Virtual Vegan Potluck

Virtual Vegan Potluck – Spooky Vegan Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute

Welcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck and my final Vegan MOFO post!

What a special night! It’s still Halloween on this side of the hemisphere and Vegan Zombies are everywhere on the loose counting down to World Vegan Day. Watch out, they’re coming to eat your brains grains. To save my pantry from a full on zombie invasion, I baked you them up this special ooey-gooey-spooky treat!

Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute

You will need to make these three recipes for this appetizer. You will also need a sheet of vegan puff pastry (if you are really awesome, make your own).

Macadamia Nut Brie

Inspired by a Vegan Brie in The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions

  • 1 C. macadamia nuts, soaked 4-8 hours in cold water, then drained and rinsed. Last time I made this I used 1/2  Macadamias and  1/2 cashews and I liked it even better
  • 1 C. boiling water
  • 2 T. Tapioca Flour (optional, makes for a firmer brie)
  • 1 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1 T. yellow miso
  • 2 T. tahini
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 2 T. Earth Balance or other vegan buttery spread
  • 1/2 package Pomona’s Pectin (only this brand of pectin will work in this recipe)

Method: Lightly oil a small round dish (I used a glass tupperware), set aside. Measure out half of the dry pectin, about 4.5 teaspoons. Combine calcium packet from pectin box with 1/2 C. water (not listed in ingredients above) in a small lidded jar and shake til thoroughly combined. Blend all ingredients except pectin and calcium water in your turbo blender or food processor until completely smooth. Add dry pectin and half (1/4 C.) of the calcium water and pulse until all combined and thick. Immediately scrape hot brie out into the small round prepared dish. Refrigerate for a couple hours, turn out on to a plate, brie will be slightly soft (as brie is) but ready to use in this recipe.

Maple Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 package fresh cranberries (I used ocean spray)
  • 2/3 C. pure maple syrup
  • 2/3 C. apple cider
  • 1/4 t. crushed thyme
  • 1/4 t. sea salt

Method: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into glass jar. Let cool and refrigerate until ready for use (this will keep up to a month in the fridge and longer in the freezer and leftovers can easily be saved for the holidays).

Savory Oven Crackers

inspired by this favorite cracker recipe

  • 1 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 C. sesame seeds (I used black)
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 T. cold water
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. veggie salt or sea salt

Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Process all ingredients but water til combined in your food processor. Add half the water, then add a water a tablespoon at a time (you may not need it all) while pulsing until a round ball of dough forms. Put dough on a sheet of parchment paper and roll out until PAPER thin (or as thin as you can possibly roll them out). Brush surface with water and sprinkle with a bit more sea salt or veggie salt. Cut into squares with a pizza wheel. Bake for on a baking tray for 8-10 minutes, then remove crackers from parchment paper and bake an additional few minutes  on the tray until golden.

Assemble the Brie en Croute: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out puff pastry a bit. (I reused the parchment paper I cooked the crackers on for this task) Spoon 1/2 C. Maple Cranberry Sauce into the center.

Top with Macadamia Nut Brie (smooth side touching the cranberry sauce). Leaving a few inches all around, cut puff pastry into a round following the brie as a guide. Tuck edges up in a pinwheel fashion.

Turn right side up and decorate spookily  (or festively for upcoming Holidays) with remaining scraps if desired. My attempt at a spiderweb is a little lame, but whateves. I brushed my pastry with 1 T. water and 1 T. pure maple syrup to make it extra glossy.

Bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden. I broiled mine for 3 minutes to get the pastry to a deeper golden color and it ended up being 2 minutes too long.

Feed to Fellow Potluckers Vegan Zombies on a tray with the savory oven crackers and a side of extra cranberry sauce.

Thanks to the lovely Annie at An Unrefined Vegan for creating this incredible event, it’s been a complete honor to work side by side with her for this round of the potluck. Another thanks to Lidia at Vegan Bloggers Unite for hosting the shindig. Big fat hugs to you both.

I’m off to scare off the last of the Tricker-Treaters with my Vegan Zombie get up! See you in a week or so. ;) Head back to check out Queens of the Wild Frontier if you haven’t all ready come from there. Continue on to The Soulicious Life to see what vittles they’ve cooked up! You can also use the cool navigation buttons below. Sometimes at a potluck there are some bad dishes and no-shows broken links along the way, if that happens and you get lost, please head back to Vegan Bloggers Unite to find the next blog on the list so that you can continue to feast your way through the potluck. This post has also been shared on the VVP Linky Potluck.

Sage’s Cafe, Salt Lake City, Utah

I’d never been to an all vegan restaurant until last week (I know, what’s wrong with me?) It’s not that I don’t have  local options, Veg News declared Salt Lake City as “America’s Next Great Vegan City.” I don’t have any excuses for myself other than I just don’t go out to eat that often. That same article in Veg News states: [referring to Salt Lake City] Today, there is a vegan grocery store, two vegan bakeries, two vegan food carts, four vegan restaurants, and 50 vegan friendly restaurants with specific vegan options on their menus. Radical. Sage’s Cafe offers an entirely plant-based menu and specializes in local and organic food, it is one of four totally vedged out locations owned by Utah native, Chef Ian Brandt/Elevated Cuisine Group.

Want to know the best part? I met Annie from An Unrefined Vegan there for my belated birthday lunch (no applause please, it was last month). ;)  Photos of the lunch are courtesy of Annie’s Phone.

I had the Guac-n-Roll Sandwich, which is an amazing nut burger, made with cashews, almonds and garbanzo beans served on a locally made seven grain baguette with guac. Everything about it was delicious. The baguette was perfectly toasted, the pesto had just the right verve and the nut burger was beautifully seasoned. It tasted a little like a milder and yummier version of falafel. The only thing left on my plate after a few minutes of bliss was a sliver of red onion. Did I mention the freedom I felt at being able to order anything on the menu? Totally awesome!

Annie had the Magical Wok Entrée, since we’re doing dual reviews today, head on over to her site to see what she thought about it. As you can see, from the photo below, it’s presentation was fantastic.

We had a lot of catch up to do since we hadn’t seen each other for a while. We sat in the lovely sun room, where our waiter kindly kept refilling our drinks for over 2 hours while we dined and chatted. He must have noticed the giant bag full of awesome birthday gifts she had for me because when we declined dessert, he said he would offer a birthday dessert on the house. We asked for his suggestion and both said YES when he mentioned the tiramisu.

Although I couldn’t detect even a hint of espresso, I have to say it was one of the most delicious tiramisu(s?) that I have ever eaten. If I wasn’t in a vegan joint, I would have never guessed this culinary confection was completely dairy free. In short, it was incredible. We finished every last bite and it was only out of politeness that I didn’t lick the plate.

The food, the company and the warm ambiance of the sun room made for one of the best afternoons I’ve had in a while. My only complaint about Sage’s is that despite driving up and down the street multiple times, I couldn’t easily identify it from the road. I finally parked and walked and then texted Annie to guide me there beneath the grape vines. I will tell you that I went home feeling happy, light, refreshed and ready to conquer the world (usually when I leave a restaurant I feel bloated, tired and uncomfortable). While Annie and I aren’t eloping any time soon, there’s not a lot of time left to sign up for our baby (project), the Virtual Vegan Potluck. If you’ve wanted to join and haven’t done so, DO IT! There’s literally less than 5 slots 2 slots left. It closes when it reaches 100 participants.

Oh, you’re still here and want to know what I got for my birthday loot?

The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, let’s just say upon returning home I couldn’t put this book down for several hours and have all ready made 4 things 6 things out of it since Friday. I really (really) wish I had this book when I first went vegan. It would have made my transition SO much easier. If you don’t own it, BUY IT RIGHT NOW!

Blog Photo Plates – Annie knows my kids me so well, these babies are made of unbreakable melamine.

Forks Over Knives the Cookbook – Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating all Through the Year. The name says it all! In LOVE! Thank you so much Annie!!! xoxo!

Sriracha and Olive Salsa Fresca

I hate to admit it, but some of the best salsa I’ve ever made has come from canned tomatoes. Now that I’ve been making my salsa this way for a while I’m pretty much convinced that this is the same method that my favorite Mexican restaurants use to make their salsa as well. Oh, and the best part: no endless chopping, the blender does most of the work for you, allowing you to have nearly a quart of salsa ready in about a minute.

Whole Grain Black Bean & Rice Burrito topped w/ Sriracha & Olive Salsa Fresca

Sriracha and Olive Salsa Fresca

1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can drained black olives, 1 small can diced green chiles, 1/4 of an onion roughly chopped, 1/2 bunch cilantro roughly chopped, 2 T. fresh or bottled lemon juice, garlic salt to taste, few grinds black pepper, squirt (or 4) of sriracha or other favorite hot sauce.

Dump all ingredients in your blender. Pulse a few times until chopped to bits and everything is well combined. You’re done! We like to eat ours with baked tortilla chips. You can also make this without the olives if you prefer.

Have you joined the Virtual Vegan Potluck yet? What are you waiting for? The Party will be on November 1st, World Vegan Day.

20 Reasons Why Going Vegan Sucks


1. You start behaving like a Mormon Missionary and proselytize the benefits of a plant-based diet to everyone you know with copies of Forks Over Knives and The China Study. (Count em, 27 converts to date)

2. You spend so much time in the kitchen that you think “Maybe just this once pre-soaking my pinto beans ISN’T necessary.” Then later, you and everyone in a 12 mile radius of you seriously regrets you didn’t take the time to pre-soak.

3. You get all crunchy and granola like and start making your own soap and deodorant.

4. You get involved in things like the Virtual Vegan Potluck and you get your first facebook account. ever. so that you can hang out in the top secret VVP batcave with the coolest co-horts ever, Annie and Jason.

5. You become one of those obsessed people (we’re victims, really) who can’t stop posting food porn or yet ANOTHER way to use cashew cheez in a recipe.

6. You lose weight even though you no longer count calories and you are forced to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe.

7. After races, you recover ridiculously faster than you used to, so no-one feels sorry for you and you don’t get to take an “extra rest day” afterwards.

8. You feel like you know and love some of your blogging buddies (people you have never actually met) more than your next door neighbor.

9. You become star struck for the first time ever and start stalking celebrity Vegan Chefs like AJ and Ramses.

10. You have so much produce in your fridge, that fitting in yet another box of organic spinach in there becomes a precarious circus act. Things like ‘ears of corn’ topple out onto your head every time you open the door.

11. All of the money you saved by getting off prescription drugs goes towards your organic produce habit. You feel compelled to defend organic foods like an errant family member despite current evidence against it, because you are what you eat.

12. You start to feel “Dietarily Superior” to everyone who’s not plant based.

13. You have less no constipation, so your regular reading of “Runner’s World Magazine” gets completely cut out of your schedule.

14. Even though you are all ready a dietary outcast (1-2% of the world is vegan), you still sometimes consider going raw, high-alkaline, gluten-free or all of the above to further alienate yourself at social gatherings and restaurants.

15. You sadly realize that even though being plant-based has completely reversed your Ulcerative Colitis and significantly reduced your risks of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and more, it has not cured your cankles or cellulite.

16. You have more kitchen gadgets than anyone you know but you can’t stop buying more, resulting in a severely receding counter-top space.

17. Your children get harassed at school because of the contents of their lunch box. Bully Child: “I thought you said your family didn’t eat meat, why are you eating a Turkey sandwich?” My child: “Um, that’s Tofurky.” Bully Child: “What’s a Tofurky?My Child to me: “Mom, do I really have to drink a green smoothie everyday at lunch? Everyone stares at me!” (Actual comments) :(

18. You feel like you’ve broken up just a little bit with some of your closest friends because you don’t share the same values regarding foods anymore. And truth be told, they probably think you’re a little crazy.

19. You feel compelled to blog constantly about your plant based devotion. So much so that you decide to ditch your best friends over at Good Clean Food and get your own dang blog. Sorry girls.

20. You get overly excited when you have a new recipe to share, as if it’s going to change the world! Well, just maybe it will, one plate at a time.