There is no meal in America as ritualistic as Thanksgiving, with family and friends pretty much expecting the same dishes year after year, and with turkey in the spotlight. I’ve eaten a fair amount of turkey in my lifetime, and to tell the truth, I sometimes enjoy it still. But in Palo Alto at our Monday Night Dinners, for 24 years we’ve been creating another tradition. In our new tradition, we enjoy the hearty flavors of the season, but the turkey lives to enjoy another day. Some hundred people joined us for our Thanksgiving celebration Monday night, a meal satisfying enough, I doubt if any of them missed the old bird. Our meal centered on a croquette made of short grain rice, wild rice, pecans and tempeh and served with a roasted mushroom gravy. Side dishes included cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans with slivered almonds, mixed green salad with pear vinaigrette and cornbread. We began with a French-inspired onion soup and concluded with pumpkin pie topped with tofu cream. What’s not to like about that? After the jump, I describe the dishes in more detail and give links to recipes. Tomorrow, I’ll post a behind-the-scenes look at how the four of us who worked in the kitchen put this meal together. As for me, I’m grateful that I’m able to do what I love: cook beautiful food for people. I hope your Thanksgiving is as meaningful as mine already has been!
Menu–24th Monday Night Dinner Thanksgiving Celebration: French Onion Soup, Cornbread, Wild Rice-Pecan-Tempeh Croquettes with Creamy Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce with Candied Kumquats, Green Beans with Toasted Almonds, Mixed Green Salad with Pear Vinaigrette, Pumpkin Pie with Tofu Cream.
French Onion Soup–I’ve not yet posted a recipe for this, but I promise to shortly.
Cornbread recipe–as posted, but to give it a Thanksgiving twist, I added a bit of fresh sage and green onion, both of which I sliced fine and sautéed in a little olive oil and seasoned with a few drops of soy sauce, umeboshi vinegar and salt.
Wild Rice Croquettes with Mushroom Gravy–refer to the posted recipes but leave out the seitan and add a cup of diced tempeh to the vegetable mixture when you sauté, and 3/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans when you mix everything together.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes–You don’t need a recipe. First roast the sweet potatoes whole in a 425˚ F oven one hour to one hour and ten minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft. Peel and mash, adding melted Earth Balance (a trans fat-free non dairy butter), and salt and pepper to taste.
Cranberry Sauce with Candied Kumquats–follow the recipe, but leave out the apples or pears. Instead, use about a dozen kumquats, thinly sliced. Cook these in 3 tablespoons maple syrup over low heat 10 minutes or so, or until the kumquats are glazed and have absorbed most of the syrup. Stir into the cooked cranberries.
Green Beans with Toasted Almonds–Wash and trim off the stem ends of the beans. Bring a generous pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt. Once the water is rapidly boiling, toss in the green beans (allow 12-15 beans per serving). Stand by the pot and watch. Green beans can so easily over cook. If young and tender, they may take only a minute or two, and they’re unlikely to take longer than four or five minutes. I just hate, limp, soggy, off-color green beans, and you should too! We seasoned ours with just a very little salt, soy sauce, umeboshi vinegar and olive oil (go very light on the oil). Toss with toasted and slivered almonds.
Mixed Green Salad with Pear Vinaigrette–Use whatever mix of greens you prefer. James Holloway made a dressing by blending fresh pears with other ingredients. Use recipes for his favorite salad dressings as a guide.
Pumpkin Pie with Tofu Cream–substitute roasted and puréed butternut squash for the sweet potatoes in my sweet potato pie recipe. You may want to add a smidge more sweetener because squash are usually not as sweet as sweet potatoes. In my pies on Monday, the filling was 70% butternut squash and 30% garnet yams (which are actually a variety of sweet potato). The secret to making rich vegan tofu cream, is to add coconut cream (the thick part only, of coconut milk) to the tofu when puréeing. Works every time! Yesterday I used Morinu silken firm tofu (in aseptic packages)–it purées thick, smooth and creamy. Just what you want.