American Thanksgiving 2012

Last week, we had our third annual American Thanksgiving Dinner with our friend, Gwen. John helped me reign in my excitement and only plan a very large meal, instead of a crazy big one. Like previous years, we made a Thanksgiving dinner without meat, but in this case, a large amount of dairy, and somehow, no soy products.

We set the table for four, and unfortunately one of our guests got the stomach flu the day before. He kindly stayed home, instead of spreading his virus to us. 

Yes, I was that person who made the little pears with name tags on them, an idea I saw all over the internet this year. It was actually really easy and kinda fun, even though I felt silly making fake little name tags and tying them on to pears. 

Here are some links to the recipes we enjoyed. 
Basic Cranberry Sauce from MarthaStewart.com (the sauce in this photo is in progress, of course). John said he didn't like cranberry sauce, but that this recipe converted him. I had no idea it was so easy to make! Berries + sugar + lemon zest + water + heat. Done. 

Our sick friend was supposed to bring pie, so at the last minute, John and I decided to make a pumpkin pie from scratch (who are we?!). Actually, we practice "cutting in" all the time when we make biscuits, so John handled the crust recipe like a pro. 

Here's the pie before it baked: voluptuous vegan pumpkin pie, from Vegan Pie in the Sky, from the geniuses at the PPK.  

This pie turned out 50% awesome, 50% not quite right. First, I subbed tapioca flour for agar powder, which was probably an error. The consistency wasn't quite right for pumpkin pie. Also, we under baked it, so the crust on the bottom was a little chewy. Still, the spice balance in this is great, and it's not very sweet. To make the filling, you just combine all the ingredients and dump them in the pie shell, much easier than cooking them on the stove first. Making the crust was somewhat an epiphany for John, since he didn't realize it was so simple. I think this pie has him pretty excited, and that this will be the Christmas of Pies. 

We also made this Pear and Pecan Cornbread Stuffing, also from the PPK. 
This stuffing is delicious. It dries out easily, so be generous with the stock, especially when you reheat it. I think it needs about 2 cups of stock from the start, and we've added more with the leftovers. It's so flavorful and good, I can't wait to make it again at Christmas.

This picture of John maniacally stirring is the only one I got of the mashed potatoes. We didn't follow a real recipe here, just cubed and boiled potatoes, mashed them with chopped rosemary and a bunch of butter and cream. It's basically potatoes+fat. We use red potatoes and leave the skin on for a little color. 

I made brie en croute with the cranberry sauce pictured above. I loosely followed a similar recipe using apple compote from Annie's Eats, just to get the general idea of how to wrap it and how long to bake it.   This brie turned out beautifully, because, how could it not? Brie oozing out of puff pastry? If you don't like that, then I can't help you. Once it came out of the oven, we started eating it so fast that I didn't snap a picture, but take my word for it that the finished product was really pretty and presented well. We ate it with some cranberry-pumpkin seed pita chips from Costco, which I would highly recommend. You need a firm cracker to stand up to all that brie. We meant to also use green apple slices, but it completely slipped my mind when the time came.
You'll notice from the picture that I didn't really wrap it in any kind of systematic way. I just gathered the pastry up around the brie a bit at a time and kind of knotted it at the top. John and Gwen literally exclaimed "Oooh! Ahhh!" when I took it out of the oven. Can't wait for Christmas when I can make this again. 

Here is my plate. Clockwise, from 1 o'clock, you have the cornbread stuffing, then mashed potatoes, blanched green beans (just so we could say we had a veggie, and for something green on the plate), then the actual "main" course: Apple Walnut Lentil Loaf, from Oh She Glows. As predicted, the loaf was a big hit and we gave some to Gwen to take home. It would definitely please any vegetarians, vegans, or omnivores you serve over the holidays. Just make a little extra glaze for dipping.

No post-bake photos of the pie, since we covered it in whipped cream and stuffed it in our faces. I hope you had a Happy American Thanksgiving, or a regular Thursday, depending on where you are. Here's to a delicious holiday season!