A few weeks before we left for Morocco, I invited our friend Clare over to my parents' place for lunch. This was still in the rather sleep-deprived early weeks, when Sierra wasn't too keen on being by herself for too long. So my cooking and baking endeavors -- because of course I had to keep those up -- often were accomplished in bits and pieces throughout the day. I think she was starting to be a better napper at that point, so I could slip away to make a persimmon puree to stir into cake batter, or put together a quinoa and apple salad as quickly as possible. Still, I had to peservere -- just because I had a new baby my wish for good food hadn't disappeared! Quite the contrary, actually. I craved lots of hearty, healthy dishes incorporating lots of vegetables (nothing new of course) with, yes, the more than occasional sweet treat.
When it came to this lunch my choice about what to make was easy: a vegetable-laden quiche (recipe soonish, as I've been meaning to write about this one for quite awhile), an arugula salad with a lemony dressing, and a butternut squash soup I'd seen on my friend Lisa's blog and had been wanting to make from the moment I read about it.
Unlike my husband, I do truly adore butternut squash (he would rather refrain; it's a long story). I like it roasted and pureed with a bit of butter and maple syrup (come to think of it, perhaps this should be one of Sierra's first foods?!), I like it in ravioli, I like it in salad, and I love it in soup. And this soup, rich -- but not too -- with coconut milk is one of my very favorites. It may have taken me the better part of 5 hours to finally pull it all together, but it was more than worth it.
I can certainly get butternut squash here, as well as coconut milk, so I've made this soup several times already. It now takes me much less time than 5 hours to accomplish that small feat; the girl either happily occupies herself playing with what we've dubbed 'her animals' (a sort of play-mat thing) or hangs out with me in the kitchen while I cook. I tend to detail exactly what I'm doing when, which I'm sure really interests her (ha). On sunny days the kitchen is flooded with light and it's a very cozy place to be. It may be our rotten luck that she evolves into a vegetable-hater, but in these halcyon days when all is not yet revealed I'm going to home that she likes them as much as I do ...
The weekend, as per usual, was full of cooking. We often tend to cocoon at home on days off and don't go out to eat too much beyond the occasional coffee or pastry, though I've been eyeing the gelato that seems to be a 'thing' here and biding my time until I finally try it out. We had a friend over for breakfast, so I made scrambled eggs and DW made pancakes (a new Saturday tradition) and we drank coffee and sat in our sunny living room before going over to the 'bio' market (me patting myself on the back because she's lived here over a year and I was able to introduce her to two! new things) for supplies. I loaded up on spinach, potatoes, clementines ... and a butternut squash. So this soup is definitely happening again ASAP.
Other dishes of note, and which I hope to write up soon, included several items made by DW: a vegetarian pizza with a whole wheat crust and a delicious, delightful drink which has become our 'house cocktail' -- bourbon with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup, and rosemary, and several items made by me: a potato-leek soup and olive oil cornmeal biscuits. Alas I did not photograph them too properly so I suppose we shall have to make them again so I can share ...
Last night it rained and rained, wiping the city streets clean at least for a little while and leaving the air feeling fresh and cool this morning. The ocean is a frothy mass of white and dark blue out our upstairs windows and there is soup-making in my near future, February feeling like the month for soup and simple things. Would you agree?
PS: Just to mention, my cookbook has a title at last! Chronicle has dubbed it flourless. recipes for naturally gluten-free desserts. I am thrilled to bits with it as I think it perfectly explains what the book is about. It's available for pre-order on amazon here, and I will shamelessly encourage you to do so. Strange to think that a year ago right now I was ensconced in heavy recipe-testing, newly pregnant, and soaking up those last few months in San Francisco ... and now I have advance copies coming my way in a few months, a little Sierra, and a new life in Morocco. I will share more about the book as it gets closer to the publication date for sure.
[print_this]Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk, adapted from Lisa Moussalli
This is a divine soup, velvety smooth and just a touch rich from the coconut milk. I am not one for lots of spice, so I greatly toned down the heat here; if you like more, I recommend checking out the original recipe linked above for the particulars. The wedges of lime are, in my opinion, absolutely necessary.
Makes 6 servings.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium or large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 large butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
lime wedges, for serving
Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook another one to two minutes. Add the curry powder and saute a minute more.
Add the squash, the coconut milk, broth, maple syrup, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is soft, about 30-40 minutes.
Puree the soup until it’s smooth and velvety. An immersion blender makes this easy (and safe!), but you can also puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender – be careful!
Before serving, generously squeeze lime juice into each bowl.