Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Roasted Butternut Curry Soup

Is it just me, or is everything pumpkin flavored right now? I do love pumpkin, but butternut squash will always be my favorite seasonal flavor. You can eat butternut squash pretty much anytime of year these days, but it only really feels right in the fall. It's absolutely perfect for soup because it doesn't need to be gussied up. It's pretty close to perfect as-is.

It's even better when paired with curry and lime. I know it sounds weird, but go with me on this. Throw in some apple cider and you have fall warmth in a bowl.

1 small butternut squash
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp smoked salt
1/2 cup apple cider or good apple juice
1 cup warm water
2 tsp Better Than Boullion veggie paste
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
2 tsp lime juice

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the stringy stuff and the seeds. Brush the cut side with a little olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Place both halves cut side down on the baking sheet and put enough water in the sheet to cover the whole surface with 1/2 inch of water. Put the squash in the oven and roast it until browned and soft, about 1 hour. When it's done, a fork should easily pass through the flesh of the squash. Set it aside to cool. It'll look like this:

Add some olive oil to a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and put it over medium heat. Saute the onions until soft, then add the curry, ginger and salt, stirring it around to coat the onions. Add the cider or apple juice, scraping any browned bits from the surface of the pot.

Bring to a boil and simmer until the cider has reduced by half. It'll be much thicker than when you started out.

Remove the onion mixture from the heat and add it to a food processor or blender. Scoop the squash flesh from the rind and add it as well. Puree it all together until smooth, then transfer it back to the pot and put it over low heat.

Dissolve the bouillon in the hot water and add that along with the coconut milk to the pot, stirring to combine.

It'll look like a wreck at first, but don't worry, it'll come together. Turn the heat up and let it simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the lime juice and salt and pepper (if needed).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Maple Brown Sugar Pound Cake

It's that time of year, isn't it? Mother Nature flips a switch and fall just starts. It looks feels and even smells like fall here. If you're a fan of summer and in mourning, this cake should help you come to terms with the seasonal changes. No matter what, cake can always save the day.

This isn't an elegant cake, but it's a rich, moist and addictive one, just the same. It's one of those desserts that you can whip up in a pinch when the mood strikes you, because all the ingredients are things that people usually have around the kitchen. The only exception may be maple extract, but that's pretty easy to find at the store. Applesauce is the perfect egg substitute for this and pretty much any other pound cake. An equal amount of mashed banana would work as well.


For the cake:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla

For the maple glaze:
1 tbsp soy or almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp maple extract
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the applesauce, milk, molasses and vanilla and mix well. Incorporate half the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix them until they just come together, then repeat with the other half. Spread the batter evenly into the loaf pan. It will be thick, so don't expect it to just pour out like a lot of other cake batters.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes or so, then run a knife around the edge and invert it onto a plate. Let it cool completely before glazing.

To make the maple glaze, combine the milk, vanilla and maple extracts in a bowl. Whisk in the sugar a bit at a time until the glaze reaches a smooth consistency.

When the cake has cooled completely, pour the glaze over the top, letting it drizzle down the sides. You can help it along with a rubber spatula if it's not getting there, but there should be enough to get the job done.

I never seem to have any on hand, but you could totally make this extra special by topping it with some chopped walnuts. Slice off a hunk or two and enjoy!