Friday, December 28, 2012

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

A friend just asked what the best soup is for combating a cold.  My quick answer was my new favorite, Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup.  I thought I had already posted the recipe, but a quick search confirmed otherwise.  So, to get you well, here it is (even though I don't have pictures for it yet).

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup
2 T. coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, chopped
2 small fresh red chili peppers, chopped (or sprinkle dried red pepper flakes, to taste.  About 1/2 tsp works well for starters.)
2 c. chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
2 c. cooked and mashed pumpkin (or 4 cups raw, peeled and diced)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, snipped into tiny pieces
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt to taste

Saute garlic, onion, chilies in oil until fragrant.  Stir in chicken stock, coconut milk, pumpkin, basil and pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil. If using raw pumpkin, cook until the pumpkin is soft.

Blend the soup in batches to a smooth or slightly chunky consistency, whatever you prefer.  Since I use pumpkin that I've previously cooked and mashed, I don't blend it at all.  A very fast dish to put together!

I can never make enough of this to enjoy leftovers.  It gets slurped up right away every time.  Get well soon!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fresh Peppermint Ice Cream

After living for 25 years in a place where December means precious little is growing, starting this month with rain and a garden full of green and growing things is very unusual for me.  The blackberry bushes are already taking over the back fence, and my hardy little peppermint plant (already transplanted and severely cut back once) is thriving once again.

What does one do with all that peppermint?  I mean really, how many dishes can one be expected to "garnish"?  One can make peppermint tea (Actress is very adept at making fresh herbal tea now, instead of her former usual hot drink, hot cocoa), or can cover the leaves with vodka for a month or so to make peppermint extract.  Or, one can make fresh peppermint ice cream.

I found my base recipe here.  This was my second attempt.  My first attempt involved sweetening with mashed bananas, and adding pureed spinach to brighten the green color.  It was okay, but nothing blog-worthy.  I decided to simplify my approach.  I find the result quite satisfying!

Fresh Peppermint Ice Cream

3 c. coconut milk
1/4 c. agave
2 c. mint leaves, chopped coarsely
4 egg yolks
optional: unsweetened chocolate

Warm 2 c. of the coconut milk and the agave in a small saucepan. Add mint leaves and stir until they're immersed in liquid. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Strain mint-infused mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Press mint leaves to extract as much flavor as possible, then discard them. Pour remaining 1 cup coconut milk into a large bowl and set the strainer on top.

Rewarm mint-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Slowly pour warm mint liquid into egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape warmed egg yolks back into saucepan.

Stir mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping bottom as you stir, until mixture thickens. Pour custard through strainer and stir it into cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill mixture thoroughly in refrigerator. Then freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Turn into a storage container and freeze until ready to use. Yield: 1 Quart.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave slivers from a block of unsweetened chocolate, and garnish your serving liberally!

Chocolate shavings