Saturday, November 21, 2009
Wild Mango Queens Harvest Feast
Tonight, our Wild Mango Queens gathering was a "practice Thanksgiving," an idea gleaned from my dear friend Andi's family. Every year, the weekend before Thanksgiving, they invite all & sundry to an early Thanksgiving dinner. I am not sure how the tradition started, but I have always been utterly charmed by it. I figured it was as good a theme as any for the November Mangofest, so I requested that each guest bring either a favorite Thanksgiving dish or one they'd love to try. Not sure who was coming or what they would bring (I like the "luck" aspect of potluck & prefer not to dictate what people bring), I went with the information that I had, which was that one guest is a vegetarian. Considering that, and thinking ahead to future Thanksgiving gatherings with my veggie mama & stepdad, I decided to make several vegetarian-friendly dishes. A couple of my contributions were personal holiday favorites of mine. I made green bean casserole and cranberry sauce (using the recipes on the Campbell's soup can---with 2 cups of fresh, steamed green beans instead of the canned I usually use in deference to tradition---and the cranberry bag, respectively). I also did a vegetarian take on sausage-based stuffing, using Yves brand soy crumbles. I was unhappy that I couldn't find soy sausage crumbles or even sausage patties that weren't maple-flavored. I think the stuffing would have been better had I been able to do so. However, it was quite good anyway. I used this recipe: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/stuffingdressingrecipes/r/hazlenuts.htm and thought the hazelnuts worked particularly well. We started with Winter squash soup (recipe at: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Winter-Squash-Soup-with-Gruyere-Croutons-2997), a salad of mixed baby greens tossed with pear (red Anjou and Bosc) and apple (Winesap) chunks, walnuts, dried cranberries and gorgonzola (served with good extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic for drizzling) and egg knot rolls from the bakery. That alone would have been plenty, but in true Thanksgiving style, we moved on to another course of the dishes I had made and a yummy "chicken" mashed potato casserole (vegetarian, too) Kelly invented a few weeks ago when her cupboards were nearly bare. Course number 3 was the very most beautiful, a delicious pumpkin-gingerbread trifle Marcy brought. She says Paula Deen's recipe on the Food Network site ( http://foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/pumpkin-gingerbread-trifle-recipe/index.html ) is very nearly the same as the one her friend gave her several years ago. I may just have to try that for our family Thanksgiving this year. It was lots nicer than pumpkin pie or even pumpkin cheesecake.