Thanksgiving is obviously not celebrated in Scandinavia, but in honor of the American half of my family, we had a mini dinner nonetheless. It was nothing fancy - just a nice excuse to sit down for a good meal together.
If you have read my blog earlier, you probably know I love the oven, and tend to prefer dishes that can be baked. As you will see below, every dish of this meal (except for the gravy) was cooked in the oven, too.
I started cooking the dinner by making a lentil loaf. I have made this for years with different lentils, spices, and grains, but I think the one we had now was one of the best. Instead of millet, you can use quinoa, potato, sweet potato, rice, barley, or any other grain/starchy vegetable you like. You can also add nuts or seeds: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and cashews all work well. :) Sometimes, I also add some chopped bell pepper, zucchini, or Kalamata olives (about 1/3 c - reduce the salt accordingly). If fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley...) are in season, I highly recommend using them. The recipe is nice because it is so versatile, and you can spice it up or down according to your own taste. In my opinion, this is best served slightly warm or at room temperature, but feel free to heat it up as well. The leftovers make a great sandwich topping - in fact, that is often my main reason for making this. :)
Savory Lentil Loaf
- 1 c lentils (any kind you like - I used Puy lentils)
- 1/2 c millet
- 3 c vegetable broth, or water + one vegetable bouillon cube
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp canola oil or olive oil
- 1 red or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- 1/2 c spelt bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vegan Worchestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
While the lentils and millet are cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet, and add the onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook until the carrot is soft and the onion is transculent.
Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). In a food processor, combine the lentil-millet mixture, onion mixture, and the rest of the ingredients - minus bread crumbs. Process until quite smooth (I like to leave some bigger chunks, but you can also process this very fine if you like). Mix in the bread crumbs.
Pour the mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. Bake in the lower part of the oven for about one hour, until the loaf has set, the top is brown, and it slightly pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Serve with a good vegan gravy and fresh veggies. :)
For the gravy, I used a recipe for Thick 'n' Rich Gravy from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan - a book that I, sadly, don't own myself, but really wish I did (I found the recipe while browsing the book on Amazon). Seeing as I love so many of Dreena's recipes, I should probably get at least one of her books (any recommendations which one?!).
I first tried this recipe last Christmas, and it instantly became not only mine, but my family's favorite. I always omit the onion powder and sometimes use lemon juice instead of vinegar. The flavor also varies a little depending on the miso I have, but the recipe seems to work with virtually every type of miso. One of my favorite ways to make this is to add dried, soaked mushrooms - specially black trumpet mushrooms - and use the soaking liquid instead of vegetable broth. Absolutely delicious! :)
For potatoes, I made garlic potatoes in the oven. This is a very simple, mild recipe, and you can adjust it by adding more spices, mushrooms, carrots, onion - or, for a cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast or cashews - and using non-dairy creamer instead of milk. You can also replace half the liquid with vegetable broth or vegan cream of mushroom soup, or use a vegetable bouillon cube for flavor.
Garlic Potato Casserole
- about 1 kg/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 to 2 1/2 c non-dairy milk or creamer (or half of each)
- 1/2 tbsp freshly ground green pepper (you can use black pepper, but use a smaller amount)
- salt, to taste
Put the potatoes and garlic into a medium, lightly greased casserole dish, and mix to combine. Mix the pepper and salt with the milk or creamer, and pour over the potato-garlic mixture. The potatoes should be all covered in liquid, so add a little more milk if needed. Mix again to make sure the pepper spreads evenly.
Bake in the oven, covered, for about 45 minutes. Remove the lid/foil, and bake for another 45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown.
On the side, we had some oven roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower. For the cauliflower, I used olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. While the cauliflower was roasting (at 200 C/400 F), I prepared the brussels sprouts by mixing them with some canola oil (I ran out of olive oil), gomashio and black pepper. When the cauliflower was half done, I added the brussels sprouts, and continued roasting until they turned dark and crispy - about 20 minutes or so.
Instead of bread, we had some vegan cheddar jalapeno biscuits. I have made and also mentioned these on the blog several times - they are always a favorite. If you already haven't, you should really check out the (very easy) recipe here. ;)
We also had some homemade cranberry sauce that my aunt gave me when I visited her last month, but I forgot to take a picture of it.
Not least - dessert! A good friend of ours recently exchanged about 10 kg of handpicked, wild cranberries to a few bottles of my parents' homemade berry and fruit juice - and deal they both seemed quite happy about. ;) This provided me with plenty of cranberries to use for baking. I prefer wild cranberries because they have a stronger taste, smaller size, and softer skin, but this recipe works well with store-bought cranberries as well. You can find the recipe in my post about Cranberry Toffee Cake. I'm still grateful to Mihl for creating a vegan dulce de leche recipe that tastes "authentic". This time, I thought I had come up with a smart idea to make the dulce de leche in a double boiler - so I wouldn't need to watch it every second - but after waiting for two and a half hours, I concluded it was never going to be done, and transferred it into a regular pot again. :) Both the dulce de leche and the cake turned out nicely...
We also had some brændte mandler (sugar roasted almonds) and white chocolate-cranberry cookies for a snack, but I will share the recipes with you in a few days.
As the darkness falls around 3-4 PM these days (the days just get shorter and shorter), I hardly ever manage to take dinner pictures with daylight. I'll still have to figure out how to avoid yellowish pictures without setting up a whole studio in my kitchen. :) You can see the difference below: the first plate is Thursday's leftovers on Friday morning (as you can see, the veggies were almost all gone by then ;)), and the second picture is the actual plate on Thursday night, in artificial light.
...and my real plate on Thursday... ;)
As you probably know, Thanksgiving is not a national holiday - or even known to most people - in Scandinavia. Here the single big national holiday of the fall/winter is Christmas, which everyone is now looking forward to. I do wish they celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving here as well, as I think they make the fall seem so much shorter - there's always a fun celebration to look forward to!
Thanksgiving weekend, however, often falls on the first Advent - which, on its side, marks the official beginning of the Christmas season here. This year, the date is November 28. This is the weekend when most people set up their Christmas lights, and the countdown to Christmas really starts. Although I have been looking forward to Christmas since July (almost) and set up my first indoor Christmas lights in early November, I'm so happy to finally see Christmas lights in people's gardens and in the city as well. The lights are usually quite modest around here, which I'm happy about - bright, flashing lights thrown around every bush and rooftop are in the minority. That being said, I do find this website quite hilarious (I'm just happy it's not my neighborhood)!
Have you set up your Christmas lights or other decorations yet? When do you decorate your tree, if you have one?
Next, you might want to visit Vegan and So Forth, where you have a chance to win a copy of the Candle 79 cookbook. :)