Archive for October, 2010
It’s now the time of the year for squash’s and Fall veggies. I recently found a recipe from Mango Tomato for Curry butternut squash soup with coconut milk and decided it was time for my first delicious Fall soup. I have one rule about cooking from a recipe: I never EVER do it exactly the same, even the first time, I always add at least one or two “personal” ingredients. What I mean by “personal” is either I made it myself from an older recipe or something I add for zing or flair – in other words, I always try to make the recipe my own. The “personal” ingredient was homemade vegetable broth, but the zing item was peanut butter – actually crunchy peanut butter from Mackey’s Ferry in North Carolina – I actually picked it up on a road trip when I saw a sign on the highway for “boiled peanuts” – another treat that you’ve gotta try, a very addictive food!
I’ll keep my conclusions short, but I wanted to thicken the original recipe a bit, and normally that would mean adding cream or half and half to the mixture – I didn’t have any. Once I began to smell the coconut milk, the curry (which I make myself “based” on a Mark Bittman recipe, but I spice it up with cayenne), the sugar (I store left over vanilla pods in a sugar container) and the squashes cooking, I kept thinking..hmm, peanut butter is so natural in Thai food, why wouldn’t it work here with all these Asian flavors? I only had chunky peanut butter – of course you could use smooth, but I’ll tell you what – the little pieces of chunky peanuts at the bottom of each bowl of soup I served to myself was decadently good! You could adjust this recipe in so many ways such as using brown sugar instead of vanilla sugar, or even skipping the sugar – there was no sugar in the original recipe. I think the secret to this recipe is to keep it simple and make it your own, but don’t forget to thicken it with something to create a little contrast to the squash – creme fraiche or cream would do the job nicely, but peanut butter was fantastic. Also, did you ever notice how once you open a container of peanut butter, it generally just sits around..I say make peanut butter the new secret ingredient, maybe it can even give bacon a run for the money?
And what would I drink with this? Well, I always drink wine with the meal, I immediately think of an off-dry riesling, but a rustic red like Sangiovese does just fine. You could also go with Scotch – but here’s an additional thought – if you want to make the dish “smokier”, you could add a smoked chipotle pepper and this would make the dish work better with Bourbon or other “smoky” spirits..
Another By the Way..don’t forget to roast the squash seeds with a little salt and spices – I through on some of the curry powder for a treat later..
This recipe is adjusted from Mango & Tomato –
1 butternut squash (small to medium)
1/2 an acorn squash
1/2 a large vidalia onion cut in 4 pieces
1 cup coconut milk
4 cups vegetable broth
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter
blue cheese for garnish
1. Scoop out the seeds from butternut squash and acorn squash and roast at 400 degrees for an hour.
2. Meanwhile, either together or separately (I have a smaller toaster oven as well) roast the onions with a little oil at around 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until they start to caramelize.
3. Once the butternut squash and acorn squash are tender, scoop it out from the skin and drop it into a blender. Add the caramelized onion to the blender as well.
4. Pour all the ingredients from the blender into a pot and add coconut milk and vegetable broth and season with spices, salt & pepper. Heat at medium and when bubbles begin to form, swirl peanut butter into the soup.
5. Adjust the seasonings, and cook on medium-low for 15-20 minutes – it’s ready.
6. Either serve just like this or garnish each soup bowl with blue cheese.
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I hate picky eaters – not with a passion, but totally through self-interest: if you don’t try new things to eat and drink, you won’t be attending any of my wine or culinary events. Why? Because I always add adventurous foods and stories to TasteDC’s Events(blatant plug!) whenever possible. I’ve included in this Post below the complete menu from my 2006 “Unique and Unusual Food and Wine Festival”, check out the menu and click on link for photos.
As an anecdote, last night I taught the Wine Basics 101 class at TasteDC. I told everyone as I often do, that food is way more important than wine – you have to eat, wine is really just an added spice or nuance to the meal, no more. So I told everyone that food would be a primary focus of my introductory wine class – food and wine pairing, talking about food, cooking food, and experiencing food. I always say that if you understand how to cook and balance the flavors of a dish, then wine will come easy to you. I consider wine a missing component in a dish..well, let me digress.. So it was a small class of about 15 people and I noticed alot of ethnic/international diversity – a woman from India, one from Brazil, one from Togo (I think?) in Africa, and then a smattering of Americans from different parts of the country. DC is ethnically diverse. After talking about food and wine for awhile, I began to ask people for their favorite dishes and foods. The Indian woman mentioned she loved butter – which makes sense, because Indian food often incorporates ghee (clarified butter). To a Brazilian woman sitting next to her American boyfriend, I mentioned Feijoada and her eyes lit up – and all across the room most Americans acted disgusted when I mentioned that Feijoada is essentially the leftover parts of a pig stewed with beans – their equivalent to our chili. So I asked her if her boyfriend liked Feijoada..and then the long pause..that uncomfortable pause when a person begins to look for the right thing to say, for that special person to react in a certain way, and for the universe to somehow come to balance..no, her boyfriend didn’t like Feijoada, or for that matter anything she considered delicious, he was an..peanut butter and jelly sandwich addict! I don’t think I need to fill in the details..another woman at the event LOVED to eat food, oh she just adored food, she really enjoyed it..as long as it was white meat chicken “simply” prepared – no sauce, no seasoning, but grilling it was OK..oh, and she also enjoyed salmon..that’s it! Ohh, she had “tried” other foods (she said this in such a way like a young child looking for praise from her mother!) – gold star stuck to the forehead – but she would never consume these foods – too risky, I mean they would taste outside her comfort realm of chicken and salmon, simply prepared..I should have named this article “Peanut Butter and Jelly and a Little Chicken”..
No comment or explanation from me about the American palate – there’s plenty of discussion of that in my book I Drink on the Job – the only adjective that comes to mind is “limited (extremely)”..I’ll post more on this topic soon!
The complete Menu for TasteDC’s “Unique and Unusual Food and Wine Festival” below (Thumbnail Photos – Click to Enlarge – Here – Feel free to Post These Anywere, Permission Granted!
TasteDC’s 1st Annual “Unique and Unusual Food and Wine Festival”
Wednesday, October 25th, 2006
List of Chefs and Dishes:
Chef de Cuisine, James Phillips – Juniper Restaurant, Fairmont Hotel
1. Rattlesnake Gumbo with Sassafras Scented Rice
2. Pink Peppercorn and Wattleseed Crusted Ostrich Leg Roast with Diablo Hollandaise
Lebanese Taverna and 100 King Street
1. Veal Kidney with a Dijon Mustard Sauce – 100 King Restaurant
2. Hindbeh Bil Zayt (sautéed Dandelion Leaves in olive oil with garlic,
parsley, and caramelized onions) – Lebanese Taverna
Executive Chef Dan Wecker, The Elkridge Furnace Inn
1. Nut Crusted Sweetbreads with Pomegranate Syrup
2. Buckwheat Blini with American Caviar and Crème Fraiche
Executive Chef Daniel Labonne, Tabaq Bistro
1. Jerk Frog Legs with Jamaican Spices
2. Caribbean Tripe Stew with Grilled Bananas
Executive Chef Daniel Kenney, and Executive Sous Chef Neal Bailey, Willard Hotel
1. Barolo Braised Veal Cheek with Shropshire” Orange” Blue
2. “Bacon and Eggs”: House Cured Berkshire Pork Belly with Fried Quails Egg
Executive Chef, Russell Cunningham, Dupont Grille, Jury Hotel
1. Calf Fries
2. Smoked Duck and Fried Squash Blossom Salad with Port Reduction and Pumpkinseed Oil
Executive Chef Charlie Hansji, The Jefferson Hotel
1. Beef Bone Marrow and Liver Parfait
2. Lamb Brains in the Style of Peking
Executive Chef Jamie Stachowski, Restaurant Kolumbia
1. Terrine de Tête de Veau
2. Boudin Rouge, Black Mission Fig and Goat Cheese Strudel
Executive Chef, Stefan Jarausch, The Madison, a Loews Hotel
1. Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Braised Pigs Feet, Xerez Gastrique
2. Crostini of Beef Tongue, Basque Style
Executive Chef Bryan of Chef Bryan’s Kitchen
1. Llama Slider with Bleu Cheese and Rosemary Red Onion Jam
2. Grilled Cayman Tail (crocodile) with Smoked Tomato and Basil Butter
Executive Chef, Brian Boots, Elegance Ala Carte
1. Alligator Étouffée
2. Caramelized Fennel, Yucca and Jicama Puree served over Fried Sweet Potato Chips
Executive Chef Daniel Amaya, Dino’s
1. Polipo: Olive Oil Braised Octopus with Cici (garbanzos) and Lemony Vinaigrette
2. Crostata di Formaggi. Erborinato di Pecora Cheese Tartlet: cave aged raw sheep’s
milk cheese with natural bluing. Robiola La Rossa Cheese Tartlet: Cow and sheep
mixed milk cheese wrapped in cherry leaves that are macerated in grappa
As always, from Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler