Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Mania 2008

Let's finally get around to talking about our wonderful thanksgiving feast! The Food Monster (that's me and him working on our yummy food at top) and his three lovely roommates had me, my mom (who came in from North Carolina), and a couple of our other friends over for lots of delicious food and jolly company. I think I ended up making seven dishes in all but unfortunately I was so busy cooking/serving/drinking that I only remembered to photograph a few of those. So the best dishes will just have to be recreated for Christmas dinner and I shall post them then. In the meantime, let's start us off with three of the easiest things.

First off we have a VERY quick appetizer: dill spread. In my pre-vegan days, if ever I needed some comfort food, I would head to La Brea Bagel on Beverly in West Hollywood for a sesame bagel smothered in their dill cream cheese. Sad were the times when I got drunk on Friday and desperately craved one of those bagels on Saturday morning only to remember that the bagelry owners were honoring the Sabbath! Now I am not a fan of plain fake cream cheese. It tastes okay but it is definitely not the real thing. However, when you jazz it up just a little you'd never know it has no dairy! So I simply chopped up a ton of fresh dill and stirred it into some Tofutti cream cheese and served it with whole wheat crackers. Even my mom, who is really quite horrified by vegan versions of dairy products, was shocked at the great taste. Chop, stir, serve. It doesn't get easier than that.
Next up we have another appetizer inspired by a blurb in the latest Rachael Ray magazine: croissant wrapped asparagus. Again, this couldn't be any easier. Simply unravel a tube of Pillsbury Crescent Dough and sprinkle liberally with a vegetable seasoning spice blend. Slice into 1/2 inch strips and then wrap around raw asparagus spears. Pop in a 350 degree over for 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Full disclosure: these particular ones didn't turn out the best because a) I should have used olive oil spray to prevent the spears from sticking and b) I had to put these in an oven that was way hotter than the desired temperature, so the bottoms were burnt and the spears got a tad mushy. But, I am fairly certain that if these were cooked properly they would have been grrrrreat. I ate a ton of them as they were anyway :)
And lastly, for today, we have my simple cranberry sauce. I was pretty perturbed to read the cranberry sauce recipe in Veganomicon--it calls for agar agar and vinegar. To me, the beauty of cranberry sauce is that it is so simple and lets the awesome flavor of cranberries speak for itself. It seems a tad blasphemous to me to call for an obscure ingredient like agar agar. My cranberry sauce is as easy as it gets and the results are pretty damn good if I do say so myself. The Food Monster even told me that he normally really dislikes cranberry sauce but he liked mine. Thanks Monster Man!

Old Fashioned Traditional Cranberry Sauce is Good Enough for Me
8 oz. fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest

Place cranberries and just enough water to cover in a pot. Bring to a boil. Add sugar and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until cranberries begin to pop and sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature.

It was a wonderful thanksgiving dinner with my little L.A. family and we spent the rest of the evening plopped on the couch watching cheesy movies. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Anonymous said...

those all sound awesome and so easy to make! that's the way to do it. great idea on the tofutti as well. i have been looking for something to liven it up a little.

Nate-n-Annie said...

I hate it when there's all this good cooking going on in the kitchen and I'm too busy to document it all. We need an official photographer. Unfortunately, our 6-year old's hands aren't that steady yet.

Thanks for adding us as a friend on Foodbuzz. We welcome you to come check out our site!

The Food Monster said...

The Vegan dishes really were spectacular. The cream cheese didn't come off as cream cheese, I just thought it was a cheese spread. Didn't taste vegan though. And that Cranberry Sauce. Just the perfect amount of sour bite from the real berries. I will be making that for Christmas.

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

what a nice celebration! Thanks for the dill dip idea. I love to have some "almost instant appetizer" ideas to turn to.

Anonymous said...

Still cannot get enough Thanksgiving goodies! We wish the leftovers were still around. That dill spread sounds faaaaab!

Rachal said...

the cranberry photo rocks it captures the essence of the fruit dish i am going to have to try the reciepy.

shaggy the family cook