Monday, May 10, 2010

The Vegetarians are coming! The Vegetarians are coming!

This particular one was coming neither by land, not even free range humanely raised organically coddled chicken land, nor by sea, not even sustainably fished sea. He was coming via 7-11 where he most likely had a Snickers bar and Dr. Pepper. So, while I was taking the vegetarian parameters seriously, it wasn't as if the Dali Lama or Jonathan Safran Foer was coming to dinner.
I had been through this a few times now. The first time I made a curried tofu and vegetable stew. Not amazing but eminently edible. I sometimes make it for myself, just as a vehicle for soy, which is a super food, but also apparently verboten for women. I compromise and eat it occasionally, which is what I would do anyway bc the only thing I like about it is the virtuous feeling I get from eating it, or the superior feeling I get from telling people I ate it. But, when I served it to the vegetarian, and his girlfriend asked for the recipe, we realized that fish sauce, actually is made from Fish (!) and so that particular stew has been dumped from the repertoire. The next time I played it safe with a black bean and sweet potato chili. This is also something I occasionally eat, pretty much for the same reason I eat the tofu. I guess this vegetarian's palate has been shaped by 7-11, so the very earnest chili was barely touched.
The next time I gave in, went with the dairy option and made a delightful spinach lasagna. If lasagna didn't take an entire afternoon and every pot and pan in the kitchen to prepare, I would make this all the time. It was amazing. And everyone liked it and no one complained about the dairy.
So the last time he came to dinner, I made a strata, which is essentially a savory bread pudding. This one had red peppers and cheddar cheese. It was delicious, I would make it again, maybe with some sausage tossed in.
For dessert I attempted a fool. But it quickly turned into a mousse. I am squeamish about raw eggs, (unless they are in cookie dough) so it was a whipped cream and gelatin mousse. But apparently gelatin expires because this stuff never gelled. I had carried this box of unflavored gelatin with me in my last three moves, and I guess I need a new box. I eventually put the whole thing in the freezer, hoping for semi freddo. It was pretty semi fred. I happen to love red berries with sugar and whipped cream, so I was happy, but really, you wouldn't set out to make that dessert.
When I complained to my sister about the expired gelatin, she said, "You fed gelatin to a vegetarian?!" Oh yeah, I forgot about that part. Good thing it wasn't the Dali Lama.

For the strata:
Some bread, cut into squares, about 4 cups. Some red peppers (2) sliced and sauteed in olive oil, add about a cup of sliced green onions for the final few minutes of sauteing. I also added some thyme. Grate about a cup and half of cheddar cheese. Mix together 4 eggs and 2 cups of milk, add some dry mustard and a pinch of cayenne and little salt. Put half the bread in a 9x9 pan, spread half the peppers and half the cheese. Another layer of each, then pour the milk and eggs over all. Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes. It should be soft and then it rests for 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven and it will firm up a little.

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