Monday, November 29, 2010

The Cider Float

So after a long weekend of slaving in the kitchen, immediately followed by total gluttony, the last thing you want to do is spend another minute rolling out pie crust and making another sweet, fatty, yet satisfying dessert. 

But this is the lazy person's most awesome dessert EVER. That's my official nickname for my cider float.

I started making this dessert in college, when I was dorming in Manhattan and spent just as much time making an appearance at the next big party as I did cooking. I'm not quite sure how I balanced all that and schoolwork, in hindsight, but my floormates didn't call our communal kitchen "Mama Teresa's" for nothing. I wanted the Ramen equivalent of dessert- of course, if you knew me in college, my ramen was never just boiled noodles and a god-awful "flavor" packet- but I didn't want something that came out of a box or could survive a nuclear war. (a` la Twinkie urban legend) I loved hot apple cider in the winter, and when I found cinnamon ice cream at Totonno's, my fave local pizza spot at the time, I knew I had a winning combination, like Santa and Rudolph! Or Charlie Sheen in a hotel room full of porn stars. Either way :)

Fast forward to 2010- I still love making these simple "cider floats", especially since I've discovered Purely Decadent's vegan snickerdoodle ice cream. With generous chunks of frozen snickerdoodle cookie dough, I can't stop raving about it... or consuming it, for that matter. You can always use your favorite version of cinnamon ice cream- I bet ginger ice cream would also work really well in this- but now that there's a vegan version of my favorite ice cream, I can feel even better about making this for myself and for my guests!

The Whats:

* 2 mugs of fresh apple cider
* 2 generous scoops of cinnamon ice cream
* 2 cinnamon sticks

The Hows:

1) Place one cinnamon stick in each mug of cider. Heat apple cider in the microwave, a little over a minute each, until hot. Add one scoop of your favorite cinnamon ice cream to each mug. Allow a minute for ice cream to melt slightly and serve hot.

If you really want more of the ice cream float effect, you can add a shot of ginger or cranberry soda to the cider before heating it up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baked Veggie Stuffing with Mushrooms

Baked stuffing is another one of those Thanksgiving recipes that's super easy to make vegetarian or vegan, yet few ever think to substitute the eggs or chicken broth or sausage or butter, or whatever other animal-based products that really don't need to be in a veggie dish.

Luckily, substitutes are easy and your guests, I'm sure, won't even notice the difference.

For this basic baked stuffing recipe, I used a savory combo of portobello mushrooms and sage, with some day old rosemary bread that I'd bought for my Thanksgiving sandwiches. (I wish I had Brussels sprouts to add to my stuffing, they would've been great!) You could also sweeten up your stuffing by adding apples or pears with sweet vidalia onions and chestnuts.

Obviously, you'll want to use Earth Balance to make those veggies buttery, and if you want to skip the beaten egg, I found that mixing warm veggie broth and corn starch worked just fine in thickening the broth to make it "eggy". The veggie broth might sound like a lot, but you really don't want dried out stuffing.

Besides, you'll want to keep your omnivore guests guessing as to what made your stuffing so moist and delicious, right?

The Whats:

* 1 loaf of day old country bread, cut into 1 in. cubes
* 4 tbsp. Earth Balance or butter
* 3 portobello caps, cleaned and cut into 1 in. cubes. 
* 2 ribs celery, diced
* 2 shallots, sliced
* 1/2 cup walnuts
* 1 1/2 tbsp. rubbed sage
* 2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
* 1 tbsp. fig vinegar (you can use balsamic if you cannot find fig- we lucked out with this find!)
* 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 tbsp. corn starch

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13 x 9 baking dish with butter or olive oil; set aside. Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. 

2) In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, celery, shallots, walnuts, sage and thyme to the pan. Stir to coat, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies have just slightly softened. Drizzle with fig vinegar. Remove from heat. Add veggies to the bread.

3) In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable broth over medium heat. Add bay leaf. When broth simmers, whisk in the corn starch until dissolved, and simmer for an additional minute. Remove from heat, and pour into bread-vegetable mix. Discard bay leaf and toss to coat.

4) Transfer soaked stuffing mix into the prepared baking dish; lightly press stuffing into the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and continue to bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until bread cubes on top are browned and crispy. Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lunch: The Veggie Thanksgiving Sandwich

I keep seeing ads for "Thanksgiving sandwiches" in Pret, Terri, and other sandwich places around the city- you can't go wrong (unless it's real turkey of course) with that seasonal selection, so for lunch this week, I decided to make my own!

To start, I visited one of my favorite bread places, Amy's, in Chelsea Market- I knew I'd find a great selection of herbed or olive loaves, and their rosemary bread sounded like a great fit for a hearty sandwich. I made a batch of my own cranberry sauce and a crunchy, earthy mix to balance out the sweetness- I chose to mix celery, shallots, and walnuts with some sage and just a touch of Greek yogurt to bring it all together, but you can choose Veganaise, carrots, pecans, pine nuts, raisins, thyme, rosemary, whatever makes your heart happy! I've seen other sandwiches put stuffing on their Thanksgiving sandwiches, but that seemed way too excessive for me.

As far as fake turkey is concerned, plain old Tofurky slices weren't cutting it for me- it just seemed counter intuitive to have thin "slices" of Tofurky on this hearty sandwich. Whether you choose to cut up Quorn brand turk'y roast or turk'y burgers (I couldn't find the roast, so I sliced up their turk'y burgers), sliced up a packaged stuffed Tofurky (though not my favorite option because of the all the additives and the stuffing), or make your own homemade tofurky.

And just like the traditional turkey, no matter how you carve the tofu, no one pays any mind to it when they're making sandwiches the next day. Eat up!

The Whats:

* fresh rosemary bread, or your favorite hearty herbed bread, sliced
* apple-spice cranberry sauce
* 2 tbsp. olive oil 
* 1 pkg. Quorn turk'y roast, stuffed Tofurky, or your fave veggie meat
* 1 celery stalk, finely diced
* 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
* 1 shallot, finely diced
* 2 tsp. rubbed sage
* 1 tbsp. Greek yogurt or Veganaise
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) In a medium bowl, mix the celery, walnuts, shallots, 1 tsp. sage, salt & pepper, and Greek yogurt or veganaise until ingredients are well coated. Set aside.

2) In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add veggie turk'y and remaining sage to the pan and cook for 5 or 6 minutes until browned on both sides. Remove from heat.

3) Toast two slices of the rosemary bread. Spread cranberry sauce on one slice of the bread. Spread 2 or 3 tbsp. of the celery-walnut mix on the other slice. Top one of the slices with cooked veggie turk'y, and press slices together for your sandwich. Makes 4 or 5 sandwiches.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple-Spice Cranberry Sauce

I'll be honest- outside of cranberry sauce, I don't cook with cranberries too often. Unless you count mixing the berries or the juice into sangria... well, I think that counts for something! I do love those sour berries though.

I think of cranberry sauce as the "Baby Bear" of the Thanksgiving accompaniments- you don't want it tooth-achingly sweet, nor do you want it sour as a mother-pucker, but you want it juuuuuuuuuuuust right! I always thought cranberries were fantastic complements to other fruits and flavors, and for this reason, I've always made my cranberry sauce with apples or pears. You might initially think that the cinnamon and maple syrup here might be too much, or you might wonder if half a cup of sugar could possibly cut down on the full-on sour taste of the cranberries- these flavors really give depth to the sauce, and your guests will be wondering what that special something is in your cranberry sauce. If you like, you could even add a pinch of ground ginger for some added warmth.

Whether your Thanksgiving guests pair this with turkey or Tofurky, this underrated staple will have everyone wondering why you don't make cranberry sauce throughout the winter.

The Whats:

* 3 cups cranberries
* 2 tsp. orange zest
* 1/3 cup apple cider
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 2 tbsp. maple syrup
* 1 large apple, diced

The Hows:

1) In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, orange zest, apple cider, and sugar. Cook the cranberries over medium-high heat, until sugar is dissolved and cider comes to a boil; reduce to low.

2) When cranberries are halfway cooked- cranberries will just start to fall apart, about 10 minutes- stir in the cinnamon, maple syrup, and diced apple. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until cranberries have mostly fallen apart and mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, and allow cranberry sauce to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Juice from One Lucky Duck

One Lucky Duck makes me feel like I'm one lucky girl. My whole body feels better when I have one of their fresh juices.

Just a short post to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see that One Lucky Duck has a new location in Chelsea Market. (I also haven't been to Chelsea Market in awhile, so this was definitely news to me!) When I visited late Saturday afternoon, there were just a few takeaway containers of salads and zucchini-tomato lasagna left, along with some raw crackers and treats. With a small bag of crackers at $13, I decided to skip the snack and go right for their Thai Green juice- freshly juiced greens, pineapple, lime, and cilantro. The springy juice was just the vitamin boost I needed to finished running errands that day (a pre-Thanksgiving Fairway run and couch shopping at Ikea aren't quick tasks by any means!) and kept me going until I got home and devoured some pasta with broccoli rabe. A good way to end Saturday errands! :)

If you're in the Chelsea Market area and are looking to get juiced, bypass the gym and head straight to One Lucky Duck's newest outpost!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Where to Eat Vegan For Thanksgiving 2010

With Thanksgiving just a week away, you might be thinking, "Crap, this feast thing is too much work, I'm having someone else do it!" And you'd be in the good company of many New Yorkers who dine out on Food Coma Day. (I refuse to call it Turkey Day) If you haven't made your Thanksgiving plans yet, I'm reposting SuperVegan's newly published annual rundown of where vegetarians and vegans can dine out and enjoy a cruelty free meal. Eat up!


Where to Eat Vegan for Thanksgiving 2010 in New York City

New York is the best city in the world to be a vegan. Case in point: Thanksgiving. I dare any other city to match the number and variety of vegan options we have.

Here's SuperVegan's round-up of where to eat vegan in NYC for Thanksgiving. Make make your restaurant reservations quickly; these places fill up fast!

Angelica Kitchen is offering a five course prix fixe menu for $55; BYOB to save money. Thanksgiving is the only night Angelica takes reservations, so folks won't have to queue up in the cold like usual. The dinner will also be available for take out from the juice bar if you're not able to make a reservation.

Place orders early for seasonal specialties from Babycakes. They'll have spelt apple pie, apple crumb cake, pumpkin cupcakes, cornbread, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin bread for all your gluten-free and agave-sweetened needs.

Blossom and Café Blossom are offering the same four-course menu for $68.

Candle 79's four course prix fixe is available from 2pm-9pm and costs $72, while sister restaurant Candle Cafe gives you four courses for $55, plus a la carte options.

Caravan of Dreams will be offering a three course prix fixe from 1-9pm for $45.

Champs Family Bakery will be offering seasonal specialties such as pumpkin muffins with cream cheese, pumpkin pie cinnamon rolls (with pie crust baked in), and sweet potato cinnamon rolls (with candied pecans and marshmallow). Place orders by Monday 11/22 at the latest for pick-up on Tuesday or Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.

Counter's got seatings from 1pm-9pm for their $50 four course prix fixe, plus an optional $25 wine pairing.

Curly's will be serving a prix fixe menu from 11:30am-5:30pm for $28.95 which includes pumpkin-lentil pate, soup or salad, roast soy turkey or maple-glazed sham, drinks, dessert, and coffee or tea. Their regular menu will also be available.

LifeThyme Natural Market will have a complete vegan holiday dinner option for $49.95. It includes a roast made from organic vegetables and tofu, along with two pounds of yams or mashed potatoes, two pounds of mixed bread or cornbread stuffing, two pounds of grilled mixed vegetables, a pint of gravy, and a pint of cranberry sauce.

The Grammercy location of One Lucky Duck will be offering raw options for take out from 9am-10pm. You'll want to call ahead to place your order and schedule a pick up time. If you want a sit-down meal, check out their sister restaurant Pure Food and Wine, below.

Organic Grill will be open from noon-8pm with a special Thanksgiving menu in addition to their regular menu.

Peacefood Cafe will have a $30 three-course prix fixe menu available from 1-9pm.

Fulfill your most extravagant raw food desires with Pure Food and Wine's four course prix fixe for $72. They'll be open from 3pm-9pm.

Red Bamboo will be serving their regular menu and a three-course Thanksgiving prix fixe menu for $21.95. The New York City Vegetarian Meetup Group will be meeting here at 12:30pm; click for more information and to RSVP.

Sacred Chow will be offering a four course prix fixe for $50. Check out the menu on their website.

'sNice (West Village, Soho, and Brooklyn) are all closed Thanksgiving day, but we recommend you stop by in the days before or after to try their awesome Thanksgiving Leftovers sandwich.

Terri will be open from 7am-3pm on Thanksgiving. They're not sure yet if they'll have any special options, but their Thanksgiving-themed sandwich is worth checking out year-round .

Veggies Natural Juice Bar will be giving away vegan soup on Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday November 24.

Order by Tuesday, 11/23, for the WholeFoods $19.99 Field Roast Vegan Dinner. It includes four courses and can be combined with a vegan bakery package for two.

If you love to cook, want to save money, or just want to skip the formality of dining out, host a potluck! Hit your local farmers' market for ingredients, or check out one of NYC's vegan-friendly grocery stores. You'll find recipes everywhere from VegWeb to the New York Times.

We've also got more mass-produced entree options that ever before. In addition to the time-honored Tofurky, you might look into Match Meat's Vegan Stuffed Holiday Roast, Gardein's Savory Stuffed Turk’y with Gravy, Five-Star Foodies's Vegan Harvest Roast, Vegetarian Plus' Vegan Half "Chicken," or Field Roast's Celebration Roast, Hazelnut Cranberry Roast, or Smoked Tomato Loaf. Don't forget the Tofukey and Gravy Jones Soda!

If we're missing anything good, please let us know!

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 Chocolate Show!

 It's close to the "most wonderful time of the year" and chocolate is involved. I think it's fair to say that the annual Chocolate Show might be the most wonderful event of the year.

Okay, I'm a chocoholic and I'm biased.

What makes the Chocolate Show particularly awesome, outside of all the types of chocolate from around the globe that you can sample, is that it's not just about eating. There were culinary demos (featuring Dylan Lauren of Dylan's Candy Bar, Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, and Brooks Headley of Del Posto making Eggplant Chocolate Crostata), book signings, and for some visual fun, a fashion show where 70% or 80% of the costume must be made of chocolate. This year's theme revolved around saving the ecosystem- check out the spins on sun/earth/ocean goddesses!

Let's get back to the eating part!

My favorite chocolatiers were on hand, as they are every year- sweetriot, which makes low calorie, dairy-free, and fair trade dark chocolate covered cacao nibs, and Japanese chocolatier Mary's, which has creative twists on traditional chocolates and only appears in the U.S. for the Chocolate Show. If those great companies weren't enough, I've also discovered 2 new loves- first up is Gnosis Chocolate, which is the only chocolate I know of that was created by a certified holistic health counselor! It's organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free, and just plain delish. I'll admit, I've never had raw chocolate before, but I loved the still creamy texture and the flavor that Gnosis was offering up that day: Himalayan pink sea salt. It was more than just salty and sweet, it was mineral-y... and it was nothing short of fantastic. They were $8 a bar at the show, but when you find something that manages to satisfy all your snack cravings and does minimal damage to your waistline, you just have to go with it.

I love good chocolate and I love a good gimmick, so I also found myself drawn to new company 2 Chicks With Chocolate, which was named one of the Top Ten Chocolatiers in America by Dessert Professional magazine. If the chicks from Sex and the City consumed things other than cosmos, it would be these chocolates. Their spread of ganaches (in flavors like blood orange, cranberry, pear caramel and cinnamon), chocolate bark (the almond toffee and pumpkin spice varieties were especially fab), and their dangerous chocolate martini mix would make delicious accompaniments to any girls' night! I'll be sure to report back on how those chocolate martinis come out...


Or am I too late? Okay, maybe these chocolate martinis would work for the SATC girls after all... they sure worked for me! Happy indulging everybody!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Health Benefits of Black Rice

The health conscious know to always opt for brown rice with their takeout entrees, but with new studies coming out about the benefits of black rice- also dubbed "forbidden rice" by the Chinese because only emperors were allowed to eat it- you might just go black and never go back.

In addition to packing Vitamin E, fiber, and iron, black rice also contains high anthocyanin levels- that's the same good stuff found in other dark hued foods like blueberries, and with its low sugar content, some food scientists believe black rice might even be healthier than blueberries.

Other perks?Anti-inflammatory properties! One Korean study found that mice fed with 10% black rice bran feed significantly suppressed ear skin inflammation than those fed 10% brown rice bran. Read more about black rice benefits here.

And just as important, it's delish. It's nutty flavor goes well with many fall dishes, like the stuffed acorn squash I made a few weeks ago, and it would certainly make a great addition to a healthy Thanksgiving table!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thai-style Vegetable Noodle Soup

Cooks will say that in order to make an authentic Vietnamese or Thai noodle soup, I'd probably be using fish sauce, oyster sauce, or fish broth. Ha!

Well, I'm sure some foodie purist would take issue with my mix of ingredients, both authentic and not entirely authentic, but the fun part of this recipe is being able to use what you can find (I, for one, would have loved to add lemongrass, but couldn't find any stalks in my neighborhood, and wasn't venturing further out in Queens in get some)- I picked up my favorite Asian vegetables, and omitted the red-hot Thai chillies that my honey won't touch. I also scored at my grocery store with smoked garlic tofu- it was quite good, and I'm surprised any tofu made it into the soup after I opened that package! You can also feel free to add some coconut milk- I left this out because I wanted a lighter soup.

This was totally what I needed on the random cold days we had earlier in the week. I'll go back to thinking about Thanksgiving dishes once I get through this giant vat of soup :)

The Whats:

* 3 tbsp. olive oil or peanut oil
* 1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
* 1 5 oz. pkg. smoked tofu, diced
* 2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
* 3 scallion stalks, sliced
* 1 medium daikon, peeled and sliced
* 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
* 2 tsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
* 2 tsp. Thai basil, chopped
* 1/4 cup rice vinegar
* 1/4 cup tamari
* 2 tbsp. sesame oil
* 1/2 tsp. crushed chili paste
* 1 inch piece ginger, grated
* 2 large garlic cloves, grated
* 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
* 2 cups water
* 1/2 an 8 oz. pkg of uncooked rice noodles

The Hows:

1) In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and tofu to the pot and cook for 4 or 5 minutes until mushrooms have softened and tofu just starts to brown.

2) While mushrooms and tofu cook, whisk together the rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, chili paste, ginger, and garlic. Set aside.

3) Add the vegetables, cilantro, Thai basil, and half the marinade to the pot; cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and broth. Mix together and wait until the liquid simmers before stirring in rice noodles. Cook soup for 10 to 15 minutes, before veggies soften. Serve hot, with a drizzle of sesame oil if desired.

Monday, November 8, 2010


FoodParc is a whole new, futuristic approach to the traditional "food court"... and I do of course mean this in the best way possible.

Fab fact number 1- You order whatever you're craving from any vendor at one vendor, and you're signaled when you're food is ready at each location. Time saver!

Fab fact number 2- No chains- you won't find a McDonald's or Dairy Queen here! The stands are few in number, but include Fornetti, for Italian grub; The Press, for coffee, gelato, and pastries; and Red Farm Stand, for Asian inspired noshing.

Which brings me to my next point...

Fab fact number 3- The food is a hundred times better than any suburban food court I've ever been to! On one random night last week, a pal and I split a Tuscan Country flatbread salad from Fornetti with- get this- arugula, fennel, ricotta salata, figs, shaved black truffle, and oranges, served on a whole wheat flatbread. It pained me to not finish it! We also indulged in mushroom spring rolls, vegetable pot stickers, and the water chestnut, pineapple, and arugula salad topped with lotus root chips from Red Farm Stand. Though none of the vendors had an abundance of veggie options, I was definitely satisfied with the ones I sampled. To be fair, none of these items were the best of their respective cuisines, as to be expected, but certainly, they were tasty, inexpensive, and fast. And that was fine with me.

But just as important:

Fab fact number 4- There's a bar in FoodParc, along with ample seating either outside or in a separate lounge space to the back of the venue and upstairs. Most stands also offer beer. In the event those pot stickers don't leave you satisfied, know that a cosmo will!

With just four vendors, I don't know that I'd revisit FoodParc often- but for a glimpse of what a mall food court has the potential to be, it's worth a look! 

FoodParc, 851 Sixth Avenue, 212-564-4567

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rigatoni Puttanesca

Puttanesca is a tricky dish to eat out... though it calls for anchovy paste, not every place will put it in their sauce. You always need to ask the restaurant whether your pasta has some hidden fishy ingredient in it (much like you'd ask about fish sauce at a Thai restaurant) or just avoid it altogether.

So instead, how about I just share a good puttanesca recipe that's anchovy free? No compromising on this one!

I love a good briny olive, but with the amount of olives in the sauce, you won't need to add any additional salt to the recipe. Briny = win; salty = epic fail. Vary it up with your olives too- I used my favorite Italian varieties, plus Greek Kalamatas, which are a staple in our kitchen. And though I'll never share my family's homemade tomato sauce recipe online (sorry ya'll!), I will tell you this: the type of canned tomatoes you use makes an unmistakable difference to your finished product. Use real San Marzano tomatoes for real, sweet, tomato flavor!

The Whats:

* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
* 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with basil
* 1/3 cup capers, drained
* 3/4 cup mixed Mediterranean olives (Cerignola, Liguria, Kalamata, whatever you like!), drained and chopped
* 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
* 1 lb. bag of whole grain rigatoni

The Hows:

1) In a heavy skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat; add the onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in crushed tomatoes, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the capers and chopped olives, and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Set aside.

2) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until al dente. Drain and return rigatoni to pasta pot. Add the puttanesca sauce to the rigatoni and toss until well coated. Top with fresh parsley or freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Check it, Gaga: Veggies as Fashion

We all know the commotion that Lady Gaga made at the VMA's with that god-awful meat dress. Even if you do eat meat, I can't imagine you'd actually want to wear it.

But while randomly surfing online this week, I also found a great feature on Yahoo! that Lady Gaga probably should've looked at before donning a future piece of giant jerky. I think the artichoke dress on the left is way sexier than Gaga's meat dress!

Using food for fashion isn't something new for designers. There's the Chocolate Fashion Show at the annual Chocolate Show held in NYC, where the couture is required to be made mostly of chocolate. (I was lucky enough to attend two years ago, check out the photo below!)

This artichoke dress is part of the "Hunger Pains" series by photographer Ted Sabarese, which showcased garments made of the foods that the participating models craved. I could make a crack at the idea of models eating, but I won't touch that one :)

I don't know about you, but if I left the house wearing a pasta dress, I'd probably arrive at my destination almost naked!

Homemade Tofurky and Other Thanksgiving Recipes!

November is National Go Vegan Month, as well as the month in which Thanksgiving falls. Does anyone else find this ironic? 

Maybe the editors of had that in mind when they posted this awesome looking recipe for a homemade Tofurkey with brown rice stuffing! As Chow points out, it's always better to make something yourself, especially if the other option is full of artificial and/or hard to pronounce ingredients.

Looking for other sources of inspiration? Look no further than the New York Times Well blog with their recent posts on vegetarian comfort food for Thanksgiving and vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli's recipes for harvest stuffed portobello mushrooms, maple roasted Brussels sprouts, and chocolate-pumpkin bread pudding. Keep checking back for more recipes- I hope this series inspires many meat-loving Times readers!

Also serving up some great recipes, though not all vegan or vegetarian (but I bet some of them can be modified), is the most recent edition of New York magazine, where some of New York's celebrity chef's re-interpret their favorite Thanksgiving dishes. You'll find Sara Jenkins's puree of chestnut soup, Zak Pelaccio's Brussels sprouts, and Mario Batali's apple pie.

Eat up everybody!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Mushrooms, & Apricots

I've already made a quinoa-veggie sausage stuffed acorn squash on this blog, but hey, one good squash recipe deserves another!

Whenever I think of squash, I either think of pasta (haha, go figure!), or what I could possibly stuff the squash with. There are tons of ways to prepare squash, but at the same time, there are so many great combos of squash varieties and stuffings, that you might as well experiment repeatedly with your favorite flavors. For this filling, I decided to work with earthy and sweet elements- I used portobello mushrooms and dried apricots, but you can use cranberries, pignolis, carrots, or whatever other ingredients you prefer! I could only find a mix of wild and black rice in my cabinets, but you can also sub in brown rice- does anyone else sometimes forget what's exactly in their kitchen cabinets? Now that it's November and the holiday season is coming, I better get my inventory together! :)

And though I usually like to top off stuffed foods with breadcrumbs or grated cheese, I opted for a drizzle of balsamic reduction- sweet, simple, and I think it really rounds out the flavors of the whole dish! These would make a great dinner party entree- the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, each guest gets their own squash half, and if you are entertaining non-veg guests, they'll still feel like they've eaten their fill.

Actually, with Thanksgiving coming up in a few weeks, you'd better get that dinner party menu together sooner rather than later!

The Whats:

* 2 acorn squashes, halved with seeds & stringy bits removed
* 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
* 1 cup dried wild black rice
* 2 bay leaves
* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 2 or 3 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and diced into medium pieces
* 1 small yellow onion, diced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tbsp. lemon juice
* 2 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
* salt & pepper to taste
* 8 to 10 dried apricots, finely diced
* 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, plus 2 tsp. reserved for squash

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle squash flesh with balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, place squash cut side down. Roast for 20 minutes and remove from oven.

2) In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add the wild rice and bay leaves; reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook rice for 20 minutes, or until soft. Fluff with a fork, and set aside.

3) While rice cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, mushrooms, and thyme; cook for about 4 minutes, then add apricots, lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste, and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and some of the lemon juice has cooked off.

4) Stir the mushroom-apricot mixture into the rice. Stuff acorn squash halves with the rice mix, and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until squash is tender. Let squash rest for five minutes; drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.

5) To make the balsamic reduction: in a small skillet, heat the balsamic over medium-high heat; simmer until balsamic has reduced to about 1/4 cup and thickened. Immediately drizzle over stuffed squash.