Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Oops, I did it again.

I currently have three large pumpkins in my living room (Okay, one is actually a Cinderella squash but let's keep this simple shall we?). Carving pumpkins is not my thing so I just keep them around for decoration. This photo was taken around this time last year.The problem is that eventually you need to cook your decorative squashes. Like the Christmas lights that stay up all year, they become less and less charming as time goes on. Squash like these usually have a shelf life of a month or two. I was reading an old Martha Stewart mag where she mentioned saving one of her heirloom beauties for six months before eating it. Well, I've got Martha beat. I just cooked one of the beasts in that picture recently. Yes, it was probably over a year old. It only had a small bad spot but otherwise behaved just like its younger siblings.
I like squash alright, but it's definitely not a favorite. So what to do with a quart or more of the stuff? I tend to stick it in the freezer and think about it later. This is why I was happy when I saw Heidi's take on Pumpkin soup because not only did it sound tasty, it also seemed like a way out of my endless squash overabundance.
I can't remember the last time I made Thai curry but I was sure I had a jar of the paste in my fridge. It turned out to be green curry paste and on further inspection looked a little old and dry. Hey, at least it wasn't moldy! I didn't think it could stand alone as the flavoring in my soup so I sauteed some onion, added in the can of coconut milk and dug some kaffir lime leaves from the freezer. The only lemongrass I could find was desiccated and smelled vaguely of fish sauce. I chose to throw it in the trash instead of into the soup. I scooped the lime leaves out after 10 minutes of simmering in the coconut milk and added the squash puree. It needed only a few minutes in the pot before it was ready for blending.
I served the soup with papadum and my favorite cilantro coconut chutney. Another multi-national meal that just worked.

Cilantro Coconut Chutney
from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi

1 tsp. cumin seed
3 Tbsp. sesame seed
1/4 freshly grated coconut (I have found this in the freezer section but I've also
successfully used dried, unsweetened coconut in this recipe)
1 c. cilantro, lightly packed
1-2 hot green chilies, seeded
1/2 inch piece of ginger, chopped
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 c. yogurt
1 Tbsp. jaggery (Indian sugar- you can sub brown sugar)
1 tsp. salt

In a dry skillet toast the cumin and then the sesame seeds until they are fragrant and beginning to brown. Put in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. You may need to add a bit more water but it should remain thick, not watery.

I try to have this on hand whenever I eat an Indian feast.


At 7:59 AM, Blogger allisonmariecat said...

You're so creative with random ingredients! Sounds fantastic.

At 7:29 PM, Blogger lee said...

I used to depend on recipes a lot more but after many years of cooking and eating I've finally learned to trust myself. Besides, the soup was pretty good but if I made it again I'd definitely cut down on the amount of lime leaves I used. I always forget how potent they are.


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