Last year in December a friend of mine, Anna called for a “vegastromania month“, where she invited everyone to cook at least one vegetarian or even vegan meal during the Christmas preparations. The main goal of this project was to make people think about vegetarian dishes and what they are eating everyday – which is usually far too much meat. The participants were allowed to submit any kind of recipe except for desserts, because they are mostly naturally vegetarian, less healthy and we already have more than enough of sweet recipes. Anna also assembled some famous Hungarian vegetarians, who picked their favorite recipe. The winner was invited to a very special vegetarian dinner at Anna’s home and also recieved a voucher for an ayurvedic massage. Fortunately, I got picked by the jury, so this January I had a wonderful dinner with Anna, Ági and Noémi. One of the dishes Anna served at this dinner was Mrs. Myrtleberry’s nutcake, which was quite an extraordinary and surprising experience. First, it’s absolutely delicious. But its texture was even more interesting, because it tasted just like minced meat – although there was no meat in the cake at all.
Many people know cashews only as a salty snack. Actually, the unsalted and unroasted cashew nuts are very versatile and can be applied in multiple ways in the kitchen. For example cooked cashews are a great garnish and pair especially well with sunchokes. You can blend the cooked cashews into a fine puree as well, which can be served either pure or flavored with vegetable juices. Compared to other nuts, raw cashews have a slightly softer texture. Roasting them not only crisps them, but also enhances their flavor. Many recipes advise to roast nuts in skillets or dry pans. I always roast nuts in the oven, because this way they don’t get burnt spots, but roast through completely. Roasted cashews can be used as a puree, in desserts or in appetizers, like the starter below.
If you open a cookbook about classic french cooking you will find recipes for several sauces. Except for vinaigrettes, almost all sauces contain either milk, eggs or animal bones. So while I was exploring vegan cooking, my idea was to figure out whether it is possible to create a rich brown sauce by using vegetables only. My result was more than satisfactory. I didn’t taste the same as sauces prepared with animal parts, but this rich vegan brown sauce works great for coating or glazing baked or roasted vegetables.