I just returned to New York after spending a week with my family in Florida. Needless to say, as much as I needed a vacation, I found myself in the kitchen. Every night. Strumming up some new and some old recipes to celebrate the holidays. I do have to say that trials in a big kitch are much more exciting than experimenting in my little one in the city. Here is a glimpse of our Christmas Eve and Christmas night menus…we were sure to have options to satisfy everyone’s taste buds, with my vegan and non-dairy preferences and the very meat-y, full fat preferences of my husband and brother. I think it all came together perfectly (I even may have convinced some that the vegan recipes might just be more enjoyable than the “real thing”).
Christmas Eve was started with Daniel Boulud smoked salmon, caviar and champagne…we then had our traditional Florida Stone Crabs, served with a wild rice salad (a recipe my mother-in-law introduced me to at Thanksgiving). Being that this was my husband’s first Christmas away from home, we were sure to include a little bit of his family tradition with his mother’s Santa Clause Soup (an incredible potato-based soup, topped with fresh chives and bacon). I had a little trouble trying to create a non-dairy version for myself, but everyone else thoroughly enjoyed it! (Another challenge for next year!)
Vegan Chocolate-layered Bars
Bottom layer : 1/2 cup earth balance (or other vegan margarine)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp flax meal
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups crushed graham crackers or crumbs
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Middle layer: 1/4 cup earth balance (or other vegan margarine)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder (or instant vanilla pudding powder)
3 tbsp plain soy milk (I used coconut milk)
Top layer: 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp earth balance (or other vegan margarine)
To make bottom layer: Grease a 9-inch square cake pan. (Marika recommends lining the bottom with parchment that stuck out the top so you can lift everything out after). In a small bowl, beat flax meal and water together until frothy, set aside. In a sauce pan over low heat, combine 1/2 cup earth balance, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla . Add flax mixture and stir constantly until mixture thickens. Add graham crackers crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts, stirring to combine.Press the mixture into the greased pan.
To make middle layer: In a large bowl, beat together 1/4 cup earth balance, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla custard powder, and soy milk until creamy. Spread custard mixture over graham cracker base in pan. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
To make top layer: Melt semi-sweet chocolate and 1 tbsp earth balance. Pour over chilled bars and spread over top. Return to refrigerator to chill until firm (at least 1 hour).
For Christmas dinner we had a choice of a rosemary and garlic roast leg of lamb or pan-seared salmon fillets. Served alongside was a warm butternut squash and arugula salad and brussels sprouts and apples. Apple Crisp for dessert. We pulled together a classic recipe for the lamb and a simple preparation for the salmon. We adapted one of Heidi Swanson’s brussels sprouts recipe from her 101 Cookbooks blog, both veggie dishes were vegan of course!
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 lb potatoes
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, chives and parsley)
2 cups diced onions
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine
Wash and half the potatoes. Season with salt, pepper, a little olive oil and freshly chopped rosemary. Rub a whole leg of lamb with lemon juice and freshly chopped rosemary, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Place the lamb in the center of a roasting pan and assemble the potatoes around it. Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F and then turn down to about 350 degrees F for an hour or so, until the meat is cooked to your liking (a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast should register about 145 degrees F to 150 degrees F). In the meantime, on the stove-top, add mixed fresh herbs and onions to pan, stirring to combine. Add chicken stock and wine and reduce over high heat until sauce consistency. Slice lamb and serve with sauce drizzled over the top.
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced to bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp dried cranberries
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp shallots, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula
1/2 cup walknuts, halved and toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
1 large apple, cut into bite-sized wedges
1 lemon, juice only
fine-grain sea salt
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
pure maple syrup
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
12 ounces brussels sprouts, washed and quartered
Soak the apples in a bowl filled with water and the juice of one lemon.Add some olive oil to a heated pan and stir in the garlic. After you start to smell a nice aroma, stir in the maple syrup, and cook another 30 seconds or so. Drain the apples, and add them to the skillet, cooking for another minute. Scrape the apple onto a plate and set aside while you cook the brussels sprouts.In the same pan (no need to wash), add a touch more oil, a pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the brussels sprouts. Cook for a few minutes, stirring a couple times until you get some golden bits, and the rest of the sprouts are bright and delicious. Stir the apple mixture back into the skillet alongside the brussels sprouts 1/2 of the pine nuts – gently stir to combine. Remove from heat and enjoy immediately sprinkled with the remaining pine nuts.
I found a vegan and raw pie crust at Whole Foods while shopping around and was determined to find a way to use it. It was made with organic dates and almonds, among other ingredients. My family was insisting on an apple pie-sort-of-dessert so I thought I’d go the apple route. Because the pie crust directed me to just fill with fresh fruit and serve raw, I opted not to bake the crust. Instead, I baked the apples and topping separately and then filled individual ramekins with the pie crust pressed into the bottom for a nice surprise “crust”. It turned out incredibly well!
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2- 4 Tbsp Earth Balance (or other vegan butter), cut into small pieces
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped