Archive for November, 2010

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American Thanksgiving in Canada

November 29, 2010

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, all American readers! And to all Canadian readers, Happy Belated Thursday of last week!

As you regulars will already know, Caitlin and I live in two different countries, both of which celebrate the fall holiday known as Thanksgiving—although one of which doesn’t seem to understand that it’s actually in November. This means that Caitlin and I celebrate two Thanksgiving in a year: I come down to New York over the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday and we celebrate it there, and Caitlin comes up to Toronto over the American Thanksgiving holiday and we celebrate it here. And over the past few years, as I’ve been cooking up my own Thanksgivings, this holiday has quickly been turning into one of my favorites, so I greatly enjoy having the excuse to celebrate it twice.

This year, Caitlin and I whipped up a sizable feast for ourselves and a few friends. When we were brainstorming menu ideas, Caitlin had the brilliant idea of having a Southern-style Thanksgiving meal, and I readily approved of the suggestion. This theme let us try out some really tasty recipes that Caitlin had found, all of which felt very American, if a bit untraditional for Thanksgiving (but when your Thanksgiving is already vegan, tradition is not something that you worry too much about). So here now is a run-down of our American Thanksgiving dinner! But since this meal was held in Canada, I’m obliged by the Canadian government to list all menu items in English and in French—and warning: I do not know French.

Beer-Battered Collard Green Fritters // Beignets de choux cavalier à la bière battues

As a tasty little appetizer, Caitlin fried up some collard greens in a beer batter made with the Polish beer Żywiec. I loved these: they were nicely crisp, not too greasy, and tasty! Caitlin said they worked better with Guinness, but I thought they were plenty good just as we had them.

Broccoli Stuffed Muffins // Muffins farcies avec du brocoli

Caitlin found this great recipe for broccoli stuffed muffins, which are exactly what they sound like—savory muffins with a whole broccoli floret hidden inside! (See the recipe page for more explanatory photos.) I really really liked these—they were possibly my favorite part of the night’s meal—and can’t wait to make them again.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts // Choux de Bruxelles rôtis

This was probably the least Southern item on our menu, but it’s Thanksgiving, and what better time is there to enjoy a heaping platter of tasty roasted Brussels sprouts? We kept this one pretty simple, tossing these little cabbages in some oil, salt, and pepper and letting the oven do the rest, but they still were great in my book.

Mac & Cheese // Mac au fromage

Is mac and cheese Southern? Is mac and cheese Thanksgiving-y? I don’t know and I don’t care, because this mac and cheese recipe really is to die for. (As the Recipezaar Food.com recipe title says, it’s the “best vegan mac and cheese ever”, and it’s right.)Caitlin and I had made this macaroni recipe before and loved it, and we thought it would be a simple way to fill out our menu, and surprisingly, it was the biggest hit of the evening—extra surprisingly, since none of our guests were vegans, and I was not expecting them to take to the nootch-y flavor of this pasta platter. I guess it’s just all the more evidence that this really is an amazing mac and cheese recipe.

Mole Skillet Pie with Greens // Tarte poêle taupé avec les verts

Our centerpiece of the evening was this skillet pie, which we did not actually cook in a skillet (due to lack of skillet). The recipe came from the Veganomicon, and was basically a mix of greens (we used kale) stirred up with some beans and chili-chocolate mole sauce, and then topped off with a layer of cornbread. It was a fun main, which I really enjoyed. And to get a better picture of what it all looked like under the cornbread, here’s a photo of my full plate:

I love Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well (or, for you Canadians, a pleasant weekend). I’ll be back soon.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Vegan Unadon! (New & Improved Recipe!)

November 5, 2010

Hi all!

A little while back, I shared with you all my first foray in creating a vegan version of the Japanese dish known as unadon (traditionally, marinated eel slices over rice). That first try went fairly well, but I had some trouble perfecting the rice component. Well, today I’m here to share with you my new and improved unadon recipe, with “rice” that matches the excellence of the “eel”. The key I found was that I was thinking about the rice component all wrong; instead of trying to add things to increase the flavor of the rice, what I should’ve been doing was starting with a whole other grain from the start. And hey, if I was subbing out eel for eggplant, why not sub out the rice for some heartier and tastier grain? Well, that’s exactly what I did, and it turns out that buckwheat works incredibly well as a complement to this eggplant—not to mention that it’s healthier besides! Here, then, is my finalized vegan Unadon recipe, complete with lots of helpful pictures!

Part One: The “Eel” (makes three to four servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • some olive oil, salt, and pepper for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg’s
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425F. Slice eggplant into eel-shaped slices: about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, and about 1 by 3 inches length- and widthwise (see picture). Lay out eggplant slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until it looks done. Once cooled, place eggplant in a flat container.

While the eggplant is cooling, make the kabanaki sauce. Simply bring the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar to a boil and simmer gently until slightly thickened. Let it cool a bit, and then pour over the eggplant, which should now be in its container. From here, you can either let the eggplant marinate overnight if you have the time, or you can proceed to make the buckwheat and eat it right away. (Recipe for this kabanaki sauce comes courtesy of Nook & Pantry.)

Part Two: The “Rice” (makes one serving)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried buckwheat
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
  • 1 tsp kelp granules (or any other seaweed variety)
  • 1 tbsp dulse flakes (or any other seaweed variety)
  • 2 sheets dried nori (like the ones pictured below)

Instructions

1.   Bring buckwheat and water to a boil, lower heat, and then simmer until all water has evaporated and buckwheat is cooked through (between 15 and 20 minutes). Let cool and then transfer to a serving bowl.

2.   Add in dulse flakes, kelp granules, and soy sauce. (I only chose these seaweed varieties because they were what I had on hand. I imagine that any other type of seaweed would work just as well.)

3.   Mix all of that together.

4.   Take out your nori sheets, which should look something like this:

5.   With scissors, cut up one sheet into fine strips on top of the buckwheat mixture.

6.   Add 5 or 6 slices of eggplant on top of that. If eggplant is not still warm, heat it up to eating temperature in the microwave or toaster oven.

7.   Finally, top off that with another sheet of sliced nori. And you’re done!

This is all around a pretty easy recipe, but it is mighty satisfying: both tasty and filling! I hope you all get to enjoy the wonders of unadon soon yourselves. And if you do, be sure to let me know; I’d love to hear how other people find the recipe!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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