Curried Squash and Coconut Cream Soup

A month or so ago, we came up with some reason to splurge and go out for lunch. Honestly, I can’t remember the reason, it wasn’t a very good one.  Oliver & Bonacini, one of our favourite restaurants, had their Winter Fixe menu out and the deal was ending that Friday. So we splurged. And we don’t regret the splurge. The meal was, as expected, fantastic. Bryan ordered the salmon appetizer, I ordered the soup, and we shared our appetizers. Coincidentally, we both ordered the pizza with prosciutto. For dessert, he had the carrot cake and I enjoyed a fantastic bread pudding.

I (CouldEatSoupForEveryMeal) really enjoyed the soup. Bryan (NotVeryFondOfSoups) enjoyed it too. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to try to make it myself. I found a soup that Bryan enjoys enough that he will eat it as leftovers the next day!!!

My version of the soup is lactose-free. It also adds chives as a garnish, because I thought it sounded good at the time (and it did indeed taste good).

It was a bit spicy. I could only eat small bowls. Bryan, on the other hand, could enjoy the soup as an entire meal. Adjust the amount of curry according to your taste preferences.

Have you ever tried to recreate a dish that you enjoyed at a restaurant? How did it turn out?

Curried squash and coconut cream soup

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1/2 teaspoon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 can coconut cream – approximate cost $1.50
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons of dried chives (for garnish) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds (for garnish) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice the squash in half and remove the seeds and stringy pieces.
  3. Slice the squash into pieces that are about one inch thick.
  4. Line the squash pieces on a baking sheet.
  5. Drizzle squash pieces with olive oil.
  6. Bake squash for 15 minutes, then turn each piece.
  7. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes.
  8. At this point, the squash should be very soft and beginning to brown (if it isn’t continue to bake for a few more minutes), remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool until it can be handled.
  9. Use a pairing knife to remove the skin from each of the squash pieces.
  10. In a large soup pot, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat (careful it doesn’t burn!).
  11. Place curry powder in pot and stir constantly for about 30 seconds to one minute (it will become fragrant).
  12. Add the squash pieces, chicken bouillon, and water, then stir well and bring to a boil (the squash pieces should start to fall apart).
  13. Turn the stove off and allow the soup to cool for a few minutes.
  14. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. The soup should be relatively thick. If it seems thin, cook it a bit longer in the next step to evaporate some of the excess water. NOTE: If you do not own an immersion blender, allow the soup to cool completely and puree in batches in a blender.
  15. Return the soup puree to the cooking pot and bring to a boil.
  16. Add coconut cream and mix well.
  17. Remove soup from heat.
  18. Serve with pumpkin seeds and dried chives for garnish.

Makes about 6 appetizer-sized servings (approximate cost: $0.90 per serving).

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Beef Liver with Indian Spices

When I purchaned Jennifer McLagan’s book Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal the other week, I could hardly wait to sift through it and try out a few recipes. I rarely buy brand new cook books. I like browsing the used book store for cook books that look like they’ve been loved by their previous owner, hoping to find some fantastic recipes. I made an exception in this case because B and I often enjoy what McLagan refers to as the “odd bits.” The prices are reasonable, they are tasty, and they tend to be easy to cook. While I frequently prepare these cuts of meat, I looked to McLagan’s book as a way of making the odd bits interesting to cook because of often rely on cooking methods I know we’ve enjoyed in the past.

This book is fantastic! McLagan not only provides delicious looking recipes, but prefaces each section with stories and interesting facts describing the various foods about which she writes. My favourite anecdote is about food trade between China and the United States. McLagan write “Well, China has now threatened the United State with chicken feet.” When I first read this statement, I imagined Chinese and American Soldiers on a battlefield, with the Chinese soldiers waving chicken feet and shouting angrily. A bizarre image indeed! You’ll need to read the book for yourself to know the actual context of this statement (or don’t and continue to imagine soldiers angrily waving chicken feet).

I’ve read through the book a couple of times now and decided the first dish I would try to prepare was the Sautéed Liver with Indian Spices. Why did I choose this particular recipe? Because I had a package of liver in the freezer and this particular recipe seemed interesting. I had to make quite a few modifications because, as I was cooking, I found that I was out of or didn’t own some of the spices called for in the original recipe. I remember buying turmeric recently and putting it in a jar… but where did I put that jar, because it’s not in my spice cupboard!

beef liver

Beef Liver with Indian Spices

(adapted from Jennifer McLagan’s cookbook Odd Bits)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of beef liver – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 onion, chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (I bought a prepared jar from the grocery store) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon cumin – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried chili flakes (more or less depending on the desired spiciness) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon of beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon of dried cilantro – approximate cost $0.10

beef liver

Method

  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, chili flakes, curry powder and 3 tablespoons of water until the mixture forms a paste-like consistency.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or pot.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the beef liver and cook until browned on each side.
  5. Melt the butter.
  6. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes.
  7. Add the beef bouillon and water, then simmer until the liquid thickens to a sauce-like consistency and the liver slices are cooked through.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Add the lemon juice.
  10. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Serve over Basmati rice.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.29 per serving).

Curried Goat

As a child, I had neighbours who cooked wonderfully fragrant food from their homeland, Guyana. I remember indulging in many of these foods, trying most things at least once but picking out a few favourites that my brother and I would constantly request. Among our favourites then were freshly made pita bread (which we would dip in ketchup) and a deep-friend chickpea flour that we called peas dough (which is actually called bara).A few years ago (after being apart for many years and mostly forgetting about the wonderful food) we visited their new home and got to relive some of our favourite childhood foods. On the day we arrived, we got to eat bara. I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat anything else that day. Another thing that made the day memorable was watching my brother eat a huge teaspoon of homemade hot sauce (I recall this sauce making me cry as a child from the spiciness).A few days, we enjoyed a huge feast. There was barbecued chicken and lamb as well as a variety of curries ranging from mildly spicy to burn a hole in your stomach if you’re not used to it. That’s when I tried curried goat. I’m not sure if that was for the first time, or if I’d just forgotten. Either way, it was fantastic and I was itching to have it again when I returned home. Lucky for me, everything I needed was stocked at my local supermarket!I have adapted this recipe from the one found here (my variation is less spicy and cooks longer so the meat is more tender): http://www.guyanaoutpost.com/recipes/recipes-c.shtml#Curry%20%28Goat%29, which was a great reference and starting point for s dish I’d never attempted to make at home before.

Curried Goat

Adapted from Guyana Outpost

Curried goat
Ingredients

  • Approximately 1 lb of stewing goat meat, cubed with the bone in (I buy it from Zehrs, where the meat comes diced and ready to cook) – approximate cost $7.00
  • 3 heaping teaspoon mild curry – approximate cost $0.50 powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 large Spanish onion – approximate cost $0.75
  • 4 medium-sized red potatoes, leave the skin on – approximate cost $1.00
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 cups of water
  • Salt to taste – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 cups uncooked Basmati rice – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Sprinkle meat with half of the curry powder and half of the cumin, then set aside.
  2. Dice onion and potatoes, set the potatoes aside.
  3. In a large pot, heat a small amount of oil then add the remaining half of the curry powder and half of the cumin. Stir rapidly for about 1 minute then add the onion.
  4. Cook onion for about 2-3 minutes then add the meat and cook for another 10-12 minutes (or until the meat looks cooked on the outside).
  5. Add enough water to just cover the mixture.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium.
  7. Continue to cook for about 2 ½ hours.
  8. Add the potatoes to the mixture. If the mixture is no longer covered by the sauce, add a bit more water so it is just covered.
  9. Time for a taste test! Taste your curry sauce. If it tastes watery, add 1 heaping tsp of curry powder and 1 level tsp of cumin. Mix well and taste it again. Repeat as needed, adding only a small amount of spice at a time to avoid adding too much.
  10. Continue to cook for about 30 more minutes then add the lemon juice and salt to the mixture and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. (Don’t let the sauce completely boil away)
  11. Cook Basmati rice according to package.

Note: Total cooking time is about 4 hours. Be patient, it’s worth the wait!

Serve the curry over a bed of Basmati rice. Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $1.68 per serving).

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