Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Years Eve Celebration Dinner

I've been wanting to blog about the New Year's Eve Dinner that my family enjoyed last week, but what a long and busy weekend, what with some great hiking weather (finally, dry AND above freezing!), a few local bargains to be had, and just chilling out with the family, enjoying some lovely free time.

Our dinner was hearty and delicious, with an Eastern flair. Clockwise from the top you see: twice baked samosa stuffed potatoes, chili lime crusted tofu triangles with dipping sauce, coconut-tamarind vegetable-chick pea curry, and saffron-garlic rice with toasted almonds.

Most of the recipes came from Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. The actual recipe names and pages are "Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes" (p60), Chile Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu (p127) and Saffron-Garlic Rice (p119). The curry was a "cheat" -- I just sauteed some onions and peppers, added a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas and a pound of frozen spinach, and poured on a jar of coconut tamarind curry sauce.

Everything was exceptionally good. This cookbook is truly excellent and comes with my highest recommendation. I do have to warn you, though, unless Isa and Terry have fulltime kitchen staff, their estimate of 20 minutes (minus baking time) for the potatoes is a typo. It is a very labor-intensive dish; there's no way I could possibly dice the onion, dice the carrot, grate the ginger, mince the garlic, crush the coriander seeds, juice the lemon, scoop out the potatoes, and actually saute (which it says to do for 7-10 minutes, then add a bunch of things and cook some more...) all in 20 minutes! The sauteeing itself took 20 minutes. So, chef beware; this dish is totally worth the effort, but pre-prep he ingredients in advance!

The tofu was surprisingly easy to make, and turned out really good. First you dip in a batter, then a cornmeal mixture, then fry. The cornmeal mixture called for lime zest (it ended up being a whole lime for me), so I was left with a naked lime. I decided last minute (and I mean last minute -- everything was already on the table) to squeeze all the juice out of the lime to create a limey dipping sauce. It really added a nice touch to the dish, and you get to use the whole lime! I whisked together the juice of one lime, some rice vinegar, a bit of agave nectar, a dash of tamari, and a sliced up scallion for the sauce.

The rice was really special; it calls for saffron threads (which are pricey and, in my kitchen, get used only on special occasions). It, too, was a pretty easy and quick recipe.

I'd love to post the recipes here but that wouldn't be fair -- you really should buy this book!!

Happy New Year!

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