ladydinner in manoa

in honor of a special lady visit and in accordance with my weekly horoscope to “invite my rambunctious friends and have a house blessing ceremony,” last night my little garden home was host to a gaggle of ladies feasting on veggie goodness.

the meal was a mixed up crew of tastes with a focus on hearty, cool-weather foods.  none of the recipes are particularly amazing as a stand-alone, but all together made for a rather impressive spread.  on the menu was polenta and brown rice with herbs and parmesan cheese, wild rice tempeh with mashed sweet potatoes + white potatoes and mushroom gravy, lentil soup with greens, sauteed cauliflower, locally made wheat bread with pink hummus, pesto, and goat cheese brie; and for dessert vegan chocolate cake + vanilla bean frosting along with coconut bliss ice cream and homemade vegan chocolate pudding.  as usual, most of the vegetables (kales, cauliflower, beets) are  from the farm, harvested with my own hands (with the exception of the onions and potatoes- from somewhere in hawaii). 
blessings indeed. thank you ladies, for a lovely evening :)

lentil soup with greens (easy and yummy)
2 cups brown lentils, soaked if you can
4-6 cups water + 1 tbsp (or to taste) ‘better than boullion’
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil (plus more for drizzle)
1 tbsp black pepper
a mix of herbs + spices (i used some cayenne, fennel, caraway, thyme, nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves)
about 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2-4 cups freshly torn greens

if you have the time/space/energy/memory, soak the lentils for a few hours before cooking them. if not, just toss them in the pan and cook until mostly done, about a half hour; toss in the pepper and herbs + spices near the end of the cooking time. while the lentils are cooking, heat up the oil in your skillet and cook the onions and garlic to a crispy brown, then add to your lentils. simmer until the lentils are soft but not mushy; add more bouillon or salt to taste, and add more herbs + spices if you like (i always adjust as i cook). when the lentils are soft and the broth is flavorful enough, add the lemon juice and greens just prior to serving, and if you like add a bit of olive oil to the top.
this soup keeps well for many days, but the greens begin to look icky because of the lemon juice; if you are keeping the soup for a few days, add greens and lemon only to the amount you can eat in one sitting. then, when you reheat it in a few days add fresh greens and lemon.

pink hummus
this was pretty addition to our dinner! all we did was add a chopped beet to the food processor. i think everyone knows how to make hummus, but if you do not… i forgive you. all measurements are approximate… just taste it as you go along.

2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt, black pepper and cumin to taste
water (sometimes needed to thin it out)
1 small beet, chopped

throw it in your food processor and blend until a creamy texture is created, adding a bit of water and/or oil to make sure it gets creamy. taste as you go, and add more of the ingredients as needed. toss the beet in once you have achieved hummus perfection in the processor.  serve to your ladies.

vegan chocolate cake
this simple vegan cake goes with everything: frosting, chocolate sauce, coconut ice cream, or standing alone as a not-too-sweet treat.

1 cup ap flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sucanat or sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp seasalt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup ‘milk’ (i like half soy/half coconut milk)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1/3 cup oil (i’ve used both coconut and safflower)

preheat your oven to 350 and grease/line with parchment an 8×8 baking pan.
mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. mix the vinegar with the ‘milk’ and let it sit a minute, then add the rest of the ingredients. combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until smooth. pour into your prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, letting it cool completely before taking it from the pan. cooling racks come in handy here, folks…
i like this really simple vanilla bean frosting, with or without the extra spices. it can actually be made without the margarine; it will be a bit saucier though…

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