Monday, November 24, 2008

Our Vegan Thanksgiving 2008

Heads up, I’m still in a bad mood. This post is rather long, so feel free to scroll down for the recipes. Otherwise, thanks for listening.

Last year’s Vegan Thanksgiving was quite a feast. This year, as you’ve heard me complain, I have no lights in my kitchen except the stove. I have electricity, just no lights. I also have lights but no electricity in BOTH of my bathrooms and there are other rooms with issues too. I have been waiting on an electrician friend for a reduced rate for services, but I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from the Whole Foods Culinary Center saying they thought I might be interested an upcoming class - a veggie Indian Thanksgiving cooking class. After looking at the menu, I signed up, thinking I wouldn’t have to give my dinner another thought. I went to the class last Thursday and the food was amazing. It wasn’t all vegan, but easily veganizable AND I wouldn’t need to shop but for a few budget friendly ingredients. The recipe I was most interested in, the entree, was Whole Cauliflower Baked in Puff Pastry with Curry Sauce Gravy. Yep, I paid the price of admission just to get that recipe! But I got my money’s worth. Also on the menu was an amazing Quinoa Lentil Risotto, not too spicy; some green beans with a sauce that didn’t appeal to me; a fantastic cranberry chutney; and the most delicious cornbread muffins I had ever tasted. Yay – this year’s Thanksgiving will have an Indian twist, which we love, and I’ve got my recipes all in one handout.

Saturday and Sunday were cloudy and extra dark in my kitchen – not good for cooking or picture taking. I began prepping some sauces and made the cranberry chutney on Saturday, then began Sunday afternoon making the rest of the feast. Well, I started running into some problems. The recipes were VERY poorly written. The ingredients were out of order and the instructions made no sense. While I had reviewed the ingredients lists to make sure I had what I needed, I had not budgeted time for figuring out the directions. I made out okay with everything except the cornbread muffins! This upset me for many reasons, but mainly because I chose to make these muffins instead of Christina’s most amazing ever recipe for dressing, which I asked her to give me before it was printed in our local paper (more on that later) and she was kind enough to take the time to oblige me. I don’t even like dressing, but hers is fabulous!

All right, on to the main event – Whole Cauliflower Baked in Puff Pastry with Curry Sauce Gravy. This was fun fun fun to make and it is completely delicious and so beautiful. I tried to capture it the best I could. I am not going to post the recipe because it’s a mess (email me if you really really want it). But I’ll give you the method and also tell you that you can adapt it to suit your own tastes – it doesn’t have to be Indian spiced. My cauliflower is stuffed with about one cup of saucy cashews.

(Sorry for the fuzzy picture – it’s the worst of the bunch.) You could stuff your cauliflower with mushrooms and serve it with cranberry sauce or a tomato based sauce, or any other stuffing and sauce combination you can think of.

So to begin, trim the cauliflower, removing as much of the stem as possible, but remembering to leave it intact and whole. Blanch it for a couple of minutes. I used my biggest soup pot and had to blanch it on the bottom first and then flip it over and blanch the top. Let it dry completely. This can be done far in advance. Get one sheet of puff pastry and thaw it. Roll it out just a bit and remove one-third to be placed on top of the cauliflower. Stuff the cauliflower as best you can. Anything that won’t go in can go on top. Put some parchment paper on a baking sheet, and place the big piece of pastry on the paper. Place the cauliflower bottom side down onto the pastry. Put any extra stuffing on top, then pull the corners of the pastry up on top of the cauliflower. Put the extra strip on the top to fill in any gaps. I saved a small piece to make a cutout leaf for the top of mine. It will look like this.

Bake it at 400 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Take it out and place it on a carving board.

Isn’t it cool!!!! I’m sure you will do a better job wrapping your pastry than I did. To plate, spoon some sauce on a platter and add a slice of the cauliflower. I topped ours with some more cashews. It’s plated with some steamed green beans and a mustard ginger white sauce I made from leftover Veggie Meat Pie sauce.

The other fantastic recipe, which turned out to be reasonably well written (I’ve cleaned it up for you) is the Quinoa, Lentil, and Squash Risotto. It too can be adapted with different herbs to suit the theme of your meal. It's sooo tasty and very easy to make.

Quinoa, Lentil, and Squash Risotto

½ small butternut squash, diced
3 T. canola oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup quinoa
1 cup red lentils
1 t. salt
½ t. pepper
¼ cup chopped herbs (I used cilantro and chives)

Toss the diced squash with 1 T. oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, sauté the onions in the remaining 2 T. oil for 2 minutes or until soft. Add the quinoa and lentils and sauté one minute more. Add 4 cups of water and the salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes on medium high heat. Remove from heat and stir in squash and herbs.

Now about that cornbread… I took a picture of it before I had a bite. You know, another reason it was so disappointing is that it’s a gluten free recipe. What I also loved about it was that it had cabbage in it! I love cabbage and I thought it was such a clever idea. It also had that crunchy, peanut topping. Maybe you can adapt one of your favorite cornbread recipes to include cabbage. I know I’m going to try. Oh, and the recipe has club soda in it to help it rise.

I realized after this picture that my plate wasn’t very colorful. I forgot the cranberry chutney! So I took one more shot of the chutney in a jar and the remaining cauliflower.

The chutney is very good too. Again, email me if you want the recipe.

We had Iron Cupcakes for dessert. Mmmmmm.

Finally, here’s a link to today’s Austin American-Statesman food section, with my recipe for Pumpkin Vinaigrette, and Christina’s recipe for Walnut, Fig, and Cranberry Cornbread Dressing.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

BEYOND phenomenal!!!!!!!!! I'm now speechless at this point.

Anonymous said...

That is just the most intriguing idea! I would love the recipe and will email you for it. Sorry about the muffins! They do look nice, though. And of course, any baking with added veggies is always a winner in my book.

Hope you had a great celebration. I'm off to read your recipe in the newspaper! :)

Andrea said...

That cauliflower looks incredible. I confess that I've never used puff pastry, but seeing the cauliflower makes me want to try to untangle the recipe. And the lentil millet recipe sounds great.

I recently attended a class on writing recipes for publication, and it was very enlightening. Although I don't intend to publish a cookbook, it was very helpful to hear the authors speak. (It was a book festival event that included cooking and food.)

Hope you get your electrical issues sorted out soon.

River (Wing-It Vegan) said...

I am in complete awe of the cauliflower! Hope you get your lights back soon!

Carrie™ said...

I'm such a baby when I don't have electricity. I'm OK for a while, but after a day, I'd start getting antsy. Good luck to you with that.
That cauliflower looks amazing! What a cool idea. The quinoa looks good and so do the green beans. Cupcakes are a perfect ending.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you're without still lights! That is rather frustrating. These are some great ideas, but the cauliflower has me really freaked out because it looks like a brain (I don't know why I'm suddenly 10 years old again, but it's got me freaked out!)). I was thinking about your cupcakes all evening yesterday - bring on the fluffy coconut frosting!

jessy said...

that's frustrating on the kitchen, Diann. i'm so sorry! i think your pastry looks wonderful - i love the inside shot! so so cool! yay! that stinks that the instructions for the recipes weren't well written - that would piss me off a bit, too! especially when you're knee deep in a recipe and it's all jumbled up! argh! but everything looks awesome - and you're making me so hungry and lunch isn't for another 3 hours! eek!

hope your electrician comes through for you! i'll keep my fingers crossed!

Jes said...

Oh my gosh, I need that recipe for the cauliflower! It sounds amazing!

Tami said...

That cauliflower is unbelievable! And I bet it tastes even better than it looks!

Sorry about your light situation!

Thanks for sharing the cooking class with us.

Anonymous said...

I agree. . .that cauliflower is visually stunning. . .what a great main dish! I am amazed at your creativity!

Unknown said...

The cauliflower looks fantastic...sorry to hear about your lights ,hope you get it back on soon...

allularpunk said...

i'm sorry you're having issues with your house still! that stinks. however, it looks like you totally pulled off a wonderful feast despite the difficulties! everything looks so scrumptious. i'm starting to finally get excited about my thanksgiving cooking after reading so many lovely thanksgiving posts today :) thanks for the inspiration.

Beatrice said...

That cauliflower looks amazing. I love how it slices like a loaf, but I'm also wondering about taking clusters of cauliflower and making mini loaves for each person...

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Ugh, I can see why you'd be in a bad mood! But hopefully those cupcakes helped!

Lindsay (Happy Herbivore) said...


Rose said...

What a beautiful Thanksgiving feast!

Gina said...

Holy moly that cauliflower looks freaking awesome!!!

Jen Treehugger said...

That Cauliflower is just amazing!
I have never seen anything like that before!!

Totally the star of the show!
(apart from you of course)


Amy said...

Sorry to hear you had such a frustrating time but all the food looks great! Especially the cauliflower puff pastry dish. Yum!

Jackie said...

Sorry to hear about the lights. With our electricity going off regularly I have a rechargeable lamp with a gel stove so I won't starve and can see to read until they come back on again LOL.

What wonderful ideas for a veggie Thanksgiving. I must try the cauliflower as it's a favorite veg of mine. The risotto also sounds very good.

Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving and may your lights be sorted out by then.

kmouse said...

That cauliflower dish looks amazing! I'm sorry about your electricity problems. What a horrible time for this to be happening.

Anonymous said...

Nice article in the paper. I have a little pumpkin puree in the fridge that needs to be used, I'll have to try your vinagrette. That cauliflower looks amazing too. Paying admission price for one recipe is something I would do too.

I'm sorry you're having issues with your lights. I hope you get it resolved soon.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Charles said...

I would love to get the recipes too! thank you!


Anonymous said...

i wish i was at your thanksgiving! everything looks marvelous. i love your little risotto tower.


I have been looking for a fantastic recipe for cauliflower.. and.. I have puff pastry just waiting in the freezer to be used!!
Cant wait to enjoy this, hope you get the lights and issues taken care of soon!!

aTxVegn said...

Charles, please leave your email address or email me (atxvegnATyahooDOTcom) so I can send you the recipes.

Thanks for the nice comments everyone!

Carrie™ said...

Have you seen THIS! You're famous.

Zesty Cook said...

SUPERB!! WOW... i am speechless


Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving! The baked cauliflower idea is spectacular.

Vegan_Noodle said...

That cauliflower dish is just too cool. What a fun idea to use for Thanksgiving.

I hope your electricity situation gets resolved soon!!

urban vegan said...

Lovely stuff, from top to bottom, as always. Congrats on publishing your recipe in the paper, too! Well deserved, Diann.

Hope you're feeling better and that your kitchen issues are all straightened out soon. You accomplish 10x more even when faced with such challenges than most of us do in a month!

Lovlie said...

Really nice cake! I would love to taste it! :) Yum!

Ruby Red said...

Um, YES! Puff pastry cauliflower is cool indeed. One of the awesomest Thanksgiving things I've seen lately! Great job!