Sunday, February 8, 2015

Kabocha Squash, Fennel, + Ginger Soup with Spicy Coconut Cream

(recipe from

1 kabocha squash, halved and seeded
1 large leek (or 2 small), white and light green parts sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced (reserve some fronds for garnish)
1 knob of fresh ginger (about 3/4 of an inch big), peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp. fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dry)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
5 cups filtered water (or broth)
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup spicy coconut cream (recipe below)
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

spicy coconut cream:
1 can organic coconut milk
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
a couple pinches of salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

To make the coconut cream, whisk the coconut milk with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust accordingly, adding more lemon, salt or cayenne. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Rub a good amount of olive oil over cut side of squash; place cut side down on baking sheet and place in oven.  Cook squash until fork tender, about 50-65 minutes.  Let the squash cool until it's ready to handle.  Scoop squash out into a bowl and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and coconut oil over medium heat.  Add sliced leeks and oregano, and saute until leeks are soft; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the fennel and ginger, and cook for about 5 minutes, until fennel is soft and ginger is fragrant.  Add the kabocha, bay leaf, water, salt, and pepper.  Stir.

Turn the heat up and bring soup to a simmer, cook for roughly 30 minutes, stirring every so often.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the spicy coconut cream.

In batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Transfer soup back to the pot and bring to a low simmer.  Stir in lemon juice and taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary.

Serve soup with a dollop of leftover spicy coconut cream, poppy seeds, or chopped fennel fronds.

(Such amazing flavor!  I used about a cup less broth, and liked the heartier consistency.  My first time using kabocha, and I thought it had an incredible depth of flavor - my favorite squash soup thus far.)

Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies

(recipe from Kinfolk magazine)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water
Coarse sanding or sparkling sugar, for rolling

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup of the pecans and the salt.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup until pale and fluffy.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until a dough forms, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the dough between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap and form each into a long log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap tightly and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Brush each log of dough with some of the beaten egg white and roll it in sanding sugar to coat evenly.  Slice the logs into 1/2-inch-thick disks and arrange them at least 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Lightly brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the remaining chopped pecans.  Bake the cookies until they're lightly golden on the bottom, 10 to 14 minutes.  Let them cool on wire racks.

(I made these cookies at Christmas time for giving.  They are light and delightful, and easy to make.  I even made one batch using whole wheat flour, which created a nuttier-tasting, even lighter-textured cookie.)