Includes Recipes Below
For more Christmas ideas click below
For more Kwanzaa ideas click below
For more Hanukkah ideas click below
For more New Year ideas click below
ARE A VEGAN FOODIE'S DELIGHT
Delicious, warm, and nostalgic Thanksgiving has passed, but December offers a sumptuous banquet of holiday festivities. December's calendar features Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights; Christmas, a joyous and convivial celebration; Kwanzaa, a reflective holiday; and New Year's Eve, a farewell to the year past and a welcome to the year ahead.
You might say December is the official month of spirited gatherings with friends, family members, and co-workers. It's that special time of year that makes us crave togetherness of those who are special in our lives.
And what better motivation than a festive celebration to urge us to reach for an apron, dust off the pots and pans, and prepare a feast of delicious foods from the plant kingdom. The recipes needn't be labor-intensive, nor do you need magic to prepare a tasty celebration meal.
A shopping list and a little advance planning will get the party off to a great start. Plan a few dishes that can be made a day or two ahead and served at room temperature or briefly reheated. Perhaps you might include one special dish that takes a little more time in the kitchen. Often, though, the simplest recipes, enhanced with a sprinkling of herbs and spices, are all that's needed for a happy and successful party.
Take a few extra minutes to spruce up the table with a tablecloth, candles, and accents of brightly colored or symbolic decorations. Finishing touches like fresh herbs and brightly colored fruits and vegetables make each platter look a bit more inviting and are so easy to incorporate.
So dine, feast, and nibble your way through the holidays on delicious foods you've made especially for sharing. Most of all, don't forget to catch the holiday spirit and have fun while entertaining. When the host is having fun, it's very likely the guests are also enjoying the celebration. And somehow, food tastes so much better when it's shared in a festive setting.
Following are a few recipes from both my cookbooks, Vegan for the Holidays and The Nut Gourmet, to make the festivities just a little tastier.
Hanukkah, called the Festival of Lights, arrives at a different date each year, though it's usually in December. Because the Jewish calendar follows a lunar tradition, the exact date of the holiday falls at a different time of the month. One of the tastiest dishes of European Jewish origin is Sweet and Sour Cabbage Borscht, a richly flavored cabbage, vegetable, and bean soup. The soup makes a hearty and satisfying first course and leaves plenty of room for the hallowed crispy Potato Latkes laced with a dollop of Tofu Sour Cream.
SWEET AND SOUR CABBAGE BORSCHT
While the base of this borscht features a thin beet broth, the many chunky vegetables, potatoes, and beans make the soup robust and wholesome. And, don't forget the Tofu Sour Cream.
Yield: 5 1/2 quarts, 12 soup-course servings, 8 main-dish servings
1 pound (453g) beets (5 or 6 small), peeled and diced
12 cups (3 liters) water
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 to 3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups (480 ml) cooked white beans, or 1 (15-ounce/425g) can cannellini beans, drained
1 (28-ounce/794g) can tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) slices
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large potato, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 small head green cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into quarters and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/3 to 1/2 cup (80 to 120 ml) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 to 2/3 cup (80 to 160 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) Tofu Sour Cream
- Put the beets, water, salt, bay leaf, and garlic in a 10- to 12-quart (10 to 12 liter) stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-high and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, or until the beets are fork-tender.
- Add the carrots, beans, tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, potato, onion, and cabbage to the stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Season with the brown sugar and lemon juice. Ladle the soup into bowls and place a dollop of Tofu Sour Cream into each serving.
WITH TOFU SOUR CREAM AND APPLESAUCE
No traditional Hanukkah party would be complete without latkes. Shredded potatoes oxidize quickly and turn dark, so have the rest of the meal prepared before making the latkes.
Makes 16 to 20 (3-inch/7.5 cm) latkes
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 to 3 pounds (1.13 to 1.36 kg) russet potatoes, scrubbed and coarsely shredded
1/4 cup (60 ml) matzoh meal
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 to 1 1/2 cups (240 to 360 ml) organic canola oil
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) Tofu Sour Cream
- Line two large platters with a double layer of paper towels, and keep more paper towels handy to place between the layers of the cooked latkes.
- Put the onion in a food processor. Pulse until the onion is minced, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Transfer the onion to a large bowl.
- Add the potatoes, matzoh meal, salt, onion powder, pepper, and garlic powder to the bowl and mix well to distribute evenly.
- Heat about 1/4 inch (.5 cm) of oil in two large skillets over medium-high to high heat. If using an electric frying pan, adjust the thermostat to 375 degrees F. (Gas Mark 5). When the oil is hot, drop 3 or 4 tablespoons of the potato mixture into the skillets and flatten the mixture slightly with the back of the spoon to form 1/2-inch thick latkes. (If the latkes are too thick, the outsides will be crisp but the insides will not be thoroughly cooked.) Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Turn with a spatula and cook the other side until golden brown. Transfer the cooked latkes to the prepared platters.
- Add oil to the skillets as needed and repeat the process until all the latkes are fried, placing paper towels between each layer of the platters. Serve with Tofu Sour Cream and applesauce on the side.
Baked Potato Latkes
- Before preparing the latke mixture, heat the oven to 425 degrees F. (Gas Mark 7) and line two or three jellyroll pans with parchment.
- Prepare the latkes just as you would if frying them. Drop the prepared latke mixture onto the parchment, making each one about 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick. Flatten the tops of each latke slightly for even baking.
- Bake for 20 minutes, remove to a serving platter, and enjoy with sour cream and applesauce.
TOFU SOUR CREAM
Sour Cream--that indispensable, lovable, almost magical finishing touch to practically everything, sits on a special pedestal in my kitchen. A dollop of the creamy nirvana is the ideal enhancement to many entrees, appetizers, and casseroles. It's the gravy on the mashed potatoes or the frosting on the cake! What would potato latkes or baked potatoes be without a spoonful of sour cream? Add a smidgeon to garnish soup or to top a fresh fruit salad. When I came up with this ultra-easy vegan version, life just got better. I love that it's far lower in fat than the traditional sour cream, yet offers the same lavishly tart and creamy qualities as the real thing. If I sound rhapsodic about a bowl of sour cream, I confess I am that passionate about it. You'll find you can also use this recipe as a base for creating a variety of party dips.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)
1 (12-3-ounce/424g) box extra-firm silken tofu
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Use immediately or refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours to thicken. Stored in a tightly covered container and refrigerated, Tofu sour Cream will keep 1 week.
Christmas is the grandest celebration of the year for so many reasons. While holidays like Thanksgiving are limited to the U.S. and Canada, Christmas is celebrated throughout the globe wherever Christianity is practiced. Christmas also holds such magic for young children with the great anticipation of Santa arriving at some mysterious time during the night before Christmas to deliver special gifts just for them. And, because Christmas is celebrated as the birth of Christ, it's also a time of deeply religious observance. The holiday is truly festive with bright, shiny, decorations of red, green, and sparkling gold and silver.
The dishes you choose to serve can also reflect the festive mood of the holiday. Begin with a gorgeous appetizer of almond and Olive-Stuffed Brussels Sprouts and dazzle the guests with a lovely main-dish presentation of Tomato-Pine Nut Pie with Sweet Potato and Nut Crust.
ALMOND AND OLIVE-STUFFED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
After watching dinner guests take a pass when plain, steamed Brussels sprouts came to the table, I became aware they are not on everyone's list of favorite vegetables. But when I stuffed them and served them as an appetizer, they proved their mojo.
Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
20 fresh Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup (120 ml) almonds, coarsely chopped
1 (13.75-ounce/390g) can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained
20 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
10 jumbo pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 3/4 cup (60 to 180 ml) Homemade Parmesan (recipe below) or prepared Parmesan
6 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters, for garnish
- Fill a 4-quart (4 liter) saucepan two-thirds full with water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, trim the Brussels sprouts stems and discard. Cut the sprouts in half-lengthwise. Plunge the sprout halves into boiling water in batches and boil for 1 1/2 minutes, or until they are just tender but still hold their shape. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat the process until all the sprouts are tender.
- Using a serrated grapefruit or paring knife, carefully scoop out the centers of the sprouts to create a cavity. Reserve the centers for another recipe.
- To make the stuffing, put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they form a coarse meal, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Put the artichoke hearts in the food processor. Process until they are coarsely chopped. Add them to the bowl with the almond meal.
- Put the olives, shallot, and garlic in the food processor. Process briefly, just until chunky. Add the olive mixture to the bowl with the artichokes and almonds. Mix well. If the stuffing seems too dry, add 1 to 3 teaspoons of water to moisten.
- Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the stuffing into the cavity of each sprout half. Sprinkle with the Homemade Parmesan and garnish each with a cherry tomato quarter if desired. Serve at room temperature or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- To serve warm, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4). Line a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch (44.45 x 31.75 cm) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the stuffed sprouts on the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or just until heated through. Garnish each with a cherry tomato quarter if desired. Transfer to a serving platter.
Often I've come to rely on a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan to add sparkle to a dish, soup, a casserole, or an appetizer. With only five ingredients, this recipe is almost instant to make and tastes enough like the real thing to put the Italian touch on everything from pizza to minestrone and a host of holiday or everyday dishes.
1 cup (240 ml) almonds
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground, yet still retain a bit of texture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. (Avoid overprocessing or it will turn into almond butter.)
- Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and pulse until well mixed. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Covered and refrigerated, Homemade Parmesan will keep for 3 months.
TOMATO-PINE NUT PIE
WITH SWEET POTATO AND NUT CRUST
Melt-in-the-mouth delicious and decked out for the festivities, this attractive Italian-inspired dish makes an ideal savory dinner pie with a unique crust.
Yield: 1 (9-inch/22.5 cm) pie or 6 servings
12 ounces (340g) sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) whole almonds
2/3 cup (180 ml) mashed tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4) Light oil a 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan.
- To make the crust, put the sweet potatoes in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan with water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the sweet potatoes well, transfer them to a large bowl and mash them well. Set aside.
- Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground yet still retain a little texture. Add the tofu and salt and process until well incorporated, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the tofu mixture into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix well.
- Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to press it onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Build up the sides of the crust 1/2 -inch (1 cm) higher than the pie pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and let cool.
2 green onions, sliced
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup (80 ml) pine nuts
2 to 3 tablespoons Homemade Parmesan or prepared vegan Parmesan
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Freshly ground pepper
1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch (.30 cm) slices
4 to 5 large red or green tomatoes, seeded and sliced.
- To make the filling, put the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan in individual bowls. Sprinkle the cornstarch on a plate.
- Cover the bottom of the crust with one layer of eggplant slices. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy). Reserve remaining eggplalnt for another use. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and pepper.
- Dredge one-third of the tomato slices in the cornstarch. Arrange the dredged tomato slices over the eggplant, filling all the spaces with small bits of tomato. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one third each of the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan over the tomatoes. Repeat the process to make three layers.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Note: If using green tomatoes, the pie might have to hake another 15 minutes.
The week-long Kwanzaa celebration begins on December 26th and provides a special time for African Americans to set aside time to come together with family and friends to reflect on community, culture, and the home. The holiday, while still relatively new, allows the black community to remember their history, honor their ancestors, and celebrate the holiday with the traditional symbols and rituals created to instill pride and joy among their community.
MAC 'N' CHEESE
A cherished dish in the African-American community, as well as across the U.S., this long-standing Southern favorite is an easy sell with kids and adults as well.
8 ounces (226g) whole grain penne
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) unsweetened soy milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash hot sauce
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) shredded vegan Cheddar or nacho-flavored cheese
1 cup (240 ml) shredded vegan Jack or mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons Homemade Parmesan or prepared vegan Parmesan
3/4 cup (180 ml) fine breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4). Lightly oil a 3-quart (3 liter) casserole.
- Cook the penne according to the package directions. Drain well and transfer to the prepared casserole.
- Combine the onions and water in a deep, nonstick skillet. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the onion is browned. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to cook the onion and prevent burning. When all the liquid in the skillet has evaporated, add the onion to the penne and toss well.
- To make the sauce, combine the soy milk, salt, hot sauce, and pepper in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to a simmer.
- To thicken the sauce, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup until smooth. Stir the paste into the simmering soy milk a little at a time, stirring constantly for about 1 minutes, or until thickened to desired consistency.
- Add the vegan cheeses and stir for about 3 minutes, or until the cheeses are completely melted. Adjust the seasoning.
- Pour the sauce over the penne mixture and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling.
Featuring tomatoes, onions, and a hint of peppery spice, this homey side dish makes a great pairing with Mac 'n' Cheese along with a generous chunk of Southern cornbread.
1 large onion, sliced
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or pinch cayenne
2 to 3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup (240 ml) canned or frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 pounds (907g) cut or whole frozen okra, thawed
Freshly ground pepper
1 green onion, sliced, for garnish
- Combine the onion, bell pepper, water, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and pepper flakes in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are jut softened. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent burning.
- Add the tomatoes and corn. Decrease the heat to medium and cook another 7 to 10 minutes to soften the tomatoes and create a thick sauce.
- Add the okra and cook about 3 minutes, or until just tender. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with sliced green onion if desired.
SWEET POTATO PIE WITH CASHEW-GINGER CREAM
From main dishes to side dishes to desserts, sweet potatoes bring charismatic soul to the Kwanzaa table. Contributing an exuberant new twist to the traditional dessert is the venturesome topping zapped with fresh ginger and creamy cashews.
Sweet Potato Pie
1 Easy Crust (recipe follows)
2 pounds (907g) sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) arrowroot starch
3/4 cup (180 ml) organic sugar
1 /2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Cashew Ginger Cream
1 cup (240 ml) cashews
3/4 cup (180 ml) water
6 pitted dates, snipped in half
1 tablespoon organic sugar
2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4). Prepare the Easy Pie Crust.
- To make the pie filling, put the sweet potatoes in a 4-quart (4 liter) saucepan and add 1 cup (240 ml) of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Alternatively, use a steamer to cook the sweet potatoes. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a large bowl and mash them well with a potato masher or fork.
- Meanwhile, put the soy milk and arrowroot in a blender. Process briefly and set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
- Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, ginger, and salt to the blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Pour the soy milk mixture into the mashed sweet potatoes and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
- Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pie crust and smooth the top with the back of the spoon. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is firm and the crust is golden. Let cool completely and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
- To make the Cashew ginger Cream, put the cashews, water, dates, sugar, ginger, and vanilla extract in a blender or food processor. Process until thick and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the blender jar or work bowl. To serve, spoon over or next to a slice of pie.
EASY PIE CRUST
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (120 ml) ground flaxseeds
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 1 tablespoon water
- Put the flour, flaxseeds, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times to distribute the ingredients thoroughly. Add the oil and water and process until well mixed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Alternatively, combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add the oil and water, and mix thoroughly by hand.
- Spoon the crust mixture into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan. Use your fingers to press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day lend the perfect opportunity to reflect nostalgically on the year that has passed, enjoy the memories of times spent with good cheer, and anticipate the coming of a new year. Looking ahead to new beginnings makes us consider things we might like to change.
Many make those changes happen by writing down meaningful resolutions, others choose new directions to make life a little better in small ways, like deciding to eat healthier or exercise more. Throughout the month of January, the typical greeting of "Happy New Year" says it all by greeting someone with a genuine wish for the new year to be a happy one.
TEMPEH BACON STUFFED MUSHROOMS
Finger food, dips, and spreads are ideal for informal New Year's celebrations. These flavorful mushrooms with their heaping hickory-seasoned stuffing do a great job of setting the scene for the delectable meal ahead. Assemble them a day in advance and serve them chilled or warm, or even room temperature.
8 large button mushrooms, 2 to 2 1/2 inches (5 to 6 cm) in diameter
2 cups (480 ml) water
2 tablespoons tamari
1/3 cup (80 ml) coarsely chopped cashews
6 strips tempeh bacon
2/3 cup (160 ml) finely diced tomatoes
4 green onions, minced
1 slice whole wheat bread, cut into 1/8-inch (.3 cm) cubes
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
Freshly ground pepper
8 thin strips yellow or orange bell pepper, for garnish
- Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Save them for another use. Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels and set aside.
- Pour the water and tamari in a large, deep skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the mushrooms caps and boil 3 to 5 minutes, turning the mushrooms halfway through. Drain the mushrooms on several layers of paper towels and set aside.
- To make the stuffing, put the cashews in a food processor. Process until they are ground into a fine powdery meal. Transfer the cashew meal to a medium bowl.
- Cut the tempeh bacon strips in half and put them in a dry, non-stick skillet in batches. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning several times with tongs until they are almost crisp. Dice the bacon and add it to the bowl with the cashews.
- Add the tomatoes, onions, bread, lemon juice, liquid smoke, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste, and combine until the mixture is moist and the ingredients are distributed evenly.
- Spoon a generous portion of the stuffing into each mushroom cap. Line a serving dish with lettuce leaves and arrange the stuffed mushrooms on the lettuce. Garnish each mushroom with a strip of yellow or orange bell pepper if desired.
ASIAN PEA-PISTACHIO BUTTER
If you're a shoot-from-the-hip, last-minute cook, you'll be glad you have this zesty starter in your recipe file. Just remember to thaw the peas and you'll have this appetizer on the table in 5 minutes flat. Just add the crackers.
Yield: about 1 1/4 cups (300 ml); 5 to 6 servings
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup (120 ml) pistachios
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons tamari
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon 5-spice powder
1 whole radish, radish slices, or radish rose
- Put the peas, pistachios, sesame seeds, soy sauce, lemon juice, 5-spice powder, and cayenne in the food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture is thick, well blended, and lightly textured, stopping occasionally to scrape down the workbowl.
- Spoon the spread into a serving bowl, garnish with the radish, if desired, and serve with your favorite crackers on the side.
You can also put this spread to work as a sandwich filling or a garnish over grain dishes
HAZELNUT-CRANBERRY BREAD PUDDING
With plenty of servings for a large gathering, this colorful, homespun dessert delivers pleasing bursts of juicy, divinely sweet and tart flavors with each delicious spoonful.
WITH CRÈME ANGLAISE
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
3/4 cup (180 ml) whole blanched hazelnuts or slivered almonds
8 slices whole wheat bread
1 pound (453g) fresh cranberries
3 large Bosc or Anjou pears, cored, quartered, and sliced
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) plus 2 tablespoons water
2 (3-inch/7.5 cm) cinnamon sticks
3/4 cup (180 ml) golden raisins
1/2 cup (120 ml) vanilla or plain soy milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4). Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) baking pan.
- Pour the hazelnuts into a heavy-duty ziplock bag, place the bag on the cutting board, and use a hammer to gently break them into coarse pieces. Set aside. If using slivered almonds, measure them and set aside.
- Break the bread into 1-inch pieces and put them in a very large bowl. Add the cranberries and pears.
- Combine the brown sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes to create a syrup. Let cool and add it to the bread mixture.
- Add the raisins, soy milk, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well.
- Spoon the bread mixture into the prepared baking pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, and stir the mixture to break up the cranberries. Sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts, cover with the foil, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- To make the Cr¸me Anglaise, combine the soy milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and decrease the heat to medium.
- Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir until smooth. Stir the paste into the simmering soy milk mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly for 1 minute, or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let cool. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours to firm. Tightly covered and refrigerated, Cr¸me Anglaise will keep for 5 days. Makes about 2 1/4 cups (540 ml).
- To serve, spoon the bread pudding into dessert dishes and ladle some Cr¸me Anglaise over each serving.
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