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Nov 1, 2010 07:05 AM

Help with Vegan, Kosher Thanksgiving menu & products, please

In my quest to accommodate both the vegan and kosher eaters this year at Thanksgiving, I am seeking soy or vegetable based products to substitute for the chicken stock, milk, butter, sour cream and other things I normally put in mashed potatoes, vegetable casseroles, etc. for the holiday. I realize that I can't please everyone but I am trying. I have access to Whole Foods, TJs and Giant Eagle for products. Can someone please recommend brand names for these substitute products that are of highest quality? I also have to please "regular" eaters who are picky and don't want negative reviews from them. Our menu is attached, any comments would be helpful. I realize not everyone will eat everything, but trying to make sure everyone can eat SOMETHING. Thanks!

My menu is as follows:
1. Cosmopolitans with Raspberry Cordial
2. Screwdrivers
3. Wine

1. Hot artichoke/cheese dip with crackers
2. Guacamole dip with tortilla chips
3. Homemade cheese wafers
1. Spinach, red onion & clementine salad with lime vinaigrette dressing

1. Kosher turkey with celery/onion/mushroom cornbread stuffing
2. Mashed potatoes
3. Gravy
4. Apple/acorn squash casserole with cornflake crumbs
5. Green beans with almonds
6. Homemade rolls
7. Relish tray (marinated artichoke hearts, assorted olives, pickles)
8. Homemade cranberry relish with cognac
1. Cold poached pears with raspberry sauce
2. Apple pie with crumb topping

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  1. My son can eat limited amounts of dairy. For a butter substitute, I use Earth Balance. For sour cream, I buy Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream. And for cream cheese, I buy Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese. All are available at Trader Joe's.

    Milk is a tough one. Rice milk is pretty generic in terms of flavor, but it's rather thin/watery. It's okay for baking, but I'd be reluctant to use in mashed potatoes. I never liked cooking with soy milk as it has a funky flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: valerie

      I always like rice milk in mashed potatoes. We make our own soy milk now, though, so I never buy rice milk. I like mashed potatoes with just some water and Earth Balance mixed in.

    2. I have friends, with vegetarian family members, who swear by this stuff, no chicken broth. It tastes like chicken! I buy it at WF. It costs a little more than the stuff at TJ's.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Berheenia

        I swear by that stuff and I am not even close to a vegetarian! It actually tastes more "chickeny" then most chicken broths.

        1. re: just_M

          Agreed! I'm also very non-vegetarian, and I have it on hand all the time.

      2. Thanks for the responses so far. So, how should I do the mashed potatoes so that they will be edible for both kosher and vegan? Some veg broth, and Tofutti Sour Cream? Should I add some Tofutti Cream Cheese? I am planning on roasting some garlic and adding some chives to beef up (LOL) the flavor. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

        8 Replies
        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          My family likes mashed potatoes with knish filling flavors- a little warm broth, lots of carmelized chopped onions, and deli mustard. You can skip the mustard and add in roasted garlic.

          I like to use mushroom broth (Pacific brand) in stuffings and in dishes where the earthy flavor would complement. No- chicken broth is pretty good also. If you're making a vegan gravy, you could use the mushroom broth and add in some sauteed mushrooms for a mushroom gravy. That way it could be used by the turkey eaters for the turkey and the vegan for the mashed potatoes.

          The Tofutti cream cheese and sour cream are also available in Whole Foods. I've seen Trader Joe's run out of the sour cream and I've never seen the cream cheese there.
          Not sure what you would use for cheese in the cheese crackers though?

          To bake the apple pie, use either Earth Balance or Fleischmann's margarine. Both work very well.

          1. re: cheesecake17

            I was thinking Crisco (veg shortening) would be OK to make the crust flaky and tasty. Is this not a good idea?

            1. re: Diane in Bexley

              Crisco works too. My grandma uses half Crisco and half margarine. Crisco doesn't have much flavor to add to the crust, but it does make a flaky crust.

              Would you consider making a crisp with the same topping instead of a pie?

              1. re: cheesecake17

                I was going to say the same thing - a crisp might work better than a pie. Or make a pumpkin pie with just a bottom crust - the pie filling part will be spiced, so the flavor of the crust isn't as important, and you can get a great texture with non-hydrogenated shortening and / or margarine.

              2. re: Diane in Bexley

                Crisco has a butter flavor that according to Alton Brown (and me) tastes more buttery than butter in baked goods. I've never tried it in anything like mashed potatoes but isn't margarine just shortening w/added water and flavoring? I have used it in place of oil in pancakes. Could be worth a taste if you have it for your pies anyway.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I've had very good results with MimiCreme in mashed potatoes (and creamy soups, bolognese sauce, cream sauces, etc.) You can also buy it on Amazon, where it's eligible for free shipping with a $25 order - get the six-pack of pint containers, rather than the quart-sized ones, because a quart is an awful lot of cream (substitute) to go through in 7-10 days.

              2. re: Diane in Bexley

                I have made successful pareve mashed potatoes with broth, and lots of margarine (nucoa or earth balance) and sometimes either roasted garlic or truffle oil to make them special.

              3. I haven't tried this recipe for Mashed Potatoes With Caramelized Onion and Olive Oil but it sounds great (and has very positive reviews). I would imagine that the onions add a great depth of flavour so you won't miss the butter quite as much.


                1. First of all, I thank you for looking out for your friends and relatives who have special dietary preferences.

                  Making a vegan version of the stuffing wouldn't be too hard, and then you can cook it outside the bird (for the vegetarians). Energ egg replacer (kosher / parve) and soy or almond milk will work pretty well for the cornbread, or ground flaxseed whizzed with some water and oil if you don't want to spring for a whole box of the egg replacer powder.

                  A great appetizer (tried and true in my family) that should be vegan and should also be easily made kosher is this mushroom lentil and walnut pate (originally from "Totally Dairy-Free Cooking" by Louis Lanza:
                  also a big fan of olive tapenade.

                  I do mashed potatoes - usually I use soy or almond milk (and / or reserved potato cooking water), and I'll often use olive oil in addition to (or instead of) margarine. I know your vegan guests will love you if you make a vegetarian gravy. I did a roux / mushroom based one last year that was great.

                  The rough method I used, from the notes I made last year:
                  frozen porcini, fresh chanterelles, fresh cremini mushrooms - stems, little bits, whatever
                  1 onion, chopped finely
                  2-3 cloves garlic, minced
                  1-2 Tbsp margarine and some olive oil
                  ~ 2 Tbsp flour
                  soy sauce
                  veg stock
                  nutritional yeast
                  salt and pepper to taste

                  brown mushrooms in pan in batches, removing each batch after browning
                  deglaze pan with white wine after all batches are done, and reserve the wine. to the wine, add a little soy sauce and veg stock or water
                  sauté onions in medium heat with a liberal amount of oil and / or margarine, until translucent / limp. add mushrooms and increase heat. add salt and fresh black pepper to taste.
                  push onions to the side, add more oil and / or margarine, and add flour to create a roux. (I think this is an odd order to do things in, but it seemed to work quite well)
                  add liquid and whisk with a roux whisk, adding more water or stock as necessary. add more black pepper and some nutritional yeast.

                  Sounds like a great menu, but if you have time, you might make some roasted vegetables - either brussels sprouts, cauliflower (sliced thin across the whole head, tossed with a tiny amount of olive oil, salt and pepper), or a root vegetable mix.

                  [side note: I wasn't worried about making the gravy kosher, but I think there is kosher nutritional yeast available. That said, would probably taste fine without it]