Menu of the Week: Can Veggies Star at a Holiday Party? (Yes They Can!)

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One guest's plate: From top center: Salmon Salad, Roasted Red Kuri Squash, Seitan and Red Potatoes, Belgium Endive Stuffed with Roasted Cauliflower Salad, Millet-Potato Croquette.

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As you’ll see, my idea of party food is a bit different.  I have little patience for fussy hors d’oeuvres and see no reason why party food can’t be nutritionally sound as well as being colorful and fun to eat. Rather than filling people with snacks, I prefer to give them a light meal. I set out a buffet with medium-sized plates, real forks and napkins and provide places where they can sit and relax. Something I learned in Japan makes buffet service easier: many foods are delicious eaten room temperature, not everything needs to be piping hot. The thirty-five or so guests who dropped in for my New Year’s open house seemed pleased with this menu (see complete menu here), and towards the end, when I sat down to eat, I confess that I enjoyed it a lot myself! Recipes and more photos, after the jump…

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Another guest's plate: note the addition of long beans and green salad (photos by Robert Starkey).

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Belgium Endive Stuffed with Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I used this recipe to make a roasted cauliflower stuffing for the Belgium endive, except that I left out the sunflower seeds and to add to the visual appeal, I used an orange cauliflower rather than a white one.

Millet-Potato Croquettes

To make these croquettes, use my recipe for millet-corn croquettes, but substitute 1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes for the corn. In order to get a crunchy surface, you must have your pan really hot before you begin frying these croquettes.

Stir Fried Long Beans

Read how I did the long beans in this post.

Roasted Red Kuri Squash

Easy to do! We cut the squash into 1-1 1/2-inch cubes, tossed it with olive oil, mirin, salt, pepper and just a little soy sauce, then roasted it on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper for about 50 minutes in a 400º F oven. Red kuri rocks! For more on red kuri, read this post.

Alaskan Steelhead Salmon Salad

We started by quickly poaching 2 1/2 pounds of Alaskan steelhead salmon filets.  We cooled them, took the meat off the skin and coarsely flaked it.  We added a package of organic frozen corn kernels (thawed), 3-4 stalks of celery, diced, and green onions cut in thin rounds.  The secret here is homemade mayonnaise–which is easy to do (google it!). I seasoned the mayo with nothing more than salt, pepper and freshly squeezed juice. If you’ve never had homemade mayonnaise, let me assure you it is something very different from the store-brought variety, and well worth the little extra effort.

Roasted Seitan and Red Potatoes with Shiitake Mushroom Gravy, a hearty winter dish which most meat and potato eaters will appreciate.

Read all about seitan and how to make it here. Yes, you can buy it and make a very acceptable version of this dish, but the homemade will be better! I cut the seitan into 1-inch chunks, tossed it with olive oil, garlic and mirin and roasted it in a 400º F oven about 45 minutes, then I brushed on some Annie’s Smoky Maple BBQ Sauce and roasted it about ten minutes more.  The small red potatoes were quartered or halved depending on size, then tossed with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper and roasted in the same oven 50-60 minutes or until nicely caramelized. I made a gravy with sliced shiitake mushrooms, diced onions, garlic and dried mixed French herbs.  When those were well sautéed, I added the broth in which I’d cooked the homemade seitan (water, soy sauce, mirin, ginger) and a cup or two of diced canned tomatoes, checked the seasoning and thickened it all with rice flour. Finally, I combined the seitan, potatoes and gravy and simmered them briefly.

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One response

  1. In this post, Chef Gary did not include the most fabulous pumpkin and sesame crunch bars that he offered as one of several desserts, but he did include them with a photo in his last post on January 2nd. Do NOT miss these fabulous bars!

    Here is my comment on the New Year’s Day foods from yesterday’s post:

    I was most fortunate to attend Chef Gary’s New Year’s Day Party. What a wonderful and happy way to start the New Year! The foods cooked by Gary were varied and delicious, with Gary’s hand made Seitan and Red Potatoes with Shiitake Mushroom Gravy taking center stage for me. What a vegan worthy main course! Everyone always says that the kuri squash is the best squash they have ever had! To follow all of these delectables was the Pumpkin and Sesame Seed Crunch Bars. You must try these! They are most fabulous in tast and especially in texture, with the pumpkin seeds softly exploding at each bite, and of course, just sweet enough! A pan of these would be welcome anytime and at any event!

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