Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Dinner Party - All Dressed Up
One of my favorite quotes is, "Teach that which you want to learn." And my yoga teaching career was a perfect expression of this. I maintained a rigorous practice for about 5 years, but wanted to deepen my spiritual understanding and journey. So, I started teaching what I knew to others. As my classes at University of Mississippi grew (I once had 70 students!) so did all the questions. I would go back to my teachers and ask, and learn and share. It's a continuous cycle...one that really never ends, even now that I'm not actually supporting myself by teaching yoga.
Such is my path with food. I have not always loved food. There have even been times I thought of food as the "enemy." But, once I recognized the connection between food and so many other things ....art, culture, relationships, peace, customs...I was hooked. And so now, I share what I know, and I am constantly learning.
When I first volunteered to host a vegetarian dinner, I assumed I'd be planning, cooking and serving the entire meal. As a professional "planner," this made me very happy. But soon anxiety struck. This was going to be expensive. I didn't know most of the people who would be at my dinner, thus had no idea what they liked to eat. My travel schedule was extremely hectic.
Soon, the organizer explained this would be a pot-luck. I could either send recipes to everyone, asking them to make something, or I could just let everyone bring what they wanted, within the parameters. The organizer would bring all the wines. All I really needed to do was vacuum, have dishes and utensils, and 8 chairs.
This evening turned out to be a blast. I did vacuum, but also made two really wonderful dishes. Tal Ronnen's Quinoa Makki Rolls are to die for! The beautiful, lacy quinoa is used in place of rice, which gives a slightly different taste and texture, but also adds protein. Included in the filling are Cajun portobella mushrooms, avocado, and this wonderful spicy sauce made with Vegenaise.
My second creation was a bit more adventurous, as most things from the Millennium cookbook, The Artful Vegan, are. I made the Caramelized Onion and Morel Rolls with Truffled Beet Salad and Pinot Noir Reduction. Don't let the name fool you. It was worth every single step, and could easily be served as a main meal, as it was very filling. Though Chef Eric Tucker's recipes always scare me, they are broken down, step-by-step, and always push me in techniques and ingredients I might not have used before. And the beauty is, once you have the recipe down, you can change it up, take short cuts, and make it your own.
Some of the dishes guests brought to share at my party included:
Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers
Kale Salad (this included a wonderful "Ranch-like" dressing made with garlic, lemon juice and avocado)
Moo-less Chocolate Pie (apparently Alton Brown's recipe - I ate the left-overs while watching a mooovie)
Roasted Eggplant with Peppers and Onions
Feta & Herb Vegetable Terrine
So, not all these were vegan, but so unbelievably good. I was the ONLY person at my dinner party who was vegetarian, but everyone commented on how full they were, and that if they could eat like this more often they would. The good news is, they can!
Hosting this pot luck was a GREAT opportunity to share my truth and knowledge, while pushing myself to answer a few out-of-the-box questions AND learn from others. I can't wait to do it again, and hope you will be inspired to give it a try.