Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Morning After

What do you do after you've spent days in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dinner for your whole family? If you're me, you get up early (relatively) and make brunch.

Back when I first learned to cook (and had stopped eating all animal products, though I still thought of myself as a vegetarian, not vegan) and my family was still eating turkey during Thanksgiving dinner, we came up with Flesh Free Friday: the day after Thanksgiving, I make brunch and dinner and the whole family goes vegan for the day. This year, the main attraction was the Coconut Orange Dessert Pancakes with Candied Spiced Coconut and chocolate ganche from Vegan in the Sun:

(That sad-looking brown thing on the side is a cherry sage sausage from Vegan Brunch, which, say it with me now: tastes better than it looks, I swear).

In my family, pancakes are usually enormous things full of chocolate chips or frozen berries. One is enough to feed you for the whole day, and they're so full of "stuff" that what the actual pancake itself tastes like is completely irrelevant (which is good, since they're made from box mix and don't taste like much). This recipe changed all that. These pancakes are not only nice and light, but the flavor comes from the batter itself (fancied up with orange juice and rind, coconut and almond extract). If the sun was made of pancakes, this what it would taste like. They also reheat well and are pretty decent cold. The candied coconut and ganache just take a few minutes to make each, but make everything even tastier and seriously fancy looking (if you're one of those people who know how to make things look fancy).

Dinner was mostly Thanksgiving leftovers, but we started with the Baked Potato and Greens Soup with Potato-Wedge Croutons from Veganomicon, but before I talk about the awesomeness of that soup, look at my happy potato!

I must admit, I was a little bummed about baking and mashing such a happy potato, but sometimes sacrifices need to be made in the name of tasty goodness like this:

If you want to have a snowball's chance in hell of eating anything after this soup, have a very small portion, because it is incredibly filling. On the other hand, after eating this, I almost didn't want to eat anything. Except more of this. It's so good. It was also very hard to keep from eating all the potato wedges before we were ready to eat the soup. They're rolled in spices and cornmeal, then pan fried to perfection. I think I'm going to make them by themselves once in a while, just for snacking on. I also really like the use of kale in this soup. Not only did it add even better texture, but anything with greens in it makes me feel healthy.

Speaking of greens, we also had garlicky mushrooms and kale from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's upcoming book, which is incredibly fast and easy to make and, of course, majorly tasty. Green + garlic = good thing. Always. Adding the mushrooms was a real treat because I don't cook with mushrooms that often because I always feel like I haven't cleaned them well enough, so I only make mushrooms on days that I really have time to give them a good once over. Like the day after Thanksgiving.

We also had an additional dessert (like we really needed it!) of coconut truffles.

After brunch, I had a load of leftover ganache and a bit of candied coconut, so I mixed them together and stuck it in the fridge. A while later, I formed the mixture into balls and rolled them in more coconut. They never hardened completely and had to be stored in the freezer, but slightly messy fingers are a small price to pay for yummy coconutty, chocolatey goodness.

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