Julie Anne Rhodes
Tis the season to be jolly, and entertain! The very first recipe I looked at in The Conscious Cook cookbook had me salivating immediately, but I wanted to save it until now as it is the perfect first course for Christmas dinner. It is labor intensive, and must be eaten immediately (I don’t recommend them for a large party), but worth every bit of effort. They are as scrumptious as they are festively colorful. I did find the ingredients for the filling made far more than needed for the recipe… a minor flaw that I’ve found with several recipes I’ve tested so far. Probably the result of scaling restaurant size recipes for the home kitchen. I froze the excess, and plan to make these addictive treats again once Tatjana comes home for the holiday.

Beet Rollatini with Balsamic Gastrique
When is it more appropriate to be super indulgent? I decided to make the Pine-Nut and Basil Seared Gardein “Chicken” with Lobster Mushroom Beurre Blanc, Braised Kale, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes for the main course… except my version was an Oyster Mushroom Beurre Blanc since the green grocers at 3 different grocery stores didn’t have a clue what lobster mushrooms were (let alone carry them). I’ve never had them before either, so I guessed that oyster mushrooms would be the closest substitute. The sumptuous feast tasted great even if I was wrong . I also used red potatoes instead of fingerling to add the color I lost with the lack of lobster mushrooms.

Pine-Nut and Basil Seared Gardein “Chicken” with Lobster Mushroom Beurre Blanc, Braised Kale, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
After such a rich dinner, I decided to lighten up a bit with dessert. Serafina Magnussen’s Seasonal Fruit in Papillote fit the bill perfectly. I opted for the combination of figs, pears, vanilla, and balsamic. I used agave for the sweeter, but I think brown sugar would have been a better choice. Exhausted from making the first two courses… I decided to cheat with some store bought vegan ice cream instead of making the cashew

Fruit en Papillote
whipped cream. I thought it looked pretty in the parchment, so I served it still in the paper. A simple yet elegant dessert with the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
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