Christmas Eve, Knitting, and January 6th

My alarm went off at 7 am... Merry Christmas Eve, now get to work!

First order of business: Heidi Swanson's Heavenly Pie. Rather than the graham crackers, I used the Italian almond cookies that Mari used for her tiramisu. Same idea, I gave them a whirl in the food processor with some sliced almonds, Earth Balance and honey.

As that was happening, I was melting chocolate in my makeshift double boiler (glass bowl on top of a metal pot).

When the chocolate was melted, I took the bowl off the pot and carried it over to put in the food processor with the cream cheese, egg and tofu. I've made this pie before, and didn't remember the bowl being so damn hot!! I tried at least five different ways to hold the bowl and scrape it with a rubber spatula into the food processor, but all methods appeared to be heading straight towards disaster, namely dropping the bowl full of chocolate and breaking it. It was then that a brilliant idea came to me. I am the Hooligan Vegetarian, after all. Tourmaster should market these as oven mitts.

At last, the pie was poured...

And then it was baked. And lo, it was delicious.

While the pie was baking, dear Mari prepped the green beans for me.

And the mighty Kitchenaid stand mixer made short work of some tangerines for the brussels sprouts.

Once the pie was finished, the oven was freed up for the roasting of the tomatoes. Aren't they festive?

As the tomatoes were roasting, I put together the potatoes au gratin. I also painstakingly wrote down the recipe, but it needs perfecting. The potatoes tasted really good, but there was liquid in the bottom of the pan. That's decidedly unattractive, and I think it has to do with using too much milk? I'm not sure. Before I post the recipe, I would like to make it better. The pictures, however, came out very well. Behold:

Now comes the part where you tell me I'm amazing. In the midst of all this culinary madness, I needed to finish my mom's scarf for Christmas, the Versatility pattern from knitty.com. In the morning, it was still blocking on the living room floor.

Over the course of the day, I sewed on all 14 (yes, it should have been 16) buttons and finished the scarf in time to surprise my mom on Christmas morning. She enjoyed her gift, and i was pleased to give it to her.

I also decorated the house... trimmed the tree, all that jazz.

As the party drew closer, things started getting finished. Remember the dip? I toasted the pine nuts...

And plated it!

I browned the brussels sprouts while the chili orange glaze was cooking.

I broiled the green beans and mixed them in with the tomatoes roasted earlier in the afternoon.

We put all the appetizers and delicious sweets that Mari made out on the sideboard.

I pulled the coconut shrimp out of the oven. A note on those as well... I paid attention to this recipe, but dredged them in flour first per advice re: frying shrimp. Baking, as it turns out, is not sufficient to cook the flour. The shrimp meat was perfect, the breadcrumbs were crunchy, the coconut was toasted... but I could taste uncooked flour. Everyone ate them and said they liked them anyway, which was sweet if they were lying and great if they just didn't notice anything (I tend to be fairly critical of my own work), but I fully intend to try this out again. This time, however, on tofu... since I don't tend to eat seafood except on occasions that I find myself in sushi restaurants, at my folks' place for dinner, or trying to please a big crowd of omnivores!

So that was Christmas Eve. There was much wine and merrymaking, it was truly wonderful to share the night with family and friends.

In between then and now was New Year's Eve, which I spent with the lovely and talented Brian. He made Thai curry for some of his friends and me, and we rang in 2009 watching the ball drop and drinking champagne cocktails. Mari's birthday followed in short order, and her parents took us out for sushi and then a big group of us took Mari out for karaoke at one of those wild places where you get a private room. The book of songs was about three inches thick, with seven pages of english songs. The rest of the book was in Korean, which is what I assume the TV was shouting at us when choosing songs and giving us our score (!) after we sang.

The past few days have been spent getting back to the real world, which is frankly kind of a drag. However, there has been creativity, in the form of Mari's belated christmas gift: a felted handbag. Here's the bag knitted, before its magical mystery tour through the washing machine this evening.

During said magical mystery tour, I made dinner. Dinner was tempeh marinated in about 1 1/2 cups of No-Chicken broth and a Tbsp of Herbs de Provence. It was served over mushrooms, onions and greens with tomato sauce and arugula walnut pesto on top.

First, while the bag was felting, I toasted the walnuts.

The pesto is made from 2/3 cups of walnuts, toasted in a hot, dry, pan; 3 cloves of garlic, 2 cups of baby arugula leaves, 3 or so Tbsp of olive oil, 2 tsp lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste. After a time in the food processor, it looked like this:

The marinade was boiled and then poured over the tempeh, then covered with foil. This steamed the tempeh (cut in half lengthwise and then into triangles, making eight thin pieces) before it was pan fried.

Somewhere in here, I pulled the bag out of the washing machine and set it up to dry.

The package of sliced mushrooms and two small onions were caramelized in olive oil, about 1/4 cup of the marinade, a splash of balsamic and a bit of salt and pepper. The greens were added later.

Like so...

The tomato sauce was made by reducing a drained can of tomatoes and the rest of the marinade.
And... Voila!! Vegan Dinner!


liz said...

you are amazing! Show us the finished bag for Mari!

Marjorie and Andrew said...

I LOVE IT! Your pix of food are great! Very colorful! It makes everything look so yummy! Even yucky things like coconut shrimps..lol