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Vegan Thanksgiving: A pro’s menu. November 15, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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What does a vegan Thanksgiving menu look like? Silence Dogood here. I don’t know about you, but when someone says “Vegan Thanksgiving,” the image that always comes to mind is a revolting Tofurky with an edamame appetizer. (Mind you, I’ve never tried Tofurky, since I don’t do pseudomeat; maybe it’s delicious.)

So I was thrilled to read in our local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call, that Chef Wendy Landiak was providing a Thanksgiving feast for vegans and the parents/friends/etc. of vegans who had no clue what to cook them. Chef Wendy is locally renowned for her pop-up vegan restaurant, Balasia (www.balasia.net, www.thehoneyunderground.com). Since the article didn’t say what she’d be serving, I Googled the menu and here’s what I found:

Lucky vegans who chose to go with Chef Wendy’s pick-up dinner (or whose families had pity on them and ordered one) would be treated to their choice of homemade seitan with baby bella mushroom gravy (seitan is “wheat meat”), coriander mustard baked tofu, or seasonal vegetable-stuffed pumpkin. (No Tofurky!) The entree would be accompanied by homemade whole-grain bread with rosemary and garlic, parsley and garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup with ginger, homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest, roasted sweet potatoes with caramelized walnuts, and roasted vegetables with soy butter and herbs. For dessert, you can choose from three pumpkin-themed specialties: pie, cake, or cheesecake.

At $45 a person, this is obviously not your all-you-can-eat-for-$16.99 Thanksgiving buffet. But Chef Wendy’s reputation is stellar, so you know you’ll be getting fresh, local, seasonal, from-scratch fare. Should you wish to take advantage of Chef Wendy’s talents, and assuming you live close enough to pick up your order in scenic Hereford, PA from noon to 6 p.m. this coming Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, you can place your order at 484-330-6405 or by e-mail at yogawithwendy@yahoo.com. But you must order today, November 15. Last call!

For the rest of us, I enjoyed perusing the menu options and hope you did, too. Food for thought! Chef Wendy’s choices are a far cry from my own Thanksgiving meal: endive boats and curried pumpkin soup; a huge, hearty salad and hot rolls; my famous crunchy baked dressing, cranberry sauce with marmalade and Grand Marnier, corn pudding, winter slaw, green beans amondine, and roasted winter veggies (sweet potatoes, sweet onions, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts). Followed by pumpkin roll, pecan pie, bourbon-pecan fudge, and marbled pumpkin cheesecake.

Needless to say, there’s always plenty of food left over, which provides a fun challenge of its own. I like to make creamy pasta to serve with the leftovers through the weekend. The curried pumpkin soup makes a great lunch served with the slaw and hot-from-the-oven cornbread. And the roasted winter veggies are yummy over rice, assuming you have any leftover roasted veggies (we never do). Our friend Ben, our resident sweet tooth, complains vigorously about an excess of desserts, but seems strangely reluctant when I suggest sharing leftovers with neighbors and friends.

Point being, whether you’re an omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan, it’s fun to think through the Thanksgiving menu and try something new each year. It may or may not make it onto the must-have list for following years, but it will probably be good, and provide a talking point for your guests. My easy endive boat appetizers are a case in point, so simple to prepare, so quickly gobbled up by guests (warning: not vegan): Buy a couple of Belgian endive heads, cut off the base and separate the leaves (wash and dry them, please). Fill each leaf (the “endive boat”) with a mixture of crumbled pecans, dried cranberries (aka “craisins”), crumbled blue or feta cheese or a combination, and fresh-cracked black pepper. Serve. Watch guests fight over the last ones.

What do you like to serve for Thanksgiving?

                 ‘Til next time,

                             Silence

Talking turkey. November 9, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Or not. Silence Dogood here. We have friends—Joy, Cole, Candyce, Edith, Rob—who think Hallowe’en is the greatest holiday of the year. Our friend Ben’s brother thinks Easter is the year’s premier holiday. But here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, Christmas and its family traditions rule, except when it comes to food. As far as food is concerned, the annual Thanksgiving feast—our celebration of the abundance of Harvest Home—reigns supreme.

Mind you, I’m a vegetarian, so no actual turkey makes an appearance on our Thanksgiving table, nor do the luscious turkey sandwiches and creamed turkey on toast I recall fondly from my childhood make a post-Thanksgiving appearance. But that’s not to say you can’t sub the Butterball for my main-dish entrees recommended below. If you follow my lead, you’ll have a spectacular Thanksgiving dinner, with or without the big bird.

I love planning the Thanksgiving meal, as well as seasonal harvest dishes after the Thanksgiving leftovers have been enjoyed. And I have lots and lots of special seasonal recipes to share with all of you. So this year, I’m opening the floor to requests. Let me know which recipes you want, and I’ll publish them here at Poor Richard’s Almanac on the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Since I’ll be travelling this weekend for my father’s birthday and won’t be home ’til Monday evening (don’t worry, I’ve made tons of reheatable dishes for OFB), I’ll definitely be facing a Thanksgiving cooking crunch come Tuesday, and will be posting a make-ahead schedule for the rest of you who don’t want to risk heart attack or stroke from pressure on the big day.

Meanwhile, here are the options for a Silence Dogood blowout Thanksgiving meal. Vote for your favorites, and let me know which recipes you’d like to have! And needless to say, please vary your courses. If you choose the curried pumpkin or winter squash soup as an appetizer, don’t make sweet potatoes or the potato and winter squash casserole. If you make the luscious Endive Boats as an appetizer, don’t make the Green Apple Salad with Endive and Radicchio. No repetition!

So, everyone, place your votes and request recipes at will! I’ll be only too happy to serve them up.

              ‘Til next time,

                          Silence

THANKSGIVING MENU

Appetizers (choose 1):

Endive Boats

Curried Pumpkin Soup or Chaz’s Winter Squash Soup

Cranberry-Cream Cheese Rangoons

Martha Stewart’s Cheese Balls Three Ways

Salad Course: (choose 1):

Coleslaw with Cilantro and Scallions

 Aunt Debbi’s Coleslaw

Silence’s Quick Colseslaw

Bibb-and-Radish Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Green Apple Salad with Endive and Radicchio

Pear and Frisee Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Garlicky Caesar Salad

Delilah’s Lentil and Apple Salad

Lively Lentil Salad

Sides (choose 5):

Silence’s Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

Silence’s Amazing Cranberry Dressing

Toasted Sweet Corn Pudding

Amy Good’s Broccoli Saute

Cat Cora’s Brussels Sprouts

Silence’s Super Squash Casserole

Landis Store’s Sweet Potato Souffle

Sauteed Chiffonaded Brussels Sprouts, Corn and Sweet Onion

Dinner Rolls

Mashed Potatoes (OFB always insists on these)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Onions and Mushrooms

Stuffed Roasted Portabella Caps

Green Beans Amondine

Main Dish (choose 1):

Potatoes and Winter Squash Casserole with Gruyere Cheese

Delilah’s Crock Pot Mac’N’Cheese

Baked Curried Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

Jen’s Mushroom Carbonara

Easy Pesto Pasta

Super-Simple Creamy Pasta 

Apres-Feast (choose 1 or 2):

Coffee

Black tea

Herb tea (preferably a digestive like peppermint. chamomile or fennel)

Tawny Port

Hot apple cider spiked with dark rum (Gosling is our favorite), cinnamon, and cloves

Cold Hard Cider

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pecan Pie

Baklava

Fruit and Cheese Tray

Dark Chocolate Confections

Glaceed Apricots

Apricots or Ginger Dipped in Dark Chocolate

Medjool Dates

Pomegranates

There you have it! Cast your votes!

The Thanksgiving menu. November 19, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, and it’s not a minute too soon to start thinking about the menu, making your shopping list, and creating a timeline so everything’s done in time and ready for the table.

I’m vegetarian, so our groaning board will be missing that traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece, the turkey. But after Christmas, Thanksgiving—the celebration of another bounteous year, a reminder to give thanks for our many blessings, the culmination of Harvest Home—is my favorite holiday, so I want to make sure we and our guests have plenty of good food to eat. Here’s what I plan to serve this year:

Appetizers

endive boats (stuffed with gorgonzola and feta cheese, cranberries, and pecans)

poblano poppers (cored, halved poblano chiles stuffed with cream cheese and shredded Mexican cheese blend)

Salads

hearty tossed salad (endive, radicchio, romaine, escarole, arugula, kale, mustard greens, tons of chopped veggies, Spanish onion and scallions, olives, and cheeses, choice of dressings)

coleslaw (shredded green and purple cabbage, shredded carrots, diced sweet onion, diced Granny Smith apples, crumbled blue cheese, caraway and/or cracked fennel seed, black mustardseed, cracked black pepper, vinaigrette)

Delilah’s lentil-apple salad

Soup

curried pumpkin soup

Main Course

cranberry sauce

summer squash casserole

cranberry dressing

potato and winter squash casserole with Gruyere cheese, or mashed potatoes

roasted sliced sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and sweet onion

green beans

corn pudding

Desserts

sour cherry pie

pumpkin cheesecake bars

pecan pie

Okay, even with guests, this is a ton of food. But the great thing about Thanksgiving food is that it keeps so well! Even after we send food home for guests, we’ll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy for at least a week. Hallelujah!

I’ll be sharing some recipes for this meal with you as we get closer to Thanksgiving. They’re too good not to try!

And please, share your Thanksgiving menu with us. We’d love to know what you’re having!

                   ‘Til next time,

                             Silence

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