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:

(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.