I spoke too soon. It was cold but now it is warm.
Houston felt the “Polar Vortex“. The “Arctic Invasion” that froze Niagara Falls (!!) (on the American side) brought Houston to lows a bit below freezing. With the 90% humidity, -4ºC was quite chilly but nothing compared to what the rest of the country was feeling. But this weekend, the humidity and chills disappeared. It was a balmy 26ºC with (only!) 25% humidity and Rob and I celebrated by wearing shorts, visiting the beach and kayaking in the Galveston area bay. Yeah, it was summer once again.
People at work wonder why I am so happy, but even small victories like this make my heart sing. Every time I cycle to work, I am ecstatic. Instead of hurricanes, Houston was hit by a drought this year. I have cycled to work every day, safe 3 days so far in the past 6 months. Snow, ice and rain will keep me off my bike, not cold weather alone.
Soups like this also make my tummy sing. It is filled with all great things: red lentils as a solid base, kabocha squash and coconut milk for a creamy backdrop, spiced with ginger and chile flakes, tempered by tamarind and lime juice with a lemongrass twist. The flavours meld perfectly and this is a soup that will definitely warm you up during a cold front.
Were you hit by the cold? I heard the vortex may return again. I am thinking warm thoughts for you.
If you like this soup, you may also enjoy these:
How does my summer slip away so fast? I feel like all my weekends have all been pre-booked with very little downtime this summer. Between 5 weddings (3 out-of-town), cycling to Niagara Falls, travelling for a conference and a music festival (more about that one later!), Rob and I have barely spent much time relaxing over the weekends. Always on the go. Plus, my new rotation this month has a 1-hour cycling commute each way. I come home a tired puppy.
As such, I haven’t really been doing my “cook for the week” thing on the weekends. Instead, I am cooking up quick weekday meals. Almost like a normal person. However, I still eat leftovers for dinner as soon as I come home from work. The new meal is for tomorrow’s leftover dinner!
I am still on my Thai-kick and decided to combine two of my recipes into one stellar quickie dinner. Instead of a complex coconut-based salad dressing from my Thai Noodle Salad with Mango and Lima Beans, use the coconut milk as a base for simmering vegetables with Thai flavours. You could go all decadent and use full-fat coconut milk from a can, but I used the stuff from a carton again after it worked well with the coconut-braised collards. This is a very flexible recipe, so work with what you have to make this a quick dinner.
Go all out with Thai ingredients like shallots, Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, or use onion, lime zest and skip the lemongrass instead. I used sweet basil but Thai basil would be more authentic, although with that terrible licorice flavour. Use whatever vegetables you have, and feel free to add tofu or tempeh, too. I used broccoli and carrots with great results and served it overtop some cooked quinoa to sop up the delicious sauce. Using the beverage coconut milk makes this a lighter sauce that is still packed with flavour from the aromatics. It balances the sour, sweet and hot nicely while served on top of crisp vegetables. Authentic or not, it definitely tastes great. Enjoy!
This is my submission to this month’s Herbs on Saturdays.
I used to want a mango tree in my backyard. Scrap that.
Now I want a mamey tree.
I ate a lot while I was in Colombia. A lot of fruit, I mean frutas. Fruit au naturel and lots of fruit as juice. Not bottled juice. Jugos naturales: fruit + water in blender and strained. Pure bliss.
I had a few foodie missions while in Colombia. I definitely succeeded in exploring the different fruits. I even tried familiar fruits in case they tasted different, fresh from the South.
I think I lost track of everything I tried.
From the more obscure, I tried: curuba, feijoa, lulo, guanabana (soursop), anon (sugar apple), pitaya (dragon fruit), zapote, mamey and mamoncillo. Passion fruit: maracuja, as well as the purple gulupa and the smaller sweet granadilla. Oh, and açai, too, in a smoothie. Apparently we missed cherimoya (custard apple) and pomarrosa. We obviously need to go back (although I think I spotted both of them at my nearby grocer for $5/lb).
Then there are ones I already knew… and was won over by the sweetness of fresh fruit. Papaya has never been so lovely. Tons of bananas. Smaller bananas, too, bananitas (or banana bocadillo). Mangoes (mainly Tommy Atkins but they had smaller ones, too). Pineapple (did you know there are red pineapples? They had pits! Yes, pineapples have pits!!). Avocados. Starfruit. Young green coconut opened for us with a machete. Strawberries, blackberries (mora), watermelons, oranges and even apples.
I remember ordering a drink at a restaurant with a new-to-me fruit: sandia. The waiter described it as a fruit with a green skin, a pink inside with black seeds. I was excited to try something new! Only to find out it was in fact… watermelon. But still, it was a tasty watermelon and the watermelon jugos naturales really hit the spot.
My favourite? Well, it is a toss up between guanabana, anon, mamey and zapote. And lulo… and granadilla. OK, I can’t pick only one. Each one different than any fruit I’d had before. I’d love to plant a tree of each one in my backyard. Sadly, I don’t live in Colombia. Who thinks I can find a mamey tree in Texas for next year? I’d rent the place in a heart beat!
In any case, as much as I’d like to think it was back to normal upon my return, I really had to wean myself off the fruits. While I mostly ate them plain and in juice form in Colombia, here I’ve opted for a more filling main course salad courtesy of Ottolenghi.
Thai-inspired, the star of this dish is the creamy coconut-based dressing infused with lemongrass, Keffir lime leaves, ginger and shallots, balanced with a touch of tamarind, fresh lime juice, toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. All of the flavours are enhanced through the reduction of the coconut milk. It is probably one of the more elaborate and lengthy dressings to make, but easy none-the-less, and can be made in advance. The original recipe calls for canned coconut milk, but I opted for the coconut milk beverage (great idea from my spicy coconut-braised collards) instead which still produced a lighter dressing after the reduction.
Here, the dressing is used to bathe a kelp noodle salad with chopped mango, cucumber, lima beans (I used smaller Jackson Wonder lima beans) along with mint, cilantro and cashews. Add the dressing just prior to serving. The flavourful dressing worked well with the contrasting sweet mango, creamy beans and crunchy cucumber. Enjoy!
This is my submission to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring leafless salads, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s Potluck Party, to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness, this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Simona, to this week’s Summer Salad Sundays and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.
How do you bookmark your recipes? Every day I am inundated by oodles of recipes I want to make from other bloggers, from my cookbooks, or just something I whip up in my head (and belly).
I know there are applications and websites to help you figure this out, but they have been too cumbersome for me. I am old school. I email myself the recipes and stick them in a searchable folder. The rest, my brain has to take care of, as it remembers what I don’t put into emails.
When I can’t find a suitable recipe in my email treasure trove or rack my brain as to what’s in my cookbooks, I will often consult my favourite bloggers. My favourite way to tackle this is through Google Reader, which is a quick and easy way to narrow my search to my blogs of interest.
So when Rob and I picked up a dozen ears of corn, I had to scour everywhere for corn recipes. I usually don’t like corn – of the frozen or canned variety. I will actively remove it from recipes (celery gets removed even more quickly) so it was a challenge to do the opposite. Find me some corn delicacies!
Hopefully the last few corny posts have shown you how great corn can be, from the simple grilled ears, to pan-toasting the kernels for a salad, or boiling the corn to put in a quinoa salad, or as a savoury filling for a cornmeal pancake.
Corn soups are another way to enjoy corn. Trust me, I have bookmarked so many corn soup recipes that I had a difficult time narrowing it down to which I wanted to try. In the end, I thought this Thai Coconut Corn Stew, which Ashley made last year from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan hit it right (recipe also posted here). A soup that could come together quickly despite its long ingredient list. In addition to the coconut milk as the backdrop for the chowder, red bell pepper is added for sweetness. The soup is flavoured with lemongrass, lime, ginger, cilantro and a hint of spice from chili flakes, creating a very complex soup without too much fuss. It is nice and creamy from the coconut milk and pureed corn, but also surprisingly light at the same time. Seriously yummy, this recipe is a keeper!
In all honesty, I didn’t use cilantro for the salad. I used Vietnamese coriander. While researching what to plant, we found out cilantro tends to bolt in the summer. Ours bolted during the heat wave. But we had a back-up! Vietnamese coriander! It continues to give us nice leaves that taste similar to cilantro with a bright, lemony accent. Thankfully it is a perennial, so we should have some of it next year, too. I also grew lemongrass but the stalks don’t look anything like what I buy in the grocery store.. so who knows what I am to do with the leaves only. Sunny’s to the rescue with 6 lemongrass stalks for a $1.
Here are some other corn soups that I had spotted elsewhere:
Roasted Tomato and Grilled Corn Soup from The Edible Perspective
Summer Sweet Corn Soup with Basil Oil from Julia’s Vegan Kitchen
Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Corn and Cilantro from Oui, Chef
Tomato, Corn and Basil Soup from New England Soup Factory Cookbook
Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder from ExtraVeganZa
Summer Corn and Coconut Soup from Choosing Raw
Corn and Squash Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Purée from CIA Chef
Japanese Corn Cream Soup from The Well-Seasoned Cook
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this month’s My Kitchen, My World destination Thailand, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for coconut, and to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring home-grown produce.