Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Eats and Family Treats

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Easter weekend. I have to brag that we had just perfect weather this weekend. It was in the upper 80's and breezy. I worked most of the weekend, but Sunday I decided to take 1/2 day of vacation and don my apron to make an Easter spread for the fam. Fred got busy filling the plastic eggs while I toiled away in the kitchen.

It is always a fun challenge for me to decide what to make for our crew. Our family and friends are mostly carnivores, but after a couple of years of our vegginess, they have been very receptive to vegan holiday meals at our humble abode. This year my planning began with my ongoing excitement about our mutantly splendid artichoke plant. It is producing a crazy amount of beautiful globes! I picked 10 this week and there are at least 20 more on the plant. Crazy = AWESOME!! This phenomenon will most likely get its own post in the next couple of days. I pulled out and dusted off a couple of books that haven't seen the light of my kitchen in a very long time: Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein and Nonna's Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan.  Both books have wonderful options, but this time I focused on the former because of the ingredients I had on hand.

The artichokes got the royal treatment with Klein's Nicoise Stuffed Artichoke recipe. The stuffing was a delightful combination that included kalamata olives, tomatoes, onions and garlic jammed into our fresh from the garden 'chokes. The stuffed beauties were baked in a bath of white wine and veggie broth. The white wine gave them a lovely delicate hint of fruitiness. The only question I have is why did mother Earth decide to make the hearts so small and the tough leaves so big. It's just seems unfair. I really like this preparation and can see this being a favorite.

I kind of cheated on our other appetizer platter. I used bottled Paul Newman's light Balsamic Vinegarette to marinate the grilled vegetables. I need to use up the bottle and I was a bit short on time. This filled the bill just fine. I marinated fresh red bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, asparagus, baby zucchini and steamed garnet yams. Our lovely daughter grilled them to perfection. Little side note: I have to tell you that when I married Fred, I received a wonderful gift: a beautiful family that I feel so lucky to be a part of. It's always so much fun having both sides of the family hanging out and truly enjoying each others' company. Thank you guy for all of the love :)

Here is the appetizer spread.

Next up was the Greek Lenten Spinach Pie. Hey it was Easter and although I don't partake in the lenten rituals myself, I appreciate food traditions. This was a lovely presentation. We were able to get fresh dill from our garden. The interplay of the dill, the touch of fennel and nutmeg was interesting and quite tasty! I think I should have used a bit more olive oil between the layers, but not a crumb was left.

Our second entree is a family favorite that, if you've been reading for a while, have likely seen before: Gourmet Pasta. It's always a sure fire hit with our gang. It is creamy, hearty and so so so decadent.

The dinner plate

For dessert we were once again treated by our lovely daughter. She is and incredible gourmet cook in addition to being just an awesome person. She loves to create her own recipes, but for this occasion she pulled out a vegan classic: Vegan with a Vengeance. She made the carrot cake recipe from the book (can't remember the name of the recipe) minus the macadamia nuts. I am not usually a fan of the coconut flakes, but this cake is outstanding. It is moist and rich and awesome. She used a bit of Toffuti cream cheese in the frosting and subbed 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour. Check it out! Beautiful.

The luscious middle

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