Monday, November 10, 2008

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one my most favorite food holidays. I love to create new and adventures recipes, but I also love my childhood favorites.
(Yes, even I do the green beans with canned mushroom soup and French onions!) Soaked in family tradition and memories it is hard to think of breaking our parents and grandparents tradition. The only thing is many of us don’t eat like our parents and grandparents. Now I’m certainly a healthy eater, but I think holidays are the time to loose all rules, indulge a little and celebrate. I have for many years incorporated plenty of vegetarian dishes in my Thanksgiving. This is a guideline for a full vegetarian Thanks giving, but you can always mix and match. I have made notes on the recipes as to what can be made ahead of time to ease the day so those of us that do the cooking can enjoy our families and ourselves.
Working with Chef Brian Houd at The Nowhere Café in West Hollywood, I learned a tremendous amount about Vegetarian cooking. Flavors need to pop and be bold. Otherwise, well, it’s just plain boring. I do recall a couple of Thanksgivings where for some crazy reason the Turkey was missing. Like when Uncle Pat cooked the turkey with the plastic wrap on it. Or when Auntie Jo didn’t know that you were actually supposed to defrost a Turkey before cooking it! Or what about my friends that bought a turke0y too big to fit in their oven!!! We still all managed to leave full and happy. So whether or not you choose some of this menu, all of it or stick to family favorites, the best part of Thanksgiving is reflecting all the blessings we have to be grateful for and surrounding ourselves with those we love.

Carrot Ginger soup

1-tablespoon olive oil
2 medium red onions, sliced
1 (4 inch) piece fresh ginger
8 cups vegetable stock
2 pounds carrots cut into 2-inch pieces
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2-teaspoon white pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over low heat and sauté onions until they are translucent. Roughly chop the peeled ginger and add to the onions and sauté’ together for about 3 minutes. Increase heat and add the stock and carrots. Simmer over medium heat until the carrots are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Puree.
*Can be made the night before. Cover tightly and refridgerated. Re-warn on stove.

Mix Greens with pears, Gorgonzola and a maple syrup vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
6-tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup Olive Oil
Fresh Ground pepper
Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.

1 bag spinach
1 bag arugala
1 bag mache
(Or any mixture of harvest Greens)

Toss all lettuces together. Lightly toss with dressing.
3 ripe Asian pears, cored and sliced
6 ozs Gorgonzola
Arrange lettuces on platter. Place pears prettily on top and sprinkle with Gorgonzola and fresh ground pepper.
*The dressing can be made the day before. Store in a bottle, covered. It can stay room temp.

Baked Lentil Loaf with country gravy

1 cup dry lentils
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2-cup ketchup
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw cashews, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-teaspoon thyme
1-teaspoon rosemary
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan cook the lentils and the bay leaf until soft about 45 minutes. Set aside. Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery red peppers, cashews and the spices and sauté about 15 minutes more. Let cool.
Add veggie mixture to lentil mixture mix well and then add the eggs, rolled oats and ketchup. Mix well and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 45 minutes until firm. Serve warm with gravy.
*A great leftover sandwich is n a toasted roll with roasted red peppers, Russian dressing and Cole slaw.
*Can be made the day before up until the baking part. Wrap tightly in plastic, refrigerate. Take out of fridge and bring to room temperature (about one hour) then bake as indicated.

Country Gravy
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 portabella mushrooms, slice 1/4 inch thick, then each slice in 4ths
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 cups veggie stock
1/2-teaspoon thyme
1/2-teaspoon rosemary
Pinch salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
Fresh thyme and rosemary to float on the top
In a skillet heat 1 1/2-tablespoon olive oil. Add mushroom, garlic and onion and sauté for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the onions are translucent. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat up remaining oil and add flour and whisk until smooth and cook 30 seconds. Add stock in a steady stream while continuing to whisk cook 5 minutes. Stir in reserve mushrooms, thyme and rosemary and cook 5 minutes more season with salt and pepper. Pour into gravy boat and serve with mashed potatoes and the baked lentil loaf.
*Best if made that day.

Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Cranberries and Pine Nuts

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
4 cups Corn bread (either homemade, day old and cut into quarter inch pieces or boxed unseasoned cornbread for stuffing)
1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups pine nuts, roasted
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped sage
4 cups Vegetable stock

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onions, carrots and celery for about 7 minutes until tender. Add stock and bring to a boil. In a large bowls mix cornbread, cranberries, pine nuts, parsley and sage. Toss with stock mixture to coat evenly and place in a shallow baking dis. Bake at 350 covered with foil for 1/2 hour and uncover and cook for 15 minutes more until golden brown on top.
*Can be made the day before up until the baking part. Wrap tightly in plastic, refrigerate. Take out of fridge and bring to room temperature (about one hour) then bake as indicated.

Gingered Snow Peas
I make this recipe with snow peas, but also have made it with green beans, carrots and even Brussels sprouts. It is so yummy.

1-pound snow peas, destemed
2 tablespoons each, butter and olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3-tablespoon soy sauce
In a skillet or en electric wok (high heat) heat oil, add snow peas and ginger and sauté for about 3 minutes, until tender. Place in a bowl and toss with soy sauce. Serve at once.
* Best if made that day

Butternut squash in coconut milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup, toasted coconut
Fresh cilantro

Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté until tender. Add coconut milk, sugar and pepper flakes and cook until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil; add squash. Simmer until fork tender about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove squash from the pan and place in a serving bowl. Boil remaining liquid until thick, stirring constantly. Toss with the squash and garnish with toasted coconut and fresh cilantro!

Roasted Beets With Horseradish and Goat Cheese
1 pound beets, washed, steams trimmed 1/2 inch above beetroot
1-tablespoon horse radish (or to taste)
1/4-teaspoon thyme
Pinch salt and pepper
8 ozs goat cheese
Place beet in a tightly covered casserole dish. Pour enough water to cover 1/2 inch at the bottom. Roast at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. It is cooked when the skin is slightly wrinkled and removes easily with your fingers. Remove from oven and as soon as they are cool enough to touch, remove skin and cut into about 8 1/4 inch pieces. While still warm mix well with horseradish, thyme, salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead, just add cheese right before serving.) Mix well again. Add the crumbled goat cheese. Mix and serve.
*Can make ahead up to the adding of goat cheese. Store covered in the fridge.

Cranberry-Chipolte Compote
(Makes about 1 quart)
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 med. Fuji apples
3 med Asian pears
(Both peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1-pound fresh cranberries
4-oz chipolte peppers (canned in adobo) chopped fine
3-tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2-cup sugar
1/2-cup dark brown sugar
Zest from one orange
1/2-cup fresh orange juice
1-teaspoon nutmeg
1/4-cup Grand Mariner

Heat oil in med. skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté pears, apples & dried cranberries until soft. (3-5 minuets)
Add Grand Mariner and sauté until the grand mariner is reduced in half. Add fresh cranberries, chipoltes, cimmamon, sugars, zest and O.J. Stir and simmer for 40-45 min (until it begins to thicken.
Add nutmeg and Grand mariner; mix well
Refrigerate for 24 hours.
*Needs to be made at least a day ahead. Up to three.

24-Karat Cake
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups cooking oil
2 cups grated carrot
8 1/2-oz. Crushed pineapple, drained
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts
To flour, add salt, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon. Mix. Add eggs and cooking oil and mix well. Add carrot, pineapple and nuts. Put in 9x13 greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Beat the following ingredients until smooth.
1/2 cup butter
8oz cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pound powder sugar

*all cakes taste better the second day. You can make the cake part up to three days in advance wrap tightly. Once the frosting is on it must be stored in the fridge.

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