Vegetarian, Southern-themed? dinner before Gillian Welch concert
I'm having some friends over for dinner before we're going to see Gillian Welch in concert here in Amsterdam (so excited!)
I want to make something that somehow fits the 'mood' of the evening. My first thought was biscuits and fried chicken, then I found out they are vegetarians. Not that that is a problem, I love cooking vegetarian food, but I do find it more difficult to think of things to make for this dinner that don't involve meat...
Other issues: these are 'new' friends that have never been to dinner at my house and I want to impress them just a litle bit... and, because we have to leave the house at 8 to get to the show, we won't have time for a relaxed multi-course dinner. So it has to be fairly simple food that I can mostly prepare ahead.
Any thoughts what I could make to wow my friends and get us all in the mood for an evening of great music?
As a Southerner who became vegetarian, I can suggest that the easiest way to be both vegetarian and authentic would be to have a meal with several vegetables, served with beans and cornbread. I grew up with pinto beans, but black-eyed peas may be a good choice to seem "Southern." For vegetables, it's up to what you have available and in season: collards (Deborah Madison has a great vegetarian recipe for them), fried okra, summer squash (I make a quick casserole with saltines and cheddar), green beans, turnips or potatoes, carrots.... Some sliced tomatoes and quick-pickle cucumbers are good on the side, and some chili-vinegar for the beans. Definitely a home-style rather than a show-stopper meal, but delicious nonetheless.
Love, love, love everything already mentioned. I live in New England, but grew up very southern in the South... My 2 cents: Because currently it's not summer, okra, summer squash, and good tomatoes may be difficult to find... If I were you, I would prepare a hoppin' john-style dish by combining lightly-cooked greens with black-eyed peas and brown rice, garlic and other seasonings. Other diced veggies can be folded into the mixture, as well: bell pepper and spring onion or red onion, for instance. It's not a cold salad, but not a hot dish either--somewhere in between. (By the way, I use dried beans and cook my own (very slowly), rather than using canned beans, because I prefer the texture...I use collards or swiss chard... I play around with seasonings...). The dish is quick-ish, easy to prepare, and a large quantity can be made. Serve with corn bread and/or biscuits. Also, serve various pickled vegetables on the side (e.g., pickled ocra, pickled tomatoes, bread and butter pickles, a spicy pickled relish, or anything you have on hand). If you bake biscuits, be sure to serve some nice jellies too--especially a jalepeno jelly. For dessert, make an apple cobbler and serve with ice cream. (Apples are in season right now.) The meal I described is plenty SOUTHERN. And, if you want finger food to serve prior to dinner, make deviled eggs...
-ps understand that ingredients, such as greens, beans, and rice are to be cooked separately and then combined in a large container/pot... I don't know how you'd handle the prep in a smallish Amsterdam kitchen...? How many people are you cooking for? What varieties of bean do you have available? Let me know, and I will suggest something other than black-eyed peas to play "the bean" in this version of what is essentially rice and beans with Southern attitude and flavor...
I was working on the assumption that produce seasonality might be different in Amsterdam, for better or worse. I've had the best luck getting okra in Indian food markets, even outside the summer months - when I lived in Boston, that's the only place I would buy it.
The cobbler idea is a good one.
deviled eggs...Southern yet great with drinks
mac and cheese...you could even do them in seperate ramakins
pickled veggie plate
i love the hoppin John suggestion!
thanks all for the great suggestions!
I like the Hoppin'John idea.. never made it. Will definitely make devilled eggs and cornbread! And while my kitchen is in the middle of Amsterdam, fortunately its quite big (and I'm only cooking for 4) so no problems there.
sweet potato pie is very tempting, and another thing I've never made but always wanted to make, but I'm not sure we'll have time for dessert. Maybe I can bring it to the show ;)
well, due to several health and work issues the dinner never happened. I used the sweet potatoes I had already bought for pie, to make a huge pot of spicy sweet potato/ peanut butter / coconut soup, which will be dinner for the next couple of days!
The concert was fantastic though so not all was lost!