Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Curried Coconut Acorn Squash Soup with Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Biscuits

Johnson Backyard Garden CSA subscribers were lucky enough recently to get several acorn squash in their boxes. I roasted mine and turned them into a coconut acorn squash soup, following a recipe by Barbara Kafka, cookbook author and former food contributor to the New York Times.

 Begin by roasting the squash. Unlike when you roast squash to eat on its own, you don't need to dress the squash for this soup -- no oil, no spices, nothin'. Just stick it in the oven and let it cook for 45-60 minutes -- until it is soft enough to pierce with a fork, knife, or toothpick.

Sadly, the above picture was the best one of this whole post. But I still don't know how to use Photoshop, and I apparently messed up the sizing.

Next, saute curry powder in oil for 2 minutes. This is called blooming  and is a way to maximize the flavor of dried spices by heating them before adding the ingredients. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add stock, squash and coconut milk and heat through. Now, puree. Tonight, I used my new immersion blender for the first time. And, typical me, I didn't bother reading the instructions (how hard could it be, right?), and this led to lots of splatter on the stove, hood, and all over the sides of the pot. Apologies for the messy pot!

Once heated through, add the lime juice and adjust with salt and pepper. I always recommend the combination of roasted squash with coconut milk and curry, but I wouldn't recommend following this particular recipe. Or, if you follow it, please omit or greatly reduce the lime juice. It's not a typical component to a curried coconut squash soup, and there is probably a reason. If you decide to go ahead and try the lime juice to see what it adds (which is what I did), you can always offset the bitterness of the citrus by increasing other ingredients -- more coconut milk, more squash (if you have it), or even by adding other vegetables.

The mild, smooth curried coconut combination pairs well with something smoky and peppery, so I opted to make some Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Biscuits, a recipe for which appeared in the April 2005 issue of Bon Appetit. Make your basic biscuit dough by mixing the dry ingredients in one bowl. To the dry ingredients, add crumbled goat cheese and 1/4 c buttermilk. Roll the dough out and cut into biscuit shapes.

Most recipes specify that you should use biscuit cutters (or cookie cutters). And there are some advantages to using a metal cutter that will cut the dough clear through to the counter. However, I free up my cabinet space and just re-purpose a drinking glass -- coat the rim with flour and use as a cutter. You'll need to twist your wrist a bit more than you would with a biscuit cutter since the rim of a glass isn't sharp, but, it's one less utensil to have in the kitchen.

My biscuits didn't rise very well, which tells me that I need some new baking powder -- once the can is open, it can age fairly quickly -- usually within six months to a year. I once read a cookbook where the author said she would buy a fresh can of baking powder every time she baked. That seems a bit excessive to me, so perhaps a happy medium between her fresh cans, and my flat (but tasty!) biscuits.

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