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Thursday, November 25, 2010

VEGAN THANKSGIVING...third year running

What do you do for friendship? In our case, though we are confirmed carnivores, we spend Thanksgiving with friends who are vegan. Which means, no turkey, no sausage, no pumpkin pie with milk and egg custard. Still, we do ok by ourselves, and the cuisine can be quite good. One advantage is the "incredible lightness of being" afterwards; no turkey tryptophan serotonin stupor afterwards.

This year, our menu is a joint effort: squash soup, spinach-orange-pomegranate salad, pumpkin pie and the main course is a tofurkey which I am cooking. And stuffing, extra, for sides.

The stuffing requires vegan bread, no egg, no meat, no milk but is actually not a challenge at all. Here are TWO recipes. One is a sweet and savory spelt bread filling for the Tofurkey (which is a theme of sweet-savory-salty contrasts, glazed in a molasses-soy glaze) and a "not-sausage" stuffing based on vegan French bread.

1. Sweet Savory Spelt Stuffing

1 half loaf (about 3/4 lb) of whole spelt bread.
1/2 heart of celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced fine
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, diced
2 cups vegetable broth
seasoning: poultry seasoning or your own: I use marjoram, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder melded in a mortar with a pestle.
Smart Balance oil

Method: Saute onion, celery in oil until onion is clear and soft, add in apple, cook till it is semi-soft, add in cranberries cook till soft.
Mix this with diced spelt bread in an 8 inch or 9 inch square baking dish. Toss well to coat the bread (I use stale bread; if yours is fresh, toast the cubes of bread for 10 min in a low oven to dry out.) Add in seasoning, toss and taste a cube. Correct seasoning. Add broth until cubes are well-moistened. Taste again (nothing in here is truly "raw" so you can taste this safely.) Cover with foil and bake 30 min on 350 in the oven or until well heated and slightly crusted on top. You can also bake this 20 min and use to stuff your Tofurkey. For that, we use a shell made of 4 boxes of very firm tofu, pureed, seasoned with poultry seasoning as above plus some dry broth crystals, and pressed into a shell in a colander lined with cloth. (We make the hollow with a smaller bowl after pressing plastic wrap on top of the tofu in the colander. Drain. Put a ball of stuffing in a large baking roaster pan, dump shell on top, glaze, bake for 90 min, basting frequently.

2. Savory "Not-Sausage" stuffing (actually, it's DRESSING, as it's not stuffed into anything, but I like alliteration.)

This stuffing tastes as if there is sausage or meat in it, but it is completely vegan. Will satisfy the carnivore in anyone.

1 lb dry cubes of vegan French bread (I make this in the breadmaker)
1 heart of celery diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 lb of white mushrooms: chop 3/4 of them finely in a food processor, slice the rest or chunk them
Oil (Smart Balance or olive)
Poultry Seasoning or your own mix
2 tsp of Penzey's Breakfast Sausage Seasoning Mix
2 cups of warm vegetable broth or more as needed

Saute onion, celery until onion is clear and soft, add in chopped and diced mushrooms. Cook until they are soft and mushy. Add the seasoning. Taste and correct seasoning. Toss this on the bread cubes in a 18 x 9 glass or ceramic baking dish (again, dry the bread cubes if they are too fresh.) When bread is well coated with the vegetable-seasoning mix, moisten with vegetable broth. Taste again to correct seasoning. Bread should not look dry, but should not be soggy, either. Cover with foil and bake 30-40 min at 350 or until heated through and slightly crusty on top.


beat 4 boxes of tofu, extra firm, with food processor until grainy and smooth-ish. Season to taste with smoked paprika, poultry seasoning, a paste of vegetable broth or anything you fancy.

Press this mix into a colander lined smoothly with a wet linen towel or wet cheesecloth. Set this over a bowl. Put plastic wrap entirely over the top of the tofu and press down with SMALLER bowl until you have a shell mold of tofu mix. It will drip into the outer bowl. Weight the inner bowl with a can of tomatoes or bottle of jam. Let this sit at least 5 hours or overnight in the fridge.

When you are ready to bake the Tofurkey; oil a baking pan (like a 9x13 glass or whatever fits) place a ball of the apple cranberry spelt (or stuffing of choice in the middle, about the size of the cavity you made in the tofu. Dump tofu on top, peel off the towel, smooth if you like, with a knife. Glaze with APPLE-SOY-MOLASSES glaze (follows) and bake about 60-90 min on 350 degrees F in oven.

Apple Soy Molasses Glaze

1 cup unsweetened, unspiced apple butter
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1 tbs balsamic vinegar (can use cider or wine)
1 tbs blackstrap molasses

Mix well, brush over unbaked Tofurkey and reglaze as you bake.