Hi everybody, I met Angela in 2013 and she interviewed me for her blog, Vegeasian sometime in December. I’ve reproduced the post here on SGVegan, so if you are interested you can check it out here.
Angela has been away from the SG veg scene for a year as she took up a job opportunity in China. She has since returned to Singapore. For those of you who have been following Vegeasian, Angela is putting that on hold for the moment. Please subscribe to SGVegan with your email address as Angela will be blogging on SGVegan for the time being as she sets up her English tutoring website, http://www.learnenglishfast.co.
(Thanks Amanda for the opportunity to write in your really useful blog! )
A few months ago (actually more than that), I was invited by Amanda to cook a plant-based dinner for her and her bf. I had a few tuition assignments at hand but I said yes. All of us were busy, so I decided to just keep it simple. Granted, things are slightly easier for me because I blog about vegetarian/vegan food and I mostly cook at home (www.vegeasian.com). But don’t feel like you have to slather all your food in butter, salt and alcohol to make vegan food slightly palatable. Here are some tips I learnt from hosting a plant-based dinner.
#1 When in doubt, just bake. Baked potatoes, Baked sweet potatoes. Baked asparagus. Baked anything sounds delicious. What I did was baked mushrooms with onions and vegan cheeze. (It’s easy to make, really. Recipe is available here. Just stab the potatoes/sweet potatoes/mushroom lightly a few more times to make sure the steam can escape.
#2 Anything with chocolate is a good combination. Just buy some fruit (Strawberries are a good choice) and melt some dairy-free chocolate in the oven. Dip the fruit in the chocolate. Dessert done.
#3 No time to cook? Find a local bakery and buy their vegan breads. Sunshine multigrain bread is a good vegan option. Amanda has also written a very useful article about some vegan bread options and you can read it here.
#4 Use vegetable broth. It adds a depth of flavour to everything, from stir-fries to soups to curries. It’s amazing how the basic ingredients- onions, celeries and carrots can produce such umami goodness. It’s all vegetables, not meat. It won’t take hours to cook. I promise. Cooking time- 20 minutes.
#5 Do some prep in advance. It pays in returns. When I first hosted the dinner, I just prepped on the day of dinner(So last minute, I know!) . We all cooked for about two hours in total, all hot and sweaty. We ravenously finished our dinner in 15 minutes. You don’t want that. What you want is to pop some prepped food in the oven, wait for 10-15 minutes and the guests eat in peace. And talk more important stuff.
#6 Use store-bought ice cream for a quick dessert. Brownice (www.brownice.com) (Sorry folks, only available in Singapore!), Rice Dream (www.tastethedream.com) or Coconut Bliss are all plant-based ice cream brands. But if you can’t find a dairy free ice cream near your house, don’t fret. Sorbets (not to be confused with sherbets, which contain cream) are also naturally dairy-free. Add some roasted chopped almonds, chocolate and/or cherries to your ice cream. Place the newly minted ice-cream in the freezer. Your friends will not hesitate to think it is homemade because you can’t buy it anywhere outside. But you don’t have to tell them the truth. Shh.
#7 Use quick blended sauces. Pesto, roasted red pepper sauce and instant peanut sauces are fast and easy to make and can be great additions to pastas. Recipes for these time-saving sauces can be found here.
#8 Youtube is your best friend. Search for vegetarian (You can easily make it vegan if you omit the dairy and egg) or vegan dinners and you will find a plethora of ideas. Or better still, veganise your favourite recipes!
#9 Read up on vegan blogs.Vegan food bloggers spend a lot of time trying and testing new recipes. Their amazing food photography might trigger some creativity sparks in your brain. Check out OhSheGlows, Vegangela, Post Punk Kitchen or local blogs such as HungryAngMo, MoreThanVeggies and VeganAsh for starters.
#10 Lastly, if you are still clueless on what to do, just hit up a conversation with a vegan blogger on Twitter and shoot your question. Vegan bloggers don’t bite. I promise. They will be so excited that someone is finally going to try making their grassy food. (Just kidding)
What creative ideas do you have for hosting a vegan dinner? Let us know in the comments below. (For those in Singapore, I’m excited for EarthFest that begins tomorrow, how about you? By the way, walk-ins are fine even without tickets. If you happen to see me or Amanda, just say hi!)