coconut curry

I made this meal for friends last week and enjoyed it for lunch for a couple of days afterwards.  Many curries have a complex mixture of spices behind them, but not this one; instead it has a nice clean flavor and lovely delicate fragrance from the lemongrass. Still the curry is warming and soothing and contains enough heat to clear your head, but not overwhelm your pallet.

lemongrass, ginger and garlic

cooking them

I like to make my own coconut milk because the flavor and texture is so much lighter than the canned versions. I use dried organic coconut, because it’s easier to find than fresh organic coconuts are here in New York.  If you have fresh available then by all means blend some up. If you want to use canned coconut milk, I would use one-third water, as it can be very rich and heavy.

The whole meal ended up with a great Thai flavor. If I had had Kefir lime leaves, I would have definitely added them, although on second thought, I didn’t miss them. I had some limes on hand to squeeze over each portion but at the last minute decided that it was perfect as is.

Since I wanted to make the curry a bit more special than an every day meal, I sautéed some red peppers and stirred them in at the end, definitely not necessary but it added a lovely bust of color.

lunch from above

One last thing…you could make this with or with out the chickpeas or add any kind of cooked bean you have on hand. I have made a delicious version with French lentils too. Please don’t be put off by the length of this recipe, it really is quite easy to make and a sure crowd pleaser!

small bowl of curry

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morning tea with pumpkin bread

I think you will love this pumpkin bread; it has a lovely light and moist texture, and a perfectly sweet flavor from the winter squash and hint of maple syrup. The cranberries add a nice burst of color and tangy flavor to the batter too. This bread is very different from the overly sweet cake-like breads I often come across and it could be served as special breakfast treat. Or, you could bake it to accompany morning tea, as I did for my mother the other day while she was busy knitting us cozy winter scarves.

Since this bread is made with sprouted spelt flour, my new favorite ingredient from Shiloh Farms, it bakes up lighter than regular whole spelt flour and digests easily. The spelt berries are sprouted first so they actually digest as a vegetable, which would explain why we felt so good afterwards.

mashed kabocha squash

If you steam the squash and get your ingredients ready the night before, the bread comes together quite quickly. If there’s any left over, it’s great toasted the following day.

This bread tastes delicious strait up but my mother highly recommends spreading it with butter, while it’s still warm!

with butter!

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fall vegetable soup

I am usually not so undecided when it comes to what to cook but I want to make lots of different things for my mother while she’s here visiting, to be sure she tries at least a good sampling of my favorite dishes, and I some of hers. The truth is that my mother and I, more often than not, spend much of our telephone conversations talking about food and what we are currently making. The challenge is that we live in opposite hemispheres and so while I’m making cozy winter stews, she’s craving cooling summer salads.

cherry tomatoes, fennel, red turnips and celery root

While I was planning dinner last night, I had soup in mind but I wanted something brothy and fragrant that could use all the fall vegetables that are filling the markets. Finding a last pint of colored cherry tomatoes threw me off for a moment; that is until I decided to add them to the mix. They gave the soup a lovely brightness, which helped balance all the sweet tasting roots. I think this soup is a wonderful combination of ingredients and is surprisingly, both hearty and delicate. It’s such a treat to have her here in my kitchen with me to exchange recipes and have the opportunity to feed each other and our friends.

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kale and marinated red cabbage salad

This salad is actually a amalgamation of things you have seen here before, but since it is such a delicious and tasty combination, I thought it would be nice to share the recipe.

all in the bowl

I made this salad the night my mother and Aunt arrived from Australia. We ate it with a creamy, celery root-cauliflower soup. I always think a nourishing vegetable soup is the perfect meal after that long flight. I also served some crispy whole wheat flat bread accompanied by Frankie’s olive oil for dipping, pomegranate seeds for sprinkling and olives I brought back from my trip to Turkey.

dinner table

One of the best things about this salad is that you can make it ahead of time and it will keep fine; I like to add the nuts and cheese right before serving. Since I already had cooked chickpeas, toasted almonds and marinated red cabbage in the fridge, all I had to do was roast some squash, slice kale and shave a little goat cheese. The cheese can easily be left out if you would like a vegan salad.

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Nishimi squash

nishimi kabocha squash

Nishimi is a cooking style, that means long cooked with little water. I think of it as the opposite to oshitashi, which is vegetables that are briefly cooked in lots of water, like the blanched watercress you may have eaten in Japanese restaurants. Nishimi is best suited to the cooler months and for root vegetables or winter squash.

It has been years since I prepared squash this way and I’d forgotten how sweet and meltingly smooth it becomes. This cooking method is perfect for dense squash, like kabocha or buttercup that have a tendency to become dry when baked.

You can prepare any vegetable Nishimi-style. Some recipes layer 3 types in the same pot; what ever vegetable you use, you will end up with a depth of flavor that is hard to believe came from such simple ingredients.

snug in pot

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Selimiye, Bozburun Peninsula

Here are some photos of what I got to see of Turkey’s south western mediterranean coast.
We picked up a boat in Marmaris and wound our way around the craggy coast of the Bozburen Peninsula to Palamat on the Daçta Peninsula. Some of the secluded bays we anchored in were accessible only by boat and populated with one building, which was usually a restaurant. The owners would greet us by row-boat as we entered their harbor and help us moore or anchor; then they would ask us what time we would like to reserve for supper. Our routine was to arrive in the afternoon and alternate between swimming and sipping wine on deck until dark.  We would then head in to shore for dinner. Our meals consisted of  mezze and if you ate fish or meat, then the catch of the day too, which was sometimes wild goat. The mezze gave me plenty of choice: mashed fava beans, purslane in thick yogurt, marinated beets, stewed eggplant and tomato, sea beans and antep ezme which became a favorite on the sandwiches we made for lunch. It’s like tomato salsa but paste-like made with a special pepper called aci pul biber. Continue Reading »

soup for 4

Before I post more pictures of Turkey, I wanted to squeeze in a soup recipe. Warming soups and stews are all I can think about since the weather’s cooled and firmly planted its foot in fall. I love the way this season brings everyone closer to the stove. Even if you don’t cook, there is a change in focus and a desire to nourish, warm and ground yourself. This soup does it all and although most vegetables will work for this recipe, the sweetness of winter squash really enhances the flavor of the spices.

Here I used 3 types of lentils, they all play a different roll in creating a delicious texture: the red lentils almost completely dissolve and thicken the soup; the green add a creamy texture; and the French lentils remain intact and keep the soup looking pretty.

green and red lentils

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fresh figs

Here are a few pictures from my recient trip to Turkey, very hard to choose photos that show just how rich and beautiful the country is. When I stepped off the plane at Istanbul airport and took my first breath, I knew I would love the city. What I didn’t know was how beautiful and untouched the south west coast is and how much I would like exploring by boat. Sleeping on deck under the full moon in secluded bays and listening to wild goats on the surrounding rocky headlands was just what I needed!

But first there were 5 amazing days in Istanbul.

outside our hotel/appartment in Galata

entering the Grand Bazaar

cat under chair

I loved this peaceful little court yard, we came across it following a rug seller to his warehouse.

In the Bazaar we spent hours talking to antique watch sellers, jewelers and towel specialists. I loved the way tea would appear on a tray as if out of nowhere and be handed out in shaply glasses with bright saucers. After many  glasses we pulled ourselves out and walked through winding streets to the spice market.

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stuffed summer squash

stuffed squash with pesto infused quinoa and roasted cherry tomatoes

I have made these lovely little stuffed squash a couple of times over the summer to rave reviews. This is a great way to take advantage of any shape of summer squash you may find at the market or have growing in your garden. I loved stuffing the round, 8-ball and avocado squash as the larger ones are a perfect main course size, but large patty pan also work well and you can use more small squash per person if that’s what you have on hand.

beautiful summer squash and a purple pepper

I hesitated to post the recipe because I haven’t measured the amounts of quinoa, tomatoes and pesto needed to fill squash – it does really depend upon what size your squash are. I found everyone was happy to have left over components anyway, so I’ll do my best. But, please think of this recipe as more of a guide to the last of summer’s abundance.

cherry tomatoes

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potato salad

I rarely make potato salad, but when I saw these lovely little colorful potatoes, I couldn’t resist bringing them home from the market. They sat on the counter for a few days, looking like lovely river pebbles and I thought I’d taken their picture at least once; now realize that I had not.

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