When it was still a billion degrees out, my friends joined together to eat a lot of food. Brinner food, to be specific. It was the third food party we had this summer, and they just kept getting better. So many of my favorite people were in one backyard and it honestly was hard to keep up. One of my favorite ladies from Smith just moved to Brooklyn, and she actually got on the train and trekked out to Jersey (you rock, Kelsey!) AND another of my best girls from high school was randomly visiting home from D.C., where she’s been living as a real person with a job and apartment and such. Not to mention a whole host of others from Montclair who were back in town for the summer/indefinitely (like yours truly~~) It actually made me waaaay too happy to see so many rad people in one space! As you’ll be able to tell, I was being the paparazzi and taking all these pictures (thanks for not slugging me while I photographed you eating, friends!)
I think my favorite part about being a “grownup” (planning to use the air-quotes until I no longer have to text my parents with questions when filling out a tax form. Not that that happened at work this week or anything. ANYWAY) is the fact that a group of us can get together on a Monday night and drink a lot of beer without a care. No more sneaking sips of tequila/cheap wine out of plastic cups in between slices of pizza in the basement! We now drink cherry-flavored malt beverages out of the bottle in BROAD daylight (hi Eve) and it is pretty darn wonderful. Read on for the inside scoop of the recipes behind the brinner, made by my lovely friends Emily, Rebecca, Eve– and me!
Vegan Zucchini Bread (adapted ever so slightly from About.com)
1 teaspoon salt
1 scraped vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons extract)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease four mini-loaf pans with vegan butter or oil. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, oil, vegan milk, and vanilla for a minute or two or until the mixture comes together (any oil separation is fine!) Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with half the grated zucchini. Mix until combined, then fold in remaining zucchini. Divide batter among prepared loaf pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes, testing with toothpick after 40. You can also bake 2 9-inch loaves at 325 degrees F for 70-80 minutes. Allow loaves to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before removing from the pans. The original recipe also includes an optional crumble topping, but I found the bread sweet enough on its own! Plus, I tend to slather loaf breads in jam, so the less sweet the better.
Charred Carrots w/ Lemon Mint Butter (recipe by Rebecca Klein)
3 pounds large carrots cut on the bias
1/2 cup butter
1/2 fresh mint
salt to taste
vegetable/canola oil for cooking
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
Chop mint, reserving one tablespoon and set aside. Zest and juice the lemons, separating the zest from the juice. Melt the butter in saucepan over low heat, making sure it doesn’t bubble. Once the butter is very hot, and zest and majority of the mint. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl large enough to fit all the carrots
In the largest skillet you have (preferably a cast iron,) add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Heat on high until it just begins to ripple or smoke. Add in a single layer of cut carrots. Sprinkle with salt on the top side. Allow the carrots to cook until parts become black and charred, but not so long that the whole side is burnt. Once the first side is slightly charred, flip carrots and repeat the same process on the other side (omitting the salt.) Once they have cooked on both sides, transfer to the large bowl along with the mint-lemon-butter mixture. This way, the carrots acquire a nice charred flavor without becoming too soft, so keep your heat up high, as once you remove them from the heat they will continue to cook. Repeat with remaining carrots. Once all carrots are cooked, add the lemon juice and the honey if using to the mixture, along with the reserved mint, and toss it all together. Allow to sit at room temperature for twenty to thirty minutes, so. This can be served hot, but I prefer it at room temperature, so you can let it sit until fully cooled.
2 white onions
1 bunch chard
2 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper
a solid amount of feta cheese (we recommend buying a block and crumbling it yourself, there’s better flavor there)
1/2 cup dairy (2% or whole milk, sour cream, crème fraîche, etc.)
Caramelize the onions in a pan with a few glugs of olive oil. When the onions are done, transfer them to a bowl. Mince the garlic and dice the bell pepper. Wash, chop, and sautée the chard in the caramelized onion pan with the minced garlic and more oil as needed. Add chard to the onion bowl, then sautée the peppers in the same pan, adding more oil as needed along the way. Add to the onion/chard bowl. Crumble the feta. Follow these instructions using the aforementioned add-ins. We used a cast iron skillet because they are perfect.
Vegan Onion and Tofu Quiche (from Another Dinner is Possible; measurements converted from grams, so they are subject to change/standard deviation)
8-inch Crust (aka “flan case”)
±2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon mixed herbs, optional
±1/2 cup margarine or 1/3+2 tbsp vegetable shortening, or other solid vegan butter substitute
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan butter
sprig of fresh thyme
17 ounces extra firm tofu
pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons miso
±3/4 cup vegan milk
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
yeast flakes (optional)
salt and pepper
Make the crust: Sift flour, salt, and herbs if using in a large bowl. Cut the butter substitute into chunks and cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers until mixture makes coarse crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of water and blend, then add more water by the spoonful until the dough just begins to come together. Turn out onto a floured work surface and gently knead it to form a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours)
After crust has chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch pie or tart pan with vegan butter or oil. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out to form a ~10″ circle. Carefully roll the dough onto your rolling pin to transfer onto greased baking pan, fluting the edges if you so desire. Prick all over crust with a fork to let steam out. Cover the crust in foil and fill cavity with pie wights or dried beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes, removing the foil for the last five to let the crust let a little brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Can be made 1 day ahead.
Assemble the quiche: Thinly slice onions and caramelize in a pan with the vegan butter and oil over low heat for 20-30 minutes, adding thyme halfway through. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Blend the remaining ingredients together in a food processor or blender, tasting along the way for seasoning. Spread onions onto pre-baked crust and pour tofu mixture over. Bake for about 20 minutes, until filling seems mostly set and golden brown. Set aside to set up further for another 15 minutes or so.
Also on the menu
Bon Appétit’s Plum and Fennel Salad
Jessie Snyder’s Berry Scones
Roasted Potatoes (like these)
Toaster waffles (thanks Sam!!)
Ice Cream from Emily’s freezer, consumed straight from the container after a few too many of the aforementioned beers