Monday, November 25, 2013

Creamy Curried Sweet Potato Soup

It’s Feast Week!  Actually, this kicks off ‘Feast (five) Weeks’ for me since I will be eating nonstop from now until New Year’s Day at which point I will hit the ‘reset’ button for a week or two before transitioning back to my attempts at balancing diet days vs. splurge days. 

We are travelling to Virginia to be with Robbie’s family over Thanksgiving so I will be able to relax and hopefully get in my southern food fixes like Firehouse Subs and Chic-Fil-A.  We have to get there first though.  We are flying in a prop plane out of Newark early Thursday morning . . . I hope no one is offended when I bring a turkey leg on the plane.   

Here’s a Thanksgiving fun fact about me – the sweet potatoes are my least favorite item on the Thanksgiving table.  I usually get just a small spoon full because I’ll feel like it’s not Thanksgiving without all seven food groups (turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, butter) but when I go back for seconds (and thirds) I usually leave the sweet potatoes off my plate. 

Earlier this month I stumbled upon a way that I will gladly devour them.  I made this soup because I thought Robbie would love it and I would get to play martyr by making something I dislike and then remind him of that fact while we ate.  However, I ended up loving it just as much as he did.  My annoyance turned to pride when I realized how adventurous I was being and my martyrdom speech turned into an ‘Aren’t-you-glad-I-made-something-risky-but-with-big-reward?’ conversation.  Poor Robbie.  It was incredibly easy to make but still required enough chopping and slicing so it makes you feel like you provided a solid home-cooked meal. (And could complain about all the chopping and slicing required to your loved ones.)

It’s also an excellent medium for ricotta cheese. 

Creamy Curried Sweet Potato Soup

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon coarsely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
2 ½ pounds sweet potates, peeled and sliced about a quarter-inch thick
6 cups chicken broth (I made mine with bouillon cubes)
Ricotta cheese (the original recipe called for goat cheese which would be equally as delicious)

Heat the oil in a large stock pot.  Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until it begins to brown.  Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.  Add the spices (ginger through red pepper flakes) and stir well.  Add the sweet potatoes and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft.  Puree the soup as you see fit (I used an immersion blender).  Top with a dollop of Ricotta cheese.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pumpkin Bread, Revisited

We had our first snowfall this morning and I haven't even posted a pumpkin recipe this year!  I feel so behind. I bought a giant can of pumpkin puree and worked my way through it but my delay in sharing the recipes has been due to traveling to North Carolina for my niece's 1st birthday (and Halloween!) and a stream of work meetings that required quite a bit of my focus.  Nonetheless, visions of this pumpkin bread danced in my head throughout the busy time.

The original recipe states this is 'Vegan' but as I am not one for labels, I prefer to leave this as just pumpkin bread.  It isn't my first foray into pumpkin bread but this version is worthy of inclusion because it is a little different -- a little heartier (ie, this one has oil instead of apple sauce) and instead of using the very-convenient pumpkin pie spice, it actually calls for an assortment of fall-inspired spices.  The recipe also comes from the cookbook of one of my favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker (see more of the recipes I've tried of hers here and here). 

Today also marks the 24-hours of college basketball marathon that is the best marketing ploy ever developed since the cows and Chick-fil-A.  Robbie is actually at the Champions Classic in Chicago and will (hopefully) be pulling the mighty Blue Devils through against Kansas.  While Robbie braves the crowd and cold of Chicago, I'll stay curled up in the apartment with some coffee and pumpkin bread.  

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
The original recipe made two loaves but I halved everything for one loaf.  Those measurements are below.

1 7/8 cups all-purpose flour (so just a little less than 2 cups)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
7.5 ounces pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/6 cup maple syrup
1/6 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease one loaf pan.  Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and all four spices.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, maple syrup and water.  Don't whisk too hard when first incorporating or you will be drenched in water and oil.  Dump the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and fold the ingredients together.  Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  (NOTE: The original recipe said to bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes but my loaf was done in 45.  Probably because I was only baking one loaf and I have the worlds smallest oven so it bakes quickly.)  Let rest in the pan for 20 minutes before removing the loaf onto a cooling rack.