Don, Roger, Peggy, Joan … it’s been too long. Can’t say the same for you, Pete and Betty, but I’m still glad that you’re back in spite of your oft-insufferable personalities. That’s right—everyone’s favorite day-drinking, copy-writing Sunday night television ensemble cast has returned to the small screen after 17 months of fervid anticipation, and what better way to celebrate than by trading in the requisite kale salad with tofu for a taste of a different era? Anyone who’s stumbled across a cookbook from Mad Men times knows that from breakfast to dinner, its food fodder had a heavy hand with meat and dairy. But its 2012, and no territories go un-veganized.
Host With the Roast
The characters of Mad Men are certainly fond of their beef, dining on prime rib, Wellingtons, and meat loaf in several episodes. Myriad meatless versions exist, ranging in skill level from simple to rocket-science. Need a quick dish? Try semi-homemade vegan Salisbury Steak, which uses premade veggie burger patties as a base protein. For an easy take on pot roast, go for VegWeb’s Seitan Pot Roast, which is ready to go in under an hour and would pair perfectly with some Creamy Quick Mashed Potatoes. Remember the stories of pies left to cool on windowsills in simpler times? A Savory Vegan Shepherd’s Pie would make the perfect entrée for your Mad Men viewing soirée, satisfying even omnis with its perfect synthesis of gravy, Yukon Gold potatoes, and burger crumbles. Or, try cruelty-free Meatloaf, which is free of faux meat but just as rich and comforting as Grandma’s.
Remember Pete’s infamous chip-and-dip bowl? Pay homage to it with one of these satisfying spreads, served with crispy potato chips or vegetable crudités. Green Onion Dip and Cashew & Pepper Dip are creamy and rich, a nod to the mayonnaise-heavy recipes of the time, while Mushroom Paté has a touch of class that conjures the decadent appetizers shared by the ad men on their numerous dinner dates. For finger food, try Potato Angels, a vegan twist on Deviled Eggs, or fry up mini Tomato and Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Don and Betty would definitely bring potato salad to one of the picnics where they oft took the kids in happier times, and this vegan version is convincingly creamy with its inclusion of both Vegenaise and soy yogurt to achieve the ideal consistency. Wash it down with some fresh-squeezed Old-Fashioned Lemonade.
The recurring quintessential dessert of Mad Men times is the pineapple upside-down cake, a lost treasure of mid-century elegance. Numerous vegan versions exist on the web, but VegWeb’s version requires only 10 minutes of prep time. Ready in a breeze, your guests will think that you slaved in the kitchen to prepare this sweet treat. One of the most lighthearted moments of season four is when Sally makes pancakes for a hung-over Don and accidentally douses them with rum instead of syrup. Follow her lead by whipping up Irish Cream Pancakes—with the booze added intentionally. Or, marry the two together (à la Don and Megan) with Yes I Want Cake’s Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes!
The Old-Fashioned is the signature drink of the show, even downed by Don in the first scene of the pilot episode. This classic cocktail has only a few ingredients, but a taste as sophisticated as the characters who enjoy them (liberally). When mixing your own rendition, use Barnivore to double check the vegan status of your preferred whiskey, although most bourbons are free of animal products. Go simple with Jim Beam, or pick Bulleit for a more modern twist. Angostura bitters are also vegan-friendly, and following this Epicurious recipe, the only other ingredients you’ll need are club soda, sugar, ice, orange peel, and lemon peel. Many people also like to include maraschino cherries, which are typically vegan but also chockfull of artificial ingredients. You may wish to pick a more organic alternative, such as Tillen Farms’ all-natural Merry Maraschino Cherries or Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries.
With an Old-Fashioned in hand, a platter of faux-deviled eggs, and a vegan roast in the oven, you’re all set to celebrate the fifth season of one of the most beloved shows on television. Just try to moderate yourself a little better than Don—or worse, Freddy. Cheers!
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