4 Lunch Challenge

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I got into cooking for the same reason anyone my age did: to impress girls.  I accidently loved it and got carried away with a career in haute cuisine but on occasion I still get the opportunity to impress a lady and such an opportunity has presented itself next week.

I have next week off, and have been invited to bring the subject of my affections lunch in her office Tuesday through Friday.  This means my preparations must be tupperware friendly and any reheating will involve an office microwave.  In addition this particular lady is a vegetarian (still eats eggs) and gave up all dairy for lent.

So there is the challenge.  I need to come up with four impressive lunches meeting office logistics and those dietary requirements for the next week.  I already have a bit of a menu in mind but personally I love this type of challenge and suspect many of you do as well.  I'd love to hear your ideas.
 

phatch

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I like this recipe for something vegetarian. Ok, she uses some pork in it, but you can omit it or add almost anything else you like.

http://books.google.com/books?id=QD...QLCtPDJCA&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

I like to add some minced garlic and oyster sauce to the sauce she gives. There are vegetarian oyster sauces too if that runs afoul of her limits.

Add some rice on the side if you like. Should nuke well and smell good.

I like this for breakfast too, usually prepping the eggs and filling the night before, then assemble while the sauce is heating and let it heat together for a bit.
 
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bean burgers with shredded carrots, quick pickled red onions, multi grain buns

Sweet potato or butternut soup, lavosh if you are into baking

Salad with asparagus, orange or other citrus supremes, shallot vinaigrette

Fattoush

Barley, porcini risotto....finish with earth balance

Ministroni sans meat, go veg or tomato for the base
 
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I would say to you Ben, no garlic, 

If she works in the kind of office that use to.

it’s so hard to get rid of that on your breath and then have to go into meeting. 

No amount of Altoids will do the job. 
 
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Maybe sushi for two ? vegetarian......heat up a nice miso soup.....dessert: if she has a sweet tooth, something with chocolate ?

Benway, whatever you make, I have a feeling its going to be great.

Petals.
 
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Good food no doubt team although I'm thinking a lot less... rustic.

Also, lets steer clear of things like bean burgers.  I'm a firm believer against vegetarian food that is just a worse version of a meat dish.
 
251
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Joined May 24, 2009
Maybe sushi for two ? vegetarian......heat up a nice miso soup.....dessert: if she has a sweet tooth, something with chocolate ?

Benway, whatever you make, I have a feeling its going to be great.

Petals.


Now we're talking.  I've got to admit though I've never considered vegetarian sushi before.  Rolls are easy enough.  Any suggestions for nigiri type sushi toppings?  My first reaction would be to get out the mandoline and top with some vegetable carpaccio.

Keep the suggestions rolling in!
 
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got to run to work but quickly some ideas are

Grilled Vegetable Sachets grilled Corn, oven roasted Cauliflower, grilled Jicama, Red Bell Peppers, and Spinach seasoned with toasted Cardamom, Fenugreek, and Cumin, sealed up in an Egg Wrapper, grilled, with a grilled Sweet Corn Sauce

Stuffed Tomatoe stuffed with Corn, Portobellos, and Swiss Chard, with a White Miso Chevre Sauce

Tea Crusted Tofu and a trio of Greens Tofu seasoned with Green Tea sautéed with Asian Pear Apples, Radishes, Cherry Tomatoes, Enokii Mushrooms and served on a bed of pan seared Bok Choy, Dandelion, and Beet Greens

Low Country Stacks Stacks of braised Parsnip and grilled Green Tomatoes, topped with a Sauce Piquante and a julienne of deep fried Parsnip

Thai Coconut Ratatouille Japanese Eggplant, Roma Tomatoes, Green Cabbage, and Bananas simmered in Coconut, Lemongrass, and Ginger Broth, served over Jasmine Rice
 

phatch

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If you want to move beyond rustic, I'm out of my league.

I'm pretty much convinced that it was the peasants who created the great dishes of the great cuisines.

So, um, veggie lasagna with eggplant and zucchini cut thinly the long way as the noodles. Still rustic I suppose.

An array of stuffed baby vegetables. Some to eat cold while the others reheat. Stuffed mushroom, stuffed baby pepper,, a small onion, zucchini. On the cold side, cucumber takes filling pretty well when hollowed, and presents elegantly, Also makes a good rolling envelope cut thinly on an extreme bias. I admit to liking circles of cucumber with a little hummus, something creamy for contrast and tang and some dill. Ranch dressing for us lowbrow types, but yogurt has lots of possibilities too for the creamy part. Endive takes to many fillings.

I could get into a spread of vegetable antipasti, good bread and some cheese and be happy. Pickled asparagus, Artichoke anything, caponata, olives, giardinera. Could even tilt this into the bagna cauda direction. Again, suffers in presentation.

But darn, those peasants knew how to eat well.
 
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Less rustic.  I enjoy cooking classics on my days off and hence why I like this board but in general my food is very contemporary.  That said whatever I serve is going to look like food, not trying to freak her out right away.

cheflayne, thanks for the input.  Sounds like the vegetarians don't go hungry in your kitchen!
 
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All the Thai restaurants in my area serve vegetarian dishes with lots of flavor. Papaya salad is one of my favorite. Some places put dried shrimp in it, and most use fish sauce, but use soy and leave the shrimp out.
 
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here's a few more ideas to peruse, let us know what you come up with

Stuffed Apple, a Granny Smith apple stuffed with oven roasted acorn squash, dulse sea vegetable, grilled kale, and shiitakes and topped with a creamy ginger vinaigrette

Tandoori Zucchini, split Zucchini brushed with a spicy marinade, from the Punjab region, of Chile Masala Yogurt, sealed with Ghee, then baked in a hot, hot oven, served on a bed of Moong Dahl, drizzled with a spicy Yogurt Sauce and topped with Tarka, fried Onions, Tomatoes, Chiles, and Mustard Seeds

Stuffed Tomatoes vine ripened Tomatoes stuffed with Asparagus tips, Sunflower Seeds, Daikon Radish Sprouts, and Tofu and drizzled with a Green Tea Vinaigrette

Stuffed Vidalia Onion, stuffed with Oyster Mushrooms and Mustard Greens, baked in a hot oven and topped with an Apple Cider Sauce

Vegan Napoleons grilled Crookneck Squash layered with Honey Mirin marinated Tofu and spicy Ginger, Garlic, Red Swiss Chard, then baked in a hot oven and topped with an Edamame Hummous

Eggplant Tofu Stacks eggplant and tofu marinated with charmoula, grilled and stacked with spinach and tomatoes, topped with a olive, preserved lemon, roasted red bell relish, and drizzled with charmoula
 
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Cheflayne, I don’t consider myself a vegetarian,

but Oh Baby!! Those dishes sound delish 

Having spent most of my life in Hawaii,

we don’t eat a lot of meat ( I don’t count Spam and Vienna sausage as REAL meat ),

lots of Asian-inspired food with loads of veg. 

YUM, I’ll be trying some of these ideas.
 
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I consider myself an omnivore. I eat everything. I even love spam musubi and am not even sure what category it belongs in, probably it's own. I relish the challenge of coming up with creative offerings for vegetarian diners, something beyond the ubiquitous stir fry. Glad you enioy my culinary musings, thanks.
 
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Dang, you learned to cook serious food, and you can't share with your GF...

Ok the answer to the lunch for you GF. Find a new GF that eats meat, and appreciates fine foods, the preparation and art involved.

When I was courting my wife, I delivered lunch to her at her office at least once a week for almost a year. I worked nights she days, so it was a natural. Although she ate like a bird, her primal carnivore side required a daily ration of meat.

Kidding aside, have fun.
 

margcata

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Perhaps some meze and tapas can be quite interesting with a picnic red and white check table cloth and napkin theme, with a buffet style and numerous varieties of these Greek, Italian, Mid Eastern, North African and Spanish minature plates are meatless.

Spain:  Spanish omelette which is more like a frittata filled with onion and potato, though cheese and asparagus or other vegetables can be added and antipasti

Greece: a Greek salad on skewers, in other words, on stick would be tomato, green pepper bell, olive, cucumber and feta chunk with vinaigreete, tzatzki, taramosalata, babaghnouj, hummus, feta cheese tyrosalata which is feta blended with black pepper, bell green pepper, a dried cayenne chili pepper, oregano and lemon juice and great breads for dipping

Mid East: marinated olives in a variety of marinades and vegetable couscous

Italy: an asparagus risotto and an assorted cheese platter with crudities and a variety of dips, gorgonzola, feta, tzatzki

Does her office have a Micro wave ?

Hope this has been helpful.

Margcata
 
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Now we're talking.  I've got to admit though I've never considered vegetarian sushi before.  Rolls are easy enough.  Any suggestions for nigiri type sushi toppings?  My first reaction would be to get out the mandoline and top with some vegetable carpaccio.

Keep the suggestions rolling in!
Exactly. There are so many veggies you can roll with; my fav is avocado, thinly sliced cucumber , you can always seal it with shiso leaves. There is pickled radish, mushroom, tofu, asparagus, carrot, or a 3 color peppers .

There is also Tanago.

Another thought would be spring rolls done Asian style with peanut sauce  or asparagus pasta rolls:



As a side, last night I went to see the movie "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" . Before we walked into the cinema we were handed this small paper to read: (please don't get bored with me lol)

“Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10 seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of sushi , but even at his age he sees himself still striving for perfection, working from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.

“Breathtaking, inspirational and humbling. Anyone passionate about craft, cooking and excellence should watch.” Eric Ripert.””

It was a fine movie. One of the techniques used with octopus because its tough,  before poaching it they would massage the fish for 45 minutes in a large metal bowl to tenderize the meat. The tiny kitchen was extremely clean and yet every apprentice knew his job for the day. It takes 10 years to apprentice under him, and then once the ten years are up he will then allow the art of tenago to be made. One of the apprentices made 200 trays of tenago, they were all rejected till finally he made one that Jiro was happy with. He emphasized the purity of the dish, staying with fresh, unadulterated products , perfecting   technique. When people sit at his sushi bar he knows in advanced where a man/woman/child will be seated. He takes note of which hand you grabbed your sushi with and consequently places the next piece on the side of the plate your hand will touch. Woman get a piece just a bit smaller so that everyone can finish at the exact same time. He started making sushi at the ripe old age of 7 years old. Can you believe this ? I enjoyed the market scenes as well, grading fish, tasting, texture etc. then the bidding began.

sorry about my rambling....I had no sooner posted sushi , not expecting to see this movie last night. Yep, went for sushi (tiny rest-great)  then to China town for bubble tea( coffee/coconut- there were tiny squares of jellied coffee in the coconut drink- nice). What a night.

Alot of great suggestions so far.....win her heart Benway....we are cheering for you.
 

margcata

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@ Petals,

Lovely idea ... the fotos say it all ... great idea ... finger food and light ... buffet style ... avocado is very common in sushi ...

Have a nice wkend.

Margcata.
 
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