Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Home Grown Tomatoes: Turnin' Up the Heat

Cookin', Teachin', and Laughin'
Home Grown Tomatoes is a weekly Vegan/Vegetarian column written by Giovanina Bucci

Can you believe it?  I survived.  I actually survived the cooking class and it went great!  The class was full, which meant I fed 12 hungry bellies two appetizers, a first course, an entree, and dessert.  Ruth, Angela, Rachel, Kathy, Karen, Bob, Deb, Kristen, Tammy, Quinton, Marsha, and Molly all joined me for a really wonderful evening of cooking, teaching, laughing, and for what I would consider, a really splendid night!  Two things that I learned: talk more about the food, ingredients, and directions as I'm throwing things together and get a new pair of sneakers.  Oh, and one other thing.  Gazpacho doesn't have to taste like you're drinking cold salsa. 

The group was really positive and fun, which I think helped ease the pressure of the situation immensely.  The owner of the Seasoned Kitchen, Tony, was also there helping to keep things running smoothly - and he also did the dishes, which was awesome!  I forgot to bust out my camera in the beginning, so these pictures are a little late in the game, but nonetheless, some eye candy for you.

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus served with fresh veggies and pita bread
Spinach and Artichoke Dip served with pita bread and dark rye bread

First Course:
Roasted Red Pepper and Avocado Gazpacho

Portobello Mushrooms stuffed with Beet Mashed Potatoes and topped with Caramelized Balsamic Leeks and Onions
Creamy Chilled Corn Salad with Leeks, Zucchini, and fresh Grape Tomatoes

Trigona served with a side of Sugared and Buttered sauteed Peaches

I don't have a photo of the gazpacho, but it did get great reviews.  Plus it's really fun to serve a dish whereby you don't have to worry about it 'getting cold'...it's supposed to be :)

Roasted Red Peppers (fresh and broiled in the oven)
Canned Diced Tomatoes
Roasted Garlic
Roasted Garlic Olive Oil (just a touch)
Garlic Powder
Nutritional Yeast
Almond Milk
Dash of Tabasco
Fresh Lemon
Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper

Just blend all of these ingredients together and chill.  Before serving, I topped each bowl with some avocado, fresh cilantro and a touch of a sour cream.

The beet mashed potatoes were SO beautiful!  If you're going to take a stab at making these, the ratio of beets to potatoes is one to one.  Use your traditional mashed potato recipe and then add a touch of balsamic at the end.  I marinated the portobellos for about an hour in olive oil and Bragg's liquid aminos.  Then I sauteed them for a few minutes before baking the completed dish.

I layered the bottom of the baking dishes with a touch of balsamic, stuffed the mushrooms with the beet 'taters and then topped with sauteed leeks and onions.  The topping was extremely simple - purple onion, leeks, roasted garlic olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano), garlic powder and I think that was about!  I baked the mushrooms on 350 degrees F. for about 12 minutes.

Served on the side of the mushrooms was this yummy chilled creamy corn salad.  I cut fresh corn off the cob and sauteed it in Earth Balance with some leeks.  I let all of this cook for a bit on medium heat and added in a few tablespoons of Tofutti sour cream and nutritional yeast.  Once the corn and leeks were about done cooking, I threw in the zucchini to cook for just a couple of minutes.  (I'm not into mushy zucchini.)  

Once finished, I let these ingredients cool and put in the refrigerator while I was pulling other loose ends together.  Just before serving, I added in some fresh basil (from my very own plant!), sliced grape tomatoes, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  This salad was really summery and such a huge hit! 

See those clean plates?  I think that's a good sign :)

Thanks everyone for helping to make this first experience an awesome one!

By the way, I want this kitchen in my house someday.  Along with all of the fun gadgets and gizmos!

This is such a simple idea to spruce up a dessert.  I cut up these fresh peaches and doused them in some sugar and cinnamon, added them to a pan of melted butter and then topped them with some freshly squeezed lemon juice.  The combination of the butter and sugar becomes nice and syrup like, so the peaches are thoroughly coated.  They are a great way to add color and flavor to a plate!

I am checking this feat of teaching a cooking class off my life list as we speak.  And damn, it feels good:)

If you have specific questions about recipes, please feel free to email me at giovaninabucci@yahoo.com.  Honestly, I kind of made things up as I went, but I'm hoping that my 26 year old memory is in relatively good condition!

~ Giovanina


Courtney said...

This is me telling you that I am so proud of you, without having drank a bottle of sake! Everything looks so colorful, fresh and fun - just like you. XO

Scarlet Lily said...

G!!!! OMG!!! I'm so proud of you! I got nervous just looking at those pictures and all of those hungry, expectant people staring at me :)

I'm so glad you killed it. Go, sister!

GIANTS FAN said...

OMG, seeing the pictures made me nervous, having to cook in front of all of those people, I'm soooo proud of you. I know I would hire you to cook for me all the time. Congrats on what sounded like a great night. love you :):)

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