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Another simply delicious, vegan Thanksgiving dinner.

Could I pull it off again? Or, was last Thanksgiving just a lucky fluke? To try and make it more than a 'one-off', I stuck with the Hazelnut and Cranberry Field Roast en Croute that had been so photo-worthy and delicious last year. Bam. Good choice.

The puff-pastry on the roast came out über flakey and crisp. I captured the crispy end part and happily nibbled away on it. Sliced, it's simply heaven. The texture of the hazelnut and vital wheat gluten center is perfect. Cutting with a knife is called for, offering a good 'bite'. There is a central river of cranberries running through the center of the roast. In case you didn't have time to make my simply killer cranberry sauce.

I did give the roast an extra 'blast' of 425-degree heat in addition to the last five minutes of recommended cooking time. I wanted a golden "I must eat this now" crust.

I went old-school on the cranberries, channeling my late mother and her wonderfully 1950's kitchen skills. Having made the cranberries on Wednesday, there were nicely 'set' when I took out about half on Thursday, adding freshly chopped celery (and the leaves!), pecans, and chopped fresh parsley. It makes a 'relish' out of the sauce, and add a nice 'crunch'.

The basic Creamy Chikin Gravy was also done ahead and in the fridge. But, of course, I had to go big by sautéeing a big pile of baby portabello and Chanterelle mushrooms with Armagnac, which I tossed into the made-ahead gravy. Allow that to simmer. Once again, I marvel at how easy it is to sauté sans added fat. Drizzle some Better Than Bouillion vegan mushroom broth at first, then start drizzling in the Armagnac (or brandy of your choice). Let the alcohol cook-off.

Here's the whole mis-en-place for my mushroom sauté. As you can see, I added some of the Truffle Zest (which I also added to my basic Creamy Chikin Gravy that I made in advance). Can you have too much Truffle flavor? Nope. I once spent a couple glorious weeks eating my way farmhouse to farmhouse to village restaurant on the Istrian Penninsula of Croatia. Borrowed a Reno friend's apartment there. He's my dentist. Long story. But, in Istria, in the fall, every menu is a truffle menu. Istrian truffles are often sold as Italian. Mmmpf! Fortunately, the Istrian folk have come to their senses as started keeping the truffles at home.

Mashed potatoes can - and should - be made the day ahead. I steam my Russet potatoes in the Instant Pot, then transfer to a food mill. A masher, of course, works, but a food mill produces a lighter, fluffier mash. Don't ever use a food processor! You'll end up with white glue.

I steam potatoes in the steamer-strainer basket (an accessory for your Instant Pot) because I don't want water-logged potatoes. When potatoes are cooked immersed in water, they can produce a soggy mash unless you're careful to let them dry before mashing.

A food mill is one of those gadgets that you don't use a lot, but when you need it - then you really want one. I've probably had this one for at least 10 years. This Oxo food mill is great. It came with three different sized inserts for very fine to coarse. Once you figure it out, it's fast, simple, and reasonably easy to use and clean.

As you can see, the potatoes come through the fine insert of the food mill like this. And, then I added my ground spice blend, parsley, and such. Gently combine, using a fork. Then, it will look like a fluffy version of your standard mash. This method is really a puree.

The dressing that I served was pretty much a no-brainer, and could actually be done at the last minute. It's a quick and easy stovetop method following the package directions on the Beckmann's bag. Rather than onions, I used leeks, with celery. Lot's of celery. Including those tender, delicious tops! And, another splash of Armagnac. Hey, I opened a new bottle and had to properly christen it, so get off my back or get a saddle.

I had a salad in mind but went for soup as a starter instead. A curried pumpkin soup. Another no-brainer.

The soup is simply a can of pumpkin puree, onions, garlic, curry powder, coconut milk, cinnamon, chili garlic sauce, maple syrup, and vegan vegetable broth. As you can see, I don't rely on those cans of coconut milk, but rather the organic dried coconut milk powder. This way, I can make as much as I need without fussing around with a half-full (or half-empty depending on your mood) can of the stuff.

Simply sauté about one small diced onion with several cloves of minced garlic in broth, as needed. Add the curry powder and cinnamon. About 2 tablespoons of curry powder and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and sauté just a few moments. Add the pumpkin, Huy Fong Vietnamese chili garlic (I prefer more rather than less: 2+ teaspoons) sauce, coconut milk, maple syrup, and the remainder of two cups of broth. Combine with a whisk. Taste. Simmer on very, very low for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust. Don't let this boil. Finally, use your immersion blender to puree it to silky smooth perfection.

BTW: The Huy Fong chili garlic sauce is available in stores like Whole Foods, but also at your local Asian market. Here in Reno: 168 Asian on Grove St.

For the finale, I made a quick pear and apple galette. But, we were so full from the main dinner that we just couldn't. So, guess what's for lunch today. Snort.

That's all folks!


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