Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thai-inspired Pumpkin Soup
This is a soup I've been making for about 10 years.  It's incredibly versatile and never really tastes the same as the time before as I'm always adding a little something or omitting something.  Often, I throw in some veggies that I happen to have lying around, but it always seems to work out well and is a big hit when I serve it to guests or take it to potlucks.
I used to make this with acorn squash and sometimes butternut squash, but for the last couple of years I've been using pumpkin and I think I like it even better that way.  I bet it could even be made with sweet potatoes!  I've made it at different times with red, yellow, masaman and green curry paste.  I've made it with homemade chicken stock, turkey stock or pork stock.  I've even made it with bought stock in a pinch.  I've added zucchini at times, sometimes lentils or even steel cut oats.  I've also omitted cilantro when someone who dislikes it will be dining with us and I've used onions and/or shallots depending on what I have on hand.
Here's (more or less) how I make it...
I cook some pumpkin until soft
Roughly chop some onions (or shallots)
Roughly chop some garlic (8 cloves), ginger (1/4 cup) and Thai bird chilies (3-5)
 This is what the chilies look like when whole

 I sauté these in some coconut oil until softened
 This is my favourite coconut oil
 I add some Thai curry paste (red this time and about 1/4 cup)
 This is the brand I had on hand but my favourite is Mae Ploy brand
 I add a large can of coconut milk (full fat, not that horrible light stuff!)
 And I cook all of this together for about 20 minutes
 Then I add about 6 cups of homemade stock (mine was frozen in 2 cup blocks, which is why it looks so strange).  I cook this for about another 20 minutes.
 Meanwhile, I chop a large bunch of cilantro
 Then I add the cooked pumpkin to the soup
 Along with the cilantro (probably 3 cups chopped)
 Once this has cooked for about 10 more minutes, I purée the whole lot with an immersion blender

 Then I add fish sauce (this is my favourite brand) to taste (maybe 1 tablespoon)

 Sometimes I add a teaspoon or so of tom yum paste (most brands have MSG so don't use if there are those with sensitivities).  I also add 1 tablespoon organic coconut palm sugar for a slight sweetness

To balance the soup, I add some tamarind paste (for sourness)
I use about a tablespoon (dissolve it in 1/4 cup hot water) but the juice of a lime can be substituted if you can't find it!
 Pour into a bowl and enjoy!

Ingredients for Thai-inspired Pumpkin Soup

3 large shallots or 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 
3-5 Thai bird chilies, roughly chopped
1/4 cup red curry paste (up to 1/2 cup depending on the paste)
1 large or 2 regular cans of full-fat coconut milk
6 cups homemade stock (veggie, chicken, turkey, pork or beef will work)
3 cups cilantro, chopped
3 cups cooked pumpkin
1 tablespoon tamarind paste or juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon organic coconut palm sugar (or honey or coconut nectar)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon tom yum paste (optional)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fennel, Arugula and Orange Salad with Miso-Lime Dressing
I made this salad a couple of weeks ago and have been meaning to write about it.  It is quite similar to a salad I've been making for years, but that one doesn't have miso in the dressing and has pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top.  Had I had any pomegranate when I made this one, I definitely would have added them and will do the next time I make it.  Regardless, this is a 'keeper' and I plan to make it again soon.  The miso in the dressing adds a wonderful flavour.  I used this recipe.
  Unfortunately, I was unable to find blood oranges, but regular navel oranges worked just fine.
Here's what I did...
Put about 3 cups of arugula on each plate
 Using my mandolin, shaved fennel and red onion on top of the arugula
 Removed the peel and pith from a couple of oranges, sliced them and added to the plates

Used a microplane to finely grate ginger into a bowl 

Added miso, lime juice, Celtic sea salt, coconut nectar and Extra-Virgin olive oil.  Whisked this mixture together until smooth.

Topped salads with dressing and sprinkled with finely sliced mint and chopped cashews.  Yum! :-D

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin & Pistachio Crunch

This recipe is the result of a challenge given to me by my Sister.  She told me about a snack she had tried and really enjoyed and asked me if I could recreate it.  I didn't write down the details, just listened to her explanation, so the first time I made this I forgot the sesame seeds, only adding them at the end.  This meant that they weren't really incorporated into the mixture properly.  I tried again on Thursday and think this batch worked out a little better.  
I did end up trying the original and although it was interesting, I think I liked mine a bit better because I didn't add any spices other than Celtic sea salt and cayenne.  I really don't think it needs anything more.  I'll probably play around with it in the future, perhaps using different nuts and/or seeds.  I'm thinking chia seeds would be fantastic in this!! 
Here's what I did...
 Preheated the oven to 300F and spread out 1 cup of raw pistachios on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Roasted them for 20 mins.

 Did the same with 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds on a separate cookie sheet.  Meanwhile, in a dry pan I toasted 1/4 cup of sesame seeds (shaking constantly to prevent scorching).

 Once they were done and cooled slightly, I mixed all the nuts and seeds with 3 teaspoons of maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt and 1 teaspoon (heaping) of cayenne.  

 Popped it all back into the oven for 25 more minutes (until dry-ish).

Added about 1/2 cup goji berries and allowed it all to cool before sealing in an airtight container.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baked Barley 'Risotto'

I hesitate to call this a risotto, as it's not at all traditional.  But I did make it in a similar fashion although I finished it in the oven.  It was fairly decadent for us as I don't cook with cream, bacon or cheese very often. It really was yummy, so I'll be making it again.  I may try using different grains next time, but loved the combination of the smoky bacon and the gooey cheese so I probably won't mess with those!
Here's what I did...

First, I sautéed some sliced onions and sliced double smoked bacon (I trimmed all the fat from the bacon first)

 Then I removed the bacon and onion and added barley and some minced garlic and sautéed this for about a minute (virgin coconut is my oil of choice).  Next I added a cup of white wine and stirred it over low heat until the wine was incorporated.  I then added homemade turkey broth one cup at a time, stirring until each was incorporated and the barley was tender.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet I sautéed some chopped portabello mushrooms.

I stirred everything together, along with a huge bunch of Swiss chard (sliced, washed and dried) and Celtic sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper

I added some cream

Then poured it all into a casserole dish and added slices of gruyere and edam.  Baked it all in a 400F oven for about 30 mins., then completely forgot to take a pic. of the ooey, gooey mixture on a dinner plate!  But it was yummy!! 


Friday, October 22, 2010

Yummy Chocolate Superfoods cake

This cake is an amalgamation of a recipe or two that I've read and a bunch of ideas I've been dying to try out.  I wanted to make a cake without any flour (well, it has 1 tbsp. of ground oats, so I suppose that's oat flour) and with a few superfoods included.  I really didn't expect it to turn out well since it was my first attempt at a cake that I more or less made up, but it worked out really well.  It's almost brownie-like, but with lots of tiny almond chunks in it.  I'm not a fan of the brownie consistency, but I stuck my slice in the freezer for about 20 mins. and it was really delicious!!  Perry and Krestan ate it 'as-is' and loved it.

Here's what I did...
I spread some almonds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and baked them until golden

Put virgin coconut oil and broken-up 70% cocoa chocolate into a saucepan and melted together gently
Separated 4 eggs and put the yolks into my mixer bowl and whipped until thick

Pitted 2 avocados and added them, along with some Celtic sea salt and vanilla to the egg yolks and whipped further

Put the cooled almonds, oat flour and coconut palm sugar into the food processor

And pulsed until it was fairly finely chopped

Added this and the melted chocolate/coconut oil to the avocado/egg yolk mixture and mixed for another minute

Whipped the egg whites in a clean bowl with some cream of tartar and when stiff, added coconut palm sugar and whipped for another minute

Added the egg white mixture to the chocolate mixture

And gently folded the two mixtures together

Poured the mixture into a prepared (greased and parchment-lined) springform pan 

And baked for an hour at 350F

Allowed it to cool in the pan (on a wire rack) and then sliced it open!

Deb's Chocolate Avocado Almond Cake

1 generous cup of almonds
7 oz 70% cocoa chocolate, broken into small pieces
7/8 cup virgin coconut oil
1 cup coconut palm sugar, divided
1 tablespoon oat flour
4 eggs, separated
2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Oil an 8-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.

Bake almonds in a preheated 350F oven on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes, until golden.  Allow to cool completely.  Add to the bowl of a food processor with 1/4 cup of the coconut palm sugar and the oat flour and pulse until finely ground.

Melt chocolate and coconut oil lightly, stirring until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

Beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar until yolks mixture is quite thick. Add the avocados, vanilla and Celtic sea salt and continue mixing until smooth. Fold in chocolate/oil and nut mixture.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar, in small amounts and continue beating until stiff, but not dry. Fold the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture.  Pour into the prepared springform pan and bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan.

The Lean Green Bean