Archive for October, 2012

Autumn cup squash (risotto + soup)

Autumn cup – isn’t that a perfect name for a squash? Also known as buttercup, kabocha or turban squash, it tastes similar to butternut squash, but with a smoother, sweeter, and in my opinion, more delicious flavour. Dark green on the outside, bright yellowy-orange flesh inside – it is as gorgeous thing to look at as it is to eat.

Here are two recipes that will take you through one squash: a risotto flavoured with kale, caramelized onions, and fresh chives, and a soup made from roasted squash, ginger, and paprika. Warm and yum!

Autumn Cup Squash Risotto (inspired by the Acorn Squash Risotto in my favourite Italian cookbook, Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano)

Serves 6

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 of a autumn cup / kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
1-1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated*
1 cup kale, finely chopped
1 small bunch of chives, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
fresh ground pepper

This first, all-important step is so often missing from risotto recipes: Put a chair/stool beside the stove, turn on the music, pour a glass of wine and bring a book. You have an hour of occasional stirring in front of you.

In a large saute pan (large!), cook onions in oil over low-medium heat – let them turn brown slowly so they caramelize. Then add the squash and stir until it softens and starts to break down. Add in arborio rice and cook it for a few minutes so it toasts, and then add in the wine. Have the vegetable stock warming in a pot beside your risotto pan. Add a couple of ladle-fuls of stock to the risotto and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until you’ve used up all the stock. Stir in the cheese, kale, and chives, and sprinkle with pepper. I made this recently and served it with a spinach, pear and walnut salad and that was a nice match.

*Vegans, omit the cheese.

Autumn Cup Squash Soup
If you make the risotto above, you’ll be left with half a squash – the perfect amount for a pot of soup that provides a generous serving for two people. Cut the squash into wedges, toss with olive oil and cracked pepper and roast it in the oven until soft. Blend with water or vegetable stock, season with ginger and paprika and you’ll have a cozy lunch.

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October 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm 1 comment

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

This recipe for chocolate chip cookies is adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks, Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes, which I’ve referenced before for its awesome chocolate brownies recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 24 to 36 cookies

1-1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup white or cane sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
2 cups chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350F and grease two baking sheets or line with silicone mats / parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugars together and then beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, and baking soda and beat well, and then fold in chocolate and walnuts.

Drop the dough by two tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart (the cookies will spread out and flatten). Bake the cookies, switching the cookie sheets in the oven halfway through cooking, until they begin to turn golden brown at the edges and the tops appear dry, about 12 to 15 minutes. Don’t overcook if you want them to be chewy!

If you’re vegan or don’t eat dairy / eggs:

  • Replace the butter with the same amount of vegetable oil shortening plus two tablespoons of water.
  • Replace the eggs with two tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal mixed with six tablespoons of water. Stir the flaxseed meal and water together in a small bowl and let stand two to three minutes to thicken before adding it to the recipe.

October 23, 2012 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

Dorothy Livesay: The Self-Completing Tree

The Self-Completing Tree, a collection of poems by Dorothy Livesay caught my eye this morning. Its green and white spine seemed brighter than normal today, and the book was calling to be pulled from the shelf.

The Self-Completing Tree is an old friend, discovered years ago in a Canadian literature class in university. I loved it then, as I do today. Livesay’s poems have passion and spark – politics and feminism, life and death and love are her frequent subjects. Her work is nuanced, but also easy to read: Livesay wrote poems for real people, not just other poets and academics, and she lived a fascinating life well worth knowing: student, social worker, mother, grandmother, poet, seer of tumultuous times, lover of men, women, children, music, art, pear trees, geraniums. She died in Victoria, BC in 1996.

Livesay has a way of making stillness seem whole and full of being. Plants leaning on windowsills looking for the light can be found in the quiet corners of this book. Poems like this are the ones I appreciated most when I stepped back into Livesay’s words today:

Bartok and the Geranium

She lifts her green umbrellas
Toward the pane
Seeking her fill of sunlight
Or of rain;
Whatever falls
She has no commentary
Accepts, extends,
Blows out her fubelows,
Her bustling boughs;

And all the while he whirls
Explodes in space,
Never content with this small room:
Not even can he be
Confined to the sky
But must speed high and higher still
From galaxy to galaxy,
Wrench from the stars their momentary notes
Steal music from the moon.

She’s daylight
He is dark
She’s heaven-held breath
He storms and cackles
Spits with hell’s own spark.

Yet in this room, this moment now
These together breathe and be:
She, the essence of serenity,
He in a mad intensity
Soars beyond sight
Then hurls, lost Lucifer
From heaven’s height.

And when he’s done, he’s out:
She leans a lip against the glass
And preens herself in light.

October 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm Leave a comment


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