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November 2006
The Post Punk Kitchen Does Thanksgiving
Recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

I have conflicting feelings about Thanksgiving. As a child, Thanksgiving week at school was always filled with bizarre arts and crafts projects and fictitious stories about happy Native Americans sharing their food with colonists. And while the day itself was always celebrated at my grandmother’s in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn, “thanks” for anything was never really given and a football game was always on the TV.

One year, I remember very clearly making the connection between the turkey I traced from my hand and the one lying dead in the middle of the table. I also wondered where the “Indians” we heard so much about were. As I got older I started opting out of the festivities. But the truth is, I missed watching my grandmother cook and the smells of fresh herbs. And it was the one day I could eat, well, whatever I wanted.

When Thanksgiving rolls around this year, I want to show that even a holiday riddled with cruelty, strife and general uncomfortableness, can still be enjoyable. We can create a cruelty-free spread using many ingredients native to North America. Whether you’re feeding all vegetarians or your omnivorous friends and family, these recipes are sure to bring a few good memories to this time of year.

Fresh Autumn Rice Paper Rolls with Butternut Squash

Rice noodles make the perfect canvas for velvety butternut squash, crunchy pumpkins and fresh herbs. Don’t be deterred by the rice paper wrapper, it’s super easy and rolling fresh spring rolls is a skill that will last a lifetime. If one rips a bit don’t worry, once it’s rolled you won’t be able to tell. You can dip these in the cranberry relish (recipe on p. 30) or use the simple dipping sauce below.

1 lb. Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces
2-3 t. Olive Oil
12 8” Round Rice Paper Wrappers
4 Ounces Thin Rice Noodles

1 C. Thai Basil Leaves, Cilantro or Basil, torn into bite sized pieces

1/3 C. Pumpkin Seeds, roasted, salted and coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Drizzle 2 t. of oil on a baking sheet. Place butternut cubes on the sheet and rub them all over with the oil, drizzle on another teaspoon if you need to.

3. Arrange cubes in a single layer and roast for 15 minutes, remove from oven, toss them and cook for 10 more minutes or until tender.

4. Transfer them to a plate to cool.

1. Boil a large pot of water.

2. Once boiling, turn off heat, add noodles, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Drain in a colander and run cold water over them to prevent further cooking. Place them in a bowl until ready to use.

To Assemble
1. Fill a large pie plate with warm water. Place a rice paper wrapper in the water and let sit for 30 seconds, until it begins to soften. Turn it over and let it completely soften, about 15 more seconds.

2. Carefully place wrapper on work surface and on the lower third place about 1/4 C. of rice noodles, leaving about an inch and a half of space on either side. Place a layer of butternut squash above the noodles.

3. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and fresh herbs.

4. Fold the bottom of each wrapper over filling, then fold in the ends and roll into tight cylinder. Place rolls, seam side down, on a plate and cut in half when ready to serve.

Makes 12 rolls

Dipping Sauce
3 T. Soy Sauce
2 T. Rice Vinegar
2 t. Asian Hot Chili Oil
2 t. Sesame Oil
1 1⁄2 t. Sugar

Mix ingredients together and stir rigorously. Chill until ready to serve.

Pear and Endive Salad with Maple Candied Pecans

This is one of my favorite salads and it’s ready in minutes. The candied pecans add a flavorful crunch and the sweetness of the pear rounds out the delicate bitterness of the endive. It’s a simple recipe but a smorgasbord of flavor and texture. I know grapeseed oil isn’t a common oil to have around but I insist you get it because it makes the best dressing for a salad.

1⁄2 C. Pecan Halves
2 t. Vegetable Oil
1/8 t. Salt
1⁄4 C. Pure Maple Syrup

1. Preheat a heavy bottomed pan over low medium heat. Toast the pecans for about 5 minutes, tossing them frequently after the first 2 minutes.

2. Sprinkle with vegetable oil and salt, and toss to coat.

3. Add the maple syrup and toss to coat. Let maple syrup bubble for about 30 seconds tossing the entire time.

4. Transfer to a flat plate lined with parchment paper and let cool. Break apart the pieces and serve.

3 Belgian Endives, sliced width wise into 1⁄2 inch slices

1 Very Ripe D’Anjou Pear, thinly sliced into bite sized pieces

3 T. Grapeseed Oil

2 t. White Balsamic Vinegar

1. In a large bowl toss together all of the ingredients, making sure the endive and pears are coated with the oil and vinegar.

2. Divide among 4 plates and garnish with candied pecans.

Serves 4

Porcini Wild Rice Soup

This is a savory earthy soup bursting with rich mushroom flavor. If you’ve never tried fresh chervil you should, it has a delicate herby taste that is not quite like anything else. It’s hard to find though, so if you can’t find it, use fresh parsley for garnish. You can make this a day in advance, but it thickens considerably when refrigerated, so have on hand extra vegetable broth to thin it out when you reheat.

5 Ounces Dried Porcini Mushrooms
2 C. Boiling Water
2 t. Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 t. Fresh Thyme
1 t. Salt
Several Dashes Fresh Black Pepper
3 C. Cremini Mushrooms or Baby Bellas, thinly sliced
1 1⁄2 C. Wild Rice
4 C Vegetable Broth
1 Medium Carrot, peeled and grated
Several Sprigs of Fresh Chervil, for garnish

1. Place the porcinis in a bowl. Measure out 2 C. of boiling water and pour over the porcinis. Cover with a plate and set aside.

2. Preheat a stockpot over medium-high. Add olive oil and sauté onions for 3
minutes. Add garlic, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until brown, stirring frequently. Add the sliced creminis; sauté and for another 3 minutes.

3. In the meantime, remove the porcinis from broth, thinly slice them and add to the stockpot along with the porcini broth. Cook for 3 more minutes.

4. Add the wild rice and stir for about a minute. Add the vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring the heat down to low and simmer.

5. When rice is tender (about 45 minutes), grate in the carrot, turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. If soup is too thick add another cup or so of water or broth.

6. Garnish with springs of fresh chervil.

Serves 6 to 8

Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Tofu with Baked Pumpkin and Cranberry Relish

This recipe utilizes the whole pumpkin—pulp, seeds and all. It’s fun to pull together and has a bit of a homespun feel. It’s also really crunchy and flavorful, especially topped off with the cranberry relish.

3 1⁄2 Pound Sugar Pumpkin
2 t. Canola Oil, plus extra for deep frying
1⁄2 C. Cornstarch
1⁄4 C. Fresh Oregano, chopped
1⁄4 t. Salt
1 Pound Extra Firm Tofu, drained and pressed, sliced length-wise into eighths
1 C. Water

The Seeds
1. Preheat oven to 300.

2. Carve out the top of the pumpkin and slice in half. Set pumpkin aside.

3. Remove seeds and clean them in a strainer under running water.

4. Dry seeds thoroughly removing any moisture.

5. Measure 3⁄4 C. of seeds and transfer them onto a rimmed baking sheet.

6. Sprinkle with 2 t. of oil, toss to coat. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping occasionally. They should be toasted a golden brown to a deep golden brown. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

7. When cooled, transfer them to a food processor and pulse until crumbly; the texture should range from ground to coarse and chunky.

8. In a shallow bowl mix the seeds with cornstarch, oregano and salt. Place the flour in another bowl, the water in another, and line up your three bowls: flour, water and seed mixture.

The Pumpkin
1. Adjust the oven temperature to 350.

2. Cut the pumpkin into slices that are about 2 inches wide at the widest point.

3. Lightly oil the slices and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

4. Bake for about 45 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

The Tofu
1. Heat 1⁄4 inch of oil over moderate heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron. The heat should be between 320 and 350; if you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil by dropping a pinch of the seed mixture in; if bubbles form rapidly around the seeds, the oil is ready.

2. Dip tofu on both sides into the flour, then into the water, then into the seed mixture until the tofu is well coated with seeds.

3. Lower tofu pieces into the oil. Fry for 3 minutes on one side and about 2 1⁄2 minutes on the second side.

4. Remove from the oil and transfer to paper towels to drain excess oil.

Cranberry Relish
2 C. Fresh Cranberries, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 C. Pure Maple Syrup
1⁄2 C. Water
1⁄4 C. Fresh Orange Juice
1 t. Orange Zest, finely grated

1. Mix together all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Bring to room temperature and serve over pumpkin and tofu. Sprinkle with seeds.


Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are co-authors of the newly released, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes That Rule (Marlow & Company) and hosts of the public access/podcast vegan cooking show, The Post Punk Kitchen ( Isa is also author of Vegan With a Vengeance: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Logo-Free Recipes That Rock.

Gingerbread Cupcakes
Recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Photo: Gingerbread cupcake.
By Rebecca Bent

Nothing says waiting for the holiday season to end like these moist, fluffy gingerbread cupcakes. Bring them to your next familial bash and eat them as you grit your teeth and marvel at your family.

1 1⁄4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 t. Baking Powder
1⁄2 t. Baking Soda
3 t. Ginger, ground
1 t. Cinnamon, ground
1⁄4 t. Cloves, ground
1⁄4 t. Salt
1⁄2 C. Vegetable Oil
1/3 C. Light Molasses
1⁄2 C. Maple Syrup
1⁄4 C. SoyMilk
2 T. Soy Yogurt
1 1⁄2 t. Lemon Zest, finely grated
1⁄4 C. Crystallized Ginger, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a bowl and mix.

3. Whisk oil, molasses, maple syrup, soy milk, yogurt and lemon zest in a separate large bowl. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix just until smooth. Fold in the chopped crystallized ginger.

4. Fill liners 2/3 full. Bake for 19 or 22 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Let cool completely before icing.

Lemony Buttercream Frosting
1⁄2 C. Nonhydrogenated Shortening
1⁄2 C. Nonhydrogenated Margarine
31⁄2 C. Confectioners’ Sugar
11⁄2 t. Vanilla Extract
1⁄4 C. Plain Soy Milk or Soy Creamer
1 T. Lemon Zest, finely grated

1. Beat shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add sugar and beat for about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and soymilk, beat for another 5 to 7 minutes or until fluffy.

Isa’s Thanksgiving Dinner Prep Guide

Following tradition, you can just plop everything on the table at once and no one will complain. But if you want to try something really special, start off with the Fresh Autumn Rice Paper Rolls with Butternut Squash, followed by the Pear and Endive Salad with Maple Candied Pecans and Wild Rice and Porcini Soup. Finally, serve the Pumpkin Toasted Tofu with mashed potatoes and gravy. And just when they think life can’t get any better, rock their worlds with the Gingerbread Cupcakes.

Use this handy prep guide to keep things organized and less stressful. When it’s all over, set yourself on fire and loudly proclaim your objections to the current administration. No, don’t do that. It’ll ruin everything…

1. A few days ahead: Prepare the gravy, cranberry relish, dipping sauce and candied pecans.

2. One day ahead: Prepare the soup, roast the butternut squash for autumn rolls, bake the cupcakes and prepare the frosting.

3. Day of, at least 5 hours ahead: Press the tofu, prepare the baked pumpkin and toast the pumpkin seeds, prepare the autumn rolls and store them.

4. Day of, 2-3 hours ahead: Keep oven warm at 200. Prepare pumpkin crusted tofu, place it in a baking tray covered with tin foil, keep warm in the oven, prepare the mashed potatoes (keep warm on the stove top), frost the cupcakes and keep in a cool place, put the cranberry relish on the counter to bring to room temperature.

5. One hour ahead: Go get dressed.

6. Half an hour ahead: Heat up the soup, prepare the salad, place the Autumn rolls on the table. The salad and soup can come out first while you place everything else on a serving tray and do any other necessary heating up. Then you can sit down and act passive-aggressively while saying “Really, it was nothing.”