12/28/08

A Very Soul Power Christmas

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Let's face it: holidays are all about food.

Ceremonies, prayers, costumes... all that stuff can be nice, but nothing beats brunch, dinner, or the moments when you are eating candy at 9 am and nobody gives you any trouble. After all, what's the real show of loyalty and family? Not who's around when you go to bed or open presents, but who comes for dinner!

At my house, Christmas dinner is always a special affair because of the fact that it is also my brother's birthday. This makes for unusual holiday fare (chicken wings and velveeta mac & cheese anyone?) and is not always the most vegetarian friendly. Of course, who can blame him? On your birthday, you want comfort food, special food, but not always, say, a Christmas goose, or a seitan roulade. No problem! The fact that my brother picks out the carniverous portion of the meal leaves me in charge of pleasing my younger brother and I, which is convenient since we can sort of go wild on the crunchy hippy stuff and not try to make crowd-pleasing approximations of omni meals.

Although, for breakfast, we did just that. There's this amazing restaurant in Atlanta called Ria's Bluebird which has gorgeous bluebird murals on the wall, a great friendly atmosphere, and absolutely scrumptious vegan breakfast hash. I have to hit it up every time I'm in town, and one of the best things on the menu is the pancakes with caramelized bananas. Although I wouldn't vouch for this being vegan there, the many times I've re-created it it has always been equally fabulous.

So while my folks munched on the eggs benedict which is traditional in my home, we had some pancakes (recipe courtesy of The Joy of Vegan Cooking) topped with caramelized bananas and pecans. The soysage is Morning Star and (!) not vegan, but since it was already bought I didn't want to disappoint everybody.

To make the bananas, simply heat a few knobs of earth balance until melted, then stir in a fist-full of brown sugar. Blend the two until you've got a nice bubbly syrup going, then add in sliced bananas and coat to your heart's burned-ness content. Top with pecans. Mine were a little mushy today, but fabulous nonetheless. Oh Ria!

For dinner, we decided on a feast of my favorites with the main course being Jimmy's pick. We had the paradise pie from The Candle Cafe cookbook, one of the J's favorite meals EVER, plus a yellow beet salad and the brussels sprouts with apples and tofu from 101 Cookbooks. To drink, I mixed a cheap prosecco with sparkling pomengranite juice for a refreshing cocktail. (At least, to me. Everbody else preferred Heinekin. Yatever.)
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So first, the bad news. The 'paradise pie' was so amazing at the actual Candle Cafe that I had very high hopes. Unfortunately, I overcooked the millet and didn't get the beans just right, so although the miso and cinnamon-laced sweet potatoes were scrumptious, it wasn't quite the revelation that it was in NYC. Next time I might used canned black beans as a shortcut... and obviously try not to overcook anything.

The yellow beet salad, on the other hand, came together wonderfully and was extremely simple. I was pulled into some yellow beets at My Organic Market and decided that, despite the holiday-appropriateness of red ones I would give them a go. They were drizzled with a home-made dressing from my Mom that was delicious and broiled on each side for about 8-10 minutes.


Beet Happening Dressing

Combine in a food processor: 2 chopped shallots, 1/3 C. Balsamic vinegar, 3 T. maple syrup or agave nectar, pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle in 1/3 C. Olive oil until blended.

This dressing was a sort-of marinade for the beets, and then tossed into the spinach salad with some pecans (leftover from breakfast) as a landing for them after they came out from under the broiler. So perfect.

And saving the best for last, the Brussels Sprouts! OMG the Brussels Sprouts, with apples and tofu and pistachios! I know, I know, it has to stop, this obsession with those undesirables of the produce section, but holy frying pan was this good! The recipe, which is another brainchild of 101 Cookbooks' Heidi, the woman who brought us caramelized tofu, was beyond fabulous. It was by far the star of the meal, both with omnis and herbis, and so easy to put together (although I used pistachios rather than pinenuts). Cook this immediately. The recipe can be found AQUI.
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So all in all, this meal was a bit of a departure from last year. I played around with tradition a bit and some things didn't come together. But tastes change, and I'm very happy with the way things turned out. And now, as a new year's resolution, I must find some new vegetables to obsess about. Any nominations?

Hope everyone's Christmas/ Chanukah was spectacular!

4 comments:

jessy said...

crunchy hippy stuff - that's too funny! my father has called "our food" that before!! ahahaha! i love it!

sadface on the morningstar yummies not being vegan. but the bananas - oh my goooooodness, they look soooooo freak'n GLORIOUS! totally wishing i had your pancakes of awesomeness for breakfast this morning. mmmmmmmmm! it would make today the best monday...

i always overcook millet. pisses me off a bit, actually. i just can't seem to get it right. sorry your paradise pie was a bit disappointing, but i'm glad the beet salad was so awesome (and thanks for the dressing recipe)! the brussels looks like pretty much the best ever! damn, so awesome! brussels sprouts + apples + tofu + pistachios = combination of excellence, indeed! and i love those undesirables, too! yay! i would like to add that i think pistachios were a good call (rather than pinenuts)! superw00t!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

You really managed to feed yourself well. That has to be tough having a birthday on Christmas too. Brett has twin boys who were born on the winter solstice, just a few days before Christmas, so their mom always does something combined. I wonder how they feel about it.

Caramelized bananas? Seriously, I am DROOLING, I can't imagine anything better than that at this moment in time. :-)

And all your beets and brussel's sprouts are making me want to give them another try. It's not that I dislike either, I think they are both pretty good actually, but I can never think of what to do with them. Next time I have beets or brussels I know where I am going for ideas.

I ♥ puggies said...

I will have to try that resturaunt in Atlanta next time we are there (usually picking up family from the airport). Last time everyone just wanted to go to Popeye's...

Liz² said...

amazing!!! that's it, you must cook christmas dinner at my house next year. I cannot believe those brussels, wow.
and happy new year! :)