Chunky Kabocha Soup with Appeal

chunky-kabocha-soup-with-appeal

Kabocha squash has a delicious green peel.  My friend Randi turned me on to kabocha soup with chunks of squash with the peel. We cut it up and roasted it with the peel immersed in a 1/2 inch water bath until it was tender. This recipe can be made vegan with vegetable stock.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Ingredients:

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1 medium kabocha squash

1 small piece of ginger root, grated to make 2 tsp (more if you really like it gingery)

2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

14 oz. can coconut milk

1 quart (4 cups) broth (chicken or vegetable stock)

a few grinds black pepper

1 tsp salt to taste

about 1/4 cup of roasted green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350′

cutting-stem-off-kabochaRinse off Kabocha and dry with paper towel. Cut off the stem.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Cut squash into about 16 pieces. cut-kabocha-in-water-bathPlace in 8″ x 11″ x 2″ pan and fill pan with 1/2 inch water.

Sprinkle with 1 tsp melted coconut oil.

Roast for 45 minutes until squash is tender.

Let cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

While squash is cooling, grate ginger, discarding fibrous part. Saute it in 1 tsp coconut oil in a gallon size heavy pot.

After a minute, add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.

bite-sized-pieces-of-squashAdd the small pieces of squash to the broth. Stir in pepper.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the softened squash into the broth. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with roasted pepitas.

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Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

kabocha squash coconut soup with pepitasThis smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, leeks and carrots and seasoned with a hint of ginger. It is rich and creamy from coconut milk. Brandy Giggey, my student in the Episcopal Community Services CHEFS program, http://www.ecs-sf.org/programs/chefs.html, helped me develop this recipe, and critiqued each batch. After a particularly gingery batch, she suggested that I saute the ginger to mellow out the flavor.

I’ve tried this recipe with both regular and light coconut milk. The regular milk gives a more pronounced coconut flavor, but the light is lower in calories. I’ll let you choose what’s right for you.

You can roast the squash and vegetables and/or make the vegetable broth ahead of time. You can cook the vegetables in the broth ahead of time, and then blend and heat before serving.

makes 3 1/2 quarts (15 cups)

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Ingredients

6 cups vegetable broth (recipe below) or chicken broth

1 small kabocha squash

14 oz can coconut milk

2 cups 1% milk (To make this vegan, use milk substitute)

3 large carrots, peeled

3 large leeks, split lengthwise and rinsed well.

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 Tb olive oil

1 tsp sea salt (to taste)

a few grinds pepper

¼ cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 350◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and roast for 30 minutes. Toss white part of  leeks and peeled carrots with olive oil on a foil-lined heavy pan. Leave squash in the oven and roast all the vegetables for another 30 minutes.???????????????????????????????While vegetables are roasting and cooling, prepare vegetable broth: Heat about 5 cups of water to boiling. Soak green parts of leeks in salad spinner and rinse at least 3 times, making sure to remove all the dirt. Roughly chop them and 4 celery sticks, and put in boiling water. Season with 1 tsp celery seeds, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp salt, simmering 1 hour. Pull out green leeks and celery with a slotted spoon and discard. Strain broth into a large bowl, then pour back into pot to boil. (If you prefer, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.)

Cut top off roasted squash then let cool. Scoop out and discard stringy seed pod. Cut flesh from peel and into 1 inch chunks and slice carrots.  Saute the minced ginger in coconut oil for a few minutes, but don’t let it brown.

Heat broth and coconut milk and then add roasted squash, carrots, white part of leeks, and ginger. Simmer vegetables for about 30 minutes, and then  cool enough to blend.

Pour soup and milk into a large bowl. Fill blender half-way with liquid and then add vegetables. Liquefy and return to the pot. It took me about 3 batches to blend.  If you have an immersion blender, use that instead.

Add a few grinds of pepper, Stir in about 1 tsp sea salt, to taste, then simmer for another 15 minutes and serve.

Toast pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet at medium heat and toss on top of soup to garnish

Drunken Pecan Sweet Potato Pie

pieA pecan walks into a bar, orders a shot of Jim Beam and jumps into the glass. The bartender looks at it, shakes his head and says “You’re nuts.”

This has got to be the best sweet potato pie I have ever tasted. It combines a pecan pie topping made from bourbon soaked pecans atop a creamy, spicy, sweet potato filling. I infuse the cooked yams with cinnamon sticks just after baking to give it an earthy cinnamon flavor. It’s lower in fat than most sweet potato pies and not overly sweet.

This recipe works best when the cook is singing along with Ray Charles and James Taylor’s  “Sweet Potato Pie” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzZle2RDzTc

Ingredients:

drunken-pecans

FILLING

3 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, such as Garnet (also called yams)
6 thin cinnamon sticks
3 large eggs
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne

PECAN SOAK
3/4 cup raw pecans halves
3 Tb Jim Beam bourbon

PECAN TOPPING
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, put in just a pinch)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon                                                                                                                                      1 Tb heavy cream

Pour bourbon over pecans and let soak for 3 hours.

Make a single pie crust in a standard 9-inch pie pan or a tart pan and freeze it. Blind bake it just before filling.

Roast pierced sweet potatoes on a  foil-lined cookie sheet at 375° for about 1 ½ hours until very tender when pierced. Half-way through cooking time (45 minutes), turn the yams over.

cinnamon stick in yamI

Immediately after you pull them from the oven, pierce each end of the potatoes and insert a cinnamon stick lengthwise all the way through each end. Cover yams with foil and let cool. You can do this part a day before. Peel potatoes and remove cinnamon sticks. Purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth. Measure 2 cups.

Set oven to 350°. Beat eggs in a mixer until frothy. Pour pecan-infused bourbon from pecan soak into the eggs. Beat in remaining filling ingredients until well blended. The filling will be thick. Pour into a hot pre-baked 9″ pie crust and spread level. Use a pie crust protector or wrap pie rim with 4 strips of foil  to prevent it from burning, and bake pie for 30 minutes.
caramelized-topping

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and heat to boiling. Let boil for just a minute, then turn off heat. Add cream and stir until smooth. Stir in pecans, coating them well with the caramel syrup..

pecans-coated-with-toppingStir in pecans,
Take the pie out of the oven and remove foil from pie crust. Make 2 concentric circles of pecans around the pie. Spoon extra caramel topping over the pecans.

ready for the oven

Continue to bake until center jiggles only slightly when shaken gently, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a rack at least 2 hours.
Enjoy topped with maple-syrup sweetened whipped cream.

Fresh Pumpkin – Kabocha Pie with Maple Syrup and Garam Masala

pie with fluted edgeI added kabocha squash to fresh pumpkin and sweetened this pie with maple syrup. A bit of the Punjabi spice blend garam masala adds an exotic highlight to this Thanksgiving favorite.
I make the pie on Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. I like to roast and puree the pumpkin and Kabocha squash on Tuesday night so it will be all ready on Wednesday.

Prepare a pie crust ahead of time and freeze it
DSC03214I use a Sugar Pie pumpkin. Just the name gets me singing Sugar Pie Honey! These are available at farmer’s markets and produce markets such as Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market in Berkeley. They are slightly smaller than a basketball. They have more flesh and are less fibrous than a Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin. You will need about 1 3/4  pounds per pie.

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I add kabocha squash, which is sweeter  than the pumpkin. Its texture and flavor resemble chestnuts.

You can do this part ahead of time. Pierce pumpkin and kabocha several times and place on oiled roasting pan. Roast at 450◦ for 45 minutes until soft. Place it on a large plate and cut off the stem. Use a knife to coax the peel off; it should easily come off.

Let the pumpkin and kabocha cool enough to handle. Discard the seeds and stringy pulp.

???????????????????????????????Put the flesh of the pumpkin in the food processor. Process until smooth.

??????????????????????????????? Since the puree is too watery for pie, pour it into a fine sieve over a bowl. Place a bowl on top of the puree and several heavy cans on top of the bowl. Let it drain for an hour.

Measure 1 1/4 cups of drained puree. Reserve the liquid  to add to squash soup such as Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup or butternut squash soup. You can put extra puree in those soups or save it for Fresh Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

Puree about 1/2 cup of the kabocha squash and measure the pureed squash to be sure you have 1/2 cup. You can put extra Kabocha in Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup .

Blind bake foil or parchment covered pie crust with pie weights or beans for 15 minutes at 425◦ While crust is baking, prepare filling

Ingredients: Have all ingredients at room temperature. (You can warm the eggs in a bowl of warm water.)

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree, drained and 1/2 cup kabocha puree. (You can substitute a 15-oz can of pumpkin for both squashes, but it won’t be as good.)
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 ½ cups (one 12-oz can) evaporated milk,
1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt

1 egg to brush on crust

Put pumpkin-kabocha puree in large bowl under a mixer.
Add rest of ingredients and beat well.

brush egg on bottom of crustRemove crust from oven, remove pie weights and foil or parchment, and brush the bottom and lower part of the sides of the crust with a beaten egg. This will prevent the crust from getting too soggy. Place the crust back in the oven for 5  minutes until sides are light brown.

Remove crust from the oven and lower oven temperature to 375◦

As soon as oven is ready, pour pumpkin pie filling into the crust. Place a circular crust protector over it so it won’t burn. Bake  for 40 minutes until the center just quivers when you wiggle the pan.

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Cool thoroughly on a rack and then refrigerate until Thanksgiving dinner is over and everyone is ready for dessert..

???????????????????????????????Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream sweetened with pure maple syrup.

Gluten-free Cornbread

???????????????????????????????To make gluten-free cornbread, I substituted masa harina, the corn flour used to make tortillas or tamales, for wheat flour in my cornbread recipe. The result was a fluffy textured cornbread which had a taste of tortillas. I added a bit more salt. You can put rosemary in it if you like.

Ingredients:

masa harinamasa harina

1 cup 1% milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup masa harina

¼ cup ground flax-seed

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (about a one-inch sprig) optional

3/4  tsp salt

1 Tb sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 425’

Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients.

Sift baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients and rosemary if using, and mix well.

Mix eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then stir in applesauce and oil until well mixed. Pour into dry ingredients. Mix with a large spoon only until ingredients are combined.

Spray an 8 inch square pan with olive oil spray. Pour in batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Delicious out of the pan, or use for making Low-fat cornbread sage stuffing with chestnuts and apples.

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Low-fat cornbread-butternut squash and chestnut stuffing

close up of stuffingThis fragrant stuffing uses less bread than traditional stuffing, and uses only  2 Tb olive oil and 1/2 cube butter. The savory vegetables balance the sweetness of the butternut squash.

You can make a gluten-free stuffing using my recipe for gluten-free cornbread. You can also make this a vegetarian recipe by using vegetable broth or mushroom broth and either skip the turkey sausage or use a vegetarian sausage.

Stuff your turkey, then bake the rest in a casserole dish. Because I brine my turkey, I only add salt to the stuffing that I bake separately.

produce for stuffing

butternut squash ingredIngredients

Half of an  8 × 8 pan of Rosemary-scented cornbread or gluten-free cornbread, cut into cubes to make about 4 cups. (This way you get to nosh on the cornbread before making the stuffing!) cube the cornbread 2 Tb olive oil, divided

Small to medium butternut squash – about 1 pound

½ pound turkey sausage without casings

½ cube (1/4 cup) butter (use only 2 Tb if adding sausage)

2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)

2 cups chopped celery (use the inside stalks, reserving the outside ones to surround the roasting turkey)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped (remove seeds and ribs)

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 Granny Smith apples, chopped

2 tsp rubbed sage

1 tsp minced fresh sage

3 Tb fresh thyme OR 2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

½ tsp (several grinds) black pepper

1 cup roasted chestnuts (shelled), sliced or crumbled (about 10 large chestnuts)

½  cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup pecan pieces

2 Tb dried cranberries

2 eggs

1 ½ cup turkey or chicken broth

½ to 1 tsp salt to taste (unless used for stuffing a brined turkey)

Make Turkey broth:

1 ½  cups water

turkey neck and giblets

1 onion, finely chopped

several stalks celery with leaves, cut up

1 clove garlic, minced

On Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, boil turkey neck and giblets in water with celery and chopped onion and  garlic for an hour or more. Strain into a container and use to moisten this stuffing. (Reserve giblets if you like chopped giblets in your gravy.)

Briefly parboil, then roast chestnuts (be sure to cut them first so they don’t burst!) at 425′ for 15 minutes. Let cool, then shell them. I found it’s easier to scoop the meat out with a teaspoon.  (Or buy the precooked, shelled ones at Trader Joe’s if you don’t want to spend all that time peeling them.)

Make cornbread on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. You can also cube and roast the butternut squash on Wednesday:

cubed butternut squash

Peel the butternut squash. Cut into bite-sized cubes and toss in a large bowl with 1 Tb olive oil. Spread on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan lined with foil. Roast in a 375◦ oven for 15- 20 minutes until they are fork tender.

If using turkey sausage, fry in a pan until browned and crumbly.

Heat another Tb oil and the butter in a large, heavy frying pan. Stir-fry onions, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms, apples, and garlic over medium heat until they soften. Add sausage if using, butternut squash, dried cranberries, pecans, chestnuts, parsley and herbs and heat a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the broth until warm. Beat the eggs and add  broth. Gently add to the cubed cornbread and other ingredients.

butternut squash stuffing

If not stuffing your turkey, bake in a  9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with olive oil at 350◦ for 45 minutes until the top is toasted. Alternatively, use the microwave since the oven’s got the turkey in it: 15 min should do it. You can finish it off in the oven for a crunchy top.

Fruit juice sweetened, no sugar Jellied Cranberry Sauce

My family loves that jellied cranberry sauce that has the can marks on it. It’s mostly high-fructose corn syrup of course. I figured out a recipe that is healthier than the canned stuff. It gets its sweetness from frozen concentrated apple juice  If you’re counting calories, this makes about 200 calories per cup, (about 25 calories for 2 tablespoons) instead of the 419 calories per cup in the canned cranberry sauce. Even my husband, who distrusts  that homemade cranberry sauces could ever measure up to the canned stuff, thinks this one tastes good.

When I was a little kid back in the day in the 50s and 60s, jello dishes were all the rage. I wish I had an old-fashioned jello mold to pour this in. I suppose I could pour it into an empty can to get the can marks! But I poured it into small cups and dessert dishes, to place on each corner of the table.

Make this at least the day before Thanksgiving, so the gelatin has time to set.

Makes  2 cups

2 envelopes unsweetened gelatin
¼ cup cold water
6-oz can apple juice concentrate
12-oz package (3 cups) fresh cranberries, rinsed well and picked through
2 navel (seedless) oranges, rinsed

Pour ¼ cup cold water into a small non-reactive pot, such as stainless steel or glass.  Sprinkle the gelatin over it and stir. Add the apple juice concentrate and heat until the gelatin dissolves. Stir in the cranberries.

Using a vegetable peeler, cut a strip of the zest (just the orange part of the peel).

Peel oranges with a knife, so no pith (the bitter white stuff) remains. Pull sections apart, discarding white membranes.  Add orange pieces and zest to the cranberries.

Cook a total of 15 minutes, so that the berries burst and the fruit cooks into a nice mush.

Let cool until you can handle the liquid without burning yourself, about 10 minutes.

Pour mixture into a blender and run it on liquefy for a few minutes.

Strain the fruit through a fine mesh sieve into a non-reactive container. You will be eliminating the cranberry seeds and skins, which are the bitterest part.

You can refrigerate the sauce in the bowl or in a jello mold. You can even pour it into a can to get the can marks.