I'm not a chef. The training, ability to scale a simple recipe up to serving dozens or hundreds of people without sacrificing quality, and the dedication to a lifestyle that is not nearly rewarding enough makes that abundantly clear to me.
I'm a home cook. I delight in sharing great food at home with family and friends. Good people and good food mix well everywhere, but there's something special about sharing both at a home. You can enjoy the company and food for hours if you like. The leisure is bliss.
With that in mind, I decided to explore hosting a monthly “Dinner for Eight” that focuses entirely on vegan foods. I aspire to celebrate my veganism not as an exclusion to people who dine in other ways -- but as an opportunity for them to join me for plant-based food that is delicious. Period.
Life’s too short to eat terrible food, regardless of what kind of foods you eat. That's where I start whenever I learn a new dish. The goal is delicious. The plant-based approach is merely my favored methodology.
I chose an Easter theme for the kickoff as it is the big dinner this month. Even families who do not celebrate the religious side of this holiday tend to get together and celebrate Spring with a meal and conversation. I want to show how that's totally in line with vegan foods. The entire experience. A sweet and savory protein, creamy potatoes, and a fresh vegetable to round out a belly busting meal -- all before we look to the dessert.
To make the pre-Easter meal even more special, I invited friends from the Veg Forum on Facebook. A group of vegans and vegetarians from the Ferndale & metro Detroit areas. Yesterday, Vera and I opened our home to five friends from this group.
Vegan Easter Dinner in Three Courses
The menu, as initially planned and offered to friends in the group was as follows:
* Deviled Eggs
* Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms
* Drinks: Coffee, Tea, Water, & Dubonnet Rouge (21+)
Dinner and Conversation
* Glazed Ham
* Scalloped Potatoes
* Roasted Asparagus
* Dinner Rolls Served Warm
* Drinks: Sutter Home Riesling (21+) & Water
Dessert & Long Goodbyes
* Michigan Tart Cherry Pie
* Drinks: Coffee & Tea
That glazed ham wasn't ham of course. It was seitan made from this recipe. I tested this for two weeks leading into the dinner. In the process I made the following tweaks from the original:
By the day of the event I felt good about the seitan ham. The texture and chew was much better for treating it lightly and cutting the cloves back created a better balance of flavors that evoked the notion of a family ham dinner.
For the beverages I chose the Dubonnet Rouge and Sutter Home Riesling after researching both online to confirm they were vegan. It's always surprising to discover which adult beverages are and are not vegan. By the day of the meal the Dubonnet dropped off the menu as I could not find it, and the Riesling was replaced by a Sutter Home Pink Moscato (courtesy of Meijer) for the same reason.
Sometimes you can't find what you plan for. When that happens I choose to celebrate what I can find.
That also meant that the artichoke bottoms went off the menu. I was able to find an endless variety of artichoke hearts, but no stores that I visited had the bottoms. No big deal! Another challenge was the deviled eggs. It was a stretch goal to make them and when I did the agar agar didn't set. So, in the final hour, they weren't available. Lastly, the scalloped potatoes became twice baked using Miyoko’s Kitchen classic Double Cream Chive cashew cheese. They turned out far better than the scalloped attempts.
Fortunately Vera made an incredibly delicious appetizer. I'll let her tell you about it in her own words later.
The tart cherry pie tasted fantastic. I love Michigan berries to understate my focus on them. Vera and I picked the cherries last summer just Northwest of Grand Rapids and I served them from the freezer.
I hit a glitch and forgot how much water would release from the berries as they thawed out and baked, so the pie was very runny, but still delicious. I am reserving the extra cherry runoff to mix up into a cocktail in the near future...can't let them go to waste!
When everyone arrived and we sat down for food it quickly became a meal with old friends -- even the ones we just met for the first time. The casual, family style sharing with lots of conversation and wine went on for hours and became an experience greater than any one part of the meal itself.
It was everything I hoped for. A welcoming home, great guests, good food, and relaxed sharing of life. It's everything food at home should be. I'm now looking forward to doing this as a monthly series. The sharing, the connection, the sense of togetherness validated why this is what I want to do as a home cook.
It's time to get crafty with We CraVe Detroit and Method's Chef Jared Dellario. We've just released a limited number of tickets to our Oktoberfest celebration: a Deconstructed Beer Dinner. Join us in a fabulous secret location in Bloomfield Hills on Saturday, October 17.
Amuse: "Starter Wort"
Maple Creek Micro Greens tossed in Citrus Emulsion, Berkshire Bacon, Bosc Pear with English Style Pale Ale
1st Course: "Yeast and Malt" Fish and Chips
Rosemary Pomme Frittes, Amber ale, and Malt-battered Perch
2nd Course: "Mash Making"
Red Devil Squash, Serrano and Thai Chile Hybrids, Pineapple heirloom tomatoes, Sweet Onion Marmalade, Zingerman's Great Lakes Cheshire cheese with Reduced Wheat Ale
3rd Course: "Sparging & Boil" Blueberry Duck Duo Confit
Duck Confit and Grilled Breast Over English Hops and Lemon Balm Risotto with IPA Blueberry Compote.
4th Course: "Cooling" English Shortbread Sandwich
Ginger and Vanilla Shortbread Cookies, Cinnamon Basil Gelato, and Vanilla Stout Cream Sauce
Grab your hats (literally!) and join We CraVe Detroit and Method by Chef Jared Dellario in the Mad Hatter's garden for a tea-inspired dinner featuring hand-picked, single origin teas from Joseph Wesley Tea's collection. Savor an early autumn evening with fellow foodies and cozy up to a familiar flavor presented in a whole new way. Instead of drinking tea, we're gonna eat it!
Tip your hat to Lewis Carroll by feasting on the following:
About Joseph Wesley Tea:_ A finalist for Martha Stewart's Best American Made Food award, Detroit-based JWT works directly with some of the most famous tea growers in the world to produce exceptional hand-picked, hand-made premium teas (and ice tea).
About Jared Dellario: Jared Dellario is a Michigan based chef. Growing up in Kalamazoo he enjoyed the revolving seasons, community of artists, sports, family and friends. His passion for fine food came when living as a snowboarder in Avon, Colorado he worked at acclaimed Toscanini (fine dining Italian restaurant) in Beavercreek ski resort village. There he developed skills and worked with friends which guided him towards a career path back to Michigan. He has cooked professionally for the last 13 years in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Las Vegas, New York, Ann Arbor, and now in Metro Detroit.
We CraVe Detroit is gearing up for this week's popup dinners! This past Saturday, our friends Dorothy and Jake of Sarap Detroit took us to Eastern Market to introduce us to their favorite farmers -- specifically Melody and Lynn Nye of Melo Farms. Melo Farms is Michigan's largest pastured heritage breed (Berkshire) pork farm.
Chef Peter is preparing Melo Farms' pork three ways for Friday's menu: Smoke Pork Belly, Grilled Chorizo, and Braised Shoulder with Fresh Corn Tortillas and Mole Chichilo. And he's preparing pork a different way for Saturday: Maple Cured Pork Loin Chop with Potato Leek Pillow, Wild Blueberry Gastrique and Ratatouille Salad.
Back in California, we partnered with sustainable farms like Soul Food Farm of Vacaville and organic River Dog Farm. We know the people behind our ingredients and at our popups we aim to connect the producers to our guests by sharing their stories at dinner.
Melody hails from Castro Valley, CA, which is in San Francisco's East Bay -- where I'm from. She and her husband traded in their corporate life and moved from Oregon to Yale, MI, to start their dream of owning a sustainable heritage pig farm! Lynn, like Craig, is originally from Michigan, they moved here in 2010.
Not only do I love pork (it's in my blood since I'm Filipino) but to find out they share Craig and my journey of trading in the West Coast life for Michigan was even more meaningful.
If you haven't bought your ticket to the dinner on Friday or Saturday, what are you waiting for?
We CraVe Detroit presents Canvas Underground:
Photo credit for Melody and Lynn Nye: Karen De Coster (c) 2012
Photo credit for Eastern Market and of Vera and Dorothy: Vera Devera (c) 2015
Are you a rebel? A hungry rebel? Dine at one of San Francisco’s most secret supperclubs as it’s team lands in Detroit.
Join a table full of new friends and a five course chef’s choice menu bringing Chef Peter Jackson’s Bay Area cuisine to you. Our hostess with the mostess, Vera Devera, moved to Detroit this past winter and Peter’s flying in to prepare dishes reflecting his travels abroad.
Join us for 2 nights only in Detroit, first at Yemans Street, and then in a secret location in Ferndale in metro Detroit.
August 7: A Taste of Mexico: It’s Not Taco Night
7:00 p.m. - Yemans Street, 2995 Yemans Street, Hamtramck, MI 48212
Chile Ancho Relleno con Hongos
Mushroom stuffed chile ancho fried in a masa “tempura” batter
Ensalada de mariscos ceviche
Cooked and citrus marinated seafood with chiles serranos, tomato, avocado and cilantro
Sopa de Flore de Calabaza
Squash blossoms, tomatillos, fresh goat cheese and cream
Carne de Cerdo Cocida Tres Maneras
Smoked pork belly, grilled chorizo and braised shoulder with fresh corn tortillas and mole chichilo
Helado de Maiz
Sweet corn ice cream with piloncillo and chocolate sauces
August 8: Canvas Does Detroit
7:00 p.m. - private location in Ferndale, MI revealed only to ticket purchasers
Cucumber and Smoked Salmon
Cardamon-Saffron Yogurt Sauce, Pickled Red Onion
Corn and Roasted Chile Chowder
Heirloom Tomato Salad
Goat Cheese, Pistachio Oil, Wild Arugula
Maple Cured Pork Loin Chop with Potato Leek Pillow,
Wild Blueberry Gastrique and Ratatouille Salad
Summer Berry Compote
Lemon-Lavender Meringue, Vanilla Bean Sabayon