Sunday, July 5, 2015

Oh, Elf..Where Art Thou?

This week marks the beginning of TE’s (The Elf’s) third year of eating totally plant based – so looking forward to new recipes, new resources, new information, new dishes in local restaurants (hoping!) and the new cookbook from The Gentle Chef. It also marks a brief hiatus from our THE EXPERT and THE ELF project, to be resumed in the fall. We’ll be talking about the recipe we prepared last week shortly but suffice it to say that Susan Voisin is one of the top vegan bloggers and recipe builders in the country, so y’all please sign on to her FatFree Vegan Kitchen site for a wealth of great information.
Over the remainder of the summer (and since we live in Mississippi, that’s quite a while yet), we hope to explore different sites that we’ve been impressed with and tried a recipe or two. We will also talk about the plethora of fresh vegetables that are so plentiful now.
 It’s been a busy week of kinky cookery in The Elf’s kitchen. We have made cookies galore to freeze for an August event, we have made entrees and desserts to take to two parties that will be featured later and we’ve made yet again a couple of batches of Bacun and Shredded Chikun from The Gentle Chef.
 So, without further ado—let’s ‘git all up in it”!
Our ‘temporarily’ final THE EXPERT AND THE ELF recipe was Artichoke and Spinach Pie.
This dish was a bit labor intensive and it was TE’s first real elf-fort with phyllo dough. And to be completely honest, when we dove into it initially, we were not blown away. HOWEVER, after the third or fourth bite, it got better and better. AND, it’s AWESOME as a left-over..cold or re-heated. In fact, TE has had it for lunch almost all week and it’s been yummy. So, here we go…we sautéed the onion and garlic.

Then added the spinach (we used frozen spinach since the spinach we had in the frig had passed its ‘time’ and unfortunately found its way to the compost).

While the spinach was cooking, we mashed up the tofu and made the rest of the ‘pie’ filling with the nutritional yeast and seasonings which included Kalamata olives (nothing can taste bad with olives in it). We added that to the spinach along with the roughly chopped artichoke hearts (we pulled those tough old leaves off) and the coarsely chopped slivered almonds.

OK, here’s where it got interesting. Given The Elf’s penchant for NOT reading directions, we found ourselves challenged with the phyllo. At LEAST we did thaw it out correctly! Thank goodness there were 20 sheets of dough in one packet because we ruined at least 5 of them by putting a damp towel DIRECTLY on top of the sheets instead of first covering them with plastic wrap. LESSON LEARNED the HARD way.

After getting that first layer of phyllo down in the pan, carefully spraying each of those onion-skin thin dough sheets with olive oil, we poured in the filling.

Oven-ready, we cut the servings as directed.

Out of the oven about 35 minutes later (at 375°), it at least LOOKED good!

And as you can see, plated on our exquisite china as a serving, it really looks lovely.

And, up close and personal, even better!

So, there you have our final FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe for the summer.
Again, we want to thank Susan Voisin for her support and enthusiasm for our project. We are already planning on a spectacular Fall return when we can once again walk in the MS air without need of gills or an ice bath.
One of The Elf’s go-to meals is very easy and based on a FFVK recipe with Elfin changes.
Instead of raw noodles, we stir-fry them and add some other things. That peanut sauce, though, is to DIE for—well, maybe not DIE for but it’s really delicious.
First you noodle-ize some zucchini. We have one of those hour-glass looking spiralizers. Not a big fan but it works ok. Here’s what you get. We had both green and gold zucchini in the garden…looks really pretty, don’t you think.

And up close, even prettier.

Next, we added whatever vegetables needed to be cleared out of the refrigerator…onions, mushrooms, julienned red pepper and, our stand-by, The Gentle Chef’s Shredded Chikun.

And here’s a nice close-up. It’s one of our favorites and quite easy to prepare.

Once a month, four vegan buddies (The Vestal Vegans) gather for a vegan pot-luck. Sometimes life gets in the way as all but The Elf are working, involved in athletic endeavors and generally living life to the fullest. Well, The Elf is doing the latter but retirement sorta makes things a lot easier. We FINALLY got together on July 3rd and had a fabulous evening of camaraderie, fun, great food (both in terms of taste and amount). From left to right...Gigi, Misty, The Elf and Leslie.

Unfortunately, The Elf’s pictures of the food were not good. But we had Gigi’s Beet burgers that were not only incredibly beautiful but also delicious; Leslie’s awesome Italian parsley, tomato, avocado salad (having come directly from an exhaustive bike ride); Misty’s conjured up FANTASTIC salad of quinoa, chickpeas, kale, tomato, red onion and a dressing that only she knows how to make; and The Elf’s rendition of Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Spicy Chipotle Sauce and a veganized version of Peach Crisp topped with some Cherry Amaretto non-dairy ice cream.
The  Beet Burgers prior to grilling..they were SO GOOD!!

The recipe came from this cookbook that Gigi just bought. Looks really cool!
A shot of a fully engaged plate with a half-burger, some ‘dove-into’ taco, and both salads. Late addition and we hope you get a chance to see it.

And finally, the Peach and Cherry Crisp...oh lord.

We are looking forward to our next gathering and new challenges of cool stuffs to prepare.
AND, finally, we went to our BFFs’ home for our traditional Fourth of July PARTAY. This has been a long standing tradition the reunites friends from near and far. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The Elf took the SAME DISHES that were prepared for the Vestal Vegan dinner, so that was easy. The majority of the meal was carnivorous with our hosts spending a lot of time and energy at the grill. So, folks had a great time eating ribs, smoked brisket and stuffs but they ALSO got a taste of some good vegan food as well. The Tacos and the Crisp went quickly! Vegan Taco Power!

 And a quick shout-out to Monika Knepper for preparing some of her lovely roasted grape and olive canapés without the goat cheese. Those were delicious. So a big thanks for ME and Jesse Dees for opening their lovely home once again to the frivolity, debauchery and general good time to celebrate the freedoms we have and cherish.
That’s a wrap, make that a vegan wrap, for this week. The Elf is going to be a guest on The Linda Allen show on SuperTalk Radio this Tuesday at 9:15. We will be preparing (yep, you guessed it…we are on a taco/peach crisp roll) for the staff to sample and discuss ways that folks can incorporate plant-based eating into their lives. Gonna be an Elfin good time.
Hopefully, next week we can include a link enabling you to listen, if you are not in the area. Til next week, y’all, breathe deep, eat plants and love life.
The Elf

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