Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sticky Rice with Mango

Last weekend, at an Asian market, I came across these perfectly ripened "champagne" mangoes, and their fragrance brought back memories of mango picking after a monsoon rain.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Maple Sesame Noodles

March is maple time in New England. The rolling hills are still covered in snow but the sun is strong and languishing sugar houses are coming alive with the first sap run. The drip, drip, dripping noise in my pails means spring has sprung.

Since I've been tapping and boiling my own sap, there has been no shortage of syrup in my kitchen. In fact, now that the new vintage is flowing, I'm constantly looking for new ways to use the maple syrup, especially last year's supply.

I use maple syrup in everything that calls for sugar or honey.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lao Food: Sticky Rice

My mother and I only get to spend about ten days together each year. She lives in France and we try to make each visit count. My goal each time is to come away with a part of her that I can cherish and hang on to. We often talk about my grandmother, who used to grow herbs and vegetables along the banks of the Mekong river in Laos, where the receding flood waters leave the soil rich and fertile. Mom also reminds me of Lao customs, like you mustn't sit higher than the oldest person in the room. Mostly, though, we talk about knitting and cooking. My mother knits and crochets beautifully, without using patterns, and tries to convince me that I, too, can knit without a pattern. I'm not convinced.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hibernating in the Kitchen

January is long and cold in New Hampshire. Sunshine is in short supply and I find comfort in the kitchen, digging out my collection of recipes for hibernation. There are the soups, of course, along with homemade bread and pizza dough. It's also time to get creative with all the food that I've put up from last summer and fall. Here's what's in store:

Delicata squash
Red Kuri squash
pounds of garlic

In the freezer...
maple syrup
Swiss chard
jars of apple sauce

That's a lot of food for two people. But during the growing season, out in the sunshine, when the picking is good, I can't stop myself. I pick and save everything that comes my way. Oh, I didn't mention the wild mushrooms, did I? Yes, I have them too, dried and frozen maitakes, oysters and chanterelles. All these will surely find their way into my weekly meals that I deliver to the Walpole Grocery.

First up is the Red Kuri squash, also called Hokkaido. It is prolific and carefree in the garden, a long keeper that gets better with age, like most women ;-).

Red Kuri Squash after harvest last September--Photo by Amy

Last week, I made Thai Curry Squash Soup to drop off at WG. It went over so well, I made it again this week. I start with two large Red Kuri squashes, about 5 lbs each. Don't peel them yet, just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast them in a 450F oven until they're cooked through, about 30 minutes to an hour. Roasting winter squashes intensifies their sweetness. Even better, the roasting warms the kitchen and I just love the sweet, yummy aroma.

Fresh from the oven

When cooled, I peel away the skin and puree the flesh in the food processor, thinning with water when necessary. The two 5 lbs squashes I started with yielded about 6 lbs of peeled and cooked squash. A French farmer once compared the taste of the Red Kuri to a chestnut. I think the resemblance stops at the texture, it's mealy and sweet. Mealy may not sound appealing but, trust me, in this case it works. If you're not familiar with this heirloom, give it a try.

Thai Curry Squash Soup
10 lbs Red Kuri Squash or any kind of winter squash, roasted and pureed (see above)
15-oz can coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
2 TBS green curry paste, or to taste
1 stalk lemon grass, cut into 3" lengths, crushed
3 kaffir lime leaves
fish sauce or salt to taste
2 cups fresh Swiss Chard or other greens

To a 6 qt. soup pot, add coconut milk and curry paste. Simmer a minute or two then add 4 cups of chicken stock. Add the pureed squash, stirring as you do to get out the lumps. Thin soup with additional 4 cups of water or until desired consistency. Add lemon grass and lime leaves. Simmer another 15 to 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Season to taste with fish sauce. Just before I take it to the store I add the Swiss chard for color and texture. Makes 5 quarts.

Thai Curry Squash Soup

Don't forget to fish out the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves before serving. Bon Appetit!