Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Green Heart Dining Club Dinner, Sierra Vista, April 12th

We had the most beautiful dinner to date at our friends' lovely home in Sierra Vista (Lorilyn and Jon's) on Saturday, April 12th.  Lorilyn has great taste and loves to entertain, and she could not have been any more gracious, generous, or set the tables any more beautifully than she did.

Lorilyn's table settings which made the perfect setting for our special dinner
Our 35 dinner guests enjoyed a watermelon gazpacho for a first course that was cool and refreshing. The second course was a plate of Baba Ghanoush (eggplant dip) and Hummus made with Roasted Red Peppers, giving it a pretty color.  There was quite an assortment of fresh veggies on the plate:  radish "flowers", red onions, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, slivers of red bell peppers, and we had Kalamata olives on the tables for those who eat them to help themselves.  Whole wheat lavash bread was served on the side except to our gluten-free guests; they had crackers.

Unveiling the vegan paella
The Paella was our main dish, with gluten-free oil-free vegan sausage, fennel, eggplant, cauliflower, peas, mushrooms, yellow squash, tomatoes and saffron.  I made a Sofrito sauce of plum tomatoes and Spanish onions and smoked paprika - but without the usual oil.  For the aiolli sauce as the garnish on top, I made a vegan mayonnaise base and added fresh lemon, garlic and saffron for color and more flavor.  That recipe is below:

Recipe for Aiolli

2 - 3 cloves garlic
1 12.3 oz. box extra-firm MoriNu tofu

2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon agave
2 - 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
juice of 1 - 2 fresh lemons
1/2 teaspoon saffron

Peel the garlic cloves and put in food processor. Process, stop, scrape down sides and process again, until the garlic is finely minced.  (Alternatively, you can use a garlic press to crush the garlic.)  This will not be cooked, and so you will be biting into raw garlic - that's why you want it finely minced or crushed.

Cut the box of tofu open with scissors and add, processing until smooth.  Add all remaining ingredients and blend.  Taste and adjust - you may want more lemon juice (or more garlic, which would have to be crushed before adding it at this point). You could also be creative:  add pepper, or even Himalayan salt or salt substitute, if you wish (I did not use any for our dinner).

Refrigerate at least one hour before eating.  The flavors will intensify.  The saffron threads will gradually "dissipate" in the sauce, turning it yellow.  Stir the sauce well after it has chilled to even out the color.

This keeps, covered, in the refrigerator for one week.  Any water that separates can be drained, or stirred back in to the sauce.

Our two young helpers with the last-minute fresh veggies
On the side of the paella was a Roasted Millet dish that Ted made that had great flavor thanks to the roasting, and great texture, thanks to the rice cooker.  Grape leaves stuffed with brown Basmati rice and yellow raisins, flavored with fresh lemon and lime were on the plate, as was a fresh jicama and fresh mint (from our garden) garnish - also made by Ted. Yes, some guests were "stuffed" at this point, and we had "to go" containers, too.

Lorilyn and I - longtime friends since our youth in Hollywood.  You could not ask for, or imagine, a better friend than Lorilyn!  She really knocked herself out for our dinner to help make it the big success that it was.

Some of our guests, enjoying themselves
After a short break, dessert was served: Key Lime Uncheesecake.  Someone let us know whose birthday it was, and we all sang to her - Lorilyn had candles!

The Key Lime Uncheesecakes - the very same that Huell Howser of "California's Gold" featured years ago on his show, at the Hollywood Farmers Market.  In other words - a classic.

At the end, we all agreed to do it again!  We'll need to be indoors during this hot summer, but by the end of September, we shall have an outdoor feast at Lorilyn and Jon's!  Be sure to email us if you'd like an invitation.

Also - we plan to offer this same dinner menu in Tucson, at La Mariposa, in July.  Let us know if you'd like an invitation!

The new phone number is now 520-954-2409.

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