Dinner No 28 hosted by Niki: September 2016

Niki’s menu

Baked chickpea nuts
Parsnip crisps
Kale crisps
Beetroot dip
Caramelised onion hummous
Dehydrated vegetable crackers

Green smoothie soup with spelt fennel and beetroot bread

Gigantes beans with poached egg and hot chilli butter

Pumpkin spinach goats cheese pie
Sticky harissa carrots beets and dates
Slow cooked aubergines

Banana coconut pie (quel disaster!)
Sienna cake
Beetroot sorbet

  1. This was a feast to end all feasts, and I was only sad to not be able to give it the love it deserved towards the end as my poor tummy had admitted defeat!!

    My problem is I LOVE a dip. There was a running theme of beetroot tonight and why not if you have grown it in your own garden (KUDOS!!). The first outing for beetroot was in the wonderful dip – I loved this dairy free zingy dip which let the beetroot really shine out. The garlicky houmous was super too, the tear-and-share flatbread was extroadinary! Who would have thought to put those ingredients together, the ginger really shone through and the parsnip crisps were genuinely the first time in my life I have enjoyed parsnips! It was this pre-dinner course that did me in, it was all too delicious and I over indulged. Naughty Tanyah. I found the chickpeas a little tricky to eat – if I had been on my own I could have just poured them in but I held back. Kale crisps were a bit chewy for me. I have experienced these crispy but having not made them myself I’m not sure what the key is to achieving crispy-kale-nirvana.

    The table looked beautiful and I have to admit, I may have to look at my own bare table settings with a more critical eye. I manage cutlery and glasses but the addition of cute little flowers and a lovely table cloth actually do add to the experience. *adds to list of life improvements to make*

    I loved the soup – the hit of the ginger sticks was quite an eye waterer but so nice to have these little explosions of heat. I still can’t work out how something vegan could taste that creamy – the humble vegetable shone as a star in its own right. I thought the bread was really interesting – really bold use of fennel and I also enjoyed the hard ricotta – I have never tried it any other way than soft from a tub ~ being hard pepped up the flavour as ricotta can be pretty bland. I think these additions made it a special starter rather than ‘just’ soup.

    Next my favourite dish – the butter beans. What an amazing recipe, you could taste the different layers of flavour where you just know the dish has been loved and had time spent on it. I would be so happy to eat this every night of the week. Loved the garlicky yoghurt but when put next to the egg they kind of blended into each other (visually). I would maybe mix some herbs into the yoghurt to stand apart from the egg a bit. I must say I can’t really imagine anything more frustrating than poaching eggs just as you are serving a dish, but I am more than happy to eat them when someone else is doing them. I really liked the richness oozing out of the yolk into the beans but it could have lived without it (ie I am too lazy!)

    I left some of my beans as I realised there was more food to come which was such a crime as I absolutely LOVED them, but I was nearing capacity. Good thing there were only 6 more dishes to try :O

    I must be honest – I am unable to comment as fully on the main course, only because I was having to reposition my body so that my tummy wasn’t banging on the table. The main course was just so right up my street and it just shows that you don’t need meat on your plate. We eat about 80% vegetarian dishes ourselves at home and the one thing I am yet to convince my family about is the wondrous aubergine. One of my favourite vegetables that is so incredibly versatile but is yet to be accepted with love by my family. I am sure this aubergine dish would have done it. It was sublime. I could just taste the sunshine. Well done for getting them to keep their shape as well, as aubergines have a tendency to cook into squish. I think the wonderful thing about vegetarian cooking is introducing many different flavours on the same plate. This plate of food with the pie and the root veg with aubergines was a symphony. So many different herbs, spices and flavourings all mingling together beautifully.

    The sorbet was nice but it didn’t blow me away – it tasted too much like breakfast!

    And… to the puds. I thought the nut cake was fabulous. Having taken some home I ate it for lunch the next day (why not!?) and I loved it even more, you can’t stop eating it. That combination of nuts and fruit bound together in a sticky yumminess. DRROOOOOOOOL! I loved it but I am not sure it’s pudding material. Not sure why. Seems more like an indulgent snack? Not sure. Maybe because it wasn’t the easiest thing to eat with cutlery? Or maybe I just need to be schooled in the use of cutlery.

    The yoghurt and coconut cake was not the prettiest thing to look at but it tasted great – I would just assemble it in small glasses, maybe the martini glasses? You could put a layer of the nuts on the bottom and also sprinkle on top. I thought it was a winner and a perfect pud!

    I was blown away by the herculean effort Niki put into this meal and feel very lucky to have been able to have sampled so many wonderful dishes.

    Your place will be waiting for you when you want to come back into the 8ate club Niki!!!

  2. Al

    Niks what an amazing evening of yumminess THANK YOU!
    So Tan says I must discuss the food and so here goes:

    My fave from the nibbles was the beetroot dip. I am also obsessed with beetroot, much to the annoyance of my family I grate it, peel it and sneak it in to everything. So for me, that dip was just perfect yumminess, and the flat bread was sufficiently sturdy to allow great wodges of dip to be spooned in to the mouth.
    My next favourite was the soup. I loved everything about it, especially the Asian flavours and that it tasted creamy without there being coconut milk or anything naughty like that in it. I want to make this recipe asap and I wonder if you could use it as a base recipe for using up green stuff in the fridge. I will give it a try. The best bit of it was the crunchy tangy ginger shreds at the top. I think this was my favourite dish of the whole evening – I really loved it.
    Next fave was the beans. The sauce was so rich it was perfect contrast with the yoghurt I can never seem to make a tomatoey sauce which is tasty but not sharp and this was just 100% perfect. I think I would love to try that recipe as a hangover breakfast with added bacon and toast!
    By this time I was at capacity but I still was able to scoff up all my carrots which I thought were the yummiest part of the main course. I loved the sweet taste with the seeds mixed in. I could just eat a bowl full of that on its own.
    I was wishing wishing I had snuck home some pudding to scoff today as that coconut amazingness was delicious.
    So all in all a fabulous and spoiling array of incredible food – THANK YOU NIKS! xxxx

  3. Firstly thank you Niki for inviting me and for your beautiful intro about our friendship. As you know I treasure you as much and more back.
    Vegetarian cooks like Niki are wonderfully adventurous, perhaps because of unconventional culinary techniques it makes them bolder. But nikis attitude means the bold comes without fear, this meaning she is a relaxed, confident cook and just enjoys the prep.
    The dishes she produced had layers of flavour hence why Tanya your remark about vegetarian taste being so good, but a lot of her processes made that taste that good.
    Thank goodness for kitchen equipment!
    It’s worth cooking a vegetarian feast every now and again to understand how the tastes are achieved. And to make you buy more herbs and spices.
    Going backwards! The desserts were a taste sensation – despite the difficulty they gave you to serve. Christmas and the tropics on a plate!

    The sorbet was inspirational, I made a nutribullet one yesterday with raspberries, bananas and macadamia milk – I don’t think I will buy a sorbet again!

    The main was so scrummy, the highlight being the pie which for me didn’t need anything other than steamed kale with it. The star being the pie over powered the equally talented veg.

    The butter bean/poached egg /garlic yoghurt & chilli oil was my favourite. Amazing combo.

    The starter was very memorable. Smaller bowls ? maybe the bread as croutons would have worked? As it was so filling. But really did taste good of the soul as all souls should.

    The nibbles were plentiful and rich in earthy flavours. So moorish. I totally over ate! The flat bread being the star for me.

    Well done Niks. Your creativity and adventurousness (think that’s a word) always astound me xxxxxxx
    Love em

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