Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Plantains

IMGP1886Sometimes, American expats, like myself, get together for an American Thanksgiving. Which is how the spouse and I recently found ourselves with friends, Tony and Gail, eating turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, etc., etc., and etc.

Tony had made a delicious entrée, Spicy Squash Soup, from a recipe on Oprah’s web site where it is billed as being influenced by “the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean.”

To be honest, I’ve been in various countries around the Caribbean and never had anything that tasted like this soup. But who cares? A yummy winter soup is a thing of culinary beauty and a joy to sup forever.

Here it is then, adapted to lower the calorie count and replace missing ingredients. I forgot to buy the required Vidalia onion and celery so I used leek and carrot. Furthermore, I didn’t have “Madras-style” curry.

Did you think curry was just curry? So did I. However, in addition to “Madras-style,” I’ve now also seen a recipe that calls for “Mexican” curry! Who can keep up with such fast-moving trends?

Throw caution to the wind, I say, and use whatever’s in the spice drawer.

Enjoy!

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Steamed Cauliflower: Variations

First of all: Many thanks to Jeff from jeffs kitchen for this post.

Jeff had read the cauliflower-tasting story from my post, Can Our Tastebuds Have Orgasms?, and clearly felt sorry for the spouse who ate the cauliflower I had served plain. Why plain? Because I thought that beautifully fresh cauliflower would taste great on its own.

And it did! To me, that is.

Anyway, Jeff wrote a great comment on that post with ideas for spicing up the cauliflower that I want to pass on to you.

Jeff steams his cauliflower whole, but you could also steam florets or roast them (see Roasted Veggies Redux) using these spices.

How to Steam a Cauliflower Whole

  1. Cut out the core from the bottom of the cauliflower.
  2. Place the head in a large cast-iron pot.
  3. Add about 1/2 inch of boiling water. (You can also add flavours to the water—see below.)
  4. Sprinkle spice generously over the cauliflower head (see possibilities below).
  5. Reduce heat so that the water is simmering.
  6. Cover pot and steam for 10-20 minutes. The amount of time will depend on the size of cauliflower and how soft you prefer it.

Jeff’s Spice Possibilities:

  • Allspice: Also add 1 tbsp. coconut milk to the boiling water.
  • Curry: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • Garam masala: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • A good quality paprika: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water. According to Jeff, “I’ve experimented with smoked paprika, and it tastes like I did it in a pot on a grill. The paprika adds a layer of flavor, and using smoked paprika adds yet another layer.”

I can think of other variations such as using cumin or fresh dill. Have you done something interesting with cauliflower that you’d like to share?

Curried Cauliflower-Sweet Potato Puree with Quinoa

HURRAY!

IT’S CAULIFLOWER SEASON!

But here’s the problem with this wonderful and versatile vegetable: the heads are big and awkward, and they takes up too much room in my fridge. So when I’ve gone a little overboard (bought 2-3 heads because they’re cheap as all get out), my instinct is to cook immediately and purée.

This dish occurred because, in addition to cauliflower, I already had half-a-microwaved sweet potato and cooked quinoa on hand.  Why not throw them all together, add some onion and Indian spices, and see what happens?

The result? A new and interesting taste for me and the spouse: spicy in a curry-ish way with a slightly onion-y crunch and an undercurrent of sweetness. We ate it last night with chicken sausages and…yum!

Now, you might find this dish too bland because I am always catering to my sensitive stomach. Therefore, I suggest you mix all the main ingredients together and then spice to taste. You could also play around with the amounts of cauliflower, sweet potato, and quinoa, depending on what you have.

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