PPK Potluck: Around the World Edition

 

Earlier this month, I hosted another PPK Vegan Potluck!  This time the theme was “Around the World“.  At the last potluck, each of us had drawn a country or region from a hat (actually, from a cup) and then we cooked dishes from our assigned places.  The result was an absolute feast of impressive dishes that spanned the globe!

 

I had picked the region Africa and decided to make two dishes:

  • Kachumbari, a Kenyan salsa that Alex (one of my “Elf 4 Health” partners last year) told me about.  Alex’s boyfriend is Kenyan and she says they both eat this salsa on everything and especially with chips or rice.  What differentiated this from the salsas that I’m used to was the inclusion of cabbage and cucumbers which made it so refreshing.  This would be perfect to serve at any summer picnics or barbecues!
  • The Ugandan G-Nut Special Sauce & Sweet Potatoes from Vegetarian Times, a favorite of mine that makes a great quick weeknight meal, though serving it at a potluck was a bit more complicated since our guests each had to layer their own servings of sweet potatoes, greens, sauce, and peanuts.  

Mike was assigned Thailand.  He made the Flying Massaman Curry from Vegan Eats World which took a while to prepare but was SO worth it.  We served it over brown rice, topped with fresh cilantro.  The combination of the spicy, peanutty curry loaded with fingerling potatoes was the ultimate comfort food.  The next night, we had the leftovers for dinner.  Afterwards, I found myself with the pot in my lap, scraping the bottom of it with a spoon.  It was so good that I’m not even embarrassed to admit that.

I also took a stab at making my own version of Thai Iced Tea with Coconut Milk and Agave nectar.  I couldn’t find a reasonably priced Ceylon Tea at Whole Foods Market, so instead I used Tazo Focus tea which was not at all authentically Thai, but I loved the hint of cocoa and orange peel it added to the drink.

The Strawberries were neither Thai nor African, but since they were just 99 cents a pound at the Chicago French Market that week, I’d bought 6 pounds at the store and decided to cut some up for the group.

Jeni randomly was assign to cook from South America, which was perfect because that’s her specialty!  She made these beautiful Creamy Corn-Filled Empanadas from Viva Vegan.  She said that the recipe gave her quite a bit of trouble in the kitchen, but they sure seemed flawless to me.

Hector, her fiance, selected the Middle East and he and Jeni truly went all-out cooking from that region.  Hector made these perfect Za’atar Breads – from scratch!  Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of herbs that I believe is primarily Oregano, Sesame Seeds and Salt. It is one of my favorite seasonings from around the globe.

Jeni also made the Muhamarra from Vegan Eats World since she had all the ingredients on hand already.  Her version came out restaurant-quality and was way better than my previous attempt at this recipe, probably because she had used a jar of Roasted Peppers whereas I had roasted fresh peppers, and because I admit to taking a little short-cut on the Pomegranate Molasses last time :-)

Hands-down, my favorite recipe of the potluck was Jeni’s Homemade Vegan Baklava from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  Even leaving out the traditional ingredient of Honey, this was better than any Baklava I’ve ever had.  It was so sweet and moist yet crisp, and surely worth what I’m sure was a huge effort involved in making it.  

Megan and her boyfriend joined us straight from work, so on top of their assignment to cook Eastern European / Russian fare, they had the added challenge of bringing something that would be durable and easy to transport.  Megan mastered that challenge with a delicious Russian Salad of Beets, Potatoes, and Vinegar and these Accidentally-Vegan “Griotte” Croation Chocolate Covered Cherries which she’d read about online. 

Nissa and her dog Oliver brought us some delectable French eats.  I was so impressed with the Vegan Pains Au Chocolat that she brought – they were so buttery and flaky and the chocolate was so decadently dark. Most impressive of all, to get the buttery layers, she followed a process that took her DAYS to complete – she had to roll out the dough, let it chill, and then roll it again – four separate times!  That made these truly a very special treat  and she was kind enough to let us keep an extra piece so Mike and I were able to enjoy more for breakfast the next day.

Nissa also brought this picture-perfect Cassoulet from the Native Foods Blog.  I’ve always been curious to try Cassoulet so I was very excited to try it and loved the healthy yet comforting flavors and ingredients in this bean-filled stew.

Just for fun, at this Potluck we also asked everyone to bring their favorite Vegan and Vegetarian cookbooks for a viewing party.  We had fun passing them around, browsing for ideas, and talking about our favorite recipes from each.  I especially enjoyed flipping through The Vegan Table, Chloe’s Kitchen, and Laurel’s Kitchen (an oldie but a goodie!).  

I even got some great ideas for next month’s Cinco De Mayo potluck theme and can’t wait to see the amazing creations everyone brings next time, though this month’s potluck is going to be hard to top!  

I’d love to hear from you! 

What Vegan or Vegetarian Cookbook would have brought?

Any Cookbooks you’re eager to get a glimpse of?