At our Thanksgiving table our traditions are built upon our love and appreciation for one another and the rather bizarre family community that we belong to. We celebrate with our family of choice and we all bring a unique collection of experiences from our families of origin to our gathering. In our family I let each person choose their favorite dish and I make it. Doesn’t matter what it is. The only rule that I impose is that the end result will be a vegan version of the original. Accordingly, we have a decidedly strange assortment of dishes adorning the Thanksgiving buffet. Holly has always chosen Scallion Roti with curry sauce and her sister Hadyn has chosen waffles with chocolate ice cream two of the last three years. Their choices are tempered with the more sophisticated palette of their father, Paul, who by virtue of being British chooses something related either to treason (trust me, he makes it up) or his own heritage that is ridiculously complicated and impossible to duplicate properly. Needless to say we are no longer married although while we remain friends in spite of himself.
This is the most often requested holiday for me to cater it is also the only day that I steadfastly refuse to open the restaurant. I personally spend the day reveling that such an odd collection of people can love each other so deeply in spite of our selves but admittedly feel a little guilty about all the vegans going hungry. Panicked phone calls begin early November when parents realize they have no idea what to serve their prodigal vegans or the new vegan girlfriend and feel as if they need to recreate the traditional Thanksgiving experience, bird and all. One year someone (probably Paul just to be contrary) actually requested a roast turkey which ended up being an undertaking of astronomic proportions involving recreating a seitan version then rolling, stuffing and steaming for hours. I would not recommend it to anyone and certainly not someone I like. Accordingly I have created a menu that is both familiar and innovative; one that plays on what is actually available locally while celebrating the true nature of the harvest. There are no fake birds here, traditional foods can be recreated easily but that is another menu. This is a menu that excites and engages the palette, stretches the imagination and at the same time is redolent of fall fragrances and smells. Enjoy.
A Vegan Feast to Give Thanks
Butternut squash curry soup
2 medium to large Butternut squash (depending on size and thickness of soup)
4 cans Coconut milk
1 quart Vegetable stock
1 cup Apple juice
1 ½ tsp Nutmeg
2 TB Yellow curry paste (or more start with 1 TB and keep adding till you have the heat you want)
1 ½ tsp Herbamare
1 tsp White pepper
1 TB Agave nectar
Bake, peel seed and mash squash. Add to all other ingredients and simmer on stove. Keep checking curry and nutmeg levels for adjusting.
Sweet potato and arugula salad with truffles
2 Sweet potatoes
6 cups Arugula
3 TB Truffle peelings
¼ cup Oregano leaves
½ Champagne vinegar
¾ cup EVOO
½ tsp Herbamare
1 tsp White pepper
Marinate truffle peeling in olive oil overnight or as long as possible to get the most powerful infusion. Mandolin sweet potatoes on shoestring setting. Stem and wash arugula and oregano. Deep fry shoestring sweet potatoes. Toss all ingredients together. Serve immediately.
Potato Baskets with Tastoi and Dried Lobster Mushrooms
Serves eight as a first course
2 cups dried lobster mushrooms
4 cups boiling water
4 white chefs potatoes
8 small tatsoi
10 medium firm tofu medallions
1 cup dried Porcinis
½ cup grey sea salt
1/4 cup cornstarch plus 2 tsp
8 to 10 Garlic cloves finely diced
2 or 3 inches of Ginger peeled and finely diced
1 cup toasted Sesame oil plus more as needed
1/2 White soy sauce or tamari as a gluten free option
2/3 cup rice wine
Mandolin potatoes and zucchini so that you have matchstick shoestrings as long as possible.
Toss strings with1/2 cup cornstarch, let sit.
Take two asian vegetable strainers – one large and one that nestles inside the other and form “baskets” of shoestrings. Carefully lower into fryer till firm and then remove from form and allow to crisp on both sides. Drain on paper towels and keep warm for serving
Puree the dried porcinis and sea salt together in coffee grinder or cuisinart.
Hydrate dried lobster mushrooms in boiling water. Allow to sit for 30 minutes reserving juice but losing grit at bottom (coffee filter works great for this) Boil strained juice till reduced by half.
Sautee ginger and garlic in saucepan with sesame oil till beginning to brown. Dip tofu medallions liberally in porcini salt and sautee in 4 TB sesame oil, set aside. Add cleaned tatsoi and mushrooms to garlic mixture till tatsoi is wilted. Add reserved mushroom juice, white soy sauce and rice wine. Stir reserved 3 tsp cornstarch with a touch of hot water and add. Add scalloped tofu and let cook through
Option: Skip baskets entirely and serve over rice noodles
Skip tofu for soy free
Eggplant Pot Pie with Wild Mushroom Gravy and Artichoke Biscuits
14 cups diced onion
1 cup canola
16 cups diced eggplant
2 ½ cup raw cashews – soaked overnight in spring water
1 cup dried mushroom bits (kibbled mushrooms)
4 TB olive oil
14 cups diced onion - sauteed in 1 cup canola (becomes 4 cups) over high heat until carmelized
16 cups diced eggplant roasted 400 degree oven in 1 ½ cups olive oil with 1 tsp herbamare and 1 tsp white pepper – watch and stir frequently till copper color
Soak overnight in cold clear water to cover. Drain, rinse, put in blender with water to cover . Blend till the consistency of heavy cream. Yields 4 cups.
Put mushroom bits on to boil with 6 cups water turn to high, simmer till all water evaporated
Remove gills of portabellas and slice, sauté over high heat in 4 TB EVOO
Roast onions, eggplant and hydrate mushrooms. Puree cashews for heavy cream. Add everything together and taste for seasonings. Divide into 8-10 3 cup ramekins.
4 Cups unbleached organic flour or for gluten free use 2 cups garbonzo flour (ceci) and 2 cups Bobs Red Mill gluten free
1 TB baking powder
1 ½ cups artichoke hearts
1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
2 TB EVOO
¾ cups smart balance
2 TB cold water
Roast artichoke hearts in broiler with red pepper flakes, thyme and 2 TB olive oil
Put all ingredients except water in food processer. Blend till the size of peas. Add cold water slowly till dough sticks together. Divide into 8-10 equal balls. Flatten to look like hockey pucks.
Put eggplant mixture in ramekins. Top with artichoke biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Almond Olive Oil Citrus Cake
3 cups garbonzo flour plus more as needed
2 TB baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cup demarara sugar
1/2 cup guava puree
4 tsp flax boiled in ½ cup water (2 egg substitute)
2 TB orange zest
2 TB lemon zest
1/2 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted, coarsely crumbled
5 tablespoons orange zest
2 TB lemon zest
4 TB orange liqueur like Cointreau
2 tsp organic agave nectar
5 oranges, segmented with rind and skin removed
3 pink grapefruits, rind and skin removed
Toss all ingredients together to blend.
To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 8 small ramekins. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Blend liquids together saving the oil for last. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the almonds. Transfer the batter to the prepared ramekins. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool. Top with citrus compote and serve
This whole menu has gluten free and soy free options and is entirely dairy free, peanut free and vegan