Meal Six: Lauren and Tara

On this, the sixth Meal with MelRob, I was entirely thrilled to cook for my friends Lauren and Tara. Lauren is *like* a brother to me and was the final veganspiration that pushed me off the animal-biproduct truck of my vegetarian days, all of which led to my foodie lifestyle. Tara is another shining star in my life AND a person who can particularly relate with my love for cooking and culinary creations. But, wait, there’s more–my friend Ionut from Meal Two came along to help. In fact, he suggested the main course of this meal. One could call Ionut the icing on the cake for this meal with MelRob.

The Menu:

  • Bean Dip, compliments of Tara via Tara’s Aunt
  • Irish Soda Bread with almond butter and jam from the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, Bread recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
  • Savory Crêpes, stuffed with Tempeh and Kale, Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce, Crepe recipe and Hollandaise Sauce from Vegan Yum Yum 
  • Sweet Crêpes, filled with chocolate sauce, raspberries, and bananas; crêpe recipe from Vegan Yum Yum
  • – Peach Pie via The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Surprise Bean Dip:

What’s better than a friend giving you food? When a friend SURPRISES you with food. I arrived at Tara’s apartment to find bean dip on the table and warm pita on which to eat the dip. Here’s a picture and the recipe that Tara got from her aunt.

Taste the rainbow.

Dressing:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup oil

Heat all dressing ingredients. Stir to dissolve sugar, bring to a boil over medium heat then let cool.

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 1   16 or 15 oz can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1   16 or 15 oz can Black-Eyed Peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1   16 or 15 oz can white corn, drained
  • 1    small jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 1    cup diced celery
  • 1    cup diced green pepper
  • 1    small onion, diced (red onion adds color)

Pour cooled dressing over veggies, mix well, marinate overnight.

Drain off liquid just before serving. (Tara’s note: I save the liquid in case you have leftovers that can go back into the liquid.)
Serve with scoop-type chip or pita bread/chip.  ENJOY!

Pita fried lightly in a bit of olive oil serve the perfect dip vehicle.

Irish Soda Bread:

As we munched on the bean dip, we toasted the Irish Soda Bread, which is served best warm, and plated up the almond butter and jam. Irish Soda Bread is a perfect appetizer or breakfast entree and can be served with a variety of jams or butters. It can also be baked with currants or raisins to delightful ends. The recipe is on page 62 of the Joy of Vegan Baking, which is conveniently accessible via Google Books at this link.

Tara masterfully handled the presentation of the Irish Soda Bread, swirling the almond butter and jam together.

The hand that feeds you, i.e. Ionut's handsome wrist.

Crêpe Craze:

Making crepes, pretending I'm a pro.

Just as it was getting to the time of the week where I start stressing about what to cook for the weekly meal with MelRob, Ionut mentioned to me that he was interested in trying this vegan crêpe recipe from a site called, “Vegan Yum Yum.” Since the site had aesthetically pleasing pictures, the words “Yum Yum” in the title, and I had been meaning to attempt vegan crêpes, a traditionally very non-vegan item, I jumped on his idea and gathered up ingredients, my favorite skillet, and all of the courage I could muster. The site also includes a video demonstration of crêpe-making, in case you are nervous about your first time making crêpes. Naturally, I wanted to try both savory and sweet variations of the dish. I made three rounds of crêpes, two savory and one sweet.

Round One: Savory Asparagus and Vegan Hollandaise 

The first round of crêpe fillers was also suggested by Vegan Yum Yum. Let me just say that the hollandaise sauce was DELECTABLE. Almonds and nutritional yeast are delicious and combine to make something truly magical. The sauce was not time consuming and I doubt guests would guess that it was vegan at all. Try it and tell me what you think!

Asparagus, lighted sauteed in olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

The essence of savory.

 Round Two: Tempeh and Kale

We filled the second batch of crêpes with tempeh and kale, another suggestion of Ionut’s. I decided to cook the tempeh in a combination of real maple syrup and liquid smoke, two powerhouses that meld together to create a melt-in-your-mouth flavor. I’m hungry just thinking about it. I then added the kale to the skillet until it bursted into a bright green color.   Additionally, the kale I used was locally grown in a hoop house, which is an amazing and beautiful thing for a Michigan winter. There’s nothing like sustainably-grown food to fill your stomach, heart.

Slicing tempeh, with a kale backdrop.

Kale and tempeh getting acquainted--things got hot pretty fast.

Round Three: Sweet-style, with Rasberries, Bananas and Chocolate Sauce 

It was time for dessert, so we added a bit of sugar and vanilla extract to the crêpe batter per Vegan Yum Yum, sliced bananas and pulled out the previously thawed raspberries that were locally grown and preserved via Locavorious. I’ll be honest–I was pretty tipsy at this point in the meal and don’t remember how I made the chocolate sauce. I am fairly certain I just threw cocoa powder, soy milk, vanilla extract, and agave nectar into a saucepan and whisked until it resembled chocolate sauce. I do, however, remember that is was delicious. If you want to create a vegan chocolate sauce, you could easily Google something and try it out.

I threw everything on my crepe, but let my guests assemble their own--that was half of the fun! The other half: consumption.

 Actual Dessert: Peach Pie

I’m not really sure how this Meal with MelRob ended up having such an excessive amount of food, but I do know that when I’m feeling anxious I err on the side of excess. And I had peaches from my Locavorious share and really wanted to make a pie. So, I turned to The Joy of Vegan Baking and prepared a peach pie the afternoon of this meal. The crust was exquisitely flakey and the time I put into this pie was definitely worth it.

We were all so full that we had to take a break before eating pie.

Closing Thoughts: Making an Event Out of a Meal

Though I may have went a little overboard for this meal, I really loved that it had a few courses that facilitated the social events of an entire evening. The small mishaps along the way were entertaining and it was immensely satisfying to taste the fruits of our labor. Making a meal with friends is my ideal Saturday/Friday/everyday night. Try it!

The lovely Lauren and Tara.

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2 thoughts on “Meal Six: Lauren and Tara

  1. this looks amaaaaazing. What drink(s) did you pair with these foods? And if you didn’t like them, what would you proffer as a recommended beverage?

    Thanks!

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