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When the weather turns blissfully chilly I think of comfort foods, nothing to fancy, just bowls of soup and bits of bread.

 

I have been in a soup making frenzy lately. It’s the season of course. I switch gears in the kitchen to winter squash, root vegetables, figs, apples, and braised meats. I notice I reference braises a lot, even in warmer months of the year. I like braises, I like the rich homey aroma they give. Like soup how could one not feel at home?

To celebrate the arrival of mellower days, I keep to the kitchen making soup and lots of it seems. It’s that time of year when you don’t have the urgency of the plants and the garden. The start of each season is a flush of new flavors reviving the tired day to day meal.

 

Apple & Fig Salad w/ hazelnuts

Fig & Goat Cheese Tartines

I think I had soup every day this week and hearty meals to keep that inner fire going. I experiment, play around with ideas, but I always fall back on simple easy soups, no fuss. A butternut, root vegetable soup like this one is just right. Perfect comfort food.

Besides soup and braises, I made recently a chicken sausage & shrimp “dirty” rice. A not so typical rendition, something I just put together. It was delicious!

 

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash, Celeriac, Parsnip & Apple Soup [serves 4-6]

1 ½ cups leeks, halved & thinly sliced

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ½ cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped

1 cup celeriac, peeled & chopped

½-1 cup parsnips, peeled & chopped

4 cups homemade chicken stock

2 sprigs thyme

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 medium apples, peeled, seeded & chopped [I used a red & green variety]

1. Saute leeks in butter on medium-low heat until tender and translucent.

2. Add squash, celeriac, parsnip, stock, thyme and salt.

3. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until nearly tender.

4. Add apple and continue to cook until everything is tender enough to puree.

5. Puree soup in a blender and season with additional salt to taste.

Chicken Sausage & ShrimpDirty Rice” [serves 4]

½ cup basmati rice [3/4 cup chicken stock -or- water]

¼ cup wild rice [1 cup water or more]

¾ pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning

½ pound cauliflower, cut into florets

1 Tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning

½ medium yellow onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

½ large green bell pepper

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

1-2 large garlic cloves, minced

1-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

½ cup homemade chicken stock

½-1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

¾ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon crushed chilies

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 Andouille chicken sausages [bake in oven until cooked, cool & sliced]

8 jumbo shrimp [such as Tiger shrimp]

2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F.

1. On separate baking trays toss butternut squash with oil and seasoning; cauliflower with oil and seasoning. Roast in oven until tender.

2. Meanwhile cook the rice in the amount of water specified. Drain wild rice if needed after it is cooked.

3. In a roomy pan sauté sausage in olive oil until browned. Remove from pan.

4. In the same pan, sauté onions, celery and bell peppers until tender, adding more olive oil if necessary.

5. Add garlic, cook for a minute then add remaining spices and cook for another minute.

6. Add tomatoes, stock and thyme. Simmer on low until mixture has thickened, approximately 15 minutes.

7. Add shrimp, cover and cook through.

8. Fold in cooked rice, sausage, squash and cauliflower adjusting seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with parsley.

Though this blog is primarily meant for fun, however there are times when posting becomes less than frequent due to a busy schedule. For the better part of my time since starting this blog, I ponder and think about food, what to make and how to photograph it each and every day.

 

I think about the tarts I had made a few weeks ago, the dozens of cookies now long gone, the many braises and roasts that filled the home with wonderful  aromas that still need posting. I hope to get a little time to share every little bit of it here. Letting you know, all is good!

So today from a long pause of writing and sharing, here is a wonderful salad and another crumble. The salad was simple and beautiful which can be adjusted according to taste. Adding more of a favorite ingredient or swapping out one you don’t favor for something else.

The weather over the weekend was muggy, but there I was braising and cooking away for an evening with friends. The salad was a refreshing quick meal that took the heat off while I finished up with the dinner plans. Everything that was prepared and made it to the table was colorful and flavorful.  The recipes are written and ready to be shared.

I had not anticipated serving the crumble after dinner, but everyone seemed to take interest. As we finished dessert everyone was happy to be treated to a delicately sweet fruit dessert. No ice cream this time, but some gently whipped cream flavored with vanilla seeds was the next best thing.

I am ever eager to get into the kitchen when a dinner is planned. I get that it is more work, but I enjoy it and look forward to it! To share food in the company of friends is so worth it.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and to enjoy the rest of your week!

Shrimp & Quinoa Salad [serves 2-4]

½ cup black quinoa

¾ cup cold water

¼ teaspoon sea salt

30 small white shrimp, peeled & deveined [approx. 2 cups cooked]

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 small English cucumber, quartered & cut into bite size pieces [approx. 1 ¼ cups]

1 cup shelled edamame, thawed

4-6 French breakfast radishes, thinly sliced [approx. ½ cup]

1 hand full micro greens [add more to taste]

1 Recipe Lemon Dill Vinaigrette

1. Place quinoa, water and sea salt in a small pot and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat and gently simmer covered until the water is absorbed, approx. 15 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and allow quinoa to rest for 10 minutes.

4. Spread cooked quinoa onto a baking sheet to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

5. Sauté shrimp in olive oil until opaque, approximately 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Place the quinoa, shrimp and vegetables in a bowl and fold in vinaigrette, adjusting to taste with salt and pepper.

Lemon Dill Vinaigrette

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil -or- sunflower oil

1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon cane sugar

3 Tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Whisk together all ingredients except the oil in a small bowl.

2. Slowly whisk in oil until emulsified. Adjust vinaigrette to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

*note: Though I styled and photographed this delightful salad, the inspiration for this particular styling came from no other than Aran of Cannelle et Vanille.

If anyone asks me if I like cold winter weather, I would have to say I fall somewhere in the middle. It is nice to put the garden to rest for several months and hide out in the warm comforts of home planning for next year. Shoveling and frost removal are the least favorite activities during the winter.

Fall and winter on the other end is my favorite time to cook. Stews, soups and dishes that braise away for hours are one of the many welcome aromas that fill the house this time of year. Its nicer when larger gathering of family and friends are there to help you eat the food that was cooked with care.

 

I have a tendency to always be cold; luckily the home stays quite warm, usually all year round. I guess fate would not have had a better place for me here. As long as I am tucked away in a warm place with a bowl of soup, I am happy.

I hope you will enjoy this satisfying stew as much as I have. It is rather quick to prepare and nice way to retreat from the brisk weather. If you hesitate when you get to the part in the recipe that requires shrimp stock, just read my little note at the bottom.

 

Langoustine Stew Recipe

 

1 Tablespoon safflower oil

1/3 cup shallots, minced

1 Tablespoon ginger, minced

1 Tablespoon garlic, minced

 

1 cup shrimp stock -or- water*

1 ½ cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded & shopped

¾ pound langoustine tails

 

1 can coconut milk [14 ounces]

½ teaspoon sea salt

Cilantro for garnish

 

1. Sauté shallots in oil on low until translucent and tender, approximately 3-5 minutes.

2. Add ginger and garlic and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes longer.

3. Add in chopped pumpkin and shrimp stock. Simmer gently until almost tender.

4. Add coconut milk and langoustine tails and finish cooking the pumpkin.

5. Season with sea salt and serve with fresh cilantro leaves.

 

*note: if you cannot find langoustine tails you can substitute shrimp. Peel the shrimp and place the shells in a cheesecloth bundle and simmer with the pumpkin. This is a quick way to make shrimp stock and you get to have the shrimp with the stew!

There is no mystery to Thai cooking. Keeping things simple and adjusting to personal taste seems to be the best way of finding that perfect balance of the five taste senses [spicy, sweet, sour, salty, and bitter] in Thai cuisine.

As a default mode, deciding what to eat or recipes I would like to write, French cuisine always comes to mind. Something fresh with vibrant flavors has recently been my thought process lately. Shrimp in an aromatic coconut broth was the right choice for a dusky evening dinner.

It’s nearly July and the peas in the garden are bountiful. The cool summer weather has been good on the spring season vegetables that got a later start than usual. Tender sugar snap peas are a nice contrast to the typical snow peas that are so commonly used in Asian food, and make a visually striking accompaniment.

 

 

Thai Basil Shrimp Recipe

2 Tablespoons safflower oil

1 ½ Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

1 ½ Tablespoons garlic, minced

2 teaspoons red curry paste

½ teaspoon crushed red chilies

 

2” piece of lemongrass, cut in half lengthwise

15 ounces coconut milk

1 Tablespoon sugar

¾ pound shrimp, cleaned & shells removed

¼ pound snap peas -or- snow peas

 

Juice of half a lime [approx. 2 Tablespoons]

1 Tablespoon fish sauce -or- to taste*

2 sprigs of Thai basil, chopped

 

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and fry ginger, garlic, crushed chilies and red curry paste until fragrant.

2. Add lemon grass, coconut milk and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer.

3. Add shrimp and peas, cook until shrimp are opaque and pea pods are tender, approx. 5 minutes.

4. Add lime juice and fish sauce to taste, serve garnished with basil. Serves two.

*note: What’s my favorite fish sauce brand? “Three Crabs!”

 

 

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