like mixture and add a lot of cornstarch (mixed into water). Even then, it didn't thicken up until it cooled down in the freezer. Thankfully, it worked out (despite burning some of the vanilla pudding when trying to get it to thicken. Maybe a bit more of a creme brulee flavour than usual, but still very tasty!
I'll leave you with a photo of a recent knitting project that I completed. A free pattern of this leaf-patterned baby blanket can be found here (if you're a Ravelry member). The photo on the left is before blocking and the photo on the right is after blocking.