Monday, October 29, 2012

Indian-style cauliflower soup with peas

This soup is such a sunny looking soup, no? Perfect for any breezy or rainy fall day. It is cheery and delicious. Somewhere I read about a creamy cauliflower soup that got my thinking but after looking at a few cream soaked recipes, I was discouraged. Don't get me wrong, I am not one to shy away from the full-fat dairy products. However, for me, the decision is always about flavor. Too often "cream of" dishes are leaden and, after the first few bites, rather dull.
I learned from making this potato leek soup, sometimes, to bring the flavor out of a creamy soup, the best place to start is by taking out the cream.

This recipe is from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook by Amelia Saltsman. The book is structured around what can be found at a Southern California Farmer's Market during the season's of the year. The recipes are unique but not pretentious or too out of reach for a home cook like myself.

If you are looking for a simple change-up to your fall soup repertoire, I would recommend giving this soup a try. It is the perfect combination of warm spice and zingy lime.

Indian-style cauliflower soup with peas

2 tablespoons canola or other mild cooking oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets
1/2 cup water
4 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup shelled English peas, about 1 pound in the pod (or 1 cup frozen peas)
1/2 lime
small handful each of fresh mint leaves, chives, and cilantro leaves, chopped

1) In a wide pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir until brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ground spices, pepper flakes, and salt and cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.

2) Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the remaining tablespoon oil and the onion, and saute until translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute.

3) Stir in the cauliflower and water, cover, raise the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. (This is a genius step. It's like a spiced steam bath for the cauliflower.) Add 4 cups stock, re-cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until very tender, 15-20 minutes.

4) Use an immersion or stand blender to puree the soup, leaving a little texture. Add the remaining 2 cups stock as needed to achieve the consistency of heavy cream. Return the soup to medium-low heat, add the peas, cover, and simmer until the peas are tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. (If using frozen peas, it will take even less time.)

5) Give the soup a squeeze of lime and serve with a sprinkling of the herbs.

Friday, October 26, 2012

photobombing with Harriet

I was going to put a little note together about how excited I am to have finally made the seasonal switch to fall bedding- layers of down, cozy quilts. It was to be accompanied by pictures of my favorite saffron colored Marimekko duvet cover and the quilt my sweet husband surprised me with one day.

But as soon as I picked up the camera, Harriet jumped up on the bed and insisted on being in every shot.

So, instead I'll just make this about her :)

Happy Friday friends!

(For more Harriet photobombs, please see here and here.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

memorize a poem

You are young.  So you know everything.  You leap
into the boat and begin rowing.  But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul.  Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to
me.  There is life without love.  It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe.  It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied.  When you hear, a mile
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life
toward it.

- Mary Oliver

I have had Mary Oliver's poem "Wild West #2" up on my dining room wall chalkboard for a several months now. I heard it when I attended a Storyline Conference in June. Yesterday, I learned I have actually had one line of the poem incorrect all this time. When I copied it onto the chalkboard, I added an extra word to the 7th line. Instead of saying "There is life without love", mine read "There is no life without love."

Mary Oliver has it right. Sadly, there is life without love. It is possible to exist, to keep breathing in and out, and hate or despise every moment of it. It's not a way to live. To me, the poem is a call to live intentionally. To 'lift the oars from the water' and listen.

Joanna (of the genius Cup of Jo) recently started a series on fall challenges. I missed week one (which was to skip TV for the week) but am jumping on board with week two: memorize a poem.

I choose Oliver's poem to memorize this week. The words are so beautiful and memorizing them means  I get to carry them around with me wherever I go.

(The waterfall pictured is called 'million dollar falls' and is located in Yukon, Canada. I took this picture during my last visit back home.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

September in AK - longing for Fall

At the beginning of September I went home to SE Alaska for a week. It was so good to be with family, start the day with coffee together and end it over a meal together. I soak it up and treasure it. Nothing feels as good as cooking for my family.

As an added treat, my big sister and I were able to meet up in the Seattle airport and fly together to Juneau. From Juneau, we took the ferry boat to our hometown. 

Here my sister is looking adorable, hanging out on the Ferry deck, waiting to dock. (Note how chipper she looks here. This is amazing as we literally had 3 hours of sleep the night before.)

It was very fall in Alaska. It has been a while since I was home in the fall and had forgotten all the familiar images and smells. Even though I've lived in southern California for a while now, I act outraged/surprised every September when, as the rest of the country cools down and has lovely leaves turning, So Cal is just gearing up for some of our hottest weather. I know I need to get over it and consider it part of my recovery to soak up a few fall images from my trip: 

The first few leaves turning- gold surrounded by green

We drove into Yukon, Canada just to stare at these beauties for a bit

Finally, thumbnail snapshots of fall