Vegan Party Guest

5 Mar

Anyone who entertains will sooner or later be faced with the prospect that one of the invited guests has nontraditional dietary needs. This is not something new because there have always been people who, because of a medical condition, conscience, or simply personal preference eat a diet different than others.

Our society continues to change, bringing with it added diversity. Greater mobility enables more of us to travel around the world to experience differing cultures.  The sharing of new and alternative ideas & perspectives predominates our communications. Medical research brings better understanding how foods and our diets affect our health both positively and negatively. All of this helps contribute to expanding dietary needs and expectations.

Being a thoughtful host who desires to be hospitable, making my guests comfortable and desiring to accommodate their needs, I contemplated “what would be the best approach to providing foods for the occasion when our guests have a variety of dietary expectations/needs?”

As I have mentioned before, for the birthdays of people who are close to me I have a standing offer to make for their birthday the meal and dessert of their choosing. This last weekend was the birthday of my son’s wife and she asked for Fettuccine Alfredo and Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Of course I was going to fulfill her request, but one anxiety I had is that one of the invited guests has adopted a dietary lifestyle that excludes meat AND dairy. Being that both Fettuccine Alfredo and Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting involve: butter, cheese, eggs, and milk I knew that if I as the host of the party did not make other arrangements, this particular guest would not have anything to eat.

Thankfully, I had inspiration for an experiment. Knowing that the majority of the invited guests preferred traditional dishes and were not familiar with eating Vegan, and were perhaps even repulsed by the idea, I conceived to make what she wanted using both traditional and Vegan recipes and serve them in parallel so the guests had the option to not only eat what they were familiar with but also be able to sample a Vegan alternative thereby providing them with a new experience and helping enlarge their world even more.

Dual Spread Vegan/Traditional

The menu for this party included: Green Salad with Vinaigrette and Ranch Dressings; Fettuccine with Traditional and Vegan Alfredo Sauce; Garlic Bread with Olive Oil & fresh minced Garlic; and both Traditional and Vegan versions of Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The Traditional options are on the left of this picture and the Vegan options are on the right. (see below for recipes)

Traditional Alfredo Sauce

ALFREDO SAUCE (Traditional)

Ingredients
5 T Butter
4 T Flour

1 c Cream, heavy
1 ½ c Milk

4 Cloves Garlic minced *
½ t Salt
½ t White Pepper

1 c Parmesan Cheese
1 c Sour Cream

Instructions
Melt butter in pan over medium heat, add flour and blend to make a paste. Pour in milk & cream and whisk to remove any lumps. Stir in garlic, salt, and white pepper and heat thoroughly. Add Parmesan Cheese and Sour Cream. Stir until blended and bubbly. Add more milk if needed to produce the desired consistency.

Serve over Fettuccine Pasta cooked al dente.

* You can substitute 1 t Garlic Powder for the fresh garlic, if necessary.

Vegan Alfredo Sauce

ALFREDO SAUCE ( Vegan)

Ingredients
1/3 c Olive oil
4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
½ Onion, yellow chopped

16 oz pkg Tofu, soft (drained)

2 T Basil, dried
2 T Parsley, dried
8 oz can Mushrooms, sliced (drained)
½ t Black pepper
½ t Salt, Kosher

Instructions
Sauté onion and garlic in Olive oil.

Liquefy in blender.

Add Tofu to garlic/oil mixture and blend until smooth and creamy.

Put tofu mixture in saucepan, add basil, parsley, mushrooms, salt & pepper and heat thoroughly.

Serve over Fettuccine Pasta cooked al dente.

Traditional Chocolate Cake

CHOCOLATE CAKE (Traditional)

For the Chocolate Cake I tried a new recipe called “The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever” and was very pleased with how it turned out.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (Traditional)

Ingredients
8 oz pkg Cream cheese (softened)
1/2 c Butter, softened
1 c Powdered sugar
1 t Vanilla

Instructions
Blend Cream Cheese with Butter. Mix in powdered sugar gradually and blend until smooth. Add vanilla.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

CHOCOLATE CAKE (Vegan)

Ingredients
3 c Flour, cake
2 c Sugar
6 T Cocoa powder
2 t Baking soda
2 t Baking powder
1 t Salt, Kosher

2 c water
3/4 c Vegetable oil
2 T Vinegar, white
2 t Vanilla

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix in wet ingredients just before baking and continue mixing until you obtain an even batter.

Pour into 13 x 9 cake pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (Vegan)

Ingredients
1/2 c Cream cheese, Vegan *
1/2 c Margarine, Vegan **
1 c Powdered sugar
1 t Vanilla

Instructions
Blend Cream Cheese with Margarine. Mix in powdered sugar gradually and blend until smooth. Add vanilla.

* VEGAN CREAM CHEESE

Ingredients
1 c Tofu, firm
2 T Vegetable Oil
3 T Lemon Juice
1 T Sugar
1/2 t Salt, Kosher

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl and chill.

** VEGAN MARGARINE
Earth Balance Brand Margarine

I used Earth Balance Brand Whipped Margarine which is both Vegan and Organic

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Most of the guests at least sampled both versions of the dishes (Traditional and Vegan). Some rejected the Vegan option solely because it was Vegan or that the Vegan version contained Tofu. The guests who at least tried both versions were surprised that they tasted so good and said they never would have guessed they were Vegan if I hadn’t told them. My Vegan guest took what was left of the Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo and had it for lunch the next day.