The perfect dish the fancy-schmancy vegan at your holiday feast

Wow, The Ultimate Blender Cookbook by Rebecca Miller Ffrench (yes, that name does have two F’s) is not just a book of smoothie recipes. I mean, there are a lot of smoothies. You will be using your blender on every recipe in the book, but you’ll be doing some other cooking too. I say this in case you are worried that rainbow trout shakes are in your future. That is not happening.

What is happening is a collection of recipes that are healthy, interesting, and use your blender. Now, the author suggests one of those turbo-blenders for these recipes. I admit I lust after having a Vita-Mix or a Blend-Tec. But I do not own such a luxury–it is a dream purchase! My sturdy little immersion blender would not work in all these recipes but it did work in a lot of them. So stress not if your blender doesn’t have the engine of a car.

Ffrench formed her affection for blending a a wee age, as the blender was the only appliance she did not have to ask for permission to use. I think the stand mixer was probably the first appliance I had free reign over. But I have to blame my cookie dough addiction on something. If the blender had been the first appliance I used, I’m sure my predilection would be for fresh juices and green smoothies. Not baked treats. Ah, well.

Ffrench has a lot of other good tips thrown in the mix. The blend. Whichevs. For instance she recommends erring on the side of blending less than you think you need to. You can always adjust texture by blending more. But you cannot un-blend if you have gone overboard. Another cool tip? Getting metal straws! As someone who hails from a straw-free familyI dig this tip. They clog our landfills at a rate of 500 million a day! Better to have a re-usable sucker.

Onwards! To the recipes. There are plenty of recipes for multi-purpose basics like nut butters, nut milks, and compound butters. The breakfast chapter brings delights like waffles that are whipped up in the blender and then of course baked in a waffle iron. There are delightful riffs on dips like the smokey artichoke hummus. Naturally there is a wide selection of quality soups. A whole chapter of burgers shows how to blend up burgers made with everything from salmon to pork to quinoa. The vegetable chapter has some delectable looking purees and mashes. The desserts chapter is highly creative. In the name of both taste and health brownies are blended with beans, and other desserts benefit from veggies and quinoa. Sounds strange, but the proof is in the avocado pudding.

The vegan recipe I chose to share with you makes a vegetarian (like moi) RULL happy. Because I like things that are fancy. Saying you’re eating pâté is fancy-schmacy. But dining on veggie puree sounds rather pedestrian. Hence the need to rename this concoction, and my adoration for this mushroom pâté. Actually I would like this even if it was just called “mushroom purée” because it is flippin’ amazingly delicious. And addictive! Fortunately, this is a healthy dip to dig into.

Mushroom Pâté adapted from The Ultimate Blender Cookbook by Rebecca Miller Ffrench

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (I actually used just a Tbsp. of grape seed oil) plus some for oiling ramekin
  • 3 small shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of white button and crimini)
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (I used sea salt)
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked 2 hours and drained
  • 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

heat the oil in a skillet over medium and add shallots. Sauteé for five minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté another five minutes.

Transfer to the blender (or something you can use your immersion blender in) and add the cashews and lemon juice. Pulse until it is combined but don’t totally puree. You want some texture in there. Spoon into ramekin (or ramekins) that you’ve oiled, then cover with plastic and chill at least two hours. The book suggests serving on warm baguette rounds, but I opted for a croissant.

[Image courtesy author]

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