Thursday, December 10, 2009

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Soup is a staple in our house. We love soup no matter what the season, and not even the hottest days of summer will deter us. So, I thought it fitting that my first post with an accompanying picture be about soup.

Not just any soup though, this soup is a symphony of flavours. With its simple curry base, and subtle sweetness from the squash, this humble soup has a surprise lurking in its sunshiny yellow depths.

In Indian cooking, near the end of the cooking process whole spice seeds/pods are fried in ghee or butter, and then swirled into the stew/soup or lentil dish. This gives the dish such an amazing pop of flavour! I will definitely be experimenting with this technique, called sambara, more often. It was amazing to taste those spices individually and as a beautiful medley, each bite was a delicious pop of flavours and sensations.

This soup has many steps, but doesn’t require a lot of fussing or babysitting so I don’t consider it a high maintenance or difficult dish.

Curried butternut squash soup:

• 2 medium sized Butternut squashes

• 4 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

• 2 cans coconut milk (I only used one can to acheive a thick chowder like consistancy, but feel free to add more milk for a thinner soup)

• 2 tbsp medium or hot yellow curry powder

• 2 tbsp garam masala spice mix

• 1 onion diced

• 5 cloves of garlic minced

• sambara spices:

2 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp cardamom seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

• 2 cups of raw shrimp, peeled and tails removed

Preheat your oven to 350oC.

Slice your butternut squashes in half and removed pulp and seeds.

Grease a baking sheet with butter and lay the squashes cut side down.

Bake for 45 min or until soft when pierced with a knife.

Get your stock simmering. (All of my soups start the same way. Simmer the stock with half an onion, some cloves of garlic and a couple bay leaves.)

Allow the squash to cool until you can handle them, and then scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender. (You may need to do this in two batches.)

Add 1 can of coconut milk and create a smooth puree.

Strain your stock and return to heat. Add in the puree and whisk it into the broth. Add the curry powder and garam masala and allow it to simmer for 15 min. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Get out a large frying pan and get it hot. Add a ¼ cup of butter and allow it to melt and get nice and hot. Pour your sambara mixture into the pan, and carefully stir so all of the seeds are coated in butter. Once the seeds begin to pop (stand back, when I say pop, I mean POP! Burning hot molten butter covered seeds flying menacingly at your face!!!) Toss the onion and garlic into the pan and turn the heat down to medium low. Sauté until the onions until they have softened to your liking (I like a bit of crunch left in them) and add to the soup. Cover for 5 min and then remove from the heat. Add the raw shrimp, and cover. The heat from the soup will cook the shrimp, without overcooking them. Do not overcook shrimp, or they will be tough, and tasteless!

I think next time I make this soup I will top the soup with a raita (an Indian yogurt herb condiment, much like tzatziki) and some green onions.

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

Because I'm a novice blogger and photographer, and the mother of two rambunctious monkeys I had a rather difficult time capturing the making of this soup.  But, I thought I would share a couple of "prep pics" just because they made me smile.  I'll promise to strive toward better blogging, if you promise to keep checking in!

Monday, November 30, 2009

15 min Nacho Chicken

Usually monday nights are crock pot specials, because I go to yoga class 45 min away, and don't get home till 8pm at the earliest.

Today didn't exactly go as planned, due to several circumstances, obviously completely beyond my control.  Maybe...

1. I didn't pull anything out of the freezer for dinner.
2. I was busy playing "hop on the square" all afternoon with a certain monkey.
3. I just couldn't convince myself to throw frozen meat into the crockpot with some mystery ingredients. It just seemed very unappealing!

So I ran through the door (I mean zen-fully floated) and started frantically ripping through the fridge.

It was slim pickins people. I had broccoli, eggs, cheese, sour cream and salsa. Oh, and three bone in skin on chicken thighs!

I didn't manage to get any pictures of this oh so satisfying incredibly delicious quicker than mac and cheese masterpiece... you'll just have to use your imagination!

Cut the bone out of the chicken thighs, leaving the skin on.
Heat a frying pan to medium high. Let it get good and hot.
Lay your thighs skin side down onto the pan. Brown them till they are nice and golden.
Flip over the chicken, turn the heat down and cover the pan. Let them cook in their own delicious juices for about 5 min or until they look done.

While the chicken is cooking, grate some cheese. Any cheese you love on nachos. We had medium cheddar, so that's what I used.

Flip them back over onto their skin side and turn the heat back up to medium high. Cut into the middle of one and check for doneness.
Pile some cheese onto each thigh and cover. Once cheese is melted, plate the chicken. (Scarf down the cheese left in the pan that has fried in chicken drippings. Oh dear lord was this GOOD!)
Spoon some salsa on top of the cheese and a dollop of sour cream. I added a couple shakes of hot sauce, and devoured this.
This is such a great meal. It really would satisfy a nacho craving, and it was on our plates in 15 minutes, which is really key when you have small monkeys haranguing you for sustenance and you are desperately trying to hold on to the peaceful centered feelings you came out of yoga class with.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

You gotta start somewhere!

My life is crazy busy all. the. time, because I'm a mother. To be more exact I'm the mother of two boys. To be even more exact, I desperately try to keep up with a two year old and one year old who have the climbing skills of monkeys (and sometimes resemble primates in other more disturbing ways...), are capable of drowning out a stadium full of boy band crazed teens, and seem to view me as some sort of 24 hour personal jungle gym.
This *shockingly* leaves me very little time to photograph my dishes.

Sometimes I may post a recipe sans photograph, if for some reason I couldn't take one before the dish was devoured by wild animals, I mean, my family.

Welcome to my little corner of the world wide web. Now, if you'll all excuse me I must go and release my monkeys, it's frowned upon to leave them locked in a closet for too long.

(***No children or monkeys were harmed or neglected during the making of this blog.***)