Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

In the winter months after the flurry of holidays the timing is perfect to delve into foods in a bowl, or yes...Comforting Bowl Food. Here, I’m going to continue with a very popular column I wrote for 7 years for the Baltimore Sun in its heyday. My Fast and Fresh columns were quick menus for dinner, which essentially,  could be prepared/assembled in under 45 minutes. This Fast and Fresh theme is still an all-time hit as indicated by Jamie Oliver’s new book, Jamie's 30-Minute Meals. Jamie Oliver  which has outsold all books ever in the UK.
So now we’ll run a short series of bowl food menus-speedy, seasonal, fulfilling and nutritious with my “Eat the Rainbow” sense of style. Let us know what you think!
Fragrant Coconut Curry Winter Squash Soup
Savory Carrot & Fennel Slaw
Crunchy Biscotti

Fragrant Coconut Curry Winter Squash Soup

Serves 4
One small warning is that the green curry paste is very spicy so you may want to start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more heat from there. Sometimes it's the topping that makes the soup sing.  These roasted apple rounds are also a fabulous snack along with the pumpkin seeds.
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion (like Vidalia)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2  pounds winter squash (like butternut or acorn), peeled and chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 14 ounce can coconut milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Garnish: Roasted apple rings
  • Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
In a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat, saute the onions in olive until translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add squash and apples and continue cooking until soft and slightly browned, about 10-15 minutes (getting a little caramelization on the vegetables, which will give the soup a greater depth of flavor). Stir in the curry paste, continuing to cook until vegetables are coated, about one minute longer.
Increase the heat to high, and add the stock and coconut milk. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth.
Adjust seasoning as desired with salt and pepper, then ladle into bowls and serve piping hot topped with roasted apple slices and a mound of pumpkin seeds.
For the Roasted Apple Slices
  • 1 large Gala or apple of choice
Preheat a small oven to 450 F.
Core the apple and then cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Place on a greased baking pan. Bake on the top rack of the oven for about 15 minutes or until toasty. These apple rings can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Savory Carrot & Fennel Slaw
Serves 4
Serve this warm or room temperature coleslaw with roasted chicken tossed in or keep it just as a low cost lively vegetable dish.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bulb fennel, very thin slices, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sherry
  • 1/2 cup slivered scallions (sliced lengthwise)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Zest and juice from 1 medium lemon
  • Fennel fronds as garnish
Pour 1 tablespoon oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel seed, stir and cook briefly, then add garlic and toss for a minute. Place this mixture in a mortar and pestle and grind.
Add fennel, red cabbage and carrots to the saute pan; season to taste. Cook until al dente - the vegetables should still have a nice crunch. Add the scallions, sherry, and -taste and adjust salt and pepper and toss in ground fennel seed and garlic; add a splash of olive oil, lemon zest and juice.
Serve topped with fennel fronds.
[caption id="attachment_7129" align="aligncenter" width="195"] Crunchy fudge biscotti[/caption]



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