Gourmet Holiday Magic

appwoodside1Need some fab food for your Holiday party but don’t know where to start? You can feel confident when hiring The Vegetarian Gourmet to cater your special event. We’ve been in business since 1997, and opened our doors in the Bay Area in 2010. Our plant-based menus bring you specialties from around the world, whether all vegetarian, vegan, or non-vegetarian, and they are prepared from the abundance of locally available fresh, high quality, organic ingredients. Riesen taught culinary classes at SBCC for twelve years, which gave her the opportunity to perfect specialties from the finest world cuisines.
Still not sure? Check out what our clients are saying about us on Yelp and give us a jingle.

Chocolate!

If you had grown up in Switzerland like I did, you would know that chocolate is one of the four food groups. When I first moved to this country, good dark chocolates were hard to find but, thankfully, that is no longer the case. You’ll even find a great selection of chocolates at your local drugstore . . . who knew? If you open the chocolate drawer in my kitchen, you’ll see a selection of some of my favorites, like the many flavored dark chocolate varieties now available from Lindt.
For chocolate desserts – e.g. mousse, flourless chocolate torte, triple-chocolate fudge brownies – I use dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao. Great selections are available at Caillebaut, which you can purchase online, or at your friendly local Trader Joe’s market.

Persian Wedding Rice

weddingriceYou don’t have to be getting married to enjoy this festive treat. The long grain rice is cooked al dente, and then combined with caramelized onion and carrot, orange zest, and exotic spices. The rice is added to a pan with melted butter and finished over low heat. The result is a fluffy, fragrant rice with the prized tahdig, a crusty disk on the bottom of the pan.

Ate too Much?

SilkRdPilaf. . . I certainly did! Those holiday meals are a perfect reminder that we can all eat more vegetables . . . for our own health and for the health of the environment. How about bringing back Meatless Mondays? Eating an all vegetarian meal does not have to be boring or challenging. For those of you concerned about getting enough protein, a meal of grains and legumes gives you all the essential amino acids. Create a tasty meal of brown basmati rice, French or beluga lentils (available at Whole Foods), seasoned with fresh herbs, cumin, julienned vegetables and garlic. Serve on a bed of greens for a quick meal, or as a high protein side dish for your vegetarian (or vegan) guests.

Simple and simply beautiful!

wintersaladWow your Thanksgiving guests with a beautiful seasonal salad. Start with a bed of baby greens, add a dash of olive oil and balsamic. Creatively arrange slices of fuyu persimmon and finely sliced watermelon radish on top of the greens. Add a little garlic salt, green onion and extra oil and vinegar — enjoy!

ROCK YOUR HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING

plated table VGLooking for Holiday party ideas? As cooler days descend upon us, wouldn’t it be fun to spend an evening at home with friends and wonderful food . . . without having to lift a finger? If you’ve never experienced an in-home cooking demonstration with Chef Margaret Riesen of The Vegetarian Gourmet, you’re in for a treat. You choose the guest list and theme — maybe “A Night at the Kasbah” with exotic Moroccan fare — and we bring the recipes and fixin’s. Having taught culinary arts at Santa Barbara Community College for 12 years, Margaret’s repertoire of world cuisines is extensive, and her classes are fun, delicious and full of practical ideas. Give us a call with your special wishes – we’ll do the rest!

HEALTHY HOLIDAY PARTIES?

app-woodside. . . surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman! Corporate Holiday parties do not have to be a calorie bomb, but can appreciate employees and honor cultural diversity with delicious flavors from around the world. The Vegetarian Gourmet believes in healthy fare that delights and surprises – with many gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Our menus are prepared with LOVE and expertise from locally sourced, mostly organic ingredients. We make it easy, and we make you look good! 

Apple Rösti – a Swiss Comfort Food

roestiLike many comfort foods, this simple dessert doesn’t require a trip to a fancy store but makes use of what is on hand: day-old bread, apples and butter. Cut bread into fine slices and brown in butter. Remove from pan and add sliced apples, a little sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon. Cook until apples are softened, then add toasted bread to soak up the liquids. Serve with a dollop of cream.

Hummus: yum-yum or ho-hum?

With hummus turning up at every potluck, what sets the great ones apart from the rest? The secret is in the two main ingredients, the chick peas and the tahini. First of all, don’t buy canned chick peas – they’re undercooked and won’t ever give you the smooth, creamy texture of a really terrific hummus. Buy dried chick peas – available in bulk in many stores — and soak them overnight in cold water with a pinch of baking soda. The baking soda helps to soften the dried beans for faster cooking. Drain and rinse before placing in a pot of fresh water; do not add salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the chick peas are very soft, and then allow to cool. Number two: look for a high quality tahini; you’ll find it in a Middle Eastern store, a higher end market, or even on-line. The tahini should be smooth and creamy looking, not a hard lump of congealed paste with the oil floating on top. Two excellent brands to consider are Tarazi (www.tarazifoods.com) and Soom (www.soomfoods.com). Now that you have the two most important ingredients, let your imagination do the rest!App-beets