Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Butternut Squash

Last week I accidentally opened a can of coconut milk thinking that it was something else. So I've been plotting to use it for a few days. Simultaneously, my friend emailed me looking for creative ways to use some pumpkins she picked. With the coconut milk on my mind, I told her she should make a coconut pumpkin curry, and gave her a few suggestions how to do that. I've been meaning to use up more butternut squash this way, but just haven't had the time in the past week. Last night, after a long day in Westchester at a baby shower and commuting back to Brooklyn, I got home around 7:30pm. Just enough time to sit and catch up on 30 Rock, and then have dinner ready by our standard eating time of 9:00pm. Factor in time to research how to prep lemongrass, since I had never used it before, and finding my long-lost hand-scribbled recipe for the "perfect curry" which I've assembled and adjusted over time. I haven't made curry since we moved, and that was January! Well, things are about to change. My new creation blew my husband away. He swears it was better than restaurant-quality, and more than suitable to present to guests - including his family (we have little crossover in the foods we ALL like). Plus, the Jasmine rice and aromatic spices made our apartment smell unbelievably delicious.

Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Butternut Squash
(serves 4)
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (*Vegetable or Canola oil for vegan*)
¼ C chopped Spanish Onion
1 Large clove garlic, minced
1 tspn ginger, minced
1 Tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
Top 1/3 of lemongrass stalk, scored with a knife and folded to bruise
2-1/2 C Butternut squash, peeled, chopped
1 Medium Carrot, peeled and chopped on the diagonal
½ C cherry tomatoes, sliced into halves

1 Can (13.5oz) Coconut Milk
¾ C water

2 tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Coriander
½ tsp Cumin
1/8-1/4 tsp fresh grated Nutmeg
1/8 tsp (or more) Cayenne, to taste
½ tsp Kosher salt
1 heaping Tbsp Yellow Curry Powder

Chopped Cilantro
Juice of 1 Lime
½ C Lightly Toasted Cashews (raw, unsalted)
Cooked Brown Jasmine rice (follow package directions, allow up to 1 hour for cooking)

Heat butter in medium saucepan. Sauté onions and garlic in butter 3-4 minutes over medium heat, then add ginger and lemongrass and sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Add squash, carrot, water and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and add the spices. Add the lemongrass stalk – (this is not edible, just for flavoring). Taste for seasoning throughout cooking. Boil for about 10 minutes and add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until squash is cooked through, fork tender.

Before serving, squeeze half the lime juice into the curry and add about ½ the cashews. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro, toasted cashews. Spoon over jasmine rice with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, or with a lime wedge on the side.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beet Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

Poor, poor, unposted salad blog post. I have had this box of pre-cooked beets in my fridge for months, waiting for me to remember to buy the other ingredients that make a good beet salad. I can never remember to get the perfect nuts or cheese. I finally put it together last week, TWICE, but never got to post it. I've made this many different ways before, but I found a new dressing recipe that is sooooo good. The salad is simply: baby spinach, sliced cooked beets, toasted pistacios, and shaved fresh parmigiano cheese. The dressing I used was a Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette from

Penne with Creamy Sundried Tomato Sauce

Okay, so this one is not entirely original. But, I do feel super proud of myself for coming up with this meal when I thought we had nothing around to eat. Today was the first day back in the gym after a few weeks of sickness and a busy work schedule. That got me in the door around 8pm to shower and start dinner. So the plan for the butternut squash curry was definitely not happening today. I decided to make some whole wheat penne, and I came across this simple recipe on the Carnation site when I googled "penne ala vodka" - which surprise surprise - I actually don't make well. It's especially hard when you never have vodka on hand. I believe I've changed this base recipe enough to call it mine, mostly due to the fact that I had random things on hand. It came out really well, almost as good as real penne ala vodka. We went back for seconds, so it was a success.

Penne with Creamy Sundried Tomato Sauce

(serves 4)

1/4 box Barilla Penne Plus

1/2 can of evaporated milk (about 6oz from a 12oz can)
**do NOT use condensed milk
1/4 C chopped red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 C frozen peas
1/4 C sundried tomato in oil (chopped into strips if not already)
1 C Tomato sauce (canned, about 1-1/2 cans, low-sodium)

1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 C grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, black pepper, dried basil, crushed red pepper flakes

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a medium saucepan. When tender, in about 3-4 minutes, remove from pan and set aside. Add evaporated milk to pan, over medium-low heat. Add cheeses, and stir until melted. Add back the onions and garlic, and the tomato sauce. Season with black pepper, red pepper and basil. Taste before adding much salt since pecorino can be quite salty. Continue to stir from time to time. Meanwhile, boil pasta in a large pot. About 3 minutes before the end of the cook time, add the sundried tomatoes. 1 minute before, add frozen peas. Drain the pot, and add the pasta back to it. Add the sauce to the pot and stir together, seasoning again if needed. Serve topped with with fresh basil or parsley.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cioppino with Tyler Florence

I'm not good at getting tickets to events. I don't like to plan that much in advance, and I'm not one of those people who knows what's going on and how to get tickets. I've seen broadway shows, but never actually purchased the tickets myself, and usually when my friends go to concerts I feel like "how come I didn't know about that?". But early in the year, I probably passed by some bbq in Madison Square park, or other big roped-off food event, and I decided to get in on the next one. In April I found the Food Network NYC Wine and Food Festival "coming soon" website and signed up for email alerts. In mid-June the alert came that tickets would go on sale that day. Unfortunately, by the time I confirmed with my friend to both buy tickets to see Giada De Laurentis cook, her event was sold out (within 24 hours). So was Bobby Flay. But knowing my demo companion uses Tyler Florence recipes often, I snapped up 2 tickets. He tried a few hours later to get more tickets but they were gone. Next year I won't hesitate, and I'll definitely try to attend more events at the festival.

I love cooking shows, and cooking classes, so it was a given that we'd enjoy a live cooking demo. Tyler has a great stage presence and rapport with his audience. He is opening 3 restaurants around the San Francisco area, so he shared with us his current obsession with the area's history involving food and cooking by giving us a comprehensive history of the area and connecting it to themes for his new restaurants. I appreciate the thought and research he's putting into every detail of his restaurants - he definitely deserves his success. After, he showed us how to make Cioppino, an Italian seafood stew. It was still quite surreal, almost like watching him on tv, except when he filled time during the cooking process to answer audience questions. The smells were the best part - just amazing - especially when he broiled the garlic bread! He even walked around the room with the stew pot to let everyone smell.

Here's Tyler's Cioppino recipe, and an older video of him demonstrating a similar stew.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today's My Birthday!

"You're looking toward the future with a happy heart and an optimistic attitude -- and there's really no better way to do it. That's not all that's required, however, and you know that, too. So when it comes time to step up and do the right thing -- to put your money where your mouth is -- you'll be more than willing to do it. The good news is that with all that confidence oozing out of every pore, you can't help but be a success." (Yahoo Horoscope 10/12/09)

"An opportunity to travel, perhaps in the company of friends or colleagues, could come your way today, dear Libra. This might involve education in some way. What you learn on this trip is likely to alter your life in some way, as it could open new doors for you. New friends and valuable contacts could also come on the scene. Don't hesitate - go for it! Another opportunity like this might not come around for awhile. " (MSN Horoscope 10/12/09)

"You are coming into a less active period now. Indeed, you are letting yourself go with the flow and will be starting a new career as a beginner. You want the idle life, relaxation, escape and running away from responsibilities! Concretely, you have the impression of having let go of things and this doesn't bother you a bit! But you have a desire for knowledge and an exacerbated curiosity which should allow you to keep your head above water. Your health is good, you eat well and have a balanced diet..." (MSN Numerology, 10/12/09)

"There will certainly be a change in your life, a change for the better. You will be in fine form to complete all your professional tasks. Time when you get real pleasure from entertaining friends." ( Daily 10/12/09)

So, should I quit my job to write that cookbook? "Definitely." (MSN Crystal Ball)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

African Entryway

Today is our 1-year wedding anniversary. So far I've done laundry, made an apple pie, completed 2 hours of design work (not the fun kind), and posted a blog entry. I also FINALLY chose honeymoon pictures with my husband to frame and hang in the entryway. Our entrance is our Africa zone - where we'll showcase our honeymoon pictures, our 7-1/2' tall giraffe, and various other theme-oriented merchandise. So far we have a stool from Ghana (from and the giraffe named A.B. De Villiers. We carried him back from Africa, where we had to bribe baggage handlers in Johannesbourg, and give him a cricketer's name, to get him on the plane. He's currently recovering from a bout of powder-post beetle infection. Today I gave him some friends - a powerful lion from our safari, and a sweet relaxed young cheetah whom we petted in Stellenbosch. Um, can you say "productive Sunday" ?

Wild Mushroom Soup

Yesterday I attended a cooking demonstration by Tyler Florence, as part of the NY Wine & Food Festival. After smelling all those delicious smells I was in the mood to come home and make something delicious. My friend and I wandered around a bit after the demo, and browsed in Chelsea Market. When I noticed Chantarelles for 11.99/lb, I decided I would have to make a mushroom soup. Chantarelles are a pastel orange color and meaty in texture, the flavor is a tiny bit sweet. Normally they retail for around $45-50/lb, so seeing the sign for 11.99 was quite the find. Chantarelles were scarce this year, not to be found in many NYC markets, due to improper weather conditions. These looked OK to me, usually Citarella has the best selection and even those look old and dry much of the time. They were of course drier and lighter in color than I am used to picking from the wild in Vermont, but they looked relatively fine - smooth, clean, whole mushrooms, with little bruising or dried edges. I picked up just a few oyster and shitake mushrooms for variety. I also stopped on the way home to pick up a loaf of sourdough and a bunch of parsley so I could recreate Tyler's awesome-smelling garlic bread to go with the soup.
This ended up being one of the best wild mushroom soups I've made, especially considering I made it vegetarian. I'll never fill-in with cremini or button mushrooms again - they are too heavy for this delicate soup.

I can't post the recipe here, it's a long time family secret - but if you're really nice and email me, maybe I'll share this new version with you ;) .

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup with Ginger

This month has not been a very healthy one so far. First I had a bad cold, keeping me at home with a mild fever. Then I got better, and my husband got the flu very suddenly this week. I had some leftover roasted squash I was saving for a soup, although I usually make carrot-ginger-lemon soup for colds. I decided to combine the two ideas of butternut squash apple soup with the carrot soup. Apparently it doesn't cure the flu, but the sweet, gingery, salty, tart blend goes down easy, and makes you feel all warm inside.

1 Tbsp butter (*Earth Balance + salt for vegan*)
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
1/4 C chopped onion
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 small butternut squash, roasted
2 small Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
approx. 1 C water & 1-1/2 C vegetable stock (enough to cover what's in the pot)
Salt to taste

Saute onions and ginger in butter. Add carrot, squash, stock and water. Simmer 10 minutes and then add apples. Simmer 5 minutes. Add lemon and salt to taste. Transfer to blender and puree until smooth. Add back to pan, reheat, check seasoning and serve with fresh ground pepper.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Butternut Squash Pot Pie & Mini Apple-Craisin Crisps

Today was the nice kind of rainy day that makes you glad to stay inside and watch movies. I wasn't very productive until the sun came out around 5pm. I cleaned up the kitchen, only to get it dirty again when I brought all my plant pots over to trim them. My herb garden has died. I am not sure what I did wrong, since they did well for a long time, and then they ended up with the same black spots that plagued some of my other plants. I give up. I cut them down to the root, and if they re-grow, fine. If not, fine.

After re-cleaning the kitchen, I finally started cooking around 7pm. I ran through a list of possibly dinners with my husband. He had suggested using some of the butternut squash, so I gave him options like soup (but we don't have salad ingredients to go with), a pasta dish, or gnocchi - but he was not all that excited. I was preparing to make an apple pie, so I asked him if he wanted apple crisp instead and use the pie crusts for a pot pie instead. That was the clear winner. Very excited. For dessert I made miniature apple crisps topped with vanilla ice cream, that were delicious.

Butternut Squash Pot Pie
2 Pie Crusts – Ready-made pie crust for 2 crust pie
1 Small Butternut Squash (approx 2C), cut into large slices
1 medium Russet Potato, cut into quarters
1 large Carrot, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced into thick rounds
¼ C peas, frozen
1 can Cream of Potato condensed soup
¾ C 1% Milk
½ tsp fresh chopped thyme
2 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano
1 tsp fresh chopped sage (about 3 large leaves)
½ tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 Egg white
Kosher Salt
Ground black pepper
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1. Set oven to 425. Layer squash slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil, season with salt & pepper. Roast for a total of 30-45 minutes until tender.
2. 15 minutes after putting squash in the oven, add the potatoes and carrots to the baking sheet with the squash, brushed with oil. 10 minutes later, add the onion slices, also oiled.
3. Meanwhile, mix the sauce in a small bowl. Combine the soup, milk, herbs, nutmeg and a little black pepper.
4. Cool the roasted vegetables about 10 minutes, and then cut into smaller bite-size chunks. Add all the vegetables to a bowl and toss in the peas.
5. Lay bottom pie crust into a 9” pie plate. Pour the vegetables into the crust and top with the sauce. Lay top crust over filling and seal the edges.
6. Poke holes in the crust for the air to escape, and brush with slightly beaten egg white.
7. Bake for 40 minutes, cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Mini Apple-Craisin Crisps

(4 servings)
3 small Macintosh apples

¼ (or less) dried cranberries
¼ C quick cook Oats
1 Tbsp margarine

1 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp brown sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Lemon juice

Peel, core and slice apples. Split evenly into 4 small ramekins. Sprinkle each with a bit of lemon juice, and sprinkle a little cinnamon and nutmeg over the apples. Add a few cranberries to each dish. Toss In a small bowl, soften the margarine. Add oats, flour and sugar and stir together. Top each ramekin with the oats. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until apples reduce in size and turn brownish.
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