Tag Archives: entertaining

GIVEAWAY and review for Vegan Finger Foods

Recently I was contacted by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen about receiving a review copy of their new book Vegan Finger Foods and doing a giveaway as well. I excitedly agreed. I love the recipes I’ve tried from their earlier Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day and Tami’s American Vegan Kitchen. With a bakesale and baby shower coming up I knew that I’d get a lot of opportunities to try out recipes.

Upon cracking the book open the first thing I noticed was all the lovely photos take by Celine and the very modern ideas. I had a hard time deciding what I would try because so many different recipes were appealing. I think the recipes in this book would appeal to all the different kinds of vegan diets out there. There are recipes that feature whole foods, are soy free, soy heavy, gluten free, bread based, raw, baked, complicated, easy, cupcake heavy, sugar free, comfort food, or chocolate based.

The first chapter is a short primer on finger foods and any types of special ingredients they use. Then it goes into “Veggie-Centric Finger Feasts” with recipes like “Kale Cucumber Cups” and “Snacking Chickpeas” these were all vegetable heavy and on the easier side. Next was “Stuffed and Dipped” with recipes like “Sauerkraut Stuffed Seitan Rounds” and “Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites” which I think most excited me. Then “Bread-Based Bites with recipes like “Pull Apart Pesto Bread” and “Spinach Swirls with Quicky Marinara” and finally “Sweet Little Somethings which includes recipes like “Creamsicle Ice Lollies” and “Goji Berry Cacao Bites”.

The first recipe I tried was the Tahini Caramel Popcorn. The first batch came together like magic. The second batch went awry when I dropped my fork into the caramel and then tried to retrieve it with my fingers. I learned that you NEVER put your fingers in hot caramel, it sticks right to your skin and burns burns burns. So, while I  was dealing with that, I wasn’t stirring and  the caramel cooked too long. Also, I think because of the humidity here I had trouble with the caramel really solidifying because the popcorn never became rock hard until I tried putting it in the fridge. So, I ended up selling them as Tahini Caramel Popcorn Balls at the bakesale. They were a hit! The tahini really added an interesting element. My friends that tried them loved them and they are GF so a perfect bakesale treat.

The one recipe that kept calling my name every time I flipped through the book was the Nacho Potato Skins. I found this recipe a bit overly complicated for me, like instead of calling for a small chopped onion they call for something like a half a cup of finely chopped onion. I know most folks prefer this kind of precision but for me, in something like a black bean salad, I just want it to be super simple. But then, I also thought the step of coating the potatoes with adobo and then crisping them again seemed like an unnecessary step but I am so glad I didn’t skip it. Just that little bit of flavor and crispness made the recipe for me. We used big russet potatoes and had one each for dinner. Dan couldn’t believe I ate mine with my hands but I told him it was a Vegan Finger Food! They were totally delicious and hit that junk food note even though they were, dare I say, healthy nacho potato skins using fresh vegetables, beans, and homemade vegan queso. They were very fresh tasting and had lots of flavor, I loved them.

Next, I had to decide which recipes to use for a taco themed baby shower. I wanted things I could mostly make ahead of time but that would go with the overall menu. I knew that my guest of honor is way into jalapeno poppers so these were definitely in from the start. Actually, this recipe probably turned out to be my favorite from the book and I would definitely make it again. I even used their tip of using gloves when dealing with the jalapenos (whenever I’m doing a cookbook review I try to actually follow all the directions). Somehow, I had never used gloves before. As an incredibly lazy person I always thought it was easier to be super careful when de-seeding hot peppers than to find some gloves. Boy, was I wrong. With gloves you can go a thousand times faster. And you are probably a lot less likely to touch your eyes (or other sensitive areas) with gloves on accidentally. For this recipe you hollow out the jalapenos, make a cashew cheese, plop a tablespoon of it in each jalapeno half, and then invert it onto a plate of panko and cornflakes, and bake them in the oven. They had all the crunchy cheesiness of traditional poppers without having to deep fry or use cheese. And they were super easy. A total win.

Finally, I decided to also make the Baked Lenteja Taquitos instead of the Pulled Jackfruit Mini Tacos because I figured that growing baby would need some extra protein. These seemed super easy; you cook up french lentils and then mix them with some mashed potatoes and spices, roll the filling in tortillas, and then bake them in the oven. When shopping at Fiesta I came across their homemade corn tortillas that were nopale flavored so I kind of had to try them. They did not work well at all in this recipe, however. I think fresh flour tortillas or even store-bought corn tortillas would have held up much better in the rolling process. They tasted good though! And they were crowd-pleasers as well.

There are still many recipes I want to try! The Brewpub Cauliflower Dip, Tiny Tomato Pies, and the Portobello BLTs are all going to be coming out of my kitchen sooner rather than later. And if you are worried about getting the book because you don’t entertain, never fear! Many of the recipes can easily be scaled up for dinner (like those BLTs) or used as side dishes like the Green Beans Jalfrezi. It also seems like a GREAT book for coming up with things to bring to a potluck, and God knows, if you’re vegan you have to go to potlucks all the time. They back section of the book has sample menus like “Hot Summer Nights” and “Extra Easy Entertaining”. You can check them all out on the Amazon Preivew. I really do think this book has something for everyone. I think some vegan millionaire should buy a ton of copies and send this book to every bar because bars here never have interesting vegan options. 

Giveaway Closed!

If you would like to win a copy please comment below and answer this question: If someone was throwing a party for you, what would you want on the menu? Make sure you add your email when you leave the comment in the form so that I can contact you if you are the winner!

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Posna Zeljanica Pita – Serbian Vegan Spinach Pie

My mom’s mom, my Baba makes the best cheese pita in the world. This is an undisputed fact, it is known among everyone whoever tried it. If you have ever had burek or gibanica it is like that. The recipe calls for half a dozen eggs, a pound of brick cheese, cream cheese, and a stick of butter. My mom more often would make the spinach version, like spanakopita, when I was a kid called Zeljanica which I preferred, probably because it is fun to say (zel E on it za). It was definitely the first dish that I can recall eating my greens and liking them. It was also one of the first things that I learned to make and when I went away to school I liked to make it for potlucks because it is so delicious and easy to make and the recipe makes more than just a few people *should* eat.

After I went vegan I sadly realized I would never eat it again since there was just too much to substitute. Plus, the eggs make it puff up and I didn’t want a bunch of green muck which happened to me once before when I didn’t have the recipe right. A few weeks ago Chicago Soy Dairy sent me some mozzarella Teese and it eventually got me thinking that now I had the perfect cheese element wrapped up in front of me! I could easily replace the cream cheese with tofutti cream cheese and olive oil replaced the butter (I didn’t want to use melted earth balance but I think it would be great). The only problem was the cottage cheese and egg so I replaced both with big tofu crumbles marinated for a couple of minutes in salt and lemon juice and some pine nuts. I also thought that I would have more texture using Swiss Chard, spinach’s sturdier cousin. Then since it is spring time I added a giant leek.  I really couldn’t believe how well it all turned out, I still can’t. It is just perfect, even better than I had hoped. The teese worked perfect, there is no weird taste and it is decidedly rich. I don’t want to say “you won’t believe it is vegan” but dammit, I have to!  I am also excited because I have my go to potluck dish back!

The Zeljanica also works great as an easter dish, especially if you want to serve it to your Serbian Orthodox friends for American easter since they will still be fasting for another week. You can also sing along with them to this video or enjoy 3 X Love and everyone can have a laugh. You could also serve it for your equinox festival, to celebrate the opening of the first public library (in 1833, in Peterborough, NH), your 4/20 throwdown, Buddha’s birthday or for brunch. It is a dish that will work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, appetizer, or feast. Hot or cold, it doesn’t matter.

Zeljanica

1 lbs extra firm tofu
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
10 oz Mozzarella Teese, grated
1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves torn
8 oz plain toffuti cream cheese
1 large leek, white part cleaned and chopped in skinny half moons
Box of Filo Dough, defrosted*
olive oil or melted earth balance
*the fresher the filo dough the better it will work. If you have a greek store you can usually find it there in the refrigerated section as opposed to the freezer. Otherwise, get the frozen kind and let it completely thaw in the fridge for a day before you use it. Don’t try any other method (trust me) it doesn’t work you have to wait.
Crumble the tofu into a bowl with your hands squeezing the water out as you go. You want pretty big chunks, like tablespoon size. Next, add the salt and lemon juice and mix together and let marinate while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Add the Teese, the chard, the leek and the toffuti to the bowl and mix everything together with your hands until everything is incorporated but not blended.
Next, Preheat the oven to 375 and assemble your workstation. You want everything at hand because once you get the filo out of the packaging it dries quickly. Get a baking sheet out and oil the bottom and put about a third of a cup of oil in a bowl with a pastry brush. Get a towel slightly dampened with no wet spots, you don’t the filo to get wet because it will stick together so make sure that your damp towel is not that damp! Open the filo and unfurl it and place it under the towel.Carefully peel off the first layer of filo. Usually the first layer doesn’t come off well so I end up putting it to the side. Don’t worry about messing it up because you have more dough in the box than you will need and the bottom layers don’t have to be perfect. Lay the first sheet down on the oiled pan, cover the remaining filo back up with the towel and oil the top of the first layer of dough. The oil works like mortar sealing everything together. You can patch pieces together and seal holes with any excess you have moved to the side. When you are done get the next piece out and repeat the process until you have 6 layers down. Then spread the filling out over the dough. Top with pine nuts and then, using the same process add 6 more layers to the top. . You can also use the filo in alternative ways with this filling although this is the easiest. Sometimes I do something decorative on the very top with the leftover filo, just use a lot of oil. I have spelled things out, tried to make flowers, and made a thicker crust around the edge. Or you can top with asparagus pieces and they will roast right on top and then when it is done you can cut it into little squares if you want to be fancy. Once it is assembled you can also refrigerate for a day or two and bake it the day you need it. Another fun thing to do is fold it into triangles and deep fry.

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. The edges will be the first thing to burn so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes. After it has cooled you can cut it into pieces to serve cold or you can keep it whole and warm it up back in the oven if you are not serving immediately. Enjoy!