Posts Tagged ‘scotch’
Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter..Who Would Have Thunk??
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
Consider Yourself Paired – “Yinzer Torte”!
First of all, I want to mention that it’s really great that Daniel is using local resources as his ingredients. It’s really sad that people are so urbanized and removed from nature that they don’t even trust the fruit that grows on their local trees! Just like Daniel used the local quinces for this recipe, I have often thought about using the ginkgo “stinky” fruit that falls from the female trees that are common all over Washington, D.C. Stinky Gingko Fruit – unfortunately, it is SO stinky, that it will probably never happen!
The first point I want to make is that I am not a proponent of pairing dessert wines and dessert – the way I see it, there’s a missing synergy. In my book (sorry for the blatant promo!) I Drink on the Job – I have a complete chapter on pairing wine and food, and the principle that comes to mind is “1+1=1/2”. It seems weird, but when you put a sweet food in your mouth and then you drink a sweet beverage (it could be any beverage – fruit juice, cola, etc.), the sweetness is significantly reduced. The pairing rule I often learned was that the wine should be at least as sweet at the dessert, but I don’t see how it makes a difference – sweet and sweet mostly cancel each other out!
Another point is that the Yinzer torte is made with highly acidic quince fruit turned into a butter emulsion. So now you have acidity – and yes, you do want to match a dishes acidity with the wine, or the wine will taste really flat! You could easily pair this dish with a traditional dessert wine like a Sauternes or a Hungarian Tokaj, and that will do just fine. But let me throw a curve ball.
1) I prefer to have contrast to a sweet dessert dish – just like many people really enjoy coffee with sweets because the tannin in coffee contrasts the sweetness of dessert on your palate, I would rather pair this with a spirit – and my spirit of choice for this dish is either a Cognac or a Calvados. Cognac is distilled from grapes and has a nice fruit component. Calvados is distilled from apples and has that fruit component as well. You could have a whisky or a Scotch, but definitely avoid a really smoky/peaty version of the latter – there are no smoke components to this dessert (unless you’re puffing on a cigar at the time!),
2) Change the dish a bit to make it go better with wine – this is called a pairing “bridge”. For example, you could put some chopped walnuts on top and maybe serve with a slice of blue cheese and now Ruby Port goes perfectly! Crunchy nuts would also add texture which makes food more interesting on the palate. Add a caramel sauce, and now a Tawny port, which is port that has been pre-aged in barrel will work with those flavors. You could even bridge this dessert by making a dessert wine reduction, and that would bring the flavors together.
3) Add fresh whipped cream with a little liqueur in it like Cointreau. OK, it won’t match better with any wine, but certainly it will make the dish all the better, and isn’t pleasure what you’re really after?
Consider yourself paired!
Charlie Adler, Author, I Drink on the Job