Saturday, November 29, 2014

American Thanksgiving Brunch 2014...

The Breakfast Table

As I said before my husband had to work on Thanksgiving, and so we celebrated with a huge holiday meal Wednesday night instead. Thursday however I decided to get up early and make an epic Brunch for him so he’d be nice and full for work. Since we’d just had a huge meal the night before I didn’t want to go overboard, so I picked four dishes to satiate us Thursday mid-morning.

Chicken-Fried Seitan Steak
White Sausage Gravy

Our main was the Chicken Fried Seitan Steak and White Sausage Gravy from Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman’s book “Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites.” Despite owning this book for a number of years now I have never made this recipe, and the reason being - on my very first ever trip to Chicago, back when my husband and I were dating, we went out for Breakfast. I had never eaten, nor in fact heard of ‘Chicken-Fried Steak’ and so I ordered it. I took about 2 bites and wanted to throw up, I thought it was the most disgusting thing I had ever eaten in my life. Literally everything about it was bad right down to the gravy it was smothered in. I hated it, and didn’t understand how people could love it so much. After I went vegan I avoided vegan versions of this popular breakfast food, and then one day earlier this year out of curiosity I ordered it at The Chicago Diner and fell in love. Vegan Chicken-Fried Steak is the bomb! So, since I liked the vegan version so much, I decided to try my hand at making it at home. As par usual Celine and Joni do not disappoint with this recipe. It does however require some advanced prep. The seitan steaks only take 30 minutes to boil but if you’re in a time crunch make them a day ahead. Frying them up is easy as pie and they’re coated in a flour, corn cereal mixture that is so good! The gravy is simple, vegetable broth, butter, flour, and chunks of seitan ss you would expect, but the surprise is that this gravy has vegan sour cream in it! What? I know, it sounded crazy to me too, but trust me when I say this gravy actually turned out really well, it was buttery, and velvety and smothered the steaks in perfection.

Grandma Jo's Tater Tot Surprise 

To accompany our Chicken-Fried Steak I decided to make Grandma Jo’s Tater Tot Surprise, also out of “Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites.” Basically this is a tater tot breakfast casserole, and I was really taking a chance on this one. It sounded like something I’d never eat - vegan or otherwise - but boy was I wrong. This was the first of our leftovers to disappear, it was THAT good. In addition to tots, this casserole also has vegan sour cream, vegan butter, vegan cheddar cheese, green onions, and vegan cream of mushroom soup. Though there is a recipe for mushroom soup provided in the book I just used the leftover mushroom soup I had from making the Broccoli Casserole the night before. After you combine all of that, you top it with crushed cornflakes and bake, and I know it sounds weird, but trust, trust, trust me on this one. If you own Hearty Vegan Meals and haven’t made this yet, get thee to the kitchen ASAP!

Sweet Potato Biscuits 
Biscuit Gravy

Next up I made the Sweet Potato Biscuits with Gravy from Jenny Engel & Heather Goldberg’s book “Sprok-Fed” I’ve actually had my eye on these for a while but never get the chance to actually make them. I’m glad I made time for it this time around because these were delicious. They did not have an overwhelming sweet potato flavor but they did have a lovely orange color and they were so super moist. Very delicious biscuits, and they came together super quick. The gravy was equally delicious and also really fast and easy to make. It’s your typical vegan milk-based biscuit gravy that has sausage. I used Tofurky Italian Sausages in it because that’s all I had and I think the combination worked pretty well. These were so good I know I’ll be making them again.

Cinnamon Orange Rolls 

To top it off I made the Cinnamon Orange Rolls from Julie Hasson’s book “Vegan Diner” this is another recipe I’ve had my eye on for a while but cinnamon buns are just not something I make regularly. It’s not that I find them difficult to make - in fact these were so easy! - it’s just that I hate waiting for dough to rise, so usually anything that requires yeast as an ingredient makes me stay away, or drag my feet. I know it doesn’t make any sense because it doesn’t require any extra work, just waiting time, but for some reason it’s just one of those things I rarely feel inspired to do. I should definitely make cinnamon buns more often though because these were superb. The orange flavor was subtle, yet strong enough to let you know it’s there. I love that the dough had orange zest in it, and then the glaze has orange juice. The filling is just your basic brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. These were definitely a hit and they went fast! Actually, we don’t have a single one left!

My Over-flowing Plate. I had a Cinnamon Roll too but there
wasn't room on this plate, so I had it on a small plate that I forgot
to Photograph

So that was our lovely Thanksgiving Day Brunch, and it was so good that we were talking about making Thanksgiving Brunch a regular thing. We did it last year and it was awesome, we did it this year and it was awesome again, you gotta love new traditions.

Retro-Strawberry Pie without Whip

Lastly I also made the Retro-Strawberry Pie from Dynise Balcavage’s book “Pies and Tarts with Heart” Originally I made this to take to my husband’s aunts house Thursday afternoon, but in the end I changed my mind and decided to leave it at home for just my husband and I. We had some Thursday and Friday and it was so good. Super easy too. The filling is just strawberries, salt, cornstarch, water, sugar and agar. You cook that up and pour it into a vanilla cookie crust, although I skipped the cookie crust. I had purchased a pack of 2 pre-made pie crusts since the Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie recipe just said to use a store-bought crust. Originally I was going to disregard this and make my own as usual, but in the end I had so much work to do that I decided to take a short cut. I’m sure home-made crusts on both pies would have been better but sometimes you gotta cut corners. So I used a regular crust, and I think it actually tasted good in a regular crust. The flaky buttery crust was a nice compliment to the sweet filling. The recipe states to top the pie with vegan whip cream, and there are recipes for making your own at home - which I normally do, but once again I was lazy, and besides that I just had to try the new So Delicious Coco-Whip. Which is basically the most amazing thing ever. Vegan cool whip guys! Since it just appeared in my local grocery I thought that this was the perfect time to give it a try, and it did not disappoint but I’ll save a full review for another post. In any case, the pie was fantastic, I’ve always much preferred fruit pies to any other kind.

Retro-Strawberry Pie with Whip and Garnish 

So that’s it for holiday madness until the end of December, until then I’ll probably be eating pretty clean, green juice, green smoothies, limited sweets, salads, etc... Once again I hope you all had a lovely holiday.

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