Monday, April 30, 2012

Carrot Coconut Soup

This soup was inspired by lunch yesterday at a chic, 'bio' cafe in Paris yesterday - and also by Karen and Mohammad's great love of coconut milk... Mohammad is from Comoros and his coconut milk rice is magically delicious. Karen caught the bug and serves us endless coconut milk delights these days, so now I have an eye for all things that contain it...

Carrot Coconut Soup

2 small onions
2 branches of celery
I had a parsnip, too and it was good
6 young carrots, or about as much chopped carrot as the rest of the veggies combined
6-10 cups broth ~ a cube or two of bouillon in water work just fine!
1 bay leaf
a handful of cashews
~almonds dont blend quite as smoothly, but you can soak them overnight first if you would like to try
1 can (or a bit less) of coconut milk
2-3 tbsp olive oil
spices: a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and curry was super yum, but spices aren't my strong point, so please do post some recommendations below!
Parsley as optional garnish

Heat oil in a pan. Chop all the veggies into chunks. Throw them in.

Sautée for about 10 minutes on medium high heat, until the onions are clear and the carrots softened.

Stir spices directly into sautéing vegetables.

Throw in broth and simmer for 10 more minutes, enough to cover the veggies, and another inch or so. Throw in cashews, 5 minutes more.

Pick out the bay leaf and immersion blend. A conventional blender would work too, but if you're working with curry pay attention to what the soup touches!! All plastic surfaces will turn immediately yellow... says the girl with a perpetually yellow-stained kitchen.

Stir in the coconut milk and let sit for a bit, but don't put it back on much heat after adding the milk, unless you're super vigilant and then even on super low heat. It will curdle/cause big chunks to form in the soup...

 Garnish with Parsley. Serves about 4

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cakes Salés - Savory cakes

Salty cake. I realize it doesn't sound appetizing to the American ear, but the reality is a rich palate into which you can add any savory ingredients that you fancy and end up with a delicate, salty, cake-like bread. Cut into large chunks and dipped in white sauces, this is the supreme appetizer. Especially with Karen's white dipping sauce...

She first cooked this for me nine months ago, but I only recently have both an oven and a cake pan in which to make it... She has a tremendous love of cheese, so the original here has 3 different cheeses as the "throw ins" but any other three will do! See below for ideas

The Base

Beat together, in this order:
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
a little bit less than 1/2 cup oil (.42 cups, technically...)
150g flour (about 1 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper

"throw in" ideas:
100g swiss
100g blue cheese
100g cheddar
a palm full of dried (or fresh!) spices of your choice
a handful of whatever cheese you have on hand
a half an onion, chopped
a handful of sliced olives
cubed feta cheese
fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup cubed ham

Bake for about 30 minutes at 200ºC/390ºF

Cut into cubes and serve as an appetizer with a dipping sauce. Also really good chilled - it brings out the flavors of the cheeses!

Note: This freezes wonderfully, and thaws fairly quickly if you want to prepare ahead for a party or keep something on hand. Just throw it in the fridge the night before to thaw. Cube before freezing to make it even easier