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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!
One specific dish, for me, stands out that can make a typical everyday meal something special. Moules as they are called in France, are wonderful, simple little creatures.
Mussels are great if you want to try different flavor combinations as they take flavors well, and there is no need to be frightened, mussels may look odd and unusual, but they are harmless and delicious. They make an interesting presentation with little effort and nothing is more communal than friends grouped around the table with a large bowl of mussels.
I made this dish using mussel stock for an added flavor boost in replacement for fish sauce. I think that the fish sauce would have overpowered the mussels. I wanted to taste the mussels and not the pungent fish sauce. This was solely based on personal preference and fish sauce would still be a great addition in you so choose.
Coconut Curry Mussels Recipe
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup shallots, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ Tablespoons yellow curry paste
1 cup mussel stock -or- dry white wine [mussels stock used here]
1 can coconut milk
2 pounds mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
Cilantro [for garnishing]
1. Sauté shallots on medium-low heat until tender, approximately 3-5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and curry paste, cook for another minute or so until fragrant and garlic loses its raw aroma.
3. Pour in mussel stock or wine and bring to a gentle simmer.
4. Add mussels and cover pot. Cook until mussels open, discarding unopened ones.
5. Pour in coconut milk and shake pan covered until coconut milk is mix in, heat through.
Adjust seasoning by adding sea salt or fish sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. If you like your curries to be an inferno on the palate, simply add some hot chili sauce or some chopped up chilies along with the curry paste.
Mussel Stock Recipe
2 pounds mussels
½ small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1. Place all ingredients into a stock pot and just cover with approximately 4 cups of water.
2. Bring just to a simmer and reduce heat and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes.
3. Strain stock and chill rapidly. Store in refrigerator for two days
This riz ua lait recipe, also known as rice pudding is a favorite around here, especially a treat to pass by rainy days during a vacation. I decided to try a dairy-free version using coconut milk. I was unsure if this version would live up to the original. The result was a delicately sweet and creamy dessert that has me hooked on using coconut as a cream/milk replacer.
Rice pudding is great on its own, but to makes things a little nicer, slicing tiny apples and sprinkling pistachios is a great topping choice.
For a lighter version, try lite coconut milk and use honey as an alternative. Still this spiced up simmering brew of milk and vanilla might be just what you need, dairy or not to elevate a cold autumn day.
Riz au Lait
2 cups coconut milk [unsweetened]
1 -13.66 ounce can coconut cream [milk]
¾ cup Arborio rice, rinsed
2 inch piece of vanilla bean, scraped
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
2 Tablespoons granular sugar -or- honey
Freshly grated nutmeg [to taste]
1. In a sauce pan combine both kinds of coconut milk, rice, vanilla bean and whole spices; soak for 1 hour.
2. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until rice is tender and creamy pudding like texture, approximately 15-20 minutes. Still frequently so rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
3. Add sugar to taste and a few grates of nutmeg.
4. Adjust pudding with a little bit of coconut milk if needed. Serve promtly.
What started out as a tart ended up being just a panna cotta. The tart was yummy, but I didn’t care so much that lifting the tart out of the pan it started to crumble apart. Wet crust! The panna cotta itself was made from a base of coconut milk, unlike ones made from cream. This experiment turned out to be surprisingly delicious and very pretty.
The texture and flavor was that of flan and a nice change from the heavier dairy based dessert. I think that serving this just as it reaches room temperature to be great and really shows how creamy the texture can be.
I shied away from adding any coconut flavor; however, you can add some coconut liqueur to the coconut base for a grand dinner party dessert. Would your dinner guests know that it is dairy-free? When they discover that there were no cows milked for this one, they might be surprised.
Coconut Panna Cotta Recipe
1-15 ounce can coconut milk
¼ cup granular sugar
2 inch piece of vanilla bean, scraped
1 ¾ teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 Tablespoons cold water
Vanilla Fig Syrup [see recipe below]
Fresh Ripe Figs [adorable garnish]
1. In a small bowl sprinkle gelatin over the water and stir. Set aside to bloom.
2. In a small sauce pan heat the coconut milk, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil.
3. Strain coconut milk into a mixing bowl.
4. Whisk in as much as a quarter cup of the coconut milk into the gelatin to melt.
5. Pour gelatin mixture into the remaining coconut milk.
6. Fill desired jars, compotes or bowls and place in refrigerator for 4 hours.
7. Serve with vanilla-fig syrup spooned over the top and adorn with fresh ripe figs.
Fig Syrup Recipe
¼ cup granular sugar
4 large ripe figs, halved
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur [-or- water]
1 Tablespoon water
1 inch piece vanilla bean, chopped
1. Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a gentle simmer.
2. Continue to simmer until figs have released their flavor and color.
3. Strain and cool.
*note: If you prefer, you can keep the poached figs and include them as part of the desert.