Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Menus

It's rather late in the year to be posting a here's-what-we-had-for-Thanksgiving menu, I know, but work with me here. These recipes will be just as pleasing on a holiday table or to go with all that New Year's Eve champagne, right? Right? All of the links below are vegetarian, and many are vegan or vegan-izable.

Clockwise from top left: cranberries simmering, citrus for cake, the best sweet potatoes ever, veggie dip, and gougères

* Pre-Dinner Sustenance *
It's dead easy to cook your own beans, so there's no need for canned as long as you plan ahead. Besides, most can linings contain BPA (note: link leads to a PDF), and nobody wants that on the menu. Use only half or even just a quarter of a garlic clove if you don't want your loved ones keeling over when you breathe on them.

* On the Table *
This recipe sounds more involved than it is. Really. It actually takes minimal effort, and the results are phenomenal. I'm going to be making this a lot, especially since you can prepare the dough ahead of time and freeze it for later.

I kid you not, I could eat these every day for the rest of my life. Every. Single. Day. It's a good thing I made a half batch for Thanksgiving, because Amaury and I would have polished off every last bite of the whole recipe, licked the bowl, and had no room for anything else. I'll be experimenting at making this with soy or almond milk, because cream is a bit rich for eating this every day forever.

This was on the menu for Thanksgiving, but I forgot to make it until the moment the cobbler (below) came out of the oven… and at that point we already had more than enough food on the table anyway. We threw it together the next week instead. The bread gets soggy after a while, so don't make more than you'll eat in a night.

I think I preferred last year's main dish—stuffed acorn squash—especially in terms of aesthetics. But the cobbler was hearty and well seasoned. Use a bit less garlic and broth than what's called for.

* For Dessert *
Perfectly tart and refreshingly light after you've filled up on sweet potatoes. The recipe isn't online—the link above leads to a site where you can order a pint—but seriously, buy the book if you have an ice cream maker. The salted caramel ice cream recipe I posted earlier this year comes from the same source.

Normally, I prefer one-bowl cakes. Who'd choose to spend their valuable time washing dishes when they could be eating cake? I'm willing to put out a bit more effort for a holiday, though, and this cake didn't disappoint. The orange and other citrus flavors blend well with the gingerbread spices. The online recipe has a few "?"s where there should be numbers in the ingredients list, but here's what's missing: 1/3 cup sugar, 1/8 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp salt for the cake, and 1/3 cup orange marmalade for the sauce. We had a lot of frosting and sauce left over… I'd recommend halving those parts of the recipe (or make twice as much cake!). The sauce was pretty runny for my liking, so I'm planning to simmer and reduce it more next time.

Sequoia cones are about the size of a chicken's egg, but they grow into the largest living things on our planet! See Amaury down in the bottom right photo? If giant sequoias are giant humans in a parallel universe, I don't think Homo sapiens would even reach as high as their toenails.

We eschewed the consumerist insanity of Black Friday in favor of working off those extra helpings of sweet potatoes at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. National Geographic must have been paying attention to our plans, because the issue with the cover story on giant sequoias arrived in our mailbox just before we left! You can read the article by David Quammen here.

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