Sunday, October 31, 2010

German Onion Soup (Ueberbackene Zwiebelsuppe) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays & Regional Recipes: Germany

Yesterday I spent the morning making soups in a Hearty Ethnic Vegan Soups class, then I toted several quarts of said soups home (Tuscan Bean, Moroccan Red Lentil-Bean Stew, Mexican Black Bean, and Thai Vegetable Stew) and that afternoon made MORE soup. What possessed me to add to my soup collection? Well I procrastinated on Regional Recipes: Germany this month and since I love this monthly event and its host, the wonderful Joanne of Eats Well With Others, I decided to sneak in a German soup on the last day. Luckily, besides the Thai Vegetable Stew with its coconut milk, the other soups will freeze well, giving me a good variety of comforting soupy goodness for the next couple of weeks. ;-)

Looking online, there were a lot of hearty German soups to make, many with potatoes and cabbage, but this German Onion Soup or "Ueberbackene Zwiebelsuppe" (try saying that fast three times!) caught my eye. The author says, "Cousin to French onion soup, this light colored version deglazes the pan with white wine and uses chicken or vegetable broth as a soup base." I think of it as the younger, blonder, thinner cousin to French onion soup, and it is easy to make, delicious and not quite so heavy--all pluses in my book!

German Onion Soup (Ueberbackene Zwiebelsuppe)
By Jennifer McGavin,
(Serves 4)

2 cups (4 medium or 2 large) onions, sliced
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 quart broth, vegetable or chicken
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Salt, if broth needs it, to taste
4 slices French bread or 1 roll cut into 8 slices
1/2 cup grated cheese, gruyère or gouda

Sauté onions in butter over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until they start turning golden brown. Stir occasionally. Add the white wine, then the broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Grate some fresh nutmeg into the soup and add some pepper. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

While soup is cooking toast the bread slices.

To serve, scoop some soup into an oven safe individual bowl, add a slice of toast, sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over it and put the bowls on a cookie sheet or similar. Broil until cheese melts and turns and attractive brown. Be careful when serving and eating as the soup and the bowls are very hot.

Tips: This is a great soup to make ahead and reheat. You may want to add fresh thyme sprigs or bay leaf to the soup. Remove before serving.

Notes/Results: Excellent--in fact, I think I like it better than French Onion Soup. It had plenty of flavor from the white wine and the homemade chicken stock I used. I also tossed in a bay leaf and some fresh sprigs of thyme from my herb garden as the recipe tip suggested. I removed the bay leaf but just pulled out the stems and left the thyme leaves in. I am not a huge nutmeg fan, but a little works well in this soup. For the toast I used a rosemary-garlic baguette and topped it with microplane-grated gruyère. Because the cheese was grated so finely it melted right into the bread which tasted great. Although it doesn't look like much cheese is on top, trust me there was plenty. My only oven-secure soup bowls large enough to fit bread in are pretty big, so this soup made two large servings. I would make this again.

It is standing room only in the Souper Sunday kitchen this Halloween, with I think one of our largest, if not the largest round ups to date. Many old friends and new are here with lots of delicious soups (and a few salads too), so let's get started!

Debbie from The Friday Friends is back with us this week and with a cheesy-chicken "Souper Soup" that is sure to cure your ills. Debbie says, "Today I felt so "blah" and stuffed up and achy, (and was tired of eating leftover Mexican food) that when my friend sent me this recipe for Souper Soup, I thought I'd have to try it. It was hot, soothing, quick, easy and good! It was just the comfort food I needed."

Carla from Recipe Addict is here this week with her favorite Bennigan's Potato Soup. She says, "This is soup that will make you want to lick the bowl. Go ahead, no one's looking. I am not going to lie to you, I have. It is that good. I first fell in love with it when we lived about two blocks away from a Bennigan's Restaraunt in Clearwater, Florida. Every time we went there this was the first thing I ordered. Even before I could decide what I was going to have to drink, I knew I was going to have a bowl of this delicious soup. And ever since I found this recipe I have been making this in large batches to keep in the freezer, for when I'm having a craving (which is frequently) for it."

We have several new faces and friends to welcome to Souper Sundays this week, starting with Ramona, The Paper Princess from Create With Joy. Here with a hearty Maple Beef Stew, she says, "This stew is as perfect for the cool crisp days of Autumn as it is for the bone-chilling days of Winter! There is something comforting in the knowledge that a nice hearty bowl of stew awaits you at the end of a long day. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. Bon Appétit!"

Let's also welcome Nicole from Cocoa and Coriander: Nico's Tiny Kitchen, joining us for the first time from my old hometown of Portland, Oregon. Nicole used her leftovers wisely for this hearty Pulled Pork and Cannellini Bean Chili and says, "This chili was really spicy, so use fewer peppers and less chili powder if you're heat sensitive. I would say my heat sensitivity is pretty average but I can eat spicier dishes if they are also very flavorful. And this chili was very flavorful."

Another newbie making her first appearance is Kurinji of Kurinji Kathambam, blogging from India and with two healthy soups to share. About the first, this Mixed Vegetable Soup she says, "This is healthy soup because it contains several vegetables. Except brinjal and ladies finger, you can add any vegetables which children does not like to have. I came across this recipe in a cooking book."

Kurinji's second soup is this figure-friendly pressure cooker Clear Cabbage Soup about which she says, "If you intake this every morning instead of coffee, it will help you reduce your weight."

Another new face this week is Shruthi from Shrunil Flavors, blogging from Dallas, Texas. Shruthi has a revitalizing Mint Coriander Soup this week and says, "During my pregnancy, mom used to make soups and salads for me. This soup is extremely simple to do and tastier and ir just re-freshens after a busy day. Its also good to have during cold. It gives instant relief."

An old friend making her first visit to Souper Sundays is Simona from briciole, joining us from Italy. I know Simona through her participation in Cook The Books and I am excited to have her here today with a gorgeous Fava Bean Purée (Macco di Fave). Simona says, "I consider myself a minimalist in the kitchen, and this recipe appealed to me for its simplicity which does not come at the expense of flavor. In case you have never tasted dried fava beans, they are quite flavorful. And the peperoncino adds some heat to the macco."

Our final newbie of the week is Brenda from Sense of Home blogging from the Northern Plains of the U.S. and here with a warming bowl of Clam Chowder. Brenda says, "This is a hearty, stick to your ribs soup. A half bowl fills me up. I believe this soup would also be good without the clams, just call it potato soup. We don't have fresh clams, we are way to far from the ocean for that. The canned clams are ok, but certainly fresh would make this clam chowder taste even better. You could use skim milk to lighten the soup up, but why would you want to ruin that rich flavor. Really, keep the full flavor and eat half a bowl."

The lovely Debby from a Feast for the Eyes made a colorful Roasted Carrot & Ginger Soup this week. She says, "Speaking for my husband, he asked me what was in the soup. He said it had delicious flavor, but he questioned if it was really carrot soup. He said it was sweet, creamy and flavorful. He ate two bowls, as did I. This is guilt-free soup, because it's creamy without any kind of heavy cream added. The balance of ginger was very subtle. The natural sweetness of the carrots was the star, but you could taste a mild heat of the ginger as you swallowed."

Donna from My Tasty Treasures is here with a fast and easy Hearty Chicken Vegetable and Noodle Soup and enthuses, "Are you a busy mom? Do you have no time to make homemade soup? Need the PERFECT recipe for an after work meal that is down to your soul satisfying? OK then this is for you! This soup, OMG, what can I NOT say about this soup? It comes together QUITE simply, and the taste is utterly fantastic!! Warm, liquid comfort in your bowl in a matter of 30 minutes!! Easy, peasy, people."

It is nice to have my friend Christine from Kits Chow back this week and with a soul-filling stew-like Cottage Pie, Pâté Chinois. Christine says, "You'll never find Paté chinois on a menu in a Chinese restaurant. Pâté Chinois is a popular Québec dish, a gratin of meat topped with mashed potatoes. A British person taking a bite of Paté chinois would recognize it as Cottage Pie or Shepherd's pie. ... Whatever its name, it is perfect, comfort food and just the thing to eat on a rainy day in Vancouver."

Fall means I get to see Pam from Sidewalk Shoes pretty regularly at Souper Sundays--always a treat! Pam has a White Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup to share and says, "Whenever I have kale, I make some variation of this soup. It’s never the same, and it’s always good. For this version: some sausage, white navy beans, kale, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, a few fresh bay leaves, a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary, and salt and pepper. That’s it. I dumped it all in the slow cooker (except for the kale) and went about my day. About an hour before serving, I stirred in the chopped kale."

Erin from EKat's Kitchen made soup to share this week and says about this Savory Harvest Veggie Stoup, "This has just been one of those weeks. Craving soups, pastas, and all those delicious foods that scream comfort and cooler weather. It was cooler, but it's back in the 70s here in Southern Colorado. No matter. This is one of my favorite recipes, and I don't make it that often, though now I've learned more about what my slow cooker can do, it may be a more common dish at our house!"

My fabulous friend Heather of girlichef makes it very clear she doesn't want to be a vampire, especially after eating this enticing Garlic Soup. She says, "I love popping one of the cheesy croutons into my mouth when it is permeated with the garlicky broth. If you've used a good bread and toasted it until it was very crunchy, the croutons will hold that liquid inside while still staying crusty around the edges...aaaahhhhhhh. Vampires can't do that." So true girlichef! ;-)

Soup-loving Gwen from Simply Healthy Family is back for her second Souper Sunday week with a zesty bowl. Gwen says, "My mom and I used to go to Olive Garden to have soup and salad for lunch. Pretty much the only thing I've ever had at Olive Garden was their Zuppa Toscana and house salad. Of course over the years their soup has consisted of more broth and less filling and flavour.So, of course I started making my own. It's more flavourful and healthier and my whole family can enjoy Zuppa Toscana in the comfort of our home for much less than it costs to eat out. Who takes 4 kids out to a restaurant anyway?"

Slow cooker guru Zibi from Fresh Slowcooking has a pretty fall-inspired Not Too Sweet Potato and Apple Soup to share this week and says, "This sweet potato, apple and carrot soup is seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and fennel. Hot, spicy and comforting — but definitely not too sweet to enjoy a whole bowl. The carrots, and fennel not only reduced the sweetness of the soup, they added their own delicate flavours to mix. This soup makes an amazing winter appetizer or lunch."

Megha from Live to eat!!! has both a soup and a salad to share this week. About her warming and uniquely-spiced Pumpkin & Carrot Soup--Spiced with Cinnamon & Wasabi, she says, "Halloween is tomorrow and even I wanted to contribute to the blog stream by dishing up some hot soup. It is also the time to eat and share good food."

About her Japanese Tofu Salad (Shiraae), Megha says, "There are times when you want to eat lite after all the binging you have been doing on weekends. Here is a one meal with all the nutrients that you would require. Shiraae is an easy to prepare Japanese salad with mashed tofu; seasoned with sesame paste. I have used substitutes to bring the salad as close to the original."

Janet from The Taste Space made a colorful Yam, Zucchini & Chickpea Salad and says, "First, I roasted the yam until soft and sweet. Roasted zucchini was also added, which added a nice lightness to the salad. Next, I pan-roasted my chickpeas. I can not get over how wonderful pan-roasted chickpeas are, creamy, nutty and flavourful.Next, the simple dressing was a winner. A bit of lemon with a dash of tahini. Creamy, nutty, full-bodied flavour that worked so well with the yams, zucchini and chickpeas. A delicious, healthy, satisfying salad."

Finally Lana from Bibberche joins us again with a unique Lentils and Plantain Salad from the blog Forks, Fingers, Chopsticks and about which she says, "Everything seemed weird when I read the recipe. But, again, everything made sense. I served it as a side dish to some tasty enchiladas, and after some raised eyebrows trying to ascertain if the ingredients worked, a thumbs up appeared, reassuring me that this dish was a winner."

Yowza--My soup bowl and salad plates runneth over today! So many delicious-looking dishes my mouth was watering as I did this round up. Many thanks to everyone who joined in today and welcome again to all of our new faces.

If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cookies & Books: Lydia's Maple Nut Cookies for "Lydia's Charm" Review Plus "Shift" & "Book of the Dead" Reviews

No Simple Saturday Sipper today. The main thing I have been sipping the last couple of days is warm water with honey and lemon. I seem to have acquired some more seasonal bronchitis-like junk. ;-( I got some drugs today and should be on the mend. Instead of a sipper, I thought I would catch up on the steadily growing pile of review books sitting by my bedside (and that doesn't even include the cookbooks!). Anyone else feel like September and October just whipped by?!? Since this is a food blog, I like to cook recipes in or inspired by the books I read; in this case I just made one recipe, Lydia's Maple Nut Cookies from "Lydia's Charm" (Plus I figure that no one really wants a recipe inspired by the other two books anyway). ;-)

"Lydia's Charm" by Wanda E. Brunstetter is the story of Lydia King, an Amish widow trying to start her life over in her hometown of Charm, Ohio. After her husband is killed in a logging accident, Lydia moves back to Charm, an Amish settled town, with her son to be close to her mother and help care for her ailing grandfather. Lydia catches the eye of two of the town's bachelors, Menno, a recently widowed furniture store owner and father to four boys and Levi, a newcomer to the town who has dedicated his life to caring for his family. The novel follows Lydia as she struggles to overcome the tragedies in her life and find happiness. I have a fascination for Amish life and culture, which this novel covers well. I did find it a bit slow and a bit mild--it is a Christian novel though so that is to be expected, but the details on the Amish lifestyle were interesting. Brunstetter spends a lot of time in Amish settlements and her attention to detail is shown throughout the book.

There were two recipes included in the book, one for Nona's Frogmore Stew--Levi's mother's family recipe for a stew plopped on the table and consumed with the fingers, and this recipe for Lydia's Maple Nut Cookies. These are a simple iced cookie and nice for fall. I made a half- batch and made a couple changes in red below. Although the cookie recipe includes a frosting, I had leftover Maple-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting and feeling that Lydia would not want me to waste, used that instead. ;-)

Recipe for Lydia's Maple Nut Cookies
From "Lydia's Charm" by Wanda Brunstetter

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
3 eggs
1 1/4 Tbsp maple flavoring (I used pure maple syrup)
3/4 cup milk (I used non-fat)
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans)

Frosting: (I used this one)
1/4 cup butter
1 egg beaten
1 tsp maple flavoring
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp water

To prepare frosting: Combine all frosting ingredients and mix well.

To prepare cookies: Preheat oven 350 degrees. Cream brown sugar and butter in large bowl. Add eggs, flavoring, and milk. Beat well. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture. Fold in nuts. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto greased baking sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes. Frost cookies when cooled.

Notes/Results: A very simple but good, soft cookie, perfect for the autumn season. The frosting really made this cookie for me--in addition to using my icing leftovers from my cupcakes, I sprinkled a little of the maple sugar from Marx Foods on top--delish!

Now, lets shift into something totally different: "Shift: How to Reinvent Your Business, Your Career and Your Personal Brand" by Peter Arnell. "Shift" is a business book all about changing and reinventing your life for the better. Arnell, a branding and marketing guru for companies like DKNY, Pepsi, Reebok and GNC, gives tips for transformation--ideas he used to lose 256 pounds and maintain his current weight.

The book talks about the shifts Arnell made to his own life as well as how he changed and transformed the brands of the companies he worked with. It is an easy to read book, full of short chapters written in an energetic and engaging style and is a glimpse into the world of branding and marketing. Not a heavy business book or heavy concepts--an example "going helium" to rise above the problems of everyday life, but an entertaining read.

Speaking of entertaining reads, "The Book Of The Dead: Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure" by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, is quite the interesting book. Full of strange stories of both the famous and the oddly obscure who are of course...dead.

Each of the 10 chapters in "Book of the Dead" has an intriguing theme linking the dearly departed together. For example in "There is Nothing Like a Bad Start"--Leonardo da Vinci, Sigmund Freud, and Salvado Dali all had pretty rotten childhoods. "The Monkey Keepers"--we all know about Michael Jackson but Frida Kahlo, Oliver Cromwell, and Rembrandt, to name a few also had monkey companions. "Man Can Not Live By Bread Alone"--Howard Hughes, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and Henry Ford, all had interesting eating habits. This is a book chock full of historical tidbits that you won't find other places and lively British humor. With the short stories contained in it--a book to slowly savor in entertaining bits and pieces.

So three very different books that passed through my to-read pile the past couple of months (I do love a bit of diversity in my reading!)

What books have you been enjoying?

Disclaimer: These three books were provided to me free of charge in the hopes that I would read and review them but no compensation was given and of course the opinions in my reviews are strictly my own.

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kabocha Cupcakes with Maple-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting (& Other Adventures with Kabocha Squash) for Joanne's "Recipe Impossible Challenge"

When my good friend Joanne of Eats Well With Others announced her "Recipe Impossible: Joanne Eats Well With Others Edition" I just knew I had to enter. First off, I love Joanne and helping her feed her winter squash addictions and turn orange to get her mom off her back for being so pale seemed like a great cause to me! ;-) Secondly, the chance to receive a "Top Secret Mystery Package" with 8 ingredients from the wonderful Marx Foods was too good to pass up. It feeds into all my Iron Chef / Chopped fantasies to be challenged to use at least two of these ingredients in an original recipe. Finally, I am a recent fan of winter squash, having spent many years avoiding it like the plague, so getting creative with this orange veggie seemed like a good growth opportunity.

Probably would have been better to take a picture of the ingredients before I used them!

I was excited to be selected as one of the 10 challengers and the box from Marx Food arrived just a few days later revealing the mystery ingredients:
  • Aji Panca Chilies: mild, fruit, "poblano-esque"
  • Pasilla Negro Chilies: mild and "good in moles"
  • Maple Sugar: pure maple syrup sap made into sugar
  • Coconut Sugar: coconut sap made into sugar, sweet and nutty
  • Ginger Salt: pure sea salt blended with ground ginger
  • Espresso Salt: sea salt blended with ground espresso beans
  • Fennel Pollen: the most intense form of fennel, intense flavor
  • Madagascar Vanilla Beans: rich vanilla flavor and an abundance of seeds
The mission? Use at least two of the eight ingredients in an original recipe using some type of winter squash. My squash pick: Kobocha (aka Japanese pumpkin), because it is plentiful and locally grown and it was the first winter squash I really decided I quite liked. Kabocha, like all winter squash is rich in beta carotene (necessary for making Joanne orange), iron, vitamin C, potassium, and other nutrients.

The decision to go sweet or savory was the next step and since Kabocha is such a naturally sweet squash to begin with, I decided to go that route. Since I know that Joanne loves cupcakes and believes in balance, I decided to go with healthy carrot-cake style, almost a muffin Kabocha Cupcakes, topped with a not-so-healthy, decadent Maple-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting, dusted with Maple Sugar. Between the cake and the frosting I would be using three of the eight ingredients: vanilla beans, coconut sugar, and the maple sugar.

For the cupcakes, I looked at a couple of healthy carrot cake recipes and my mom's zucchini muffin recipe and melded parts of them together with my own touches to come up with this cake. Without the frosting, it is a less-sweet muffin, perfect for breakfast. With the icing, it becomes a dessert-like treat.

Kaboacha Cupcakes with Maple-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 12 Large Cup Cakes)

1 vanilla bean
2 eggs
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup packed coconut sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup natural applesauce
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups grated kabocha squash
1 (8 oz) can drained crushed pineapple in natural juice
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut, toasted (see note below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a 12-cup cupcake pan with liners.

Scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean into a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs, orange zest, cinnamon coconut sugar and brown sugar and beat until thick. Stir in the applesauce. Sift the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a large bowl. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Fold in the grated kabocha, pineapple, and toasted coconut.

Using a medium ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the center cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in their pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a rack before frosting.

Note: For the coconut: I used large coconut flakes/chips and toasted them in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring each time until browned. Once cool, I ground them for a few seconds in my mini-chop food processor until coarse.

Maple-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes enough frosting for 12+ cupcakes)

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 vanilla bean
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup maple sugar + extra to garnish
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon

With a mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Scrape the seeds of a vanilla bean into the mixture and add powdered sugar, maple sugar and maple syrup and continue beating until well combined and smooth. Refrigerate until firm and pipe or spread on completely cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle frosted cupcakes with maple sugar. Store frosted cupcakes and leftover icing in refrigerator.

Notes/Results: Delicious! The frosting is very sweet and creamy and compliments the less-sugary sweet, moist and dense cupcake very well. The cake has the texture of a carrot cake but has more of a pumpkin/squash flavor and it retains its moistness with the pineapple and applesauce filling in for oil. The frosting is very soft, so it is probably better spread than piped, and should be stored in the fridge--but it is so creamy and good that seriously, I could just sit and eat a bowl of it. ;-) And the maple sugar--OK, yum--I will be sprinkling that on top of toast, oatmeal, ice cream, my tongue, etc. ;-) I will make make both the cupcakes and the frosting again. I can see Joanne eating and enjoying these after a run (to work off the frosting!) Much thanks to my visiting sister Phyl for being my chief taster and frosting piper!

I was having so much fun with my mystery ingredients and I still had a bit over half of my kabocha squash left after making the cupcakes. I got to thinking that with Joanne being a grad student, I knew she wouldn't want me waste anything so I set my own challenge to use the rest of my mystery ingredients and the rest of my squash, even the seeds.

I cut the rest of my kabocha into wedges about 1/2" thick and tossed them with some olive oil and black pepper, sprinkled them with the ginger salt and then roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees F. for about 20 minutes, turning them once, until they were soft and slightly caramelized. The ginger salt with its little zing of flavor, paired really nicely with the sweet squash and the wedges make an excellent snack or side dish.

I had saved out the kabocha seeds and washed and dried them. Liking the pairing of chile and coffee on meat, I thought it would also be good on roasted squash seeds. I ground one of each chile with their seeds into a fine powder and mixed it with the espresso salt and a dash of the fennel pollen to coat the seeds before roasting them.

Chili-Espresso Roasted Kabocha Seeds
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 1/4 cup or more, depending on the size of squash)

seeds from kabocha squash, cleaned and dried
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Aji Panca chile
1 Pasilla Negro chile
1 tsp espresso salt
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fennel pollen

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Chop the chilies coarsely and grind them with their seeds in a spice grinder or blender until a fine powder. Mix 1 tablespoon of the chili powder with the espresso salt, sea salt and fennel pollen in a small bowl. Toss kabocha seeds with olive oil in a medium bowl and sprinkle with chili-espresso powder mixture and mix until evenly coated.

Spread coated kabocha seeds in a single layer on lined pan and place in over. Cook about 15 minutes or until seeds begin to pop. Cool thoroughly on pan and then store in an airtight container. Use for snacking or on salads, in soups as a garnish, etc.

Notes/Results: Very tasty--these are mild chilies so no heat, just a rich, savory taste that my sister called "kind of addicting." You catch a little of the espresso taste and the fennel pollen just adds a complexity to the flavor. A tasty little snack that provides protein, vitamin K, iron and copper, and is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and manganese.

And that ends my adventures in kabocha squash and the Joanne Eats Well With Other Recipe Impossible Challenge. An entire kabocha squash plus all of the mystery ingredients put to good use, and a whole lot of fun working with such great and diverse quality ingredients.

You'll be able to see my Kabocha Cupcakes with Maple-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting and all of the other entries at the Marx Foods site (and you can vote in the poll for your favorite--hint, hint!), on November 1st. I am sure that collectively we will have Joanne a gorgeous golden shade by Thanksgiving.

This also seems like the perfect dish/post to link to the Heart 'n Soul Tuesday Blog Hop hosted by my friend girlichef and other fabulous bloggers (A Moderate Life, Hunger and Thirst, and Frugality and Crunchiness wth Christy), featuring good food cooked from the heart that feeds the body and the soul.

So, what's your favorite squash?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Portuguese Bean Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays & October's Food & Flix: "Mystic Pizza"

So how did I end up making a Hawaii classic soup inspired by a movie centered around a Connecticut pizza parlor?... Well, I really was going to make some kind of pizza for this month's Food n' Flix pick, Mystic Pizza. But watching the movie yet again (it's a favorite 80's chick flick of mine), made me think of the three main characters, Kat, Daisy and Jo, coming of age in their little fishing town of Mystic with its strong Portuguese-American influence. Then thinking about the Portuguese influence there made me think of the influence of the Portuguese on the cuisine of Hawaii--the fried donut-like malasadas, the Portuguese sausage that accompanies many a breakfast plate or plate lunch, sweet bread (not the offal kind but the sweet, fluffy bread), and of course one of my favorites, hearty, delicious Portuguese Bean Soup. And that my friends is how my mind works! ;-)

Although the bulk of the influence from other cultures came from Asia, the Portuguese, who came to work on the sugar plantations in the late 19th century, were the European group with the strongest influence here on the islands. Portuguese Bean Soup is a home-style comfort dish that you'll find on many a menu, as well as at farmers markets, fairs and carnivals. The recipes vary but it always contains Portuguese sausage, assorted veggies and beans and often includes macaroni. I have posted about it before--when I made the Punahou School Carnival version (here), but this time I went to Hawaii Regional Chef and icon Sam Choy for his version.

This recipe comes from "Sam Choy's Island Flavors." I used pretty much the same ingredients, except that I added some macaroni, but I changed the process of making it (my notes are in red below), mainly by cooking the ham hock broth and beans separately so that I could let the broth set overnight and remove the layer of fat before cooking with it the next day. This is a very hearty, slightly-spicy, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup--perfect anytime, even on a cold and stormy night in Mystic.

Sam Choy says, "At family gatherings, it's the wife's soup or mine. My soup always has leftovers, her soup's always gone. I think we eat more to make her feel better--just kidding. Serve with freshly baked bread."

Da Wife's Bean Soup
"Sam Choy's Island Flavors"
(Serves 8)

2 cups dried beans--kidney, pinto, or small red
2 smoked ham hocks, or ham shanks
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 cups water
1 Portuguese sausage (10 oz), or Italian sausage
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
2 cups tomato puree (I used a box of Pomi tomatoes)
1/2 cup dried macaroni
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain.

In a stockpot, combine the soaked beans, ham hocks, chicken stock, cilantro, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until meat and beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the ham hocks and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to touch, extract the meat from the ham hocks, discarding the skin and bones. Shred the meat and return to the stockpot. Slice and fry the Portuguese sausage and blot with paper towels. Add the sausage to the stockpot along with the potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, and tomato puree. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

How I made mine: Soaked beans overnight and cooked them in water until tender. Meanwhile cooked 1 pound of ham hocks in 2 quarts water until tender. Removed ham hocks from and placed both broth and ham hocks in the fridge overnight. The next day, heated ham stock and 4 cups chicken stock and added carrots, potatoes, celery, onions and tomato puree, simmering about 20 minutes. Meanwhile browned sausage in pan and blotted it dry with paper towels. Returned soup to a boil and added cooked sausage, cooked beans and 1/2 cup macaroni to soup and simmered for another 15 minutes. Added salt and pepper to taste and served garnished with fresh cilantro.

Notes/Results: Really delicious--in fact it is hard for me to pick a favorite between this one and the Punahou Carnival version as they both taste great. The ham hock stock adds so much richness and depth of flavor to this soup. If you like hearty bean and pasta soups with a little spicy sausage thrown in, you will like this one. Filling and perfect for lunch or dinner with a little bread and maybe a small salad. A keeper recipe.

If you want to join in the Food n' Flix fun, visit the website here for all of the details. Our host for this month, Ree of Milk, Sugar, Musings and Love will be doing a round up there of all of the Mystic Pizza inspired dishes after the end of the month.

And now on to the delicious soups and salads in the Souper Sunday kitchen this week.

Tigerfish from Teczcape - An Escape to Food kicks things off with a healthy, hearty Cabbage and Tomato Soup with Egg. She says, "Clearly, the Cabbage Tomato Soup is one soup I cook quite often. Why not...come Fall or into the colder winter months when most people keep their grills and warm up at home with a soothing comfort soup. I know a lot of you can have this as a meal on its own, just like myself. However, to get a little protein (balanced nutrition) out of the cabbage and tomatoes, I usually add a hard-boil egg. How I enjoy simplicity at its best."

Chaya from Chaya's Comfy Cook Blog has a Nourishing and Creamy Butternut Squash Soup to share this week and says, "This week, April had a simple but welcoming soup, for the cold days, we are having. Honestly, as I looked at her soup, I decided, we would have that soup for dinner. It didn’t quite work out. She made a sweet potato soup and I had no sweet potatoes, in the house. I did have a butternut squash and some baby carrots so voila, I made a butternut squash soup with the tang of scallions."

Graziana from Erbe in Cucina is back this week with a classic Vichyssoise and says, "My partner and I have a bit of fever and sore throat, but we're pretending we're okay because tomorrow we leave for Paris... and we have no intention to give up. Combine these two things: the desire for hot food, French cuisine and so... here is a classic soupe. Someone says that this is an American recipe and not a French one, and traditionally it should be served cold, but it becomes hearty and delicious when hot."

Corina from Searching for Spice tried her first White Chicken Chilli and says, "I have to say that this dish was different to anything I have made before. I don’t use milk very often in cooking and was very nervous about adding the cheese at the end in case it didn’t go with the spices and ruined the whole dish. I’d tasted it and it tasted good without the cheese. But hey, I’d grated a pile of cheese and if I didn’t use it it would go to waste. I don’t like waste so I took a deep breath and sprinkled it on the top. In the end, I needn’t have worried, it was lovely. I’d make it again, with or without the cheese."

A Vegetable Soup served with Crusty Oat Rolls was on the menu for Umm from Taste of Pearl City. She says, "This particular soup is a simple English style soup which is prepared with potatoes and stock as base. Just with this basic recipe you can make so many different types of soup. I was actually planning to make some broccoli soup but I ended up adding all the remaining bits of vegetables I had which resulted in this heart warming bowl of vegetable soup."

Joanna from Go Ahead and Snicker tried Giada's Spicy Calimari Stew with Parmesan Sourdough Croutons and says, "Yeah, I know. Another tomato soup. I didn't mean it, I swear, but this one just called to me, especially since it has two of our favorite words in the title: Spicy and Calimari. Giada's stew hit all the right notes for me: simple, quick, with the right amount of tomato and heat. The amazing thing is this dish calls for no lemon zest. I almost added it to be true to our favorite calimari flavors, but I resisted. I'm not Giada enough for that yet."

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes is declaring soup season and says, "It is time for soup. I am ready for soup. I am embracing my soup loving soul. I began with Minestrone from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. Minestrone is a classic and like all classics, with good reason. It’s good. It’s so good, I didn’t even miss the meat, and as a confirmed meat lover, that is saying something. Made pretty much as written, except that I added a Parmesan cheese rind, because I always do."

It is always a pleasure to have my friend Kat from Our Adventures in Japan at Souper Sundays, and she is here with a perfect for fall Roasted Pumpkin, Garlic & Cauliflower Soup. Kat says, "The weather has been overcast, one day it rained. Kinda gloomy. I'm getting over my cold while Satoshi seems to have caught one. Soup weather. ... Dinner. Served with some rosemary toasts, this was simple, delicious and hit the spot."

Zibi from Fresh Slowcooking made a hearty crock pot Steak and Squash Stew this week. She says, "A completely satisfying beef stew containing pepper squash and bell pepper seasoned with cumin and chili. A great way to warm up with the season's selection of squashes. This beef stew tasted so good, my only regret was that I didn't cook a bigger batch!"

Kait from Pots & Plots is here with a "twofer" this week--a soup and salad. Her soup is a hearty Chicken Corn Chowder about which she says, "We had roast chicken for dinner the other night, which meant we had half a chicken left to do something with. Soup was the thing because I wanted something I didn’t have to babysit. Soup is another one of those blank slate dishes where I often start tossing things in to see what I come up with. This wound up being a variation on my Spicy Corn Chowder, and hubby declared it to be right up there with Taco Soup (which is a family favorite)."

Kait also made a Roasted Red Pepper and Corn Pasta Salad and says, "Hubby declared we were going on a picnic this weekend. In the name of “good served cold or room temp” I opted to make a pasta salad. Pasta salad is one of those dishes that is a good “pull random stuff from the fridge and pantry” kind of thing. Every time I make it it’s something different. This one was centered around the Smoked Red Pepper Monterrey Jack cheese we picked up at the Osceola Cheese Store."

Janet from The Taste Space is back with another one of her fabulous salads, this Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Vegetables and says, "Has anyone else ever had arguments about whether couscous is a pasta or a grain? It is probably just me… I am in the couscous is a pasta camp, and have tried to sway others. Sometimes we just agree to disagree and I don’t really feel like arguing about something a bit trivial. We can both agree that couscous is delicious, though. This time, I wanted to try something different with Israeli (pearl, or coarse) couscous. Adapted from Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers, I liked how the roasted vegetables paired with the plump couscous, and the lemon added a lightness and brightness to the dish."

Some truly wonderful soups and salads too this week. Thanks to everyone who joined in! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sunday logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a great week!