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18 November 2001 Issue
Appeteasing Thanksgiving Recipes

by Robert Cohen - i4crob@earthlink.net
http://www.notmilk.com 

Each time I write a column, I get dozens of replies and comments from readers. Never before has there been such a response to a column, and the hundreds of you who have written to me are requesting one thing:

RECIPES

Last Sunday, I prepared the mother-of-all vegan feasts for 130 very hungry Rochester area vegetarians. I will do my best to share a few of those recipes with you, just in time for Thanksgiving. In each case, the recipe will be enough for eight people. Let there be leftovers! Here are six of the dishes I prepared:

Marinated Mushrooms
Cranberry Nut Relish
Vichyssoise
Mashed Potatoes w/Roasted Garlic & Red Onions
Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup
Lemon Eggplant

When I go to the market, I rarely know what I am going to make for dinner. My meals are opportunistic, meaning that I buy the freshest raw ingredients, and spread them before me when cooking. I then merge colors and tastes into dishes.

I sometimes go to 3 or 4 different markets for provisions.

First stop is at my local Oriental market. We have an enormous store (in River Edge, NJ) that combines Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fruits, vegetables, and canned goods. There are dozens of variations of exotic Chinese vegetables to select from.

Here is where I buy my baby bok choy. I also pick up a vegan version of oyster sauce and a jar of fermented black beans in garlic paste. There is a brand of cold-pressed sesame oil that I can find nowhere else and dozens of brands of naturally fermented soy sauces and tamari.

I then head to the Korean grocer whose store (on Rt. 17 South in Rutherford, NJ) does such tremendous volume that there are always the freshest fruits and vegetables at their prime (in contrast to supermarket veggies that are often stored for a few days or a week or longer).

MARINATED MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

2 12-oz. packages mushrooms
1 lemon
Progresso Red Wine Vinegar
Salt, pepper, basil, oregano to taste
3 cloves finely minced garlic

Method

Empty mushrooms into large bowl with enough water to cover. Soak for about 30 seconds, turning until dirt and fertilizer are removed. Rinse mushrooms.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes and drain. (The liquid can be stored for later use as a starter for a rich veggie bouillon). Put mushrooms into bowl and add 1 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tbl. fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs to taste. Let marinated mushrooms sit in refrigerator so that all the flavors merge.

CRANBERRY NUT RELISH

Ingredients

2 bags raw cranberries
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
¾ cup raw whole cashews
¾ cup raw whole walnuts

Method

Mix sugar and water well and bring to a boil in a 5-quart pot. When mixture boils, add cranberries and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. When cranberries begin to burst, remove from heat, stir in nuts (they will soften from the heat to the most remarkable texture). Pour relish into your fanciest serving dish and refrigerate.

VICCHYSOISSE

Ingredients

2 quarts homemade soymilk (you can reconstitute
soymilk from unflavored soymilk powder)
4 medium size potatoes
1 medium size leek
6-8 vegetarian bouillon cubes (to taste)

Method

Bring soymilk to boil in 5-quart soup pot. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/8" thin slices. Cut leek in half lengthwise and wash each piece well (leeks are grown in sand so they must be carefully cleaned). Finely dice leeks. Add potatoes and leeks to boiling soymilk and cook until potatoes are soft. Add bouillon cubes. Remove from heat and puree in a blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning by adding salt and freshly ground pepper. Can be served hot or cold.

TWO POTATO DISHES

The white potatoes and sweet potatoes are cooked at the same time – you'll see why.

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap 8 large baking potatoes and 3 large sweet potatoes individually in aluminum foil. Bake for 90 minutes. Test the potatoes for doneness by inserting a fork or knife (they will be soft to the touch).

Unwrap and remove skin from sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Mash with maple syrup to taste (½ cup or more) and mix well. Set aside.

Remove aluminum foil and slice baked white potatoes in half. Scoop out the white part of potato, taking care not to break the shells. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the empty shells.

Sauté 5 cloves of whole peeled garlic and one medium chopped red onion in one stick of soy-based margarine until the onions and garlic begin to caramelize (turn brown). Mash garlic and onion mixture into the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat both potato dishes before serving.

LEMON EGGPLANT

This dish is unique! It is guaranteed to become one of your favorite recipes. Any liquid can be used to flavor eggplant. For this dish I chose lemon sauce. You can substitute equal amounts of marinara sauce of fermented black bean with garlic sauce, etc. There are a thousands of variations.

Ingredients

two large Eggplants
three cups of flour
four cups of breadcrumbs
oil for frying
6-8 veggie bouillon cubes
3 cups of water
1 cup of white wine
lemon

Method

First cook the lemon sauce. Add 6-8 bouillon cubes (to taste) to 3 cups of boiling water. Add the wine and 1-2 tbs. of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cook until reduced by 1/2. Taste and add more lemon or bouillon cube to your taste.

Now for the eggplant. Instead of using a traditional "egg-wash" use flour and water. Prepare three bowls. In the first, put in two cups of flour. In the second, add one cup of flour to a quart of water and stir well. In the third, add the bread crumbs.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan until ready for frying.

Peel and cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Dredge in flour. Then, dip the floured eggplant slices in the "eggless wash." Coat with breadcrumbs and fry in hot oil until golden brown. Turn once or twice to see that each side is cooked. Remove each piece from the oil and drain well.

Now for the magic.

Add one cup of that magnificent lemon sauce to your largest saute pan. Heat until the sauce bubbles. Add the eggplant, and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Turn the eggplant over so that the remainder of the sauce is absorbed into each eggplant piece.

You would imagine that eggplant cooked in liquid would turn soft, but just the opposite happens. If the pieces are not eaten for dinner, count your blessings. This is the best leftover in vegan cuisine.

Serve between two slices of bread or make the best vegan sub/hero/hoagie the following day.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving

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