Monthly Archives: October 2015

Dinner Party Menu: Vegan French Classics

October 28, 2015

Dinner Party Menu: Vegan French Classics |

In the land of foie gras and lardon, it’s difficult to find a vegetarian-friendly recipe let alone something that a vegan can eat. As one veggie friend said, “That’s the type of cuisine I try to avoid when choosing a restaurant.”

A couple years ago I stumbled across a Beet Bourguignon recipe by the fabulous husband/wife duo over at Green Kitchen Stories. Besides coming up with a great recipe title, they found a way to cultivate a hearty, umami flavor from the beets and mushrooms. It’s delish.

Ever since then, I’ve had my eye out for French-inspired vegan recipes. First, I found a healthier take on mashed potatoes on the Love and Lemons blog that combined the starchy goodness of potatoes with steamed cauliflower, roasted garlic, and vegan butter. Then, Kite Hill’s Chive Cream Cheese Style Spread popped up. With its creamy consistency (made from nuts not dairy) and flecks of chives, it’s a vegan doppelganger for France’s beloved Boursin cheese.

Once I found a faux gras recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog made of lentils and mushrooms, I knew the menu was complete and arranged a little luncheon with my vegan and vegetarian girlfriends. Remember, we live in California with all the hippies so rounding up a rather large group was fairly easy.

The Menu

Faux Gras
Vegan Boursin Cheese

Main Dishes
Beet Bourguignon
Mashed Potatoes with Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic

Château Poyanne Côtes De Bourg

A few tips to help things go smoothly: The Kite Hill cheese can be found at Whole Foods and you can pick up the Château Poyanne Côtes De Bourg at Trader Joe’s for $6.99. For a daytime event, I usually calculate a half bottle of wine per person. If you throw this party at night, you may estimate a bottle per person because…well…party time.

One thing I love about soups and stews is that they develop flavor overnight. So, cook the Beet Bourguinon the night before and it’ll ease up some of the cooking pressure the day of your dinner party. The faux gras can also be made ahead (up to four days before) so I suggest getting that baby out of the way early, too.

Final and last tip is on toasting zee bread. Slice bread and lay the pieces out on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Then, pat yourself on the back for being such an efficient bread toaster.

Guide to Last-Minute Entertaining

October 13, 2015

Guide to Last-Minute Entertaining |

Last minute visitors used to really stress me out. I wasn’t ready! We didn’t have wine! The bathroom wasn’t clean! But after more than a few folks decided to “just stop by”, I’ve become better at learning how to go with the flow and pull off a last-minute entertaining session with ease.

Say Hello and Offer Them a Drink

Somewhere out there the French Emily Post is beaming with pride because I’m about to share this piece of advice: Always offer your guest a drink within moments of entering your house. Seriously, say bonjour, give them the double cheek kiss, and ask them if they want something to drink. This is not only good French manners, but is also good for your guest. They are either parched after a long trip or ready to relax and enjoy a good chat with you over a drink.

In most cases, a glass of water will do. Depending on the time of day, coffee or tea could be appropriate. Since most of my friends like to get a little pompette like me, I almost always throw in a choice of beer or wine in my list of drinks available. Which brings me to my next point…

Stock Up and Be Prepared

Just like a good girl scout, a hostess with the mostest is to always prepared. This means keeping your pantry stocked with items that you can grab and go.

Food-wise that means a selection of nuts (cashews and pistachios are favorites in our petite maison), dried fruit, and little snacks like potato chips or crackers. For the drinks, it’s simply coffee, tea (both caffeinated and herbal), water, wine, and beer. Our wine cellar, aka cabinet in the dining room, is always fully stocked thanks to regularly trips to Trader Joe’s.

In the event that we run out of something, the monsieur and I spring into action. I distract our guests with some gabbing while he runs off to the convenience store to pick up a bottle of Coca Cola or a six-pack of beers. Since this entire whole process only takes about ten minutes, his absence is barely missed and the party goes on without a hitch.

The Magic of Little Bowls

Now that you’ve got the pantry stocked and are party ready, my last tidbit of advice is to buy some tiny, little bowls. These come in all types of styles and are super affordable. Personally, I love these modern snack bowls from CB2 and the colorful, patterned ones at West Elm. I’ve also seen cute ones at Target, Crate and Barrel, Pier 1 Imports, Cost Plus World Market…everywhere really!

What’s so magical about these bowls anyway? Well, when someone stops by unannounced, all you have to do is hand them a drink, set out the snacks in the tiny bowls, and BOOM. All of a sudden, your tabletop is looking might coordinated and très sophistiqué. It’s almost as if you planned it!