Summer really is the perfect time to throw a party, isn’t it? The weather welcomes outdoor events, quick preparation, colorful foods to adorn backyard tabletops, and people are just generally. . . . happier (okay, so I’m talking about me. In summer, I am generally happier).
For instance, I’ve already mentioned the huge annual end-of-term bashes thrown by my friend Irish Eyes (and the bean salad alternative that came out of that memory). Last month, we visited Montreal for my dad’s 92nd (!!) birthday. I swear, the guy is in better physical condition that I am. He still goes dancing every Sunday and regales the audience with song and stories. I can only pray that I inherited some of those genes.*
“Mum, we’re happier in summer, too! When else do we get to go swimming every day, and fly through the air chasing Frisbees?”
One of the most ambitious summer parties I ever hosted took place at the tail end of the Decade of the Dinner party, just after I’d met the HH. It was two days before we moved house, and the place was already half emptied. Despite it diminutive size (we dubbed it “the IKEA house,” since everything was only 3/4 as big as it would be in a regular bungalow), the back yard was positively palatial, 116 feet (35. 5 meters) long and lined with mature rose bushes, ash trees, and the occasional jalapeno plant.
After three years of putting up with the ornery neighbor, an octogenarian who refused the banana bread I’d brought as a gift when we moved in (“I’m diabetic, I can’t eat that poison!” she snapped when I presented it at her door), we decided we’d go out with a bang and damn the old harridan in the end. (We figured she was half deaf and wouldn’t hear the music anyway).
We invited pretty much everyone we knew, bought bags of potato chips and cases of pop (“soda” to those of you in the US), threaded the wires for the stereo through the porch windows and into the yard, set out noma lights, candles, mosquito coils and ashtrays throughout the yard, and waited. (Yes, ashtrays. Back in those days, everyone I knew smoked cigarettes! In fact, the HH and I were just reminiscing the other day about this party and how we set out boxes of cigarettes for our guests in case they had forgotten their own!! My, how times–and I–have changed. . . ).
I must say, though I probably spent less time preparing food for that party than for any of the parties I’d ever thrown–or even attended–up to that point, it turned out to be outstanding, and remains a gleaming memory from those early days. People from various compartments in our lives met up and mingled harmoniously, music infiltrated the yard and floated through the treetops, everyone danced and laughed and told their finest “first impression” anecdotes, and some of my best friends lingered until the first orange and purple streaks of sun began to shimmer across the skyline.
Apart from providing all that activity with friends, the party also taught me something very important: that preparation need not be onerous to guarantee a successful soirée (oh, and also, “make sure you finish packing before you throw a farewell bash two days before moving house.“).
From that point on, I’ve sought out party fare that is either very quick and easy to prepare or can be prepared days in advance. I still enjoy entertaining, but these days attempt to ensure at least a couple hours respite between the final food prep and the first guest ringing the doorbell.
These coconut-crusted tofu bites fit both my major requirements for ideal finger food: they are fairly quick to make and can be put together long in advance, so your time on party day is left open. As soon as the guests arrive, pull them out of the fridge and either re-heat while you shake (or, if you prefer, stir) those cocktails; alternately, serve them as-is at room temperature. They’re just as good either way. And be sure to enjoy time with your guests. After all, it’s summer!
*Not the singing genes–we already know I didn’t get those. When I used to croon along with the radio at home, The Nurse regularly asked me to lip synch instead. Yep, that bad.
Coconut Crusted Tofu & Pineapple Bites with Creamy Green Curry Sauce
An easy, visually impressive appetizer that’s sure to please all your guests. These aer just as appealing when served on a platter, with a small bowl of dipping sauce on the side, if you prefer an even less fussy preparation.
For the sauce:
1/4 cup (60 ml) full fat canned coconut milk
1/4-1/2 tsp (1-2.5 ml) green curry paste (I like Thai Kitchen)
4 tsp (20 ml) pineapple juice
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) finely grated lime zest
10 drops plain liquid stevia
1 tsp (5 ml) arrowroot powder
For the tofu:
2 tsp (10 ml) Dijon mustard
1/4 cup (60 ml) full fat canned coconut milk
2 Tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
10-15 drops plain liquid stevia, to your taste
Pinch fine sea salt
1 block (about 1 lb/500 g) firm or extra firm tofu
1 cup (65 g) finely shredded unsweetened coconut
18-24 small chunks of fresh pineapple
Cilantro leaves, to garnish (optional)
Make the sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk together all ingredients except arrowroot until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Remove about 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of the liquid to a small bowl and mix with the arrowroot until smooth, then pour back into the pot and continue to cook and stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. (May be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use).
Make the tofu: Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment or spray with non-stick spray.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the mustard, coconut milk, lime juice, stevia and salt. Set aside.
Cut the block of tofu into cubes about 1 inch (2.5 cm) big. Coat the cubes in the coconut-mustard mixture (you can do this individually, or place about half the cubes in the bowl and gently mix with a rubber spatula until they are all coated; repeat with second half of the tofu).
Place the shredded coconut on a plate and gently roll each tofu cube in it to coat on all sides. Place the cubes on the cookie sheets and bake until they are well browned on top, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. (May be baked up to a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve).
To serve, place one cube of tofu and one chunk of pineapple on a soup spoon or other small serving plate, or serve on individual skewers (or pierce with toothpicks). Spoon a small amount of the sauce over all and garnish with a cilantro leaf if desired. Serve. Makes 18-24 appetizers.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 3 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, nut free, vegan, low glycemic.
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This looks right up my alley! And my blog and FB readers will love it too. How do you think of these creative spins?!? Fab!!
Aw, thanks, Ellen! Glad you like it. So nice to see your name pop up on the blog! Hope all is well with you! 🙂
These look so impressive Ricki! I’d love to serve something like this to guests.
It is difficult to strike that balance when entertaining between wanting to serve up show-stopping food but also have time to actually enjoy the party 🙂
I totally agree! As I’ve gotten older, the “wanting to enjoy time with guests” part has definitely outweighed the “wanting to impress” part–but I still love to serve pretty, delicious food. These do both of those! 🙂
India leigh says
I love your writing style. It is funny when we look back over our lives and see what we considered the norm, way back when!
I love coconut, when it is toasted even better. This recipe looks amazing. THanks for sharing!
Thanks so much! And yes, it’s so true about what was “normal” way back when. I mean, I used to eat Cocoa Puffs for breakfast–and write letters by hand!! (ha ha ha!). 😉
You always manage to draw me in with your story-telling and “post-swim Chaser pics” 😉 despite all of my good intentions NOT to read any blog posts, but rather get some work done…
I’m glad I did read it though – those Coconut Crusted Snacks look amazing. With those appetizers you’d be welcome at any party!
Aw, thank you, Sandra! 🙂 These appetizers really are delish, and very easy to make. (And let’s just say that Chaser and Elise *may* have each tasted a little of them. . . or not.) 😉
Bianca- Vegan Crunk says
This looks super duper fancy!! Love it!!
I thought it made them look fancier–but so easy to do, actually!! And people loved tipping the bites into their mouths from the spoons–LOL!
how elegant these look – your presentation is lovely – I don’t possess anything like those spoons to set them out on, but speared on tiny cake forks would look good, I guess:) thanks for sharing
Christine, Yes!! I’ve served them on a plate speared with regular toothpicks (I put a piece of pineapple with each one), and the sauce in a little bowl in the middle, and people are happy to just dip their own bite into the sauce!
I bought those spoons at a dollar store a while back and never did have a chance to use them before. . . I suppose I should finally make wonton soup one of these days, too! 😉
Your bon voyage party sounds wonderful (minus the cigarette boxes, maybe). I love having great memories that make me smile. And I also like having parties where I can make most things in advance so I don’t feel stressed out as the hour approaches. The tofu bites look so tasty and easy — maybe I should have a party!
Yes, have a party! I’ll come. No cigarettes. 😉
Nancy Nurse says
Ricki, I’m so impressed by you! I must tell you that few people would have taken my suggestion as graciously as you did and then put it into action! (my suggestion about putting the recipe in the “subject” line of your emails).
It has saved me a ton of time! I’m not very computer savvy, and there are probably easier ways to save recipes, but for me, I save them in a “folder” in Hotmail. So, it saves me having to type the recipe in the subject line and then sending it to myself.
That shows a lot of class on your part! Good work, Ricki!
I love your babies! Such an animal lover am I!!!
How nice of you to come back and mention this in a comment, Nancy! Thanks so much. (It took a bit of sleuthing, but I figured it out. And now that I’ve got my new email subscriber service, I think they do it automatically, so new subscribers won’t have to wonder, either). And thanks so much for expressing your doggie love, too. They are definitely the “babies” in our house–and we love them as well! 😀
What a fun little appie Ricki – so creative! Just pinned for the vegan community to see 🙂
Thanks, Alisa! Fun to eat, too. 🙂
Johanna GGG says
great post ricki – your party sounds amazing – wish I could say I threw such parties but the parties we had as students were more about booze than food – though we did make sure there were ashtrays and plenty of toilet paper 🙂
I wish I could say I have got better at planning food for parties but I still find myself either preparing stuff as people come or – worse – forgetting about food altogether in my haste. I’d like to say that I would prepare these for entertaining but I know too many fussy folk and the kids wouldn’t eat the spicy sauce – looks like I need to make them just for me and E – we would love them
Thanks, Johanna! It was the last really big bash we had. . . makes me think maybe time for another, a decade later?! (Though I wouldn’t be drinking this time. . . hmm, may need to rethink that!!) And I love making these just for the two of us. I even pop a few as a snack in the afternoon sometimes!
Estelle Sobel Erasmus says
I love this recipe. I am always looking for yummy ways to prepare tofu and this uses some of my favorite ingredients. Perfect for summer dining.
Thanks so much, Estelle, and thanks for visiting! Glad you like it. It’s super-easy to make (and a great entertaining dish, yes!). 🙂
ella shul says
WOW! It looks so yummy! I will definitely try this one for thanksgiving! BTW – I found a great vegan wine at Whole Foods Market, it is called “Deccolio Prosecco” and it will be great aperitif to the holiday dinner.
Ricki Heller says
Thanks so much, Ella! I love these little bites. And the wine sounds lovely, too! Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂