Warning: Undefined variable $show_stats in /home/jdqespth/public_html/wp-content/plugins/stats/stats.php on line 1384

Bits & Bobs – Beans and Rice, Coconut Chutney Butternut Squash Soup

Okay, so if you’ll remember from the last soup, I had leftover the liquid drained from a can of tomatoes.

Well, at that enchilada dinner, one of the participants made a pot of rice (with a seasoning packet) and heated up some kidney beans. Her rice came out perfectly, and I took home what leftovers there were.

And reheated them. All classy-like. But I’m telling you about it anyway because I’m proud of having essentially made dinner for free.

Leftover Beans & Rice

First, I wanted to soften the beans a bit more, so I put them in a small pot with just enough tomato liquid to cover, and cooked that for five or so minutes.

And then I went to look around for other flavors to jazz things up.

Oh, yeah, I have a jar of pipian, so I melted about half a teaspoon into the liquid.

And I have some Lime Cilantro salad dressing, which is more like a pesto than a salad dressing, from a local restaurant – so I added a dollop of that, too.

And then I added the rice.

And as everything came to temperature, I crumbled some dried oregano in it as well.

End result – delicious and filling dinner

I also still had about a third of the roasted butternut squash lingering in my fridge. What was I going to do?

So, again, I went poking for inspiration in the other bits and bobs in there. Aha! I had a small container of coconut chutney from take out dosas a friend had brought to my house. I can play with those flavors.

Coconut Chutney Butternut Squash Soup

I diced a yellow onion fairly small, and I cooked it in coconut milk (6.5oz).

I added some asafoetida and a fairly large amount of garam masala – somewhere around a rounded teaspoon. Oh, and 3 cloves of roasted garlic because it was there.

Once everything was aromatic, I added the butternut squash. I also put a Tablespoon of mustard seeds in a dry skillet to heat.

And about a quarter cup of finely shredded, unsweetened coconut.

Like the previous soup, this one also needed some kick, so I added some cayenne pepper. And some black pepper. And a little bit of cilantro. And adding about a teaspoon of brown sugar really made it sing.

Then I thinned the soup out with some vegetable stock.

Once the mustard seeds started to pop, stirred them into the soup as well.

Done! Rich, tasty, and a bit out of the ordinary.

Riffing on soba noodle salad with black rice noodles and beets

So there were pretty beets at the market. Well, about a week and a half ago… but they’re still in my fridge. And I’d meant to make my usual beet and purple cabbage shred, but there haven’t been any purple cabbage these days. So I’d been pondering what to do with them.

I didn’t want to substitute a different variety of cabbage because the color bleed would be unfortunate. So I’ve just been sitting around with beets and not using them.

I also have in my pantry a package of black rice noodles. I had a plan to use them in some showy way for company… possibly as a cold soba type salad variation.

And then I just sort of played from there.

Cold Black Rice Noodle and Beet Salad

Julienne 4 raw beets (but it could easily have been a few more).

Boil some water

Julienne carrots until you have about a third the quantity of beets. You could also throw in some red bell pepper or cucumber or whatnot.

Cooking the noodles – do not believe the package! The package says to put the noodles into the cold water, bring it to a boil, and then cook for a few minutes. This will lead to mush and tears. Instead, boil the water, turn the heat OFF, then add the noodles (I did two of the little wrapped packages, so that’s about 5 ounces), and within a minute or so they will be plenty soft. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking even though you will lose starch. Actually, for these purposes, there wasn’t much harm in losing the released starch.

Dump the noodles in with the vegetables.

Squeeze 2 limes, add 2 Tablespoons of black vinegar and about an eight of a cup of plain rice vinegar, sprinkle in about 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, and a healthy glug of toasted sesame oil. Mix that all together and see whether it feels like the proper amount of sauciness and whether the tastes are balanced.

Toast some unsweetened shredded coconut, and add it (this really improved the dish!).

And then feel free to go through your cupboards looking for other fun things. The only thing else I added were some toasted almond slivers, but sesame seeds or tofu or more vegetables all would have been good. Cabbage would be a good addition, too.

The end result was charmingly vegan and gluten free, but I was tempted to try adding a splash of fish sauce, and it’s with noting to people with dietary concerns that the noodles contain corn starch.

And now I know what I’ll be taking to the next food blogger pot luck.

Carrot Ginger Coconut Milk Soup

Carrot Ginger Coconut Milk Soup

Orangette had a post that briefly mentioned Carrot Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk, and it just sounded like the best idea ever. Now, I think that soup had a much higher concentration of carrots and it looks like it might have had more dairy fat, but mine turned out rather tasty, too.

I started off with half a can of coconut milk – the full fat foreign stuff where it is actually possible to fry ingredients in it like the directions in Indian cookbooks. Real coconut milk was a revelation, but it’s also hard to get enough coconut flavor with it without having way too much fat. I ended up giving my remaining unopened cans to the Thanksgiving food drive.

So heat the coconut milk until it separates. Add a wee knifetip of asaphoetida and inch of ginger (peeled and minced). And peel three carrots, cut them into rough chunks, and add them to the coconut milk. I only had three, but this soup would probably do well with several more carrots. Simmer for a bit, and then add stock (I had vegetable) until the volume doubles.

Then I decided I wanted a sort of curry seasoning, but neither the green thai curry paste in the fridge nor the generic indian curry powder in the pantry seemed right (nor the vindaloo… and probably not the garam masala), so I decided to make my own random spice mix:

  • 1/8 tsp kala jeera
  • 1 black cardamom seed
  • 3 fenugreek seeds (yes, i know these quantities are ridiculous, but I was working by smell)
  • less than 1/8 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 black peppercorns

Grind that all up with a mortal and pestle and tip as much into the soup as smells right. (I ended up using all of it, but I hadn’t expected to.) I also added a pinch of salt (note: my stock didn’t start off with any salt at all).

Cook cook cook

Taste – at this point I added more salt and a squeeze of lime. And half a teaspoon of creamy peanut butter to mellow it out a bit.

Cook a bit – pour it into a blender. When smooth, it seemed finished, so it went straight into a bowl. I topped it with some toasted almond slivers, ground chipotle, and a handful of young arugula. A dollop of sour cream or yogurt would have been nice, too.

ISO Foodies 4 soup help

I had beets and chicken stock and the brilliant idea to combine them together to make soup. And yet I have an irrational distrust of borscht (which I know kinda just means soup, but you know what I mean).

So I looked through my cookbooks (and gave a cursory glance at the internet) for beet soup recipes that were not called borscht. And didn’t find any of them appealing.

Instead, I made shit up on my own.

Here’s what I have done so far:

  • sliced thinly and sauteed leeks (white and green part) until thoroughly cooked. Season with salt as it sweats.
  • Add 5 cloves of garlic, minced, and 1/2″ of ginger, minced – saute for 3-5 more minutes
  • Add some fennel, 4 beets, and 1 cup of stock and let simmer for 30 minutes
  • Add a can of coconut milk (and if I’d thought to add some lemongrass at the beginning with the leeks, that would have been awesome) and the rest of the stock. Season with salt and pepper and 1 clove.
  • Let cook down
  • Refrigerate overnight and skim some of the fattiest layer

And then I tasted it, and it needs something else. I was kind of thinking that it needed a can of black beans (and my usual go-to friend for food agreed, but I’m having second thoughts. My mother argues that black beans would be the same kind of flavor family as the beets and leeks and that there needs to be contrast. One of the other beet soup recipes I have calls for an apricot puree swirled through the soup, and that might be right. We did decide that thai basil was not the right accoutrement.

Cream cheese and Coconut. Though not together. But that’s an idea

But where has all the cream cheese gone?
I am out of cream cheese. And almost out of cheddar cheese. But I refuse to pay more than $1 for 8oz of cream cheese or $2 for 8oz of cheddar cheese, and they haven’t been on sale lately.

I might go into withdrawal soon.


my tale of woe with the time change
So there I was Sunday morning, having a leisurely breakfast of bacon, mexican hot chocolate, and amazing fresh coconut (I’ll tell you about that soon), with a charming person who had spent the night, with plenty of time until my 11:20 massage appointment… when I remembered the time change.

We packed up quickly (with him leaving behind his grocery sack with fun ethnic yummies from my grocery store across the street) and barely made it across Broad Street and the surprise marching band parade (for St. Patrick’s Day, apparently) to get there 20 minutes late. Woecakes!

So they only docked my half the price of the session for not showing without notice (and the session was only $35, so not bad. That’ll just make the fee for the next one about on par for professional prices) and I rescheduled for the same time this next Sunday.


White Coconut

So a couple weeks ago, my grocery store started carrying white coconuts. I more or less ignored them because I figured they’d be just like the brown ones, which I tried doing once from scratch and it just wasn’t worth the trouble. Luckily, I was convinced to experiment this weekend. WOW!

So white coconut – apparently it’s softer and tastier and has more water inside. Once you pull out the meat with a fork, instead of having to gnaw on it for a bit, it was completely chewable and tasty without any processing. I’m going to get another one to take to my mother this coming weekend because it’ll be a dream to shred over cake.