Latkes and Gingerbread -  The Trendy Vegan: A Lifestyle Blog
I love the holidays!  I am such an entertainer.  No, not the dancing or juggling kind, but the "hostess with the mostest" kind.  Opening my home to family and friends, putting on some great music, serving gourmet or comfort foods, laughing and sharing over cocktails in the living  or outside by the fire pit ~ it literally energizes me. 
Tonight we're having friends over to celebrate Chanukah.  Since I've been too busy to cook, let alone even darken a supermarket, I'm picking up a great holiday meal from Susan Lawrence ~ a Chappaqua gourmet market and caterer.  I also had 2 dozen vegan donuts from Mighty-O bakery in Seattle shipped to me as the traditional holiday dessert.  (I told you how good they were ~ and no one ever spent so much on donuts!)  Despite the fact that nothing's homemade, it'll still be a beautiful night and I am eager to try to the baby potatoes roasted with sea salt and black olives and the brussel sprouts with pecans in a vinaigrette I'm picking up in 30 minutes.  On Sunday though, since I should have the time tomorrow, I hope to make these vegan potato latkes (delicious potato pancakes cooked in oil) to bring to my parents.  You serve them hot, and can top them with cinnamon-laced applesauce, vegan sour cream, or even sautéed onions and mushrooms.

Here's what you need:
1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1 small yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (you can also use a gluten-free substitute like corn meal)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Safflower oil, for frying

Peel and grate the potatoes, place them in a colander and set that over a large bowl. Using your hands, squeeze out the excess liquid from the potatoes. Pour off the liquid and place the potatoes in the bowl. Grate the onion and add to the potatoes along with the parsley, flour (or flour substitute), baking powder, salt, and pepper, and mix well.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Take a heaping tablespoon of batter and flatten it before gently placing it in the hot oil. Make three or four more potato pancakes this way, and add to skillet (without crowding pan). Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once, about 8 minutes total.
Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding more oil as necessary. Remove the cooked potato pancakes to paper towels to drain, then transfer to an ovenproof platter and keep warm in the oven until all pancakes are cooked.
*For those of you who prefer to avoid fried food, lightly brown them in non-stick cooking spray and finish baking them in the oven.

Later this month, we are invited to celebrate Christmas at our friends' home.  I couldn't resist the offer to make gingerbread cookies.  Sure, they're adorable, but the smell that lingers in your kitchen after baking?  It's the best kind of potpourri!

For 2 dozen vegan gingies, here's what you need:

2-3/4 cups pastry flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine
3/4 cup molasses
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons soymilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.
In a bowl, combine pastry flour, baking powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together margarine, molasses, and brown sugar together until smooth. Add soymilk and vanilla and whisk thoroughly.
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix with spatula to form a dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Roll out dough onto a floured board, 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick, depending on desired texture (thinner cookies will be crispier, thicker cookies will be chewier). Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Go crazy with frosting and decorations!

Happy holidays!

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