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Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Elf That Launched a Thousand Cookies

What a wonderful week this has been! We have cooked and cooked and cooked. Then we ate and ate and ate. Next we rested and rested and rested. This is your Elf’s favorite holiday because it’s a celebration of family, friendship and gratitude for the bounty that is the USA. We SO know of the work that is ahead of us but have committed to be a part of the solution. We have lots to share with you on this Sunday after Thanksgiving…so let’s get to it! We prepared TWO FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipes this week. The Creamy Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole was such a success last year, we saw no reason to change it. It’s a terrific casserole so we highly recommend.
In order to make this holiday cooking-palooza work in the most efficient way, we pledged to a ‘mise en place’ for each recipe. So, here’s our ‘mise en place’ for the broccoli casserole. Lightly steamed Broccoli, celery (and carrots underneath!), brown rice, thyme, chickpeas, onion (garlic not shown)
And for the sauce, which contains a lot of the flavor. Non-dairy milk, cayenne, tahini, nutritional yeast, onion powder, bittersweet smoked paprika, dry mustard, Meyer lemon, salt and Sherry (I doubled the amount!).
It’s a very easy sauce to make ‘cause all you do is throw all the stuff in a blender/VitaMix and whir it ’til it's smooth! Then, all that is needed is to sauté the onion, add the rice, chickpeas and pre-cooked broccoli, top with the sauce until it thickens nicely. Then add to the casserole pan and bake until there is a nice browning around the edges of the pan.
This casserole really is a meal in itself as you have a starch with the rice, a crucifierous vegetable in the broccoli, the wonderfully healthy chickpea and great flavor. We also made the FFVK’s 911 Gravy
which turned out quite nicely. As we were reading the ingredients and possible add-ons, we decided to sauté some mushrooms to include in the gravy as well. It worked beautifully. Here’s the ‘mise en place’, which should give you a nice idea of just how easy this recipe is. Chicken seasoning, a combination of 'Chikun broth' and non-dairy milk, freshly ground pepper, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, brown rice flour and a mushroom medley. Not pictured is poultry seasoning, which your Elf DETESTS. We only added a half teaspoon in hopes we could not taste it but others who like it could.
Now, as an aside, for the ‘vegetable broth’ needed, we used our old standby of The Gentle Chef’s wonderful Chickun Bouillon. This is a dry mix that we keep on hand ALL THE TIME to use for soups and other recipes that call for a vegetable broth.  The end result looks like this when served over the ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL Pecan/Mushroom Wellington we prepared as our Entrée Elf-fort.
More about that later. Looking ahead to next week’s recipe, we may just try to pull this one off tonight for Taco Night!! Lentil and Cauliflower Rice Tacos!
Always looking for new plant-based Taco ideas, so this sounds great. Just happened to have a great head of cauliflower in the ‘frig but am out of lentils. That can be remedied with a swing by Kroger after Spin class this afternoon! YAY! Oh, here are the Tacos fromlast Sunday’s Taco night using Simple Truth Meatless Crumbles.
So, we saw this great looking recipe on One Green Planet not long ago and decided we would HAVE to single it our for our Thanksgiving entrée. First of all, One Green Planetis one of our ABSOLUTE FAVORITE sites for great plant-based recipes as well as other terrific information.
The one slight tinge of trepidation was working with puff pastry but we threw caution to the winds and said, 'what the hell'. If you can’t screw up in front of your friends and family, then who can you screw up in front of! The recipe is Pecan and Mushroom Wellington.
The original site for this recipe is called Delightful Vegans
and the duo of Katie Culpin and Josh Bailey are just, well, delightful. Your Elf contacted them via their Facebook page (Delightful Vegans) to ask a few questions about using puff pastry (and Pepperidge Farm is vegan), specifically the lattice work that is shown on the recipe picture. Lord knows how  many sheets your Elf would screw up before getting the lattice to look like the picture. So, in true Elfery whininess, we asked “Do you HAVE to do the lattice?” They responded immediately with Not.At.All! We were smitten and decided then and there we’d hit on a great entrée. The second sorta smart thing we did was to look up Vegan Wellingtons on You Tube to see if there might be a similar dish that we would watch being put together. Indeed there was so we were able to learn a bit more about how to handle the sheets of puff pastry without making a complete mess of things. (Note: This is not the Delightful Vegan recipe being prepared but you do get some good visuals on how to work with the dough.
We decided to go with the typical Wellington roll instead of the lattice and just practice that for another time. Now, let me tell you something, this Pecan/Mushroom filling is delicious! We almost just left it alone without the pastry to serve as a side dish but, hey, it’s Thanksgiving and what’s Thanksgiving dinner without some kind of pretty entrée? AND, the filling is very easy to prepare—lightly toasted pecans, coarse chopped mushrooms, an onion diced, a cup of bread crumbs (we used Panko), some tamari, thyme and some red pepper flakes. This filling recipe makes enough to make two smaller Wellingtons. Then came the suspense. We’d gotten our pastry sheets out to thaw slightly to roll out. We joined the two pastry sheets into one large one to make a double sized Wellington. Working witih parchment paper and wax paper surely did save the day from any elf-forts we’d made previously. So much easier! We put a sheet of parchment on tope of the joined sheets of puff pastry (like in the video) and had NO PROBLEM rolling the dough out. We placed the cooled filling in the middle, leaving about 2” of dough at the top and bottom of the dough. Apparently, we folded it correctly and moved it to the cookie sheet and the waiting parchment paper there. Since we decided to make this dish a day ahead, we’d asked the Delightful Vegans if we could freeze it and bake it the next day. No problemo! So we wrapped it nice and tight and put it in the freezer. We wanted to make it ahead in case it turned into a elf-tastophy and we had to ‘fix’ something else! We took it out Thursday around 10a.m. and let it sit for about two hours.
The oven was pre-heated to 355º (a kinda odd temperature??) and we let it bake for a bit over 50 minutes since it was still pretty chilled. And, you can see for yo’self that it turned out beautifully (well, to us anyway!!). We were thrilled.
Next up, we took the Wellington and our FFVK recipes to our BFFs, Jesse and MaryEvelyn Dees. And what a feast we had! Just LOOK at all this food!
Squash and a artichoke heart/tomato salad (top)
Rice, Black Olive and Green Pea casserole
Mary Evelyn's Killer Salad
What was left of the Wellington
The always beautiful tablescape to go with the fabulous food and champagne punch!
You will not see the desserts as we gobbled them up like wild people. Blueberry Pie (not vegan but the moans of mouthgasms indicated how good it was) and The Elf's Gluten Free Double Choclate Chip cookies topped with non-dairy Cappucino Ice Cream.And, at the end of the day, our traditional ‘Friendsgiving’ picture. From l-r, Mary Evelyn, Jesse, Big Solid, your Elf and Emmi (Jesse and ME’s daughter). Not pictured are the Dees granddaughers (Riley and Zoey) and Emmi's husband who was taking the picture, David.
Friday night, we had our family gathering at Anjou Restaurant so no cooking was involved, on our part anyway. Left to right, Big Solid, David Taylor (son-in-law), Benton T. (grandson), SaraPowell T. (granddaughter), Your Elf, Lindsey T. (daughter), and Powell Swearengen (son). Kinda dark but you get it.
Delightful, stress free dining and delicious food to boot!
One funny story and it’s time to call it a day…as we were leaving for the restaurant Friday night, Big Solid’s car was noted to have a flat left front tire. Saturday morning, Powell, being an awesome son, changed the tire for the spare so we could take it in for a patch or whatever. When he pulled the flat time off, he noticed a big ole wad of pine straw, hay and assorted grasses all caught up in the wheel well. We could NOT figure out where we’d been to pick up all that stuff. When Big Solid got to the Honda place, they discovered a ‘possum’ and her/his nest!! After a while, they finally got it out and watched it take off for the nearby woods. Poor POGO!! Apparently, the creature had built the nest during the 4 days our garage door was broken, leaivng the Honda outside and the Elf-ement trapped inside.
AND FINALLY, LOOKEE what your Elf’s awesome cousin from TN sent!! Can’t wait to wear this to the Café tomorrow when we deliver cookies.

So, friends…as we make our way through this holiday season, remember to…
Look for the Good, be an example of the Good, and act for the Good as hard as you can as many ways as you can every day. In other words, “DO EPIC”!
Your Elf

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a fabulous Thanksgiving! All the food looks delicious! Thank you for trying out our Pecan and Mushroom Wellington! Glad it turned out well! :-) ps - love the hat!