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Ginger Pumpkin Chowder

8 Nov

gingerpumpkinchowder001If there is one thing that we all have no shortage of in the months between Halloween and Christmas, it’s probably a variety of leftover winter squashes.  Got an extra cup or two of cooked pumpkin left over from that pie?  Some acorn or butternut squash that didn’t fit in the pan? Tired of cloying sweets and heavy, creamy soups?  Feeling anxious about the upcoming months of rolling away from holiday tables, or trying to cook to accommodate a vegan or vegetarian at the table?  Here is a warming, satisfying meat and dairy-free soup that tastes like the harvest season, in a bowl.

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Turkish Yogurt Soup

1 Jul

I recently bought an EasiYo yogurt maker after getting tired of the dilemma of trying to decipher which store-bought yogurt labeled “plain” was actually plain, which was vanilla-flavored, and which contained more sugar than a can of soda–believe me, you only want to accidentally put sweet vanilla yogurt on your falafel once to lose all taste for ever making that mistake again.  Anyway, I made a batch of unsweetened Greek yogurt, was quite pleased with the fresh and tangy results, and then faced the problem of what to do with a liter of yogurt before it spoils.  Even I can’t drink that much lassi that quickly.

Yogurt soup was the answer–and it also let me play with the mint I’ve been trying to grow indoors!  I started out with a recipe from The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, tweaking as I went along (as usual).  Since this is not reheat-friendly soup, I didn’t want to wind up with oodles of leftovers I’d have to nurse carefully along over a burner to prevent curdling, so I had to cut some of the measurements in thirds.  I also didn’t add any rice or grain, to avoid excess carbs.

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Herbed Spinach Pasta Salad

2 Jun

herbedspinachpastasalad001Today, I bought a new ‘spice rack’.  There’s been a big agricultural fair at City Hall plaza, near my new house, these past few days, and I keep prowling past all the herbs and plant pots for sale with wishful eyes.  This one, though, was a winner.  It doesn’t take up much horizontal space, it’s stable on its base (for a minimum of cat-related damages), and it’s terribly easy to angle around each segment as needed.  I grabbed the stand, then promptly bought basil, rosemary, and golden lemon thyme to occupy it in my sunny window.  I figure the plants are a lot cheaper than buying the fresh herbs at the grocery store, only to have half of them spoil before I can use them due to getting too cold or too wet or too dry in the fridge or on the way home.  My fridge, by the way, is a beast at freezing things. I haven’t yet quite figured out how to turn the thermostat in there up a bit so it stops icing my water and destroying my green produce.

Anyway, with all these fresh herbs on hand, I decided it was time to make one of my old standby recipes again, a super easy pasta salad.

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Shire Apple Stew

20 Jan

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If you haven’t seen The Hobbit yet… well. What are you waiting for?!  If you have, or have any familiarity with Tolkien’s books, you probably know that Hobbits hold the culinary arts in high regard.  This soup is a flavor blend I got the itch to experiment with a couple months ago, googled around and found a recipe for here, then had the renewed urge to try after seeing the film, but didn’t get around to making until today.  All of the ingredients, I feel, would be the sorts of things easily found in Tolkien’s Shire–I couldn’t help but glance twice at the contents of Bilbo Baggins’ pantry in the movie, after all.  Potato soup, of course, is a firm staple in the realm of comfort food (for me, at least).  This recipe, however, dresses it up and gives it a rather classy twist, perfect for entertaining a crowded table on a cold winter night.

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In Search of the Perfect Bowl of Chili

2 Oct

I had a Monday off work, due to the Harvest Festival here. It’s one of the two biggest holidays on the South Korean calendar–the other is the Lunar New Year–and one of the few times I can rely on my friends also getting a day off.  The weather’s starting to turn a bit nippy here, especially at night, and for some reason, holidays among our crew of ex-pats seem to invariably mean Tex-Mex food makes an appearance.  Chili was the logical conclusion.  And before anyone starts, I know that “real Texas chili” doesn’t include beans.  However, I’m not Texan, and the way I grew up eating chili, it never lacked them.  To me, a pot of chili without beans seems more like sloppy joe topping than a filling meal in its own right.

Preconceptions about beans aside, this hasn’t stopped me from experimenting with different spices and blends to find the perfect combination of spicy-sweet-rich for a bowl of chili.  Monday’s, I think, was a success I’ll keep on permanent file.

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Fake It ‘Til You Make It Chana Masala

29 Aug

If you want to know how about 90% of my meal planning goes, here’s the answer:

“What do I have in my fridge right now?”

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Drunken Dog-days Chicken

22 Aug

In Korea, there’s a dish that’s traditionally eaten during the three hottest “dog days” of summer.  It’s called samgyetang (삼계탕), which translates literally to ‘ginseng chicken soup’.  Lots of people swear by it, and I’ve eaten it and cooked it a few times, but never was quite sold on the taste.  However, when I found a recipe for a delicious garlic chicken stove-top dish (from SmittenKitchen), looked at the miserable, hot, rainy weather outside my window, and thought about it for a moment, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

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