Saturday, September 05, 2009

Early Thanksgiving Meal Photo-Op: Mango-Marinated Seitan, Grilled Figs, Lobster & Chantrelle Mushroom Quinoa in Baked Red Kuri Squash, Corn w/ Lime

A few months back, Our State magazine which is a well-regarded monthly that serves North Carolina, contacted me initially to provide input for an article on the owner of the restaurant where we have our famous Thanksgiving, the country's largest vegetarian one. I was happy to do that only a few weeks later to hear from them that they want to do an article about me. I met with a writer on July 17th, and today had the fun of being able to "talk shop" with one of their staff photographers (I'm also a professional photographer), who came to our home to photograph me for the article, due out in their November issue.

I decided to make something that would be appropriate to serve on Thanksgiving. We often have my lemon-marinated seitan; I like to use Annie's Naturals brand organic Baja Lime marinade, but couldn't find it. Instead, I tried their organic Mango Cilantro marinade. We invited the nice photographer to join us for dinner, so I cooked for three instead of two adults.

I cut up two boxes of seitan into chunks maybe 1 1/2" x 1" x 3/4" thick and let the chunks marinate along with spears of rosemary for an hour or more.

While the seitan was marinating, I heated the oven to 375°F and cut two red kuri squashes (this squash looks somewhat like a pumpkin) into halves. I removed their seeds then placed them cut side down on platters. I added water to the platters so that the squash would get some steam as they baked, and put the squash in the oven to cook for about 45 minutes.

I drained the marinade from the bowl holding the seitan and started sauteeing the seitan chunks over medium-high heat for as long as it took to get them reasonably brown and crispy, perhaps about 15 minutes. I also added about a half onion to the saute about halfway through. My thought was to remove the seitan, coat with coarse cornmeal, and saute a little bit more, but unfortunately I only had fine cornmeal. I went ahead and tried coating with this cornmeal and came out with a reasonable result, but in hindsight, I would have been much better off with the coarse as planned or just leaving out the cornmeal entirely. I then added a little extra marinade plus a few pinches of salt, stirred, and served.

I had some lobster and chantrelle mushrooms. I cut them into medium cubes, perhaps 1/2", and sauteed, along with a medium shallot cubed to about 1/4", for a few minutes till cooked and very gently browned. I then added, in a 2:1 ratio, water and quinoa, as well as a cube of vegan bouillon, and brought to a boil. I let it boil for a few minutes then covered the pan and turned the heat off. After a few minutes, once the water was absorbed and the quinoa grains showed their characteristic spiral, the dish was done.

I also prepared three ears of corn, roasting the kernels over the open flame of my gas range, then stripping the kernels. I mixed in Earth Balance margarine, a bit of fresh lime, and alder-smoked salt.

I picked up some delicious black mission figs a few days back. At Thanksgiving, we sometimes have grilled figs, but I've never grilled them before. I cut a handful or so of figs in half lengthwise, and cooked, cut side down, over low heat in the same pan that had been used for the seitan for a few minutes till the fig softened. I served the figs next to a salad with various lettuces and chopped olives and vegetables.

I think dinner came out well and proved to be photogenic! I look forward to seeing the article and pictures; I am guessing the magazine will come out in late October.


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