Countdown to Your Best Vegan Thanksgiving
Five Dishes Everyone at Your Table Will Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year to be vegan. Though I am thankful every day that I chose many years ago to live more compassionately, it is during this season that I celebrate my favorite tastes and textures…and share them with you.

The mouthwatering menu I have selected for you features two entrée-like dishes, both meals in themselves because of the balance of ingredients: greens, grains, veggies and more.  So delightfully pretty, filling, and creamy are these dishes that the only side dish I recommend is a fresh bright salad that sounds some special autumnal notes in the form of dried fruits and smoked nuts.  All that remains to round out this bountiful fall feast is my late mother’s Double Cornfingers which I recommend serving in place of stuffing.  For dessert, I offer a recipe I developed for Tofutti a few years back that is a perennial favorite.  These pumpkin cheesecake bars with their streusel topping are super quick and easy but doesn’t look like it, especially when sliced and served on frilly paper doilies.

Each item listed in the menu below is linked to its recipe, and following the menu are captioned photos that will help you envision how your beautiful table will look as everyone gathers around with gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude, I am so grateful for all of you who make my platter bloom throughout the year.  With nurturing wishes to you and yours during this holiday season and always.

~Betsy DiJulio

Blooming Platter Vegan Thanksgiving Menu 2017

Butternut Squash Lasagna (with Smokey Marinara Sauce and Kale Pesto)
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Creamy Rice and Greens Stovetop Casserole
Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Figs and Dates Topped with Smoked Almonds
Sallie’s Double Corn Fingers
3-Layer Oatmeal Pumpkin Streusel Bars
Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna
Vegan Acorn Squash Stuffed with Creamy Rice and Greens Stovetop Casserole
Kale-Salad-with-Pomegranate-Balsamic-Marinated-Figs-and-Dates-Topped-with-Smoked-Almonds1
Vegan Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Marinated Figs and Dates Topped with Smoked Almonds
Vegan Double Corn Fingers
Vegan 3-Layer Oatmeal Pumpkin Streusel Bars
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Vegan Pumpkin Spice Poundcake

Yield: one 10-inch poundcake

A pumpkin spice lover, not hater–in spite of all the hype–I take my savory and seeet pumpkin seriously. So three attempts and 12 cups of flour later, I finally got it: the perfect Pumpkin Pound Cake in both flavor and luscious moistness and tenderness.

The first two cakes were a little dry and we’ll say “sturdy.”  The secret to my ultimate success is three-fold: two kinds of fat, both vegan butter for flavor and vegetable oil for moistness; molasses also for deep, flavorful moisture; and the combination of curdled soymilk and vegan sour cream for ever-so-slightly-tangy tenderness (though using all curdled soymilk will work nicely too).

Get your pumpkin spice on!

1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
2 1/2 cups demerera sugar or brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup flax meal
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
4 teaspoons  baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup nondairy milk mixed with
1 tablespoon vinegar, set aside to curdle for a couple of minutes
4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (or another 1/2 cup nondairy milk, but I prefer sour cream)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the oil, butter, sugar, and molasses for one minute. Then add 1/2 cup of the milk, extracts, flax meal, extracts, spices, baking powder and soda, and salt, and continue to beat for another two minutes until the mixture is quite fluffy.

Add the flour and remaining nondairy milk to the sugar mixture in three batches, alternating and beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a spatula frequently.

Finally, add the pumpkin puree and sour cream (or 1/2 cup nondairy milk) and mix for 20 seconds.

Scrape the batter into an oiled and floured bundt pan.

Bake in a preheated oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bundt cake comes out clean or with a few crumbs sticking to it.

Set on a rack to cool for 30 minutes, then unmold and continue cooling the cake on a rack covered with a dish towel.

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Vegan Pumpkin Ale Spice Cake
with Salted Pecan Caramel Glaze

pumpkin-spice-cake-with-salted-pecan-caramel-plus-slice

If gingerbread and pumpkin cake got together on a booze-infused evening, this “baby” is what they would conceive.

Moist and deeply spiced, it is a carnivore-approved hit with one and all, regardless of dietary preference.  I adapted a favorite spice cake recipe of mine that called for natural cola, substituting pumpkin ale, adding pureed pumpkin, and otherwise tinkering.  I enjoy it with a little dollop of Coco Whip as a fluffy contrast to the richness of the cake.

Pumpkin Ale Spice Cake

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup granulated sugar (I use demerara)

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup molasses (dark or light, but not blackstrap)

1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk (plain would also be fine)

1 15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin

1 cup canola oil (or other mild vegetable oil)

1 cup pumpkin ale or hard cider (I used Harpoon Pumpkin cider)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

Salted Pecan Caramel (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a bundt pan.  In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, except baking soda, make a well in the center, and add all wet ingredients, except ale.  Whisk to completely combine.  In a small bowl or cup, whisk soda into ale.  It will fizz up.  Quickly whisk into batter until completely incorporated.  Transfer the batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack, and cool for about 15 minutes.  Loosen around all edges with a knife, being careful not to slice into the cake.  (I use a plastic knife, as my pan has a non-stick surface, but I still grease and flour it!)  Place serving plate over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate.  Let cool and then glaze if desired.  I recommend letting the glaze soak into the cake overnight before serving.

Salted Pecan Caramel

 1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

6 tablespoons vegan butter

1/2 cup plain soy creamer (or your favorite non-dairy creamer)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

Optional: 1 tablespoon rum, brandy, favorite liqueur

1/2 cup pecans

In a heavy-bottomed 2 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium-high.  Whisk vigorously as it begins to melt.  Once the mixture is boiling and amber colored (if you use demerara, it starts out amber colored), whisk in butter until melted.  Remove pan from heat, count to three, and slowly whisk in the soy creamer, salt, and optional alcohol.  When smooth, allow the caramel to cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a small cup or bowl and let cool until a thick pourable consistency.  Drizzle or spoon over the cake.  You may either stir the pecans into the mixture before drizzling or sprinkle them over after the cake is glazed.

pumpkin-spice-cake-with-salted-pecan-caramel

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Vegan Pumpkin Flan with Pepitas–
A Twist on Thanksgiving Tradition

pumpkin-flan

After my husband, Joe passed away, I joined with friends–old and new–to create a number of new traditions, among them in–home dinners with all-in gourmet cooks, Juan and Barbara Gelpi.  How fun to, as of September, fold my extraordinary new partner, Bob, into the mix.

Most recently, we convened at the Gelpi’s lovely home to cook and consume a delightful fiesta of homemade pico, guacamole and chips with Coronoas shots of tequila (for Juan and me–my first in my entire life, late bloomer that I am), tortilla soup with roasted pepitas–veganized from a recipe my mother got from the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas–Juan’s seitan mole over herbed rice, homemade tortillas, and, for dessert, Barbara’s apple-oatmeal crisp and my flan.

I adapted it from a recipe I found online, adding the pumpkin, spice, and more agar to make sure it set properly with the additional liquid from the pureed pumpkin.  I also tinkered with the caramel to make sure my preferred sugar–demerera–dissolved.  The results were a huge carnivore-approved hit: absolutely delicious with an incredible texture.  The genius of this recipe, for which I cannot take credit, is to create a cold custard that sets up beautifully, rather than a baked one which is very tricky when no eggs are used.

Betsy’s Pumpkin Flan

For the Caramel:

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use demerera)
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and let dissolve  for a few minutes. Then place over medium heat, stirring until melted. The demerera will already be golden in color, but if using granulated sugar, cook until golden. Pour into the bottom of 6 ramekins.

For the Custard:

2 cups plain soy milk
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon agar-agar flakes
1/2 cup firm or extra-firm silken tofu (I used firm)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use demerera)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Pour the soymilk into a medium saucepan and sprinkle with the agar flakes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the agar has dissolved.  Don’t worry if the milk breaks and separates. It will come together in the food processor.

Place the tofu, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and soymilk-agar mixture in a blender and blend until very smooth. Pour into the ramekins over the syrup, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours.To remove from the ramekins, run a knife around the edge of each and dip the bottom in hot water for about 15 seconds.  Invert a desert plate on top and turn out.

pumpkin-flan-partially-eaten

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Vegan Layered Fudge and Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies with Chocolate Ganache

Layered Fudge and Pumpkin Brownies--horizontalYield: 1-8×8″ pan of brownies

These are the perfect fall treat: chocolate always understands and pumpkin is just the perfect personification of everything appealing about autumn.

 

Brownie Layer:

1 box or bag of brownie mix that calls for only 1 egg, and contains no dairy products in the mix (I use Marie Callender’s “Restaurant Style” 10-0unce Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, sold locally at our Dollar Tree)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant coffee

1/4 cup canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer:

3/4 cup canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

4 ounces (1/2 cup) vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

 

Ganache Layer:

1/2 cup non-dairy creamer (like soy or coconut)

4 to 5 ounces vegan chocolate chips

Spray a metal 8 x 8-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.  (Optionall: cut a 3-inch wide strip of parchment paper long enough for ends to overhang sides of pan, press into bottom and up and over sides, and spray again with non stick spray.)  Make brownie layer: in a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well-combined and then whisk for 50 strokes.  Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Make pumpkin layer:  place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Gently smooth pumpkin mixture over the top of the brownie layer, spreading to cover.  Using a skewer or a knive, make narrow zig-zag lines through both layers from side to side, turn pan one-quarter turn, and repeat to make perpendicular lines.  Bake for 25 minutes or until brownies are set and no longer glossy on top.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  In the meantime, make ganache: heat creamer in microwave or a saucepan until very hot or just begining to bubble (about 1 minute or so in microwave).  Whisk in chocolate until melted.  Allow to rest at room temperature while brownies cool; mixture will thicken as it cools (speed process by refrigerating for a few minutes, if desired).  Gently pour and spread ganache over pumpkin layer of brownies.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until set before slicing and serving.

 

 

 

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Countdown to Thanksgiving 2014–Dessert: Vegan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced Espresso Ganache

Pumpkin-Spice Chocolate Cake with Spiced Espresso GanacheOur Thanksgiving tradition is in transition this year. For over 20 years, Joe’s and my families have gathered at our home in VA Beach to celebrate my favorite holiday.

Birth, death, illness, divorce, and distance–the stuff of life–altered the guest list from year to year, but essentially our culinary tradition remained intact, alternating between traditional-with-a-twist and very non-traditional thematic feasts: Cajun, Thai, American Diner, and more.

Finally, though, my parents have gotten to the age (81 and 86) where neither the drive nor the flight from MS is comfortably manageable, though my father still works part-time as an engineer and just drove them to and from Texas where my mother’s siblings live.  

Last November, Mama took a spill in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in North Carolina on their way home–I told them that place was dangerous!–and they ended up in the local hospital.  She was fine, if shaken, but the writing was on the wall.

So, though it made all of us a bit sad–as my mother said, “You think things will always be the same”–I suggested that we meet in New Orleans, an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from their home and a not-too-terrible flight from here.  Grateful and enthusiastic, my folks booked us into the Chateau LeMoyne, a family favorite, and I made Thanksgiving dinner reservations at Broussard’s, another family favorite since childhood.  Joe is game–he thinks it’s the right thing to do– if a little skeptical, as it’s not “his” city in the way that it is ours; my sister and I were weaned on The Big Easy.  And, though the decision was made too late for them to be with us this year, Joe’s sisters and our niece are hoping to join us every other Thanksgiving if our NOLA tradition continues.

Wherever you will be, whoever you will be with, and for whatever reason, my sincere hope is that you will find yourself deeply grateful for life’s gifts, even if, like us, they represent a “new normal.”

As a gesture of gratitude, over the next three weeks, I will serve up three new recipes–one per week–for a perfect, if slightly non-traditional, vegan feast.  And I’m starting with dessert!  Enjoy this moist, richly autumnal, and complexly flavored cake.  It was a hit for a friend’s recent birthday and I’ve made it again for a small dinner tomorrow night for two girlfriends.  Were we going to be at home, it would certainly be on our Thanksgiving menu.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Yield: 1 10-inch bundt cake

 

1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk

1 tablespoon vinegar

1  3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 3/4 cup turbinado sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)

1-15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 tablespoon vanilla

Spiced Espresso Ganach (recipe follows)

Garnish: chopped walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick spray and set aside.   In a small cup, whisk together soymilk and vinegar and allow to curdle and thicken.  Place all dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl in the order given, and whisk to combine.  Add remaining wet ingredients including soymilk mixture and whisk 50 strokes or until lumps disappear.  Avoid overbeating.  Transfer into prepared bundt pan and bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   (65 minutes is perfect in my oven.)  Allow to cool completely in pan, loosen around edges, top with serving plate, and and invert.  Spoon ganache around the top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the inside and outside edges and sprinkle with walnuts.

 

*Spiced Espresso Ganache

1/2 cup plain non-dairy creamer (soy or  coconut)

6 ounces chocolate chips

1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

1/48to 1/4 teaspoong round cinnamon (adjust to suit taste)

Heat creamer to barely bubbling.  Add chocoate chips.  Allow to sit a couple of minutes and then whisk together until smooth and completely combined.  Whisk in instant coffee or espresso powder and cinnamon.  Allow to cool until a thick pourable consistency.

*I like to double the recipe, using the whole bag of chips, and save half for another decadent purpose!

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Vegan (and Parve) Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream (with mousse option)–A Tofutti Exclusive!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream 3Yield: 1 quart

This is the perfect summer-into-fall recipe!

I love the challenge of developing recipes exclusively for Tofutti Brands, Inc.  When they recently requested a parve recipe for pumpkin ice cream, I mentally created the recipe for a Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream, as I wanted to use their Better than Cream Cheese; and then I set out on a hunt for certified parve products in our local Kroger.

Imagine my delight when every single ingredient I wanted to use, save graham crackers, qualified, provided I chose specific brands!  And I was able to substitute matzo meal for the graham crackers in the crumble topping with a wonderful outcome.

Parve or not, I trust you will rave about this beautifully colored, creamy textured ice cream like my guests have.  And you might be as excited as I was to learn that it is delicious served as a mousse before freezing!

Note: the specific brands of products listed are pareve.  If you adhere to a Pareve diet and choose other brands, be sure to look for the identifying symbol on the package.  Also, when selecting Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese–or Better than Sour Cream–please note that they company offers two kinds:  one contains transfat and one does not; I opt for the latter.

 

 

 

8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

1/2 cup Sugar in the Raw natural turbinado sugar

1-15 ounce can Libby’s pumpkin puree

1-15 ounce can Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

“Graham Cracker” Crumble Topping (recipe follows)

 

Place Better than Cream Cheese, sugar, and pumpkin puree in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add cream of coconut, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves and process until completely combined, again scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Chill mixture for several hours, freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions, transfer to a covered carton, and chill for several hours to “ripen.”   Serve sprinkled with “Graham Cracker” Crumble Topping, if desired.

Chilled, but not frozen, this delectable ice cream base makes a beautiful, creamy mousse.

 

“Graham Cracker” Crumble Topping:

1 cup matzo meal

3 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw natural turbinado sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

5 tablespoons melted Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread, melted

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients with a fork.   Press into a 1/4-inch thick circle on prepared baking sheet and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown; check after 20 minutes. Allow to cool, and break into pieces or crumbs of the desired size. Store in a covered container at room temperature.

Note:  For parve maple syrup, sea salt, ground spices, and vanilla extract, look for brands like Camp, Dan-D’s Foods, Danon Foods, Gefen, Liebers, Now Foods, Pereg, Prima, Sobeys Foods, Sobeys West, Victorian Epicure, etc.

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Vegan Pumpkin-Maple Ice Cream

Here in VA Beach, fall comes late so it can be quite warm this time of year.  Therefore, when my “good” vegan gal pals on “Good Reads” suggested that we all post a recipe inspired by pumpkin to celebrate the mid-way point of Vegan MoFo 2011, I decided to make mine a quasi-warm weather recipe while featuring this quintessential cool weather ingredient.

I love pumpkin as much as I do sweet potatoes, which is to say ” a whole lot!” so I was all in.   And I love it in both savory and sweet dishes.  This one is a not-too-sweet, but plenty sweet enough (that one’s for you, Lee!), maple-infused pumpkin ice cream.  I serve mine with sweetened Cashew Cream and a cinnamon stick.  But it would be delicious, say, with my Pepita Caramel Syrup (which is equally good on my Vegan Pumpkin-Bourbon French Toast) or with Pepita Brittle.

True confession:  I tried a new recipe I found online, experimenting with adding some additional flavors.  The recipe was a bust–maybe it was the Tequila and lime juice I added (seriously!)–as it never hardened enough to make brittle, but it also wasn’t soft enough to serve as a sauce.  Plus, I discovered a very important lesson: cinnamon and chipotle chili powder, when combined, taste like a Red Hot!  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never cared for Red Hots, and certainly not on my beautiful pumpkin ice cream.  So much for being creative.  I did, however, discover that I LOVE lime zest sprinkled over the top of the not-so-brittle brittle.  I’m going to keep experimenting and be back to you when the results are worthy of Blooming Platter readers!

For now, I hope you enjoy my newest creation!

Yield: approximately 1 quart

1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk, divided

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

3/4 cup soy creamer

2/3 cup natural sugar

1/3 cup maple syrup

1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree (feel free to substitute homemade)

3 cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon maple extract

Garnishes:  sweetened Cashew Cream, cinnamon stick halves, and/or Pepita Caramel Syrup

In a small cup or bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup soymilk with arrowroot until completely combined, and set aside.  In a 2 quart saucepan, combine remaining soymilk, soy creamer, sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin, cinnamon sticks, and dry spices.  Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture just reaches a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in arrowroot mixture.  The custard will thicken noticeably and quickly.  Whisk in vanilla and maple extracts.  Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate until cold, approximately 2 to 3 hours or overnight.  Remove cinnamon sticks, whisk again, and freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s directions.  Store in freezer.  Serve with a dollop of sweetened Cashew Cream, half of a cinnamon stick, and/or with Pepita Caramel Syrup.

 

For 150 fresh seasonal recipes, including some some fabulous fall fare, I invite you to check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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