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.
Today we hosted an Easter themed vegan dinner and in the spirit of the occasion, I decided to make raw vegan lavender lemon truffles. I found the recipe on One Planet and modified it by doubling the ingredients, increasing the amount of dates, adding a splash of maple syrup, and rolling the truffles in Zulka Morena sugar before topping with lemon zest. Here is the recipe with my modifications:
We're ready for you Ann Arbor. Join us for a Pokemon hunt with fellow trainers. We'll grab coffee, hit up some Pokestops, ice cream, and keep on moving! Download Grubbable and use referral code "verad440" for a free month; you'll get a discount at Argus.
Wow, what an incredible event, Detroit!! More than 100 folks showed up tonight to join us for a Pokémon Go Bar Crawl (2 miles and 5 bars). We caught rare Pokémon like the Electabuzz, Bulbasaur, and Mankey. Thank you so much to all of you who made new friends, and to the participating bars: Checker, Grand Trunk Pub, Queens and Park Bar.
Here's a sneak peek of where we hosted our secret POP:LUCK. Can you guess where?
The theme was "green" and everyone made terrific dishes, from a dill shrub cooler, to chimichurri portobello mushrooms, tostones with avocado crema, Sarap Detroit's pandan chicken, pesto tortellini, orzo pasta salad, spinach soufflé, mint lime panna cotta, pistachio pudding cake, and more! More pics to come.
If you missed this one, join our mailing list to hear where we're popping up in West Village next month.
Join us at 12 noon on Saturday, May 21, for our inaugural POP:LUCK event.
What's a POP:LUCK? It's a pop-up plus a potluck! We CraVe Detroit's mission is to connect food, people, and art and as you know, we like to pop up in unexpected places.
Each month this summer, We CraVe Detroit will host a POP:LUCK featuring a special theme or ingredient in the outdoors. May's theme is GREEN* and we're teaming up with our friends, Sarap Detroit, to kick off the series in the Dequindre Cut. We then get together — with you — to eat a whole lot of food with new people!
And the best part is this event is free, with one caveat: All you've got to do is sign up and prepare a green-themed dish to share with at least 8-10 others. Registered attendees will receive wristbands on the day of to participate. (We anticipate a few dozen participants but want to make sure the amount of food you make is manageable and also allow you to sample different dishes).
Here's what you can sign up to make:
Note: The exact location on where to meet will be released to ticket holders only.
We're thrilled to make it on to Thrillist's comprehensive list of Detroit's pop-ups. We're in good company, including our good friends, Dorothy and Jake of Sarap Detroit.
Over the winter, we teamed up with Dine Drink Detroit and Yum Village to co-host a dinner with Brion Wong of the soon-to-open Peterboro.
And we've been hosting vegan potlucks in Ferndale. Stay tuned for a bacon themed dinner we're set to do with the guys who put on the BaconFest every year.
Thanks for the love!
- Craig + Ve
We are ecstatic to be collaborating with Yana G of The Salo Series and Scott R. of Dine Drink Detroit for our next dinner: ANI on Sunday, November 15, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
ANI means "harvest" in Tagalog, or filipino. This is a collaborative dinner celebrating the local and seasonal ingredients of Michigan and diners will feast kamayan style: dishes will be coursed out served on banana leaves and eaten with your hands.
Get your tickets here.
Bistek Tartare | Appetizer
The classic tartare, with a filipino/vietnamese twist. Minced sirloin, tenderloin and round, with calamansi, shallots, soy sauce and perilla, topped with quail's egg.
Porchetta stuffed with Sisig | Entree
Very similar to lechon pork belly, rubbed with lemongrass, ginger, mint and coriander, stuffed with sisig: minced pig's head sauteed with soy, calamansi, thai chilies, onions, garlic and chicken liver, with egg.
Kalderitik | Entree
Kaldereta made with duck: "itik" and obviously, foie gras.
Chef's surprise | Entree
Ensaladang Talong | Appetizer
grilled eggplants with local greens, tomatoes and onions in spiced vinegar.
Roasted Corn Flan | Dessert
Roasted corn in creamy flan.
About Yana Gilbuena | The Salo Series
Self-taught Filipino Chef Yana Gilbuena thrives on traveling and cooking Filipino food. In 2014, she embarked on a 50-week pop-up dinner tour across the 50 U.S. states, and wrapped up the Canadian provinces in 2015. Starting in 2016, she's taking The Salo Series to South America. This is your last chance to eat with her stateside!
Like We CraVe Detroit, Salo is not about the food, it's about the people for Yana. “You never know who you’ll get to meet that night. Everyone comes in not knowing [each other]. It becomes networking, but not in a sleazy kind of way. They’re coming together, because they’re curious about Filipino food or they love Filipino food. So at the end of the night, everyone becomes a family, especially when you’re eating with your hands. There’s no pressure of being so formal with the fork and spoon on the right. I just feel like it lessens that expectation and it’s just fun when you see people digging in!” - [source for quote: The Chef's Connection]
About Dine Drink Detroit
Dine Drink Detroit is an annual dining event featuring independently owned and operated restaurants. The price point is low to encourage people to try more than one restaurant.
"The inspiration is that there are so many cool small businesses in Detroit," says Scott Rutterbush, operations developer for Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company and co-organizer of Dine Drink Detroit. "People are doing some really great stuff that we wanted to showcase and celebrate. These are places that maybe not everyone knows about."
On October 17, Patience and Martin graciously let We CraVe Detroit take over their home for a tasty beer infused meal prepared by Chef Jared Dellario. We sourced the duck from Fowlerville, delicata squash from People's Pantry in Kalamazoo, and bacon from Melo Farms.
The beers used in the meals and provided as tastings include:
We popped up at The Eastern last night for a Mad Hatter's Tea Dinner party...a few of our guests took the theme to the next level by dressing up as characters from Alice in Wonderland, like Tweedle Dee and Dum and the Queen of Hearts! Chef Jared Dellario donned his bunny ear chef's hat and cooked up some amazing dishes -- the crowd favorite was the "Happy Pumpkin" - heirloom pumpkin bisque with cardamom, nutmeg, and vanilla chai tea infusion paired with Joseph Wesley Tea's longjing (green tea).
What a fabulous night! If you missed out, you can join us for our Deconstructed Beer Dinner in Bloomfield Hills next Saturday, October 17. Claim your seat at: http://www.eventjoy.com/e/oktoberfest-deconstructed-beer-dinner-3878490