Monday, November 28, 2016

Something New for Thanksgiving!

After many years of huge family gatherings for Thanksgiving, this year we found ourselves in totally new territory: just 4 family members! My dad is over in China doing some astronomy work, my brother and his gal went up to Portland, neither of my aunts are in town... and it was just me, Mr. VE&T, my mom, and my nephew! As long as it's not what it once was, why not embrace something completely new?

So, this year, our mini family gang combined Gratitude Forces with my super special friends Sophia & Kendra and a couple of their friends for a wonderful feast and evening together! I've had several fancy vegan Thanksgiving dishes that I've been wanting to make for a few years now... but with no one besides me to eat them, it hardly seemed like a good use of my time and energy. This year we had 2 vegans and 2 more vegetarians, and pretty much everyone else was a vegan food enthusiast! I seized the moment! 

a giant baking sheet covered with marinated & roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts Sliders (recipe from NY Times

I've had this recipe for Brussels Sprouts Sliders bookmarked since last year - it was a bit time consuming, but not at all difficult. The Brussels and tempeh are marinated in a pretty spicy marinade, however the end result isn't spicy at all - just well spiced. These are like cute little burgers with buns made of roasted brussels, and with super delicious caramelized onions and marinated & roasted tempeh. I read the comments and most people suggested doubling the marinade, which I did - and I was glad.

Two of our beloved friend guests are gluten-free - and it was only after I finished roasting the tempeh that I realized that Trader Joes' tempeh has barley in it and isn't gluten-free! Damn! So, I made a quick batch of soy curls, using the same seasoning as the recipe called for. You can tell which sliders are made with gf soy curls because they have the rainbow flag toothpicks!

Spinach Florentine Casserole, from Vegan Casseroles

I just love Julie Hasson's cookbook Vegan Casseroles, and I really love this recipe for Spinach Florentine Casserole. It's like a super great sophisticated spin on vegan mac n cheese: rich and creamy, with a dash of sherry and a touch of nutmeg. I haven't had this dish for a while, but I remembered why I love it so much. Wintertime is the perfect time to cook more casseroles! 

Giant Salad!

I love the palette-cleansing quality of a good green salad, in the midst of a rich and hearty Thanksgiving meal - so I made a ginormous salad full of super fresh goodies from the farmers market. Of course I called my mom and asked if she would make the salad dressing though, because my mom makes the world's best salad dressing. As I was taking this picture, trying to capture the last rays of daylight, little Yummers Potatoes got pretty excited about "his" giant bowl of veggies - I had to hurry up and take that picture! ha ha. Little veggie lover!

Yummers' fantasy! 

My Pride and Joy!

Here's my piece de resistance ~ The Vegetables Wellington from My friend Gabrielle told me about this recipe a couple of years ago, and I've been wanting to tackle it ever since. This is a super fun Big Project that takes a long time to make, is pretty complicated, and has lots of steps. I read through all the comments, which was pretty helpful -- even though many different opinions are expressed! ha ha. I got started a couple days before thanksgiving and made all the components ahead of time. On Thanksgiving Day, I just had to assemble it and bake it! Honestly, I think you could definitely simplify the recipe in many ways, and still end up with something pretty fantastic. 
very pleased with myself! 

Here are the parts:
*An inside roll of cashew-roasted white bean mixture with mushrooms and sunflower seeds
*Wrapped in phyllo, and then rolled inside a layer Mushroom Duxelles with roasted carrots
*Wrapped in phyllo, and rolled in a layer again of the cashew-bean mixture
*Whole thing wrapped in phyllo! 

A second mini-loaf, gluten free!

In this whole recipe, chock full of umami and nuts and millions of mushrooms - there were only two elements that weren't gluten-free: panko bread crumbs, and the phyllo dough. I wanted to figure out a way to make this special fancy dish gluten-free for my gluten-freebie friends... so, I thought of yuba! I made some yuba sheets (used the recipe from The Homemade Vegan Pantry) - and made a mini wellington using the yuba. The panko was easy to replace with gf panko.

an inside shot of my yuba wellington

One thing about this recipe is that it makes a metric ton of food. The end result was just huge. For my mini gluten-free loaf, I made a 1/4 recipe and this wasn't hard to do. If you're just feeding a couple people - I think halving or quartering the recipe is the way to go! 

For the yuba Wellington, I oiled and roasted each "layer" briefly in the toaster oven, to help each inner layer have a good crispy crackle. I was so happy with how it turned out - and so was my GF pal! 

inside shot 

The whole creation was positively huge - which I am all for! This way, we had plenty for leftovers. Woot! I love how beautiful it looks when you slice into it! It was super delicious, full of excellent textures, rich but not over-bearing, and felt special and festive. I'm so glad I finally had a chance to tackle such a special kitchen project! 

A festive feast! 

I forgot to take nice pictures of the dishes everyone else brought (what a cad!) - but they're captured here: a lovely lentil loaf, green salad, the Wellington, green beans with lemon and slivered almonds, stuffing (one of my favorite foods of all time!), perfect mashed potatoes and gravy, and the pasta casserole. I ate *almost* all of this! Ha ha ha.

The food was all so good - my friend Sophia is some kind of gravy genius! Plus, my mom made her amazing cranberry sauce - it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it! 

look at those cracks! 

We are all committed Dessert Enthusiasts, so we had three desserts! I was in charge of pumpkin pie - and I made a full sized pie with traditional crust and a half sized pie with a gf crust. I always use the recipe from Voluptuous Vegan (it's the same recipe that Isa has on her website here). I bought this half-sized pie dish almost 2 years ago, and I think this was my first time finally using it! I think half-pies are cute and kinda perfect-sized. 

My GF crust turned out really well. I used the recipe for a GF crust from Pies & Tarts with Heart, and I used a homemade GF flour mix, based on the ingredients in Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1. Even though I enjoy eating gluten, I also really enjoy baking gluten free treats for my GF friends. 

I love the texture and flavor of this recipe so much, but I got such big cracks in my pie! Does anyone know why that happened, or if there's a way to avoid it next time? Overall, I don't suppose it matters - but it would look prettier without the cracks! 

plate of delicious desserts

Yum zone!  Max made an apple pie, which Mr VE&T and I both agreed was possibly the best apple pie we'd ever had! It was so full of apples and his crust was amazing! I was feeling pretty pleased with my crust on the pumpkin pie, until I tried his crust! I will have to learn at the feet of his crust mastery. Sophia made a big batch of the Pecan Pie Truffles - one of my favorite recipes ever! She's quite clever though, and she figured out that she could make them in bar form instead of dealing with rolling them in balls and all that. And of course they're just as yummy this way! 

It was so fun and amazing to have such a huge VEGAN spread of holiday fare! My mom did actually make "the dish which shall not be named" (her words! ha ha!) - but it was relocated out into the kitchen and wasn't the centerpiece of the evening. After 29 years of celebrating Thanksgiving as a vegetarian/vegan, this was my first time having that experience. 

There's definitely a big part of my heart that misses the huge family gatherings of yesteryear, but it was fun and refreshing to embrace a whole new experience and menu! 


  1. What an awesome spread! We have a tiny gathering too. Just 5 people this year, but I love how that means ALL THE LEFTOVERS for me (my parents aren't as in to the leftovers as I am). Your roast is just gorgeous!! And those mini Brussels BLTs (WOW!!!). Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Your meal looks fancy-pants and wonderful. I especially like the letters on your pie. My pie was tasty but I still need work on my crust rolling technique.

    Unfortunately, my fancy entree was a total flop. My seitan roast was like a hard rock and pretty much inedible (except the doggies liked the taste of the seitan "bones" we shared with them). Fortunately, there was a lot of other food available so there were no hungry guests.

  3. I love the idea of using yuba as a casing — brilliant! I made the same pie and it had the same cracks. I think pumpkin pie is supposed to have cracks, but I was thinking my filling was maybe a little too thick, and that's why the cracks were bigger than usual. It sure tasted great, though!

  4. What a gorgeous feast!

  5. What a wonderful spread! I am impressed by the roll your made, though I think I would be stealing some of the gluten free one because I love yuba! That was a really clever sub you made.

  6. Those roasts look amazing! And the Brussels sprout sliders are brilliant! It looks like a wonderful meal and day!! And I agree, using the yuba is so great!

  7. Happy belated Thanksgiving! I'm so happy to see that those pecan pie truffles are still getting some love on your menu. :)

    As for the pie, I think that has to do with the filling being too thick/dry combined with the oven being too hot? You might try putting a dish of plain water in alongside it next time to add a bit more humidity into the environment without going for a full-on water bath, which might interfere with crust browning.

    1. oh yeah Hannah i am forever obsessed with those :-)

  8. wow!!! this all looks amazing!

  9. Wow wow wow.... that is so cool!! Anytime someone says vegan cooking can't be creative and impressive I will show them this. :)

  10. All of that looks amazing! I'm so happy your fancy roast tasted great! I don't know if I would have had the courage to put so much effort into a dish in the hopes that it would be awesome, so congrats to you!!! Your pie is beautiful even with the cracks! But I remember from Vegan Pie In The Sky, you place another pie dish of water directly underneath the pie, on the oven rack beneath the pie. It has been working for me for years :) I would love to have an all-vegan thanksgiving! Once I made all the food for thanksgiving vegan, but my parents cooked a turkey anyway :/. Close enough!

  11. Oh my goodness, there's too much amazingness in this post! The fancy roasts look so perfect, I love the idea of using yuba, and the little sliders are so cute... who'd have thought tempeh could be gluten-ful though. So weird! Your dessert plate looks super perfect too, I have no helpful tips about the pie cracks because I've never made (or even eaten!!) pumpkin pie, but I totally need this "best ever" apple pie recipe!


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