Easy Vegan Holiday Party

I had a few neighbors over last night for wine and cocktail party-ish appetizers. These are good, cozy friends—the kind with whom you don’t worry too much if you don’t get around to cleaning the bathroom. They are omnivores, though—and that causes me to fuss just a little bit more than usual. I didn’t have time to cook all day, so I ended up using a few prepared party foods.It’s nice that there are so many great ones available for vegans. In addition, I made one batch of Christmas cookies, a fast cake, some hummus (well, it was a vegan party; you’ve gotta have hummus!), and walnut-broccoli spread.

Here is what was on the menu with some recipes

From the freezer:

Vegetable Bird’s Nests from Trader Joe’s. These are vegetables in a spun batter with a dipping sauce; they were a huge hit.

Potato and Onion Pierogies from my local Safeway store, served with vegan sour cream

Asian Vegetable Dumplings (don’t remember where I got these; probably the food co-op)

Things I made:

Hummus
(I always assume that everyone has their own favorite hummus recipe. I use 1 ½ cups cooked/canned chickpeas, ½ cup tahini, ¼ cup fresh parsley, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic. Put it in the food processor and blend until smooth. It’s perfect every time!)

Little rounds of French bread with Daiya cheese melted on them.
I used both the cheddar and Italian-flavored cheese and everyone seemed to like both.

Broccoli-Walnut Pate
This was also a big hit and it’s very easy to make.

3 cups chopped raw broccoli
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce/tamari
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp tahini

Like all dishes using raw broccoli, this is so much better (and prettier) if you blanch the broccoli first. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop the broccoli in. Cook it for one minute. Stand there and stare at it so that you don’t cook it any longer. Then quickly drain and plunge the broccoli into a bowl of ice water to cool it right away. (Otherwise, it will stubbornly continue to cook.)

In a food processor, blend the walnuts and olive oil until they almost make walnut butter. Add the broccoli and rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add salt if needed, and you may prefer a little more tahini.

Russian Tea Cakes

These are my favorite Christmas cookie and are very traditional in my family. You can find the recipe here on my old personal blog (which I plan to someday resurrect).

Chocolate Chip Cake

This is a wonderful easy vegan cake that dates back to World War II at least (although the chocolate chips are my own recent addition).

1 ½ cups white flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
5 tbsp canola or other bland oil (this is ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 cup cold water
¾ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Put all the wet ingredients in a big pyrex measuring cup or something with a spout. Pour them over the dry ingredients and mix everything together until well-combined. Pour the batter into a non-stick 8 by 8 inch pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Bake for 35 minutes.

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4 Responses to Easy Vegan Holiday Party

  1. Matt Stone December 20, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    This is a pretty unhealthy diet. It's going to catch up with you ya know. Vegan diets always lead to degeneration over time. It just takes some longer than others. Eating stuff like cookies, cake, wine, and lots of phytate-rich hummus and raw crucifers is only going to speed up the process. I wish you knew what you were doing to yourself so that you would stop, but remember this comment years from now when it comes time to dig yourself out of this self-deprecating diet based on a total lack of reverence for the life cycle in favor of some morality-induced misconception about life and death and the exchange of energy from one creature to another.

  2. Ginny Messina December 20, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    Well, first of all, I'll agree that eating lots of cookies, cake and wine is not very good for you. But there is nothing wrong with eating these foods occasionally–and this is a holiday party.

    And there is nothing to back up your unsubstantiated sweeping claims. Vegan diets are used therapeutically to reduce heart disease and improve control of diabetes, so it's hard to see how they lead to "degeneration." And degeneration of what?? This is just a silly statement that has no scientific support. And those phytates in hummus are antioxidants–good for preventing heart disease and cancer. The compounds in broccoli also have anticancer activity. There are lots of great things about vegan diets–not the least of which is the fact that it's the only way to eat if you care about eliminating animal suffering!

  3. Amari December 22, 2009 at 7:29 am #

    I came across your blog just recently and have really enjoyed reading it! I'm a graduate student working towards becoming a Dietitian and have recently thought about going vegan. You have some great recipes! I think the broccoli walnut pate sounds really good, I'm definetly going to try that one!

  4. Content Jam December 28, 2009 at 12:17 am #

    I just found your blog and consider it a godsend.

    An ovo-lacto vegetarian for 30 years, I became vegan to improve my cholesterol (it went down 120 points in 4 weeks).

    Would you kindly answer a question for me? If one is not 100% vegan every day, does it undo the benefits of vegan nutrition? For example, what happens if one eats Morningstar Farms vegetarian products, which contain egg whites; or a slice of pizza once a week?

    Many thanks for your help, and thanks again for your wonderful blog!

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