Ayala’s Holiday Table

The holidays are practically here – a whole six weeks of eating and drinking and partying, and what is a vegetarian to do with all the holiday dinners?

Ayala’s Kitchen to the rescue!

In the coming weeks Ayala’s Kitchen will post vegetarian holiday recipes. Instead of changing recipes when new ones come up, I will keep a running post of all the holiday recipes so you can go back and check all of them out. Visit often to check  out what is new for starters, entrees, desserts and beverages.

And don’t forget, Ayala’s Kitchen Cookbook is the perfect gift to your vegetarian friends.

Happy Holidays!

Hot Cider Two Ways

What is a holiday party without hot apple cider? Here are two ideas for hot cider with a twist:

No need to spike this drink, it will feel very adult, and you will still be able to drive home safely

1 cup shredded fresh ginger root
3 cups water
6 cups apple cider
2 Tbap cinnamon sticks
2 Tbps whole dried cloves
1 Tsp whole allspice
1 Tsp star anise

Combine the ginger and water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes for mild flavor to 40 minutes for the kick-ass-extra-spicy flavor.
Place the spices in the cider (I tie them up in a piece of cheese cloth so they are easy to fish out.
Heat up the cider until warm and simmer on very low heat until the ginger mix has cooked.
Strain the ginger mix and add to the cider.

Combines the pleasure of hot mulled wine with the hot mulled cider for one heart – warming (and low alcohol) concoction

4 cups apple cider
2 Tbap cinnamon sticks
2 Tbps whole dried cloves
1 Tsp whole allspice
1 Tsp star anise
4 cups red wine

Combine the cider and spices and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes
Add the wine and increase the heat until the mix reaches near boiling. Do not let boil, red wine does not react well to boiling

Beignets – Hanukkah New Orleans Style

Though potato pancakes are a Hanukkah staple in Israel, the most popular Hanukkah treat are fried donuts called sufganiyot (pronounced suf-gani-yot). Often filled with jelly, these are delicious treats, but a real hustle to make, because the classical recipe is for yeast dough, which requires much kneading, letting rise, kneading again, letting rise again… which makes for a fun activity for a rainy day, but not a quick fix for busy cooks.
In my search for a quick solution I came by a yeast free recipe for beignets (pronounced bin-yeah), the famous treat of my favorite city New Orleans. And so, now I get to eat my Hanukkah staple food, feel like I am sitting in a café in the French Quarter, and all done in about 20 minutes. That is what I call a win-win situation!

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup oil
½ cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients.
Whisk together the water, milk and egg.
Add to the dry ingredients mix and whisk thoroughly
In a deep skillet heat the oil to 360 degrees (too cold and you will get white oily donuts, too hot and they will be burned in the outside and not cooked enough inside. Test the first beignet – if it floats immediately, the oil is hot enough)
Working in batches, drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and let puff .
Turn the beignets to get an even golden brown color, about 2-3 minutes
Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels
Place the powdered sugar in a paper bag and toss the beignets to get even cover
Serve immediately, with café au lait for a full NOLA experience


Rösti, the Vegan Potato Pancake

Hanukkah is upon us, eight days of celebrating light, and foods fried in oil. Potato pancakes are a staple this holiday, and I personally love potato pancakes, but my vegan and gluten sensitive friends do not appreciate the eggs and flour, which are part of the recipe. For these friends, Rösti is the ideal pancakes. The fact that it is soooooo easy to make, is an added bonus

1 lb. Yukon Gold or russets potatoes, peeled and grated
1 ½ tsp salt
¼  tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp vegetable oil

Place the potatoes in a large bowl and let rest for 15
Squeeze as much liquid as possible out of them and pat dry.
Add the salt and pepper and mix well.
In a large skillet heat the oil until a loose piece of potato sizzles when dropped in
Add the potatoes and spread evenly to make a ½ inch thick pancake
Cook until the underside is a deep golden, about 15 minutes.
Slide the pancake out of the pan onto a dinner plate, put another plate on top and flip the plates over.
Slide the rösti back into the pan and continue cooking another 5 minutes, or until the new bottom is browned.


Baked Cheese

The holiday season is party time, which translates to long hours in the kitchen. This dish is so simple, so quick and so tasty, it is ideal for any last minute treat, for a gathering of hungry friends, or just to satisfy a sudden urge for something warm and delicious.
I use goat cheese, but full fat  feta  will do the trick nicely

1 large log of goat cheese, cut to bite size pieces
2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp mixed dried oregano, mint and sage leaves

Heat the oven to 350 degrees
Place the cheese in an oven safe dish
Drizzle the oil and sprinkle with pepper and herbs
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is soft and warm.

This dish needs to be eaten warm, or the cheese will harden.
Loves fresh cut vegetables and fresh bread to dip in the oil

Sahlab – The Eggnog Alternative

What is a holiday party without eggnog? This wonderful Middle Eastern drink has no eggs, and can be made with almond or coconut milk with excellent results. Warm and satisfying, it is an ideal winter treat

2 ½ cups milk
3 Tbsp sugar, honey or xylitol
½ cup milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp shredded coconut
Few pistachios

Mix 2½ cups milk with sugar and gently heat – do not boil
Mix cornstarch with ½ cup milk until dissolved
Add the cornstarch mix to the warm milk and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mix thickens, about 2 minutes
Pour into cups and top with cinnamon, coconut and pistachios

Roasted Grapefruit

Holidays are times to indulge in good food and company, so holiday dinners tend to be rich, large, and time consuming to make. After a heavy meal, enjoy this refreshing, light and easy to make dessert. Delicious but lighter than traditional desserts as it is, it can also give you a head start on your New Year resolution

2 grapefruits
4 tsp butter
4 tsp brown sugar or maple syrup
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 cup fresh blueberries, or frozen blueberries, thawed and drained (optional)

Cut the grapefruits in half and separate the segments
Mix together butter, sweetener and spices and spread over the cut side
preheat the oven to broil
Place the grapefruit halves cut side up in a baking dish and broil for 5 minutes, or until the tops caramelize
Place the blueberries on the grapefruit halves and return to the broiler for 2 minutes more, until the blueberries start to sizzle

Spice Cookies

It is cookie making time! These spicy, delicious and oh so easy to make cookies are everyone’s favorite. Vegans can substitute the butter with coconut oil, but there is no denying the yumminess of butter in these crisp little treasures

3 cups self rising flour
1 stick butter at room temperature
¾ cup sugar or xylitol
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 350
Mix the flour, butter and sugar
Add the spices
Form a cylinder and slice to 1/2” slices
Place the slices on a dry cookie sheet and bake until golden, about 20 minutes


Eggplant Paté

Paté is a beautiful addition to a holiday party table, and well appreciated by guests. Alas’ it is traditionally made of all kinds of animal products. What can a vegetarian do? Enjoy this yummy eggplant pate, which is any bit as delicious. Your carnivorous friends will enjoy too

1 large eggplant, peel on, diced
2 generous handfuls salt
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crashed
3 Tbsp full fat Greek style yogurt
Pepper to taste

Spread the diced eggplant on a cookie sheet and spread the salt
let stand for at least one hour so the eggplant drains its liquids (this ensures both sweeter flavor, quicker frying, and will keep the eggplant from soaking up too much oil)
Squeeze the fluids out of the eggplant and pat dry
In a large skillet, heat up the oil
Sauté the eggplant and cook until soft, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching
In a food processor combine the eggplant and garlic and process until smooth
Add the yogurt and pepper (no need for salt since the eggplant is already salted) and process until well blended


Zap Roasted Vegetables

Thanksgiving is over, here comes Partying December! Roasted vegetables are always a hit in all my parties. When preparing party foods, time is a major issue – there is a lot to make, and all at the same time. This is why I choose to nuke my roasted veggies, to save time and keep the oven available for dishes that need to be baked. With the right seasoning, your guests will not guess that you chose a quick fix

2 beets, scrubbed
4 potatoes, scrubbed
4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
4 carrots, scrubbed
10 cloves garlic
6 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp dried oregano
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Place the vegetables in a glass serving dish
Microwave until tender enough to stick a fork in
Remove the vegetables
Cut the potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets to thick slices, and the carrots lengthwise
Return to the serving dish
Whisk together the olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and pour over the vegetables
Return to the oven and cook on high heat until the vegetables are dome

The length of roasting time depends on your microwave oven. I set my oven to high, and check every 10 minutes to see how the veggies are doing and if they need to be turned over. If some, like carrots, are ready earlier than others, like beets, remove them and continue to zap the tougher veggies


Cranberry Salsa

Liven up the holiday table, with this unusual treatment of the holiday condiment. Back by popular demand, this alternative to the traditional cranberry sauce – spicy, sweet and tart, goes well with meat, poultry, and meaty flavored dishes such as seitan with mushrooms and potatoes (Ayala’s Kitchen Cookbook page 19)

10 ounces fresh cranberries
Juice from 1 large lime
1/4 cup honey or 2 tbsp stivia
1 small red onion
2 jalapeño peppers
1/2 cup cilantro
Salt to taste

In a food processor process the cranberries with the lime juice and the honey or stivia.
Remove and set aside
Dice the onion
Quarter and seed the peppers
Process the onion, peppers and cilantro
Combine with the cranberries mix|
Add salt and mix well

No fresh cranberries? Use thawed frozen cranberries.
Absolutely Okay to use dried cranberries, in which case do not add honey or stivia


Coconut Creamed Corn

Did the pilgrims really have turkey for their Thanksgiving feast? Most likely not, but they did have corn. Though not this corn recipe, which is delightful, delicious, easy to make, and vegan! It does take some simmering to create, so it is best made when you are already busy in the kitchen, cooking other dishes.

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup coconut cream
1 tsp dry powdered ginger
1 tsp hot sauce of your choice
1 tsp salt

In a skillet, heat the coconut oil
Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil
Simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the coconut cream is fully absorbed.

More interesting, delicious, quick and easy recipes for busy cooks in Ayala’s Kitchen Cookbook, available for download at http://ayalamakes.com/ayalas-kitchen/, and makes for nice and easy holiday gift for your favorite cook


Kale Stuffing

The king of the Thanksgiving table is the turkey, but let’s be honest – it is really the stuffing that everyone is after. This interesting and different stuffing is an adaptation of a recipe I found online. Since we are all busy cooks, especially this time of year, I streamlined it, made some small changes, and the result was delicious, so here it is for you. This recipes contains eggs. Vegan can use add substitute, though the stuffing my be a little dry as a result

2 loaves bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
½ cup olive oil
1stick butter
2 bunches kale, center ribs and stems removed
1 1/2 cups minced fennel
1 1/2 cups minced onions
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons fresh thyme and rosemary leaves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400°.
In a large bowl toss bread with 1/2 cup oil. Spread on a baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes, stirring often
In a large skillet heat the butter. Add the kale and sauté, for 10 minutes. Add the fennel, onions, garlic and herbs.
Season with salt and pepper and sauté for another 10 minutes.
Add vegetable mixture to the croutons.
In a skillet bring the wine and the broth to a boil. Add to the croutons and vegetable mix and mix well.
Separate the eggs. Add the yolks to the mix
Whisk the whites and fold in
(this will give you a light and fluffy stuffing. You can skip this step and mix the eggs unseparated if you wish)
Transfer the mix to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake covered for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake until bread is golden and crisped on top, 25-30 minutes longer.

More interesting, delicious, quick and easy recipes for busy cooks in Ayala’s Kitchen Cookbook, available for download at http://ayalamakes.com/ayalas-kitchen/