Tuesday, October 29, 2013

coconut curry squash soup



    While I'm not in the habit of posting recipes based around puns, this one simply could not be avoided. I'm certainly not the first person to come up with the idea of putting curry & coconut in squash soup. And I swear I didn't choose to use red kuri squash just because of its punny name. Still, I'll admit I tend to giggle every time I say "curry kuri squash soup."

    Most people use butternut squash when they make a soup like this, which is fine because butternut squash is awesome. But there are so many more amazing kinds of squash out there and I consider it my humble job to introduce you to a one of the more lesser know varieties.
 
    I first met the red kuri squash when a farmer who supplies the restaurant where I work brought some in for us. I immediately feel in love. Its flavour is very similar to the butternut squash, but it's just a little less sweet and a little more earthy. What's also great about it is that it's a bit starchier than most other squash. That makes it great for roasting, because you can cook the heck out of it without it getting mushy. It's starchy character also makes it great for soup. When making soup with butternut squash I would often sneak in a bit of potato for extra body, but that's not necessary with the red kuri squash.

   Like most of my recipes I keep things really simple here. The only ingredients I use are squash, onions, garlic and of course coconut & curry. Most people automatically feel the need to put carrots and celery in any soup they make, but there is just no need. Adding celery simply risks leaving behind fibers that would need to be strained out and adding carrots wont bring anything either. Just let that squash flavour shine!

     The coconut milk melds really well with the squash flavour and brings a richness to the soup. Usually I finish any soup I make with a generous amount of butter, but because of the coconut milk, there is just no need. That means that the soup just happens to be vegan and I guess that's a good thing.

    Be sure to be gentle with the curry, because it can easily over-power the soup. I used regular curry powder, but if you want to be fancy fancy you could use red curry paste. Then you would have red curry red kuri squash soup!


Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes. Makes 2L (about 6 portions.)

Ingredients

6 cups (1.5L) red kuri squash, peeled & chopped
1 cup onion (250ml), peeled & chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cups (1.25L) water
2/3 cup (160ml) coconut milk
2 tablespoons curry powder or red curry paste

1. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pot and then add 1 cup chopped onions. Stir on medium heat until the onions just start to turn translucent. Turn off heat and add the garlic. The remaining heat from the warm onions will be enough to soften the garlic's flavour before you add the remaining ingredients.

2. To peel the squash, start by cutting it into quarters then use a spoon to remove the seeds & pulp. Use a sharp knife to remove the skin. You can cut each quarter into smaller, more manageable pieces to make the peeling process easier. Cut the squash into roughly 1 inch cubes, add to the pot and then cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Gently simmer until squash is very tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Purée the soup in a blender, adding the coconut milk as you blend. Reserve a small amount of the coconut milk to later garnish the soup. Season with salt & curry powder or paste.






Monday, October 21, 2013

Brussles sprout 'slaw

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       I was walking down the isles of the grocery store the other day and I saw the most amazing bunches of fresh brussels sprouts still in the stem. Around this time last year, I posted a recipe for sauteed brussles sprouts, so this year I decided to do something different. The bunch that I took home was so fresh and crisp I decided to try using them raw. Turned out to be a good idea: the resulting slaw was pretty freakin' amazing. 

       I love making coleslaw, and I've tried all sorts of variations (one of my favorites is apple & fennel.) What I love about this recipe is that after being tossed in mayo, the salad strays really crunchy, even the next day. You can use store bought mayo as the base for this recipe and just add a little lemon juice & mustard, but it's really not hard to make the mayo from scratch as I do here. 




Prep time 15 minutes. Serves 5

Ingredients:

1 lbs (454g) fresh brussles sprouts
1/2 cup carrots, grated or finely chopped
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable oil
salt & pepper

  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolk with the mustard & lemon juice. Add the vegetable oil in a slow steady stream, while whisking constantly. 

Pro tip: To steady your mixing bowl, soak a kitchen towel in water and then set in down on your work surface in the form of a wreath. Set the mixing bowl down in the center of the wet-towel-wreath to steady the bowl as you whisk,   

  To prepare the brussles sprouts, cut each in half lengthwise, leaving a bit of the stem still attached. Thinly slice the brussles sprouts starting from the top and working your way toward the stem, then discard the stem. Stir the brussles sprouts into the mayo and add the shredded carrots & onion. Season with salt & pepper.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Apple cinnamon cranberry sauce



    It's almost Thanksgiving here in Canada, and the fresh Quebec cranberries are here just in time to celebrate. Making fresh cranberry sauce is so easy - basically just add water & sugar and boil. Any other ingredients are just embellishments. 

   Last year, I posted a recipe for tangerine cranberry sauce. This year I'm again keeping things really simple. Instead of tangerine, I'm using Quebec apples. Since cinnamon is so good with regular applesauce, I'm throwing some into this recipe. 


Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes. Make 4 cups (1L)

Ingredients

4 cups (350g) fresh cranberries
2 cups courtland apples, peeled & cubed
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups water


1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized sauce pot.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

3. Let simmer until cranberries are very soft and most of the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes.