ONE-DISH “TURKEY” FEAST- Something Different For Thanksgiving!

turkey-pie

I’m not sure how it came to pass that American Thanksgiving became firmly linked with turkey, but people don’t feel like they’ve celebrated properly without it. Of course, this is a dilemma for vegetarians.

Fortunately, there are some good imitation turkey products out there – and some NOT good ones, too. My favorite is Worthington’s Smoked Turkey Roll. This 4 lb log comes frozen and can be a little tricky to find. I’ve had luck at Adventist Book Stores and some natural food stores. It, also, can be purchased on Amazon.

Turkey fake color bkgBut let’s be honest. A slice of fake turkey is NOT the same as a slice of the real thing. So I decided to create a layered Thanksgiving pie, incorporating the fake turkey into the bottom layer with the dressing, thus giving the essence of turkey flavor. Layer  with other traditional Thanksgiving dishes of mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy – and you’ve got yourself a vegetarian Thanksgiving.

By the way, if you’re not a fan of turkey, real or fake, then leave it out completely. It will make a delicious and very pretty side dish.

WARNING:  Make sure you tell people this is NOT a dessert.  It’s so pretty, my husband took a bite, thinking it was a pie (probably because I originally called it Thanksgiving Pie), and spit it out. Very disconcerting to expect pastry crust, cream filling, and cherries, getting instead , “turkey”/stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.

ONE-DISH “TURKEY” FEAST

  • 8 oz whole cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I use dark)
  • 1 cup onions, chopped small
  • 1 cup celery, chopped small
  • 7 T butter, divided
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 lb imitation turkey
  • 5 cups herbed bread cubes (I used Mrs. Cubbison’s)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (I used my homemade VEGETABLE STOCK)
  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4″ slices
  • MUSHROOM GRAVY (you don’t have to use my recipe – but it’s delicious & super easy)

Make the cranberry sauce ahead of time to give it time to thicken. In a saucepan combine the cranberries, water, and brown sugar. Bring to boil, and let simmer UNcovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Refrigerate when cooled.

Preheat oven to 350º fahrenheit.

In a large pot melt 4 T butter. Add in onions and celery. Sauté until onions become translucent – about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Note:  I used herbed bread cubes. You can use plain ones and add your own herbs to the cooked onions and celery.

While onions are cooking, cut the fake turkey into 3/4″ cubes and pulse in food processor 12 times to form crumbs.

Cook potatoes in salted water until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, add 3 T butter, and 1 tsp salt. Mash. Add milk, if needed so they’re not too dry. Cover to keep warm.

When onions are done, turn off flame and mix in crumbled “turkey”, bread cubes, 1 tsp salt, and vegetable stock. Stir several minutes to moisten the bread cubes – add in extra stock (or water), if needed. (The mixture will need to stick together.) Pat firmly into a greased 10″ x 7½” casserole dish or a 10″ pie pan. (or any other size equivalent).

Cover with foil and bake at 350º F for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes.

Spread mashed potatoes on “turkey”/stuffing layer. Top with cranberry sauce.

Pass the gravy separately.

Note: This dish can be created with Thanksgiving leftovers – just to perk up those bits and bobs.

PASTA ALLA NORCINA FLORENTINE: Molto Buona!

pasta-alla-norcina-florentine-textThe one imitation meat that really does taste like the real thing is “sausage”. (quotation marks denote fake meat.) My go-to brand is Morningstar Sausage Patties. (I’ve never actually tried any other brand since these are so good!)

So when I saw an episode of America’s Test Kitchen featuring Pasta Alla Norcina, I was pretty confident their recipe could be adapted quite well for vegetarians. And, was I right! I went one step further and added spinach – I happened to have some extra in the fridge. (Waste not, want not.)

Not only is my PASTA ALLA NORCINA FLORENTINE a tasty delight, but it can be made in about half an hour – great for busy schedules.

Note: Try and use the orecchiette pasta. The name means ‘little ears’, since that’s what they look like. They’re perfect for capturing the other ingredients in the dish, so you get everything in one bite.

PASTA ALLA NORCINA FLORENTINE – makes about 5 cups

  • 12 oz orecchiette pasta
  • 4 “sausage” patties (I use Morningstar original patties, but their spicy ones add a nice kick)
  • 8 oz mushrooms (I prefer the common white mushrooms)
  • 1 tsp salt + more for pasta water
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1½ oz (about 1 cup) fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 oz Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped (tip: put parsley in a cup and use kitchen shears to chop)
  • 1 T lemon juice

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.

As the pasta in cooking, bake the “sausage” patties per package instructions (about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool when done.

Pulse the mushrooms 10 times in the food processor. If you don’t have one, chop them very small. (Then, add “food processor” to your gift list for the holidays!)

In a skillet, heat oil over medium/high flame and sauté mushrooms for 7 minutes. Add in salt, garlic, rosemary, pepper, and wine. Cook until wine has evaporated. Keep an eye on it – it doesn’t take long (about 3-5 minutes).

As the mushrooms are cooking, break up the cooled sausage patties into bite-sized pieces and mix with cream in a bowl. Set aside.

When pasta is cooked, save 1½ cups of the pasta water, then drain. (FYI, pasta water is a great thickener.)

Into the mushrooms pour 3/4 cup of the pasta water, the “sausage” and cream, and spinach. Simmer 3 minutes.

Into the now empty pasta pot, combine the pasta, mushroom mixture, Pecorino-Romano, parsley, and lemon juice. Add in extra pasta water, if needed (I never need to).

 

 

 

 

 

FLAN -There’s Always Room For This Silky Dessert!

flan-textI’ve been known to suggest (some might say ‘nag’) ALWAYS setting a timer when directions call for a specific amount of time. Even if it’s 5 minutes! It’s so easy to get distracted.

I, now, need to expand on this edict. Set a timer AND make sure it’s the kind that keeps beeping until you shut it off.

Lesson learnt last night when I ended up having to cook 2 batches of FLAN because I became so engrossed working on my computer that I didn’t hear the timer – even though I was in the same room. By the time I remembered I was baking something, my FLAN had overcooked by 20 degrees, transforming my creamy dessert into rubber. Sigh!

Fortunately, Batch #2 came out perfectly: silky smooth that melts in your mouth.

Note #1:  FLAN is a very easy dessert to make, but needs to be prepared the day before to set properly and chill.

Note #2:  As Queen of Freeze, I feel obliged to encourage you to freeze the unused egg whites for future use.

FLAN

  • 1/4 cup + 2 T water, divided
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

The first thing to do is make the caramel. For those of you multi-taskers, try and restrain yourself to this task – caramel goes from nearly done to burnt in an instant!

In a sturdy saucepan (I use my All-Clad for this – it conducts heat evenly), pour in 1/4 cup water. Add sugar in the center of the pan, not letting the sugar touch the sides. Very carefully stir water into the sugar so it’s completely moistened but still not touching the sides of the pan or it could crystallize.

Turn the burner to medium/high and let sugar-water boil – without stirring – until it begins to turn golden – about 5 minutes. You’ll notice it becoming thicker as the water evaporates. Once it’s golden in a few spots, slowly swirl the pan to even out the caramelization. It will continue to darken in color. When it’s light brown throughout, lower the heat to very low, continuing to swirl. Once it becomes reddish color (and you may see steam puff up), swirl in 2 T water. Immediately pour caramel into a loaf pan. (You can use either a metal or glass loaf pan, but cooking time will vary accordingly.)

At this time, preheat oven to 300º Fahrenheit and boil about 4 cups of water.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and yolks together, just until blended. Add in the condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, vanilla, and salt. Whisk together gently – you don’t want air pockets. (I’ve found sliding my whisk down the sides and lifting it up in the center, letting the liquids run back into the bowl, works well.)

Hold a strainer over the loaf pan and pour egg mixture through it onto the caramel – the strainer will catch unwanted tiny bits. Cover with foil. Put loaf pan in a larger pan (such as a casserole dish), and pour the boiling water around the loaf pan to about halfway up the side of the casserole dish.

Place in oven and bake at 300º F for about 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes). SET TIMER! The goal is for the flan to reach 180º F – you need to use a thermometer for this. If you’re using a metal pan, it will probably be done. The glass Pyrex loaf pans are not as wide, and taller so, if you’re using glass, plan on another 20 minutes.

Once the flan reaches 180º F, remove from oven, leaving it in the water bath for 90 minutes, UNcovered. Then, remove pan from water bath, cover with the foil, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

To serve, run a round tipped knife (so it doesn’t scratch the metal pan) along the sides, place serving platter on top, and invert. The flan will plop down. Carefully lift off loaf pan. You can scrape any caramel remaining in the loaf pan over the top of the FLAN – one can never have too much caramel!