Local chefs’ Thanksgiving recipes

Posana’s Pot de Creme (vegan)

3 cans (42 ounces) coconut milk
36 ounces chocolate
1/4 teaspoon agar agar
1 teaspoon vanilla

To make: Heat coconut milk on stovetop on low heat, then add the chocolate. Once melted, add remaining ingredients. Remove from heat and place in individual serving dishes. Refrigerate until set (about four hours). Enjoy!

Yield: 15 pots.

Peter Pollay’s Sweet Potato Biscuits (gluten-free)
No. 1
7 cups Bette’s Gourmet Featherlight Rice Flour Blend
8 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
10 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
Salt to taste

No. 2
12 ounces chilled, cubed butter

No. 3
4 cups mashed, roasted sweet potatoes
1 1/3 cups buttermilk

To make: Roast, peel and mash sweet potatoes. Take No. 1 ingredients and mix. Cut No. 2 ingredients into No. 1 mixture. Fold in buttermilk. Bake biscuits at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Jason Sellers’ Pickled Vegetables (vegan, gluten-free)

Sellers says: “Once I became a cook, I realized that pickled something was always missing from our Thanksgiving meals. So I began to pickle the same vegetables we were used to eating roasted. Their piquant acidity is refreshing against the heavier flavors of stuffing, roasted sides and creams.”

4 cups vinegar (white, or a mix of white and apple cider)
2 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup salt
Optional spices: coriander, black pepper, chili flakes or whole chilies, orange peel, celery seed, allspice, cinnamon
Vegetables of your choice: e.g. peeled and chopped beets, carrots, banana peppers, cauliflower, onions

To make: Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add your favorite vegetables during the simmering phase, depending on how much texture you want to preserve. For example, carrots and beets will need to cook longer than banana peppers. I typically pickle onions of any kind (pearl, red, scallions) without cooking them at all; I’ll just add them during the cool-down phase or once the liquid is completely cool. Thanks to the vinegar, pickled vegetables will keep covered in the refrigerator for quite a while. So make plenty, doubling the recipe amounts if necessary.

Jason Sellers’ Spiced Sweet Potatoes (vegan, gluten-free)

Sellers says: “Because I come from the northern Midwest, I never candied sweet potatoes, put marshmallows on them or added sugar to them. So when I think of sweet potatoes, I think savory, and a little heat. This simple recipe takes less than an hour total to prepare.”

2 pounds sweet potatoes (1 or 2 potatoes, depending on size), washed and cut into 1-inch cubes, peeled
2 tablespoons good-quality oil (safflower, olive, coconut)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
About 1 tablespoon lime juice, or to taste

To make: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes in the oil, yeast and spices and season with salt and pepper. Bake the sweet potatoes on a sheet tray or cookie sheet for 25 to 35 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. When placing the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet, leave some room between them so they cook evenly. Once tender, toss with lime juice to taste and serve warm.

Feeds 4 as a side.

Rose Hardesty’s Cranberry Sorbet (vegan, gluten-free)

3/4 cup cranberry juice, no sugar added (fruit-juice sweetened is fine)
1 cup sugar
12 ounces fresh cranberries, washed
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Juice from one orange, plus cranberry juice to make a total of 3/4 cup

To make: 1) In a saucepan over low heat, stir 1 cup sugar in 3/4 cup cranberry juice until dissolved. When sugar is completely dissolved, add cranberries and orange zest. Turn heat up to medium-low and cook until cranberries are soft.
2) Let cool to room temperature, then add the 3/4 cup of mixed orange and cranberry juice.
3) Puree in a high-powered blender. If you want the sorbet to be perfectly smooth, push it through a very fine sieve and discard the solids. I am lucky enough to have a Vitamix, which grinds them finely: I like the texture they create, so I tend to leave them.
4) Freeze in ice cream machine* according to manufacturer’s instructions. Let cure in the freezer at least 4 hours, or overnight. Sorbets are best eaten within 10 days. This sorbet tastes great in a glass of champagne or prosecco, or in sparkling apple juice for those who don’t drink alcohol.

*Without ice cream maker: Add 2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar when adding the orange/cranberry juice mix. Let sit in the refrigerator until quite cold, or a maximum of 2 days. Place in the freezer in a shallow pan 3-5 hours before serving, depending on how cold your freezer is. The texture will be creamiest if you stir it every 20-30 minutes, but it is also good without doing so.

Makes 1 quart.

Rose Hardesty’s Sweet Potato Pie with Cornmeal Crust (vegan)

First, prepare your crust.

Vegan Cornmeal Pie Crust (makes one crust for a 9-inch deep-dish pan):

1/4 cup Earth Balance, or other margarine of choice, chilled
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled (I like Spectrum Organics because it is not hydrogenated)
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3-4 tablespoons cold water

To make: 1) Blend flour, cornmeal, salt and sugar together.
2) Cut shortening and Earth Balance in, either using a food processor (pulsing only), pastry blender, two knives cutting against each other, or your fingers. The texture should resemble a coarse meal.
3) Add 3 tablespoons of cold water and mix lightly. Only add the remaining tablespoon if the dough is too crumbly. Dough should be quite pliable, but not so much that it is really sticky. Form into a flattened disc and wrap tightly in plastic.
4) Chill for at least an hour, but no longer than two days. When ready to roll out, remove from refrigerator 5-10 minutes before rolling.
5) Roll on a generously floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into a circle at 2 inches larger than your pie pan on all sides. This gives you plenty of room to roll the sides over and decorate however you like.

Filling:
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, boiled whole in their skins (about 2 1/2 cups mashed)
1/2 cup Earth Balance, or other margarine of choice
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

To make: 1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Choose sweet potatoes that are about the same size/shape so they’ll cook evenly. Wash any dirt off skins, cover in water and bring to a low boil. Cook until tender when tested with a fork, anywhere from 25-45 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain.
3) While potatoes are cooling, roll out your crust and line pie pan with it.
4) Mix cornstarch, tapioca starch, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Add this mixture to the coconut milk and stir to remove lumps.
5) As soon as the sweet potatoes have cooled enough to touch, remove and discard skins. Add Earth Balance and blend until smooth with a fork or a mixer.
6) Add sugar, blend a little, then add coconut milk slurry and vanilla. Blend well.
7) Pour into pie shell and bake for 45-55 minutes.
8) It’s done when the filling puffs up around the edges, and only the very center wobbles when gently shaken. If the crust browns before the pie is cooked through, tent with foil. Be careful: If the foil is too close to the pie filling, it will stick to it when it rises as it bakes. Cool completely before cutting.

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About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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