November 28, 2012

Just a Spoonful of Curry!

Curry Turkey Soup

Whether you love them or hate them, you're still probably faced with leftovers from last week ... or at least the stock you made with the turkey bones. (You did make stock, didn't you?).  No? Neither did I. No matter. I forgot. I am DONE with turkey sandwiches; pot pies; and baked anything with a stuffing crust. In an effort to spice things up, I rely on curry master and author Raghavan Iyer, creator of Turmeric Trail Spice Blends. Check out the website, it's chock-a-block with ideas for spicing up the most ordinary fare. I'm not getting to Mumbai anytime soon (does the yoga studio count?), but just a whiff of these curries transports me from my kitchen to warmer shores.

Curried Turkey Soup with Coconut
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4-cup shallots, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder, to taste
4 cups chicken or turkey stock
½ cup long grain white rice
1 carrot peeled and cut into 1/2 –inch pieces
1 celery stick, but into ½-inch pieces
1/2 cup apple cider
1 cup coconut milk*
1 cup cooked, diced turkey meat
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped cilantro for garnish
¼ cup toasted shredded** coconut for garnish
            Film a large deep pot with the oil and set over medium heat and sauté the shallots until just tender, about 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder to coat. Stir in the stock, rice, carrot and celery. Increase the heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
            Stir in the cider, coconut milk and turkey. Season with the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with the chopped cilantro and shredded coconut.

·      Use canned, unsweetened coconut milk, not the coconut milk in the dairy case.
·      *To toast the coconut, spread it out on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until it is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, watching closely. It goes quickly.

November 23, 2012

Remains of the Day

Coddled Eggs

What's left behind Thanksgiving dinner? Too much stuffing for one, a few links of sausage that didn't make it into the recipe and, if you're lucky, some eggs. While it's simple enough to finish off the turkey piled high in sandwiches or simmered into a broth for soup, it's the stuffing that stumps me. After all the  chopping of celery, onions, carrots and the peeling of chestnuts, I hate to through the stuff out. Here's the easiest brunch dish ever -- stuffing coddled eggs. After the feast, eggs are not the only thing to coddled. Serve them up then snuggle in with a book or a ball game. The best of Thanksgiving is the remains of the day.

Check out this link for more leftover Thanksgiving Day recipes and relax!

Stuffing Coddled Eggs
Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
2 Italian sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups leftover stuffing
4 eggs

Set a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and film with oil or melt the butter. Cook the sausage pieces until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and spread evenly over the pan. Cover to heat through, about 2 minutes. Crack the eggs over the sausage, cover and cook until the yolks are set, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve the eggs with the sausage and stuffing.

November 20, 2012

It's in the Sauce

When it came to Thanksgiving, my grandmother didn't mess around. She set the long table with a lace table cloth, used every last dish, glass, plate, spoon and fork in the cupboard. Weeks ahead, she polished silver to a soft luster, lifted the felt-wrapped turkey platter from the linen closet at the top of the stairs that opened with a whiff of cedar and brown soap. As a child, I helped her with every last detail, from writing names on the place cards and folding the napkins she ironed a week in advance. 

The day before, we made pie crusts then baked sweet potatoes to mash for the pie. She sprinkled leftover scraps of dough with sugar to bake into cookie crisps.  In the whirl of cinnamon and clove, the rhythm of chopping and whisking, there was purpose and love.

She had the courage to create a gleaming stage for any number of family dramas that like Dickens, played out year after year -- my uncles divorces, the new girlfriends, the tipsy brother-in-law, the curlish teenagers. No matter what -- late arrivals, no shows, and unexpected additions -- the meal would go on, again and again. After we snuffed out the candles, scraped and washed plates by hand, and tucked away leftovers for soup, she'd stand and take in the now empty kitchen and say, "now didn't that go well?" 

As I pour those bouncy tart cranberries into a pot, I can hear her reminders. "Don't add the sugar until they've popped open, it will make the berries tough." I've lived in Minnesota, for the past 30 + years, and these cranberries are a touchstone to the yellow Victorian kitchen of my Maplewood, New Jersey childhood. I stir them into the sauce as my grandmother taught me with thanks, determination and hope. 

Elizabeth Flower's
Perfect Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

My grandmother never measured and this recipe is so very easy, you needn't either. I've added fresh ginger to taste, but that's completely optional. A cinnamon stick or some cloves will work nicely, too.

2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup fresh apple cider
2 apples, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, or more to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar or honey to taste

Put the cranberries, cider, apples and ginger into a pot set over low heat and cook until the cranberries just begin to pop open. Add sugar to taste.

Fresh Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

This bright, fresh tasting sauce is terrific with chips and great swirled into mayonnaise for a sandwich spread.

2 cups cranberries
1 small orange, cut into chunks
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar to taste

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until finely chopped.

November 6, 2012

SOUP it Up

Curried Squash Soup

"A good soup maker must be a good taster," my Aunt Rose told me as she'd stir up our hungers with some warming, creamy concoction. She had the soup making gene, a talent for transforming leftover potatoes and the ends of an onion into a simple potato bisque or a fragrant curried potage. Here's the formula she used -- 1 part onion, 1 part diced potato, 3 parts vegetable of your choice, and 5 parts liquid (which can be a mix of stock, wine, milk, whatever)... She'd start all soups by sauteing onion with butter, then add the rest of the vegetables to "sweat" out their juices before stirring in the liquid along with herbs and spices. "Always taste as you go, and especially just before serving." 

Here are two recipes that put the basic formula into play. There are few things in life as simple or as satisfying as soup making. Given the dank weather and these uncertain times, making soup is a good thing to know.

Irish Potato Soup
Serves 6

4 tablespoons butter
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup diced onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup cream
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped dill or marjoram

In a heavy saucepan melt the butter over medium heat then toss in the potatoes and onions and stir to coat. Season with salt and a little pepper. Cover and "sweat" the onions so they release their liquid for about 5 to 10 minutes. 

When the potatoes are tender, stir in the stock and wine and continue to cook until the potatoes are very tender. Puree the soup and stir in the cream along with the fresh chopped herbs. Taste and adjust the seasonings. 

Curried Squash Soup with Apples & Coconut
Serves 4 to 6

1 medium red kuri, butternut, or 2 small delicata squash (about 2 lbs) cut in half and seeded
2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower of vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tart apples, cored and chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cups vegetable stock
1 cup fresh apple cider
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Shredded coconut, toasted for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the cut sides of the squash with the oil, turn it cut side down on a baking sheet and bake until it's soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
While the squash is baking, film a heavy soup pot with the remaining oil and set it over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, apples and curry powder. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and cider, and simmer until the ingredients are very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven, scoop the meat from the skin, and add it to the pot.

For a smooth soup, puree the mixture using an immersion blender or process it in a blender in batches. For a chunky soup, mash all the ingredients together. Stir in the coconut milk. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and a little more curry if you'd like. Serve garnished with the cilantro and toasted coconut.