Our lakeside vegan dinner party (with tons of food and photos)

When is the best time to invite friends over and cook loads of delicious food? Of course on Hexennacht. Or Walpurgis Night, if you please. But Hexennacht sounds so much cooler, right? A night where the witches are flying around and people are making huge log fires and celebrating the end of a long winter. Right now is one of the most gorgeous times in the nature. Everything starts to get greener again, the days are longer and brighter and there are no mosquitoes yet to suck on your blood. So you have plenty of time to enjoy the full moon after a hot sauna.

Of course I always cook inhuman amounts of food. Especially when I am hosting a party. This time wasn't any different. The menu consisted of pasta salad with sunflower sour cream, lentil and vegetable pie, vegan shashlik, veggies and crisp bread with Kalamata dipping sauce, soft cocoa and orange cookies and raspberry and coconut torte. Many of these recipes are also here on VeganSandra, so scroll down for the recipe links and tips.

I've made this pasta salad so many times now. Super quick and delicious! And you don't need to throw a party to eat this salad. It's also great to make your regular weeknights tastier. You don't even need to go looking for a vegan mayonnaise, this salad contains an easy homemade sunflower sour cream. When it's a party, I like to make this salad with farfalle a.k.a bow tie pasta. They are so festive and adorable. Since this pasta salad doesn't contain too much ingredients, it's best to choose the quality ones. Aim for quality pasta, canned peas and pickles. For the final touch, add some freshly ground pepper, salt and a great amount of chopped fresh dill. Since the pasta will absorb a lot of sauce over time, I would recommend to mix in the sauce right before the party. That way it will be moist and luscious. The guests really enjoyed it and I think it's wonderful for an outdoor dinner party.

I don't really bother serving other pies for my dinner parties anymore. This lentil and vegetable pie is such a huge favorite and everyone will always ask for it. So I have no other choice than to knead the dough and boil the lentils. And I have nothing against it. It's great when friends love one particular pie so much, that it comes a part of every party. But why is this pie so popular? Because it's super filling, well seasoned and just a really great snack, which is best served when cooled. So you can make it ahead and keep it in a colder place, covered with a clean kitchen towel.

The weather was just golden that day, so we had to fire up the barbecue and grill some vegan meat and veggie skewers. I have a fabulous whole vegan barbecue section in my cookbook Vegan Dinner Party, if you are interested to learn some really great recipes for entertaining and why not for weeknight family dinners. The book also contains a recipe for these skewers, plus tons of other barbecue, Christmas and dinner party recipes from spreads, soups and salads to main dishes and desserts. But back to this shaslik. It was my favorite meal of the night. There is something about food that is cooked on a live fire with a little bit of smoke included. Serve with a dash of mild mustard and you are in heaven.

There wouldn't be a party without a snack platter. People love to snack on stuff. I remember when Dennis from the show "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" was stuffing his face at a catering buffet in one episode, and when asked what's going on, he said "I'm eating because I'm feeling extremely uncomfortable." I really hope that's not the case with my guests, but healthy snacks are always a good idea. I served carrot and cucumber sticks, crisp breads and Kalamata olives with this tangy and creamy Kalamata sauce.

These ridiculously easy soft cocoa and orange cookies were a HUGE hit, especially with two particular people. When others piled a second serving of pasta salad and lentil pie onto their plates, they were stalking these cookies and hinted that I should really bake another batch of these and soon. I cannot blame them, because the cocoa and orange combo in a cookie form is addictive!

And of course there was a cake. A creamy raspberry and coconut cake, to be exact. It was so moist and dreamy. Sponge cake with a fresh raspberry cream in the middle and everything smothered in a lemony coconut whopped cream. All I could hear was "Omg, it's so delicious", "Help, it's so good" etc. And once again, the chef was happy to serve a second serving for the guests. This recipe is only in my Estonian vegan dessert cookbook.

Since I had some leftover raspberries from baking the cake, I made a lemon and raspberry infused water. What an easy way to make a refreshing and festive drink in seconds.

This has been my favorite sparkling wine since I first tasted it at my cookbook signing. I'm not a huge wine drinker, but this particular wine has its place. The guests enjoyed it too!

We also tried some not so fancy drinks but still surprisingly delicious when it comes to a beer that contains 6 % alcohol by volume. It's from one Estonian brewery and they always make quality beers.

If you happen to have some leftover marinated vegan meats and veggies from last night's barbecue, it's time to make the best vegan solyanka in the world! I made my shashlik and solyanka in a very economical way. First I boiled the dried soy cutlets in a huge pot. Then drained them and put them back into the same pot. Covered the vegan meats and veggies with a marinade and made skewers for grilling. The next day, I still had some shashlik scrapes in the bottom of the pot. I added boiling water, potatoes and leftover olives from the snack platter. Boiled, until the potatoes were soft and then added tomato juice and black pepper. It was SO delicious that I should really grill more often just to make this soup.

In conclusion, it was such a great night. Friends, food and hot sauna. What more could you ask for?