Thursday, December 25, 2008

Frosty Hips For Christmas

My very best wishes to all of you in the years ahead!

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, Meyer Lemon, Sage and Crimini Mushrooms

Okay. That's a long title, I admit. But I wanted to catch your attention because this soup is everything you could possibly want and need in the depths of winter. It is made completely with ingredients from the top 100 of the World's Healthiest Foods list. It's packed with anti-oxidents, vitamins A and C, Omega 3s and B vitamins. Anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties abound. It's low in fat and sodium. In short, it's a heart warming, good for what ails you bowl of goodness.

I put this together, from the two whole squashes sitting on my counter waiting to be peeled and cut to this hot steamy bowl, in just under two hours. Quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal.
Healthy ingredient number one: Meyer lemons. Use all the juice, it brightens the soup and adds a healthy dose of vitamin C. And remember to save the zest to sprinkle over hot steamed green beans or to add to your lemon cake. You will be making lemon cake, won't you?
Healthy ingredients numbers two and three: Fresh ginger and fresh turmeric (forgive the photo). They warm you up on a cold day empowering you with their healthy goodness.
Garnish with sautéed crimini mushrooms. Generously. Don't forget the onions and garlic. A winter soup just wouldn't be without them.
And, of course, the star of the evening, winter squash. You can use Red Kuri, Red Kabocha, Cinderella or other bright orange winter squash. They have dense, dry meat and purée to a velvety smoothness. Plus the good-for-you stuff in these babies will boost your immune system and get you through the winter.

There's one more healthy ingredient in this soup that deserves a sentence all its own: sage. An anti-oxident, anti-inflammatory brain booster, there's a reason that sage is most often used in cold weather recipes. After you've visited all the links and read about the health properties of these ingredients, do come back and make some for yourself, and your loved ones.

Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, Meyer Lemon, Sage and Crimini Mushrooms
Christine's original recipe
Print recipe
2 medium red Kuri squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
7 cups water, or just enough to barely cover the squash
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon dried sage, crushed
juice of 1 Meyer lemon (1/4 to 1/3 cup if they're as big as mine)
8-10 crimini or shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced, sauteed in olive oil
Peel, seed and cut the squash. See this link for instructions. Set aside.
Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat then add the chopped onions and garlic. Saute until softened and slightly golden. Don't allow the garlic to burn.
Add the squash, turmeric, ginger, sage and water, and simmer until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
Off heat, using your immersion blender (What? You still don't have one? Well then use a food processor), purée the soup until it's all velvety smooth and no pieces are left. The soup will thicken as you do this.
Still off heat, add the Meyer lemon juice until it all tastes just right.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with slices of sauteed mushrooms. Listen to those YUMS!
Cook's Notes:
I opted to season this soup with the lemon juice, letting the heat of the ginger and turmeric shine and avoiding the addition of salt entirely. If you are going to salt the soup, I suggest passing a good sea salt such as Sel de Guérande or Maldon around the table so folks can add their own if they wish.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Monday, December 15, 2008

Meyer Lemon Mania

Thank You Bill ! ! !
A box of Meyer lemons arrived a few days ago. I never expect them so it's such a joy that they arrive each year. A lemon meringue pie is in the making. I'm thinking preserved lemons this year for those deep winter braised dishes. I cannot thank you enough, dear friend.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tapioca Pudding With Blueberries And Chocolate Shavings

Did your mom make you tapioca pudding as a child? Expecially when you were not feeling well? Mine did. The "quick" tapioca from the red and white box. I would watch her work her alchemic magic at the stove, stirring and stirring those small white granules into sweet warm comforting goodness. And when I grew up and had children of my own, I carried on the tradition (nod your heads here, boys) never giving a thought as to what those little white granules were. Not that they were bad, but...
Enter Let's Do... Organic small pearls tapioca. Lovely round white pearls that cook up in minutes and make a pudding that can be as fat, dairy and sugar-free as you desire. Compared with the recipe on that venerable red and white box, no eggs, no butter, no cornstarch, minimal sugar. Make this just once and I can almost guarantee that it will inspire you to experiment further, it's that simple and inspirational.

Small pearls tapioca are available at most well-stocked grocery and health food stores. I recommend that you find an organic, preferrably non-GMO product.

Combined with anti-oxident rich blueberries and shavings of dark chocolate, this pudding will warm your soul on a cold winter's night.

Tapioca Pudding with Blueberries and Shaved Chocolate
Inspired by the recipe on the box
2 cups water
3 tablespoons (heaping) small tapioca pearls
2 tablespoons Splenda-Sugar blend (or 2 tablespoons sugar)
pinch salt
3/4 cup low-fat milk (you can use half n half or canned milk, or coconut milk for a vegan dish)
Bring water to a boil over high heat. Slowly whisk in the tapioca pearls, stirring so they don't stick together.
Reduce the heat to medium high and continue to cook for about 15 minutes until the pearls begin to lose their opacity and the water gets cloudy.
Meanwhile, combine the milk, sugar and salt in a measuring cup and stir well.
Whisk the milk mixture into the tapioca pearls and cook over medium low heat for an additional 5 minutes or until the pearls are soft and translucent.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Pour the pudding into a glass bowl, stir well, cover with plastic wrap if desired, and refrigerate until it has come to room temperature. The pudding will thicken as it cools, becoming thicker still if allowed to get refrigerator cold.
To serve:
Give the pudding a quick stir to fully incorporate the liquid with the pearls. Spoon some blueberries (I used our frozen stash from this post) into a dish then spoon a layer of tapioca pudding over them. Repeat layering one more time, topping the whole thing with a few more blueberries and a generous shaving of dark, organic chocolate. Prepare to be comforted.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved