16 November 2010


My mom showed up at my place last weekend carrying an acorn squash. She said that she had found it at the Oshawa farmers' market and figured I should have one. I thanked her in a noncommital way, as I've never been particularly fond of squash, mostly due to the effort it takes to extract it from its skin. I then let it sit on my counter for a week while I considered what to do with it.

Dear readers, I roasted it.

And then I made soup.

Roasted squash is exactly 1 billion times easier to work with than a raw squash. And it imparts that beautiful smooth roasty flavour to anything you put it into, like this acorn squash and apple soup.

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup
1 acorn squash, cut in half with seedy inside scooped out and discarded
Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lay squash halves cut side down on parchment. Put in oven and roast for 40 minutes or thereabouts.
Remove from oven. Flip squash halves over and use a spoon to scoop out the edible squash - you're scooping it away from the skin. Put edible stuff into a container and reserve. Throw away the skin - you won't need it anymore. Not like you ever did, to be honest. It just got in the way.

1-2 onions, cut up
2 tablespoons of butter (or ghee - I used ghee because I had it at hand)
2 1/2 cups of chicken stock/broth/whatever liquid you like
1 cup white wine
1 apple, peeled and cored and cut into cubes
1 thyme sprig
all that reserved roasted squash
1 tiny pinch of cinnamon
couple shakes of Tabasco sauce
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Melt butter/ghee in deep pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook slowly until translucent. Add apple. Stir. Add white wine - allow alcohol to simmer off, then add the chicken stock and thyme sprig. Allow all this to simmer for around 12 minutes or until apple pieces are tender. Add squash - stir till smooth-ish. Drop that tiny pinch of cinnamon in, along with the Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 12 minutes or so. Remove from heat.

(seriously, remove from heat. I taking the next step while it was still on the heat, and I couldn't figure out why I was getting boiling hot soup bubbling up at me while blending. Sometimes I'm not very quick.)

Using an immersion blender if you have one, blend soup until very smooth. It'll be really, really orange. Add the cream and stir. It'll be less orange now. Serve with whatever soup accoutrements you wish - a design of cream, a dollop of sour cream, whatever you like really. It's quite mild-tasting, and makes a good starter or a pleasant lunch.

01 November 2010

Chicken Soup for the... whatever.

I was going to go there, but then I changed my mind.

Chicken soup rocks. I even like the neon-yellow, skinny noodle Lipton "chicken noodle soup" packets. However, I had an epiphany this weekend when I made chicken noodle soup from a whole chicken and a bag of frozen bones. Sounds delicious, right? Right?

Chicken Noodle Soup Like You Mean It

1 whole chicken breast (bone in)
1 chicken carcass (yeah, it's gross. but delicious. just save the carcass when you make a roast chicken. or go to your butcher and ask for a bag of chicken bones.)
5 carrots
4 celery stalks
4 cooking onions
4 stalks fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves, 6 black peppercorns, 2 smashed garlic cloves, 3 parsley sprigs
Enough water/chicken stock (whatever your preference) to cover the chicken - probably about 2 or 3 litres

Put the chicken + bones + everything listed above into a really big pot. Make sure the chicken is covered by the water/stock by a good half inch. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. You may need to skim the surface (it's weird, but it's just protein) a few times. Once chicken is done, remove it from the pot and put it on a plate or a cutting board. Remove the vegetables and the sprigs and the bones from the pot and throw them out - this will result in a nice clear chicken broth. Shred or chop the chicken and set aside.

2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, chopped
2 chopped carrots
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 sprigs chopped parsley
Shredded chicken
1-2 cups wide egg noodles
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook until the onions are see-through, stirring frequently. Add the vegetables to the pot with the clear broth in it. Add the chicken. Stir and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Once boiling, add the egg noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Add the frozen peas. Taste. Season to your own specifications with salt and pepper. Add the parsley.

Serve, and feel better immediately.

02 May 2010

Malai'n around

Best intentions aside, I have yet again neglected this blog. Gah. However, I have an awesome update to it, so hopefully that will make up for my negligence:

Chicken Malai

Chicken malai is a creamy, yellowy curry-type dish. It is North Indian in origin, from what I've been told. It doesn't have to be spicy but it certainly can be - the recipe below can be ramped up with extra fresh or dried chillies.

2 cups or so of chicken - I used chicken breasts, but the curry is more flavourful if you use chicken that has bones
1 onion, ground into a paste
1 teaspoon of garlic paste
1 teaspoon of ginger paste (you can buy these two pastes mixed together - if you use that, use 2 teaspoons)
1 cup of coconut milk (make sure you stir it up)
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
6 whole cloves
1 green chilli pepper (I used Thai birdseye)
1 dried red chilli pepper
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon each of cumin powder, coriander powder, and ground mustard powder (another option is using garam masala, but only do it if you (a) have made some recently, and (b) are okay with using it when the powders listed above are just as good
1-2 teaspoons of dried methi (fenugreek) leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup of whipping cream (not whipped! not whipped! just the cream!)

Heat a kadai or a heavy wok-type or frying pan over medium heat. Pour oil or ghee in and warm. Add cloves and fry till you can smell them. Take the pan off the heat and then add garlic and ginger paste(s) - I take it off to avoid the spitting of the oil. Put back on the heat and fry for a minute or thereabouts. Add the onions - stir. Add the fresh and dried chilli peppers - stir. Finally, add the spice mixture (turmeric, cumin, coriander, ground mustard) - stir. Fry this mixture until the onion turns brown - 2 or 3 minutes usually, but sometimes more. Then, add the chicken and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk, the methi leaves, and then the salt - mix until smooth. Allow to bubble away, cooking for around 10 minutes until chicken is done. If your chicken pieces have bones, it'll take longer - probably about 20 minutes or more. Taste and season accordingly. Serve over basmati rice or with hot roti. Can also serve with Indian-style pickles - carrot, mango, etc.

Remember, if you want this spicier add either another fresh chilli or another dried chilli (or two) during the cooking process. I prefer it spicy but didn't want to scare anyone off by making this recipe crazy hot initially!

22 February 2010

Happiness makes one forget...

about things like blogs and keeping track of what's been cooked or enjoyed in the past few months. Blame it on finally finding a great job, or on the processes involved with planning a wedding, but whatever the case is I've been truly lax.

Something rather easy that is also super delicious is a roasted eggplant. I like it best as a side dish to something fish-like (panko-coated halibut or grilled shrimp or 1000 other options), or as a starter to spread on toast that's been rubbed with a garlic clove. It's so easy I am a bit embarrassed to post it here, but I had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to cook it so this represents a small victory in my life.

Roasted Eggplant

2 or 3 small Italian eggplants
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
6 or 8 teaspoons of good olive oil
2 or 3 sprigs of thyme

Slice eggplants in half, then score each half like you were crosshatching it (kind of like a tic-tac-toe board). Press on the skin side of the eggplant to open up the scoremarks a bit, then sprinkle a half a teaspoon of salt into the eggplant (try to get some salt into each of the scoremarks). Leave the salted eggplants out on the counter for 20 minutes. At the end of this time, squeeze the eggplants gently over the sink to get rid of excess moisture.

Preheat oven to 400.

Cover a cookie tray with aluminum foil. Pour a teaspoon of olive oil onto each cut side of the eggplant halves. Arrange thyme sprigs on cookie sheet, then place cut sides of eggplant down on top of the thyme sprigs. Put cookie sheet in oven and roast for 45 minutes or thereabouts.

Let cool a little bit before you eat this or spread it on garlic toast - it's going to be super hot. Enjoyable, but super hot.