12 January 2008

It's Party Time!

Blog party, that is.

I've missed the last couple of blog parties, much to my dismay, as I just love Dispensing Happiness and her fabulous foodie events. But this time, I couldn't not participate. The theme is vegetarian, which was meant to be a selfish endeavour so that our lovely hostess could sample all the tasty treats, but in fact it's generous as well, for I too am definitely looking forward to some new recipes!

One of the challenges to being a vegetarian, and especially to using vegetarian recipes, is that cookbook authors tend to call for rather fancy ingredients. All the authors have their little bundle of favourites - some like tahini, for others it's miso paste or pine nuts, or maybe saffron - but for a vegetarian on a budget, this can be quite disheartening. My mission, therefore, was to come up with a drink and an appetizer that anyone could make on a fair-to-middling budget, and enjoy as well!

Grilled Tortilla Wedges with Fancy Mustard

Lettuce, tomato and cheese. Tomato, cheese and lettuce. How many times have you heard these three sandwich ingredients recited? They're the staple of any vegetarian sandwich diet, and no matter how much you try to experiment and come up with fancy lunch ideas, you come back to that particular trifecta. Well, I for one was determined to do something interesting with lettuce, cheese, and tomato, something that would be appropriate for a party and taste good to boot. So, I did a little rummaging around my cupboards and came up with this recipe.

I had some flour tortillas left over from several nights of burritos, but I didn't really want to make a wrap. I hate how the ingredients in a wrap tend to shift around and fall out of the bottom, and how it always seems so insubstantial. So, I thought I'd try something a little more like a quesedilla, and use some of the shredded Cheddar cheese I've been trying to consume in the process. I also wanted to try one of the fancy food items I picked up before the holiday from Prairie Table, so I selected this Stonewall Kitchen Bourbon Molasses Mustard. It's sweet, but much tangier than a honey mustard, and very grainy.

The process itself is pretty simple. I cut one eight-inch flour tortilla into four wedges, and then made a couple of sandwiches with my cheddar cheese. Then I plopped them on my nifty stovetop griddle. You can purchase these for about ten bucks at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and the cool thing is that one side is flat and the other has grill marks, so you can grill veggies and bread but also make pancakes on the reverse side. The only thing I *don't* like is that it's a pain to clean. Anyway, I cooked my wedges for a few minutes each side over medium heat, no oil or anything, flipping when some grill marks appeared and the cheese was starting to melt. Make sure you tuck any stray cheese back inside when you flip it. If you don't have a griddle, you can use a plain skillet, you just won't have grill marks.

Once the cheese was completely melted, I sliced up a small tomato so that I got two thick slices out of it, and popped those on the griddle. Then I spread a healthy portion of mustard on top of each tortilla wedge, and stuck a couple butter lettuce leaves on top. Once the tomatoes were cooked on both sides, I plopped them on top of the lettuce, and sprinkled with a little salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Of course, you can adjust the seasoning as needed, or use spinach instead of lettuce, or a different cheese, or another favourite mustard. This is a great recipe for experimenting!

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

This drink doesn't go with my appetizer at all, but I hope you will all forgive me. I've been wanting to make a smoothie for breakfast for quite a while, and I also don't really want to spend the money on alcohol right now, so this is my "mocktail" contribution. It's a little like a thick milkshake, but if you add more milk and less of the other ingredients, maybe some crushed ice, you'd have more of a drink. Anyway, to start, you want to freeze a banana. I learned the hard way that freezing the whole bunch in their skins is kind of a dumb idea. But if you do this, you can salvage the banana - just let it thaw a few minutes, then score the skin with a knife and cut the banana in half. From here, you can stand it up on one end and peel like a potato.

I didn't take measurements with this, because I was basically experimenting, but this is the jist. I cut my banana into four pieces and popped it in the Cuisinart, pulsing until I had some coarse frozen banana crumbs. Then I added two pretty big spoonfuls of peanut butter (next time, I'd stick with one regular sized, as this is what made it very thick), a spoonful of wheat germ, and some milk. I pulsed until it was starting to incorporate and then blended until smooth. I had to keep adding milk until I reached the desired consistency - again, less peanut butter would have helped that. Still, it was nice and smooth and tasted great. You could add honey if you like, but I didn't need it. Also, the peanut butter was reduced fat and the milk was skim, so it's not bad for you at all!

Thanks again to Dispensing Happiness for hosting! I can't wait to see what veggie creations everyone came up with!


Carver said...

The tortilla wedges sound great. The smoothie is hard for me to imagine but maybe that's the fun of it, a pleasant surprise.

LisaRene said...

I love that you got creative by using the Bourbon Molasses Mustard. Stonewall Kitchen makes some wonderful products.

Ivy said...

Wow, they really sound and look yummy!