Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome to the plant-based party

Welcome to my new blog, The Plant-Based Yogi, where I'll be sharing experiences about yoga and plant-based living.  While I've been vegan for the past three years, last month I completed a Plant-Based Professional Cooking and Nutrition certification from Rouxbe.  It was an incredible experience that deepened my appreciation of healthy food and increased the pleasure I get from cooking and sharing recipes with friends.  My goal with starting this blog is to give back to the amazing community of plant-based bloggers, yogis and writers that inspire me.

The timing of this first post also coincides with the start of the Vegan Month of Food, or veganmofo for short.  VeganMoFo's idea is simple:  write as much as you can all month, about vegan food.  I missed the deadline to be included this year but that doesn't mean I can't join in on the fun.  So here it goes!

These are a few pictures from the final task in my Rouxbe class: plant-based party foods.  We had to create canapes, or small dishes that focused on delivering satiating flavors with just a bite or two.

1) Southern Style BBQ Seitan, Shitake Negamaki with Chive Biscuits
Bbq seitan thinly sliced over a chive almond-milk drop biscuit, topped with roasted shitake gravy.

2) Beet Caviar in Belgian Endive Boats
Finely minced beets mixed with lemon juice, topped with cashew creme and orange zest, served in endive over candy cane beet slices.

3) Aged Nut Cheese Skewers with Semi-dried Heirloom Tomato, Basil and Raspberry sauce
Two kinds of nut cheese: a cashew boursin— cashews, probiotic powder, nutritional yeast, mellow miso, crushed garlic, onion powder, and dried basil and thyme. I also experimented with a smokey hazelnut cheese made from hazelnuts, probiotics, smoked paprika, mustard powder, applecider vinegar, apple puree, salt and pepper. The cheese took the most effort in terms of preperation, since I had to let the cheese ferment and then dry in the dehydrator.
Each cheese was robust on their own so I wanted to select simple complimentary flavors, but they had to be as bold as the cheese or they would just get overpowered. Fresh bright basil leaves, seemed to be an obvious choice, and the acid and sweet of semi-dried heirloom cherry tomatoes also worked to make the classic basil, tomato, cheese pairing. But when I tried it, I still thought I was missing something. It had bitter, sweet, sour, acid, umami, creaminess and texture but it was almost too bitter — so what would brighten this? Simple reduced raspberry sauce. Fresh raspberries reduced with water and bit of lemon juice. This and a tiny hit of mustard made a flavor bomb. So complex, intense. My guests went nuts for this. I made larger skewers with yellow heirloom tomatoes, so I used a few quarter slices to garnish along with the whole grain mustard.

These canapes were fun to make and easy to consume!  I'll be hosting a housewarming party in a few weeks and I'll definitely be making these again.  What made this assignment so much fun is learning how we eat with our eyes first. When you present food in a beautiful appealing way, it actually makes the food taste better.

If you have a favorite plant-based party dish, please share!

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