5 Course Gourmet Vegan Meal: With Elliot Peters
Happy Sunday wanderers! This week I bring you a fresh vegetable centric 5 course vegan meal with chef, guest writer and great friend, Elliot Peters! Sou chef duties and food photography by yours truly, enjoy 💗
I have always had an outspoken love affair for excellent vegetable dishes. Growing up in rural Vermont, I gained a palate for some of the best produce this country has to offer. From visiting local farm stands, to keeping our own bees, and growing our own food. Despite being a omnivorous chef by trade, some of my favorite kitchen experiences (both in taste and preparation) are entirely vegan. I jump at the chance to cook for my vegan friends whenever presented with the opportunity and out of the limitations I usually find a lovely burst of ingenuity. This is the account of my most recent vegan dinner party.
This smoked beet rose dish is easily one of my favorite plate ups I have done to date. We started by lightly blanching the beets and allowing them to cool at room temperature to continue carry over cooking. This allowed them to cook through yet remain firm enough to slice thinly on a mandolin. We removed the beet root as well as the base of the root prior to slicing for later plating use. I made a quick pickle liquid using rice wine vinegar and aji-mirin to pickle some Swiss chard stem and beet root end. Once the beets had been sliced, we used a handheld smoker filled with apple wood chips to smoke the beets. This added a nice flavor and aroma which plays quite nicely with the earthy goodness that beets bring to the table. Using the base of beet root which we removed earlier, we started plating thin beet slices in a rose like shape around the tapered base of the root. This task is quite tedious and time consuming, however; the end result is spectacular. The dish was finished with an orange infused vinegar based broth and the pickled beet root/chard stem.
This purple asparagus dish doesn't have much going for it in terms of ingredients, but that's how it should be. When working with excellent produce such as this asparagus, it's important to let the vegetable speak for itself. Keeping that in mind, we seared the asparagus in a cast iron skillet only adding white wine, lemon, salt, and pepper. This dish is quite simply delicious. It is truly a perfect usher into the threshold of spring. If the rest of the Providence summer produce is this nice, I'll be quite the happy cook.
For this course I wanted to do a pasta dish that was fresh, clean and welcoming of the spring weather. I sweat down the chard leaf with olive oil and garlic. Pasta is added along side the chard stem. I finished with a reduction of white wine and a decent helping of lemon juice and zest. I personally love lemon in pasta, and to me the contrast between earthy Swiss chard and the acidity of lemon works quite well. This is a simple dish that can be tweaked in a varying number of ways to accommodate a variety of seasonal vegetables.
Finally, we have the main course of the night; kimchi cauliflower steak. This dish requires few ingredients and turns out excellent results. A simple quick blanch of the cauliflower to slightly soften it, while still keeping an al dente texture. After the blanch is complete, a quick sauce composed of minced kimchi, sake, dark superior soy sauce, and Chinese black vinegar is made in a cast iron skillet. When the flavors have come together, the steaks are added and allowed to sear in the sauce. The kimchi will hold its shape well, thus the sauce can be pushed around for better pan contact with the cauliflower. The plate up is quite easy and only requires the addition of scallions cut on a bias (sexy scallions in kitchen terminology). The rest is just the kimchi from the pan and a touch of uncooked kimchi.
Determined to bring the self proclaimed "purple party" to an interesting end, I dreamt up this dish, which is somewhere between a sweet side dish and a savory dessert. I watched Elliot as he whipped up the other dishes and was sad that the purple carrots were going unused. They were so beautiful and I was determined for them to make it into one of the courses for the evening. I also saw a lemon and orange loitering on the table and then just said fuck it. I ribboned the carrots and dressed them in a majority of orange and lemon juice before adding a light drizzle of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Everything was massaged together by hand. I finished off the simple creation with alternating lemon and orange slices and a crack of fresh black pepper. I served the dish in small dessert glasses with chopsticks. The end result was refreshing, tangy, and sweet. I love that this dish is something I would have never normally thought up, but the inspiration came as the night transpired. I would definitely make this again but maybe with the addition of grapefruit!
I hope you enjoyed this post and it has inspired you to get creative with vegetables in the kitchen this spring.
Wander often & wonder always,