Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Staples

This year I didn't make anything super new or fancy for Thanksgiving.  I've kept it pretty low-key for my own sanity and also because I really just wanted the food that my family has always made for the holiday (veganized and gluten-freed, of course!).  I didn't even make a fake turkey or tofu or any "main dish".  Here's the menu for the 7 of us- I'll list the items and give you pictures first and then ramble on and on about a few of the dishes and give some recipes for those of you who are interested.  This might be the longest blog post ever.

Pickled beets, baby gherkin pickles, olives with herbs de provence

Cornbread Dressing
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Spinach Casserole
Marinated Portabello Mushrooms

Cranberry-Ginger Preserves
Caramelized Onion-Miso Gravy
Pumpkin Pie pie cracked open like the Grand Canyon.

Chocolate Bundt Cake

For me, stuffing/dressing is what really makes Thanksgiving... Thanksgiving.  I mean, family and gratitude are important, too.  But the dressing is really important!  My meemaw has always made cornbread dressing, so I just use a gluten free cornbread with her basic recipe, which I've gleaned from just watching her over the years.  The measurements aren't really so important here- That's the beauty of it!  Last year I promised that someday I'd give you the recipe, so here it is (too late for this year, though!):

Meemaw's Cornbread Dressing (veganized and gluten-freed)
In this batch, I used 1/2 cornbread and 1/2 store-bought GF bread that I had in my freezer for way too long.  So dig around in your freezer- maybe you have some, too.  Dressing is all about using up leftovers!  Otherwise, you can use a double batch of cornbread.  PS- Meemaw doesn't use chopped nuts in her dressing, but I really like it.

1 loaf of gluten free bread (I used Food for Life millet bread)
1 batch of Mary Frances' cornbread, cooled
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped and dry toasted
1 Tbsp. dried sage (at least)
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1 quart of vegetable broth (homemade or made from bouillon)

Start by toasting the gluten free bread.  Roughly chop the bread into cubes and then lay them on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 350, or until toasty and dry (This makes it ready to absorb the yummy broth you'll be dousing it in).  Throw your dry bread cubes in a 9x11 inch glass baking pan.  Crumble the entire batch of cornbread in to pan, too.  The pan will be very full with bread, but don't worry.  It condenses when you add the liquid and smash it down.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil until it ripples.  Then add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are lightly browned and mostly translucent.  Then add the celery and garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes or so.  Dump all the onions, garlic and celery into the pan with your bread.  Also add the chopped, toasted pecans, sage, poultry seasoning and salt.

Return the pan to the heat and then deglaze the pan with the quart of vegetable broth.  Be sure to scrape up all the delicious little bits of onion off the pan.  Then remove from heat.

Now use your hands to mix up the bread, cornbread, vegetables, herbs, nuts in the baking dish.  It might get messy!  When thoroughly combined, smash the dressing down with your palms.  Last, ladle broth over the dressing, cup by cup.  I used nearly the entire quart.  You want the dressing to be moist to the touch, but not floating in broth.

At this point, I usually refrigerate the dressing until the next day because I like to make this in advance.  But you could bake it right now.  Set the oven to 350F and bake, covered, for 40-50 minutes.

Another recipe that we ALWAYS have at Thanksgiving is Spinach Casserole.  Here people would call it "Spinach Hot Dish".  But that doesn't sound nearly as good to me.  Usually it calls for cottage cheese, Velveeta and eggs.  This adaptation is a little different from the original, but very close in texture and flavor.   The tofu takes the place of both the cottage cheese and the eggs.  The cashew cheese stands in for the Velveeta.  Some corn or tapioca starch replaces the little bit of wheat flour normally in there.  The kids chose this as their favorite dish out of everything I made!

Spinach Casserole (veganized and gluten-freed)
4 10-oz. bags of frozen organic spinach, thawed
1 batch of vegan cashew cheese (just whizzed in the food processor, not drained or baked)
1 lb. of firm tofu
1/2 cup Veganaise
2 Tbsp. cornstarch or tapioca starch

It's really important to get all the liquid out of the spinach after it thaws.  So wrap it up in a dishtowel and squeeze it like crazy.  Or press it in a strainer.  Just do something to get all the liquid out- You're not making spinach soup.

Add the tofu to the food processor and give it a whizz until it's all pureed together with the cashew cheese.  Taste it and add a little salt if it isn't delicious.  Then add the Veganaise and cornstarch and whizz it some more.  Then combine the spinach with the "cheese" and load it into a glass baking dish.  I used a 9x9 inch one and it worked well.  Bake covered for about 40 minutes and then put under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the top is browned.  You can also put this in a crockpot and let it cook on high for a couple hours.

For dessert, I was talked into making a Pumpkin Pie.  I hate pumpkin pie and always have.  That gelatinous texture just grosses me out.  And Mike didn't want pumpkin pie "with a twist" (a.k.a. chocolate added or made into cheesecake).  He wanted regular ol' pumpkin pie.  But gluten free and vegan.  Now gluten-free pie crust has been my nemesis.  I've been okay with using GF cookie crumbs for a crust, but have never really made a traditional pie crust that worked.  Thankfully, the Gluten-Free Girl posted a pie crust recipe just a couple days ago.  So I tried that one...sort of.

After making up the dough I realized that I not only intentionally subbed different flours for nearly every one she called for and used egg replacer, but I also left out a main flour ingredient- the almond flour.  Just left it out.  Or at least I think I did.  I'm not completely sure, though, because I was watching a House MD marathon while baking, so maybe I subbed another flour and don't remember.   Somehow, the dough still looked great and rolled out very nicely, though!  I didn't make 2 crusts with it like I was supposed to because I used a large Springform pan to bake my pie.  Because I lost both my pie pans a few years ago and never bothered to replace them.  And also because Alton Brown says that he always uses Springform pans or tart pans for all his pies.

Anyways, the crust worked great and I filled it with this pumpkin pie filling because I liked that it was called pumpkin pie but used a whole container of cream cheese.  So then I could techically make the plain ol' pumpkin pie Mike wanted, but still get something a little different from that dreaded gelatinous orange stuff.

Just in case the pumpkin pie sucked, I made a cake.  My mom's chocolate bundt cake rocks the whole world because it has chocolate chips in it.  So I made the "Lower Fat Deep Chocolate Bundt Cake" from Veganomicon and just subbed 1 1/3 cup millet flour, 2/3 cup tapioca starch, and 1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum for the 2 cups of flour in the recipe.  The only other change I made was that I made was to add about a cup of chocolate chips to the batter and then to bake it about 10 more minutes than called for in the recipe.  Yum!!!

And for the record, I thoroughly enjoyed both the pumpkin pie and chocolate cake.  I can't say I hate pumpkin pie anymore.


Catherine said...

YUM! Everything looks incredible!

I'm so sad -- there was NO pumpkin pie at my Thanksgiving! I LOVE it! Rats. Now I must go make one.

Anonymous said...

Oh my...everything looks SO good! Especially those Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes--they are making my mouth water :-) Do you have a recipe for the onion-miso gravy that you could share?


Lorraine said...

So what do you use in place of the eggs in Pumpkin pie? Why not just bake hubby a traditional pie? What did you serve for a protein if not turkey?
I made a gluten free angel-food cake once. believe me oat flour pops all the harangue bubbles (I also used potato flour and cornstarch... I should have used potato flour, rice flour and cornstarch. I had a very low cake.
I am not vegan though. I just was trying out for an Angel-food cake cooking contest. I never entered it though.

Lorraine said...

I meant to say meringue but I chose the wrong word from spell checker.. oops! haw haw

Dani said...

I love your blog btw :-) Your meal looks perfect, I always prefer the traditional dishes, just veganized (is that a word?!) and that chocolate cake, *drools*

mfg said...

i tried to make the spinach casserole but the link for the cashew cheese is broken. i found another one and the cheese is good, but i dont know how much "one batch" is relative to your recipe. could you fix the link (currently the cheese points to the cornbread)?

Liz said...

Thanks for letting me know, mfg! Should be all fixed now.

mfg said...

thanks so much; the recipe i found yielded about 3 cups; i guess the ratio would have been way off since this one yields about 1 1/4 :) thanks again