Sunday Morning Book Review: Vegan Holiday Cooking

Vegan Holiday Cooking cover
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Cooking by Kirsten Kaminski, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Kirsten Kaminski

Holidays – gatherings of family and friends full of high spirits (and often actual spirits) and joy, occasional awkwardness, sometimes even friction and frustration. Although they come and go, ebb and flow year round, winter is the time when many of these gatherings come in quick succession for some of us. In the US, Halloween (end of October), is quickly followed by Thanksgiving (end of November), quickly followed by winter holidays of a religious and non-religious kind that stretch into January. That’s a lot of get togethers!

And each one of these holidays comes with a traditional feast – a huge meal to share and enjoy. What’s on the menu varies from a holiday to a holiday, and from one family to the other. What doesn’t vary as much is the dominance of meat in these meals. In many cultures (Serbian for example), religious people observe lent for six weeks before Christmas Day (January 7th), where the only animal food they are permitted to eat is honey and fish. They break the lent on January 7th usually with a pig roast! And this repeats for Easter, when the lent is broken on Easter Sunday with lamb roast.

With similar holiday food attitudes entrenched in many cultures, it becomes very difficult to be a plant-based eater over the holidays. My social media feeds are filled with people either frustrated about the lack of vegan options during the holidays, or anxious about social penalty that they will have to pay for not fitting in. Plus: with many gatherings now expecting you to bring food to share, people on plant-based diets often wonder what to bring that others will enjoy!

I am first to admit that some vegan recipes include ingredients that I’ve never encountered before I switched to plant-based diet, so I can appreciate that if I was to tell someone that they are eating nutritional yeast or flax meal, they may look at me funny. That’s why I try to keep my shared holiday meals simple, and based on common ingredients. This is probably the reason why I enjoyed the stuffing recipe below – it’s simple, it’s rustic and it’s appropriate to bring to any holiday gathering. (For another stuffing recipe option that includes apples, mushrooms and chestnuts see here.)

The recipe comes courtesy of a recently published cookbook “Vegan Holiday Cooking” by Kirsten Kaminski, creator of The Tasty K, a food and travel blog. Kirsten has assembled a nice collection of 60 festive recipes that are made to impress. They look great, they sound inviting, and they are prefect for sharing. She includes everything you need to host a party – ideas for appetizers, soups, main course, drinks and, of course, desserts, lots of them!

May of the recipes in this cookbook are things that people expect to see served at the holiday table, like the stuffing – but they’ve been reimagined and upgraded to fit a more modern palette, and to incorporate only plant-based ingredients. That is not to say that there isn’t any indulgence to be had – quite the opposite! Here, again a little indulgence goes a long way, and I appreciate how Kirsten balances a lot of good for you foods, with just a bit of naughtiness. One of the recipes I made for our Thanksgiving feast this year was her Mushroom Bourguignon, and red wine (which I view as a bit on a naughty side) made all the difference. It was delicious!

All in all, “Vegan Holiday Cooking” is a helpful cookbook to have a around year-round. Enojy!

Sourdough Bread Stuffing

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Cooking by Kirsten Kaminski, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Kirsten Kaminski

SOURDOUGH BREAD STUFFING

This classic Thanksgiving side dish is incredibly easy to make yet full of vegan-friendly flavor. It has a subtle zing in every bite and is very hearty, satisfying and oh so filling! Stuffing is such a popular dish that it’s usually the first one to run out at the holiday table, so make sure
to pile on enough of this “just like grandma used to make” stuffing!

 

YIELD: 6 to 8 servings

8 cups (350 g) sourdough bread, cubed (or any other bread)

3 tbsp (42 g) vegan butter or 3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil

1 medium white onion, roughly chopped

2 to 3 medium ribs celery, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp (3 g) finely chopped fresh sage

1 tbsp (3 g) finely chopped fresh thyme

2 cups (150 g) thinly sliced cremini mushrooms

2 to 3 cups (480 to 720 ml) vegetable broth

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease a 7×10–inch (18×25–cm) baking dish.

Spread the bread cubes out evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Toast the bread in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping it halfway (being careful not to let it burn). Increase the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and place the toasted bread cubes in a large bowl.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until they are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sage and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a
splash of the broth and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and their moisture has evaporated somewhat. Add the mixture to the bread cubes and combine with a spoon.

Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking dish. Pour the remaining broth over the bread mixture and carefully combine, until the bread is just saturated—not too wet and not dry. Season with the salt and black pepper and bake for 30 minutes, until the top of the stuffing is crunchy. Let the stuffing cool slightly and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Cooking by Kirsten Kaminski, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Kirsten Kaminski
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this cookbook and no other compensation for this post. The views expressed above are my own and authentic.

Pumpkin Truffles – Two Ways

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Pumpkin Truffles, Traditional and Dark Chocolate, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Thanksgiving desserts are all about pies, most often pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, or pecan. Those are the big four, with pumpkin pie being the gold standard. I am not a baker – I mean I do bake, and I have made pies, including the pumpkin variety, in the past, but these pies are a bit too much for me to handle if I am making a big holiday feast.

So, this year I am trying out a no-bake route to a dessert offering that captures the spirit of winter holidays but does not require any oven real estate or lengthy prep work. With this in mind I developed these Spicy Pumpkin Truffles and I did them two ways – Dark Chocolate Covered and the Traditional, which means rolled in cocoa powder.

No baking, a handful of simple ingredients, and your holidays feast will be complete! The only trick, which by the way I am yet to master, is getting an even coat of chocolate. This batch turned out just a bit too irregular but that did not make them any less irresistible – the treats disappeared in a blink of an eye.

The truffles themselves are very easy to mix together and they are inspired by the pumpkin pie recipes. I used some canned pumpkin and mixed it with almond meal, almost flour, and coconut flour. I added some maple syrup to sweeten things up because the pumpkin I was using was not sweet at all. But before you add the sweetener of your choice do try your mix and adjust to taste. Keep in mind that your chocolate is sweet as well, unless you are using bitter kind, so you may need to play around a bit to achieve the right level of sweetness for your taste.

What pulls these truffles over the top are actually the spices. I used ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground cloves. Those three spices blended well with the pumpkin, maple syrup and the almond/coconut flour mix and gave these yummy treats a real winter holidays flair. Bite in, and you’ll forget all about baking and enjoy the no-bake holiday desserts!!!

Pumpkin Truffles

What you’ll need:

1 15 oz. (425 g) can pumpkin

1 1/2 cup almond meal

1 1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

12 oz (g) vegan dark chocolate (chunks, chips, or blocks)

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

What you’ll do:

  1. In a large mixing ball combine all your ingredients except cocoa powder and the chocolate – those will come later.
  2. Mix everything well and using your hands for the dough into balls that are approximately 2 in (5 cm) in diameter. Place the preformed truffle balls on a platter and set aside.
  3. Melt the chocolate using either a microwave oven or a double boiler.
  4. Dip half of your truffles into the melted chocolate and place on the platter or a plate that’s lined up with wax paper.
  5. Put your chocolate covered pumpkin truffles in a refrigerator so that the chocolate coating hardens.
  6. Pour the cocoa powder in a flat dish and roll the rest of the pumpkin truffles in cocoa powder.
  7. Arrange the two kinds of Pumpkin Truffles any way you like. You may want to place couple of pieces of cloves in the bottom of your serving dish, or line your serving dish with some finely pulled orange peel. None of this will change the fantastic flavor of the truffles but it will make your dessert tray more festive! Enjoy!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017