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There’s something about being in the kitchen that brings us joy, especially during this time of year. Having friends or family over for a cozy meal, connecting with them over food, and then sending them off feeling nourished is such a treat. So if you’re looking to host for the holidays, here are a few of our team's favorite recipes, from crispy egg rolls to loaded mashed potatoes to savory stuffed mushrooms.
In separate bowls, soak the shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, and bean thread noodles in warm water until softened. Slice the shiitake mushrooms after rinsing and draining them. Rinse the wood ear mushrooms and drain them as well as the bean thread noodles. Then cut them into smaller pieces.
Thoroughly drain the tofu of its soaking liquid and place in a large bowl. Break the tofu up into smaller pieces, like crumbled feta. Then, place the tofu in a cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess liquid (similar to how you would prepare the tofu for this dish). Return the tofu to the bowl, add the julienned carrots, sliced onions, shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, and bean thread noodles. Add the potato starch and season the filling with salt, sugar, and ground pepper. Mix thoroughly to ensure that the seasoning is evenly distributed. After mixing the ingredients with chopsticks, I then switch to mixing with my hands, gently squeezing the filling as I mix to soften the carrots a bit.
Rolling the Egg Rolls
Carefully peel a spring roll wrapper sheet from the stack and place it before you so that one of the ends is pointed towards you, like a rhombus. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling onto the sheet 2-3 centimeters from the corner pointing towards you. Fold the corner over the filling and tightly roll it one full rotation. Then fold each side over so that it looks like an elongated envelope. Continue to roll, being sure to roll it tight enough that it won’t fall apart. Seal the egg roll by brushing some of the beaten egg with your finger along the edges of the remaining corner.
The best way to fry these egg rolls is in a deep fryer, but I hate cleaning the fryer afterwards. So, I usually fry mine in batches over medium-high heat in a pot filled with at least 4-5 cm of cooking oil (enough oil so that the egg rolls are fully submerged when frying). To gauge if the oil is hot enough, insert a wooden chopstick and if the oil starts to bubble rapidly, then it’s ready. When putting the egg rolls into the pot, don’t overcrowd them. Allow them to cook until they they reach a light, golden color. Immediately, transfer the egg rolls into a fine-meshed sieve to cool.
The egg rolls are best served over vermicelli rice noodles and a bed of Vietnamese aromatic herbs with a drizzle of nước mắm sauce. Or if served as an appetizer, they can be eaten by wrapping them in lettuce and aromatic herbs and dipped in nước mắm sauce. For those who would like a truly animal-free version, my nước mắm sauce can be made with soy sauce instead of fish sauce.
Preheat the oven to 400F and set a 9×9″ baking dish aside.
Marinate the Mushrooms
Place the mushroom caps in a large glass bowl and drizzle 1 tbsp of tamari over them; use a spatula to gently toss them in the mixture, until evenly coated. Set aside and let marinate while you prepare the filling, tossing occasionally.
Toast the Nuts
Bring a medium pan to medium-high heat; Add pine nuts and walnuts and toast for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. The nuts should be fragrant and slightly golden when finished; set aside.
Process the Filling
Add onion and celery to a food processor and process until they are very finely chopped, almost at a chunky paste. Remove from the food processor and set aside. Add the toasted nuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, rosemary, thyme, paprika, sage, and black pepper to the food processor. Pulse until the nuts are very finely chopped, almost resembling coarse breadcrumbs. Reserve 3 tablespoons of this mixture to top the mushrooms; place the rest in a separate bowl apart from the onions/celery.
Cook the Filling
Heat the vegan butter (or oil or 3 tablespoons water) in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the onion and celery mixture. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent and slightly golden. Deglaze the pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon of tamari. Then, add the ground nut & spice mixture to the pan; cook for 1 minute, to allow the nuts and spices to toast. Add the red wine to the pan and stir well into the mixture; it should begin to stick together and form a thicker “paste.” Sauté for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and additional pepper to taste, if necessary.
Fill the Mushrooms
Place each mushroom cap into the baking dish with the hollow side (where the stem used to be) facing up. Fill each mushroom with approximately 1 tablespoon of the cooked filling, using your fingers to press it in firmly (though some will remain on top). Sprinkle the reserved nut & spice “breadcrumbs” over each mushroom.
Bake in the top rack of the oven for 27-29 minutes, until the mushrooms have fully cooked and the topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving tray; serve warm, or as desired. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and are best served warm.
Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon; stir into apples. Turn into pastry shell. Combine remaining flour and sugar; cut in butter till crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes or till done. If pie browns too quickly, cover edge with foil.
We hope you enjoy sharing these recipes with your loved ones. We’d love to see what you cook up, so feel free to tag us in your yummy dishes on Instagram!