Julie Anne Rhodes
Tis the season to be jolly, and entertain! The very first recipe I looked at in The Conscious Cook cookbook had me salivating immediately, but I wanted to save it until now as it is the perfect first course for Christmas dinner. It is labor intensive, and must be eaten immediately (I don’t recommend them for a large party), but worth every bit of effort. They are as scrumptious as they are festively colorful. I did find the ingredients for the filling made far more than needed for the recipe… a minor flaw that I’ve found with several recipes I’ve tested so far. Probably the result of scaling restaurant size recipes for the home kitchen. I froze the excess, and plan to make these addictive treats again once Tatjana comes home for the holiday.

Beet Rollatini with Balsamic Gastrique
When is it more appropriate to be super indulgent? I decided to make the Pine-Nut and Basil Seared Gardein “Chicken” with Lobster Mushroom Beurre Blanc, Braised Kale, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes for the main course… except my version was an Oyster Mushroom Beurre Blanc since the green grocers at 3 different grocery stores didn’t have a clue what lobster mushrooms were (let alone carry them). I’ve never had them before either, so I guessed that oyster mushrooms would be the closest substitute. The sumptuous feast tasted great even if I was wrong . I also used red potatoes instead of fingerling to add the color I lost with the lack of lobster mushrooms.

Pine-Nut and Basil Seared Gardein “Chicken” with Lobster Mushroom Beurre Blanc, Braised Kale, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
After such a rich dinner, I decided to lighten up a bit with dessert. Serafina Magnussen’s Seasonal Fruit in Papillote fit the bill perfectly. I opted for the combination of figs, pears, vanilla, and balsamic. I used agave for the sweeter, but I think brown sugar would have been a better choice. Exhausted from making the first two courses… I decided to cheat with some store bought vegan ice cream instead of making the cashew

Fruit en Papillote
whipped cream. I thought it looked pretty in the parchment, so I served it still in the paper. A simple yet elegant dessert with the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
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  • December 2, 2009
    2:48 pm

    I tried to make the pine nut and basil gardein "chicken". Did you lessen the flour? I found mine was too floury and not crunch enough. The "lobster" sauce is delicious. My local wholefoods did know what a lobster mushroom was, I will ask them again which mushroom is similar (I forgot). I wish the recipes weren't so arduous and had less earth balance.

  • December 2, 2009
    5:30 pm

    Hi Hungary Duchess: The recipes I am currently writing will have much less Earth Balance, and hopefully be a lot more user friendly for the home cook. I have one more scrumptious Conscious Cook recipe I would like to highlight before I start publishing my own recipes again. xo

  • December 3, 2009
    10:35 pm

    Hi Julie Anne,Wow! I just love the way you present your dishes. Both dishes have me salivating (as they always do)and I am so tempted to try the beet rollatini dish. Love the video for it. The music to it makes me want to jump into my screen and taste it. If only I could do so (lady like of course).I have a few close friends of mine coming over next Saturday and I am so, so tempted to try this beet dish for them. Fingers crossed, as I think I may have to do a trial run before then. Aussie Mum (Nancy)

  • December 28, 2009
    1:47 pm

    Hi Jewels!! I love reading your blog and was just wondering how on earth you amassed such an amazing skill????I have four kids (ages 21, 7, 5, and 4), so cooking for me is always like cooking for an army…do you have any recipes that are time-friendly for a full-time working mother of four? (I'm also an aspiring jewelry designer which eats up a bit of my time as well…) I guess I need recipes that are good to go in 30 minutes or less…THANK YOU and keep up the great blogging!!Love,Jodi