Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's quite easy being green

It’s funny that when Stephanie cited “Veggie Friendly” for this month’s blog party I wasn’t at all bothered unlike a certain vegetable dodger I know who veritably raised an eyebrow over the phone at my assumed deprivation. I don’t know why she thought I’d struggle despite my love of meat, I am a huge fan of a well turned out cauliflower cheese, will rhapsodise over seasonal English asparagus or purple sprouting broccoli and of course I’m never going to say no to a Gratin Dauphinoise or creamy mashed potatoes. I’m also rather partial to a sprout! Though I don’t think I could ever be a vegetarian and that’s mainly because if I were dining out at a restaurant that doesn’t presume to be vegetarian I feel that the only options I have to select from would be tomatoes or goats’ cheese, and that’s never ever going to happen!

I had some unusual ideas about presentation, my vast array of tableware and crockery didn’t immediately set a theme so I thought I’d do something more original. Many years ago a catered event I was at had all the dinky canapés served on glass deep glass/Perspex trays that were filled with grass or pebbles or flowers. I couldn’t find suitable trays and am pretty convinced I’d struggle with the grass and/or flowers I’d like in January so opted for photo frames with suitably verdant images instead. I think they turned our rather striking. And now all I have to do is adorn them with canapés!

Firstly I thought I’d tackle some teeny loaded skins, I steamed the baby new potatoes and then carefully scooped some of the soft potato out with a coffee spoon. I topped about a quarter with a sautéed mushroom duxelle finished with a few dropped of heady truffle oil. Some of the potatoes had a traditional Cheddar cheesy topping and others with cooler blobs of Boursin. The last remaining skins were packed full of basil pesto. Definitely fiddly but a great start!

Next I decided to make little creamy leek tarts but for a change I made tart cases from sliced white bread. I rolled the crust-less slices very thin with a tiny rolling pin (a fortunate addition to my yet unused ravioli making tray received as present many years ago) and cut the slices into 2 ½ “ circles. These circles I encouraged gently into my mini muffin tray and baked them for 10 minutes at 180 C until they were slightly golden. Then I filled then with a tasty leek fondant sautéed with double cream and a spoonful of herbs de Provence mustard – delicious!

The butternut squash risotto worked well on the white Chinese spoons which looked rather handsome against their bed of ‘astro turf’. The butternut squash was a perfect companion to the risotto, if I wasn’t being friendly to vegetarians I might had added a little pancetta but on this occasion I resisted.

To my delight I’d been able to purchase more of the gorgeously unctuous Camembert with truffle butter from Waitrose and though it may seem a bit of a sacrilege I topped the sautéed chestnut mushrooms with a little knob of this wonderful cheese and popped them under the grill. These were truly fabulous and the truffly Camembert stuffed mushrooms were possibly my favourite herbivore canapé.

I’d also been able to get some lovely locally grown (well Kent as I bought it from the Canary Wharf Waitrose) purple sprouting broccoli and made a soupçon of gruyere cheese fondue to accompany the emerald spears. It’s a shame they don’t stay purple though!

The only disappointment was the mushroom pizza. I’d been delighted to see that Waitrose sold a mushroom and crème fraîche pizza but I didn’t spot the small print under the base. I read the ingredients for the fillings and sauce carefully to ensure no tomatoes slipped through but when I started scanning the ingredients for the pizza base and read flour, yeast etcetera I stopped reading and didn’t notice the entirely unnecessary additional base of tomato sauce until I remove it from the box to cook and wondered why the mushrooms were tinged with red. Curses, what a waste! I did bake it and I did try it but after a while all those smidgeons of tomato tipped my anti-tomato meter into the overload section and I couldn’t stomach another mouthful. Damn those red fruit/vegetable/salad ingredient whatever it is! I thought the whole idea of a crème fraîche base is as an alternative to tomato for those of us who’d rather avoid it but why have two sauces, so redundant!

For the drink I eschewed a cocktail in favour of the more akin to the theme flowery Jasmine white tea leaves served in the wonderful little glass cups that D bought from the tea shop in Covent Garden to accompany these fabulous triffid-like blooms.

I hope that as an ardent vegetarian I can tempt Stephanie to try some of my petite delights this month. I am sure they’ll be lots of interesting green morsels to sample this month and when the guests have assembled on Saturday I will post the entries here.


breadchick said...

J, as usual your little spoons and great trays are perfect. I say this as I sip an espresso from a little cup and eat cheese and crackers from a pretty flowered dish that you gave me in the last BBM!

J said...

Oh it's so lovely to hear from you, and to hear that you still enjoy your booty from your parcel. I was just writing to Stephanie and saying I would take part in the next BBM. I will have to think smaller this time!

breadchick said...

I adore my booty! And like you, I will have to think small this time...

Drop me a line when next you are on this side of the pond, especially if it is NYC.


J said...

Definitely, I might not be back to the Big Apple until September but then the lure of the ever so generous dollar may mean I cannot resist an earlier visit!

Brilynn said...

What a great selection! I haven't made potato skins in ages, love them!

Pixie said...

How wonderful, those appetizers wouldn't last long with me at the 'party'. Everything looks great!