The menus are designed to take about 1 hour to prep. This one hour timeframe assumes you are using some pre-made, store-bought items like pizza dough and vegan sausage. The good news is you have choices. If you don't like to buy the processed stuff and want to make your own, there are recipes included for those items. I like options!
If I'm following one of the cardinal rules of cooking from someone else's recipe: read the entire recipe first, there are fantastic "efficiency tips" sprinkled throughout the book. These help with timing and prep. Make sure to read them lest you make your life harder. I also love the "WTF" boxes. These are tasty tidbits of knowledge about different ingredients. Hey, you never know, this info could help you win some obscure trivia question down the road.
I had 8 people coming, so I decided on two of the menus: Nothing Rhymes with Citrus (Menu 5) and two thirds of Charred and Roasted (Menu 12) (sorry my time management left something to be desired). The citrus menu was almost a perfect choice for the 110 degree days we have been having. I say almost, because I did have to turn on the oven to bake the tofu for the Tofu-Citrus "Titrus" Dippers (pg.51). The creamy citrus dip was the perfect match for the crispy chunks of tofu. The marinade from the tofu made appearances in the other two dishes on the menu. Being a Virgo, I love the efficiency of this. The light, fresh flavors of the Citrus Soba (pg. 53) and Grilled Pineapple Salad (pg.54) made my tastebuds dance. My guests were crazy about all of it, but the very simple Citrus Soba seemed to be the favorite.
Oh did I mention? The cucumbers are from our garden!!!
The Charred and Roasted menu is super easy! I can't believe I ran out of time and didn't make the Sunflower Seed Spread with Crackers! I have the ingredients, so it will happen. It really looks like it takes no time to make, but the doorbell was ringing as I was rolling the pepper from the Roasted Pepper Rolls, so game over for the cooking portion of the day.
I usually like to make my own hummus, but this fine day I opted for an organic spinach and artichoke version I found at Sprouts for the Roasted Pepper Rolls (Pg.112). These are seriously a slam dunk quick and pretty appetizer. How much easier does it get than drying off some jarred organic roasted red peppers, spreading a little hummus on the strips, rolling up with a leaf or arugula and skewering a kalamata on top with a toothpick? Voila! Oh and the colors are perfect for Christmas!
I love veggies on the grill, as you probably already know if you read my column or saw the recent grilling post. The Charred Broccolini (pg 111) is a quick, tasty way to get your green on. I used my pasta pot insert to cook the Citrus Soba (above). This way I could save the boiling water to blanch these guys with ease. Then it was a quick turn on the grill and a toss in the seasoned olive oil to finish it off. I loved this dish!!!
Oh and let me not forget the tasty libations! Each menu has a libation suggestion. I laughed out loud when Brian suggested that I "just grab whatever floaters of shitty light beer are left on you coffee table from the night before". It brought back memories of the days when my room mates and I actually would make cocktails from leftover drinks. Ah the days of being poor and young. My head hurts just thinking about it.
The Cocktails chapter has some rather interesting twists on traditional adult tasty beverages. He uses some funky ingredients in some of the cocktails. I love the fact that he uses a lot of fresh juices, but if you don't have a juicer, some of these drinks would be left in the dust. We tried the Punchy Pineapple. I had visions of grandeur about making fresh pineapple juice. I'm glad I bought a backup of organic juice. After cleaning the house and the dog, I just didn't have it in my to bust out the juicer and clean it afterwards...options I say!!!
Now the most exciting part of today's post. Yes, dear readers, it has been some time since I've given anything away. No time like the present! Tell me a little happy hour story. Leave a comment about a real or dreamed happy hour experience you've had by midnight (MST) this Thursday, June 14th. The winner will be drawn Friday because according to Brian's Happy Hour Rule Number 3 - "Happy Hour is on Friday. Period." this is the only logical day to draw a winner. This one is for US residents only. Please make sure to leave a good email address to contact you!
Good Luck, good eating and many happy hours!