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 Stuffing Cakes
(Addicting even if it’s not Thanksgiving!)

Stuffing Cakes

I woke early this morning as I always do and felt almost “called” to make something for my neighbor–a retired fella who helps me out with guy things, e.g. changing lightbulbs in security fixtures atop a tall ladder–who had a tooth removed last week and still has a sensitive mouth.  The package of stuffing in my pantry called out and these baked Stuffing Cakes were born.

They are seriously simple–as they start with the aforementioned dried stuffing mix–and seriously addicting.  The stuffing mix I recommend is vegan and I had to read the back of every package to identify it, so save yourself some time by using it.  Although, if you have another favorite brand you know is vegan, by all means, use it.  I am always astonished at what manufacturers slip milk into.

Forming this as a cake allows for more exposed surface area and, hence, and more of that ever-so-slightly crispy exterior we all love.  The amount of vegan butter may seem like a bit much, but I like this amount not only for flavor, but for aiding in a beautifully lightly browned surface.

Enjoy these cakes as a side or with something piled on top.  Be imaginative…and please share your ideas.

They are best eaten as soon as they come out of the oven or reheated for just a few minutes in a 350 degree oven rather than in a microwave, though the latter will do in a pinch.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 to 2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1- 8 ounce package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing

1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons flax seed meal

4 tablespoons vegan butter, butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat (like Silpat) or parchment paper.  Heat olive oil in a large (4-quart) saucepan over medium-high.  Add onion, celery, and salt and saute, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and saute, stirring, for about 30 seconds.  Stir in stuffing mix and herbs until well combined and then begin stirring in stock a little at a time. until a moist but firm consistency is achieved.  Whisk flas seed into melted butter, drizzle over mixture, and stir to completely incorporate.  Divide into 8 equal scoops on prepared baking sheet.  Flatten each into a 3/4-inch disk and bake for about 15 minutes or until set and enticingly crispy on the exterior.  Serve immediately.

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Vegan 3-Layer Savory Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Kale, Pepita and Sage Pesto Ribbon–The PERFECT Use for Leftover Mashed Sweet Potatoes! (A Tofutti Exclusive!)

Savory 3-Layer Mashed Sweet Potato and Kale Pesto Cheesecake

Yield: 8 servings

This elegant-but-easy (stupid easy!) dish is the perfect way to use leftover mashed sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving or any time.  Though leftover sweet potatoes are almost unheard of in our house, we did have a little remaining after a recent dinner party, and this luscious cheesecake was the result.  It is perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, or sliced thin for an appetizer.

For the recipe, just click HERE!

 

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Countdown to Thanksgiving 2014–The Side Dish: Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette

Kale-Salad-with-Pomegranate-Balsamic-Marinated-Figs-and-Dates-Topped-with-Smoked-Almonds1When I was imagining what to serve with my “throwback Thursday” Thanksgiving main dish of  Vegan Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping, I reviewed the recipe and just about the only one of my favorite Thanksgiving ingredients that was missing was sweet potatoes.

However, because the entree is a pretty all-inclusive one-dish wonder and very creamy-chewy-crunchy, none of the sweet potato dishes I could dream up would provide the necessary contrast.  Instead, a salad seemed the perfect fresh, raw burst that was needed for a beautiful and bountiful meal.

So, I’m bringing back my Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette from last year.  Dried figs marinated in Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette and smoked almonds combine with the fresh kale for a light fall salad bursing with flavor and texture.

If you love cranberry sauce, it would be a lovely addition in terms of both color and sweet-tart flavor and delicious alongside the casserole.  I recommend my sister-in-law’s Cranberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce.

For dessert, it has to be my Vegan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced-Espresso ganache!

If you want to spend more time relaxing and less time in the kitchen, yet still present a meal to truly be thankful for, this year’s 3-course mostly-make-ahead menu is for you.

But feel free to peruse The Blooming Platter for many more options from Thanksgiving pasts.  Just search “Thanksgiving” or your favorite ingredients.

I am so thankful for all of you and I hope you have a very special holiday, with plenty of friends, family and fun on the menu!

Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping
Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cranberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce
Cranaberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced Espresso Ganache
Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced Espresso Ganache
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Vegan Double Corn Finger, Baby Spinach, and Caramelized Onion and Corn Dressing (+ Thanksgiving 2013 Menu)

My Handsome 84-Year Old Father, Byron Gough; Huff; and My Beautiful Sister-in-Law, Terri Ann Lindelow
My Handsome 84-Year Old Father, Byron Gough; Huff; and My Beautiful Sister-in-Law, Terri Ann Lindelow

Ever since the year after we were married, Joe and I have enjoyed the annual privilege of hosting Thanksgiving for our respective families.

The venue has changed from our small first house to the roomier home we built 13 years ago as have the number of people gathered around the table, for family members and friends have come and gone through death, divorce, relocation, engagement, or just scheduling conflicts.

Everyone misses Joe’s now deceased parents and, this year, an engagement and a work schedule prevented one of our nieces and our nephew from coming.  But, my parents and sister all joined us this year.  (Impending knee surgery had kept my sister and mother home last year and my father, especially, felt guilty for coming without them, though they encouraged him.)

Both of Joe’s sister’s, one niece, and his married sister’s husband all were able to come, which made for a convivial group of 9 plus two hungry Great Danes.

I loved having my sister stay at our house, but I also loved visiting our parents at their beachfront hotel, and taking long (like 7 miles long) walks on the boardwalk with Joe’s younger sister from his families’  beachfront hotel.

There were lunches and dinners both in and out, movies, a couple of exciting football games (MS State vs. Ole Miss and Auburn vs. Alabama), dog walks, a bit of shopping with my mom and sister–we had to get Mom something pretty to wear for the holidays and she no longer drives (words I thought I would never utter)–planning for an SPCA fundraiser (more on that later), and lots of conversation, teasing and laughter.

Our tasty dinner–we usually eat around 6 p.m.–consisted of the following vegan dishes:

Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Marinated Figs & Dates Topped with Smoked Almonds

Lemony Parsnip Puree

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Shallots

Double Corn Finger, Baby Spinach, and Caramelized Onion and Corn Dressing (see below)

Morel Mushroom Gravy (no real recipe)

Pear Chutney (not yet posted)

Apple, Pear and Dried Apricot Crisp with Chai-Scented Streusel Topping

 

Double Corn Finger, Spinach, and Caramelized Onion and Corn Stuffing--Thanksgiving 2013Everyone seemed to love it all, but the dressing was a particular favorite.  I had found a recipe for Double Corn-Cornbread Dressing in the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  I was excited that it incorporated spinach in a great enough amount that each serving included a healthy serving.  So, I basically followed their recipe (substituting a vegan broth for their chicken broth).  But, as a child, I loved my mom, Sallie’s, Double Corn Fingers, so I decided to use my veganized version of that recipe in place of the cornbread and it was absolutely scrumptious in this teen-to-adult-pleasing stuffing!

Vegan Double Corn Finger, Baby Spinach, and Caramelized Onion and Corn Stuffing

Serves 8-10 (with other side dishes)

1 cup vegan butter, divided

1 cup self-rising cornmeal

1 1/4 cup self-rising flour

1-15.5 ounce can creamed corn (which is vegan)

3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 large red onion, halved, and cut into thin wedges

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 cups fresh baby spinach

2 to 2 3/4 cups no-chicken broth or vegetable broth (I think the no-chicken broth has a richer flavor)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place1/2 cup butter in a 9 x 13″ metal baking pan and slide into oven just until butter melts. Remove pan and set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium size mixing bowl, combine self-rising flour and cornmeal. Make a well in the center and pour in creamed corn and the melted butter. Stir together with a fork until completely combined. Dough will be a little sticky. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden on top.  Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.  (Can be made a day ahead up to this point.)

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1/2 cup butter in large cast iron skillet over medium high.  Add corn, onion, and salt,  and cook, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes or so, until butter begins to brown and corn and onion begin to caramelize.  Stir in pepper.  Adjust heat as necessary.  Remove from heat.

In a very large bowl, break up cornbread into bite size pieces.  Add corn and onion mixture and spinach.  Toss to combine well.  Drizzle with broth to moisten and lightly toss to combine.  Spoon into a greased 3-1uart baking dish and bake, uncovered for 40 minutes or until dressing is heated through and lightly browned on top.  Serve warm.  (Alternatively, dressing may be made up to to the point of baking, covered, refrigerated for up to a day, placed in a cold oven, and then baked at 325 degrees, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes and uncovered for an additional 25 to 30 minutes.  Recover if it appears to be browning too fast or drying out.)

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Countdown to Thanksgiving–Day #2: Vegan Turks Turban Squash with Pepita-Sage Pesto (Delicious with Any Pumpkin or Squash)

Turks Turban Squash with Pepita-Sage PestoWho knew that those pumpkins and squash at the farmers market–with their fanciful forms and all of their beautiful color, strips and spots–were not just for decoration?  Many, if not most, are seriously good eats.

What better to top my roasted version with than my Pepita-Sage Pesto?  I make a lot of pestos out of all kinds of ingredients, but this glistening version  is an all-time favorite!

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Countdown to Thanksgiving–Day #3: Vegan Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Marinated Figs and Dates Topped with Smoked Almonds

Kale-Salad-with-Pomegranate-Balsamic-Marinated-Figs-and-Dates-Topped-with-Smoked-Almonds1Fresh raw kale is the base of this lovely salad chock full of lightly caramelized dried fruit and smoked almonds, all glistening from just the right amount of a savory-sweet-tart pomegranate vinaigrette.  The most virtuous dish on the Thanksgiving table may just be the tastiest too!

I served this salad last year and, though the whole menu was scrumptious, I typically don’t duplicate.  But this dish made the cut and I will be serving it again!

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Countdown to Thanksgiving–Day #6: Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna with Smokey Marinara Sauce and “Ricotta” with Kale Pesto

Butternut-Squash-Lasagna-1-800x600For my first two “Countdown” posts–Day 7 and, now, Day 6–I decided to address the Thanksgiving main dish, as it can be the trickiest for vegans, it seems.  Nothing against “Tofurky” necessarily, but it has never been what I craved to grace the center of our Thanksgiving buffet.

This dish, on the other hand, is, to me, Thanksgiving personified.  A rich and creamy–but healthy!–layered amalgamation of many of my favorite flavors of fall, this lasagna is THE BEST I have ever eaten, much less created.  Wait, I think it’s the only lasagna I have ever created.  I guess I figured I just couldn’t do any better!

This link will take you to my original post which includes a hyperlink to One Green Planet who generously published the recipe.  Your soon-to-be favorite lasagna is just two clicks away!

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