Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let's talk THANKSGIVING




Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday.  I love food.  Thanksgiving is unabashedly devoted to it.  Where can I go wrong?  Well, this year it was creating too much wonderful food.

We started cooking on Tuesday night, this year, with the Candle Cafe Cookbook (CCC) seitan. Wessie and I went out drinking first, then came home, cleared off our island, floured it an
d got to kneading.  The next Morning, I woke up with VwaV's Raspberry Blondies.  The batter was FAR stiffer than
I thought it would be, but I didn't care!  The raspberry preserves were beautiful.  This picture doesn't do them justice.  My friend Jill Homewrecker came over and crocheted legwarmers while Wessie and I threw together the blondies.  While the blondies baked, we began the arduous task of washing out the dough for the seitan.  I know you can buy the pre-sorted out gluten, but I feel like you're cheating somehow unless you put 40 
minutes of backbreaking kneading into making your seitan.  Maybe it's that "5 miles to school, uphill both ways" good old days mentality.  Maybe it's the ab workout that justifies eating oneself into a coma on seitan.  It is a *very* good ab workout, FYI.
Once the seitan was resting, the blondies smelled so good that we couldn't resist and ended up cutting into them before the chips
 

were cooled and gooing them up.  Not that any of us cared as we shoved
 vanilla raspberry goodness into our mouths.

In the meantime, I started on the lemon tofu cheesecake from CCC and the gingerbread apple pie from VwaV.  Unfortunately for me, I ended up having to sift brown sugar.  Packed brown sugar.  On the plus side, my lemon tofu cheesecake 
with pom glaze actually 
TURNED OUT this year.  The cheesecake was perfectly set, and the glaze was thin enough to be poured over the top of the cheesecake, but thick enough to stay put and not dribble off.  I
 was super duper amped.  see the photos at right of the lovely/amazing dessert pairing.

That night I got to work on one of my favorite "feed an army" dishes: lasagna.   I don't mean to toot my own horn, but my lasagna has won over omnis far and wide and can defy the laws of the stomach.  I feel the need to share this recipe with you as a result of that.  I make product reccs here, but I've used others with good results.  For me, it's just the magic combo.

Can't Believe It's Vegan Lasagna

Tofu Ricotta (modified from Angelica Home kitchen)
2 packages tofu
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 T to 4 T lemon juice
2 T to 1/3 c italian style herbs (think basil, oregano, thyme, sage)
2-4 cloves fresh garlic or 1-2 tsp garlic powder
1/2-1 tsp salt
few cranks of fresh black pepper

Put all ingredients into food processor and blend until no large chunks of tofu remain.

Bolognaise Sauce
1 and 1/2 jars Rao's tomato sauce (I like Rao's, I know it's really expensive but there is something abuot the flavor that speaks to me.  If you want to go cheaper, you can use 1 jar of premium sauce and 1 jar of regular sauce like prego, ragu, newman's...just make sure that one of your sauces is thinnish.  If you make your own, more power to ya, but I like this as a quick meal for when I suddenly have to feed 8-10 people.  Or myself, for a week and a half.)
1 package lightlife smart ground (yves is a good substitute but I find it has a slightly greasy aftertaste that reminds me of fatty beef, which I was not a fan of then and am not a fan of now.  The boca ground, to me, is pretty much inedible.  They tried way too hard to make it "meaty."  On another note, if you're trying to avoid processed soy, mushrooms, finely chopped and sauteed in a veggie broth will work well)
1-2 C chopped broccoli
1-2 C chopped spinach (either the broccoli or spinach can be replaced with your fav green leafies, left out or increased.)  

Set aside 1/2 jar (or about 3-4 C) tomato sauce.  Mix the rest with "meat" and veggie.

"Invent-a-cheesey melt"
1 block FYH Monterey Jack
1 block FYH Mozarella

Grate both blocks and mix together in a bowl.  Either fake cheese will work on its own, but I find the Mozarella is a little bland and the Jack is a little strong.  Mixed together, they give the affect of a combination of mozarella and parmasean.

ASSEMBLING THE LASAGNA:

Either boil your noodles or get your no-boil noodles ready for assembly.
Pour 1-2 cups plain tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9x12 pan, spread it around, then cover the bottom of the pan with noodles.  Spread about 1/3 of the tofu ricotta on the noodles.  Pour about 1/3 of the bolognaise sauce over the ricotta.  Take 1/4 of the shredded cheese over the sauce.  Make 2 more layers of noodle, then ricotta, then sauce then shredded cheese.  For the last layer, put your noodles down, dump the rest of the ricotta on top and down the sides of the lasagna, use your other pure tomato sauce, then sprinkle the top with cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil.  You can refridgerate overnight or stick in the freezer (but if you freeze, be sure to thaw for 4-6 hours before cooking) before baking.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 10.  The sauce should be bubbling, cheese on top at least making moves towards melting. 

And voila.  You'll have 12 servings of deliciousness.

In addition to the lasagna, I had some really beautiful local greens from my CSA
 program, including kale, mustard greens and collards.  I ripped them up and made some super garlicky greens.  I also found some very pretty shitake mushrooms and baby bellas to complete my wild mushroom gravy.  Every time I make wild mushroom gravy, I seem to buy too many mushrooms...but wouldn't you?  They're so good!

Lastly, I'll leave you with the finished picture, and a few close ups, as well as guests enjoying the food.
The spread, starting at the bottom center and going clockwise:
CCC wild mushroom gravy
CCC Seitan Steaks, pan fried
Garlicky mixed greens
Mashed potatoes
Anne Gomez's roasted root vegetables
Vegan Lasagna
Dairy mac and cheese (Wessie's a lacto veg)
Dairy Crescent Rolls
CCC Lemon Poppy Muffins
VwaV Raspberry Blondies
CCC Lemon Tofu Cheesecake with Pom Glaze
VwaV Gingerbread Apple Pie
VwaV chocolate cupcakes with injected peanut butter mousse and topped with chocolate buttercream 
Pumpkin Pie

As you can see, we kind of got into a couple of things before people started eating.  I also had to wear a sweatshirt while pan frying the seitan so as not to get oil spatter on my pretty new dress.  Someone needs to get me an apron.




























Unfortunately most of the other pictures of us hanging out and eating are a little blurry.  =(  I hope you all had great TGs!



1 comment:

Becks - Not a Rabbit. said...

It all looks absolutely wonderful! Happy New Year! >:o)