October 20, 2011
Two years ago around this time we attended a vegan holiday cooking class at PCC Natural Markets, and this year we did the same. It actually wasn't our first choice, but was the only class with openings. I like to discover new dishes for our holiday table, but I've learned that some of my guests are disappointed if the foods they expect to see are altered or replaced. For example, after the last holiday class, I made a new version of cranberry sauce that I thought was amazing, and was told that my usual sauce is better. So much for upping the holiday dinner stakes, and making changes to the traditional menu. We enjoyed all the food we had in class, but I'll have to think twice about whether or not it will appear at our Thanksgiving table.
We started with a fiery pear salad with caramelized spiced nuts (photo above). Something like this would be no problem introducing to my guests, but the dressing was way too much trouble to make, in my opinion, and too oily. The salad mix, though, with its mix of various greens, pears and pomegranate seeds, would be a perfect starter. I doubt I'd hear any complaints, and I could concoct my own dressing.
We had a wild mushroom and hazelnut paté which was very tasty, and which I might use on another occasion, or perhaps as an hors d'oeuvres for Thanksgiving.
The paté was accompanied by wilted seasonal greens with roasted beets, and I can definitely see using this as our vegetable — if I can get past the roasted veggies we normally serve — and I doubt that I can. But I may incorporate some of the ingredients, like dried cranberries, apples and pumpkin seeds into our usual veggie mix.
The dessert, gingered and cider-caramelized apple pie was a big hit with my husband, who admired the very flaky crust. The crust was made with spelt flour and a lot of coconut oil, and though it was indeed flaky, I felt like I was too aware of the fat content as I ate it. I don't mean the idea of too much fat, I mean the sensation I get when I eat a high fat food — I don't like the taste.
All of the food was very beautiful and would make a lovely meal, but there's something about tradition that makes holidays special. Do you serve new foods at holiday dinners, or are you steeped in the tradition of what your family usually expects on special occasions?