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Enjoying Vegetarian When You Aren’t Vegetarian

I’ve been writing about my dear Culinary Experimentation Club for over a year now, and tonight I want to tell you a bit about this group of people who mean so much to me.

Once upon a time I didn’t even know these folks, but through one strange and hilarious tale after another we somehow found each other in this crazy world.

At first there were just a few of us, meeting once a week to cook and eat together. Over time more stragglers arrived, strangers for a little while, now beloved faces we can’t wait to see each Monday night.

Darren is our official host each week, granting us free usage of kitchen, pots and pans, dishes and wine goblets. Various roommates pitch in, sharing forgotten ingredients, dashing to the store for last minute items. We all take turns making messes and cleaning them up.

They’re the sort of people you can be yourself with, the ones you can call in the middle of the night when something goes wrong, the folks you know will be there when you need to haul furniture or move apartments.

I wish I could gather them all in the biggest hug to thank them for their love, friendship, and never ending inspiration.

I love you guys. šŸ™‚

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Although none of us are vegetarian, this week was Week Two of Vegetarian Month.

After the mutiny last week (click here for the Vegetarian Pot Roast Rebellion) everyone was in fine form and turned out a fantastic feast of vegetarian, gluten-free deliciousness.

I brought a Roasted Red Pepper Soup made with a chickpea soup stock instead of the traditional chicken broth. Thick, smooth and smoky, it was especially splendid with a dollop of goat cheese swirled in.

Kat and Selwyn prepared platters of marvelously stout Irish cheeses, chevre, and an array of gluten-free crackers. We cleaned them up in short order as we sipped red wine and waited for the rest of the dishes to be done.

Kat also brought an assortment of apple varieties and fresh strawberries which paired beautifully with the strong cheeses.

Cameron worked his magic with tofu turning out two delectable versions: simple smoked and Spicy Cajun Fried. While both were good, the Spicy version was my favorite and made me a true tofu fan.

After Darren’s rousing success with Lemon Risotto, he tried out his new risotto powers with a creamy spinach version that was both hearty and delicate.

Our newest Culinary Experimentation Club member Nicole wowed us with gluten-free Cajun Onion Rings, perfectly spiced then fried to perfection by Toby.

We ended the meal with slices of my Clementine Tart dusted with Kat’s raspberry sugar.

We closed our evening with great talks and rousing games of Uno.

Who are your favorite people to cook with?

Krista’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup
(makes one large stock pot full)

Ingredients:
olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1/3 cup minced garlic
1 Costco-sized can of roasted red bell peppers (capsicum), drained
12-14 cups stock
(I used chickpea: add 2-3 cups dried chickpeas to soup pot, add 1 quartered onion, 6 cloves garlic, and cover with water. Bring to boil, simmer for one hour. Drain, reserve broth. Use chickpeas for another recipe.)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat olive in large stock pot over medium heat, add onions and potatoes and cook, stirring often, 5-10 minutes. Add garlic, cook 5 minutes more, stirring to keep garlic from sticking to pot.
  2. Add stock and bell peppers. Return to boil, simmer partly covered 20-25 minutes.
  3. If you have an immersion blender, puree in pot. If not, let cool a few minutes then puree in batches in blender or food processor.

 

 

Nicole’s Gluten-Free Cajun Onion Rings
(Click here for recipe)

Note: to make gluten-free, substitute gluten-free self-raising flour mixture for the flour.

Krista’s Gluten-Free Clementine Tart
(Click here for recipe)

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jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World - Everything looks so wonderful!!! The desert looks particularly delish.

Tanya - Wait! Clementine tart? How am I just hearing about this sure-to-be-a-tastebud-pleaser? Oh my!

Lovely, lovely post as always.

darci - oh yum yum…if I can’t cook can I just come and sample, heheh??

Duchess - Aww, so sweet, and so yummy!

LindyLouMac in Italy - Vegetarian who cares it looks delecious, we often eat vegetarian!

Joanne - I always love hearing about the meals you and your CEC create. They are always so inventive and filled with so many fun tales! I love that you guys are doing vegetarian month. Your soup sounds delicious, as does that tofu!

Punctuation Mark - All day today I have foos like these… and it was delicious!!!

Connie - I love the idea of gathering friends together to cook and eat! I used to hold monthly pot luck dinners with friends in New York City and they were very fun. Unfortunately, kitchens in Hong Kong are even smaller than those in NYC and I barely have space to cook for myself and my boyfriend!

I’m not vegetarian either but when I was traveling in India, I went vegetarian for the three months I was there. I’ve since gone back to eating meat but it certainly opened my eyes to the fact that vegetarianism doesn’t mean bland, boring food. Which, you’re also clearly demonstrating here!

I want that clementine tart! =)

Andrea - Wow, these photos are really making me hungry. I eat anything and everything but even though I like meat I don’t want to eat it all the time and actually LOVE great vegetarian food. The lack of meat often means the flavours of the vegetable dish are more intense.

Anna Johnston - Oh, how I wished much MUCH closer to you my dear lady, this cooking club sounds wonderful. Absolutely digging the menu, I tried to be a vegetarian once, apparently we need to be careful, gotta have the right blood type or something, anyways, I don’t know if Im the right blood type, but I do know that my food was lacking… Meat… šŸ™‚ I think I did half a day and I was back to my ‘carnivore’ ways.
Great post!

Kitchen Butterfly - I’d love to be part of a cooking group with friends…..sharing love, food and laughter. I’m so glad it brings a spark into your life week after week. Everything looks great but love the onions rings and your clementine tart. Stay well

Vanessa@Luxuria - What a fabulous group of foodies you have. I am dipping my toe into the realms of vegetarianism, so this post was wonderful and inspiring (wish I was invited! ) šŸ˜‰

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures - I’ve been a veggie for over a decade now! It was the best decision I’ve ever made. This food looks incredible!!! Wish I could have joined your group that night šŸ˜‰

the fisherlady - I’m off to try the soup!!!! yum!
I am so blessed that you have this time with your friends… one of God’s most wonderful gifts! Keep enjoying! I hope you try a Mexican night soon… would love to see how it goes! My favourite is Chile Rellenos! And a flan for dessert topped with diced strawberries or other berry in season.

Ayngelina - I am so jealous of this group! And while I have a blog called Bacon is Magic I really do love vegetarian food.

Corinne @ Gourmantic - The menu looks delicious. I’d go for the risotto and the clementine tart. Yum!

Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] - Everything looks delicious!! YUMM!

bellini - To have a group of friends who you have so much in common with is truly special Krista. The menu sounds wonderful!

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