The Dinner Club
So moving right along...
The Dinner Club/Le Souper Social was this idea I had when I first moved into this Montreal apartment with a nice big kitchen, and managed to score a great wooden table that seats eight off of craigslist. The table was just begging me to host dinner parties on it. The idea was that I'd host these monthly (or so) dinner parties as a chance to meet up with others to enjoy good, wholesome, vegetarian food (living alone requires active effort to not eat alone all the time), but also as a fun way to test the recipes for the cookbook I'm currently writing (and keep me motivated to write!).
The event is limited to eight people at a go (because of space and cutlery issues). Everyone makes a dish from my cookbook manuscript and the agreement is that the recipe be followed as it is written, with the proper ingredients and measurements so that we know what's going to be published is correct. It sounds strict, but it's actually fun.
So last Friday was the first one (yeah, it took me two and a half months to get it together) and it was a real hit - filling, fun and I got some good feedback (all F words, huh). We had ginger carrot soup, vege pate, beet and barley salad, fettucini no-fredo, maple roasted roots (which is finally a recipe with measurements), squash au gratin, rice pudding, spice bundt cake and pumpkin pie.
The funny thing about the pie was that Anne-Helene, who made it, had to go before it was time for dessert. We tried it after she'd left and were surprised by its subtle flavour - it seemed the sweetener (maple syrup) and spices had been completely forgotten. It was still good, just different. I haven't had a chance to ask Anne-Helene about it yet, but I'll be sure to do so when I return her pie plate.
Anyhow I offer you this recipe, whether you want to follow it to a T (tea?) or not:
My mum, the mistress of pumpkin pie (though her recipe isn't vegan - she uses organic eggs), is coming to town this weekend and we have plans to bake one of these babies up - so hopefully I can finally fix my camera and insert a picture here.
2 cups peeled and cooked pumpkin (or other orange fleshed squash)
3/4 cup coconut milk (not lite)
1/2 - 3/4 cup filtered water (see how it is with the lesser amount)
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup silken tofu
1 tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger (or 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger root)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. sea salt
To cook pumpkin, wash outside, slice in half, scoop out seeds, and place flesh-side down on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven, pre-heated to 375oF for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool until you can handle it comfortably, then scoop flesh out from the skin.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and about 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and whisk until smooth. Combine this mixture, along with the rest of the coconut milk, water, tofu, maple syrup, all the spices, and salt in a blender until smooth. Add pumpkin and blend a bit more - just until there are not large chunks of pumpkin. Be careful not to run the blender too long or the pumpkin will loose all texture and resemble baby food.
Pour into a pie crust or a lightly oiled baking dish and bake at 350oF for 45 minutes or so (it should be somewhat firm in the middle). Serve with organic whipped cream or cashew cream (see below), if desired.
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour (or 1 1/4 cups light spelt and 1/4 cup oatbran)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup sunflower oil
up to 1 tbsp. maple syrup (optional)
1-2 tbsp. cold non-dairy milk or ice water
In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and cinnamon if using. Add oil, maple syrup (if desired) and soymilk or water as needed to form a ball of dough.
Roll out onto a clean, floured surface and fit into a 9" pie plate. Trim edges. Bake at 350oF for 10 minutes, until dry in the centre, but not browning at the edges.
This living foods recipe is from my dear teacher Caroline Dupont's new book, Enlightened Eating.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water to cover for 4 hours
3/4 - 1 cup filtered water
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
a pinch sea salt
Drain soaking water off cashews. In a blender, whirl up all ingredients (starting with the smaller amount of water) until smooth. Add extra water if necessary. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes enough for a couple pies, so you may want to freeze half of it, or make more dessert.