Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Waxing Poetic

I saw this little poem in some magazine while having some tea at Flying Star a while back.

In my kitchen
I preheat a memory
I fold in old friends with new
I bake a good laugh.

Although, I thought it was cute, Renee pointed out to me that it didn’t represent my outlook on life and in the kitchen. So it was remodeled as such.

In my kitchen
I preheat the oven
To bake a new friend
Which gives a good laugh.

I suppose that doesn’t have anything to do with food, but it is kind of connected to cooking…

Alright, alright. Food porn. I know. What’s food porn without pictures? We’re such a visually stimulated culture. Who wants to read about how delicious food is? No one. Just show me the graphic carrots, and luscious slabs of ribs already!

I admit, I don’t have any ribs for this post… but I do have some awesome grilled tofu. You’ll make due. It’s uber simple. Just firm tofu cut into slabs, brushed with oil and salt and pepper, and seared on a hot grill. The sauce is 1 part soy sauce, ½ part honey, ½ part wasabi powder.

Which by the way, isn’t really wasabi. It’s a mixture of mustard, horseradish, and green. Getting the whole root and grating it yourself is the only way to be sure you’re getting the real thing. But hey, I like the powder of it’s own accord.

Waiter, There's a Banana in my Soup

This soup has the most amazing smell. It was actually drawing people from outside my apartment who were just curious as too what I was making.

Don’t get me wrong it tastes great too! After all, isn’t that the reason why we’re eating it anyhow? This soup blends the delicious autumn flavors of pumpkin and root vegetables along with the richness of beef and strangely enough, the sweetness of bananas. The spices and herbs in this soup are warm and earthy as well. Tumeric takes charge, and gives the soup a beautiful yellow color that stains the sliced onions as well. Think curry. Only, it doesn’t really taste like curry. Think curry-ISH. This isn’t your mom’s chicken noodle soup. It’s got some esoteric flavors along with a quasi-exotic taste.

This soup is full of warm-curl-up-in-that-flannel-blanket-on-the-couch flavors. Perfect for the fall, and upcoming winter.

Remember to use green bananas, as cooking with even yellow (let alone brown) ones will turn to mush really fast in your soup. Even using green bananas, by the time I got to the bottom of my 2nd bowl, they were starting to mush up. Which doesn’t taste bad… just mushy.

Also, I’d recommend using fresh pumpkin chunks in this recipe. I used some frozen pumpkin that I had cut up a few months earlier and froze. The frozen pumpkin cooks really quickly in the soup, so if you’re hell bent on using frozen since there’s no fresh, then watch the soup really closely when you add the pumpkin, or else it will fall apart.

The black-eyed bean pureƩ gives the soup a little more heft, and could be left out entirely. But I like beans.

Who knew soup would be so finicky?

I had this with some slightly sweet light rye bread that I baked earlier today. But that’s another story…

Pumpkin Banana Beef Stew

2/3 cup Black-Eyed Beans, soaked overnight
1-1/2 lb Beef Stew meat
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
5 cups Beef Stock1 Onion, sliced
8 oz Pumpkin, cubed
1 tsp ground Cardamom
1-1/2 tsp ground Tumeric
1 tsp ground Coriander
1 tsp ground Cumin
a few shakes of cayenne pepper
handful of Parsley, chopped
2 Green Bananas
2 Carrots, sliced
Salt & Pepper

Drain the beans and place in a saucepot and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, and boil vigorously for 10 min. Reduce heat and simmer for 50 min. Remove from heat and let cool.

Quickly sear the beef in a stew pot and then add the stock along with the thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.

Add the onions, pumpkin, cardamom, tumeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and parsley. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 15 min.

PureƩ the cool beans with some of the cooking liquid until smooth.
Peel and slice the bananas. Add the bean puree, along with the bananas and carrots. Cook until the carrots have the desired tenderness (about 10 min). serve immediately.