Wednesday, July 05, 2006

L and E's Vegan Barbecue Extravaganza!

(Graphic courtesy of the great Natalie Dee)

Oh cripes. Where to even begin?

This past Saturday, I decided to throw a little vegan barbecue. It initially started off as just a few folks, but then I thought, what the hell and continued to invite people. Given that we only had one tiny little camping grill to work with, I had to limit the number of course. But there ended up being about ten of us in all. It's funny because whenever I want to plan a large gala, no one can come, but when I get to thinking about having a small gathering, it just grows and grows until my best friend is begging me to let her invite her cousin's mom's ex-wife from his second marriage. Or something like that. Nonetheless, I was very pleased at the turnout.

The invitation made it clear that it was an all-vegan barbecue, a point that evidently threw some of my non-vegan friends (one of whom called me up thinking I'd accidentally invited him, saying, "When I got your email, I was like, I'm not vegan--she must've just accidentally sent this to me"). But goddamn if folks didn't go all out in embracing a night of vegan cookery.

My contributions to the bbq were corn on the cob, veggie lentil walnut burgers, and chocolate-covered bananas, but the definite highlight of the evening were the vegan 'smores, bless Ms. Lantz's vegan heart.

Vegan Food:

  • Veggie lentil walnut burgers (recipe following) with homemade buns

  • Veggie kielbasa and beer brauts

  • Corn on the cob

  • Lyndsey's homemade potato salad

  • Stir-fried ginger eggplant and glazed tofu sticks from Mustard Seed

  • Dave's inari sushi

  • Chocolate-covered bananas (recipe following)

  • Lyndsey's drunken 'smores

Vegan Booze:

Highlights of the evening:
  • Smoking smelly cigars.

  • Getting Mo stoned (and not having her try to crawl into anything this time).

  • Blasting Neil Diamond as loud as possible on my stereo and dancing around to "Sweet Caroline."

  • Watching folks attempt to deep-throat my chocolate-covered bananas.

  • And of course...

  • Vegan 'smores! Arghlghlhglhgl.

Veggie Lentil Walnut Burgers

  • 2 1/4 cup dry lentils

  • 4 1/2 cup water

  • 6 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoon peanut oil or olive oil

  • 3 cups onion, finely minced

  • 12 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 30 large mushrooms, minced

  • 1 1//2 cup walnuts, very finely minced

  • 1.5 - 2 teaspoon salt

  • 1.5 cup fine dry breadcrumbs (plus one extra piece of bread, food processed into crumbs as well)

  • TVP (texturized vegetable protein)--between 1 and 3 cups

Place lentils and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the liquid is gone. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, add vinegar, and mash well. Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add onions and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except breadcrumbs and TVP, and saute 5 to 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Add the saute and crumbs to the lentils and mix well. Chill for about an hour. Gradually add in TVP to the mix until your burgers are firm enough for your taste (they should be able to form patties without crumbling or oozing all over the place formlessly). Return to the fridge for at least 30 more minutes. Form 4-inch-diameter burgers (aim for thinner rather than thick so they cook through better without burning first). Toss carefully on the grill and cook through, flipping a few times (carefully) until cooked all the way through. Alternative cooking: Fry in a small amount of hot oil on both sides until heated through and crispy on the outside, or broil for 5 to 8 minutes on each side.

NOTES : You can saute the vegetables while the lentils cook. The burgers can be made up to several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until just before cooking. Uncooked burgers can be individually wrapped and frozen. Defrost before cooking.

Makes 12-18 burgers, depending on size.

Original recipe: HERE

I'd never made these before, and I typically don't like trying out new recipes at parties since you never know if they're gonna suck-ass or what. But the problem was, I'd never made *ANY* veggie burgers before, period. So I didn't have much of a choice.

These sounded really good to me and looked relatively easy to make, so I figured what the hell--I'd take the leap. However, the recipe called for lentils and I've also never cooked lentils before--that ended up being a major suckfest, given that the lentils turned into some lovely reddish mush resembling mashed potatoes by the time they were done. (If anyone has tips on the best way to cook lentils, please let me know--I'm guessing that the problem was that I didn't rinse them first...) I figured it wasn't a major problem since I was supposed to mash them anyways, so I mixed all the ingredients together as stated. Unfortunately, even after an hour's worth of refrigerating, the burger mix was pure mush. They looked startlingly like actual greyish hamburger meat (probably due to the mushrooms) and even smelled like it. But I tried grilling up a tiny sampler to see if they'd even cook correctly, and the outcome was more like a mushy formless pancake than anything resembling a burger.

So trying not to panic, I added in some pine nuts and almonds and an extra piece of wheat bread I had on hand (all of which I'd pulverized in my food processer). This didn't do crap, leaving the burger mixture pretty much the exact same consistency. Thankfully, I then hit upon a much better idea: TVP (texturized vegetable protein). Those of you who've worked with TVP before know that it sucks up moisture like crazy, so I figured this would be perfect for excessively mushy burgers. So gradually I started adding TVP until the mixture had firmed up quite a bit and I could tell I would be able to easily form the mix into patties. I ended up using about 2 cups, probably even more (I didn't take exact measurements) and let the burger mixture sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes more so the TVP could get to sucking up the flavor and everything.

I tripled the recipe so that I could make up to twelve burgers if necessary (the tripled version is posted above). But with the addition of the TVP, the mixture ended up being enough to make... at least 15 burgers (which was great for left-overs of course). With the addition of the TVP, the burger mixture formed easily into patties and, despite being tossed on the grill, they stayed intact (for the most part). And people really dug them quite a bit--they are a bit on the mushier end of veggie burgers (nothing like the chewier and meatier boca burgers or something) but they were really quite good and flavorful. I'd definitely recommend the addition of TVP to the recipe--just keep adding it slowly until the patties are at the right consistency to suit your taste.

Cradle them in some fricking amazing Big Bread veggie-burger buns, courtesy of the delectable Ms. Lantz and you'll have a helluva good grillable veggie-burger.

Chocolate-Covered Frozen Nanners

Talk about ineptitude--how hard could chocolate-covered frozen bananas possibly be? I mean, the directions on how to make them ARE RIGHT IN THE NAME OF THEM. Freeze them, cover them in chocolate.

And yet, somehow I managed to make this the most difficult endeavor possible.

After peeling ten bananas, cutting the very ends off, sticking shishkbabob-sticks up their bums, and then freezing them for a few hours, I moved on to the chocolatey part of the process.

First, I managed to tank my chocolate by adding in some soy milk to the mix. It immediately seized and turned into unmanageable guck. I HATE WHEN CHOCOLATE SEIZES and must remember not to keep trying to add soy milk to it. *sigh*

I tossed that batch of stinky poo. I then tried again with some new chocolate chips and without the soy milk with a little bit better success. However, when your apartment is about 85 degrees (at least) and the bananas are quickly unfreezing as you try to slather them with chocolate, despite your most valiant efforts, this *also* causes the chocolate to sieze up as you're trying to dip and spread. So what seemed ridiculously easy quickly began to get on my last nerve. But I floundered my way through them, ending up with just the right amount of chocolate to cover all ten, despite tanking the first batch of chocolate chips.

After each banana was coated in chocolate, I immediately rolled them around in a plate that I'd filled with pulverized Oreos, coating them with even more chocolatey-goodness.

All in all, they came out well and people dug them. They just were a royal pain in the ass. So if anyone has tips on how to do some chocolatey-dipping without so much angst, please feel free to share.


10 bananas, frozen and stuck with shishkabob sticks
Somewhere around 18 oz. of vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
Pulverized vegan Oreos

* * * * * * * * * * * *

There was tons of fantastic homemade (and supposedly homemade--Mo!) food Saturday night, and I was impressed with the time and effort folks put into whipping up some good grub for the party. It's nice to see people supporting and enjoying what really is some damn good vegan grub. I heard many orgiastic grunts from folks while consuming various nibblings, I heard frequent comments along the lines of "Holy crap, these vegan marshmallows taste even better than regular marshmallows," and I saw many visages covered in glorious glorious chunks of oozy goozy food, so needless to say I was very very pleased. It is nice to hear doubtful omnivores get wooed into ecstasy by vegan food, let me tell you. A Fourth of July miracle, one might even say! And it's really nice to not be the odd-man out at a barbecue.

And after all was said and done, I now have *way* too much vegan beer jam-packed into my fridge. So don't expect to see me sober until the end of the month at least. ; )

So thanks to everyone who came and cooked and bought and made the barbecue a fantastique time!

Oh, and I guess folks are right--I clearly and undeniably AM a dirty hippy after all:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Too bad you don't have a photo of the corn when you grilled them. I love grilled corn on the cob so much! I get really excited whenever my husband makes them for me on weekends. Actually, I got him a brand new set of barbecue tools for Christmas so that he can make them extra special for New Year's Eve.

Don't you just love how charred corn kernels taste? Not the extremely burnt ones, only the almost black ones. It's kinda tricky to grill them, I know. You have to have quality barbeque tools in order to achieve the best results. I love your vegan recipes, by the way!