Re-creating American Thanksgiving when you don’t live in America can be a challenge- but it’s been getting easier here in the UK year by year. Sure, most large supermarkets sell canned pumpkin for the ubiquitous pumpkin pie. Turkeys are usually on the shelves this time of year, too- for early Brit Christmas dinner shoppers. I loaded up on button, chestnut and shitake mushrooms for the gravy, and sweet potatoes. More difficult to find are the crispy-crunchy onions needed to top green bean casserole (though the Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup also needed is easy enough to find). In past years i’ve been relegated to using cheese and onion crisps as a crunchy topping, a bold- and trashy- move.
Here’s a peek at the groaning festive table:
What is a bit more challenging is having a bunch of vegetarians for Thanksgiving dinner and NOT making nut roast. Just filling up on mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole isn’t a good idea…not to mention mean and unfair. So I made a tofurkey. Yup, that’s right, a TURKEY made out of TOFU.
There are commercial brands available in Wholefoods Market, but imported they are quite pricey. So I thought i’d try and make one myself. It involved whizzing 5 blocks of tofu with lots of spices, then putting it in a colander lined with cheesecloth. I drained it overnight with a plate on top, weighted down with tins of chickpeas. The next day, I hollowed out a big scoop of the tofu and stuffed it with homemade mushroom, walnut and pumpkin seed stuffing, using a bit of the scooped out tofu to seal it up.
Then I flipped it out onto a baking sheet, and used the rest of the scooped out tofu to form some tofurkey drumsticks! I basted it all with a marinade made from balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, vegetable broth, a bit of honey and spices.
This is what it came out like!
OK, so it looks like a giant cowpat, but I topped it with a lattice of fake-on and served it with three mushroom gravy and homemade Earl Grey spiced cranberry sauce. It was REALLY tasty- and that’s coming from an ex-vegetarian.
Dessert came out absolutely bloody perfect if I must say so myself! I turned to Outsider Tart’s superb cookbook ‘Baked in America’ for inspiration, and decided on Pumpkin Cheesecake. I also made a separate recipe from the cookbook- Spiced Pecans- and used them to decorate. Notice the autumn leaves, too! I got them from the street.
The best part of Thanksgiving, as everyone will attest to, are the leftovers. There were two pieces of cheesecake left, and they were claimed by the chef for a job well done : )