20 November 2007

AVF #1: A Thanksgiving Vegetarian Feast Pre-Roundup

Since I didn't get many entries yet for AVF, I'm just going to go ahead and link what I have at the top of this post of my Thanksgiving contributions and let anyone who wants to add an entry do so until next Monday, when I'll post a formal round-up. I know people have been busy getting their menus together, but I encourage you to submit if you have anything that might apply!

First, we have a delicious looking healthy veggie option from Eat'n Vegan. She asked to submit her Steamed Broccoli and Curly Kale with Pumpkin Vinaigrette, and I wholeheartedly approve, as kale is one of my favorite foods! However, everything in this Thanksgiving meal post looks absolutely scrumptious. My mouth is especially watering for the mashed sweet potatoes with a balsamic reduction! What a healthy, tasty, and colourful holiday meal. Thanks for joining us!

Now, we move on to desserts. I had intended to do a number of different options, some sweet and some savory, for this event, but time got away with me and classes started picking up steam just as National Novel Writing Month also came to call. So instead, I'm going to submit a few baked goods I made in October, and it seems mom caught the sweet tooth as well. Yes, my very own mother kindly agreed to submit something for AVF, in the form of Carver's Cognac Almond Apples. When mom starts experimenting, things tend to get interesting, and this was no exception. I'd love to try this sweet treat, but next time, mom, maybe lay off the brandy a wee bit? :-)

Now, for my own contributions...

Judith's Fabulous Fig-Whisky Jam

This was a somewhat spontaneous idea I had the weekend I made pumpkin flan for blog party and the bread pudding below. I was in such a cooking mood, and so NOT in a study mood, that I randomly decided to make jam. Trust me, this doesn't happen frequently. The recipe isn't really a recipe, as I just started throwing things in the saucepan, and had originally planned on making a savory compote but changed my mind at the last minute. The basic idea is, chop up about a cup of figs, and then add about a cup of water. Bring it to a nice happy simmmer and sit around a while. Eventually, you'll get a nice goop and the liquid will be mostly evaporated. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg and add several generous splashes of Jack Daniels (or finer whisky if you have it on you). I thought about adding brown sugar, but decided it didn't really need it. The result was a delicious warm, seedy jam that was just as tasty cold. For Thanksgiving, you could serve it with some vegetarian stuffing, brioche rolls, or lentil loaf. The next day, try it cold on wheat bread with cream cheese. Mmm mm tasty!

Pumpkin Challah Bread Pudding

I found this recipe on the blog Words to Eat By and knew I had to try it. I've really missed Challah bread since living in Baltimore, surrounded by Jewish friends and the ever-popular Double T Diner with its Challah French toast. I was rather sceptical of the frozen version of Challah dough, which mom and I tried once in the spring, but I didn't really have time to do it from scratch (next time!) so I went for it. I'm not a huge fan of the bread by itself (too yeasty) but it worked just fine for the pudding. I put it on a baking sheet and let it rest covered in greased plastic wrap for about four hours, until it doubled in size, and then baked according to package instructions. Once that was done, I followed the recipe pretty much exactly.

Whisk together a cup and half of milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 t pumpkin pie spice (my lid is broken so I didn't really measure), two eggs, two whites, and a fifteen-ounce can of Libby's (pure pumpkin). Once you have a relatively smooth batter, toss in five cups of 1/2 inch Challah cubes. This was the part I ignored, and basically tore a little more than half the loaf into bite sized chunks with my hands. I have no patience with knives, and my bread knife hadn't arrived yet anyway. Anyway, you want to spoon that mixture into a greased 8-inch square dish, cover in foil, and refrigerate anywhere from half an hour to four hours. I think I did it one or two, I don't really remember. Bake in an inch-high hot water bath for half an hour at 350, then remove the foil and bake 10-15 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. At no point did my knife actually come out clean, so I just pulled it out after 17 minutes. Also, keep in mind that when you put the foil on your pan in the first place, you want the piece trimmed pretty well because you don't want to stick your hand in the very hot water bath. Alternatively, you can use my method of just having a corner above water level that you can pull, but it may splash a bit. It's absolutely amazing with maple syrup and chopped toasted pecans, and great for breakfast the next day. Without the syrup, it isn't quite sweet enough for me, but that may just be my tastebuds.

Ridiculously Amazing Pumpkin Pie Thing

This comes to me via the amazing Steph at Cupcake, My Love. When I saw this concoction, featuring layers of cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and pecans with TOFFEE BARS, I knew I had to bake it, pronto. I couldn't find Holiday Baking magazine anywhere, however, so I asked Steph to e-mail me the recipe. Of course, as she's typing this whole long thing out, I find the magazine at Hy-Vee. Sorry, Steph!

Anyway, it turned out absolutely delicious. I will warn you NOT to eat it warm, because the cheesecake part tastes really strange, but it's super chilled. I ended up filling most of the pie crust with cheesecake batter, so I only used half the pumpkin, but next time I'll adjust to make it 50-50.

So, to make the "Pumpkin Praline Pie" (so much more official sounding), you want to start with a frozen 9" deep dish pie crust, the deeper the better. This was Steph's suggestion, and I agree. Homemade pie crusts are good and all, but if it's just plain, I usually take advantage of Pillsbury. You don't have to pre-bake or anything, just have that ready. Now, combine 12 ounces softened cream cheese (NOTE: 12 ounces is the bigger sized tub if you buy Philadelphia) with 1/3 cup sugar. I used light cream cheese, incidentally, and the taste was still great. Beat on low to medium speed until smooth, then beat in an egg, and stir in about a teaspoon of grated (they say finely shredded, whatever) orange peel. Cover and chill half an hour.

Now, preheat your oven to 375, and start on your pumpkin filling. Combine a can of Libby's or whatever other pure pumpkin there is with 3/4 cup sguar and 2 t pumpkin pie spice. Add three eggs and beat lightly. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup half-and-half or light cream. Spread your cream cheese filling into the frozen crust first, then the pie filling. Like I said, this was too much filling for me, so I recommend you adjust the amounts and use a plain 8 ounce tub of cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar. Since you're using a can of pumpkin anyway, I'd keep that the same and just toss what you don't use, or bake a mini pumpkin pie. Also if you're a spoon-licker, it tastes good raw.

The recipe says to cover the edges of the crust with foil, but mine honestly didn't overbrown. Bake 25 minutes. While it's baking, combine 1/2 cup broken Heath or other toffee bars and 3/4 cup broken walnuts with 1/4 cup packed brown sugar. I found I didn't need quite that much sugar but you be the judge. Sprinkle over the pie and bake another 25-30 minutes or until knife comes out clean. My knife didn't, I just declared it done. Cool on a wire rack. Yes, the melty toffee bits look amazing but RESIST THE URGE (or just pick them off). Chill for at least a couple of hours before eating. The recipe suggests whipped cream and fudge topping but I think that's overkill. Bon appetit!

Holiday Scones

Finally, an adaptation of a recipe from the vegancooking LJ community. Note that my version is not vegan, but you can easily make it so by using Earth Balance and soy milk. The recipe was for brown sugar scones, but I jazzed them up a bit with dried figs and cranberries. The taste was great but they were very dense. I suspect part of the problem was that I worked the dough too much, especially when cominbing the butter and flour. I've since purchased a non stick pastry cutter and will try to be gentler next time. So these turned out looking more like cookies, but they were still yummy, especially with a cup of tea.

The recipe itself is super easy- just mix together three cups flour, a firmly packed cup of brown sugar, 1-1/4 t baking powder, and a cup of butter until crumbly. I recommend that you cut the butter into the flour first, or mix the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter. Gently blend in a cup of milk, then add in a cup of dried, chopped fruit. I accidentally added the fruit before the milk, so it was a bit harder to stir, which may have been another consistency problem. Anyway, you want to drop spoonfuls of the dough onto baking sheets and bake twenty minutes at 375. They will brown a little, but not a ton. Check the bottoms - they should be fairly brown when done.

And that's all folks! Remember, you can still submit entries and I will add them as they come in! Final round-up coming next week!


aTxVegn said...

Thanks for including me and I'm sorry more submissions haven't come in yet. I love all the pumpkin goodies you posted. Pumpkin makes everything so pretty! Pecans are very popular in Texas and the pumpkin praline pie is ubiquitous this time of year.

Carver said...

Those all look great and I had to laugh at you putting Jack in the fig jam and me getting heavy handed with cognac in the apples. Like mother, like daughter, except your cooking skills are leaving me in the dust. Love, Mom

Tartelette said...

Beautiful ob on the challah. Love the whole idea of pumpkin bread pudding, especially when there is a house full of guests.

Stephanie said...

My dear Judith, I am intolerably and (almost) inexcusably tardy with my entry!!

With the party and all it entailed, I simply didn't have time, but if you'll still accept, I (or rather, Matt, the dearheart), has made me my very own Unturkey!!

It still has to bake, which I'll do tonight, so if you don't hate me completely, I will get that to you this evening, promise.