Posted by fourclankitchen on January 25, 2010
I find vegetables in the squash family a little mealy with flavors teetering between being sweet and bland. The typical recipe for a squash prep calls for enhancing the sweetness of the squash by smothering it in butter and sugar (and some sweet spices). But another way to enhance a squash’s flavor is to cure it of its blandness by adding spices, particularly a little heat. Or you could do both and push it into another dimension by roasting it in the oven prior to whatever prep you have in mind. Here I want to describe a kale acorn squash soup which retains the basic composition of a broth based soup, but has been kicked up a few notches with a combination of Indian/Mexican spices and sugar.
So here is how you do it. Roast the acorn squash a day or two ahead. If you do this, ahead of time, this will be a no more work than any other weekday dinner prep. In fact do a couple squashes, scoop out the flesh and freeze some portion of the flesh until further use.
So you’ve got your squash all roasted up. Start the soup. Heat an oil-butter mix and sauté some whole spices (I used cinnamon, cumin, fennel). Add ginger, garlic, onions, celery- cook briefly. Then add kale and allow it to soften. Add the roasted squash puree and sauté a little bit longer. Add broth, water salt and cumin, paprika and cinnamon. Mix until everything is blended. Cover and cook for about 5-10 min.
1 ½ small acorn squash.
1 medium sized onion
3 ribs of celery
1 bunch kale
2 tbs. oil
2 tbs. butter
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin pwd.
¼- ½ tsp. cinnamon
salt to taste
2 tsp sugar or to taste
4 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
Roasting acorn squash:
Heat oven to 350˚F. Halve 2 acorn squashes, scoop out the seeds, and rub the cut surfaces with oil, kosher salt and cayenne pepper (you could use paprika if you dont want the heat). Roast for an hour or until a knife inserted into the flesh glides through it easily. Cool slightly and scoop out the flesh with a largish spoon. Save some portion of it (I used half a squash for making a ravioli-pea-squash dinner and used the rest for this soup).
Chop onions, celery and mince ginger and garlic in the food processor. You could do the onions and celery together and the ginger and garlic together. Rinse and roughly chop the kale into 1” strips. Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pan (a Dutch oven is ideal). Add the fennel, the cumin seeds and the cinnamon stick and sauté till fragrant. Add the onions and celery and cook till softened-about 5-7 min at medium-high heat. Then add the Kale and sauté till kale is just beginning to soften- another 5 minutes. Add the squash and mix ingredients thoroughly. Then add the water and broth and the powdered spices (cinnamon, paprika, cumin) and sugar. Cover and cook for 5-10 min till soup comes to a low boil. Adjust the salt and sugar and add a few grinds of pepper. Serve with a carbo of your choice and a salad.
Posted in Main Dishes, Soups, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »
Posted by fourclankitchen on January 22, 2010
This is a continuation of my blogs that have to do with the New York Times article entitled, “the 11 best foods you aren’t eating”. Pomegranates are on this list. Many people feel that the only way to consume a pomegranate is to drink its very expensive juice. Not true. The fruit is now widely available in the US. Also, for reasons I don’t understand, commercially available pomegranate juice does no justice to the wonderful flavor of the real fruit. Unlike the juice, the fruit is not terribly expensive and a single fruit can serve as a side at dinner/lunch for 3 people. So even though it is tedious to remove the fruit from the pith, a little goes a long way and the results are worth the effort. Enjoy.
Method: Purchase pomegranates with a little give to them. With a sharp knife, cut the fruit into half beginning at the stem. Then quarter the pomegranate. Gently break each quarter into smaller pieces by hand. You should see some red seeds/fruit moulded into a honeycomb like pith, and also some membranes covering the seeds. Remove the membranes by hand. Holding the pomegranate with your left (non-dominant) hand, use your right hand to pry the seeds/fruit from the pith. Eat pomegranates by themselves, in a salad or over a pudding or custard.
Note: The seeds are edible, so don’t spit them out.
Posted in Side Dishes, the 11 best foods (NYT), Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Posted by fourclankitchen on January 21, 2010
I have decided to post some blogs using the food ingredients touted by the NYT as the-11-best-foods-you-arent-eating. On the list are pepitas or pumpkin seeds. I looked up the nutritive value of pepitas and I have to admit, that even for a vegetable junkie like me, these little seeds packs a punch. Besides, they are delicious roasted lightly and then eaten by the handful (1/4 cup servings are recommended) or tossed with a salad or pasta or ground into various curries (more on this later).
Here is how you roast these suckers.
14 oz. raw pepita (available widely, e.g. at Whole Foods)
½ tsp cooking oil
½ tbs. butter
Salt to taste (optional).
Spread the pepitas evenly in a jelly roll pan or any large pan with a lip. Melt the butter in the microwave, mix the oil. Coat the pepitas with the butter-oil mix. Toss with salt. Roast at 350˚F for 7-8 min (convert to your favorite measurements on the right). The pepitas will turn from green to mostly brown Do not over-roast, they don’t taste as good and lose their nutritive value. Store in an airtight container and eat frequently as suggested above. Believe me you are going to like these.
Posted in condiments, Side Dishes, the 11 best foods (NYT), vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »
Posted by fourclankitchen on January 17, 2010
You can think of a Dutch baby as an oven baked cross between a crepe and a pancake with a soufflé like texture. It is wonderful served with lemons and powdered sugar for a special brunch. The recipe could not be simpler. Pour a batter made up of milk, eggs and flour over butter melted in a frying pan/skillet and bake for 20-25 min. The batter puffs up and makes for a very dramatic presentation as it emerges from the oven. So have your brunch eaters ready to eat when you take the Dutch baby out of the oven.
The first thing to do this to select a pan/baking dish since the measurements for the ingredients will change with the size of the pan. Use the measurement converter on the right to change to a unit of your choice. A 2-3 qt pan (10” diam, 2’ depth) is perfect for four servings. You can alter the quantities o suit your pan/dish as shown below, but the pan depth should not exceed 3″.
Dutch Baby (from The Best of Sunset, 1987).
For a 2-3 quart pan
Butter 1/4 cup
Milk and Flour 3/4 cup each
For a 3-4 quart pan
Butter 1/3 cup
Milk and Flour 1 cup each
For a 4 to 41/2 quart pan
Butter 1/2 cup
Milk and Flour 11/2 cup each.
Preheat oven to 425˚F (you can convert measurements by clicking the link on the right). Melt butter in the skillet. Working quickly, beat the eggs in the food processor for 1 min. While the motor is running, add the milk and then the flour until the flour is fully incorporated. When the butter is melted, pour the batter over the butter and return the skillet to the oven. Bake 20-25 min. till the Dutch baby is puffs up. As with popovers, don’t peek too much or the Dutch baby will collapse. Serve with lemon wedges and powdered sugar, fruit or maple syrup.
Posted in Breakfast, Brunch | Leave a Comment »
Posted by fourclankitchen on January 13, 2010
If you are like me, you crave the tongue buzz that comes from hot and spicy foods. But you have children or a husband who cannot deal with the hot stuff, this chili black bean sauce is for you. It can serve as a delectable accompaniment to east Asian foods and takes only a few minutes to prepare. A word of warning: the bird peppers pack a punch and can irritate your nose or skin, so wear gloves and open a window.
The basic prep is adapted from http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes. But, I could not find any black bean paste that did not have msg in it, so I settled for a black bean garlic sauce instead. The result is a lovely condiment, where the dominant taste is that of the salty fermented beans, balanced against the sweet, sour and heat of the sugar, vinegar and chilies. The original recipe which focuses on the chili flavor is also wonderful and worth making.
Chili Black Bean Sauce
8 oz. Thai fresh bird’s eye peppers, finely minced in the food processor (I prefer the red for their color, but can’t always find them. The green peppers or a combination will do just fine).
1/3 scant cup black bean-garlic
sauce or fermented black beans (you have to rinse and coarsely chop the latter).
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 tbs. rice wine
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tbs. sugar
In a small saucepan, heat oil and cook chilies and black beans over medium-low heat- 1
minute. Add rice wine and vinegar and simmer for another 3 min.
Stir in the sugar. You’re done. The sauce can be stored in the fridge for
several weeks. Prepare dishes such as Hunan chicken/shrimp with bean paste or other recipes at http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes.
Note: If you cannot find the fermented black beans or the bean sauce, substitute 2 tsp. salt. Made this way, the sauce is still very hot, but more delicate tasting.
Note: Never taste the fermented beans directly out of the bottle: both the taste and smell might put you off. This is a bit like fish sauce, not good by itself, but a fantastic flavor enhancer combined with other ingredients.
Posted in Asian, Chinese, condiments | Leave a Comment »