My Dairy Free Thanksgiving
We had a wonderful dairy free Thanksgiving, and a great long Thanksgiving weekend, enjoying lots and lots of great food and great company with Therese’s mom, her brother Sam, and Sam’s wife Cyndi and their two children Hope and Dan. I have to run off to a cyber Monday shift at Sur la Table (sell that cookware!), but before I do, I wanted to give you a first taste of the weekend, with a photo montage of what I cooked on Wednesday and Thursday for our Thanksgiving feast. I will provide minimal commentary, mostly to give credit to the many far-flung sources for my recipes and to tell you what substitutions I made to keep it all dairy free. Enjoy!
Cranberry relish with walnuts
Mashed potatoes with bacon
Pine nut gazpacho
On Wednesday, I spent the afternoon preparing whatever could be made ahead of time: cranberry relish with pecans, mashed potatoes with bacon and pine nut gazpacho (I usually make the gazpacho for Therese’s birthday, but since we were in Florida for her birthday this year, she requested it for Thanksgiving instead). The cranberry relish comes from Joy of Cooking, while the gazpacho is from the Much Depends on Dinner blog.
The mashed potatoes is part of a shift in the menu that took place just a couple of weeks before the holiday. After doing our holiday side dish tasting at the beginning of November, I was set on making some of those dishes again for Thanksgiving. But then Therese saw an article in Food and Wine magazine highlighting Charleston’s Chef Sean Brock and his efforts to reinvigorate Southern cooking. We will be going to Charleston over Christmas, and eating at Chef Brock’s restaurant McCrady’s, and Therese was inspired to read the article. She hinted rather loudly that we should put one or two of the recipes mentioned in the article into our Thanksgiving, and so that is where the mashed potatoes came from. I used almond milk where dairy milk was called for, and also left out the mustard.
Pumpkin, lemon and chocolate fillings for tartlets
Tartlets ready for the oven
Tartlets fresh from the oven
I thought the best thing to make first on Thanksgiving morning was the dessert. I had come up with the idea of doing three different tartlets (lemon, pumpkin and chocolate), using three different recipes for the fillings and Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry for the rustic tart cups. My lemon curd comes from Alton Brown’s recipe on foodnetwork.com, although I cook mine for a lot longer than the 8 minutes he suggests (it takes about 20 minutes by my reckoning, maybe a little longer). And of course, I use Earth Balance instead of butter.
For the pumpkin custard, I used (for the first time) a recipe from The Awkward Blog, substituting almond milk (original unsweetened) for the condensed milk the recipe calls for. Meanwhile, the chocolate custard recipe came from Missing Flavor. To substitute for the milk and cream called for in the recipe, I used, once again, almond milk, and then an a product that is new to me, Coconut Manna. The Manna, while it is supposed to be coconut cream, is actually a solid, so it needs to be melted down with other liquids to come out right. In this case, with one part almond milk to one part Manna, it worked out nicely. The resulting chocolate custard was a bit gloppy, but that may have been the fault of the egg yolk/corn starch combo – there may have simply been too much thickener in this recipe.
Roasted brussel sprouts and sunchokes
Turkey thighs and wings
Next, I tackled the turkey. I had bought two packages of thighs and two wings the week before, and decided to simply roast these in a large braising pan with sliced sunchokes, brussel sprouts and onions. This came out great! The juices from the turkey that collected in the bottom of the pan were soaked up nicely by the vegetables.
Pea souffle ready for eating
Next came a new dish for me: pea souffle. Not only have I never made a pea souffle before, I’ve never made any kind of souffle! This was actually the dish that we bought the Coconut Manna before, since it calls for a good 2 cups of cream in the sauce that is drizzled over the souffle at the end. However, since the Manna was solid, I actually had to add almond milk to it (probably another 2 cups of that) to get the right consistency. And still, the manna had a kind of chalky texture. So for the future I know: the manna is good in custard, not so good for sauces.
I had planned at that point to also make some lamb skewers, but it was obvious to all of us that (a) there was already more food than we knew what to do with, and (b) everyone was so hungry they would’ve probably strangled me if I made them wait another hour to eat. So we saved the lamb skewers for another day, and began our feast. We started out with the pine nut gazpacho, which was amazing, served in cute little china bowls with raisins, apple slices and more pine nuts for condiments.
Pine nut gazpacho with condiments
After the soup, it was on to the turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, roasted vegetables and pea souffle. Then much later we desserted on the tartlets. A very successful, satisfying, extraordinary feast, and beginning to our family holiday weekend!