Saturday evening we hosted our monthly Cooking Club at our house. This is a gathering of friends who like to cook, learn new techniques and share recipes. Forest and Stacie Benedict have been trying out vegetarian and vegan recipes so we made that our theme for October. I have always been a self-proclaimed carnivore. (Heck, I'm Italian and Filipino/Chinese; Meat is hard to avoid.) But I have to say that this all vegetarian meal was fabulous. Meilani helped in the kitchen by trying ingredients - like this whole zucchini, which we still have not found.
For appetizers we made "Zucchini Cakes," which are similar to crab cakes but minus the crab. These cakes were inexpensive to create and we coupled them with a cilantro salad dressing from Trader Joe's for a dipping sauce. The result was a wonderful starter for our meal. (I think most of us could have made this our meal - the zucchini cakes were a favorite.)
Our menu included this fabulous "Beans in Lemon & Herb Sauce," which Paula Beery took charge of putting together. The beans were crunchy and the sauce added a rich, lemony flavor. (We also made way too much - probably enough beans to feed an army but we live and learn.)
We also made this "Gnocchi and Peppers in Balsamic Sauce." This filling dish incorporated gnocchi (Italian potato dumpling pasta available and most grocery stores) and fresh vegetables sauteed and mixed with a balsamic-based sauce.
Stacie and Forest were big fans of the gnocchi with balsamic sauce. These gnocchi are very filling and we didn't miss the usual meat main dish. Gnocchi are often served with a cheese sauce like alfredo or gorgonzola so this was a new twist for me.
We rounded out our evening with a Fall Apple Crisp (made with honey instead of sugar) and a game of Ticket to Ride - our favorite board game. Cori and Darrel brought over the German version, which has some added strategy involved. You build railroads and then you can ride them for extra points. Not to brag or anything - since it was a very close game - but the Gilmores kicked butt in the end!
Meilani enjoyed the "train game" too, which involved lots of train songs sung by the adults. She investigated all the trains and set one package of them up on the floor for her own little railroad tracks. (She was the only little one in the mix so she entertained herself - and the rest of us!) The fun part about Cooking Club is it's always a different mix of people. This time it was a smaller group, including the Beerys, the Schmidts and the Benedicts. What it all comes down to is good food and good fun.