Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thanksgiving Vegan Style

Usually we have a giant dinner party at our house for Thanksgiving. We cook up a huge vegan feast and all of our (mostly vegetarian) friends come over and we stuff ourselves and get drunk and have a terrific time. This year our presence was, well, demanded at my parents' house so we had to have our annual Thanksgiving dinner party early. It was a great time, albeit a bit hectic. The power company has a habit of fucking with our electricity around this time of year and we had a 13 hour outage that started as soon as I began cutting veggies for our meal the night before and lasted until about 2 hours before our guests arrived. As a result, we had to borrow a friend's kitchen in order to make this dinner happen. This was tough since the friend is a bachelor and has a kitchen you'd imagine a bachelor would have. It's not just ill-equipped, it's small and sort of in the process of being rehabbed. We felt like we were trapped in some kind of horrible Top Chef challenge.

"Tonight on Top Chef the chefs are working in teams of two to prepare a dinner party for 12. They have 6 hours, no electricity and 8 square feet of space, stay tuned for the dramatic event."

The Menu:
- A Salad of Winter Greens with Roasted Beets, Crushed Hazelnuts and a Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction with White Truffle Oil (adapted from the Millenium Cookbook)
- Spinach Garlic and Chickpea Soup
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes (made by friends, don't have the recipe details)
- Cherry and Clove Spiced Cranberries
- Homemade Chestnut Stuffing (made by friends, don't have the recipe details)
- Soy and Seitan "Turkey" with mushroom gravy
- French Vanilla Pumpkin Pie with a Ginger Praline Crust
- Apple Crisp

I am not going to try to convince any omnivores reading this entry that vegan turkey is similar or comparable to real turkey. I've been a vegan since I was a kid so I wouldn't really have any basis for comparison any way. It's a good substitute if you don't eat meat and it is tasty but meat has just never appealed to me so a vegan version of it doesn't thrill me like an amazing salad or delectable pie. We make it out of tradition but I am not trying to sell anyone on the idea of it.

This year was the first year I ever made cranberries from scratch. I don't know what took me so long. The cherries and cloves with the cranberries were amazing!!! Matt wanted to eat it all himself. I doubled the sugar that the recipe I linked called for. That is my only suggested alteration, other than maybe doubling this recipe since it's really really good.

About the pie, I am going to level with you here, I am not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. It's always been my least favorite really. This changed when I happened upon this particular pumpkin pie recipe last year though. The original recipe came from Fine Cooking Magazine and was written by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Here is my vegan version though:

Pie Crust
1-1/4 C flour
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c soy margarine
2 Tbs cold vegetable shortening
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs cold water

1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 Tbs soy margarine
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger

1-2/3 c canned pumpkin puree
2/3 c dark brown sugar
4 tsp flour
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
6 Tbs cornstarch
3 Tbs soy milk
1 cup French Vanilla Silk Non-Dairy Creamer
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine flour sugar and salt in a food processor, pulsing to combine. Add the bugger and shortening, pulsing until crumbs form. Tyrn the dough onto a work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to one day.

Roll the dough out and line a 9" pie pan with it. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes then bake it in the oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes or until the crust's edge is golden brown.

For the praline: In a bowl mix the sugar, soy butter and fresh ginger until well blended. Cumble the praline evenly over the bottom. Bake until the sides of the crust are golden and the praline is bubbling -- about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees F.

For the filling: In a bowl, whisk the pumpkin, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, and salt until smooth. Add the remaining filling ingredients and whisk until blended. When the praline is hardened but still warm pour the filling into the crust.

Bake for about 45 minutes and then cool on a rack. Refrigerate over night before serving.

This is what a vegan Thanksgiving platter looks like

Our friends gathered around our dining room table

Fancy Salad


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