Tuesday, December 3, 2013

An American Thanksgiving Brunch...

My full plate!

I hope that everyone had a lovely American Thanksgiving last week, I know I did. I feel that this year was more relaxed then years previous, which was a real bonus. The thing I love most about American Thanksgiving is that it’s kind of a special time for me - it ‘s my veganversary. That’s right, I went Vegan on Thanksgiving Day three years ago - which wasn’t as hard as you might think since I was already vegetarian at the time. It’s fun getting to celebrate your veganversary, though I feel like such a baby-vegan when I talk to people who’ve been vegan for 10+ years, what an inspiration! I can’t wait until I hit my ten-year mark!

Anyway - onto the food. As I’ve already said my husband and I didn’t really feel like doing dinner, and so we decided to change it up and do brunch instead. A super cool idea, and damn delicious too! Even though I’m not typically a breakfast eater, I do love breakfast food. Since I don’t get it often, this meal really was a treat. Though it did require some advanced planning. The Black Forest ‘Bacon’ for instance I made the day before. I also prepared the English Muffins and the Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns the day before so that they just needed to be baked on Thanksgiving morning. The pies too were baked on Wednesday since creamy pies and cheesecakes really do require a good few hours of refrigeration, though I typically like to let them set for 24 hours if I can.

Tofu Benedict

After much thought and consideration as to what was going to be the focal point of our Thanksgiving Brunch I decided on a Tofu Benedict. In my pregan days - pre-vegan - I used to love a good eggs benny, and though I have made vegan versions it’s not something I do often, so it seemed like the perfect center piece. The only problem was which Benedict recipe to use? I debated between Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Benny in “Vegan Brunch” and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Benny in “The Vegan Table” until I finally settled on a compromise. I used Colleen’s Benny recipe and Isa’s Hollandaise Sauce recipe! I also made my own home-made English Muffins using Isa’s recipe from Vegan Brunch. It was delicious.

Colleen’s Benny itself was pretty straight forward. You make a tofu scramble, toast some English muffins, saute some spinach with garlic and assemble. It goes Muffin - tomato - vegan bacon - scramble - spinach - hollandaise sauce. Perfection!

Isa’s Hollandaise Sauce was pretty good too. It was thick and creamy like I remember, though more lemony and less rich then I recall dairy based Hollandaise to be. Still good, and it was super simple to make just shallots, white wine, vinegar, flour and a few other things.

Hollandaise Sauce

Isa’s English Muffins were spot on though, and so freaking delicious. I was a bit intimidated making these as I thought it was going to be a lot of trouble and a lot of effort but in reality these whipped together pretty quick, and man they’re better then any English Muffin I’ve ever eaten. Unfortunately I do not own cookie or biscuit cutters and so I used a drinking glass to cut the muffins. Which means they were way smaller then an actual English Muffin, but that was alright. We had many benedicts instead and it was great.

English Muffins 

Now when it comes to the ‘bacon’ or ‘ham’ that is used in a ‘traditional’ benny, Colleen uses tempeh bacon. She has a recipe in “The Vegan Table” for it, and I’ve made it several times but I wanted to try something a little different and ‘out-there.’ this time around. For more then a year I’ve been eying the Black Forest Bacon recipe in Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman’s wonderful book “The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions.” I keep telling myself that I’m going to try it one day and then never do. It always seems like so much work but finally I found myself determined to give it a try. That’s the thing with me, when I’m already laboring over something I might as well jump in with both feet and do even more work you know? Anyway, it ended up being way easier then I thought it was going to be, and every second of effort was worth it. This is hands down one of the best damn bacon recipes I’ve ever made. The cool thing about it is that it’s a seitan bacon. It’s made with liquid smoke, garlic, paprika, maple syrup, black pepper and of course vital wheat gluten. Then you make a glaze out of maple syrup, salt, brown sugar, black pepper and liquid smoke. Whisk the glaze together pour it over the bacon and bake in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil. So easy! This is really a delicious blend of sweet, salty, smokey and peppery. Once it’s done you let it cool, and then slice thin and fry up as you would any other bacon. Amazing, and it was great on the benny’s!

Black Forest Bacon!

I also used this delicious bacon in the amazing Smokey Tempeh Bacon, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche recipe from “Spork-Fed” by Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg. Honestly I’ve never been the biggest fan of quiche, ‘traditional’ or ‘vegan.’ I’ve made several vegan quiches over the past few years and they’ve always either been gross or mediocre. I suppose quiche is just not one of my things, but this particular quiche looked so good, and I’ve had such great luck with this particular cook book in general that I thought I’d throw caution to the wind and just go with it. Turns out this is the best damn quiche I’ve ever eaten and I loved it. It was slightly sweet, very savory, a little salty, kinda smokey, and oh so creamy. Absolute perfection and the black forest bacon really knocked it out of this world. Plus who doesn't love the broccoli cheddar combo? I used Daiya Cheddar by the way. I also really liked that the crust used cornmeal, oregano, and Dijon mustard to liven things up, and I was happy that even though this quiche uses both nutritional yeast and tofu that neither of those flavors was overpowering.

Smokey Bacon, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

To go along with all of that I also made a half-batch of the Tempeh and White Bean Sausage patties from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book “Vegan with a Vengeance!” these were really tasty, though they crumbled easily. I think I also put a tad too much tomato paste in them because they were kind of orange-pink looking In the end, but they were still great. I paired them with a half batch of Isa’s Navy Bean Gravy from her book “Vegan Brunch” which was also fantastic - although In the haste of eating I neglected to take a picture of that, sorry! Take my word for it when I say this was a super easy gravy recipe. It was thick, creamy, and delicious, the perfect breakfast gravy and I love that it used beans!

Tempeh and White Bean Sausage Patties 

Also from Isa’s “Vegan Brunch” I made the home-style potatoes, because what’s a lavish brunch without potatoes? These were seriosuly some of the best breakfast potatoes I’ve ever had. Oh my, where they amazing! I could have eaten the whole pan, and they were so simple. Just potatoes, onion, green bell pepper, salt, pepper and oil. Perfection.

Home-Style Potatoes 

Last but not least we capped our mid-day meal off with something sweet and decadent. The Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze from Chloe Coscarelli’s beautiful and fantastic book “Chloe’s Vegan Desserts” these were a dream, simply amazing, and so flavorful. Right off the bat my husband and I ate 2 each! We ate another one when we got home that night. By Saturday morning the whole dozen were gone! The glaze is simple, powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. The buns themself are a typical cinnamon roll pastry with the addition of pumpkin. The filling a delicious blend of brown sugar, cinnamon and earth balance studded with raisins. Holy carrots guys! These were incredible! There is not a doubt in my mind that I’ll be making these again.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze 

Now, after brunch we were stuffed and so we happily relaxed. Then later in the afternoon we went to my husband’s aunts house to visit family. We did not eat there, as the whole idea of brunch was so that we wouldn’t have to eat dinner. I did however make three pies to bring along. I mean, I didn’t want us to look like total outcasts as the only vegans! I figured as long as I brought pies then we could enjoy dessert with them and ‘fit in.’

I chose to make the pumpkin cheesecake from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s joint effort “Vegan Pie in the Sky.” and it was delicious. You can’t have Thanksgiving without a pumpkin dessert of some kind and this fit the bill. I like that the base was made using cashews and tofu - though it didn’t taste like either. This was a very rich, and decadent tasting cheesecake, and I loved the pecan topping. Sorry for the blurry photo, I don’t know what happened!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Topping

I also wanted to make some totally off the wall stuff to enjoy and so I made the Banana Tapioca Pudding Pie from Hannah Kaminsky’s wonderful book “Easy as Vegan Pie” I loved the sound of it, and I was not disappointed. It’s like a banana cream pie but with tapioca. Except the tapioca isn’t so noticeable and kind of blends into the pudding you make. My favorite part of this pie though is the home-made coconut whip cream. This was amazing, I am literally blown away by the ease and genius of this particular vegan alchemy. All it is is chilled coconut cream whipped with sugar and vanilla extract and it tasted better then any whip cream I’ve ever eaten, and way better then any commercial vegan whip cream too. Now that I know it’s so easy I’ll be making my own from here on.

Banana Tapioca Pudding Pie 

Next I was completely captivated by Hannah’s recipe for Cannoli Pie - which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a Cannoli filling inside of a pie crust, delicious! In my pregan days I loved Italian Cannoli. My dad used to take me to this great Italian Bakery in Vancouver and we’d get a whole box of them! It’s been years since I’ve had an actual cannoli so when I saw this pie I knew I’d have to try it out. It’s actually quite easy, mostly it’s made with tofu and cashews though it also uses vegan yogurt - I used my own home-made yogurt - lemon juice, sugar, vinegar, nutritional yeast, and Agar. You top the finished pie with shaved chocolate and chopped pistachio’s and it’s incredible. It’s extremely rich, and very creamy. I loved all the pies I made but this just might have been my favorite - you know, for old times sake. However as far as the rest of the guests were concerned I think the pumpkin cheesecake was the overall winner.

Cannoli Pie

And that about wraps up American Thanksgiving this year. I hope you all had as lovely time as I did.


  1. First of all, Happy 3 year Vegan Anniversary! Your brunch looked awesome!
    Your pies looked amazing as well, especially the cannoli Pie Mmmmm!

  2. Happy 3 year vegan anniversary! =D That's awesome! You're doing so good, baby.
    Brunch was AMAZING & the banana pie as very good but the cinnamon buns were PHENOMENAL! I wish I had more bacon & the Eggs Benedict to eat. Thanks for another great meal. - M

  3. What a feast! I'm so happy that my cannoli pie was such a success, and even ranked amongst your favorites. Thanks for giving the recipe a try, and Happy Vegan Anniversary! :)

  4. Thank you! The Cannoli pie was so fantastic, and I think it kept getting better each day. I know i'll be making that one again for sure - your recipes are always so unique and delicious! So thank you, for all the time and effort you must put into developing them! =)