The Healthy Hedonist Holidays: A Year of Multi-Cultural, Vegetarian-Friendly Holiday Feasts

The Healthy Hedonist Holidays: A Year of Multi-Cultural, Vegetarian-Friendly Holiday Feasts

by Myra Kornfeld

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Holidays are a time for family and friends to gather for mouthwatering meals, but catering to every guest's dietary requirements can be a challenge. The menus in The Healthy Hedonist Holidays will entice every guest -- vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, carnivores, omnivores who can't eat dairy, and people who just love good food -- with delicious, satisfying "flexitarian" meals.

Featuring fresh seasonal ingredients, whole grains, natural sugars, and creative seasonings, these flavorful feasts will leave guests feeling satisfied -- without the guilt that usually accompanies holiday indulgence. Each menu offers both a vegetarian and fish or poultry main course, and a range of side dishes, appetizers, and desserts that can be used in any combination to accommodate individual tastes.

Myra Kornfeld's recipes honor America's diverse cultural and ethnic heritage. Even if you're not of Chinese descent, sit down to Sesame Noodles with Wilted Nappa Cabbage and Crispy Five-Spice Tofu with Black Bean Sauce. The traditional flavors of Thanksgiving take on a southwestern flair with a maple sugar-brined turkey accompanied by Mole Gravy with Dried Plums and Ancho Chiles. The Feast of Eid al Fitr explores the flavors of Turkey and Morocco with Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Onions, Cinnamon, Almonds, and Cherries, and Semolina Walnut Cake with Macerated Oranges. A Passover dinner offers herb-flecked matzo balls in a vibrant green spinach soup and a fish terrine studded with asparagus. Christmas dinner turns to the shores of Italy for inspiration with Flounder Roll-ups with Pistachio Pesto and Squash-Portobello Lasagna.

With sections on ingredients, techniques, and a cooking plan for each menu, The Healthy Hedonist Holidays is a book to use, to give, and to savor, over and over again.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416553670
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/16/2007
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
File size: 522 KB

About the Author

Myra Kornfeld is the author of The Voluptuous Vegan. She writes regularly for Vegetarian Times and has contributed recipes and articles to Natural Health and Organic Style. A veteran restaurant chef and private cook, she is an instructor at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in New York City as well as at Sur La Table.

Read an Excerpt


THE HEALTHY HEDONIST HOLIDAYS: A Year of Multicultural, Vegetarian- Friendly Holiday Feasts includes feasts for many holidays that Americans of different heritages, ethnicities, and religions celebrate; included are Ramadan, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Passover, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, and the Fourth of July. The lavish menus in this book fall under the category of "flexitarian": Each features recipes for a vegetarian main course, as well as either a fish or a poultry entrée; you can make them both, or one without the other. There's a plan for the entire meal from starter to dessert, including salads, soups, sides, and splashes. Dishes in the ensemble go together like a coordinated wardrobe; you can pull together any or all for a variety of combinations.

Holidays are times when we have an opportunity to stop the normal hustle and bustle of our everyday pace; they punctuate the rhythm of the year and mark the cycles of our lives. These celebrations are constantly evolving, and the meanings we ascribe to them today are sometimes quite different from the significance we attributed to them in the past. Our personal relationship with a specific holiday may have changed too; the way we once celebrated it or the foods we once consumed on that holiday may no longer be appropriate. Often our guests may have conflicting food requirements. Whenever I have a dinner party, I find a variety of types of eaters at the table. One person eats fish and vegetarian, another omnivore can't tolerate dairy, and yet another is allergic to beans or sugar. I quickly learned that when my guests are accommodated, they feel especially grateful and welcome.

Many of us have had the experience of finishing an indulgent meal only to feel heavy, stuffed, and guilty shortly thereafter. These holiday feasts, which are naturally healthy and satisfying, are designed to leave us feeling energetic and nourished after the meal as well as delighted during the experience. The individual recipes are bright and flavorful, with an abundance of scrumptious vegetable dishes. Whole grains are used when suitable, although some unbleached flour is the appropriate choice in traditional fare such as pierogis and gnocchi. The majority of desserts include whole grain flours when they do not compromise flavor. I make use of high-quality fats, natural sugars, and the best of each season's produce.

In America, we are privileged to have a multicultural, multiethnic society, and the recipes in this book pay tribute to our culinary smorgasbord. Many of the menus have ethnic spins or contemporary twists to them. For Christmas Eve, I've chosen an Eastern European, mostly Polish-inspired menu. Thanksgiving has a southwestern flair, Kwanzaa features an Ethiopian- style feast, and Easter pays homage to Greek traditions. The lasagna from Christmas Day includes squash and portobello mushrooms, the cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving is brightened with persimmons, and the matzo ball soup for Passover has herbed matzo balls floating in a vibrant green spinach base. The traditional gefilte fish is transformed into an herbed fish loaf studded with seasonal asparagus.

With fragrant scents wafting through the kitchen, you can use your stove as a means of transport to worlds apart from your own when you have feasts in honor of the traditions of others. Even if you are not Chinese, how celebratory it is to have a Chinese New Year's feast, and what an opportunity to learn more about the festival. You may not be Jewish, but what fun it is to have a latke party. Or perhaps the way you celebrate a familiar holiday needs to be refreshed. Your heritage may not be Polish or Ukrainian, but you may be inspired to try pierogis on Christmas Eve for a delicious change of pace.

You can cook the entire group of recipes for each feast or you can choose a selection depending on your needs. If you're making only four or five dishes, the recipes serve six. If you make the entire menu, you will most likely find yourself with enough food for ten or twelve. The dishes all scale up well for large gatherings. I've included a suggested timeline for each entire menu so that you can pace the cooking, the key to an enjoyable experience. Festive occasions are opportunities to go all out and put in a little more effort than usual, but it's no blessing to become exhausted cooking for a holiday. How ironic to celebrate a holiday, with the theme of freedom, renewal, or independence, only to end up too fatigued to enjoy the festivities! If you spread the cooking out over several days, the complete menu comes together relatively effortlessly. All the menus have quite a few dishes or parts of dishes that can be made well ahead, and I have made notes on which dishes freeze well. If you need chiles for Cinco de Mayo or fermented black beans for the Chinese New Year, for instance, purchase them ahead of time. If the ingredients are not at a convenient store near where you live, mail-order them. I've included a resource list (page 251) for anything potentially difficult to find; it usually takes only a few days to arrive on your doorstep.

These feasts make great seasonal dinner party fare. Have a midwinter gettogether with the menu from Valentine's Day. Celebrate birthdays with the Moroccan-inspired menu from Ramadan or the Italian-inspired one from New Year's Eve. Or pick a single dish and build a simple meal around the centerpiece for weeknight meals. Keep the gnocchi from New Year's Eve and the chickpea strudel from Ramadan in your freezer, ready to cook up for an impromptu meal. Why not treat every day as a holiday? Many of these dishes travel well. Try the Three Sisters Polenta Casserole or the Black Bean and Plantain-Stuffed Peppers if you're contributing the vegetarian entrée for Thanksgiving, or try the Mushroom Tart with Parmesan Crust from the New Year's Eve menu to bring to an office party.

Party cooking, to me, is the most enjoyable type of cooking there is. The dishes are satisfying to prepare, with the resulting effort bringing moans of appreciation at the table. Infuse your food with intention and cook joyfully. Savor the cooking process as an integral part of the celebration. You create the sacred space necessary for the holiday to be a deeply nourishing experience.

Copyright © 2007 by Myra Kornfeld

Table of Contents



Stocks 4

Ingredients 7

Equipment 9

Basic Techniques 10
















Resources 251

Glossary of Ingredients 257

Equivalency Tables 259

Index 261 Copyright © 2007 by Myra Kornfeld

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