It's summertime! At least, that's what the calendar is telling me. The temperatures are telling another story entirely - here it is mid July, and we're still waking up to 65 degree days. Whatever though, at least it stopped raining. But what with it being summer, and what with us finally having a presentable apartment (with a real dining room no less), it's the perfect time to have a light and fun dinner party! Which is precisely what we did last Friday night.
When we moved in May, we actually only traveled about seven blocks. A short walk, then, for our (decidedly not vegan but very open) former neighbor to come see the new place. And would we think of inviting her over without treating her to some vegan vittles? Certainly not! I'll have to give my darling Jonathan all the credit for the menu - except for dessert, of course. I took care of that. But that doesn't surprise you a bit now does it?
We began with a mix of sugared pears, including anjou, red, and mystery pear number three, spiced with a bit of clove and lime juice. A nice light start, sweet but tart, refreshing and appetizing. Jon has a bit of a history of doing nice things with pears for us - during the winter, there's baking... Our dinner guest noted that when she makes pear pies she puts pepper in the crust, which I think could be quite appealing.
Next came the main part of the meal. A bit of starch and a bit of protein, one part hot and one part cold. On the hot side, we had a nice dish of potatoes and tofu seasoned with Italian herbs and dill. He began by pan frying chunks of well pressed tofu with caramelized red onion, and then simmered that with slices of white new potato in un-chicken broth. Jonathan's intention was to have sort of potato medallions, but... well, we got to chatting for a bit too long, and he'd left it on simmer. And so it ended up being almost a mash, with chunks of fried tofu and bits of onion mixed in. Not what he'd been aiming for, but still quite good.
On the cold side, we had a lovely pasta salad. If you've never made it, it's about the easiest dish in the world. First you cook some pasta - it can be elbows, or spirals, or pretty much any shape you want, though I wouldn't really suggest angel hair. :) Then you toss it with a bit of oil, and let it cool. Once it's room temperature or colder, you, well, make salad! Throw in some vinegar - balsamic or red wine are always nice choices. For ours, we started with multicolored spirals. Then we added red bell pepper, sliced black olives, chopped cucumber, and tomato. Next we spiced it up with lemon pepper (one of my favorite ingredients), celery salt, regular old black pepper and table salt, and a bit more of that good old standby, "Italian seasoning". It's best to let your salad set in the fridge for a few hours or even over night, but you certainly can eat it right away.
And oh yes, after all of that (well, after a little break) we managed to shove down some dessert as well. And what's the best dessert in the summertime? Ice cream! Jon and I do have an ice cream maker, but we've yet to bust it out this year. So we turned to the many fine purveyors of vegan frozen foodstuffs and got ourselves a nice range of goodies. And, I picked up some sugar cones. Personally, I feel that a nice fat scoop of ice cream in a classic sugar cone is a wonderful treat, satisfying on many levels. One scoop of coconut sorbet, one scoop of caramel cinnamon? Divine.
Our little party was a rocking success - we had a grand old time and it was a nice initiation for our new dining room. It's one of my favorite ways to show people how great vegan food can be, and I also just love entertaining. We hope that it is a foreshadowing of many vegan dinner parties to come!