Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dinner Party

We like to throw fancy dinner parties because it's an excuse to use our fancy entertaining gear and cook up elaborate meals. We also get to use our beautiful giant dining room table that seats up to ten.

For our first course we served roasted tomatoes over a bed of baby greens with home made croutons, fresh basil and braised garlic in a Zinfandel vinaigrette. The salad looked beautiful and had a refreshing, crisp, slightly tart flavor.

For the salad I got to use my new "ring mold." You will notice that in upscale eateries food is often arranged in a perfect cylindrical mound. They accomplish this with the use of a mold. You probably need a specialty cooking store to get one so I sort of made my own by cutting the top and bottom off of a clean empty water bottle. It worked out very nicely.

For our main course we served a rich and robust Chianti "Beef". I used this recipe but replaced the mutton with Morningstar Farms veggie steak strips. All of my omnivore dinner guests raved about the meal so I guess that is an endorsement for the substitution from an unbiased source.

For dessert I served white chocolate brownies with green tea cheesecake swirls. To make the brownies vegan I made my own white chocolate and used earth balance margarine instead of butter. I replaced the eggs with 2 Tbs cornstarch and 2 Tbs soy milk for every 1 egg. I also used vegan cream cheese. My white chocolate loving company really enjoyed these.

I also made Napoleons which were delicious and beautiful. Recipe follows...

3/4 c sifted white flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 c soy margarine
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c soy milk + 2 Tbs

Preheat oven to 400 F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cornstarch. beat in butter using an electric mixer on low speed. Then beat in the sugar, vanilla and soy milk. Lightly oil a muffin pan and fill each muffin cup about 1/3 of the way with batter. (You will get about 12 cups filled) Bake your cakes for about 12 minutes or until inserting a toothpick in the center comes out dry. Once they come out of the oven allow them to cool.

While your cakes bake and cool prepare your chocolate ganache frosting and strawberry sauce. For strawberry sauce combine 1 cup fresh strawberries with 2 1/2 Tbs sugar and 1/2 tsp lemon juice in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. For the chocolate combine 2 Tbs soy margarine, 3/4 cup vegan dark chocolate, 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs vegan heavy cream (I use Alpro Soya Creamer), 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Place all ingredients except vanilla in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Turn cooled cupcakes out onto a cutting board. Slice the rounded tops off of each cake. Take 1 cake a spread strawberry sauce on top of it, top that cake with another cake and then cover the whole thing with the chocolate ganache frosting. Garnish with crushed hazelnuts, sliced strawberries and small dark chocolate wedges. You should end up with 6 mini layer cakes. I serve mine with a swirl of strawberry sauce.

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