Saturday, December 19, 2009

Triumphant return

So, as the quarter was finally drawing to a close, and I was just about to embark on new cooking adventures... I got the stomach flu. I figured no one would appreciate posts about eating plain pasta and soymilk, so it's been a while. You really appreciate your appetite when it's been absent!

First, I made this tasty wintery soup based off a recipe in Veganomicon. It gracefully perches in a precarious yet delightful middle ground between your traditional squash soup (veg stock, cinnamon, etc) and East Asian cuisines. I substituted some spices (now spicier, and with allspice, and without the anise in Chinese five-spice), and used different types of squash, pear, and mushrooms. I really like putting allspice in savory dishes--it also tastes great in refried beans. Does anyone else do this?

This soup is great because you can make it ahead of time, allow the flavors to improve, and finish it just before serving. Serve with roasted or sauteed green vegetables and rice or a hearty bread (depending on which way you want to spin it).

Asian Squash-Pear Soup with Mushrooms
(adapted from Veganomicon)

2 TB canola oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB minced ginger
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks
2 firm pears, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
salt to taste
2 tsp cayenne
4-6 c veg stock
1 can adzuki beans
juice of 1 lime
canola oil
sesame oil
4 oz mushrooms (I used portobella), sliced

1) In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and pepper until onion begins to brown. Add garlic and ginger and saute a minute or two more. Add squash, pears, and spices and cook for a minute or so before adding stock. If liquid does not cover vegetables, add more water or stock to cover. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, until squash is very soft. Allow to cool somewhat.
2) When soup is cool enough, remove half of the soup and puree it in a blender (you will probably need to blend more than one batch--this recipe makes a lot of soup). This is where an insertion blender would come in handy.
3) In a separate frying pan, heat canola and sesame oil (mostly canola-- a little bit of sesame goes a long way) and saute mushrooms until cooked and juicy, adding a little bit of tamari towards the end.
4) Just before serving, bring soup back to temperature. Stir in beans and lime juice, and adjust seasonings. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with sauteed mushrooms. Serves about 8.


Also, a curious potato salad. I originally made this a few months ago, with the thought that potato salad could be more nutritious and more interesting if you snuck in some beets in the place of some potatoes. Actually, if you already have a favorite potato salad recipe, you could just follow that, using beets instead of some of the potatoes.

Beet-Potato Salad

2 servings new potatoes, washed
2 servings small beets, washed
3 TB olive oil
1 TB plain prepared mustard
1 TB apple cider vinegar
3 or 4 scallions, thinly chopped
salt to taste
black pepper to taste

In separate pots, boil the potatoes and the beets, checking frequently to make sure they don't overcook. When they are just pokable with a fork but not mushy (this may happen at different time for the beets and potatoes, especially if your beets are larger), remove from heat, rinse with cold water, and allow to cool. In a pyrex, combine the other ingredients, checking to taste the ratio between oil and mustard/vinegar. Cut the potatoes and beets into bite-sized pieces and mix in a bowl. Apply dressing and mix well. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serves about 4.


Myer said...

First, I temporarily thought that your picture was southwest, possibly a squash-corn chowder with roasted peppers - wouldn't that be something? As for allspice, I have never heard of it in refried beans, though I have seen allspice in curries and in sausage preparation @ Deep Springs, so yeah, it's good with savory stuff. I'm interested in your alternate potato salad - is it good? I love beets, but I think I might enjoy your salad more with parsnips substituted for the beets ...

myer nore said...

PS - glad you're feeling better!

PPS - Adzuki beans rock, especially if you have a crockpot! I guess I see you used a can, but some time, get some dried Adzuki beans and crock them up with a bay leaf or two, maybe a whole clove of garlic or even a quartered buttercup squash - that's my idea of yummy protein.

Julia said...

Hey Myer!
I like the potato salad, but only so long as the beet-to-potato ratio doesn't tip past 1:1. Too many beets = a bit weird.
I actually do use dried adzuki beans. Hm...I don't remember why I put canned in the recipe. I don't have a crockpot, but that sounds great. Bay leaves are magic!

Gauri Radha गौरी राधा said...

Never heard of beet potato salad, that looks so good!!