Pumpkin Peanut Curry Soup

Every autumn I have a craving for my pumpkin peanut curry soup.  I make it once or twice and then wait until pumpkins are in season the following year before making it again. Each time it comes out slightly differently depending on how much of this or that goes in it. Here’s what I did this time-

I roasted a locally grown pumpkin the size of a soccer ball at 375 for 30 minutes or so… I must admit, I totally lost track of time. I have NO idea how long that pumpkin was in there.  I’d say 30-40 minutes. I do know, however, that I cut it in half, seeded it (and saved the seeds to make Mexican Mole Roasted Pumpkin Seeds), covered the flesh in butter, and placed it cut side down into a pyrex baking dish with a cup or so of brandy.  I am sure of that part.

While the oven was preheating for the pumpkin, I toasted a cup or so of unsalted peanuts. Watch them! It’s really easy to over-toast (burn) nuts. Keep an eye on them and get them out of the oven when they’re starting to brown and smell like roasted peanuts.

But, before I even put the peanuts in the pre-heating oven, I had a thinly sliced sweet yellow onion sautéing on medium-low in some of the coconut fat skimmed from the top of an undisturbed can of coconut milk.  I let this start to caramelize while roasting the pumpkin. In the last 15 minutes or so I added a peeled, sliced apple.

So, when the peanuts were done, I put them in the Vita-Mix and made a little peanut butter.  Let’s all cheer for the power of that Vita-Mix. What a rockstar appliance. The next step is to blend all of the soft pumpkin flesh, onion, and apple with a can of coconut milk and a cup or so of water into the peanut butter.  Start on low, slowly turn it up to 10, then high, and then you’re ready to pour it into a pot and get it on the stove.

This is where the fun seasoning starts. I added a few tablespoons of soy sauce, Kecap Manis (called sweet soy sauce- it is palm sugar syrup, like molasses, but from palm), Vietnamese Sweet Lemongrass Curry (available at Savory Spice Shop), and some cayenne.  I let the soup simmer on medium for a while and added some thinly sliced kale that cooked down to be nice and tender after 20 minutes.

Just blogging about this now makes me want to eat another bowl. The creamy peanut-coconut combination is a nice compliment to pumpkin.  It brings me back to a small kitchen in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where I had my first pumpkin peanut curry soup.  Enjoy!


Apple Pie

I love making homemade apple pie for my family each Thanksgiving. It is very easy to do, so I sometimes think I should do it more often. But, let’s be honest. There is a lot of fat in pie crust! I tend to stay away from pies even though I love them so…
But, before we talk apple pie, first things first: Pie crust. I like to make it and then freeze it for a few hours before thawing it until it is pliable and ready to be rolled. I plan my pie crust around all of my pies, so I make enough crust to bake one apple and two pumpkin pies. That is reflected in this recipe:
  • 3 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3.5 sticks chilled, unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup iced water (ice cubes removed) mixed with 1/3 cup cold vodka
In your stand mixer, put the flour, butter, sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed until it gets crumbly and starts to integrate into a pea-shaped clump consistency. Slowly start to add the water/vodka mix, stirring as you add the moisture. Stop adding the liquid when it starts to look like dough. You might have extra liquid left over, and that’s OK. I usually drink the rest! On the day before Thanksgiving, by the time I’m making pies, I can go for a good drink.

When the crust will stay together when handled and form a nice ball, divide it into 3 or 4 smaller balls. Wrap them in wax or parchment paper, and freeze them for a few hours. Let them sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before rolling them into thin circles. I like to roll my crust between to sheets or wax or parchment paper. If it gets too warm and mushy, put it back in the freezer for a few minutes to chill it before putting it a pie pan.

For my apple pie filling: I bought some local, upstate New York Macintosh apples (remember folks, I was making this pie in New Jersey, so New York apples were local to me). I would estimate that 12 or so apples were peeled and sliced. I got my mom and grandmother in on the peeling and slicing while I was doing other Thanksgiving tasks, so my memory is a little fuzzy on the number of apples. When they were all sliced into bite-sized chunks, I tossed them in 1/2-3/4 cup evaporated cane juice, a drizzle of maple syrup, and 2 TB of cinnamon. Then, you roast the apples at 450 for 20 minutes or so until they start to soften and juice.

Let this cool. In the meantime, crust has been made, frozen, thawed, rolled, placed in a pie pan, and possible re-placed in the freezer. Make sure the pie crust is cool and the apples are not hot before adding the apples to the pie pan.

I am no expert pie baker. I unfortunately missed the pies and desserts classes at The Culinary School of the Rockies this fall. Maybe next year. But, I did try my best at a woven top and it worked. I wove the strips of pie crust on a piece of parchment paper and then transferred them all at once to the pie. Then I crimped the edges, brushed the top with beaten egg, sprinkled it with Spiced Vanilla Bean Sugar from no where else but Savory Spice Shop, and started to bake it at 450 for 20 minutes.

After 20-30 minutes, lower the oven to 350, remove the pie, and tent the edges with foil to prevent them from burning. Then continue to bake until the top crust is nicely golden brown and you hear and see the apples boiling inside.

Let it cool enough so it won’t burn your mouth, and then enjoy. I like to serve it with homemade maple whipped cream.

Apple-Baked Brussel Sprouts

There is something about fresh, local, organic, seasonal brussel sprouts. I look forward to them each year.
For this dish, I put 1 pound of brussel sprouts in a baking dish with a sliced apple and a diced yellow onion. I tossed it in approximately 1 TB of heavy whipping cream, 1 TB of local honey from New Moon Farms, and a pinch of Red Algae Hawaiian Kai Sea Salt.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so, until the brussel sprouts are tender. I served this with Honey Mustard Roasted Chicken. Great meal!

Crabapple Sangria

Well, I had to use the rest of my crabapples somewhere. Why not in sangria?

I must admit, I don’t usually measure when making sangria. I prefer to pour a little of this, a little more of that, etc.
For this pitcher, I used approximately 3 cups of red wine, 1/2 cup brandy, 1/2 cup Gran Gala, 1 can of seltzer, and 3 small crabapples.
I enjoyed this drink over ice.
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