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One of my favourite dishes to prepare when guests come over is my Thai-inspired curry so that when they walk in the door, they’ll be greeted by the lovely smells of curried coconut, ginger and pineapple cooking.  Mmmmmm…. The dish is easily made ahead of time and kept in the fridge, then tossed on the stove to simmer for about half an hour before guests arrive, making it easy for dinner parties when you want everything done ahead of time.  You can even make it a day or more in advance and freeze, then defrost in the fridge over night.

The dinner party menu:
Cool Hummus Pizza Bites
Nacho Kale Chips
Spinach and Cranberry Salad
Baguette with Herbed Garlic Butter
Thai Pineapple Coconut Curry
Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes
Fresh raspberries

I chose it to be the main course when we had our friends Mary and Paul over for dinner.  This dinner party happened some weeks ago but I delayed posting as I kept tweaking the recipe for the curry, but now I think it’s perfect.

Mary runs my favourite blog This Is Vegan and is a wonderful cook and baker.  As a newbie vegan, I’ve deeply appreciated Mary’s advice on everything from restaurant reviews to blogging tips.   I don’t know how successful my first year as a vegan would have been without her, and I certainly wouldn’t have had as much fun, so thanks, Mary!   I’ve gotten to share some adventures with her like our girls’ weekend at the vegetarian bed and breakfast that turned out to be a secret beef farm, a fact that wasn’t revealed to us until we had checked out.  (“Isn’t it wonderful these people are using their farm as a sanctuary for these cows?… Wait a minute, why are their ears tagged?”) .  Back to the dinner party.  Mary brought her cool hummus pizza bites and they were a fabulous appetizer.  Baked crescent dough topped with hummus and garden vegetables!  She posted her recipe for them here.

The recipe for my nacho kale chips are found here.

My Thai curry is adapted from the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson.  The curry is a bit time intensive as the flavours need an hour or so to simmer for best results.  I like to cook a big pot of brown rice every few days and keep the cooked and cooled rice in the fridge for quick meals; it keeps for about three days.  If you don’t have 2 cups of rice made, you can cook the rice while the curry simmers.

Thai Pineapple Coconut Curry
2 packages of extra firm tofu
1 shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
6 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp each brown sugar, cardamon, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric and cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups cooked brown rice
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 onion

2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups diced potatoes (we used red potatoes and purple yams)
1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh if you can find it, or canned)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
(optional)
1 cup coconut milk
fresh cilantro or pea sprouts

Rinse the tofu, then remove excess liquid by wrapping in a clean kitchen towel and pressing gently.  Chop into 1 inch cubes.

Combine the sugar (try it with coconut sugar if you can!), shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and spices in a food processor.  Add the oil as well as 1/2 cup water.

Warm 2 tbsp of the coconut oil in a pan and cook the onions on medium heat for about five minutes, until softened.  Add the spice mixture, then the potatoes and stir.  Cook for about three minutes, then add in the vegetable broth, cover and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

In a separate pan, warm the other 1 tbsp of coconut oil over medium-high, then add the tofu, stirring every minute or so, so that all sides of the tofu cubes are brown and a bit crispy (you can skip this step if you want softer tofu).  Add the tofu, pineapple, chickpeas (if using) and coconut milk, stir, and let simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Serve hot.  Top with fresh cilantro or pea sprouts and serve.

The best dish of all that night was the chocolate molten lava cakes with raspberries from my garden.  I can take no credit for cake recipe as they are the creation of the amazing Chloe Coscarelli.  I haven’t found a recipe for the cakes online, so you’ll just have to go out and get the Chloe’s Kitchen cookbook, but I promise it’s well worth it.  It’s one of my very favourite cookbooks.

What are your favourite dishes to serve at dinner parties?

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