Dinner Party!

I hosted my first dinner party last week. It was small, just me and three guests. I worried about the menu because one of the guests is a picky eater. I only cook vegetarian and he doesn’t like/won’t eat vegetables. I also wanted to make something that would go with French Bread so I could get the next bread on my list from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge done–nixing pizza or cheese enchiladas (as suggested by picky eater).

The Menu:

Edamame

Rosemary Roasted Almonds (From September 2009 issue of Cooking Light)

Olives (From Whole Foods olive bar)

French Bread (From The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, made into 2 oz rolls)

Toasted Goat Cheese Ravioli with Red Pepper Dip (from September/October 2009 issue of Clean Eating magazine)

Creamy Rigatoni with Gruyère and Brie (from September 2009 issue of Cooking Light)

Slow-roasted Tomatoes with Sea Salt and Ground Coriander (from Orangette)

Dessert was the Chocolate Caramel Crunch Tart for next week’s Tuesdays with Dorie…more on that on Tuesday. As for wine, I threw myself on the mercy of the wine guy at the 3rd/Fairfax Whole Foods in Los Angeles. He asked me questions on my menu and walked me around the entire wine section. For a starter wine, he suggested the 2008 Marquis de Goulaine Rosé d’Anjou.  For dinner he suggested the 2007 Protos Verdejo, a Spanish white wine. The wine choices were excellent and reasonably priced. I’m definitely going back to him.

The dinner was a big success and loved every minute of it. I prepped most of the day, but was relaxed and carefree for the party. The guests enjoyed everything and we’re all looking forward to doing it again.

toasted goat cheese ravioli with red pepper dip

Next weekend I’m heading to San Francisco to attend the Blogher Food Conference. I’m excited to meet my fellow bloggers, network,  and to visit some of my old haunts. And guess who is the closing speaker? David Lebovitz. Yay!

Thank you to Nasoya–maker of all-natural tofu products, noodles, wonton & egg roll wraps–for sponsoring my attendance at the conference. I’ve been a fan of their tofu, but until now have not tried their other products.

I hosted a dinner party this past Saturday and to start things off I served Toasted Goat Cheese Ravioli with Red Pepper Dip. These are super easy to make, can be assembled ahead of time, and taste outstanding. They are light and a great starter for a heavier dinner.

I found the recipe in the September/October 2009 issue of Clean Eating magazine.

TOASTED GOAT CHEESE RAVIOLI with RED PEPPER DIP

Adapted from Clean Eating magazine
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • 24 Nasoya wonton wrappers
  • 1/3 cup soft goat cheese with herbs (I like the herb & garlic goat cheese from Trader Joes)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers (from water-packed jar), patted dry & chopped
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and coat a baking sheet with oil spray.
  2. Arrange wonton wrappers on flat surface. Spoon a bit of the goat cheese slightly off-center onto each wrapper. Using your fingers, wet the edges of the wrappers. Fold wonton over and press to seal.
  3. Place wontons on baking sheet and coat with oil spray. Sprinkle grated cheese over tops.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes until wontons are golden and toasted.
  4. Meanwhile, make red pepper dip: place red peppers and sour cream in blender. Purée until smooth. Transfer dip to bowl and fold in basil. Season with salt and pepper.

The ravioli can be assembed ahead of time and be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to 3 months. Bake them straight from the freezer, just add a couple minutes to the baking time. The red pepper dip can be made 3 days ahead too.

Cappuccino Brownies

Another word I’ve learned to spell through food blogging: cappuccino. The minute I saw the recipe for these in the July 2009 issue of bon appétit (there’s another word), I knew I needed to make these.

Cappuccino Brownies are espresso brownies topped with a white chocolate ganache and sprinkled with cinnamon. Need I write more?

You can find the recipe HERE.

Korean Sesame-Crusted Tofu

My tofu cubes didn’t stay sesame-crusted!  They looked so nice when I first rolled them around in the sesame seeds, so pretty and professional looking. However, my tofu cubes preferred to be naked. The sesame seeds came off when I stir-fried them. No sense of modesty for these guys.

It didn’t matter, because this stir-fry was perfect for Vegan Tuesday. It was spicy, crunchy, and a complete meal. The recipe comes from the July/August issue of Vegetarian Times and is full of vegetables, garlic, and chile. Perfect over rice.

Korean Sesame-Crusted Tofu

From Vegetarian Times
  • 1 16-ounce package of extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 1 pound bok choy, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 15-ounce can baby corn, rinsed and drained
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bird’s eye chiles or other small chile peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  1. Press tofu between two cutting boards lined with paper towels with heavy pot or can on top of the top cutting board for 10 minutes. Cut tofu into bite-size cubes.
  2. Coat tofu with sesame seeds in small bowl. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add tofu and sauté for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to plate.
  3. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil  in wok over high heat. Add bok choy and bell pepper. Stir fry for 4 minutes. Stir in corn, green onions, garlic, and chiles; stir-fry 2 minutes more. Stir in soy sauce and then fold in tofu.

Serve over rice. Serves 4.

Please visit Michele over at Veggie Num Nums to see what she made for Vegan Tuesday.

Rice Salad Primavera & Banana-Blueberry Sorbet

Last summer I ate a lot of different variations of rice salad. I was cooking a lot from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. In the salad section he has a table full of different twists you can take with rice salads. I think I made almost everyone listed.

I made a big pot of brown basmati rice one weekend and every night as I packed my lunch for the next day I would dish out my rice and make a single portion rice salad.

Rice Salad Primavera comes from the July/August 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. The addition of tofu to the salad makes it a complete meal. I love the colors: red tomatoes, orange bell pepper, yellow squash, and green onions.

The salad is dressed in a simple vinaigrette made of hearty spicy brown mustard, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. It’s light, refreshing and perfect for a summer lunch or picnic or for Vegan Tuesday.

Rice Salad Primavera

Adapted from July/August 2009 Vegetarian Times
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 8 0unce package of Italian garlic baked tofu, cubed
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 green onions, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, quartered, and sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 small yellow squash, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hearty spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. Bring rice and 2 cups water to boil in covered saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
  2. Stir tofu, tomatoes, green onions, bell pepper, cucumber, and squash into rice.
  3. Whisk together vinegar and mustard in small bowl. Whisk in oil until mixture forms smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir vinaigrette into rice. Chill well before serving.

Serves 8.

We’ve had a bounty of locally-grown blueberries, so for something sweet I made the Banana-Blueberry Sorbet from The Perfect Scoop. Even though there is no dairy, it’s creamy from the bananas. It’s light and refreshing without the heaviness of ice cream. Perfect on a summer night. I also think it would be great frozen into popsicles. You can find the recipe HERE.

(Of course, when I mentioned to the co-workers the great tasting blueberries they wondered when something baked  would show up. Can’t take this to work. 😛 )