“Why don’t somebody just tranquilize his ass so he can shut up?!!”
Laugh. Out. Loud.
God, how I miss her…
This was one of her comments after Michael Jackson died, and Joe Jackson, his father, was on television saying, in my mother’s opinion, all the wrong things. We were having a barbecue…and I brought the veggie burgers because I wanted to eat something besides potato salad that day.
Naturally, I think of my family’s functions whenever I am invited to someone else’s family event. Recently, I had the pleasure of catering a private dinner in New Orleans …and then traveling to Lafayette, Louisiana, for a friend’s family’s crawfish boil.
I’ve never been to a crawfish boil…and I was honored to be invited because, look, people don’t just invite anybody to their family’s event/dinner/party. And although my diet is plant-based, my mother taught me long ago…when you are invited to someone’s house you do not have to eat their food, but you do have to respect their choices…as you want them to respect yours.
I was greeted by Mr. Jett, an uncle of my friend, who immediately joked once he knew I’d never seen a crawfish before…
Put ya fingah righh here ‘tween that claw.
I don’t think so.
By my second helping of potato salad and my second Jack Daniel’s and coke, I was fast asleep on the couch. Just like any of my own family functions.
The crawfish boil came a day after the private catering job, which I was a bit nervous for. Note: I am always nervous when cooking for others. That’s typically how I know it is going to turn out just fine. If I’m not a bit nervous, I don’t care about the outcome.
I love making plant-based meals for people who do not have plant-based diets. They don’t expect anything great…and I make it a point to make everything exceptional.
The thing about food is that it should always comfort you in some way. That’s my goal whenever cooking for others: comfort. For this dinner I made Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Masa Cakes with Cuban Black Beans topped with an Avocado-Tomato Relish…and a side salad of steamed asparagus, sweet yellow bell peppers and hearts of palm with a blood orange vinaigrette. For dessert, I made a Pineapple Tart in Phyllo dough with an Almond Milk-Cinnamon Caramel with coconut vanilla ice cream.
They adored it all.
I was happy, too.
I took my happy self on over to StudioBe, the massive art studio of Brandan “BMike” Odums to celebrate a job well done. It was perfect for the mood I was in.
By the end of my week away, I was ready to get home to my loves. New Orleans was, as always, good to me and for me. It’s a city I will visit often, but I was so glad to get back to my own family…and to start cooking…again.
Pineapple Tart with Almond Milk-Cinnamon Caramel
- one thawed, 1lb package of phyllo dough (#4 thickness)
- 1 whole fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, sliced in 1/4″ half rings
- 1 TBSP coconut oil
- 1/4 cup-1/2 cup organic brown sugar (or sweetener of choice…amount depends on how sweet your pineapple is…so taste it:)
- 1/2 tsp lime zest
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 TBSP rum of choice… I used this local find while in New Orleans. It was excellent. Don’t mind the shot glass…every chef has to taste her ingredients
Directions for the Pineapple Tart:
- In a large skillet, add your coconut oil and set over a medium-high heat. Once oil is warmed (about 5 minutes), add your sliced pineapple and brown sugar. Saute on high heat for 7-10 minutes or until pineapples become tender and slightly caramelized.
- Add your pinch of sea salt, lime zest and juice and stir. Remove from heat and add your rum. Your pan should have a slightly thickened caramel-looking glaze in the bottom of it.
To assemble your tart you will need a small pastry brush (or your very own fingers!) and a bowl with olive oil (about 1/2 cup)…
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you don’t know your oven well as you begin your adventures in baking, please purchase an oven thermometer…it saves lives and tarts.
- Grab a cookie sheet and spray with non-stick baking spray or brush with a little bit of olive oil.
- Begin layering your phyllo sheets (you will need ten sheets). Place one phyllo piece down on the cookie sheet and brush lightly with oil…if you have no brushed just drizzle a small amount on to the piece of phyllo. Place another phyllo piece on top and brush this one also. Continue until you have successfully layered all ten pieces of phyllo.
- Pile your cooked pineapples into the center of your dough. Fold the “short” edges in first and fold the long edges into the center, leaving the very edge to flower out. But make sure the pineapple filling is completely covered as the dough will separate slightly once fully cooked.
- Brush the entire tart with olive oil and bake for 14-16 minutes until golden brown.
God is good. All the time. And so is this tart.
Almond Milk-Cinnamon Caramel Sauce
Be sure to use the same pan you used to cook your pineapples…making sure you kept some of the remaining liquid from the pan…
- 1/3 cup organic brown sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions for caramel sauce…
- In the pan you used for your pineapples, add your brown sugar and almond milk and set over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
- Add lemon juice, sea salt, and cinnamon and allow the sugar to completely dissolve, stirring occasionally.
- Once thickened (about 5-7 minutes) remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
Slice the tart however you like…for the dinner I made the slices into right-angled triangles and topped with a vegan coconut vanilla ice cream. And a sprig of fresh mint…cause you fancy. Til next time… Reine.