Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Coconut

September went by really quickly and there is no denying, fall is around the corner. The temperatures drop, the days get colder, cooler and shorter, and the interest in standing in the kitchen and cooking rises again. I cooked this the other day, it is a new spin on an Italian risotto. Instead of the usual flavors of creamy, salty parmesan and maybe lemon and rice, I played with an Indian inspiration: coconut oil, coconut milk and a hint of garam masala and roasted butternut squash, which is in season right now at the farmers markets. This risotto is sweet, full of bold flavors and simply delicious and heart warming.

butternut_squash_risotto_1LR

Butternut squash risotto with coconut (for 2 people)
  • small 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • coconut oil spray
  • salt
  • 1 TB coconut oil
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, grated
  • 1/2 cup of arborio risotto rice
  • 3 TB mirin (sweet rice wine vinegar) or light white wine
  • 3 cups of hot vegetable broth with some strands of saffron dissolved in it
  • 1/2 cup canned light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 10 fresh curry leaves or lemon thyme
optional:
  • 1 spicy pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz feta cheese, cubed
butternut_squash_risotto_2LR
Preparation:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. On a parchment paper or aluminium foil lined cookie sheet, distributed the butternut squash cubes, sprinkle with some salt, and spray with coconut oil spray (or any canola oil spray), mix, and distributed in an even layer again. Bake for about 20min until lightly roasted. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the vegetable stock with the saffron. It can be added hot, and does not bring down the temperature of the risotto. Set aside.
  3. Heat the coconut oil a heavy bottom sauce pan (Le Creuset pots are great for this) on medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and curry leaves, and sweat on medium-low heat until translucent (2-3 minutes). Add the rice, stir and dry ‘toast’ for 30 seconds on medium heat. It brings out a nutty flavor in the rice. Now, add the mirin, and stir, loosen any browned bits from the pot’s surface with the rice wine vinegar. Simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated. 
  4. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and start ladling in 1/2 cup of hot stock to the risotto. Cook the risotto gently on low heat, stir often, and cook until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Once the stock is evaporated, add another 1/2 cup of hot stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 25 min).
  5. During the last 10 minutes, add in half of the roasted butternut squash, the coconut milk and the garam masala. (Use the remaining roasted butternut squash to top the risotto or keep for later use).
  6. Optionally, add the chili and feta cheese. Adjust taste for saltiness and sweetness with adding salt and/or a teaspoon of raw honey (or not).
  7. Serve hot and steamy.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Common Ground Fair 2015

The weather was a bit overcast on Friday, for the first day of Common Ground Fair, and chilly but that did not hold people back from attending. It was the usual exhibit of Maine made, whether it be vegetables from all the farmers, pottery, jewelry, felts, wood carvings or happy animals.
manolo-1
Farmers market at the CGF.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bluetooth HR monitor

I am a big fan of fitness gadgets. These days I wear the Jawbone Up3 all the time; with the latest software and firmware update I no longer have to indicate when I am going to sleep, and it does an excellent job of figuring it out automatically. However, it measures passive heart rate, and that does not help that much when I exercise.
beets_blu_1
When Beets Blu asked me to review their Bluetooth Heartrate Monitor, I was more than interested in doing so. It is basically a chest strap with a heart rate monitor that connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone, and live streams the HR information. I have a Garmin HR monitor, which I like a lot, but since I no longer use the Garmin watch, I also don’t use it anymore. So, this one is a great tool if someone does not want to spend a lot of money, and still get well-measured HR information (the once on a wrist are less accurate).
beets_blu_2

Monday, September 7, 2015

Strawberry cheese cake for 1 (or 2).

I was seriously inspired by the idea of single-serve cheese cakes. However, I had ideas of taking an European spin on it: first, I replaced the cream cheese and yogurt with Greek yogurt which makes it lighter, I added some vanilla, omitted the crust (honestly, just because I did not have any Graham crackers at home) and replaced it with strawberries. It is also baked in a toaster oven for 20 min. The results? It was gone in 20 seconds after these pictures were taken….
single_serve_cheese_cake-1-6

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall Fashion 2015

Let’s talk wedge sneaker. For the third fall in a row I am still seriously obsessed with black wedge sneakers. Up here in the woods, the only fashion outlet are the things that Target compiles into low budget fashion, and they are pretty good at it. In Fall 2013 I debated back and forth about getting yet another pair of shoes, but still bought those Xhilaration kahsha high top wedge sneaker.
target-womens-xhilaration-kahsha-high-top-wedge-sneaker

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Split pea soup (vegan)

I started watching “Seinfeld”  on Hulu. Some things just get never out of style. This is a soup that is also a classic, an Indian inspired pea soup. Simple to make, and leftovers can be reinvented with adding some fresh summer squash.
split_pea_soup-1-4

Split pea soup (vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic glove
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dried split green peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 TB curry powder
  • 1/2 TB garam masala powder
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
In a heavy-bottom pot, heat the coconut oil, and ad the onion and garlic, and saute until translucent. Add the dried slip peas and the broth, as well as the curry powder and garam masala, and cook on medium-low until the peas are soft (about 40 min). Cool, and remove about 1/3 of the cooked peas, and set aside.

Puree the remaining soup in a blender and add some water to achieve the desired consistency of the soup. Add the whole cooked peas back in. Reheat, and add the coconut milk. Stir, and serve.