|me tossing the salad|
Whoever said that throwing a great dinner party while trying to cook from scratch was easy hasn't done it right. I spent about 3 days shopping, prepping and cooking food to get ready for my Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day Dinner Party. Although I only had about 6 guests I tried to make as much of a variety of vegetables as I could prepare and tried to keep with a spring Italian feel mostly. Inspired by the Jamie Oliver pasta and sauces I received from Shalit Foods, I made a vegetarian Lasagna that I tried to think of as a combination of a pesto sauce/tomato sauce/cheese sauce kind of lasagna with the Pesto being kale, spinach and basil combined with a little bit of garlic. The tomato sauce was Jamie Oliver's tomato chili sauce and additional San Marzano diced tomatoes and a beefsteak tomato. The cheese sauce was buffalo mozzerella, parmesan, and the italian grated cheese blend and some ricotta. To boost the veggie content I added caramelized onions and roasted red peppers. My guests went nuts over the lasagna and I even got a comment that it was the best vegetarian lasagna that they ever had. The also said it was as good as a traditional meat lasagna. This is what it looked like.
I also made a bunch of salads, pickled cucumbers, coleslaw that I made with homemade mayonnaise that I made with Jamie Oliver's Olive Oil, a mixed vegetable garden salad also using the Jamie Oliver Olive Oil for the salad dressing. I roasted beets and just added a bit of vinegar and also roasted some cauliflower. I made a bean dip, hummus and I had some shrimps with cocktail sauce in case anyone felt like they were missing out on the traditional proteins.
|Shrimp with cocktail sauce|
The point of the whole dinner was to return to the way we used to eat, with family and friends eating around a table and eating simple but tasty foods. My food isn't fancy or complicated but it has pure flavour. I cook from my childhood influences of eating my mother's european cooking style and the influence of my italian neighbours home cooking. With a little greek thrown in from my dad's side. I grew up on a street where there were Italian, portuguese, jewish and canadian families and as a kid my mom would take me to a cultural event every year called Carivan where I would try foods from cultures around the world. Food is the only thing in the world that is universal and can be shared with people from any culture, race, nationality, economic background and class. A poor woman can make a peasant meal that a King would relish.
The Food Revolution Day event was to inspire people to share food, educate people on how to cook healthy good food and to enjoy food as a group again. We need to get away from our drive through lifestyles for the health of the World in the future. The more we know who and where are food comes from the better. If you know the farmer that provided the food you are eating by his first name you are generally more likely to respect that same food and appreciate the work that it took to produce it. You would prepare the meal with the thought of not wasting it and getting the maximum flavour out of it instead of just having a throw away meal.
I hope that I inspired my guest to think about their food more and maybe they will make some of the things I made and pass it on to other people so that it creates a chain reaction around the world. Each one, teach one.
We were lucky enough to have a beautiful spring day to celebrate the day and we were able to eat our meal Al Fresco on my balcony. I think that the ambiance of the environment always contributes to having a better food experience and we were lucky to have the weather contribute to a successful dinner party.
|Meringue with Strawberries in Balsalmic/Brandy syrup|
For dessert I made a meringue disc and piled organic strawberries that were soaked in balsamic vinegar and brandy syrup.
You can have your cake with friends and eat it too if you just do it the right way. Eating healthy is not a sacrifice it's a pleasure once you know how to cook things to bring out their natural flavours.