Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fishless Friday Feast: Butternut Squash Soup, Macadamia-Crusted Seitan, Mushroom Filo Triangles with White Sauce and Zucchini Fritters

My parents observe Lent, so I invited them over for a Friday dinner that would be a change from the same old fish fry.

The Macadamia-Crusted Seitan was the main course, but in case it didn't go over well (I was a little worried the texture would be too weird for my parents), I made Mushroom Filo Triangles with White Sauce as well. Rounding out the meal were Zucchini Fritters, whole grain rolls from the bakery on the corner and some kale (whaat, my mom never had it before and I wanted her to try some!).

None of these recipes are completely my own invention, but I've altered most of them from their original states.

The Butternut Squash Soup is the same recipe I posted here, doubled.

The Macadamia-Crusted Seitan is kind of an amalgam of these recipes from; here's how I did it:

For the marinade:
• 2 pkgs White Wave Seitan
• 1/2 c soy sauce
• 3 scant tbsp dijon mustard
• 4 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
• 2 generous tbsp olive oil
• 1/4 c water

For the coating:
• 1/2 c macadamia nuts
• 1/4 c whole wheat bread crumbs (optional; if not just use more nuts and flour)
• 1/2 c flour
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1/2 c plain unsweetened soy milk for dredging (can substitute corn starch mixed with water to a milky consistency)
• canola oil for frying, about 1/4 c

First, make the marinade, enough ahead of time (at least an hour, preferably more) for the seitan to marinate. Combine the soy sauce and mustard in a bowl and mix until uniform. Add the garlic, olive oil and water; stir to combine. Pour into a bag or small covered plastic container and add the seitan, making sure it's all covered. Let the seitan marinate (I let it sit for about 4 hours, I think that was optimal).

To make the coating, toast the macadamia nuts in the toaster oven or conventional oven until just golden; cool. (This is just to make the macadamias taste a little richer; you can skip this step if you want.) Process the cooled macadamia nuts in a food processer until ground, about the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Combine the macadamia nuts, flour, breadcrumbs (if using them) and salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the soy milk into another bowl. In a small, non-nonstick pan on medium heat, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan until hot but not smoking. Coat the marinated seitan pieces one at a time by dredging in the macadamia mixture (the marinade should be enough to make it stick), then dipping quickly in the soy milk and dredging again in the macadamia mixture. Fry in the oil until golden (it won't take long) and drain on a cooling rack over a couple of paper towels.

The Mushroom Filo Triangles were from the Voluptuous Vegan, and since I don't know if the author would be cool with my posting the recipe here, I'll just post my comments:

These are basically mushroom turnovers made with phyllo dough (filo, fillo, depending on who makes it -- those paper-thin sheets of pastry dough that you brush with oil). The filling is a mix of mostly mushrooms, crumbled tofu and spinach with some onion for flavour. I used fresh baby spinach instead of regular spinach (don't have to wash and de-stem, sweeter taste) and I think that was a good idea. There is also a miso mixture that you add at one point that gave the turnovers a complex, 'gourmet' flavour; it was very good but if you'd prefer a more 'meaty' flavour, then I'd recommend omitting it and just adding soy sauce to taste. I prepped the filling ahead of time and and let it sit overnight; I did this mostly to save time, but it also allowed the flavours to mingle -- always a good idea when working with tofu.

For the White Sauce I experimented with the sauce from this recipe. I made a quarter recipe of the sauce as it is the day before, and I wasn't too thrilled with it: too thin and too orange-y. So I browsed recipes for traditional white wine sauce and here's what I came up with. It actually turned out pretty well, but it really was an experiment, so all measurements are very approximate:

• 2 tbsp margarine
• 1 medium-large shallot, finely chopped (closer to medium or large depending on how much you like onion-y flavours)
• 1/2 c dry white wine (I actually used a dry red, but a dry white would be better)
• 1/2 tsp orange zest
• 1/2 c plain, unsweetened soy milk
• 1/4 c veg. stock
• 1 tbsp flour
• 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Melt the margarine in a frying pan, add the shallot and sauté until golden. Add the wine and orange zest; bring to a boil. Add the soy milk and stir, returning to a boil. When it begins to thicken just a bit, strain the sauce into a bowl, discarding the shallots and orange peel. Place the flour and olive oil in the still-heated pan and stir to make a roux; when it bubbles return the sauce to the pan and stir quickly to thicken it uniformly. Adjust consistency (mine was on the thick side) and flavour with vegetable stock, or if it's really bland a little soy sauce. You might also want to add a teaspoon or so of nutritional yeast; I did to the leftover sauce and it complemented the orange essence nicely.

The Zucchini Fritters were taken from this recipe almost exactly, omitting the egg:

• 2 large zucchini (uh, that's grocery store large, not monster-from-your-garden large)
• 2/3-3/4 c flour
• 1 small shallot, finely chopped (you can also use about 2 tbsp finely chopped onion)
• salt and pepper to taste
• oil for frying

Shred the zucchini into a bowl with the coarse side of a cheese grater. Add the flour, shallot or onion, and salt and pepper and mix well. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and when heated, add a little oil. (We learned the hard way that if you use too much oil or if the pan isn't heated first, the zucchini will just soak up the oil and your fritters will be soggy.) Spoon the zucchini mixture into the pan in small pancake-sized dollops and fry as you would pancakes, flipping when golden on one side. When they're cooked, dab off the excess oil with a paper towel.

My parents liked the Macadamia-Crusted Seitan even more than I expected them to, although I must admit it's kind of hard not to like. The tangy marinade coupled with the buttery-sweet coating is a great combination. The Zucchini Fritters were also a favourite; they're basically like potato pancakes only less greasy and a little softer. I'll definitely be making them again as zucchini comes back into season. The Mushroom Triangles held their own, but since I made them as a second entree I think I would have preferred a more meaty flavour from them. And it's hard to argue with creamy Butternut Squash soup, fresh rolls and yummy kale.

I'll also mention my mom brought an excellent dessert: Ghiradelli's Chocolate muffins (made with egg replacer), topped with fresh raspberry or strawberry sauce (made by sprinkling sugar on the fruit and letting them sit until they make their own juice), served à la mode. The muffins were more like fudgy cupcakes, rich and moist. If you can find the mix, I highly recommend them.


Anonymous said...

mmm... this sounds so yummy. i've have to try to make it when i have some time.

elise said...

this sounds awesome!!

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