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Kat Barry: Vegan meal salutes Paris

Published 8:00am Saturday, January 12, 2013

Kat’s Hot Talk

This past weekend, one of my roommates from my days as a 20-something expat living in Paris came to visit me. We share a love of many of the good things in life: travel, fashion, beauty, art, literature and, of course, food. She is by no means vegan, currently toying with the idea of working as an artisanal goat cheese maker. But she is a foodie to be sure.

While roommates, we dined at some of the best restaurants in Paris, indulging in all types of delicacies.

Cooking for my houseguests is one of my favorite things to do. With visitors such as Alex, I especially relish the opportunity to showcase the very best and richest of my vegan gourmandise. One morning this weekend, I woke up early and headed straight to the kitchen to prepare a several-course brunch. We had two varieties of smoothies to start: green to rehydrate from the night’s festivities and a creamy strawberry one to satisfy our sweet tooth. I baked cornmeal biscuits, which I served with an onion gravy and Bonne Maman jam. For the coup de grace, I made, for the first time ever, a vegan tart. This was to serve as a tribute to the many quiches and souffles of our Parisian haunt.

Alex was very impressed with the meal. She commented many times, as she did with all the vegan repass I served her throughout the weekend, on how awed she was with the richness of the meal. This is something I hear a lot from non-vegans I’m attempting to wow with my culinary capabilities: how rich and surprisingly satisfying plant-based foods can be. I’ve been vegan for so long that I take this for granted, forgetting this is pleasantly shocking to the general public. It may seem hard to believe, but you don’t need eggs to make a decadent quiche and you certainly don’t need cheese to intensify the flavor of your dish. As a recovered cheese addict, I have cultivated some superbly satisfying dishes that I would love you to try. If my word alone isn’t enough to make you a believer, then take the endorsement of my creme brulee-loving Parisian partner in crime. She left here with recipes in hand, excited to change out some dairy for these delectable plant-based options.
Kat’s Creamy Cashew Spread
1 cup raw cashew pieces
4 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ tsp. dried thyme
1 cup fresh basil or 1 Tbs dried (if making pesto use 3-4 cups fresh)
1 Tbs. dried onion
¼ cups fresh parsley, or ½ Tbs. dried
¾ tsp. sea salt
Dash black pepper
½ Tbs. grape seed oil
¼ cup nutritional yeast

Cover cashews with water and soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain off all but about 2 Tbs.
of the water.
Place ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully combined. Serve with raw crackers or fresh veggies. I typically use this to stuff pasta shells and bake as a rich main dish.

Carrot and Arugula Breakfast Tart
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
3 organic carrots, shredded
½ cup arugula, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1 12-ounce package silken tofu, drained
½ cup almond or soy milk
3 Tbs. nutritional yeast flakes
Dash of dry mustard

Heat half of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and carrots and sautee. When the carrots start to become cooked, add the arugula and the sea salt. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside to cool.
Next, combine remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth and creamy.
Pour the custard mixture over the carrots and stir until combined. Spoon into mini tart crusts or a souffle casserole and bake at 375 for about 35 minutes. Allow to set for about five minutes before serving.

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