November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving has come and gone

My plate from bottom left: stuffed, roasted seitan with mushroom gravy, salad, potato kugel, roasted veggies and figs, herbed orange-cranberry relish

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and most people have moved on, but I'm still dragging my feet about my Thanksgiving post. Please indulge me while I do a little blurb about our feast so I can move on, too. We had the whole family at our home this year which was a unique treat for us since we've not lived in the same city with all our kids in a long time. The guests brought contributions to the meal so the work was spread around a little. I got so caught up in the celebrating that I forgot to photograph some parts of the feast, like the delicious potato kugel brought by our oldest son and daughter-in-law. This is an old family recipe that came to the U.S. with my Russian great-grandmother, and appears at nearly every family holiday event. It just wouldn't be a holiday without it. I forgot to photograph the Thai coconut corn soup based on a recipe in "Vegan Express" by Nava Atlas. I love this soup, and have served it to a LOT of people. (My adapted recipe appears at the end of this post.) And I didn't photograph the mushroom gravy.

The main dish for Thanksgiving at our house is always stuffed seitan. Here you see it (uncooked) in the baking dish with the stuffing. My husband's fingers are keeping the very elastic seitan from shrinking down into the pan while I do a photo shoot. The stuffing is brown rice, wild rice, home-made-bread cubes, mushrooms, celery, shredded carrots, onions, dried cranberries, herbs and spices, and maybe other things, too.

The seitan is first rolled out and then transferred to the dish, where it's filled, and the top folded over and sealed. It's always a stressful and comical process to roll out the stretchy seitan and get it into the dish before it shrinks up, but this year I made a brilliant discovery. I rolled the seitan onto a large sheet of parchment paper, and it seemed to stick in place. My husband and I then lifted the whole thing up and placed it, paper and all, into the dish, to be stuffed. (I also added chickpea flour to the seitan mix which may have made it more pliable.)

After the stuffed seitan was baked, we lifted it out of the baking dish and onto the serving platter using the paper. It was so much easier then trying to un-stick it from the pan! I raised the seitan up a little with a spatula and slid the paper out.

In the photo above you see the vegetables — Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots and potatoes — before they went into the oven to roast. When they were nearly done, dried figs were mixed in. I forgot to photograph the veggies after they were roasted to perfection with olive oil and herbs.

For starters, we had various raw veggies, olives, pickles, crackers, hummus and Tings. (Yes, that's right, Tings.) We also had bowls of Thai coconut corn soup. This soup takes only minutes to make but tastes like it took hours.

Here's the herbed cranberry-orange relish I blogged about recently. This time I remembered to decorate it.

This is the fabulous salad brought by our middle son and his girlfriend. It was delicious.

We had two desserts. We had almond twilles filled with pumpkin mousse. (Our mini-guest was particularly taken by the mousse and wanted more, more, more...)

And we had a pumpkin chocolate spice cake from this recipe, minus the anise (I HATE anise. Ugh.) and with only 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. (note: The ganache from the recipe didn't work for me — there was way too much liquid and it turned into chocolate milk. Luckily I had extra chocolate on hand and made my own version of ganache using only 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance.)

Because I've made several alterations to the coconut corn soup recipe, and because the original appears in several places on the Web, I'm going to share my version, here. This is the perfect soup to make when you want something that doesn't take much time or effort but tastes great.

Thai coconut corn soup (adapted from a recipe by Nava Atlas)
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 to 5 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into short, narrow strips
  • One 15-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups rice milk
  • One 16-ounce bag frozen corn
  • 2 teaspoons good quality curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • juice from 1/2 small lime or lemon
  • ½ cup minced fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
  1. Heat the oil in a small soup pot. Add the garlic, the white parts of the scallions, and the bell pepper. Sauté over medium-low heat until softened and golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut milk, rice milk, broth, corn, curry powder, the green parts of the scallions. If using the curry paste, dissolve it in a small amount of hot soup before adding to the pot.
  3. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Season with salt and citrus juice, and remove from the heat.
  4. Serve, with cilantro or parsley and fresh ground black pepper.
Yield: 6 servings of spicy soup.
You can substitute two cups of rice milk for the vegetable broth if desired. I've done it both ways and I like the broth version best, but both are good.


  1. Your Thanksgiving feast looks wonderful! making seitan can be a daunting task, but it is well worth it in the end. :)

  2. Oh, your plate looks absolutely delicious! All your Thanksgiving dishes look and sound so wonderful especially the Thai coconut corn soup, I can't wait to give it a try, YUM!

  3. i want to come to your house for thanksgiving! yum! what a beautiful seitan roast!

  4. I think I would like that soup very much! It sounds like you had a bountiful, delicious Thanksgiving. How nice that all your guests brought food!

  5. Jessie,
    I have to say that it's a lot easier to make seitan now with vital wheat gluten than when I used to make it from whole wheat flour. All that kneading and rinsing was a LOT of work.

    Thanks! I hope you like the soup as much as we do. Nava Atlas has some wonderful recipes.

    If you're ever in the neighborhood you should let me know!

    The soup is yummy and gluten-free as far as I can tell. My mother thought it was weird and rude to let guests bring food. She was wrong about that.

  6. It looks like you had a delicious Thanksgiving with lovely company :-)


  7. Well this has to be the best thanksgiving feast I have seen in a long time!! So healthy and vibrant :)

    I must google this seitan, it looks just wonderful.

    Great post!

  8. oh all of it looks delicious!
    i wish i had a good camera to shoot my food.

  9. Courtney,
    We did. Thanks!

    Thank you! Our seitan is a little different each year because I get too involved with cooking to write down a recipe. When I try to follow a recipe for the seitan I always change it as I go along, and can never remember exactly what I did. But, seitan seems to be very forgiving and I've never had my experiments not work. Try "seitan o'greatness" on the PPK forum. It's not what I used for Thanksgiving, but it's really good.

    Thank you! I'd love to have a really great camera, too. The camera I have now is better than the point and shoot I started with, but the most important thing is learning to make the most of whatever camera you have. I'm still learning. :)

  10. Seriously, next year I am inviting myself over! Both the seitan and the kugle look mouthwatering.

  11. What a wonderful feast you had. Gave me a couple of good ideas for the end of year functions.

    Also thanks for the ganache recipe, will come in useful.

  12. Mihl,
    Of course, you're invited. Though I might be a little nervous making seitan for someone with the word "seitan" in her blog title!

    Thank you for your comments and for visiting my blog.

  13. It's always a good time to talk about holiday feasts, no matter how long ago they occurred! That seitan-rolling looks mighty tricky--the finished product is gorgeous.

  14. Fabulous feast! You're lucky to have had help with the side dishes to take some of the stress off of you. Plus I know you're a family of excellent cooks! That salad sure looks good. (I hate anise too!)

  15. Looks like quite a feast and a very tasty one at that! I can't get a liking for brussel sprouts though, the only veg I scorn.

    Can I ask, what are Tings?

  16. Ricki,
    Thanks! The seitan rolling was the easiest it's ever been — parchment paper to the rescue. (I think I originally bought the paper to make butterscotch blondies from your cookbook!)

    Anise, fennel, black licorice — all horrible. I'm the only one in the family who feels this way. :)

    Tings are a puffed snack (kind of like those puffed cheese things that are orange) that are vegan but taste kind of cheesy. And they are beige, not orange. I'd never had them before though I'd heard others mention them. I bought them just for fun.

    I think everyone has at least one vegetable they scorn. I try to avoid rutabaga, though I love turnips.

  17. wow i have to try that seitan! thanks for the inspiration!

  18. Oh wow, that looks great! I want to come to your house for dinner too!

  19. lauralemon - The seitan is fun to make and tastes great. Make sure to roll it out on parchment paper to make things much easier.

    Penny - You're invited anytime!


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