On May 2nd, 2013 I attended a small cooking class taught by Makini Howell at the book store, Book Larder to celebrate the launch of her new cookbook, Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro. It was a small class, just ten people, and Makini cooked up quite a feast for us. It was a great evening, full of great conversation and food, and many conversations about food, even beyond the food we were partaking in.
The first course was the famous Plum mac and yease (recipe not in the cookbook, although a smokey mac and cheese recipe is on page 101), which was to “entice us to come to the restaurant” as Makini said. This is my favorite dish at Plum, and it was as great as ever.
The next course was the cauliflower bisque with fresh fennel (pg 44 in the book). This soup was creamy and flavorful, and definitely a soup that I will be re-creating on my own. The topping is smoked tofu, made crispy like bacon in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil.
Cauliflower Bisque with Fresh Fennel
The next course was a salad made of miner’s lettuce, grilled fennel, grilled plums, edible flowers, and a dressing made of plum sake (and something else, bad blogger didn’t take detailed notes). There were children present at this meal as well, so she also made a simple vinaigrette which I am sure would make a lovely pairing, since the plum and fennel are so flavorful on their own, they don’t really need a lot of dressing. This recipe isn’t in the book, but is a good example of taking your inspiration from local, seasonally available produce, as Makini does with all the dishes at Plum.
Miner’s lettuce salad with plum and fennel.
The next course was another one that isn’t in the book, but is on Plum’s current brunch menu. Vegan “crab cakes” made of mushrooms, bread crumbs, onions and I am sure something else I am forgetting. She usually makes this with an egg replacer to serve as a binding agent, but she forgot to bring them. The cakes still held together pretty well, and had a similar texture to the crab cakes I remember from my pre-vegan days. The cakes were topped with the “Savory Soy Cream” (pg 6 in the book). These went over so well that when one of the children in attendance didn’t want his there was quite the bargaining going on to get that crab cake.
Vegan crab cake topped with savory soy cream.
Next up was the pizza with soy ricotta cheese, fennel, plums, miners lettuce on a sauce of pesto and olive oil. This version was made on a crust she bought at Trader Joe’s but there is a recipe in the book for a pizza crust (pg 105). This was really good but I was so stuffed at this point, I didn’t eat the whole thing, had to save room for the dessert!
Pear and fennel soy ricotta cheese pizza.
Dessert was a rhubarb crisp in tiny crusts, with homemade soy ice cream and blood orange compote. This was the perfect amount of sweet, and a great capper to an impressive meal of so much great food.
Rhubarb crisp and soy ice cream.
Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro is full of wonderful recipes that give you a piece of Plum Bistro if you are unable to enjoy a meal there. If you live in Seattle or are visiting, I highly recommend eating a meal at Plum Bistro as well as getting this cookbook.