Psst... Don't Tell Anyone This is a Vegan Dinner Party
Plus: Kate McDermott Talks Pie, Lunch at Pizzeria Sei, and New Pasta Bowls.
This weekend I hosted a vegan dinner party without advertising it as a vegan dinner party. Here’s the deal: there were four people coming over, only one of whom was a vegan, and I didn’t want to make the vegan feel bad by telling everyone, “Hey, because of this ONE vegan, you’re all eating vegan food tonight!”
I also didn’t want to do the thing where everyone else gets meat and the vegan gets nutritional yeast and a straw. So here’s what I did: I conjured up a menu of foods that I love to make anyway that already happen to be vegan. For example? Pasta all norma.
I had gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, beautiful eggplant, and bright green basil… what non-vegan wouldn’t love all of that cooked together? Check out the TikTok that I made of the process… it’s my most viral one so far! (62K views and counting…)
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To balance that out, I made a corn salad using a nifty trick from a Genevieve Ko recipe in the NYT. I put the corn in their husks directly in the microwave and nuked on high for 3 minutes and POOF, the kernels were golden and I didn’t have to dirty a whole pot to do it. Plus, the silk came off easily.
For my corn salad, I just cut the corn off the cob, added halved sun gold tomatoes (they were so sweet, almost like candy), added chopped red onion (just a little), some green garlic (I thought I bought scallions but realized once I bit into it); then lots of olive oil (I used my Seka Hills for this), a splash of white balsamic, lots of salt, and freshly ground pepper. It was delish.
The only substitution that I made in the entire meal was in the peach and blueberry crisp that you see here. If I didn’t mention it in this newsletter, you’d never even know that it happened. Can you guess what it is?
Instead of butter in the topping, I used coconut oil. That’s it! Everything else was just like normal: I used this recipe for the fruit and this recipe for the crust (minus the spices). People went nuts for it… I even offered vegan vanilla ice cream along with vanilla bean Haagen Dazs.
So the moral of the story is: when cooking for a vegan, don’t think of it as some kind of punishment. Think of what you love to eat that happens to be vegan (it’s more than you realize!) and serve that. Punishing vegan food is for the dogs. (Actually, these dogs were my dinner guests.)
Now before we get to the rest of this newsletter, I have to alert you to this week’s amazing podcast guest… pie guru Kate McDermott (author of The Art of the Pie and Pie Camp)!
This episode is almost like a reverse of my old podcast, Lunch Therapy; you could call this Pie Therapy, in which Kate counsels me on all things pie, telling me that I need to be more like my ingredients: “chill.” And that’s just the beginning! Learn Kate’s pie tricks, what kind of butter she uses, what kind of fruit she buys, how she crimps it all together, how she listens to the pie to know when it’s done. It was a real treat to talk to her.
Listen here or wherever you listen to podcasts:
Now on Thursday last week, I went to a new doctor to get my cholesterol checked. Naturally, I spent the entire time wondering where I was going to have lunch. I used Google maps to determine the most interesting place close by and that place turned out to be Pizzeria Sei.
I had to follow in Tejal Rao’s footsteps and order the Bianca “covered only with a swirl of thick cream and fior di latte mozzarella, freckled with preserved lemon and obscenely large glugs of olive oil.”
The topping was a fascinating combination of rich and light at the same time (rich from the cream and mozzarella, light from the lemon), but the crust is what really blew me away. It had this magical balance of crispiness and airiness, chewiness and tenderness that I couldn’t stop inspecting (and by inspecting, I mean eating).
I’m not sure what my cholesterol results will be, but all I can say is now that I’ve discovered Pizzeria Sei, they’re bound to be higher next time around.
Finally, on my way home I was driving past West Elm, and thought I would pop in to check out their everyday pasta bowls. I have all of these vintage Italian ones from Etsy (it’s my vice), but sometimes I just want to grab a bowl and not have to worry about breaking it. I was very charmed by these Kaloh pasta bowls (which are apparently on sale on the website… drat, how did I miss that?!) and I bought six in three different colors.
Already I love them: I served the peach and blueberry crisp in them and I saw people looking at the bottom to see where I got them. Always a good sign! (And, no, this isn’t sponsored.)
Now for some links:
I had the honor of interviewing my friend Ryan O’Connell about his new novel Just By Looking at Him for a prestigious literary magazine (The Rumpus);
I was eyeing this meat-free spaghetti carbonara for the vegan dinner party… I’ll try this next time around (The Guardian).
That’s all for today, folks!
In case you missed Thursday’s paid subscriber’s only newsletter, I wrote about the best baked beans, marinated roasted yellow Italian peppers which I served on ricotta toast, and I shared a bunch of cool links. Don’t miss the next one!
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Until next time….