Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Planning

We'll be joining a larger, extended family table for this year's holiday. And it means I'm asking myself:  what to bring?

I haven't yet found specific menu items that my husband and daughter and I can call "our" traditional Thanksgiving meal, so I'm not sure what we must have next week. But here are some of my initial considerations (all are in the running for being my contribution to this year's celebration):


From Dreena Burton's Vive le Vegan!
Cannellini Bean Yam Hummus  (Click HERE for my previous recipe review)

From Betty Crocker's Dinner in a Dish
Party Sandwich Loaf
(cream cheese frosted loaf of white bread, with three savory fillings)


From Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure
Holiday Vegetable Salad   (Click HERE for recipe on Google Books)
Per Anna, this is the "greatest of all composed salads."
(mushrooms, potatoes, apples, dill pickles, eggs, peas, carrots, pickled onions, chopped onion, vinegar, homemade mayonnaise, garnishes)

From SusanV's Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blog
The Best Vegan Green Bean Casserole (Click HERE for recipe)

From Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
Traditional Cranberry Sauce
Per Dreena, "You'll never buy another store-bought cranberry sauce after you've tasted this one."
(fresh cranberries, maple syrup, sea salt, vinegar)


From Betty Crocker's Hostess Cookbook
Baked Alaska Pumpkin Pie
"[P]ostpone this spectacular dessert until evening. Such a pumpkin pie deserves its own show...and a hungry audience!"
(Butter Brickle ice cream in a pie crust, covered with brown sugar meringue)

From Simply Vegetarian!
Orange-Pumpkin Pudding
(cooked & mashed pumpkin, eggs, honey, spices, topped with whipped cream)

Upside-Down Plum Cake
(whole wheat cake, sweetened with honey, topped with plums and elderberry jam)

And what are you planning for Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Baked Turnip Surprise

I picked-up an amazing cookbook at a garage sale early this fall:

The "Best-of-All" Cook Book
compiled and edited by Florence Brobeck
published 1960

At first it seemed like a boring, cheater cookbook. Ms. Brobeck has simply gathered recipes from never-before-heard-from, totally random cookbooks that had themselves been complied by someone. I mean, recipes from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book by the Foods Editors of Better Homes and Gardens? Or the cookbook Who Says We Can't Cook! by Members of the Women's National Press Club? Or how about The A.B.C. of Spice Cookery and How To Use Spices, both by the American Spice Trade Association? I mean... really. How good could this cookbook actually be?

The answer:  Amazingly, wonderfully good.

I've rarely enjoyed reading a cookbook as much as I enjoyed reading The "Best-of-All" (and I've read a lot of cookbooks. What I lack in the desire to cook I totally make up for in lazy couch sitting and the paging through recipes).

The variety of dishes is vast (which is as you'd expect it, since Brobeck has sampled recipes from over one hundred different cookbooks) and thus incredibly interesting. And even the recipes promoting the original compilers' product (Fun with Coffee from the Pan-American Coffee Bureau, anyone?) first just made me giggle because I was reminded of Anne of Green Gables' romantic short story (about baking power, wasn't it?) and secondly it ended-up striking me as crazy-obvious that of course the group that promotes an ingredient is going to know a lot about said ingredient and it follows that one might want to listen to the experts when they share their ideas.

So, what exciting recipe did I try from the super-exciting cookbook? Baked Turnips! Of course.

But by this time (a long-winded post, I know. Get on with it, woman!) you're wondering what the surprise is, right?

Well, I was slicing up turnips yesterday for the recipe when, as it would turn out, it dawned on me that my "turnips" were actually beets.

Wouldn't you say these are turnips? 

Now, I cannot totally confirm this. I've looked through the CSA website and I've Googled turnips and beets and also tried rutabagas and even double-checked daikon radishes, but I have yet to see a picture of the root vegetables that I found myself cooking last night. (BTW, have you ever researched the different types of beets, turnips and rutabagas? Millions of different kinds. Or at least ten. I've lived such a sheltered life.) In the end, I must admit I have no idea what I actually brought home from the CSA.

But then look! Crazy insides!

It's so confusing.

Maybe this meal should be call Baked Turnip Confusion.

Well, no matter what name you slap on it, the dish was delightful. May I introduce:

Baked Turnips? Beets? Rutabagas? 
Anonymous Root Vegetable 
(with White & Purple & Green Outsides 
and Red & White Insides)

originally from 
The Gentle Art of Cookery 
by Mrs. C. F. Leyel and Miss Olga Hartley

6 small white turnips [or whatever]
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese [I used Swiss*]
Ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper
1 cup milk or thin white sauce
3 Tbls bread crumbs
1 Tbls butter

Start oven at moderate (350 degrees F). Butter 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Scrub turnips [or whatever], rinse, drain, and pare. Slice thinly into greased dish in alternate layers with cheese; season each layer of turnips [or whatever] lightly with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add little cayenne to top layer, pour milk or white sauce over contents of dish, sprinkle top with crumbs, dot with butter. Bake in moderate oven 35 minutes, or until turnips [or whatever] are done. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*As a rule, I hate Swiss cheese. But yesterday my fridge was full of it (weird story) and figured I'd like it better cooked in a dish, flavors mingling, than by itself on crackers where it's nasty dry bitter taste is overpowering and chokes out your will to live. And I was right! Baked with whatever-they-were, the Swiss cheese tasted great. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Squash Soup (two variations)

After receiving a windfall of veggies today I knew it was time to get cookin'! I decided to focus on the butternut squash, and I picked up my copy of Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World; paging through, this recipe caught my eye. Though its name calls for pumpkin, the ingredient list allows for butternut squash as well.

Moroccan Pumpkin Soup

from Olive Trees and Honey by Gil Marks

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 leeks (white & light green parts only) or 2 onions, chopped
8 cups vegetable stock or water
2 to 3 lbs pumpkin, butternut squash, or other winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (5-6 cups)
3 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 cup dried yellow split peas
2 carrots, cut into chunks (optional)
1 to 4 Tbls packed brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground tumeric or saffron thread
1/8 tsp ground allspice or freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste
parsley or cilantro or toasted pumpkin seeds or sauteed mushrooms

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until soft, about 5 mins. Add the stock, pumpkin, chickpeas, optional carrots, sugar, spices, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the pumpkin is very soft, about 50 mins. Discard the cinnamon sticks.

2. To serve, garnish with parsley or pumpkin seeds, or top each bowl with a little mount of sauteed mushrooms.


Fiery Pumpkin Soup

Make the recipe above but omit the cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Add, with the onion, 1 minced clove garlic and 1 minced small hot green chili or Scotch bonnet chili, or add about 1 tsp cayenne and 1/2 tsp ground cumin with the pumpkin.

I had one Georgia Flame pepper and wanted to make the spicy option, but because my toddler doesn't always enjoy spicy foods I decided to make the basic recipe as well. I divided the onions, squash, carrots, lentils and liquid between two pots and added the sweet spices to one pot, garlic and the diced pepper to the other.

Extremely Delish! Would be a great dinner for company this autumn. Serve with green salad and hearty bread with butter.