Posts Tagged appetizers

Happy Thanksgiving!

…Even though it’s two days after Thanksgiving now.  Happy four day weekend!  I’ve been taking the opportunity to sleep in and take care of business.

This year, for the first time, Dave and I decided to stay home for Thanksgiving.  We invited our friends Tom and Hope over and had a nice, intimate, huge feast.  I even decorated the table like a real adult.

And made a centerpiece, Martha Stewart-style.

We started with appetizers.  This is the Walnut Mushroom Pate from Veganomicon with some crackers, carrot sticks and peppadews (mild pickled peppers).  Tom and Hope’s dog Lucy also came over and I had forgot that she really loves to eat carrots, so that was a nice treat for her.

Since we were sitting down to a real dinner, I included soup and salad on the menu.  For the soup I wanted to keep the flavors simple and express my new found love for cardamom.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Orange Soup with Pistachio Dust

1 large butternut squash (3-4 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large shallots, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs virgin coconut oil, melted
3 cups vegetable broth
1 large orange, zested and supremed
2 Tbs orange liqueur (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp cumin
1-2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
5-6 grinds freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
2 fresh sage leaves, minced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Divide the squash, shallots and garlic among the pans, add 1 Tbs of melted coconut oil to each pan and stir to coat the vegetables.  Roast for 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  Allow to cool slightly.
2. Place half of the vegetables in a blender, add half of the broth and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large pot.  Place the remaining vegetables and broth in the blender and add the orange segments, orange liqueur, cardamom, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth and add to the pot.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
3. Heat the soup gently over medium heat, stirring often and turning down the heat if it starts bubbling.
4. Meanwhile, place the pistachios in a food processor and process into the size of fine breadcrumbs.  Add the sage and 1 tsp orange zest and pulse to combine.
5. To serve, ladle the warm soup into bowls and top with the pistachio dust.

Servings: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 365.04
Calories From Fat (23%) 82.37
% Daily Value
Total Fat 9.73g 15%
Saturated Fat 4.65g 23%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 185.43mg 8%
Potassium 1661.7mg 47%
Total Carbohydrates 66.3g 22%
Fiber 7.74g 31%
Sugar 9.44g
Protein 8.82g 18%

Our salad was the Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing from Veganomicon.  I first made this a few weeks ago and couldn’t find the chicory it called for, so I had it with mixed greens and butter lettuce, and after trying it with chicory I have to say that the bitter greens make all the difference in balancing the sweet elements of the salad.  I also learned that I like whole hazelnuts.  Delicious!

I didn’t want to hold my fellow diners up, so I didn’t get pictures of all the individual dishes.  Here is my plate.

For my “main” I had a chickpea cutlet from the freezer with some cranberry sauce that Hope brought.  The roasted brussels sprouts are this recipe, chosen because I found out that neither Tom nor Hope likes brussels, and I was determined to show them that they’re good.  They both tried them and said they’re okay, but they’re still not brussels fans.  I can try, no?

These rolls are the Homestyle Potato Rolls fromVeganomicon.  Yes, I relied heavily on Veganomicon for our meal.  It’s a great cookbook filled with a lot of fall-appropriate recipes.  Anywho, the bread dough was really nice and easy to work with, and it expanded even while in the fridge overnight.  I served the bread with some herbed butter.  I mean, herbed Earth Balance.

Dave requested chunky mashed potatoes with the skins, and lots of them so he could have leftovers.  I added a bunch of Earth balance, almond milk, truffle salt and black pepper to get ’em tasting good.  Everyone else enjoyed turkey gravy, but I came up with this red wine gravy as my contribution.  It’s not the best looking color of gravy, but it tastes quite nice.

Red Wine Gravy

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable broth, at room temperature
1/2 cup almond milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 Tbs tamari
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs nutritional yeast

1. Heat a medium pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Sprinkle the flour into the pot and whisk immediately to make a smooth paste.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add the broth, milk, wine and tamari and turn up the heat to medium-high.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Turn the heat down if the gravy is bubbling too much.  Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the nutritional yeast.  Serve hot.

Servings: 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 102.56
Calories From Fat (61%) 63.06
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.15g 11%
Saturated Fat 0.94g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 262.38mg 11%
Potassium 44.39mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 5.03g 2%
Fiber 0.87g 3%
Sugar 0.18g
Protein 2.28g 5%

And of course, I had to make green bean casserole.  It’s my quintessential Thanksgiving dish.  Dave said that the ones I had made in the past were good but could have more flavor, so I set out to create my own version, and I have to say that it was probably the best green bean casserole I’ve ever had.  I wanted to make everything from scratch instead of using store bought fried onions, and I tried to inject as much flavor as possible at every step.

Green Bean Casserole

1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb mixed wild mushrooms, diced (I used chanterelle, oyster and shiitake)
6 Tbs high heat sunflower oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 large shallot, minced
5 Tbs all purpose flour, divided
1 cup vegetable broth, at room temperature
1 cup almond milk, at room temperature
2 Tbs sherry
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place the green beans in a steamer over simmering water and steam for 20 minutes, until beans are tender.  Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat and add 1 Tbs of the oil.  Add the garlic and thyme and saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Set aside.
4. Place a small pot over medium heat and add 3 Tbs of the oil.  Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until they are starting to turn translucent.  Add 3 Tbs of the flour and whisk to form a smooth paste.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Add the vegetable broth and whisk to combine.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the milk and sherry and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Combine the green beans, mushroom mixture and sauce in a baking dish.
5. Combine the sliced onion and 2 Tbs flour in a bowl and toss with your hands to coat.  Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 Tbs of oil.  Add the onions and any remaining flour to the pan, stir to combine and cook until most of the onions have browned, stirring frequently.  Pour the onions on top of the green bean mixture and spread evenly.
6. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Servings: 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 192
Calories From Fat (50%) 96.94
% Daily Value
Total Fat 10.97g 17%
Saturated Fat 1.12g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 30.35mg 1%
Potassium 497.72mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 20.21g 7%
Fiber 2.73g 11%
Sugar 2.26g
Protein 4.85g 10%

For dessert, I attempted to veganize the Cranberry Upside Down Cake from the latest issue of Eating Well magazine.

It tasted alright, but it refused to upside-down itself from my cast iron pan, so we had it rightside-up.  That’s what I get for making the recipe the first time that day.

We ate, we chatted, we had some wine and Dogfishhead Chicory Stout, and we watched Elf.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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Birthday Party Foods

Every year for my birthday I have friends over to my place for a little shindig, and this year was a good one.  Friends showed up in force, everyone had a good time (I think), and a cop came by to give up a noise warning!  You know it’s a good party when the 5-0 arrive.  Nevermind the fact that we weren’t being very loud, spent the majority of the party playing board games, and are all well over the legal drinking age…we’re a wild bunch, really.  And while I never expect any presents, I received gifts including a couple bottles of nice wine, some Jameison, and My Sweet Vegan!

My friends made my week by showing me a good time, so the least I could do was feed them.  Please excuse the flash photography, the pictures were snapped fast since people were already over and eyeballing the food.

VWAV Spanakopita in phyllo cups.

spanakopita

Lettuce wrap bar.  Not everyone got the lettuce wrap concept, which is fine because a) I thought it up last minute and had never done it before, b) the lettuce I bought wasn’t as cup-like as anticipated, and c) all the fillings worked just as well on their own.  The recipes for all of the fillings are at the end.

lettuce wraps

Pea Salad.

pea salad

Sesame Ginger Mushrooms.

mushrooms

Savory Carrot Salad (the dressing on this was so good, it’s going to be my go-to balsamic vinaigrette).

carrot salad

Veggies, Stacy’s Pita Chips and Pretzel Chips.  If you haven’t had Stacy’s Pita Chips yet, get them.  Unless you don’t feel like being tempted to eat the whole bag at once.

veggies

A trio of dips, starting with Black Bean Dip with Cilantro & Lime.  I wasn’t impressed with this, so no recipe.  Although everyone seemed to like it okay.  I can do better.

black bean dip

VCON Curried Carrot Dip.  This was really good, but I almost wanted it to be made from sweet potato or squash instead, because that’s what it tasted like.

carrot dip

Roasted Eggplant & Garlic Hummus from Yellow Rose Recipes.  This flew off the shelves like gangbusters.  I had to put out seconds, and it was all demolished.  And just as easy to make as normal hummus, with one extra step.  Get YRR and make this.

eggplant hummus

And the piece de resistance, the birthday cake I made for myself, as all good vegans do.  It’s based on Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream.  Two vanilla layers studded with cookie dough, and a brownie layer, iced with buttercream.  I didn’t get to decorate it like I wanted, mostly because I was short on time but also because I didn’t make enough frosting.  Extra cookie dough balls did the trick.

half baked cake

Money shot.

half baked cake

And my piece, cut bigger than everyone elses.  I could only eat half at first, had to save the rest for later.

half baked cake

If I make this again the only change will be to try to make the cookie dough pieces inside the cake smaller, so they disperse more.  The Brooklyn Brownie, Golden Agave, and Buttercream recipes are from VCTOTW, cookie dough from VWAV.

The recipes:

Savory Carrot Salad

4-5 carrots, shredded
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp maple syrup
dashes of salt & pepper

Whisk all ingredients except carrots together until emulsified. Pour over carrots and stir to combine.

Serves 4.

Pea Salad

3 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
2 Tbs onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs each green bell pepper and red bell pepper, finely chopped
3-4 Tbs vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbs relish
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients, chill before serving.

Serves 4.

Sesame Ginger Mushrooms

I made these without soy since a friend is allergic, but 1-2 Tbs soy sauce added to the marinade would be good.

4 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced (I used button, shiitake & portobello)
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1/3 cup cooking sherry
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs minced ginger
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
olive oil spray
1 heaping Tbs cornstarch
thinly sliced scallions
toasted sesame seeds

1. Whisk together the water, sherry, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, dry mustard and red pepper flakes. Pour over mushrooms, cover, and marinate at least one hour, up to overnight.
2. Spray a medium saute pan with olive oil and heat to medium high. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to the pan, reserving the marinade. Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they have released their juices, the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are tender. If the mushrooms start to stick, add a small amount of water to the pan.
3. Meanwhile, add the cornstarch to the reserved marinade and whisk to combine.
4. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the marinade to the pan. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the marinade is thickened.
5. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

Serves 4-6.

And for those of you who’ve made it through the whole post, here’s an adorable picture of bf being a sad clown.

sad clown

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