Thursday, November 27, 2014

American Thanksgiving 2014...

The Dinner Table

I hope everyone had a nice American Thanksgiving. Since my husband had to work Thursday, we had our Thanksgiving Dinner Wednesday night. It was peaceful and quiet - more so then other years - which is impressive considering I cooked a lot, par usual. The food was excellent, and I think we both agreed that overall this was one of the best celebratory meals I’ve made.

Green Beans with Beurre Blanc

There were lots of mouth-watering side dishes, like Green Beans with Beurre Blanc from Mark Reinfeld’sThe 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe.” These were simply steamed green beans drenched in a vegan white wine and butter sauce, from the chapter on French cuisine. If I had a complaint about the dish it would be that I would have liked more garlic, but otherwise these were very tasty.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

I also made the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pecans from Bianca Phillips book “Cookin’ Crunk.” This is a really simple recipe that involved first steaming the Brussels, and then pan-frying them. The ingredients list is short, but the flavor is out of this world. Once again my husband ate these Brussels Sprouts up like they were going out of style so you know they have to be good! I love the sweetness from the hint of sugar she throws into the recipe, and the slight kick from the red pepper flakes. Seriously, these were the first things to go, and I wish I had more. I’ll definitely be making them again, and again.

Whisky Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Then no Thanksgiving celebration can be complete without a mashed tater, and so I picked the Whisky Mashed Sweet Potatoes from the book “500 Vegan Recipes” by Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen. These were absolutely fantastic mashed sweets! Really, neither my husband nor I could get over how delicious they were. Unlike other mashed sweet tater recipes I’ve made these had vegan sour cream, and vegan butter in them, in addition to brown sugar, maple syrup and of course whisky. The whisky flavor was nice, and subtle, not the least overpowering. The butter and sour cream made them so soft and creamy. I did cut the sugar content down a bit though, but otherwise this was a perfect dish.

Broccoli Casserole

Then I did something crazy, I made a Broccoli Casserole! It might sound crazy - since I know how popular this dish is in the United States, or at least in the Midwest - but I had never had nor heard of Broccoli Casserole before moving to Chicago. This however has always been one of my husband’s favorite holiday dishes, and his mother makes a great broccoli casserole each year for the holidays. Obviously when we went vegan we couldn’t have it anymore, which definitely made my husband a little sad, and for some reason it never occurred to me to make a vegan version. Lucky for me Bianca’s book “Cookin’ Crunk” contains a Broccoli Casserole recipe, and it looked quite simple enough and so I thought, ‘why not?’ I felt inspired, and I knew my husband would really appreciate it. Her casserole - unlike the traditional one - is made using fresh broccoli and frying it till soft with onions in oil. Then you add it to a bowl of cooked rice, add in some home-made vegan cream of mushroom soup - which I also made using her recipe. Then you add in the final component which is a homemade cheese sauce - also from her book. Then you bake it. It doesn’t taste exactly like the Campbell’s and Cheeze-Whiz version but it tastes pretty darn close. My only complaint is that due to the fact that the cheese cause contains Nutritional Yeast the casserole does have a slight nooch taste. I think I’d make this again without the cheese sauce or maybe using a milder tasting vegan cheese sub. Either way I’ll definitely make it again because it was a big hit.

Walnut Apple Stuffing

Of course no Thanksgiving Feast is complete without stuffing and because I couldn’t decide which stuffing I wanted to make I simply made two! Crazy I know. The first stuffing I chose to make was of a more traditional nature. It was the Walnut Apple Stuffing from Nava Atlas’s book “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” this was a super delicious, super moist stuffing. The apples were sweet, and tart, and I loved the idea of adding in apple juice rather then vegetable broth. The walnuts were not overpowering and even my husband enjoyed the stuffing despite the nuts.

Potato Sauerkraut Apple Stuffing

Our second stuffing was the Potato Sauerkraut Apple Stuffing from the same book. This Slavic style stuffing may sound strange to you, but trust me when I say it was delicious. A perfect mixture of potatoes, sauerkraut, apples, breadcrumbs, and Eastern European spices. Somehow it works, and my husband who si not normally a kraut fan, loved this one too.

Stone-Ground Mustard, Horseradish & Cornichons
Seitan Pot-Au-Feu

For our Pièce de résistance I made the Seitan Pot-Au-Feu from Robin Robertson’s book “Fresh From The Vegan Slow Cooker” This is a slow-cooked French-style stew that is probably traditionally made with beef, but in our case seitan is used. The stew also contains parsnips, carrots, potatoes, huge chunks of savoy cabbage, vegetable broth, red wine, and a bouquet garni of delicious spices. The seitan you form into little patties and place right on top of the vegetables where they steam to perfection while everything else is cooking away. The smell of this thing cooking is tremendous and mouth-watering and the flavor of the finished dish is wonderful. The seitan is magnificent, truly, I think slow-cooker seitan is probably some of the best seitan I’ve ever eaten, so succulent! And the vegetable choices made for a very nice compliment. You serve the Pot-Au-Feu somewhat communal style with bowls of Stone-Ground Mustard, Horseradish, and Cornichons, as well as bowls of the cooking liquid, which serves as a sort of Au Jus for dipping. I have to say that at first this struck me as a bit of an odd idea, but the seitan was particularly delectable when dipped in a bit of mustard and horseradish, so were the veggies.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Now, for dessert. We barley had room after all that and so we waited a good couple of hours before digging into this Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie from Nava Atlas’s book “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” I have actually been wanting to make this pie for a long time but never seem to get around to it. Overall I thought it was pretty good, but it’s not my favorite pumpkin pie, nor is it my favorite pumpkin cheesecake. I think it was under sweet, and under spiced but I do really love the idea of it. I would definitely make it again but perhaps with my own spice mixture rather then the ‘pumpkin pie spice’ she recommends. Since pumpkin is hit or miss with my husband - and since this pie contains walnuts - he inevitably was not a fan. Bummer for me, I hate when I make a dessert he isn’t thrilled about.

Vanilla Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream 

But, to make up for the pie I did make a batch of the Vanilla Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream from Bianca’sCookin’ Crunk” and these were delicious. Super easy to make, these came out super moist and flavorful. There is pumpkin puree in the frosting but the overall effect is somewhat understated and my husband wasn’t bothered with it. Somehow he shoved two of these delicious cakes into his mouth before we finally passed out in front of the television, and that as they say is that.

My ridiculously full plate!

I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday, I’ll be back tomorrow with a post about our epic Thanksgiving Brunch!

1 comment:

  1. Your meal looked AMAZING!!!!! Looks like you went all out! Glad you had a lovely pre Thanksgiving dinner, only wish I had been enjoying that beautiful dinner with you! S.T.